“How far from those rocks are we?”, my dad shouted from the helm. I shined my headlamp towards the shore and replied, “I have no idea, what does the chart say? I think we’re ok.” We had just anchored in Fatu Hiva, which the guidebooks call one of the most scenic anchorages in the world with a spectacular approach. We did not get to see much of the approach since we arrived at 9pm, but in the morning we did see that the anchorage was beautiful.
I completed my morning tradition of slowly enjoying a cup of coffee with no distractions and taking in the volcanic mountains. The landscape was stunning. Then, I put our light fishing pole together and made a few casts. I had a mackerel rig like the ones used in New England. It worked surprisingly well. I caught a wide variety of small fish, but only kept one grouper. Then, I switched to a bass lure and hooked a small skipjack tuna. That was one of the best fights with a fish I have ever had. I was using a pole designed to catch perch or walleye in the Great Lakes, but managed to land him as well. I’m glad, because the tuna was enough for lunch, and I later confirmed the reef fish here like grouper have cigutera and would likely have poisoned me.
After grilling the tuna, we went for a hike through town. The town has around 600 people and they were very friendly with the standard bonjour and a wave. We continued up the concrete road and ran into a German couple named Inga and Thomas who arrived in the Marquesas Islands two years ago. We had them over for drinks later that night and soaked up their knowledge of the area as well as swapped stories. They started their journey four years ago and only plan the next harbor – no long term plans. What a way to live.
The next morning I went for a hike to the top of one of the cliffs surrounding the harbor and then to a waterfall on the way down. The elevation made the 40-50 foot boats in the harbor look like floating pieces of rice. That trail was mostly paved, and at the top someone had recently slaughtered a goat, as there was dried blood and a goat hide with flies swarming it. However, on the waterfall hike the volcanic rock contrasted with the thick foliage and I felt like I was on King Kong’s island. Scrambling through the forest on a path that was wide enough for only one person was a highlight. There was a massive pool at the bottom in which you can swim to cool off and look up at the cascade. I did not see anyone on either hike once I left the town.
When I got back to the boat a guy my dad met at a party a few nights before paddled over on his paddle board and came aboard for a beer. They were from Nantucket and had just caught an 100 pound yellowfin tuna, which they did not have room for. He offered us as few pounds which we eagerly accepted. We had sashimi as a starter with grilled tuna steaks as the main course. Tuna with a side of tuna.
Unfortunately our stay was cut short because the shipyard that installed our sacrificial zink on the propeller either forgot the screws or the screws fell out, so we need to haul out the boat back at Hiva Oa and fix it ourselves. The joys of marine contractors.