After our long day of rowing, we wake up feeling sufficiently provisioned and fueled for at least a few weeks. I give the internet one last try, but it still won’t work. I am also very tired of rowing. Our plan is to hit several anchorages on our way back to Puamau (where Mario lives) to see about that pig hunt. We hang our bananas from the stern arch, weigh anchor, and say a loving goodbye to Atuona.
The wind is up, and we have a brisk sail through pass between Hiva Oa and its next door island, Tahuata. For the first time, Andrew and I feel like we are “cruising”. Hanamenu Bay is our first anchorage destination chosen purely for exploration. Previously, all our destinations were “on the route,” chosen because they take us further along our path. This first anchorage is on the leeward (dry) side of the island; we set our anchor between large black cliffs covered in golden vegetation. A black sand beach is nestled at the furthest point inside the anchorage, with a handful of abandoned huts. Our friends on Ostrika invite us over for sundowner cocktails.
The next morning, we up anchor early for a 10 mile, upwind sail to the next anchorage: Hanaipai. We can’t help but fire up some Stevie Miller Band and set our sails for maximum speed. We have to catch Patrick and Paula in their 55 foot Oyster! The waves are not too large, and the wind is piping at 20-25 knots. We set our jib, a small corner of our genoa and a triple reefed main sail. This set maximizes our ability to point high without being blown sideways and heel over too much. I hand steer so we can maximize our speed on the wind shifts — and just for fun. I start our tack at about 60 degrees off the wind, build speed, then use that speed to climb higher into the wind (and point more directly at our destination) until we start to lose speed. Then, I fall off again to gather speed. We successfully keep an average of 6 knots and keep up with our bigger/faster friends. We pass by a running waterfall and sheer cliffs as we enter a lush, green anchorage with brilliant blue water. Sonrisa lets down her anchor with salt spray in her hair and a big smile on her face.
The next day, we set sail again for another quick upwind beat, this time, to an anchorage with clear water and a white sand beach. Finally, water that is safe for swimming. We swim over to the beach, explore a bit, and snorkel with some colorful fish. Andrew scrapes off the green slime and small animals that are growing on Sonrisa’s hull above her antifouling paint. She is relieved to be looking pretty again. We invite Ostrika’s crew over for dinner. I prepare a small hen served in sauce made with bacon, shallots, carrots, celery seed, saffron, and green olives served over brown rice, and Andrew experiments with a bread pudding for dessert. We serve the hen with a Chardonnay from our shakedown run to Santa Barbara in April 2015, and the bread pudding with a bottle of Dolce we bought on a trip to Napa Valley with Katrina Harris and Jamie White in 2012. Today, we are the version ourselves we like best: enjoying nature, cooking for friends, and sailing.
We wait out a storm for a second day in this anchorage, safely tucked away. It rains so much that we gather enough fresh water to clean Sonrisa’s decks, do a large load of laundry (now how to dry?), and take two fresh water showers. Otherwise, Sonrisa bobbed safely in place on her anchor. Andrew swims despite the rain. Everything is wet, so may as well go swimming. I stay below, process pictures, and look longingly at the pretty beach just outside our window. I’m try to cling to my dry status as best I can, but sweat is the other option inside Sonrisa with her hatches closed.
When the sun clears the next day, we romp forward on another upwind leg to Puamau. All in all, it took us four days to cover twenty five miles around the island and end up back at the same place we reached in two hours via vehicle just a few days ago. We took the “scenic route.”