OMG … we are actually here! Huge excitement as the sun rose on Wednesday morning (my watch) and the land emerged in the dawn. A sight for sore eyes. Janie on deck to share the joy; both of us snapping away - how many sun rise photos is too many??
We dropped anchor at 0950 to much applause from fellow arc sailors already there and immediately popped the champagne … an epic journey … the longest passage we will ever do. Definitely worth celebrating! We were all tired but somehow it was like Christmas Day … so excited and lots to do in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on the beautiful remote island of Hiva Oa.
First things first though - we had to check in, customs and immigration. There is always a very long list of jobs that need doing fast - we will only have 2 or 3 days on this island so we need fuel, provisions, money, laundry, gas bottles filled, generator looked at by a professional. Mistral has a filthy hull and needs a good clean - weird, as we thought the sea was clean but no … it turns out that in spite of paying a fortune for anti-fouling, barnacles and all sorts of other stuff attaches itself. Ugh. We also want to see the island and explore. All this and each time we go ashore, we have to take our lives in our hands getting into the tender in our happy but quite rolly anchorage!
We booked ourselves into the only fabulous hotel in the island for dinner (Macron was there 2 weeks ago!) and got ourselves organised. Dinner was indeed fabulous - gorgeous hotel with stunning views and great food. So happy to be speaking French again and enjoying some french food and wine albeit with a Polynesian twist!
Gaugin lived in Hiva Oa in the last few years of his life and there is a delightful museum built in the grounds of his home on the island with copies of much of his work. Day 2 started with a visit to Gaugin and an exploration of the main village (definitely not a town). I spent the afternoon cleaning the hull - quite tricky as I had to fix lines around the boat that I could hang onto from the water with one hand and scrub the hull with the other. The joys of boat ownership.
Day 3, Patrick, Janie and I joined some friends for a tour of the island. Chris guarded the boat and worked with the engineer on the generator. The island is like a lost paradise - lush, green and totally uninhabited. There is a single track road going to the north of the island where we visited the remains of a Polynesian village with the tiki’s (sculptures) for which the archipelago of the Marquesas is famous. Quite stunning. Hiva Oa is applying for UNESCO status for the ruins and they deserve it. We finished the day back at the fab hotel where there was a fiesta with a fantastic display of traditional dancing. The men (v hot!) performing dances akin to the New Zealand Hakka performed at rugby matches with the women in grass skirts belly dancing. Gorgeous and a lot of fun.
Today we move on … destination Tahuata - just 10 miles from Hiva Oa. More excitement to come …
We made it!