Sailing Tahuata and Nuku Hiva

Greetings from the Anaho Bay on the north side of Nuku Hiva.
Recent Track: Banderas Bay, MX to Atuona, Huva Oa, French Polynesia to the Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva to Hanatefau Bay (village of Hapatoni), Tahuata to Anaho bay, Nuku Hiva to Taiohae, Nuku Hiva.

If you think those names have a lot of vowels to read then just imagine trying to pronounce them in day to day conversation!

Pentecost on Tahuata

When we left Fatu Hiva we sailed up to the west coast of the island of Tahuata to the bay of Hanatefau. The tiny village of Hapatoni (if you can call it that; a cluster of five or six homes and a church with some multi use public buildings) was preparing for a three day celebration. It was a festival around Pentecost and Mary. It was three days of the Rosary, Mass, processions, traditional dancing, amazing singing, and eating. They had visitors from two other Islands (Fatu Hiva and Hiva Oa) pour into their little bay and put up temporary beds in the public buildings. The veneration they showed Mary and the Holy Spirit was amazing. In the evenings they would do traditional style dancing (think hula, but not exactly) which was all centered on the story of Christ or in homage to Mary. Of course this was all in their native language so we were extrapolating. It was awesome to see the local people dancing, singing and celebrating with sweet smelling flowers everywhere. It was a bit like peeking into some secret ceremony. This was not a hula dance at the resort or a reenactment of a traditional celebration for the tourist, this was their honest celebration being had with and for each other and God. We felt very privileged to participate.

We also were privileged to eat with them during lunch and dinner. They were serving rice with local goat in coco milk, cooked breadfruits with local pork and poisson cru (a raw fish specialty here similar to ceviche but with larger chunks of fish and coconut milk and ginger, sometimes with grated carrots and cucumber chunks). There were other traditional selections of root veggies we didn’t recognize (not taro… something else we can’t recall) and sweet sticky coconut rice. It was also the cheapest meal we have had at $5 for adults and the kids ate free. The restaurants here, when you can find them, usually start at $18 and go up to $35 for a meal. Portions are large and the food is great, but wow… hard on the pocket book!

“Fruit Just Falls from the Trees”

Since arriving in paradise where food just falls from the trees, we have had a bit of a time getting fresh veggies and fruit! If you are lucky, you will pass a mango tree on public land while on a hike, at which point you fill your backpacks with sticky ripe mangoes and eat mangoes for days. But, even mangoes get a bit old. As most fruit trees on the island are owned by an islander, it is not good etiquette to take from just any tree; you must ask if you can find the owner. They often give you permission and will sometimes help you pick!

Me, eating mangos along the road.

When in Hiva Oa, we found some produce at the small super market, but it was shockingly expensive and ran out quickly. While in Fatu Hiva, there were no veggies or fruit in the tiny store – everyone grows their own. The townspeople wanted to trade with (not sell to) the cruisers but we didn’t have much of what they wanted; rum, Cameron’s running shoes, and fishing line were top on the list. We didn’t feel great about giving them alcohol and Cameron was not interested in giving them his only pair of closed toed shoes. When hearing of people who did fork over a bottle of rum, the locals got very generous and loaded the lucky cruiser with stalks of banana, soursop, grapefruit, breadfruit, pomme citern, and whatever else was requested if they had it.

Cameron inspecting our selection at the farm in Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva
The Farmer offering Isa a welcome sip of water after the hike over the the farm from the bay.

Now that we are in Anaho on Nuku Hiva, we hiked over the hill to a reported farm and found they had (for sale, not trade!) a whole plantation of fruits and some veg. We were able to fill our packs and paid $34 for ten grapefruit, four cucumber, eight tomatoes, two watermelons, two papayas, two eggplants, and a kilo of limes – all picked from their respective tree or plant while we walked around the plantation with the farmer. We walked home over the slick, recently rained on trail, heavily weighed down, but happy to have some fresh produce on board.

Nuku Hiva

Our passage from Hapatoni bay on Tahuata to Anaho bay on Nuku Hiva was about 85 nautical miles. We left in the evening and sailed overnight so that we would arrive during the day. To all of our surprise, we all got sick. Not sure exactly what it was; the time at a relatively calm anchorage, the cross seas, the dark night and difficulty seeing the horizon. Thankfully the trip was uneventful beyond that.

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 11.44.56 AM
We caught a nice tuna on that passage.

