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fatu hiva ~ the most beautiful landfall

Posted by on July 18, 2013

May 14, 2013

amazing rocky cliffs of Fatu Hiva

Never in our lives, could we have imagined just how breathtakingly beautiful Fatu Hiva, a remote island in the southern Marquesas, would be. As we approached the Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins), we stared in amazement at the gorgeous and rugged landscape.

excited about our first landfall after crossing the Pacific

While enjoying this absolute beauty, we also began to tidy up the boat. Once we navigated behind the island, the wind was blocked by the high mountains, so it was time to wrap up our sails for the first time in 22 days. We coiled lines and packed up our safety harnesses.

Transom bucket baths were also in order, in our Jacuzzi tub, so to speak. We sit at the bottom of the transom with a bucket to pour over our heads, and the ocean water swirls up around us. (Yes, there’s a safety line to keep us from washing over!) As I sat at the base of the transom, sailing along the coast of Fatu Hiva, I thought about how this was a “bath tub” with the best view in the world.

As we made our final approach to the anchorage, the wind funneled between the mountains creating a 30 knot wind on our nose. The anchored boats in the bay ahead were dwarfed by the tall mountains that surrounded them.

dwarfed sailboats in the Bay of Virgins

Once we were out of the wind, and into the bay, we were greeted by horn blowing and waving arms from those that had landed before us. There were cheers and hellos hollered across the anchorage. Again, we were heart warmed by the camaraderie. The achievement of sailing across thePacific Ocean was celebrated by all.

While we had just sailed across thePacific Ocean, anchoring in the Baie des Vierges proved to be our next challenge. The bay is narrow and deep (over 80 feet) with a shallower 30-foot ledge along the rocky shoreline. There were about 15 boats squeezed into this small anchorage, and they were all dancing wildly on their anchors with every wind gust that funneled between the mountains. We immediately decided that we didn’t want to anchor near the rocks, so we chose a spot out in the center and dropped every bit of our 200 feet of chain to the bottom. While this was only a mere 2.5 to 1 scope, by the end of our time there, we found that our boat was never able to pull the weight of all that chain straight out, even in a sustained 40 knot wind.

We’d barely gotten our anchor down when a fellow cruiser dinghied over to us. While we were talking with him, Colin suddenly and desperately needed to get our attention. Since I was still standing near the helm, I could immediately see that Colin was trying to let us know that our boat was rapidly moving towards another anchored boat. Regardless of the fact that we had a visiting dinghy at our side, I turned on the engines and threw them in reverse. Wil couldn’t figure out what was going on, and our visitor had to let go. We had catapulted forward after having backed down on our anchor. We corrected our situation by gently backing up just until the boat was where it would sit naturally.

Once the boat was settled, and we could breathe a sigh of relief, we embraced the fact that we weren’t moving anymore. Sure, there was a bit of swell in the anchorage, but we weren’t underway anymore. Even though we were eager to step foot on dry land, at the same time we knew there was plenty of time for exploration. We just wanted to relish in the fact that we weren’t moving.

Before we even stepped foot off the boat, we had a few fellow cruisers dinghy over for a quick visit, and before we knew it, we had a cockpit full of fresh fruit. Fruit was abundant onshore, and those that had already been ashore knew just how much we would crave fresh produce after 3 weeks at sea. We were given lemons, grapefruit, and a stock of bananas. We savored the flavor of each and every bite!

Eventually, we got around to lowering the dinghy into the water. We made plans to go ashore, but wanted to stop first at s/v Sweet Surrender for a chat. Phil (s/v Sweet Surrender) was a fellow net controller on the SSB, and we had shared a lot during our passage. They ended up inviting us to stay for drinks, along with several other boats that had been a part of our Beagle Net during the Pacific crossing. We rushed back to give the kids some dinner, and then returned to s/v Sweet Surrender where we visited with s/v Always Saturday, s/v Alua, s/v Elonnisa, and s/v Gypsy 4.

With all of the activity since dropping the anchor, we managed to power through our watch schedule nap times that had taken place daily over the past 3 weeks. By the end of the evening, we were exhausted, and even though our bodies were still “on watch”, neither one of us had trouble falling asleep. The moment our heads hit our pillows we slept like babies for the entire night. What luxury!

Tomorrow would be a new day. Tomorrow we would place our feet on solid ground and begin to explore this island of beauty.

used to be called the Bay of Penises ~ wonder why?

now called the Bay of Virgins ~ can you see the Virgin in the rock formation?

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