08 May 2006

Hana Vave ("Bay of Virgins"), Fatu Hiva

  • Hana Vave ("Bay of Virgins")
Greetings all! We hope this finds everyone well.

It is Monday afternoon. We are currently anchored in Hana Vave, the Bay of Virgins, on the island of Fatu Hiva. The bay was formerly known as the "Bay of Penises". But the Catholic Church didn't like this name. Fatu Hiva is the southern-most island of the Marquesas, the most remote island, and according to the French, the most beautiful in the world.

We arrived Friday afternoon after a not so pleasant 8 hour motor sail. It was so bad that Tom and I both felt ill and needed to take turns lying down. Once here, however, we decided it was well worth the trip. IT IS BEAUTIFUL!

Upon arriving Friday afternoon, our friend Ken greeted us. We all watched the sunset from Sandpiper's cockpit with a well deserved beer in hand. This anchorage sure is something to see. The rock formations in this bay are unbelievable. Tom say's it looks like something off of a Hollywood movie set. He also thinks there should be lights, a smoke machine to simulate a volcano, drummers, and all that Hollywood glitz.

The really weird thing is that all the rocks have faces on them. Guarding the anchorage is 'Tiki Bob'. Ken named him this, and I think it's quite fitting. The profile looks exactly like a giant tiki. It even has a little tree on top of his head for hair. Hopefully we can put pictures up on the blog in Tahiti. But I'm sure if you Google it, there are photos out there.

Our trip took a lot out of all of us. So we cooked dinner and stayed on board for the remainder of the evening and studied the rock formations.

Saturday morning we headed into town in search of the waterfall. Our guide book says it is an hour and a half hike from town. Ken and I had checked out the map, but obviously didn't pay too much attention, because two hours later we were lost. We did get to see some beautiful green jungle, but no waterfall. So we headed back into town.

Fatu Hiva is known for its wood carvings, tapa cloth (cloth made from bark of tree), and children begging you for bonbon (candy). Almost every house here has wood carvings. Tom and I were invited into Jack and Desire's house to look at theirs. Very beautiful work, mostly made out of rosewood.

The islanders are all about trading items for the local fruits. The ladies like lipstick. The men like t-shirts and fishing gear. And the kids, they want everything. We did trade a hat for 3 pamplemousse (grapefruit the size of your head) and a few lemons.

Saturday night; a marathon of 'House' episodes on DVD, and French bread sandwiches!

Sunday we got up early and went to church. Even though we didn't know a word of what they were saying, the beautiful singing voices of the islanders made up for it. After church we got a pleasant surprise of being boarded by the French Coast Guard/Customs agents. They anchored the night before, and we thought nothing of it. But they proceeded to check us all out. They just wanted to make sure we were checked in and had all our paperwork. No big deal. We tried to explain Tom was retired US Coast Guard. But they either didn't care, or didn't understand. Probably didn't care.

After church we put on our swimsuits. I was a little reluctant on getting in, as it is not to clear. So I worked on scrubbing the hull of the boat and life guarding Tom. Tom, however jumped right in and scoped out the no-shark zone. I then felt ok about getting in.

The water is clear here. It seems dark because the bottom is covered in giant boulders. You could see some small fish. But once in clearer water, the snorkeling will be much better.

During the afternoon another cruiser stopped by and said a local would like to cook a hog for us all for $10 a piece. So at 5:00pm, we all met at the dock and went to dinner. It turned out that 27 of us showed up, which was no problem as there was lots of food. We sat down to fish in coconut sauce, chicken, rice, bread, and salad. It was delicious. We even got a show from her children and all the neighbors of local dance.

Her husband was out back with the hog on the grill. Tom went there to take photos and to ask if they did wood carvings. Tom was on a mission to find a wood carving. This gentleman produced some of the nicest unique rosewood bowls we had seen. So we snatched one up for a fraction of the price it would sell for in Tahiti or Bora Bora. What a wonderful experience!

On Monday we decided to brave the trail one more time and try and find that waterfall. After talking to some of the other boaters, we found out that most don't find it on the first try either. So we weren't feeling so bad. It worked out great, because while on the path today, we passed some folks coming down. They gave us a few pointers. I think if we hadn't run into them today, we still would not have found this path.

On the Sherman-Larson extreme scale of 1-5, we gave it a 3.5. It was pretty extreme. The book made it sound so easy. We made it and I jumped right in. How refreshing! The falls are about 200 feet high, but not gushing with water, as its not rainy season. In the end it was worth the extreme hike.

We hiked back to the boat and checked in with Ken. Tomorrow we are heading back to Hiva Oa to check out of the southern Marquesas Islands.

Stay tuned for more adventures of Team Sandpiper.
Love to all,
Amy and Tom

Translations from Ron:
Pamplemousse = Pamplemousses is believed to have taken its name from a citrus plant commonly called the pamplemoucier which was imported by the Dutch from Java. The fruit which grows in the area is thick skinned and bitter and resembles a large grapefruit. It is believed that this is the origin of the French word pamplemousse or grapefruit.

Rosewood = Technically a Portia Tree (Thespesia populnea), also known as a Pacific Rosewood, or as Milo in Hawaii. Used for Tiki carvings in Polynesia.

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