No-no means no-no

Getting straight to the exploring as soon as we could, we left Atuona for new adventures to Bay Hanamenu at the north west corner of hiva Oa. It was forecast as a fairly calm day, but after making some water for a few hours before leaving the battery bank would appreciate a bit of motoring anyway. Not that it happened that way. Soon after leaving the “protection” of the bay, we had enough wind to open up the sails and turn the old Perkins off, figuring it would be started again soon enough.

The route to the north west corner of Hiva Oa brought us through the pass separating the islands of Tahuata and Hiva Oa, which we had both wind and current in our favor (for once). We were flying though the pass, jibed to turn Meriwether to the North West, and continued along for as long as we could expecting it to stop at any moment. We sailed up the leeward side of Hiva Oa, where the island itself would surely shadow us from the easterly wind and we would be motoring again. Instead the wind just kept on pushing us along, and we gladly accepted the comfortable free ride knowing how rare it is for us. It was a glorious sail, and we were not in the mood to complain about it.

This all changed in the final hour. As we approached the north west corner if the island, the wind picked up and changed direction dramatically. What was on on rear quarter was now blowing 25+ knots directly on our nose. And the sea state ramped right up too, with 6 foot waves backing up the increased wind. We were bashing directly into the wind, now finally under motor, but had to overshoot our turn by a good margin to avoid pointing directly into the large waves. Eventually we were able to turn and head into the anchorage, which was no more protected then just outside the bay. Normally we would like to drop our main sail under calm conditions, flaking it nicely, but this day we had to dirty-dump the poor guy. Dirty-dumping (not sure anyone else uses that phrase or not) is simply letting the sail drop onto the deck, then man handling it all together and securing it with ties in a big messy blob of sail. Not pretty, but the job does get accomplished. We then set about anchoring in a very rolling bay, still with 20+ knot winds. It is just how it goes some times, but Kerri was not liking the rough ending to our day.

The foul weather continued for a few days, keeping us pinned inside and on the boat until our final day in the bay. We finally got to go ashore, leaving the dinghy anchored just deep enough to avoid the breakers while we waded to land. It sure helps when the water temperature is 85 degrees. We were going ashore specifically to bathe in the fresh water spring nearby, which was our first dip in fresh water in well over six weeks. The water was cool, but not shockingly so. We frolicked for a few minutes, met the very shy local dog, then set out to just look around what looks like a mostly abandoned ranch.

It was then that we ran into the lone occupant of said ranch, sitting proudly on his ATV and waving us over. He welcomed us in French, and Kerri did her best through the small talk. Eventually he invited us over to his place for a bag full of citrus, which grows like weeds here so locals are happy to pawn bushels full on the cruisers. He proceeded to invite us to dinner, which would consist of pig that he and his dogs regularly hunt in the hills surrounding the bay. Sadly, we were to depart that afternoon and could not accept the invitation, but we did shuttle him out to Meriwether where he attempted to use our Starlink connection to call a friend of his back in Atuona. Weather rules all for cruisers, and if we hadn’t left that day we would have been stuck there for numerous more days waiting for weather to go anywhere else. Again, that’s just how it goes some times.

The next morning is when all hell was realized. On land are the Polynesian version of “noseeums” (itty-bitty biting gnats that wreaked havoc on us in Mexico). Here they are more aptly called “no-nos” (as if pleading with the gods) and they are sneaky little bastards. All the bites appear the following day, followed by multiple more days of the raging itchies! Kerri illustrates how we both looked. It is like the gnats know the hardest place to scratch an itch and bite right there. We spent multiple days scratching each other’s backs… a good marriage building exercise I suppose.

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