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Do you remember ‘Survivor’ programme from TV ages ago???

Well apparently it was set here (Hakatea, Nuka Hiva) and we are now anchored off the said palm-tree -backed white beach. The backdrop is stunning as vertiginous mountains soar all around.

Manta rays and black tip reef sharks swim around the boat and stunning shells wash up onto the beach.

Just up the valley is the worlds third highest waterfall and we did a lovely trek to see it and swim in the fresh water pools which was gorgeous.

If it all sounds too good you will be pleased to know that the beach has the most viscous sand flies known to man, so how the ‘Survivor’ contestants managed to put up with them I have no idea!

There are a few local families who live in the next bay, there are no roads or electricity and it’s a two hour strenuous hike to town. The locals have to be the friendliest on the island, kindly giving us gifts of bananas, mangoes, papayas, grapefruit, pineapples and water (and a whole heap of fruit which we have never seen or eaten before!)

Their home grown pineapples have to be the tastiest in the world and we have stocked up on ‘pamplemousse’ which is now a staple for us. The boys are great at picking them too. We baked a banana cake as a present in return which was gratefully received. Cooking seems to be mostly done in oil drums turned into bbq’s.

Our lunch restaurant

The local children come home on Fridays from their week away at school and the boys have had great fun playing with them. This photo is of a fabulous swing where you climb up a palm tree and swing into the river behind the beach. Not for the faint-hearted!

It’s been a great place to stop for a few days whilst Russell has run some repairs and we’ve progressed boat school and a school outing to the waterfall.

After ten years usage, this is the first and only 🤞repair we are making to the mainsail. That’s how good Sanders sails are! Only one batten pocket end just needed sewing up. All sorted.

Batten pocket repair

We’ve done a full lap of Nuku Hiva now exploring its stunning bays, beaches and mountains. Time to head to another island in the Marquesas. We are heading to either Ua-Pou (where they grow and make chocolate) and/or Fatu-Hiva, it depends on the wind direction. Next update when we next get WiFi…it might be awhile!

Ancient ruins, giant trees and mountain passes

To get more food we walked across the mountain, paid a local to drive us to town on the other end of the island, then back and a boat trip back to our yacht with all the groceries!

The road trip up over the mountains was spectacular, if somewhat hair-raising, as the road zigzagged periously with sections washed away and trees all over the place.

The driver stopped to show us ancient ruins on the way and we paused at the mountain peaks to admire the stunning views. This island has so much to see and it’s amazing to see the varied topography and vegetation.

The climate varies so much around the island that you can get most local fruit growing all year round. We’ve managed to hit mango season in each bay so far much to the boys relief, and there is a never ending supply of bananas and pamplemousse.

Art printing lesson aboard with shaving foam!

One of the fabulous things about sailing around the world are the wonderful and varied fellow sailors/ cruising yachts you meet. Amongst wonderful Spanish, French, Dutch, Swiss,American folk we have met since arriving we have just met some Brits aboard s/y Spruce who are veterans of 11 years sailing round the world.

Sue and Andy kindly parted with wise advise and tips and I now have new baking recipes to try now too. Sue is an artist and previously an art teacher in schools and she kindly volunteered to give the boys a lesson in printing. All we needed was shaving foam, paint and paper…!

Delighted, we welcomed her to our boat school and Felix and Hugo in their words, “had the best art lesson ever”.

Thank you to Sue and Aunty Sarah (my sister) for the incentive, “we went to be like Aunty Sarah”.

Plastic-not-so-fantastic

We decided to hike to the next bay and explore the large windward beach there. What we found to our dismay was a 500m+ long white beach which was awash with waste plastic.

You name it everything plastic was there, bottles, lids, shoes, cutlery, fuel containers, rope, lots of items with Chinese packaging, even car parts and the list goes on. We started making bonfires to get rid of it all. We worked all day, back breaking work, demoralising (the sheer volume to clear up) and bug eaten!

Twelve bonfires later and a few hilarious coconut finds in between, the result was a stunning clean beach.

We have done our bit today to make the world a better place. I’m now so bug eaten I will be scratching for weeks. If everyone could kindly please stop using plastic bottles tomorrow, forever, we might have a small chance of helping our oceans and planet.

My birthday hike to the village for lunch out!

We’ve now sailed over halfway round the world and seen beaches everywhere (if not cleaned by someone) covered in plastic especially the windward facing ones. It’s saddening to see and the level of micro-plastics you can see in the sand too is horrific. Time for everyone in the globe to take action (if you haven’t already ).

Anaho – Nuka Hiva, Marquesas French Polynesia

As a new wave of COVID-19 lockdown hits Europe, the Polynesian islands also owned by the same nations tend to follow suit with their European masters. We anxiously awaited news of what it would mean for yachts as our intention was to cruise the Marquesas and head to the Tuamoto islands, Tahiti and onto the Society Islands. We found ourselves in a delightful anchorage surrounded by a lovely group of cruising couples and families and decided to stay put in this little part of paradise as a good place to be stuck if lockdown commences.

