NUKA HIVA, Marquesas                                                              

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May 10, 2004

We had just hoisted our sails and set course for Nuku Hiva when POP....the forestay broke. This not only holds our roller furling and foresail but also holds up the mast. We had just had a new forestay installed by North Sails in Mexico for $500. Gord scrambled to secure the rig and hold it up with auxiliary running backs and the cutter stay, and we managed to motor the 8 hours to Nuku Hiva in very uncomfortable seas with no sail. It was dark when we got the hook down but we had encouragement and support all the way from our cruising friends by VHF radio.

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May 11, 2004

With help from Angela & Doug (Solstice), and KT & Chris (Billabong), we managed to use a cement wall to remove the forestay. The surge was very powerful though, making the process difficult.

The damage was assessed and it was determined that the forestay broke right below the fitting at the top of the mast. It was necessary to remove the furling and replace the wire and fittings.


Being in the town of Nuku Hiva was a kind of culture shock for us with the noise, pollution (mostly burning garbage), activity, paved streets buzzing with vehicles. There sure wasn't an indication of much poverty here with the numerous brand new 4x4 Land Cruisers and Toyotas and the prefab homes. There were 3 grocery stores in town, although one of them always had empty shelves. No Laundromats, no take-out, no stores for shopping for souvenirs or clothing though. We walked to the far end of town where we visited Rose Corser's museum. She runs the hotel there with all it's separate bungalows overlooking the bay and renting for $250/night and is known by cruisers everywhere for her assistance. I was able to buy a rosewood ray there, carved with Marquesan motif.

Amidst the modern buildings and paved streets, there was still a feeling of  the original primal nature of the village. Horses grazing along the side of the downtown streets, chickens roaming under your feet, locals playing their bocce ball tournaments on any dirt strip beside the road. The Marquesans are very large people, the men being descendants of warriors. The women are often quite plump, but usually have arrangements of flowers in their hair, making the whole effect quite lovely. There are flowers everywhere, in the bank, in the Air Tahiti office. It's great and smells fabulous. The whole island has a very different smell from Mexico, very lush, verdant and clean.  

And of course the overwhelming appearance of the famous Marquesan tattoos on the men and even the women everywhere. Many of the cruisers made a visit to the local tattoo artist and ended up with permanent reminders of their Marquesan cruising experience. The tattoos are really a work of art, unsurpassed by anything I have ever seen anywhere. 

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Angela (left) and KT proudly display their new Marquesan tattoos 

From the anchorage, we could hear the primitive beat of drums at night so we were impelled to take the dinghy through the inky darkness and follow the sound. We found a group of locals beating their traditional drums ... a powerful sound that vibrated through your soul and provided the music for young dancers practicing for the Festival in Tahiti. 

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The kids were very inquisitive and they were excited when KT took their pictures.

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4 AM Market Place


The only good selection of fresh produce and fish in town had to be purchased at the Saturday morning marketplace. The marketplace was, however, sold out by 4:30 AM!! 


May 15, 2004

Almost every cruiser had braved the early morning blackness before sunrise and ventured to shore with their dinghies just to join in the craziness and for the opportunity of fresh food. You had to be aggressive to get in on the limited supply of eggplant, cucumbers, cabbage,  zucchini, green beans, bananas, and papaya. 


I missed out on  tomatoes and had a near miss on the French pastries. These were all quite expensive but no one cared, having been without for so long. There were all sorts of fish available and we  bought 1/2 of a yellow fin tuna for $15.

Below, Melissa (Mag Mel) makes her early morning purchase.

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Sunrise came shortly after we returned to our boat after the market was over.


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A Market was set up in the parking lot one day, complete with live music and samplings of all the traditional Marquesan foods.

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Of course, there were the usual Happy Hours. This one was on Ocean Girl.  

(l to r) Gord, Ginny, Bob, Ralph, Chris, KT, Chris & Boya.

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Sunday morning bells chimed from the stately Catholic Church with it's stone foundation and traditional Marquesan wood carved doors .

Right in town, there is a park overlooking the anchorage that displays a number of tikis.

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It rained almost everyday at least three or four times intermittently so we were used to getting drenched whenever we went to town.

Cleaning, laundry by hand, scraping the barnacle farm and goopy green forest off the bottom of the boat, making water, baking, etc. has kept us occupied. Because of the constant squalls  my laundry sometimes hung on the lifelines for days, although it was rainwater soft! 

One night we got together with Doug & Angela on Solstice. to see the guitar that Doug built ..a work of art with a great sound.  Gord and Doug played together and it was lots of fun.

We remained bobbing around at the rough and lumpy anchorage in Nuku Hiva awaiting our forestay much longer than we wanted to be there. Initially we had made arrangements to have a new wire shipped from Papeete but first it was out of stock, then it was supposed to be on the supply boat due into Tahiti Apr 18 but was late (Apr 22) etc. etc. 

We finally checked the internet and found a rigger in New Zealand. We phoned him and ordered the stay having it sent Fed Ex, but Fed Ex lost the package and by the time everything got sorted out, 4 weeks had passed. We were grateful that Ocean Girl graciously agreed to stay and wait with us to offer support and assistance with installing the new forestay once it arrived.

Since we had to spend the extra time in Nuku Hiva anyway, we decided to take a Land Tour so a group of us got together and arranged a great 4x4 sight seeing excursion over the island.


NEXT>>>  Nuku Hiva LAND TOUR