Month: June 2009

Hike to Waterfall…..

June 29, 2009

Dear F&F,
June 28, 2009

It was my best night of sleep in a long time. Fantastic to wake up & feel good right off the bat. Splendid! We spoke to David & Mary on the radio & agreed that this was to be our day to hike to the waterfall, rain or shine. There was a lot of rain. But we didn’t let it dampen our spirits. I loved the exercise & took in all the green everywhere. Green foliage of every tropical type & variety. Plants with variegated leaves are some of my favorite & they are in so many festive patterns & shapes. Being Sunday, there were a lot of locals out in the one street & in the yards of their humble dwellings. They were mostly friendly if we waved or said Bonjour. Only about 250 people live in this entire community; only about 600 on the entire island.

Once the paved road ended, the mud road continued for a while, then it became more of a path. David had gotten some tips on finding the way by another boater, but with all the rain some of the landmarks may have been obscured. We asked a man at the last home seen & he gestured up the hill, “Oui cascade (waterfall)” so we carried on. We had a few false turns into dense brush. Had to cross a calf-deep creek and be very careful not to slip in the mud or twist an ankle on slippery rocks. David brought walking sticks. He uses 2 & I was happy to have one. The three of them all had on tennis shoes or better, for some reason I had just put on my usual “wet landing” sandals. They worked out fine but will try to remember to wear more substantial footwear for hikes.

It was well worth it. Beautiful, dramatic water falls 400 feet high & 40 feet wide. The kind that sprays you (& your camera!) even when you are standing well away from it. Scott & I had packed our swimsuits but since already soaked to our skin from the rain didn’t feel the need for a dip. It wasn’t hot at all, just comfortable. In fact when the wind piped up it felt rather cool. We all had light rain jackets but they were too warm when it wasn’t raining hard & got all wet inside as we took them on & off. More of a bother than anything. So we were wet, no big deal. We had made it to the famous landmark of Hanevave Bay, Fatu Hiva & were quite proud of ourselves for not letting the elements deter us.

We met a group of 4 boaters on our return to shore. We stood under a shelter & swapped stories a while. David & Mary then dropped us off at “Beach House” to change into dry clothes, grab the food she’d prepared (that I’d kept from yesterday) & we went over to “Giselle” for lunch. More good food & friendly companionship. I was intrigued to learn of the diet they are on. Apparently they each used to weigh about 30 pounds heavier & after a variety of unsuccessful diets, discovered the “Montignac Diet”. The line below the book title says “Eat for Pleasure – Stay Slim Forever” by Michel Montignac.

The concept is based on the glycemic index which I had heard of & it makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve borrowed the book to copy key points & menus. We overall eat fairly healthily I think, but Scott is in the habit of a fairly steady sugar intake drinking Gatorade & sweetened iced tea all day. I almost exclusively drink plain old water. I don’t discount my lucky genes as a big factor in staying thin & his unlucky slow metabolism. I am not trying to get him to be me. Just a slimmer, healthier him. He understands keeping trim will improve his longevity & appearance so is willing to try. We can’t start it until I next provision. If any of you are interested, check out the book. I think it is an intriguing plan & enables one to lose weight without feeling deprived. In fact, David and Mary say they can’t eat enough on the plan and get to eat lots and lots of things they love. For me to not lose weight along with him, but just maintain, I will eat at a Glycemic Index of 50 while he tries to stay at 35. Apparently results are not seen if you only partially do it. So we will wait until I have enough of the right kinds of food to delve in fully, but meanwhile we are wrapping our minds around the concept. Scott asked to try his evening tea without sugar. That’s a start.

David will be investigating a hopefully minor engine problem tomorrow. We have some onboard projects of our own to attend to. The wind & rain looks like it may let up by July 1st. So we hope to move on to the small island of Tahuata in a few days. Since there are very few American yachties in this area at this time of year, our next big holiday will not be July 4th but rather July 14, Bastille Day. We are thinking to reach Nuku Hiva by then in hopes that there will be some local “Fete” festivities.

Fatu Hiva, Day #5

Fatu Hiva, Marquesas…..

