Off To The Big City

Taiohae (Saturday, June 24, 1997)


We hoisted anchor at 2000 and headed for the exit of Daniel's Bay. The seas had not subsided in the two days that we had been at anchor. As we rounded the point and poked our nose out of the bay we were met with rough surf and winds comparable to those that escorted us into the bay. The seas were very rough and the winds were again on our nose. We decided that the best approach was to motor to the next bay. It was only five miles to our east. We really gave Mouse Pad a workout. We ran the engine at about 2500 RPM and made a whopping 2 to 2.5 mph. The engine began to heat up and we seemed to go slower and slower. This had to be the longest trip and the shortest distance we had yet traveled. It is customary for us to have our VHF radio on while we are under way. While we were en route to Taiohae we overheard Neil on Jenny conversing with other boats in Taiohae regarding parts for their water pump. Neil was planning to head to Taiohae in their dinghy to search for parts. We hailed Jenny on the VHF to let them know the conditions they would encounter once they reached the exit to Daniel's Bay.

Two hours later we entered Taiohae Bay and selected our spot to drop the hook in only 27 feet of water. We decided to settle in right next to Southern Cross, the party animals from Ua Pou. As we were entering the harbor there was a small sailboat exiting. She was under sail with a reefed main and a reefed jib. The skipper was in full foul weather dress and was harnessed in. We thought to ourselves, he might want to reconsider leaving this bay. The weather outside was less than pleasant. He waived to us and smiled as he tacked his way out of the bay. This bay has two sides to choose from. We had been told that the west side was the preferred side because we would be less subject to the wind. After we were anchored we studied the other boats on the other side of the bay. We weren't sure that they weren't having a much more comfortable ride. They didn't seem to be rocking and rolling as much as those of us who were on the west side. Also, the west side was right next to the wharf where the commercial boats docked. This didn't turn out to be a serious problem, however. The other disadvantage that we could notice by anchoring on the west side was the potential exposure to weather conditions if a southwest wind kicked up. Fortunately, we didn't see any winds from the southwest, they were all northerly.

Shortly after we arrived in Taiohae we overheard Neil from Jenny talking on the VHF radio with another boat. He was planning to dinghy from Daniel's Bay to Taiohae. We chimed in that the seas were pretty rough and the wind was also very strong. He may want to reconsider this trip. He said he would think about it and thanked us for the information. A couple of hours later, we again heard Neil on the radio but this time he indicated that he was in Taiohae and was looking for a repair shop or shop that might have spare parts available. We couldn't believe that he actually did the trip in his dinghy. Once we met up with him, we were even more surprised to see that he had brought one of his sons with him. I guess I am just a chicken at heart. This trip did prove to fruitful for Neil however. He located a shop that just happened to have an extra seal for the same model water-pump that is on their boat. He and his son gathered up their strength and headed their dinghy back to Daniel's Bay.

Once we were settled in, we grabbed our tour guides and hopped into the dinghy. We did an excellent job of seeing the sights of Taiohae. We visited every site that was marked on the city's map. The cathedral was a wonderful sight. We went inside and saw some of the most beautiful woodcarvings. There were also a lot of carvings on the outside. We only took pictures of those on the outside. We noticed that all of the buildings remain open to a certain degree. Either there were no windows or no doors or there were gaps between the walls and the ceilings. The latter was the case for the cathedral. Due to these gaps, the birds, wasps and bees had free rein of the cathedral. I'm sure that before each service, someone has to come in early and clean up the mess.

Carved doors to Cathedral
The Only Cathedral in the South Pacific

From the cathedral, we wandered on the main road of the town and checked out the rest of the sites. We saw the memorial that had been erected in honor of Herman Melville. A map of all of the Marquises Islands have been carved into the side of a tree trunk. If you didn't have a tour guide book or didn't know that the memorial was there, you could easily miss it. The carvings are on the backside of the tree, facing the water. As you walk down the street, it is somewhat hidden by the brush and trees.


