Words by Ryan
Baie D’Hakahetau, Oa Pou, Marqueses
09 degrees 21.420 minutes South, 140 degrees, 06.327 minutes West.
There are a few occasions in life when one experiences such generosity and hospitality that it leaves you speechless, and scrabbling for a way to repay the kindness. This phenomenon exists in a little bay, 6 miles west of Baie D’ Taihoe, smilingly doled out by the little Marquesan family of Maurice, Charolotte and three year old daughter, Anabelle.
After spending a few blessed days on terra firma, the OceanGybe crew was compelled to venture further afield: Away from the cars, streetlights and techno music of the largest port in the Marquesas. This goal had us hauling up the anchor, and setting our course for a fabled bay of white sand beaches, with the extra bonus of a 4hour hike through lush tropical jungle to a spectacular 600m high waterfall.
Daniels bay is so beautiful it will take your breath away. I almost feel it would be an injustice to try and write it on paper, but hey, I’ll give it a shot!
It is at the head of a giant volcanic valley, bordered on one side by towering black cliffs, and on the other by a gently sloping jungle. The valley has two heads, each sporting a white sand beach and a little hut quietly puffing wood smoke through the palm trees above. Against the black and green backdrop of the rugged valley, flocks of white birds dance and dive, giving perspective to the towering majesty of the landscape. It was as if we had motored directly onto the set of Jurassic Park, except that we were the only boat anchored in the bay.
At noon the next day we all had smiles on our faces (larger smiles than usual) as we had finally surfed our first waves from Khulula. I use the term “wave” here quite loosely, as these ankle ticklers had barely enough oomph to get us up and planing. Nonetheless, we got wet and stood up on our surfboards! Yeeehaaa!
We decided to hike to the waterfall that afternoon. We packed up our kit and headed for the beach, a little unsure of the reception we were to receive. Not 5 minutes after pulling up and securing the boat to a tree, the intimidating, ripped and heavily tattooed figure of Maurice emerges from the palms. The only thing bigger than the Machette strapped over Maurice’s back, was the giant smile on his face: “Bonjour! Bonjour!” He escorted us back to his house, prodding a few coconuts out of the palms en route, stopping only to whack open the coconuts and give us each one to sip upon. Maurice lives in Taiohae; this idyllic spot on the beach is his holiday house accessed only by “speebot”! He introduced us to his wife, Charlotte and 3-year old daughter, Annabelle.
The hike to the waterfall deserves a blog all in itself, but this isn’t the one! The trail meanders through a spectacular valley, alongside a tumbling creek. In the 1700′s, Nuku Hiva once was home to over 60,000 inhabitants, now there are less than 6,000. The valley that we were hiking through was once a bustling community, and the evidence was everywhere: Stone platforms, 4 ft stone walls, abutments, stone tika’s, and cobbled pathways – all being digested back into the jungle.
We arrived back at Maurice’s just before sundown, to be greeted by not one, but TWO WHEELBARROW loads of fruit. It took a long time to realize that the actually intended to give it all to us, and would not accept anything in return. Mangoes, Papaya, Pamplemous (a LARGE, sweet grapefruit), limes, lemons, coconuts, litchi’s and guava’s – we were in heaven! Maurice’s face looked like it was going to split apart, such was the magnitude of his grin. He grabbed our Machette and immediately carved us each a chunk of Pamplemous. We sat, and Charlotte began to tell her story… As a small child, Charlotte grew up in this valley, under he watchful eye of her granddad, Daniel. Together, they tended the trees in the valley that Daniel had planted a decade earlier, and spent the summer months giving as much of it as possible to the yatchties that visited their bay. Daniel died at the ripe old age of 76, a happy man. He passed the shack onto Charlotte with the instructions that she never charge anyone for this bounty of the earth, and to give away as much as the trees could produce. We were sitting in the midst of a happy paradise, benefiting from the legacy of an old man who loved nothing more than to help others. We were speechless, and thanked them profusely. We still can’t get over the story, how totally cool this little bay is, and how completely selfless the summer existence of this little family is. I have never seen 3 such happy people in my life, it goes to show – giving is good for the soul.
Over the course of the conversation, the OceanGybe mission was brought up, and the problem of plastics in the Ocean. As was evident by the spotless and well kept nature of their summer paradise, these guys knew what beach cleanup was all about. Maurice expressed his thoughts: “Wi, pollution! Very very bad! Not good!” The next day, we returned with gifts apt for our mission – a pair of board shorts and a nice bag from Livity Outernational. After explaining to him that these items were all made out of “pollution” and recycled pop bottles and hemp, he was stoked! “Be the change you want to see in this world” is the Livity catch phrase, these clothes had found the correct home.
Currently we are anchored in Baie D’ Hakahetau on the NW corner of Oa Pao, 35 miles south of Nuku Hiva. It is a nice little place, but exposed to the wind and with no real swell. The local town is very clean and well kept, without a sign of garbage anywhere, it seems that the smaller the island, the more aware the locals are on the effect of leaving garbage everwhere…
Highlights from Nuku Hiva include:
· Bryson and Hugh giving each other haircuts! Bryson quote of the day: “So, I can see why people go to school for this!”. Kristy Davies, you’ll get a kick out of that one!
· Meeting up with Liz Clarke, sailor and sometimes bartender, and getting updates on the voyage of “Swell”. Have a look at her blog, it is easy to find through google. It takes a heck of a lot of guts and determination just to sail across the Pacific, let alone if you are a solo 27-year-old woman!
· Enjoying many evenings with Dylan, an Aussie we met in the anchorage. Thanks Dylan for the many tips and tricks that you passed on to assist our transit of the Tuamotu’s.
· Drinking cold beers and eating the best pizza of our lives the evening we first set foot on land!
· Watching Bryson try and do a gainer off the dock, I have not laughed that hard in a long time. I almost drowned.
· Chatting to Thea on a LANDLINE for the first time in a month!
· Eating Chocolate éclairs and ham and cheese quiche’s at the 4am Saturday market. I am not kidding here either, the market starts at 3:30am and closes before the sun rises. We are still completely flummoxed as to the reasoning behind this!
· Baguette’s, tomatoes and Swiss cheese… mmmm.
· Skurfing (skiing behind our zodiac on our surfboards) in a pelting tropical rainstorm.
· Hugh’s birthday extravaganza (Happy birthday Hubert! 4th August for those that are wondering).
· Getting tossed out of the zodiac and totally soaked by a rouge shore break wave that tossed us and our dingy ashore. This was while trying to land on the beach to attend happy hour. Um… yeah, no comment.
· Eating breadfruit fritters off the BBQ. We had no idea how to cook this crazy fruit, so sliced it up, doused in olive oil, salt and rosemary, then fried/baked it in the BBQ. It was incredible. Suffice it to say that we are on the hunt for more breadfruit. Give it a go, you can buy them at Choices, they resemble giant green golf balls.
· Doing a beach cleanup walk, and finding the beaches very very clean and well maintained. The Marquesans are good with their garbage. More on this as we get the results of our study underway…
Once again, Ryan has written a ridiculously long blog entry, so I am going to say au revoir, farewell, and take care from the OceanGybe crew. Tomorrow at dawn we depart for the Tuamotu’s, 550miles to the South East. We are not looking forward to another 4 nights at sea, but the destination will definitely be worth the journey. First stop, the Polynesian atoll of Faiite…