Wednesday, 1 July 2015

On roaming


We're cruising again, and it feels a bit strange. We've been pushing forward so purposefully for months. An ocean, a sea, and then half an ocean. You build up a certain momentum.

The waterline cleaning boy

We've locked in the first three weeks of August for that rare and most welcome activity, sharing our floating home with friends and family. They'll fly into Papeete. Since there's close to a week's voyaging between here and Tahiti, we're left with three more weeks on roaming.

Same boy - in sailing mode

When I'm eating bananas, which ordinarily I don't like to eat ever, I know I'm getting into the groove. We're carrying a branch of bananas on the aft deck, bought green, now in a state of rapidly advancing ripeness but the small fruit are still firm, and pleasantly sweet.

Snack of choice, Daniel's Bay

The way up to the waterfall behind Daniel's Bay (and below)

Chez Monette - table for  six


Her husband Mattias, making copra

Two kinds of banana, grated papaya - a feast

Jack (Escape Velocity)

Cheryl and Mark (French Curve)

Monette, who fed us lunch on our way back from the long hike up to the waterfall behind Daniel's Bay, served us two different banana dishes along with a bowl of rice, grated green papaya and island chicken. I've made her beignets de bananes (fried bananas) for dinner since then. We ate them with mango chutney, sausages (our one and only pack in the freezer is now no more) and coleslaw (cabbage still going, all the way from Panama City). Breadfruit is now on the menu too. Marce and I made breadfruit chips on our last night in Daniel's Bay. Crispy and light. Yum. Escape Velocity, now on Ua Pou, reports that breadfruit sauteed with onion and peppers and garlic is also delicious.

Marce (Escape Velocity)

We've been hanging out in Anoha, on the spectacularly rugged north coast of Nuku Hiva. We're almost on our own, which is surprising. Anoha is usually described as among the most beautiful bays in Polynesia, and the best and safest anchorage in the Marquesas. The other yacht in here is not one for sundowners. We noticed the Turkish flag on the spreaders as soon as we came in. The next day we watched them load their large black dog into their dinghy and zoom across to the uninhabited eastern end of the bay at high tide. They didn't stop to say hello.

Just the two of us - Anaho Bay

One afternoon when we'd walked from the dinghy pass at the other end of Anoha, we saw them on the beach and they waved. We chatted for a while, our ankles in the surf. They are young, both former engineers, very attractive people, and they made it obvious that they had no interest in discussing Turkey. "We're not activists," they said. That just about covers it. To be intelligent and Turkish these days, you either have to be an activist, it seems, or turn your back on the whole mess. They left Istanbul six years ago on their boat, bought a piece of land in Montana along the way, and see no end to their voyaging. They're not unfriendly, but they have tuned out. You have to respect that. It's an enviable state.

Chance encounter

We never quite tune out. We're not joiners, but we're social animals. City people at heart. People's lives interest us. Which is why Anoha has been quite a disturbing place to be anchored, not on account of the Turks (whose motives we think we understand) but of the people on shore, living in amongst the coconut palms. There are so few of them. Perhaps a dozen, not more. An outrigger and a couple of small runabouts are anchored inside the coral, and they come and go between this and the next bay where there's a shop, and the road from Taiohae ends. It's a long and rough trip. And yet when we walked along the shoreline, the people we met amongst the foliage barely raised their heads in response to our 'bonjour'.

Anaho Bay (and below)

I tried to squeeze a few words out of a heavily tattooed man with no front teeth who said he was the guardian at the children's camp. There were no children around. He's waiting for the July/August holidays which are about to break on us. The young men who were drinking themselves silly at the other end of the bay were waiting for something too, but it may not show up quite as reliably. Perhaps they can't wait for the last yacht to go. Perhaps having us anchored out here in our fancy big boats is too much to bear.

We listen in occasionally to the morning cruisers net, and the impression is of a stream of yachts funneling through passes on various Tuomotu atolls. Some yachts are already as far away as Rarotonga and Samoa, but most are moving towards Tahiti, the place to be for the Bastille Day festivities. At this point, everyone has a plan. The time for not having a plan is over. We're counting the months until we go down to New Zealand from either Tonga or Fiji.

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