Saturday 4 April 2015

Marquesas, guest written by Andrew

It is 0230 in the morning, I am on watch and we are sailing from Tahuata to NukuHiva. We are proceeding at 6 knots and are passing on our port side Ua Pou – what great names! I am sitting in my shorts with no shirt, having hardly worn a shirt or shoes for the last 2.5 months. Our 17 day Pacific crossing ended at Hiva Oa 3 days ago; we are at the Marquesa Islands.  Hiva Oa and Tahuata are stunning and I have high hopes for Nuku Hiva which has one of the world’s highest waterfalls, which we will trek up to. On our Port side about 1 mile away is A Plus 2 and on the starboard side about 2 miles away Makena; both boats on the World Arc. 
We left Tahuata at 1800 having had lunch on Makena with fish caught by Steve (a Marquesan with an unspellable and un-pronounceable name). Steve, about 35, lives by himself in Hanamoenoa Bay. He has one solar panel for light and a mobile phone, otherwise no modern amenities. He grows fruit vegetables and catches fish, wild goats and pigs – nature is bountiful here. Unfortunately when I first came across him when we arrived I got off to a bad start. I swam ashore and waved to him, but as I only got a small response I moved on – I offended him by not going up to him and shaking his hand.  When I was next on the beach two days later he approached again and after chatting for a while he said ‘why did you swim away without saying hello?’  Now I know if you land on someone’s beach you must go up and introduce yourself, not just wave.

The Pacific passage was largely uneventful with the main surprise being the fickleness of the wind; it was frequently backing and veering 20 degrees, which made for lots of course adjustments.  In addition there was not enough of it.  Despite crossing the lines ahead off the other monohulls, we motored more than many (Juno prefers strong winds) and so are not expecting a great result on this leg.  The boat that won last time can arrive five days after us and still be ahead on corrected time. For me the days sped by with my time being spent on watch, cooking, reading, learning Spanish, listening to Desert Island Disks and watching stars, sun rises and sun sets and sleeping in numerous short bursts; normally having 2 or 3 sleeps a day. I tried to helm for an hour a day.

Back to the wonderful names; we have now visited Rodney Bay, Santa Marta, Miriadiadup, Banedup, Sugardup (San Blas Islands); Shelter Bay, Panama City, Isla Chapera, Isla Contadora (Las Perlas Islands), San Cristobal, Isabella, Santa Cruz (Galapagos), HivaOa, Tahuata, NukuHiva (Marquesas Islands) with many more lovely names to come! On HivaOa the highlight was a 2 hour horse ride up in the hills with glorious views of valleys, mountains and the sea; we rode lovely Marquesan stallions who are like mini thoroughbreds and are very fiery with each other so we had a strict rule to keep well apart.  We went up and down steep hills, galloped for a km and generally had a wonderful ride through beautiful tropical forests; capped by our guide Paco who was bare chested and rode in front hacking the foliage with his machete- the girls loved him!

And I have to mention the Galapagos which lived up to all expectations.  We were there for 10 days and visited 3 islands, our favourite being Isabella.  The wild life is incredible – everywhere you look – we had Pelicans fishing around Juno (big sploshes as they dive in), sea lions trying to board her, sharks and fish all around. Just going ashore involved avoiding multiple large black iguanas who don’t care about humans. The snorkelling was great including swimming with giant turtles, Hammerhead shark and Manta and Eagle rays – by the way we learned that big rays can lasso sharks (and humans) and drag them to the bottom and by holding them still, drown them.

Everyday seems to be an adventure of some sort; some chore related like spending hours diving to find our errant kedge anchor or cleaning the bottom of the boat; others more tourist related such as today when Caroline and I got up at 0615 to go to the fish market where we bought 12 kilos of yellow fin tuna, swordfish and red snapper all for £30. We gave some to other boats but most has been frozen for our next voyage. The amazing bit was the fisherman cutting up the fish and throwing the waste into the sea where there was a frenzy of sharks fighting for the scraps.  In fact when we processed our fish and threw away the scraps we had our own show over the side of Juno. We have got used to swimming with sharks and seeing fins passing the boat, most are less than 2 metres and are no threat to us.

So another month has passed and I will soon have been away for three months with the prospect of J arriving on the 23rd April.  I can’t imagine what it will be like from here on; we have no voyages of more than 1,000 miles with masses of Islands to visit.  The next one that is in my mind is Fakarava on the Tuamotos which everyone says is fantastic; but before that we have the bay of virgins which used to be called the bay of penises until the missionaries got involved (In French, Vierge and Verge). But we have already seen the most stunning places so it does not seem possible for things to get better. Tomorrow we go on a 2 hour hike following a river up to a waterfall, supposedly the world’s third highest; the only hazard should be the mosquitoes that carry a nasty disease and the No Nos that give a nasty bite!

I am fortunate indeed to be able to participate in this voyage – thank you to J and Paul and Caroline! Until next time, adieu.


  1. Great blog,Andrew-Brilliant to hear from every member of the Juno crew with their different blog styles.Suspect tasty tropical fruits substitute chocolate eggs ! Happy Easter from all Naylors in sunny Cornwall xoxox

  2. Greetings from Charlottesville, VA Andrew and fellow sailors! I emailed with J today and hope to connect with Jess at the end of the month in NYC. Chris and I have lived vicariously through the blog during one of the coldest winters on record! I must report Chris (me too!) has worn his shirt everyday of the last 2.5 months, although Spring has finally sprung. We are thawing out and warming up, but not nearly the Paradise you are experiencing on your journey. Love the photos and updates. Safe travels and enjoy, your UVA Friends.

  3. That was a super blog, I seem to have got behind in my reading. I liked the descriptions of so much, vis the fiery little stallions, reminding of your love of horses. Gallapagos - ever my favourite place.

  4. Nuku Hiva is the world's largest waterfall in the world. Few months ago i visited this place. This place is really awesome and i have some great adventurous experience. Thank you also sharing your experience.