The World ARC Pacific fleet have now been in French Polynesia for around a week and after arriving and clearing in at Hiva Oa most stayed a couple of days to relax, provision and explore after their crossing then moved on to visit other islands. With 15 islands in the Marquesas alone, and over 100 in French Polynesia there is so much to see and do. After a few days exploring the Marquesas the fleet reunited in Nuku Hiva, north west of Hiva Oa and the largest of the Marquesas Islands.
There they were welcomed to the island with music and singing, presented with flower leis and an afternoon of activities was organised specially for them by the tourist board. Participants were given fresh coconuts to drink and fruit skewers full of delicious local fruit. Whilst some tried their hand at wood carving others learned to make the traditional jewellery with seeds and bouquets of plants and spices. The more adventurous took the opportunity to go horse riding on the beach while others relaxed with a massage.
Following the afternoon's activities the crews all joined together last night for the prize-giving ceremony and dinner to celebrate their achievements on the previous leg of the rally from Galapagos to Hiva Oa. Starting with a welcome speech from Colette from the Tourist Board Nuku Hiva, the prize giving then kicked off, starting with the Cruising Division. Winning Class A was Choucas 3, and first prize in Class B going to Manuia who managed an impressive 22 hours motoring, the fewest hours of the whole fleet. After a much anticipated (and hotly debated topic amongst the fleet) prize for guessing the number of fish caught on the crossing which went to Escapade of London, the final division was the Multihull division with Chica.3, the trimaran of the fleet taking first place.
By far the biggest round of applause of the evening with a standing ovation went to the crew of Zissou who went to the assistance of a non ARC boat with a medical situation onboard resulting in one of the two crew being evacuated 2 weeks into the crossing. Zissou turned around to meet the yacht in need of help and transferred two of their crew to sail onboard to Hiva Oa, a huge undertaking both for the two who went onto an unfamiliar boat for 10 days mid Pacific and for the two left to sail their boat double-handed.
After the ceremony it was time to eat, first everyone was invited to come and see the ground oven opened where the food had been cooking all day. This traditional way of cooking involves the food being wrapped in layers of banana leaves and cloth and buried in the ground to cook slowly over many hours. After diner the crews were treated to a spectacular show of music, singing and dancing finished off with a incredible fire show. A highlight for all was when participants were invited to come up and learn and join in with a traditional dance.
The fleet now have a period of free cruising around the many islands of French Polynesia ahead of the next rendezvous in Bora Bora in six weeks time.