Saturday, September 21, 2013

Efficiency in Atuona

We found out that Mark’s residency card for French Polynesia had arrived at the post office of Atuona, Hiva Oa, and that it was nearing its 15 day “holding period” already. We also discovered an opportunity to buy duty-free diesel. Unfortunately, it was blowing quite a bit and we knew – for sure – that the 7 mile channel between Tahuata and Hiva Oa would be a battlefield of waves, wind and current. All against us, of course. One day, we saw the white caps from our anchorage. The following day, I rose at six in the morning and glimpsed at the horizon. No white caps! Was this the moment? I woke Mark up and at 6:30am, Irie’s anchor was onboard and we were heading towards Atuona. Again.

Bashing, bouncing, jumping and sliding. Expected, but not enjoyed were a salt water shower, a serious boat shake down and seawater for breakfast. An accompanying pod of dolphins was barely visible in the watery turbulence off our bows.  Everything was soaked and encrusted with salt when we arrived in the least attractive bay of the Marquesas. We settled quickly near the main dock on one anchor (“knowing” the last big cargo ship was there two days prior), antsy to get the busy day started. Then, we found out the supply ship Taporo had been delayed because of bad weather and was on its way here. Darn… Too lazy to re-anchor, we let out all of our chain to hopefully fall behind the two yellow markers ashore and put a second anchor out, parking just outside of the “no anchor” zone and in line with the other sailboats.

At 9am, we hitched a ride to the town, where Mark immediately had the broken filling of a tooth fixed, without appointment and for free. Then, he had his painful elbow looked at and x-rayed by a doctor in the hospital. We learned that both pieces of mail we were expecting had- indeed – arrived. We picked them up at the post office, where there was no line for a change, and the employee asked “Kilty?” While we rushed from here to there, our smiles grew big. We could barely believe our luck and the helpfulness of the people. We felt like celebrities. Usually, every little thing we try to accomplish takes a whole day, or more likely, totally fails! A visit to the pharmacy and the grocery store followed and then, we hitched a ride back to the harbor… with our friendly doctor ... in an ambulance! At noon, we were home. The whole series of events had happened within 3 hours; a personal record!

“You guys are so lucky you weren’t on your boat this morning,” we heard when we swung by our friends in the anchorage. “Irie almost sank!” Hmm, not the words you like to hear. Apparently, the Taporo had dropped its anchor close by and skimmed Irie on its turn into the dock. From our friends’ perspective, the massive ship missed us by a hair. Later that night, after another tasty and social evening with our friends of SV Kril and SV Amandla, we could experience the skillful maneuvering ourselves, when we almost touched the steel monster when it pulled away from the dock, passing within 30 feet of our bow. We were lying behind the “safety zone” markers. Just. With a thundering sound, the Taporo picked up its anchor, without tripping ours.

The following day, on Friday, I walked back into town with a couple of friends for a – hopefully – last run of errands. Veggies, eggs, groceries, potting dirt, money, and I even managed to swap two packs of cookies which we realized were months out of date. The glitch? I had to pay 100 CFP (about $1) extra for each new pack, because those dates were not expired. Time to go back to peaceful and pretty Tahuata, where efficiency and money are not important! It was a quick and effective two-day stop in Atuona, but we hope we don't have to repeat it any time soon.

Arrival of the Taporo IX while Mark and I were off the boat (photo by Fabio Mucchi)

Social gathering and tasty tapas on SV Amandla

Meet "the girls": Ursula, Lisa and Liesbet

 And here are "the boys": Mark, Michael and Fabio (photo by Fabio Mucchi)

Departure of the Taporo

They came pretty close, but, luckily, did not pick up our chain or anchor

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