When we first took a look at the big rocky penis in front of Bay of the Vierges I’ve never thought I could like a penis before.
Fatu Hiva was there, it seems that Spielberg was inspired from some of these places when he realized Jurassic Park. We really made the Pacific crossing.
So many times in the past, I was wandering and dreaming to make long distance sailing, long for me meant crossing the Adriatic sea, or going from Tuscany to Sardinia. Now I’m here, standing in front of the people of the Pacific Ocean, learning from their kindness, listening at their story reported on their tattoos. What I always saw in pictures or just imagined that was in that way, now is right in front of me. They really have a canoe with a little side hull to keep a better balance. It’s very rare to meet someone here without a big tattoo all over his body. They are relax. Life is incredible. It is like if being far away from any other place on earth protected them from any sort of occidental (or oriental from them) madness. Big 4x4 riding on the street at 25 km/h , we could hijack any time of the day for nearly any destination on the islands. When we go to the supermarket the owner is always offering to take us back to the boat with our shopping bags and if we forget something at someone’s home after he invited us to see his sculpture and take some fruits from his garden, we can go back anytime even if he’s not there anymore….doors are always open and no one reason to be worry about crime. The only thing that disappointed me, after reading the book of Jacques Brel and the story of the painter Gauguin, was coming in this places where we were all expecting to find some Vahiné (girls of the islands) dancing on the beach and ready to welcome every sailor with sweet love. Darwin could be impressed by the evolution of the girl on these islands. The first Vahiné I saw from the dinghy while I was approaching the dock, I nearly dropped a rope close by thinking she was a boe where I could tide the boat. From our walks on the island we were all reporting the same things. Capitan Jack, Doc Phil And I were three men holding a big pot of broken dreams and smashed illusions. The only one of us that was really happy was our little princess Alice. She found the nirvana!! If the majority of the girls are obese, practically all the guys are perfect bulls with body like a rugby player and a touch of wild jungle man. Tattoo all over the body, with angry faces but a nice character.
This is only the first touch of the Archipelago.
Our plan is to stay nearly a month around here, sailing between islands with some Captain’s friends coming from Belgium and relaxing on the best spots for snorkeling during the first fifteen days while we will be waiting for them. After we (illegally) walked around Fatu Hiva, his mountains and his waterfalls, we had to go and report our entry to the French Polynesia authorities. We decided to take the shorter way to Hiva Oa, where with my big surprise we realized that as European citizens we can stay here as long as we want. Legally after 18months we should go again to the authorities and let them know we are still there…however ….nobody really cares here. For the boat it’s different…you can stay in Polynesia for maximum 3 years. So I was walking happy on the street, conscious that if one day things go wrong there is always a Paradise waiting for me ;-) Unfortunately for the non-European citizen things are different. People from USA or Canada must make an hold payment for health care and need a few documents for the visa, and if you don’t speak a little French they will charge you more for that!!! ;-)
The mooring in Atuona is not the easiest one and if you don’t have a second anchor it will be hard to find place behind the breakwater (which is rolling anyway). However Belgians and Italians have a lot of things in common, especially when we have to learn fast and have no shame to start and play the game before people even take a sit. So we rapidly took info about boats that were leaving, and placed our big Catamaran right in front of the petrol station, the only place where the water is really calm and the man of the supermarket could give us some bread straight from the dock. The town is nice and people are friendly. The nice girl from Fatu Hiva, Nicole, and his father took us around the island with their 4x4 and nearly every afternoon Alice and I went to the beach nearby to catch some nice little waves. Just the time to say goodbye to Doc Philippe and we sail to Tahuata. A beautiful beach on the island right in front of Hiva Oa. There are several beaches on this part of the island and it’s hard to imagine that on the side of these big mountains we can find amazing white beaches. At this point we all have the time to relax, living on this boat as three persons is so much easy. We have the time to meet people from other boats and talk with locals living on the beach. As usual, it took us only a few hours before we got to know nearly all the boats around us. Someone told me that early in the morning we could swim with the mantas or go around the rocky point and see some sharks. When my alarm pounded my hear early in the next morning, I knew I was still recovering from the shark’s fear. It took me a few minutes before to decide to wear my fins and go into the deep blue. The water was not perfectly clear and every shadow was making me uncomfortable. With my go pro I started to calmly dive around ten meters, just to get used to be alone. After a few minutes the first Manta came by me, clearly curious to see who was this weird man swimming in her house. She took me around for several minutes before to decide to introduce me to her friends. I felt like the people from National Geographic when they are at right time in the right place. At least eight mantas showed up in front of me, dancing and flying on a slow motion. Little by little I was less scared and shy, I started to play with them and dive together. They were not scared at all, I felt a kind of accepted and never in danger. However I was there in the wild, it was special. But the day was just about to start. Before to leave the Mantas, I told ‘em I’ve got a princess on board who’s a bit scared of swimming with fish, so it could be really nice from them if they could show up close to our boat right after breakfast so I could nicely introduce them to her. They didn’t say anything but one hour later, four of them came close to the catamaran to say hi to Alice. Didn’t take a lot of time to convince her to jump in the water and push her day on the box of memories that will last forever.
