Ostrika and her crew cleared out of Puamau early the next morning to head to Fatu Hiva. Fatu Hiva is a windward island of the Marquesas and is the most frequently photographed bay in the Marquesas. Some boats sneak in to see it before they legally clear into the Marquesas through Hiva Oa. I am a rule follower, so we didn’t sneak in. We figured we could sail the thirty miles windward if we wanted to, legally, after we check in. But, as Ostrika headed off to do just that, we looked at our charts and it seemed like a long, rough sail. Winds were predicted at 25 - 30 knots directly out of the Fatu Hiva’s direction. Is it really worth it? All of these bays are gorgeous; should we beat up Sonrisa and ourselves trying to sail upwind to another gorgeous bay just because it is photographed in sailing magazines?
We decide instead to head back toward Tahuata, Hiva Oa’s neighboring Island. We sail downwind in the lee of Hiva Oa, covering in one day the same path that took us four days to sail up wind. The wind lightened up as we neared the point of Hiva Oa, so we decided to stop for the afternoon/night in Hanamenu Bay. We stayed in this bay the first night we left Atuona, but we did not do any exploring. This time, Andrew and I unfolded Grin and rowed ashore.
There, we found a little village but no people. The buildings are boarded up, but there are various items around that seem to indicate people use the buildings every now and then: fresh paint cans, bottles, clothing on laundry lines. It’s weird, maybe they are weekend homes? I would be creeped out, but the guidebooks all said this is what we would find, and everything was fine the first night we stayed here. We walk down a little path and into the jungle where we find breadfruit trees, lime trees and mango trees. It’s not mango season, but a few perfectly ripe mangos have fallen off the trees and are just lying on the ground waiting to rot. Their skin is red, fading to pink, orange, and then yellow, just like a sunset. We wipe them off and bite in. The juice dribbles out of the fruit, warm from lying in the sun. Sweet and floral, these are easily the most delicious mangos I have ever tasted.
We follow the sound of a burbling waterfall to find a fresh water pool doused in sunshine and surrounded by breadfruit trees, coconut palms, and flowers. We put our feet in. The water is crisp and cold, a stark contrast to the humidity in the air. Andrew plays with a curious crawfish until he gets pinched, then he searches for a fresh coconut on the ground. I am eaten alive by noseums (pronounced “no-see-‘ems), these tiny bugs pack a punch. Even my thick layer of Off bug cream is doing nothing to dissuade them, and now I am itchy.
Back aboard Sonrisa, the solitude is complete. There are no other people, boats, or even birds around. There is nothing but the sound of waves crashing on the beach, a clear sky and cool air. This anchorage made for a perfect night’s sleep.
The next morning, we upped anchor early to make our next landfall at Hanamoenua on Tahuata. We have heard rumor that this bay is a perfect white sand beach, with water that is clear and safe for swimming. The wind is perfect, and we have a quick sail around the point of Hiva Oa. When we clear the point, the wind comes up and up and up! 20 knots, 25 knots, 30 knots, 35 knots. We are bouncing along at 6.5 knots of boat speed, triple reefed (main sail as short as it goes), and the little jib for our front sail. A wave hits Sonrisa’s port (left) side and leaps into the air. As if in slow motion, Andrew and I both watch helplessly, pinned down in our beanbags by the rush of water. In an instant, the wave fills the cockpit and the scuppers drain it back into sea. Andrew and I are soaked. Everything on deck is salty and wet. Luckily, all our hatches were locked down, and Sonrisa was dry as a bone below.
We shorten the jib further using the roller furling, and just about the time we calm down from our dousing, we hear an explosion. Out of the corner of my eye I see boat parts flying downwind into the sea spray.
“What was that?!” Andrew yells above the din of wind and waves.
I look up from where I saw pieces flying. Our wind generator fan is destroyed, with only one blade left swooping in the gusts. We have extra blades, but the explosion took the nose cone with it. We do not have an extra nose cone. Hopefully, it is just for decoration?
Lordy! This was just supposed to be an easy little day sail from one anchorage to another. “I wonder if Ostrika made it to Fatu Hiva all right?” Just as I say it, Andrew spots Ostrika on the AIS pulling into the same anchorage we are headed toward. They get settled, then hail us on VHF. We ask them if the anchorage is calm and protected as planned. The anchorage is on the lee side of the island (the side hidden from the wind), so the wind should just blow up and over the top of the island, leaving a calm safe spot for us to anchor. Ostrika confirms the bay is perfect.
Two more tacks, and we are tucked in and anchored securely. The beach is indeed lovely, the water a beautiful color and inviting for a swim. Even better, Sonrisa is sitting calmly at her anchor rather than the pitching and rolling we have experienced at every anchorage since we left San Diego. We go for a swim to the beach. The water is slightly lower than body temperature; it is cool and refreshing, but does not shock your system when you jump in. The anchorage faces open directly west, so the view of the sunset is perfect from either the beach or our boat. We are going to have to pry Andrew out of this anchorage.