After a long day last week on Hiva Oa fixing our propeller problem, Things that go “Klunk” in the night, we made a quick dinner on board, hoisted anchor and set off for an overnight sail to Nuku Hiva, about 97 NM to the northwest. While I wasn’t anxious to pull an all-nighter at sea after our somewhat frantic afternoon in the boat yard, in order to arrive during daylight hours, an early evening departure was warranted. The wind filled immediately upon leaving the anchorage, but once in the lee of Hiva Oa, the breeze got light, we started the engine, and a sloppy, downwind motor-sail ensued, during which neither of us got any sleep. We dropped the hook in Hakatea Bay at 0930..
This idyllic cove, also known as “Tai Oa” and “Daniel’s Bay,” is surrounded by steep cliffs and teeming with marine life. We nearly ran over a large manta ray on our first trip ashore. The beach landing amid breaking waves was a bit hairy, but we only took one roller over our transom before pulling the dinghy safely ashore. The cruising guide, albeit outdated, mentioned a beach bar ashore, but upon closer inspection, we found only a surf shack with a couple of local guys drinking beer, and another residence near the beach that looked like a dining facility, but was overrun with dogs, cats, and chickens. Hungry from our passage, and wet from our beach landing, we approached.
The owner was a friendly man named “Takahee,” who, with his wife, graciously serves delicious Marquesan cuisine to cruisers like us. They grow their own mangoes, breadfruit, bananas, oranges, lemons, and pamplemousse (local grapefruit), and for the protein side of the menu, catch fish, and hunt both goats and wild boar. He told us to come back the next day for lunch, and he’d prepare a feast.
Hakatea is known for a spectacular 600 m cascade (waterfall) a mere 2-hour hike inland from Takahee’s home, so the next day we got up early (before 0800), packed our sneakers and headed back to the shore. After our ignominious dinghy landing the previous day, we decided to “shoot the beach” this time, coming in fast and pulling up the engine at the last possible moment to propel ourselves, high and dry, onto the sand. However, this time the tide was much lower than before, and our prop started chopping rocks about 20 yards offshore. Quickly killing the motor and tilting it to safety, we both jumped overboard as a large wave caught us, literally surfing onto the beach. It wasn’t pretty, but we suffered only minor scrapes on the prop.
While my idea of a good hike is walking 18 holes at Plum Brook Country Club, the ensuing 4 hours we spent picking our way through rocky scree, fording small rivers, strolling through rain forests, and stumbling upon ruins from the 15th Century was nothing short of life-changing. Once we got to the cascade, which ran down the inside of an extinct volcano, we jumped into a large pool, swam across to a couple of small holes in the rocks, through which we squeezed ourselves to find a larger pool directly underneath the falls. The water was cool, maybe 80 degrees F., and after a 3.5 mile trek, extremely refreshing. We spent a good half our splashing about, and headed back to Takahee’s jungle bistro for lunch.
Travis and I, after subsisting for the past week almost entirely on a yellowfin tuna, Camembert, salami, baguettes, and a fine Tahitian beer called “Hinano,” were excited about introducing some variety into our diets. After our host explained his menu in French and some English, we both opted for the wild boar. Our first course, however, was a delightful mango and coconut salad, followed by generous servings of crispy fried breadfruit, which was incredibly tasty. Next came the boar, which was tasty, but a bit tough, having lived its life foraging the jungles of Nuku Hiva for nuts, berries, and whatever else such omnivores eat. It was certainly low fat and absolutely antibiotic free. We each ravenously devoured two servings, not to mention multiple plates of the breadfruit.
As Travis and I both enjoy small-game hunting, we were anxious to hear about our host’s methods for subduing an animal so ferocious as a wild boar. On our visit to Fatu Hiva, we saw a group of men and boys setting out on an evening boar hunt with at least 10 dogs and several guns, which looked like great sport. However, Takahee, who proudly wears Marquesan tattoos from head to toe, was dismissive of such “modern” methods, and uses only a small hunting knife. As his dogs chase down and harass the pig, this lean, athletic 40-year-old lunges into the fray and stabs the beast through the heart. This sounds dangerous, and probably is. He lost two of his dogs the previous week, who got a little too close to the boar’s vicious tusks.
As the plates were cleared, we were offered for purchase a variety of fresh fruits, and upon request, Takahee went out behind his house and plucked a ripe breadfruit from one of his trees. As I tried to pay for the meals and the produce, a sum of perhaps $25. all I had was a CFP 10,000 note (about $90), for which he had no change. We agreed to come back the next day after hopefully getting smaller bills from fellow cruisers. On our short walk back to the dinghy, we met some German cruisers, who agreed to take my “large” bill, use it for their lunch, and at the same time pay my bill and bring me back the change. It all worked out just fine.