After reveling in the beauty of the anchorage for a bit, I felt extremely antsy to go to land.Â Getting the dinghy off the stern deck proved a challenge.Â It’s nine and a half feet long, five feet wide, and weighs 110 pounds. Â Truth is, we wish we had a smaller and lighter dinghy, but it is what was available when we needed a new one in Panama. Â It’s quite awkward trying to get it up and over the lifelines, and then into the water.Â Andy cut his pinkie finger pretty badly as we dropped it in.Â
As the southernmost island in the Marquesas, Fatu Hiva is a natural first stopping point for yachts crossing the Pacific Ocean, however, it is not a recognized point of entry for French Polynesia.Â Official check-in is required in Hiva Oa or Nuku Hiva before going anywhere else in the Marquesas.Â With that policy, most yachts simply skip Fatu Hiva altogether because of the need to follow the prevailing winds.Â However, we have also heard that this strict check-in policy has relaxed somewhat, giving transiting sailors a respite in Fatu Hiva’s beautiful anchorage.Â I guess we’ll see how it goes.
We dinghied over to the little concrete pier behind a small breakwater, tied up, and stepped on dry land for the first time in three weeks.Â It felt great but definitely a little wobbly.Â There was plenty of activity on the waterfront in Hanavave … children playing in the water, fisherman cleaning their boats, people lounging on the lawn and chatting.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Of my two travel guides for the South Pacific, one did not even cover Fatu Hiva, and the other mentions the Bay of Virgins, a post office, and an infirmary.Â As such, I’m not really sure why I had higher hopes for civilization in Fatu Hiva … just wishful thinking, I guess, and a desperate longing for a bar.Â We passed the diabetes clinic (a big problem among Pacific Islanders), a very cute church, several residences, and a very small grocery store with nothing but canned corned beef, a $15 jar of Skippy, and a handful of warm six packs of Hinano which were not exactly priced to move, as evidenced by the thick layer of dust.Â We couldn’t have bought anything anyway since there is no bank on Fatu Hiva and, as such, no way to obtain the local currency, French Polynesian Francs.Â We asked to pay in dollars and the shopkeeper chuckled … even on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific they know that the United States dollar isn’t worth anything.Â
We did, however, find out that the owner of the store hosts a traditional Marquesan dinner at her home.Â It was too late to make a reservation for that night, so we signed up for the following night.Â We also were told that the other village, Omoa, although five hours away walking, was reachable by dinghy.Â Since we had pretty much covered Hanavave in ninety minutes, we decided to head Â over to Omoa.
The dinghy ride was much longer than advertised, but after a harrowing landing on steep and slippery concrete in rough tides, we walked towards the thriving, er…, metropolis of Omoa.Â Most of the village was out enjoying the cool afternoon playing soccer in the central park.Â We walked and walked taking in the scenery and stretching our legs, but there was really nothing there … certainly no restaurants or bars or shops.Â
So we made the long dinghy ride back to the boat.Â Exhausted and starving, we boiled some hot dogs, went to bed, and slept the sleep of the righteous.