31 Mar Landfall at Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva – Saturday, 31 March 2001
Kaoha Nui from Nuku Hiva,
We made landfall on Saturday, March 31, at about 1600. We had increased the rpm of the boat from 1200 to 1300, which increased our boat speed from about 7 knots to 7.5+knots. This enabled us to arrive on Saturday afternoon, instead of after dark, a much more pleasant experience. We wanted to get a good night’s rest so we could go to church on Sunday morning. We go for the music; some of our best memories of travel in other countries have been of the music that we have enjoyed there.
As we were approaching the Nuku Hiva from the SE, first we could see just the barest outline of the island, with many clouds obscuring our view of it. A short while later we could see the shapes of tall hills with very jagged and oddly formed tops, quite clearly rising out of the ocean. Land ho! I understood the emotional connotations of the phrase. We cruised around the West side of the island with a school of Electra dolphins swimming, jumping and playing alongside the boat. We rounded the SW corner of the island, passing Controller Bay, peering up Taipivai Valley, made famous by Herman Melville in his first book, written at the age of 25, Typee, A Peep at Polynesian Society. (Melville and his companion, Toby Green, deserted from the whaler on which they were crew, and hid out among the fierce cannibals of Taipivai Valley until their ship gave up on finding them and left Nuku Hiva.) Finally we reached our destination, in the middle of the Southern side of the island, Taiohae Bay. We entered the bay, found a spot near the western side and dropped our anchor. How wonderful it was to stop the engine and to gently roll in the waters of the bay.
Taiohae is the administrative center of the Marquesas Islands. It is the largest village in the Marquesas, as well, with a population of 1500 people (there are only 6500 people in all of the twelve islands of the Marquesas). We quickly scrubbed some of the salt off of the outside of the boat, pumped up the rubber ducky, our 8’zodiac, and dinked ashore in order to look around and to test our legs once again on land. Our legs worked fine, so we walked from the West end of the village at Keikehanui Pearl Inn, an eighteen room four star hotel, to the small quay a mile down the beach and the Eastern end of the village. There is a little bit of road that extends past the small quay, which goes to the large quay (or new quay) where the supply freighter, the Aranui, docks. So, within an hour we had perused the village, enjoying watching people out walking, riding their small Marquesian horses (one of the main means of transportation here), driving their 4×4 Land Rover or Suzuki or the like (the most prevalent means of transportation), and playing boules, a French bowling game, on the edge of the park that borders most of the shoreline in the middle of town. We saved the remainder of our “explore” for the next day, three or four side roads that wind up into the small, steep valleys where most of the residents live in very small frame houses.
Don and I, Rob and Donna returned to Starr, showered and changed and went up the hill to the Keikehanui Pearl Inn for a gourmet dinner of wild pig in burgundy sauce, goat in coconut milk and fish prepared in delicious ways. We were well fed and happy, a perfect way to celebrate the end of our Pacific Ocean passage and the anticipation of our first night of uninterrupted sleep in two weeks.