There are six inhabited islands in the Marquesas but not many people visit Ua Huka. It’s a little off the beaten path but for cruisers the primary reason is that the only viable anchorages are on the south shore, exposed to the prevailing winds and ocean swell. Ideally you’d want to go during a period of calm weather but here we are in strong winds and big swell. Add to that a rocky shoreline with breaking waves and no pier to land the dinghy on and you know why we stayed aboard all day Sunday. We heard on the radio that French Curve, whom we’d met briefly in El Salvador, were headed our way and we hoped we could team up to get ashore safely. When they arrived we made plans to give it a try Monday.
In the morning we waited until the big surf abated then launched our dinghy, picked up Mark and Cheryl and putted slowly toward what looked like the least rocky landing place. Mark timed us through the breakers and we came to a thudding stop on a little sandspit where we jumped out and hauled the heavy dinghy onto shore using a new method Jack thought up. We put two old fenders under the keel and rolled the dinghy over them like Egyptian slaves building the pyramids. It worked great! Most people have folding dinghy wheels attached to the transom but the design of our dinghy precludes that.
Safely ashore in the town of Hane we followed the sketchy directions in the Lonely Planet guide to an archaelogical site up in the caldera. It was uphill all the way, through dense forests on an unmarked trail barely discernible on the steep slope. When we reached the site we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the anchorage and our two boats.
We took the coast road to the next bay and the town of Hokatu, a community of woodcarvers. Ua Huka quickly became our second favorite Marquesan island — after Fatu Huva — for the stunning coastal views and the flower gardens around every bend.
A lady named Delphine opened up the craft center for us but most of the carvings are sent to Tahiti where the prices will be quadrupled. She said every man in the village is a carver and they make beautiful reproductions of traditional tools, weapons and household items, as well as more modern tchotchkes for the tourists. Jack wants a war club but there weren’t any. I don’t know, maybe that’s a good thing.
We made a last stop at the little store for a few supplies. There were no fruits or vegetables in evidence so I asked the clerk. She sent her little boy to her grandmother’s house for mangos and pamplemousse and wouldn’t take any money for them.
The tide had gone way out, exposing even more rocks on the shoreline. We used Jack’s Egyptian method to drag the dinghy to the water and over the rocks, but it was a struggle getting out to deeper water. We kept hitting bottom on rocks we hadn’t seen coming in but eventually we got out to the breakers and through the surf. Just as we dropped off Cheryl and Mark a squall blew in and Jack and I worked hard to get back aboard EV in the wind and rain. We were drenched and exhausted and had to wait for the wind to abate before lifting the dinghy.
All in all, a good day.