Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Around Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

Towards the end of our stay in Hanavave Bay in Fatu Hiva, our Italian friend Giorgio decided to “sail” around the island and invited a few of us to join him. We had barely left the bay on his awesome sailboat Hoa Motu (which means “friend of the islands”), when he and Mark let out two fishing lines. We had been craving some fresh fish for ages and were not going to pass up any occasion to try our luck. While the steep cliffs and mountains were blocking any kind of wind, the engine was propelling us forward. Pretty quickly, two fish simultaneously caught the lures we were trawling.  Mark pulled in the hand line, to find a medium-sized barracuda – no good eating here. Giorgio struggled for a long time with a massive creature on the reel. Our anticipation was growing and growing… Maybe it was a big tuna or a mackerel? It didn’t seem to be a mahi mahi (dorado), since no jumping out of the water was going on. Finally, a big shape appeared near the water surface and we all cramped around Giorgio to have a better look, cameras ready. It was a huge “great barracuda”, another fish prone to having ciguatera, a disease that is harmful for people.

The wind was light and we tried to make some northern progress along the west coast, before tacking up the north side. It wasn’t working too well, but we had a very yummy and comfortable lunch, without heeling. Mark and I barely believed we were on a monohull! The rest of the trip we were forced to motor, if we wanted to circumnavigate the same day. We followed the impressive and craggy shoreline and rounded another corner. Although we did not have to do much in regards of sail trim, we were entertained nonetheless, by the impressive scenery, our friendly host and … the arrival of a pod of small dolphins, playing with Hoa Motu’s bow for half an hour. We stuck our nose into Ouia bay, which Mark and I had spotted from the mountain trail a few weeks earlier. Once “outside” again, we kept moving over relatively flat seas. Another pod of much bigger and rounder dolphins joined us this time and I had a blast, just watching them on the bow, encouraging them to stay and jump, and taking movies.

When the dolphins had left us, it was time for another big catch - a decent size wahoo. Score! Mark hauled the slim fish with obvious markings in and gaffed him into the cockpit, where Giorgio killed him in a fast manner. Dinner for five, and then some! Rounding the last “corner” on the approach to Fatu Hiva’s biggest town, Omoa, another fish decided to swallow one of the lures. It was a skipjack, closely related to the tuna; tasty dark meat. The sun was beating down on us and we were having a great time, enjoying the final stretch of our spontaneous excursion. Unfortunately, Mark and I lost our last lure, without even noticing it. Another giant must have just bit through it, without letting us know. No more fishing for us for a while! It made us truly enjoy the ceviche, Birgit assembled that evening, and the sushi and fish BBQ the following night. With full bellies and a bit “socialized out”, Mark and I were finally, kind of, ready to leave Fatu Hiva and sail to the “big city” of Atuona in Hiva Oa.  

Giorgio at the helm of his boat Hoa Motu, leaving Hanavave Bay

Great barracuda with a grand head

 Decent size wahoo - and tasty!

Pod of small dolphins playing with the bow of the boat

Rugged coastline near Omoa

Giorgio and Mark dealing with the skipjack

Back in Hanavave Bay near sunset


Stefan Decuypere said...

Hallo Lisbeth,
een kleine commentaar om je te laten weten dat ik al jouw blogs lees. Je zou soms denken hoeveel lezers zijn er eigenlijk, maar weet dat je een trouwe lezer hebt in Gent!
Ik geniet van jullie avontuur.

Liesbet said...

Hoi Stefan,

Tof om te weten dat ik in Belgiƫ ook "gevolgd" word! Gent is waar ik studeerde en daarvoor vier jaar woonde. Zalige stad.

Bedankt voor je commentaar!