We left Hiva Oa and went a whole 10 miles to the next anchorage, which was on the island of Tahuata. We anchored in Baie Hanamoenoa, which turns out to be one of the nicest anchorages we have been in yet. The water was quite clear and we dropped the hook twenty feet down into clean sand. There were only a few other boats. The real attraction was not the beach or the good holding but the manta rays. The way the island sits a huge current eddies just off the anchorage and there is a great deal of plankton, so the manta rays feast there. They come up close to the boat, but there were many more and much bigger out in the deeper water. Evergreens picked us up in their skiff and we went out and snorkeled with them. It was a truly amazing experience, swimming with these huge docile feeding machines. There were as many as 8 or 12 of them around us at any one time and we were in the water for a few hours before Heather spotted a rather large shark sitting about 30 feet down. That prompted us to leave. The next day we went back though and swam some more. I made some great videos of them and that will be posted as soon as I can find the bandwidth.

From Tahuata we sailed south for Fatu Hiva. The is supposed to be the second most beautiful anchorage in the world. The sail there was fantastic, we were just off point for the whole day in 15-20 knots and Slick flew along under full sail in 2-4 meter swell. It was probably one of the best windward sails we have had yet. We passed the Evergreens after some time, even though they had an hour head start, we also caught more fish so we had some teasing to do at the anchorage. I made a video of that, and yes, it will be posted later. At the anchorage itself though, it was not so amazing. The spires surrounding the anchorage were in the shape of a huge phallus and the anchorage was mostly over a hundred feet deep. We had to get right up close in and anchored in rock. This is the first island you come to from the Pacific crossing, so I guess if it was the first thing you saw after three weeks it might be the second most beautiful anchorage in the world. The squalls pile up on the high mountains and then whip down the valley, so you are anchored in dead calm one minute and then 30 knot winds and brief rain the next, not fun. I went to town and they didn’t even sell beer, sad after such a great sail. That would have made landing there first much less fun though. We hiked to a large waterfall the next day though and this was fantastic. Along with Jon and Heather we had it all to ourselves and there was a very nice pool to swim in, it was great to lay in the fall and have water pounding around you from 200 feet above. On the way home, we bought some local artwork made on tree bark and traded for fruit with the locals. We had heard they liked t-shirts and so I packed a few old ones, and I have so many socks that I don’t use I brought three old pairs. When we started trading we showed them what we had and one of the older ladies went nuts over the socks. It was unbelievable how much she liked them. She unfolded each pair and when she got to the third pair they were mismatched, I just sort of shrugged and said that’s the nature of socks. Even the women who didn’t speak English understood and everyone laughed.

We had another great sail back to Tahuata but this time anchored close to the town. We ran into Ardea, from Berkely again and had them over for dinner. We caught a decent Mahi and some tuna that day so there was plenty of fish to go around. The town was not so interesting but we went snorkeling with Evergreens at the town reef. It was so-so snorkeling but then Jon called me over. He pointed to a rock that I was holding onto ten minutes before about 20 feet down or so and told me to go have a look under it. I swam down and staring me in the face was the biggest moray eel I have ever seen. It was easily as big around as my leg and maybe 5-6 feet long. Good thing he was friendly or I might not have a hand anymore. We sailed the next day for Ua Poa.

The sailing was great, but no fish. On the way in though birds were harassing us and wouldn’t leave our lures alone. I pulled one in and could see Mahi in the water chasing it, I tired playing it to catch some dinner but the birds were too persistent. We pulled in all lines rather than risk catching a bird again. Shortly after that a family of spinner dolphins came and joined us. There were two baby dolphins about 18 inches long and when the mother would jump they would too. It was great to watch, especially since, as the name implies, they spin when they jump. About 10 dolphins in total escorted us right up to the anchorage and turned around just before the break wall. The town itself was not so interesting and the landscape didn’t offer much hiking so we left for Nuka Hiva after two nights.

Nuka Hiva was only 20 miles away so we took it easy and just jib sailed. No fish but a nice day none the less. This is the largest city in the Marquesas and it still is very small. The Anchorage is huge though and pretty calm. The entire setting is in the caldera of an extinct volcano which makes it all the more amazing. We went around the island again by car with the evergreens and had some nice hikes. The roads though continue to be amazing, both in terms of vistas as well as treachery. Also it is amazing how the locals treat their animals. All the dogs are pretty much abused and they let the livestock wonder the highway at night. We saw quite a few horses and cattle. Tonight they were feeding sharks at the pier, but I didn’t know this. I wet launched the dinghy off the beach and everyone was screaming to me to get in my boat. The surf was big enough though I had to go out a bit and then they yelled about the sharks, so I hopped in and paddled off the beach. Sure enough, there was a small black tip following me. Thanks guys.

Nathan had his birthday while we were here too, Heather baked him a cake. I splurged and bought him a bottle of rum and some new flip-flops. There are many other boats here we recognize as well. It seems that we are getting to know many other cruisers and probably everyone who crossed the pacific the year we will meet at least once. So we are doing more socializing but people still dinghy around Slick to talk to other boats without even waving.

It has been pretty sleepy really the last few weeks. Probably boring even to read about. The Marquesas are great though. It is absolutely beautiful here and I can’t imagine better cruising. I have been sick though for the last few days which means I lay around a lot more. In any case, we are off to another anchorage tomorrow to hike to a 900 foot water fall, the second tallest in the world I guess. Then we have a five day sail to an archipelago of atolls called the Tuamotos. The change of scenery will be interesting, leaving the mountainous Marquesas for sunken volcanoes ringed in coral reefs. Should be great!