Some friends from other boat wanted to go as well to snorkel by the point where apparently a few sharks are hanging around, we quickly built up a team of enthusiast and like glue we were attracting other friends to come with us. We were nearly ten people when I dove deep to film some yellow fishes and a 2 mt grey dude faced right in front of my camera. There is not much to say about meeting a friendly and curious shark. First of all, I made a big fart that I still don’t know if it was only air, than I started to follow him close to the reef until I could. Everybody from the surface was looking and that makes our first impression of the sharks a little less dark than what we thought . Hundreds of fish, a few sharks, turtles, a white beach, coconut water, palms and a big group of strangers. We were happy and excited that while we were going back to the boat, we didn’t even realize that a little shark was already putting salt and pepper on Alice’s buttocks. She was swimming looking at the reef on the right and he came from left at less than a meter from her. He had no bad intentions but for sure he was a male, because he was very excited to be around her legs.
During the night we were often looking at each other laughing while talking with the others. The Capitan was with us sitting on the beach while a wild local Tarzan half-drunk from the beer and rum was cooking a fish for all of us. Even if we knew that good things could happen on these islands….we realized that we are very lucky to live a life that makes us proud every day…some days are really inspiring and others are just perfect. Someone told us to check out at the old library in town, there are books of local tattoo symbols…I just can say that maybe this is the perfect time to put some more ink on!!
After a few days of miracle fishing and magnificent beaches we are ready to welcome Capitan’s Friends and Mdme Nicole coming from Belgium. The two couples were really fun from the beginning. We just shifted from one life to another. Before, only with Capitan Jack on board we used to eat vegan or vegetarian at least one time a day, absolutely no alcohol, fresh juice in the morning and good tisane at night, yes maybe sometimes a few pieces of chocolate. Swimming, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, walking and surfing as much as we could. With these friends it’s like if we were back of ten years. Big breakfasts every mornings, I felt a bit like a chef in one of these big hotels with international food. Fruits, yogurt, juice, scrambled eggs, two kind of ham, salami, three kinds of cheese, four kind of jams, three kinds of bread, peanut butter, honey, Nutella, omelet, crepe, porridge, cereal and muesli, coffee, tea, cappuccino, latte macchiato, etc…
Lunch and dinner were mainly coming from any type of meat. Fish, lamb, beef, chicken, humans… ;-) Flooded by champagne, white wine, rosé, red wine and beers.
Before every meal, except from breakfast, big aperitif with cocktails of every kind: gin tonic, t-punch, Campari orange, mojito and even spritz (which they were in love with!). All served with fruits, chips, paté and little snacks I was making from scratch.
That was awesome, people on holiday, looking for fun with a lot of things to share, high level of culture and same big little problems of everyone else in the world. We spent two tiring but funny weeks with them and had any sort of problem at the boat during their staying. At one moment we also thought to make a human sacrifice to the sea. However, even after a fire on board, nobody ever lost his smile. Maybe only the Capitan for a few hours, but then after that Alberto was the fastest fire extinguisher ever and Alice the fastest cleaner, even he could enjoy the last few days together.
After the canoe racing and the beautiful dancers we could see in Ua Pou and the magnificent landscapes in Nuku Hiva, we are now ready to make another step on our journey. Tuamotu Islands are waiting for us.
Also if it seems strange but every step we take, it is an easy one for who’s reading, and a very complicate one for who’s planning to make it. So if ever in your life you may dream to make a trip along the world’s biggest ocean, do it. Plan it as much as you can, but then…be just prepared to be open.
For the moorings in Polynesia we are following one of the only book about , Charlie’s Chart, which is well done even if sometimes I think is a bit too much worrying about being sick after eating a fish and poor of photos. You’ll find anyway a lot of information from other boats that came here during a world tour and never left anymore. Anyway the Marquise Islands are difficult to sail and are also not a touristic place. It’s far from the photos of Tahiti’s lagoon, Bora Bora’s hotel, etc…
It looks more like e small community of farmers and fishers living in their islands where we imagine to see a dinosaur coming out from the jungle at any time. Beaches are empty and fishing is incredible. One only thing before to come here. Be careful to don’t think that when someone gives you fruit as present because they want to make a new friend and they are happy you came to visit their land, that you have the right to pick up fruit or coconut from every place you go. You’ll may find yourself in front of a wild guy with a big machete coming out from nowhere, asking for one of your hands!!! ;-)