As of today we have zero access to the world beyond our connection with the satellite phone or SSB. Anaho is a beautiful bay and also the most protected on the island, but it has no car access, only people or animals on foot make it into this bay, unless they come by boat. Many of the bays around here are not totally protected and depending on swell direction, they can be a bit rough. But, Anaho is very protected so, at this moment, Cameron is up on the mast re-riveting portions of the mast track support to the mast, a job that has been “on-hold” since the crossing due to unprotected anchorages. The girls have finished up school and are listening to a book on tape while building lego creations. I’m helping Cameron a bit, doing domestic chores and getting up to date on some email.

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Cameron working up the mast

Note: the above was written late last week. Today we are in Taiohae, the main town of the Marquesas on the south side of Nuku Hiva. There may be a short delay on the photos loading up, so if you don’t see any, check back in a few days or keep tabs on Facebook as photos and videos seem to load up much faster to Facebook. Wifi here is – I hesitate to say useless… but, it is sooooo slow and unreliable when it comes to anything larger than a text email.

Recent Happenings Isa got her ears pierced, we celebrated Adelaide’s 11th birthday, we lost a starter motor – root problem not determined, Cameron is currently head down in the bilges troubleshooting, we are loving Nuku Hiva and its friendly people, we are all practicing our French regularly, bugs have been minimal, temperature has been perfect, some smattering of showers here and there to wash the boat, we saw a manta ray while snorkeling – I totally freaked, and we are planning to leave for the Tuamotus within a week or two assuming we sort out the engine issues. We haven’t seen any of the “enormous” sharks yet that get so much talk.
Now that is a long enough post for now! If you made it this far, you are a dedicated reader. Thanks for following our adventures and for all the well wishes we have received. We have loved reading the comments from our passage left by everyone! Soon we hope to spend some QT with the website and respond.
Au revoir!


  1. Doug Vawter says:

    It appears you are having a marvelous time. Thanks for the details relating to the three day celebration. What a unique experience for the girls to watch and enjoy. How is their “hula” dancing progressing?!?! All is great stateside; just a little mondane and boring after reading your account! Love to all!

  2. Candace Kelley Howard says:

    Like Doug, I really enjoyed reading about the celebration, and for the reason you stated: that it was an “honest” celebration that you got to share. What a wonderful experience. Your efforts to send these emails are definitely appreciated by me. I look forward to them.

  3. karen says:

    Yay! I’ve been thinking of you all and I’m glad to get an update 🙂 I love seeing those pics of the girls – they look so tall! Jolie is in her last few weeks of 4th grade and very excited for summer! We are busy gardening and more gardening and we are painting the house finally 🙂 Miss you so much! XOXO

  4. Barbara Vawter says:

    Pentecost on Tahuata Island must have felt deeply spiritual! I’m sure the locals loved welcoming you into their worship, you were Blessed to share with them! Friends we haven’t seen for years surprise us by commenting how much they enjoy your blogs! You have a great fan base in Indiana! Godspeed on your journey!

  5. Aunt Ruth Vawter says:

    Thank you for sharing your adventures. I am thrilled with your faith that you can appreciate and respect the Pentecost celebration in another country. What an honor to be there with them to celebrate. It is great you are learning French. I thoroughly enjoy your blogs. Blessings for wisdom, favor, and protection. Love you.

  6. Joanie Schumann says:

    June 7, 2018 11:40on
    Joanie Schumann

    I love catching up on your adventures, can’t wait for the latest photos
    What a dream experience for you all. Thank you

  7. Peter J Minton says:

    I am jealous. The Marquesas have always held a fascination for me in my island mapping projects. I will enjoy them through your eyes blog entries. Safe sailing.

  8. Janis and Fred Blue says:

    So enjoy reading about your life on the water and adventures on the islands. It’s been very hot here and crops needing rain that seems to come and go so not hurting too bad here. They started breaking ground right behind our church next door for our new church this week, so great that we can watch and HEAR the equipment’s LOUD back-up beeps, but doesn’t really bother us. They have been digging and moving lots of dirt, and can feel some vibrations in our house even. I really want to try and get a world map so we can try and follow you. Just enjoy and be safe. Hugs, from the Blue’s

  9. Lori says:

    Bonjour! Love the posts and photos! 🙂 Fair winds and following seas from Tom and Lori Volk aboard Silent Lady

  10. Myka Suhr says:

    I miss you guys so much!! I am really liking 4th grade. I can’t wait to see you again! OH!! And that fish you caught??? OMIGOSH.

    I really like reading the posts! Do you fingers hurt from typing so much? 🙂 ^__^
    Love, Myka like I said, can’t wait to see you!!

    (In like a gazillion years!) .

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