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FATU HIVA,  Marquesas              

April 18, 2004 -

After 23 1/2 days we finally sighted land just as the sun was rising. As the sun woke, the magical island of Fatu Hiva came into view clearer and clearer. At 7:00 AM Marquesan time we rounded the corner and saw fellow cruisers at anchor beneath the pinnacles so prepared for our landfall. The smell of land was overwhelming and the excitement unbearable.

We went to start the engine....it barely ran, we changed the fuel filters and it still faltered periodically. Just as we were taking down the sails, we could smell a burning smell and realized it was coming from the engine. So we shut the motor off and discovered the connections were melted. Gord fiddled with the electrical bus bar which was suspect. After some more work reconnecting wires, the engine was once again running albeit sputtering and coughing. We were working at getting the anchor ready after not being used for so long. A quick test of the windlass and.... nothing...it was totally dead. It was obvious that it was not going to run at all. We radioed Joyce & Peter on Matarua, already in the bay, and they suggested we raft to them and sort out the problems.

So the excitement of our landfall was curtailed significantly as we limped into the anchorage of Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins) and tied to Matarua.

However, the sight of this unspoiled island was amazing. It was story book beautiful with towering stately spires dripping lush green tropical foliage, palm trees everywhere and clear blue water, almost too overwhelming to be believed, more like a set from a Disney production.

Although Fatu Hiva is not a point of entry, the casual and friendly welcome we received from the locals was wonderful. We contacted all the officials (police, chief and gendarme) to seek permission to remain a few days in Fatu Hiva to repair the windlass motor and they were very accommodating.

Here we are rafted to Matarua for our celebration landfall! Gord & Peter assess the damaged windlass motor, which was obviously corroded to a state well beyond repair.

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The town of Hanavave is spotless with its spattering of well kept primitive homes. The people are incredibly friendly and it was easy and fun to trade boat trinkets for local fruit. The locals were not shy about asking for items like T-shirts, perfume, makeup, fishing rods and even the clothes off our back!


The town is hilly and shaded by fruit trees of all varieties. Chickens with baby chicks, pigs in their pens, horses and even a cow were part of the scenery. There were heavily perfumed flowers all around us. It was truly a tropical paradise.


There as a one room medical center, where the doctor comes once a month. There was a line-up of locals waiting to seek his medical expertise.

Bob,  who knew some French and had already been to the village, took Joyce, Chris (Billabong) & myself toured around, introducing us to all the locals that he had already met. We visited many homes, several of which displayed their exquisite wood carvings, tikis and tapas. Gord & Peter remained on the boat trying to rebuild the windlass motor.

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We met the local policeman and the Chief (l), who was also a very competent carver and tattoo artist. (bottom left). His wife gave us pamplemouse and limes.

Pictured bottom right is the next up & coming chief.

The children all wanted to tag along on the tour with us, especially after they found out we had candy for them, so we started feeling like the pied pipers.  Luckily I had a big enough supply of candy even when the adults got into the act, asking for candy not only for themselves, but for all the children they had at home!

We spent  time with a Marquesan family, who were so hospitable, offering us a snack of dessert made from taro root and tapioca (YUM!). 

Pictured is a hand carved  traditional drum. The canoe that was in the process of being carved was a work of art. It needed the help from a cruiser to procure some stainless screws to complete.

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About an hour's walk behind the village Gord, Joyce and myself hiked to a spectacular waterfall. The picturesque views along the way consisted of a garden of lush mountainous vegetation, coconut palms, mangos, bananas and hibiscus.

The walk to the waterfall seemed all uphill and grueling, considering it was the first time in over 3 weeks we had used our legs!

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But the magnificence of the waterfall was worth the walk. It cascaded in a spray of clear water down 200 feet. We met up with some other cruisers there including Chris (Twix), KT & Chris (Billabong), Gregg & Sujata (Maajhi-Re). We all quickly jumped into the pool of inviting water below the falls, which was big enough to swim laps. Below, Chris, Gord & Joyce cool off in the crystal clear water.

The water, warmed by the rocks, was like taking a hot shower. If ever I imagined what tropical paradise was like, this was it!

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After 3 days, despite not having a windlass motor, we decided to hoist anchor and sail to Hiva Oa to check in properly and attempt to have a new part shipped to us.