2C Update #113
In between our two stays in Taiohae, we took time to explore some of the island's other anchorages. Just to the east of Taiohae is Comptroller Bay , three, long, deep coves folded into a slot in steep mountains. This bay is where Herman Melville deserted from the whaling ship Acushnet in 1842. Here he lived six months with a fierce Marquesan tribe, an experience reflected in his classics Typee and Omoo . Unfortunately, we heard the coves were rolly that week, so we bypassed them to continue around to the north side to Bay Anaho.
Now this was more like it! Bay Anaho is the one anchorage of perhaps a half dozen on the north side that escapes the seemingly omni-directional swell. It achieves this distinction by way of a pocket at its inner end that has enough space that the dozen boats there could sit in flat water. Above it dramatic mountains rose high and the entire bay was fringed with white sand beaches and waving palm trees. We didn't do much of anything here, and loved every minute of it. We did snorkel over the thick coral reefs, but the visibility wasn't great. I did, however, see my first South Pacific turtle. Highlight of this stop was a potluck/bookswap we hosted for four crews at which the assembly of completely-vegetarian dishes was so good, I will probably feature the recipes in my next Galley Page.
From Anaho we motored round the bend into Hatiheu. The bay is marked by a set of towering rock spires to the west side of the village, one of which is topped by a white statue of the Madonna. Built in 1872, one wonders how the sculptor - one Frère Blanc - ever got it up there in an age before helicopters! This bay unfortunately lacks the protection of Anaho or it would be a super popular spot, as it once was with writer Robert Louis Stevenson. (One CAN have one's cake and eat it, too; you can anchor in Anaho and hike over the ridge to Hatiheu.)
We spent a very nice day ashore here with our friends Michael and Mary of Danseuse de la Mer . The houses all had lovely gardens and there were a number of stone tiki set on the waterfront near the church. We met a very large lady named Luisa who not only had a small grocery with baguettes and ice cream cones from a big freezer but a garden with pamplemousse and fresh basil! Small things make cruisers happy!
Up above the town, we found several well-preserved archeological sites. Although we had hoped to see the famous sites on Hiva Oa , the bad weather there prevented the cross island trip, so these were our first. These sites are mostly comprised of impressive stoneworks - walls and platforms - that define big open plazas, platforms, and paths. Without a guide, we were not certain of what we were seeing, but the locals obviously keep these spaces in good repair, with freshly carved tiki posts supporting rattan roofs in certain spots.
Hatiheu is the location of what is billed as Nuku Hiva's best restaurant -- Chez Yvonne. Chez Yvonne was located just down the road from Luisa's and it was a pretty setting. However, we did not try it because friends had hiked over from Anaho only to receive uninspired food and poor service. Could have been a bad day, but since restaurant meals here come so dear, the 2Cs saw no reason to gamble on it. Better to have an ice cream cone at Luisa's and save our pennies for a better bet.
We left Hatiheu in mid-afternoon with enough time to get around to a more protected anchorage on the west side for the night. This little cove gets a quick mention because in the days before the road over the top to the airport (which perches on the northwest shoulder of the island), people accessed the airport from a dock in this otherwise empty bay. A long way around from Taiohae!
We came very close to leaving Nuku Hiva without stopping at Daniel's Bay. Daniel's Bay earns its name among cruisers from the hospitality of Daniel and his wife Antoinette, a sweet couple (toothless and in their eighties, now!) who have earnestly welcomed cruisers to their bay for decades. Daniel has kept guestbooks of cards, photos and drawings by his visitors, and it is fun to thumb back through the years looking for people you know.
More recently, Daniel's Bay has become known to millions thanks to the TV show Survivor. Daniel and Antoinette were moved out of their house into the village in the next cove so that the "Survivor" crew could appear isolated!
In fact, the whole bay, officially called Anse Hakatea, really is pretty damn remote. The "village" into which Daniel and Atoinette were moved - Hakatea - is described in some guides as abandoned, although the five or six homes that are still there looked well cared for. The houses are situated on a river into which we were able to negotiate our dinghies. The "valley" around the river is a narrow strip of flat land between nearly vertical cliff walls. It is truly one of the most beautiful places we have ever been.
Daniel's "new" house is well situated just back from the beach. From there he can keep track of the comings and goings of yachts into his "old" cove. The "new" house is no great shakes; the Survivor producers did not build him a Beverly Hills mansion. We were a little surprised that it wasn't a little nicer, at least on a par with the French-supplied government housing we've seen around. It is entirely possible, however, he wanted no more than he got. Daniel works hard on his "garden," a sandy area between trees and banana plants that he keeps well trimmed, raked and dotted with sculptures he puts together from driftwood and stones. As we arrived he was working on his weed-whacker, which he joked as "putting his horses out to graze!"
Daniel's new residence is now right on the track that leads up the river "valley" to the "cascade." Now the two Captains have hiked to many a waterfall in our cruising days, but we hadn't yet been to any in Polynesia . So, we set out, in a group of eight for the hour and a half hike inland. It did not prove to be a strenuous trek; although the trail was muddy and full of rocks, it was a walk in the park compared to some of our Sunday Trinidad outings with Snake (See Update #6 -- Trinidad ). As we ascended, the woods were threaded through with more walls and platforms such as we'd seen in Hatiheu, only these remnants, extensive as they are, are totally neglected and overgrown.
What was challenging was finding the way. Whenever the trail grew vague, some kind soul had left cairns of stones, not always easy to pick out in the rocky landscape, but reassuring none-the-less. But then we were stumped, first by an apparent split in the path (both marked with cairns ) and subsequently by the path terminating at the river with no waterfall in sight! Only by great good luck did one of our group discover a turn camouflaged behind a fallen bush. Yup, there was another cairn. This path terminated again at a swollen river, and only through Don's perseverance did we discover that it did indeed pick up on the other side.
Our reward at the end of the trail was awesome. Our bit of river wound back through a narrow canyon, the walls on either side pulled in close, yet rising thousands of feet above us. The canyon opened out into a bit of bright green meadow, at the back of which was a pool. Behind the pool was a gorge cut back a hundred feet or so into the mountain and down through that gorge fell a cascade with a drop of about 2000 feet!
There was a moment of disappointment in all our hearts that the fall was set back into the gorge and that the pool between us and the gorge was thick with mud. Then the guys were stripping down to their suits and plunging in, swimming across and climbing up out of sight into the gorge. While we ladies waited, great hoots and hollers echoed forth. I was the first of the ladies to peel off and follow the guys, and when I didn't reappear, the rest of them gave in and followed. By swimming upstream we were all able to get with in twenty feet of the bottom of the fall. The roar was tremendous and the spray stinging. It was very cool! Literally and figuratively.
So it was a very happy bunch that descended back to Daniel's. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of a hike and a waterfall. Even the notorious no-nos of Daniel's Bay - tiny insects with giant bites - which finally got us (whether on the hike or that afternoon at anchor none of us are sure) did not take away from the success of the day. We even scored on fruit for our trip to the Tuamotus; one of Daniel's neighbors (who told us he was descended from the original royal family) sold us each a huge stalk of bananas and as much pamplemousse as we could carry. Everyone of us, as antsy as we had been to get going on the next four-day passage, were glad we hadn't missed this great finale.