June 28, 2009

Dear F&F,
June 27, 2009

Since it was another windy rainy day, not great for going ashore, Mary & David again came over for lunch. Our boat is so great for entertaining indoors or out with less motion, so less tendency for seasickness at anchor than on a monohull. On the radio last night I only said, “I have an excess of beets, please come over”. Mary shows up with a whole meal! I had already whipped up a menu of my own so just put her food in our fridge, except for the carrot & celery sticks. She also brought me some of her homemade oat cakes, which are the kind of really plain & healthy cracker my Mom might have baked. I would spice them up with at least salt & maybe garlic or herbs of some type. (Later Mary said she usually does make them with a lot of pepper, but not knowing our preference kept them plain.) She says it is easy to make them so I will try. Crackers are one thing I did not see in any store on Hiva Oa. Plenty of cookies, but no crackers at all.

The meal was a big hit. Even Scott enjoyed the beet salad. I made it “salad compose’ ” style, which is French for basically arranging the items on the plate, versus tossing them all together. The beets were marinated all night in a dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper. I sliced them & fanned them around one half of the small plate. Then I put generous scoops of goat cheese in the middle of the arc of beets. I minced some yellow & green bell peppers, red onion & an orange (removing all seeds & membrane bits). That mixture went in an arc opposite the beets. I sprinkled finely diced walnuts over the goat cheese & drizzled more vinaigrette over all. It was beautiful to look at & quite delicious. I was quite pleased with myself.

The second course was ginger cranberry risotto. I did not know I was making risotto, but that it is how it turned out to my happy surprise. I used 2/3rds chicken bouillon & 1/3 coconut milk (canned, unsweetened) cooked it 22 minutes in the pressure cooker with diced fresh ginger. Stirred in the dried cranberries afterwards & they softened while we ate our salad. I never used to cook with such abandon. But having only what is at hand & no ability to dash to the store for this or that ingredient inspires me to be more creative with what is right in front of me. I keep lists of what I have in the pantry, fridge & freezer. I scan my lists and then various ingredients jump out into new combinations to try. Having plenty of time helps cooking be fun & easy, no stress.

After I cleared the lunch table we pulled out our collection of cruising guides & charts of the next island group – the Tuomotus. They are a completely opposite type of island to the Marquesas. The Marquesas are “high islands” meaning formed from volcanos and geologically very young. Erosion has sculpted the rocks into dramatic pillars here on Fatu Hiva. The Tuomotus are “low islands”, tallest thing is a palm tree. They are very old geologically; sunken volcanos, now just fringing reefs & atolls. There are about 7 primary Marquesean islands, but about 78 Tuomotus. Navigating amongst these low islands is far more challenging. They are difficult to see from a distance of as little as 5 miles and there are many shallow reef areas that you must avoid. In olden times they were referred to as “The Dangerous Archipelago”.

We are trying to design our trip so that all sailing can be done during daylight. Or, if an overnight is necessary due to the distance between 2 good anchorages, we will stay well out from any dangerously shallow reefs. Mary & David intend to do a 3 year circumnavigation. They are already one-third of the way around. They snorkel but are not divers. Scott & I are more interested in visiting more of the various Tuomotu islands than they are. We hope to stay to our hearts content at any that have good anchorages & good diving. It was good to knock around the routes & ideas together, even as we understand that we will probably be on different paths after Nuku Hiva (the last Marquesas island we will both visit).

While the trip planning was going on in the salon, I washed the dishes then was eager to use the gift that Mary brought me: a mesh strainer! She had never heard of quinoa & got a good laugh from the story of my first attempt cooking it unwashed. I put a bowl under the sieve & ran water over, stirring it to wash the grains well. I could not believe how brown the water was! And full of chunks of dirt!! No wonder when you buy it at Whole Foods it says “triple washed”. So I proceeded to triple & quadruple wash it but had a dilemma that some bits of rock were larger than the sieve. Larger than the quinoa & sank to the bottom of the strainer. So I did my best to spoon out the clean parts & leave the grit in the bottom. I hand sorted any dark bits out. Although upon random testing, some were just darker colored grain & some was a tiny pebble & it was not always so easy to tell the difference. Tedious work, I tolerated it only by chatting with Mary all the while. It took me half an hour to clean a half cup! That was all the patience I had for it & set it aside in the pressure cooker to cook later.