Stunning tropical anchorage

There are no roads or Infrastructure to the bay and there is a tiny hamlet of a local Polynesian village. No electricity or running water and certainly no WiFi or phone signal. In an hours hike along the stunning white beach and coconut backed coast and up into the next valley we can get to a small farm which sells home grown delicious local fruit and vegetables.

Picking limes from the trees

The villagers also grow a small amount too and will trade for items. The greenery shows the fertile land and we are able to pick and buy bananas, mangoes, watermelons, oranges, limes and the tastiest grapefruit ever.

The only way out of the bay is up over the mountain pass to the village on the other side which does have a road of sorts to it. It’s a strenuous steep uphill hike but the views are rewarding and on the other side is one restaurant and two tiny ‘shops’. If you arrived straight from the west you would not recognise these as shops as such, more a garden shed with a random assortment of a few items, mostly tins from China?! But we managed to find powdered milk, crackers and tinned butter. That has to be a first for us, tinned butter. It’s from New Zealand and apparently lasts for years (before opened). Looks like we can continue to bake then. The only slight set back is that you have to carry everything back up and down the mountain. It puts a new meaning to the word “popping to the shops”!

Never mind, we have more tins onboard than we can poke a stick at and we can start to make a dent in our pasta and rice stores too. You soon learn how much you can live without.

Our days continue with school in the mornings and beach play/ paddle boarding and exploring in the afternoon. We are anchored off a coral reef off the beach and there are sharks, turtles and manta rays that swim around. Chloe and I had a magical snorkel with a massive manta ray and shoals of yellow fish. Hiking to the farm or village over the mountain keeps us busy too! That and avoiding the viscous sand flies and mosquitoes. Our French is improving too as we chat to the locals and the mostly French cruising yachts.

Pacific island birthdays and Halloween

Trying to organise children’s birthdays when you have no ability to buy anything or receive any post and you are living on a boat on a remote island in the Pacific is time for being creative. It’s also slightly terrifying as a parent used to the commercial trappings of the western world birthday merry-go-round. Luckily I had hidden away a few things from ages ago buts it’s amazing how happy the children were with only a couple of simple gifts. A book, some sweets and their first ever pen knife and they were ecstatic.

Their requests were for a bonfire and beach bbq which we achieved in a couple of lovely anchorages.

For Felix’s birthday on Halloween we found a gorgeous anchorage in Anaho and finally met some other family cruising boats. Time to switch languages from Spanish to French. We had a great party on the beach with fancy dress, pumpkin (aka squash carving), bbq, bonfire and cake. Knowing Felix’s fixation with fire one of the Spanish mother’s kindly did a fire juggling circus show for him as the sun went down. It was breathtaking. As we took the dinghy back to the boat afterwards Felix said, “it was the best birthday ever”. Perfect!

Exploring Taiohae – Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

With our land legs firmly back installed we explored our first south Pacific island. The island is beautiful and decorated with carved stones and beautiful flowering bushes.

The people have been so friendly and welcoming to us too, everyone is very relaxed about everything which is a welcome change after the form filling and officialdom of Panama and Galapagos.

We hitch hiked up to the top of the ridge to see the viewpoint. Our lift was in the back of a truck full of cabbage leaves which made for an interesting trip!

The view was breathtaking. The island is so lush and green with dramatic cliffs and soaring trees. We then hitched another lift further along the ridge to a marked hike amongst tall pine trees. It was almost like being back in Europe albeit with temperatures like an oven on full blast.

Feral horses and cows meandered across the road and through the trees. It was quite surreal (are we back in the New Forest in Lymington?!) and a gorgeous walk.

Luckily we managed to hitch a lift back down to the town as I did panic it would take us about 7 hours to walk back down and I am not sure little legs would have made it! There are not many cars/trucks on the road but it appears hitch hiking is the way to travel as there isn’t another option and everyone happily stops for you. Phew! It was a fabulous view on the way back down (without the cabbages)!

Arrival in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, Pacific Ocean

Just before we sighted land a huge pod of dolphins came to visit us and play in our bow wave, it was like they were showing us the final way to the Pacific islands.

Dolphins leading the way

I can’t tell you how amazing it is to see land again and with the dolphins with us again it was truly magical. The boys shouted “land ahoy” at the top of their voices and we gazed in awe as the island shapes appeared out of the mist and clouds.

Land appearing always under the clouds

Due to COVID we have to check-in in a specific island and harbour, which slightly annoyingly means sailing past a few islands like Ua Huka first! Never mind there will be time to explore and potter back to other islands in due course. 30nm further on we finally see our island and it’s an amazing dramatic sight with steep rising cliffs from the sea. Greens and browns glinting against the blue of the sea and even the sight of other sailing boats.

We’ve sailed 3500 miles and have seen precisely two boats in the entire time, both fishing boats off Galapagos. That’s it. Talk about deserted seas. Even the smell of land fills our nostrils, all your senses are delighted, it was a truly emotional time.

