Daily Archives: June 28, 2015

There’s something about a waterfall

(By Jack) I don’t know about you but normally I wouldn’t go looking for a waterfall. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, but let’s just say that I wouldn’t climb three miles through a jungle in ninety degree heat and humidity just to see one, and if you factor in a beach landing in surf, well normally that would put paid to it, but there I was reconnoitering a landing site for just such a trek. I have to admit that when I first putted Cat-Nip around the corner, as Marce says, “around that little stick-out” the spires and volcanic ridges of Anse Hakatea, Nuku Hiva, took my breath away. Another crazy out-of-this-world Marquesas experience. It had something to do with the light but being surrounded by these four thousand foot sheer cliffs is awe-inspiring.  

The plan was to call for our friends and neighbors, French Curve and Enki II, at first light, pile six adults plus three rolling fenders, snacks, water bottles, bug spray, line, six pairs of wet and dry shoes, a dinghy anchor, many back-packs, and I don’t know what all else into Cat-Nip, find our carefully chosen landing spot and hop out while dragging her up the beach. We only took one wave over the transom. The skipper’s only comment is that the beach looks totally different at high tide.  

After anchoring the dink high and dry we found the path which is actually said to be part of the Royal Road and parts of it still have ankle spraining round pavement rocks. Sheer craggy rock cliffs rose up thousands of feet on either side while we walked through a rich verdant garden of Eden on the valley floor, chock-a-block with flowers, fruit of all description, palms, giant versions of colorful leafy plants that you probably have in your house right now.   

Some of the plantations looked more like large carefully tended gardens and while near one of these we heard a voice call out something in French. It turns out Monette runs a kind of Marquesan restaurant out of her house and for 1000 CPF per person she will serve lunch on our way back down. Why yes, yes we’d like that. Next it was Alexandre’s turn to yell bonjour and he sold fruit from this fertile valley right off the tree. Why yes, yes we’d like fruit right off the tree. Don’t ask where we’ll put all of this stuff. 

Paepae, platforms built up with volcanic rocks a meter or so off the valley floor, gave evidence of a large ancient population and were everywhere but spaced in an orderly fashion, on either side of the royal road, but what now could only be called a muddy path. This royal valley was once home to tens of thousands, and we saw paepae all along our two and a half hour trek, ranging far up the river, some quite overgrown. Energetic builders, these Marquesans. 


  Soon the path gave way to trying to find what you might call crowd-sourced guide posts…conspicuous rock columns called cairns.  

Next it was the first of three fords. I couldn’t tell you how deep it was but at one point I got the thermometer wet. Yes it was cold. We had a line to help keep the unwary from being swept down stream and we all made it with a certain amount of decorum if not grace.    

There were times when without the cairns we would probably still be wandering around up there, and there were times when we’d just follow the obvious path. Suddenly we noticed the distant thunder of water pounding rocks and through a hole in the jungle we could see the worlds third tallest waterfall. Magnificent. 

Inspired, we headed off at an energetic clip and soon found we’d entered a narrow box canyon of craggy rock cliffs towering a thousand feet above us with a narrow valley floor covered with green leafy stuff and a swift running stream to one side against the sheer rock face.   

And then, coming around a rock wall, there it was. Well, you could kind of see the bottom of the falls through a hole in the rock wall. It was as though it was around the corner that you couldn’t get to without a swim and a climb. 

Close enough I say.

We stayed quite a while, it was crazy beautiful, but soon I found myself thinking of Monette’s lunch so as M. would say it’s shank’s mare for the wayward sailors. It’s funny how just turning around affords a completely different experience and we found the carins more difficult to spot going back but after another two-and-a-half hours we straggled into Monette’s eatery. While we ate, her husband worked on the estate.    

  Diana’s excellent French saved the day with descriptions of what we were eating and even our favorite vegetarian was happy.  

 The fruit man, Alexandre, so generous of spirit, threw in many extras as I followed him from tree to tree with his wheelbarrow. Kind of like a used car dealer that tears the price tag in half after cutting a deal.  

  I can’t recommend you use a wheel barrow for beach work but it was probably marginally better than just schlepping back and forth, but not by much.   

Marce, working hard.  

The beach had changed in the interim and we could see where we went wrong this morning but I found we could load the dink and float down a little stream which was what was left of the waterfall, two hundred feet to the bay. 

 This was executed without incident and on the way back, a look at all the tired faces told me that sundowners would have to wait till tomorrow.

So maybe chasing waterfalls is not such a bad thing.    


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Leaving easy street

Taiohae has a dinghy dock, shops, Internet, a gathering place for cruisers (but not a dockside bar) and a local yacht services agent who can facilitate essentials like parts shipping, officialdom and some repairs. It’s the easy life compared to where we’ve been but despite all that we were eager to move on. Jack spent an afternoon topping up our fuel tank, which involved schlepping jerry jugs back and forth, and we did a bit more provisioning while the getting is good.  


We were reluctant to leave without a solution to the watermaker problem so we asked Alex from Enki II if he’d take a look; maybe a third pair of eyes would see something we’ve missed. His conclusion was that no, it all looked and sounded normal but maybe clean out some of the hoses. We’d replaced most of the hoses when we replumbed the system but a few of them are quite long and cumbersome. We agreed they could do with some scrubbing so we did that and changed the prefilters once again and turned on the system just to test it before our last resort, a membrane cleaning, even though there were no indications it was fouled. Lo and behold, we made potable water! We did so little — changed filters that weren’t even dirty, cleaned a few hoses that were — that we’re not sure what our problem was. Perhaps Alex’s laying on of hands was the ticket. We’d had the same experience in Golfito with Robert the mechanic and our alternator. The common factor is that Robert and Alex are both Hungarian, so from now on, we’ll stick to magical Hungarians for all our Laying On Of Hands needs. 

So we’re set to go. We said goodbye for now to Tim from Liberty Call, who’s been our frequent companion ever since we made landfall a few hours apart in Fatu Hiva. He’s stuck trying to fix an alternator problem himself and we hope he gets it sorted soon and catches up. 

 We only moved six miles west to Daniel’s Bay where we hope to clean the slime off EV’s bottom and organize ourselves for the jump to our last Marquesan island, Ua Pou.


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