Another catamaran pulled into the anchorage. Scott hailed him on the radio welcoming him to the bay & giving him useful info on where our two boat anchors are & how the wind whips down the mountains. The single handing guy was a jerk. He proceeded to begin anchoring right where we told him to avoid. David zoomed over in his dinghy to shoo the guy away from dropping his hook right over theirs. Then the guy moves around to the left side of “Beach House” WAY TOO CLOSE! Scott is so close the guy can hear him without use of the radio. Scott makes a suggestion that he just move a bit further away & forwards. Mr Jerk made a snotty comment & wandered around the anchorage for about half an hour before going exactly where Scott had advised. Oh well, an ugly Americans can show up anywhere I guess. Too bad, because he has scuba tanks in his cockpit. But we are suspicious that he may not be the owner, just hired to deliver the boat somewhere. But in any case, it is a shame whenever any fellow boater acts this way because we are literally in the same backyard & who knows when we may need to pull together to help each other with some kind of situation.

Once we were content that Mr. Jerk was secure & far enough away from doing harm, we noticed a break in the rain & decided to take a quick trip to shore. It was already 3:45 p.m. and the sun sets about 6:00 p.m. It is only a 5 minute dinghy ride to shore & I was happy to have a relatively dry landing. There is a cement wall with a lower shelf that you can tie up to & step out on. Then another big step up and you are on land. How nice to stretch the legs! Mary & I zipped ahead as the guys strolled behind. We found limes lying in the street & put a few in our pockets. The rain came again but we all had our light foul jackets on & water sandals.

The scenery is spectacular. The Marquesans originally named this bay, the “Bay of Phalluses” (when you see Scott’s photos, you’ll know why!). The Missionaries didn’t approve and changed the spelling in French to make it the “Bay of Virgins”. THIS, they approved of! We saw many areas of landslide, but it was hard to tell how fresh they were. A couple horses were tethered by the road eating grass. There are a handful of small poorly built houses as we see everywhere in the 3rd world: corrugated tin roofs, no windows, chickens running in the yard. Another yachtie handed out hats to a group of kids. Due to boaters giving the locals stuff there is a tendency for them to expect a hand-out from everyone. We were not prepared with any kind of offering & thankfully they did not beg or follow us as they were content with their new hats. I saw a tiny market, but we did not go in. I don’t really need anything right now.

We walked up the road about half an hour when the rain became torrential again so we turned back. Mary & David dropped us off at “Beach House” & went home to “Giselle”. I still have all her food in my fridge & their books in our salon. We agreed if the weather was at all reasonable, we would attempt an early start to hike to the waterfall in the morning. Then we can have Mary’s food for lunch afterwards.

So another lovely day, with our new friends. I am trying to fully enjoy them now & not get pangs thinking about how we will go our separate ways in a week or two, perhaps never see them again. With email we try to keep in touch with boaters we click with. And who knows, maybe we’ll go visit them in Scotland someday…

After a shower & heating up some leftover pasta, I cooked the quinoa 9 minutes in the pressure cooker. I cautiously took a bite – no dirt! I scooped it into containers with a dab of brown sugar & we’ll have it reheated with milk for breakfast tomorrow. I have only a small bag of it so will make it whenever I next have the patience to do the tedious washing routine. I will each time think fondly of Alberta (for introducing me to this grain) & Mary (for my new sieve). But I do not think I will ever buy the unwashed kind again, too much work!

This anchorage is quite calm, not rolly. Despite the wind & rain noises I was awake only 1 hour last night & did yoga in bed & the hallway until I got sleepy again. Better idea than getting on the computer for 4 hours! I am feeling calm & peaceful. I am hugely relieved to feel happy again & back in the mindset of knowing not only I Can Do This, but I Want to Do This. This is no doubt the adventure of my lifetime. And with beautiful scenery to explore, entertaining companionship, good food, adequate sleep and a cleaner boat (little by little), all is well in Fatu Hiva.

Thank you for your concerns and support. I apologize if I worry you at times. Please keep in mind how resilient I am when you read the reports of my challenging down days. Scott and I are deeply devoted and take tender care of each other.

Stay tuned. Never a dull moment!
Cindy in Fatu Hiva, Day #4

Anchoring Adventures…..Is there something in the air here?