Nuka Hiva looks stunning and we are delighted to have made it before nightfall. We adjusted our clocks, we are now 10.5 hours behind the UK, ate a quick dinner and dropped into bed utterly exhausted. Exploring (and checking-in) and ringing home will start tomorrow. But the good news is that we have made it across the Pacific in record breaking time, 17 days and 7 hours. Not bad!!! That’s Force 8 sailing for you!!! The last boat to arrive here took 70 days from Panama!! Most people in the bay took 35-45 days. It took us 8 days from Panama to Galapagos and 17 to here, equivalent of 24 days total. Still very fast! Time to go slow for awhile and get into island time…

Anchored safely in a stunning spot Niku Hiva

Only 300 nm to go, what do we do all day?

All the way we have celebrated mini milestones knocking off the next 100nm, getting to under 1000nm then 500nm and now we are at only 300nm to go, it’s unbelievable although also very ground hog day. The weather is sunny, the sky and sea are blue, the wind 25-35kts and the waves are still big and rolly with two sets hitting our stern at different angles, one typically 3.5m and the other set 2.5m, no prizes to guess that they then combine hence our constant motion. We also have a daily wager on what the water temperature has risen too. So far we are on 25.9 degrees which is a rise of 9 degrees since we left. Everyone seems to have had a turn at winning with Felix being particularly canny with accuracy. Looks like it will be perfect swimming temperature when we arrive. We’ve also celebrated sailing 11,000 nautical miles so far in the trip, not bad for a six and eight year old to have that sailing mileage under their belt at their ages.

I’ve been baking to keep the crew happy and have to say the bread, biscuits and banana cake results have been fantastic despite the treacherous cooking conditions. Huge thanks to s/y Alisara as we are still using your silicon loaf tin which is a godsend, thank you!

So what do we do all day? Our typical day starts with me finishing my 4am to 7am nightwatch and I get everyone breakfast to start the day. I then retreat to bed to get some well earned zzzz’s and Chloe kindly starts the school day and Russell the boat chores.

To avoid goose barnacles Russell trails ropes either side of the boat for an hour. Then there is cleaning the solar panels especially if we’ve had a resident bird overnight resting, running the generator and water maker amongst a long list of jobs.

Russell trying to clean the solar panels!

Chloe does boat school with the boys during the morning and they spend their breaks playing Lego around me on our bunk as I try in vain to sleep. I’m then up to prepare and feed everyone lunch. The afternoon it’s time for an audible book for the boys and some craft, painting, pom pom making and the like or occasionally baking with me, whilst the adults doze and read and adjust the sails.

Baking time

Sometimes we all play board games, Hugo’s favourite is chess and Conservation Crisis.

Story time with Chloe

Then it’s time to prepare dinner for 6pm which Chloe and I take turns doing before I start my first night watch from 7pm till midnight. Russell and the boys go to bed at 7pm and Chloe not long after, so it’s a quiet dark boat by 8pm as I settle in to a podcast and harness myself into the cockpit as the waves knock you off the seat otherwise. At midnight Russell comes on night-watch and I gratefully handover and try and get some rest before returning at 4am for my second night watch till breakfast. Then we repeat the cycle and repeat for 21 days…..

We all think that two week passages are okay, anything longer starts to get tedious. Now you can see why we are exhausted on arrival! We are very excited about seeing land and to be peacefully at anchor not rolling around. And I dream about a whole night’s sleep. Although I have to say that my construction industry working career to date and fitting in a further masters degree at Cambridge whilst a full time working mum has got me used to no sleep!! Good preparation for an ocean crossing!

Halfway party and force 7 pancakes

Every milestone is an excuse to celebrate on a long passage and halfway across the Pacific was not one to be missed. I baked fresh bread (still using s/y Pacific Pearls brilliant simple recipe- thank you) and scones and we had treats of chocolate and crisps.

Home made bread aboard

Somewhere along the line we’d promised the boys pancakes too. The only slight problem was that we were now sailing downwind in a Force 7 with huge roller waves. Not wanting to disappoint I set too and made two lots of pancake mix as anything more than a quarter full in the bowl would slop over the side with the boats movement. Carefully sealing one lot of pancake mix in a box with a lid I left the other in the bowl as I started cooking the first pancake. A huge wave then tipped the boat much more than usual knocking the bowl over and sending the entire pancake mix over me and the galley. To add insult to injury I’d just had my first shower and washed my hair (fresh water is somewhat precious as we have a pretty dodgy water maker which is as about as reliable as a chocolate teapot). It’s times like these that test your limits when you are sleep deprived and knackered and a very long way from shore. Luckily Chloe helped me clear up the spectacular mess and we managed a good laugh about it. The boys still got their pancakes from the mixture safe in the box so it all ended well.

Chloe cooked their favourite meal of sausages and pesto pasta for dinner and we had a night of watching good old cartoons, Top Cat, Wacky Races and the Flintstones. A fun day of sunshine, games, stories and treats. Now we just have the other half of the Pacific to go….gulp! Time to plan the next milestone party, getting under 1000nm to go, this time without the pancakes though.

Making a Velcro chess board!