June 25, 2009

Dear F&F,
June 23-24
This is a “True Story” and happened over the last 36 hours here at Fatu Hiva, Marquesas. For the last 20 months, we’ve virtually had no anchoring stories of note, at least not those caused by other boats. Well all that changed with no less than four boats here in Fatu Hiva.

We had quite a lesson yesterday in one of the worlds two shortest books, one of which is: “Famous French Anchoring Techniques”!

Chapter One: The first French Boat had 15 feet of 1/4″ anchor chain on his 42 foot Beneteau and apparently wondered why anchoring in 70 feet of water he kept dragging?….He did this “anchor drill” for 4 1/2 hours…I’m NOT exaggerating. For you non sailors, that amount of chain in deep water is like tying up your horse with piece of kite string.

Chapter Two: Began with three young French (male) 20 somethings on a 33 foot boat that had just arrived from the Galapagos after 23 days. They, without asking or checking decided that dropping their anchor on ours and trying to drag our boat around this bay seemed like a really fun thing to do on arrival. They kept saying they were “stuck on a rock” and couldn’t get it up (the anchor). I kept saying as I got in the dinghy, “You’ve hooked my chain and you’ll never get it up”, (pun intended) as I reached for a pair of cutters not sure if relieving them of their manhood would be easier than cutting their anchor loose!(not really). I took the underwater viewer over in the dinghy and indeed they had hooked our anchor chain. Then, “Monsieur Gorgeous” announced that it was only 5 meters deep (18 feet) and he could excise it from their anchor. NOT!!!!! I asked if anyone had a SCUBA bottle aboard…”Non” was the answer. Then “Monsieur Gorgeous” asked and one magically appeared.

He again tried the macho approach to no avail and finally took my advice re: loop a line around it, support it, lower their anchor…move on. Of course Chapter Three in this book was that they had two anchors (in line…God knows why on a 33 foot light weight mono hull) and that they were both twisted on themselves AND our anchor chain.

Chapter 4 was that yet another French boat supervised them dropping their anchor on ours while yesterday screaming as loud as he could at anyone who got near his two bow anchors. Hence his attitude was, “I don’t care if you drop it on them, just stay away from me”!…
Vive La France!….

After sorting this all out, the young guys tried to anchor next to Chapter Four’s boat where in loud French he shooed them away. When I had tried that the day before, he practically boarded us…

Oh BTW, the three young French fellows were absolutely unapologetic about the trouble they put us through, no thanks for the assistance of helping them untangle the mess either. We re-anchored our boat, this time with a buoy marking it to (hopefully) prevent this trouble again. This morning I cannot find my buoy I believe it must have gotten close to Chapter Four’s boat and I imagine (so far) he just cut it loose. Hopefully it’s (underwater with a just slightly higher tide)….the day will tell…(indeed it did reappear, it almost gives me faith in my fellow man!)

Lest we bash the French alone, we then had an “Ugly American” anchoring story the next day. A 60 foot cat, built in South Africa, British Registry, pulls in with a single hander (American) from Hiva Oa by way of the Galapagos, Panama Canal and apparently originally from Florida. Odd I thought, he still has his Ecuadorian Courtesy flag up and his Q flag (This flag means that the boat has not yet checked into the country) as according to our friends on “Giselle” he was in Hiva Oa where everyone checks in.

I hail him, he asks me the lay of the anchoring land. I say “Welcome to Fatu Hiva”. He anchors, doesn’t like his position. Re-anchors next to me. I’m quite patient watching him at about three quarters of a boat length away (much too close for comfort with these size boats). Finally, after about 10 minutes, I suggested very politely that he might be a bit close. His reply in as sarcastic a tone as he could muster was, “You’re quite observant”. I asked if he was tired, trying to remain polite. No response. He then asked me, “Would you like to anchor for me (perhaps even more sarcastically)”?. I asked if he needed assistance. No reply. He picked up, moved and has said not a word to anyone, he left 2 days later without communicating with anyone. David (of “Giselle”) was visiting and said, “The chap was quite arrogant when he arrived in Hiva Oa to all the boats in the anchorage”. We both speculated that he might be a delivery skipper and not the owner as the boat seemed to be registered out of the UK. Their are 8 dive tanks in racks (4/side). Too bad, we’d love to find a nice boat to buddy/dive with.