Herman Melville memorial
Another monument to Captain Cook

As we worked our way to the west end of the roadway, we looked for places to have lunch. There were several little snack shops noted on the tour guide so we decided to check each one out and go to the best one on our return trip to the boat. As it turned out, some of them no longer existed. They were either on vacation or had closed since the books had been printed. We did stop at one snack shop called The Snack Van. Phill had a cheeseburger and fries and I had pasta boullanaise (we have no dictionaries on board except Microsoft's so spelling of this word is a mystery to me). We were both very pleasantly surprised with the meal. I had much more than I could eat and was forced to leave some. Phill hadn't had a cheeseburger since leaving the states and this one turned out to be a good one. We finished lunch, rubbed our bellies and resumed our leisurely stroll back to the boat. We walked to the post office and bought stamps for post cards, went to the Gendarme and checked in and walked to the fuel dock to check out the procedure for refueling. The fuel dock was right next to the wharf but we had been told that you had to walk along the shore to get to the station. As we walked the path, we went up and down hills with a lot of ruts. Since we were low on fuel, we realized that we would have to make several trips for fuel using the dock cart and fuel cans. Once we got back to the boat we noticed another crew dinghying up to the wharf and using a small rope ladder to get up onto the dock. Phill hopped into our dinghy and ran over to the wharf to chat with the other cruisers. They said that the dinghy and cans at this little dock could be used to take on the fuel. We had already made an appointment to take Mouse Pad to the wharf for fueling. The problem was that there were two commercial ships that had come in as well as a French Navy ship. They were suppose to have been finished with their business and well on their way before we were scheduled to take on fuel. As it turned out, the French Navy ship stayed way past their scheduled departure. I guess they have priority on the wharf. We decided that we would do the dinghy thing instead of waiting for the wharf to become available. We took our cans in the dinghy and went ashore to fill them. This turned out to be pretty easy and uneventful. Anything to get out of pulling up that silly anchor resetting it unnecessarily.

While we were still in Taiohae, the small sailboat that we had observed leaving while we were heading in, was returning. She anchored on our starboard side. We waived to the skipper and commented on his bravery, leaving under those weather conditions. Later in the day he came by and introduced himself. His name was Glenn and his boat's name was Sanuu II. He had single handed all the way from Canada. It had taken him 45 days to get from Canada to the Marquises. This was something that he wanted to do for himself. He had left his family in Canada to do the trip alone. He was now ready to have his family join him. He was working on finding a nice hotel in Papeete so his family could join him and have a small vacation. We spent a little time with him and shared some of the information that our tour guides contained regarding lodging in Papeete. He was also hopeful that he could convince his family to finish the entire trip with him. We couldn't imagine having four people on that small boat. Phill reminded me that many cruisers travel in boats smaller than Mouse Pad. Glenn said that he was expecting one of his friends to fly in and crew with him on the leg from the Marquises to Tahiti. We learned that Sanuu II didn't have very many electronic gadgets on board and navigation was done using only the basics. Glenn had only a VHF radio and GPS. No radar, SSB, wind vane, solar panels, etc..

As we wandered around town we learned that there was a hotel at the west end of the main road in town. The hotel was reported to have a nice view and bar where the cruisers congregated. They have happy hour and live entertainment and catered to the cruisers. We got in our dinghy and headed across the bay to check out this place, Keikahanui Inn (or more affectionately known as Rosie's). We followed the signs up the hill and were pleasantly surprised when we got to the top of the hill. We went inside and grabbed a table near the windows so we could look out over the bay and hillside. What a view! Rosie then greeted us. I got my first glass of white wine since leaving California. What a nice treat. Phill ordered Rum and Coke and we began to ask Rosie a lot of questions. She was very accommodating. As it turned out, Rosie and her husband were cruisers for many years and had traveled the South Pacific extensively. Rosie had a soft spot for the cruiser community. Through our conversation with Rosie, we learned that the west side of the bay used to be reserved for commercial ships and all pleasure yachts were supposed to anchor on the east side. She was surprised that the Gendarme had not instructed us to anchor on the east side. Maybe they had changed their policy. She also advised us that the winds that we had been experiencing were not the norm. Usually there are consistent southeast winds. We had been seeing steady northerly winds and a lot of squalls. We opted to not stay for dinner because we wanted to get back to the boat while there was some daylight available. There were no streetlights on the road going back down the hill. Rosie does have a well-known French chef on staff and was very proud of his culinary abilities. We regretted that we couldn't stay for dinner. Rosie also has a lending library for the cruisers and will accept mail for those yachts passing through. As much as we were enjoying our visit with Rosie, we decided that we should head back to Mouse Pad. We thanked her for a wonderful evening and headed down the hill. We had the honor of an escort down the hill, Rosie's German Shepherd dog. He walked us all the way to the dinghy. Once he got to the water, he started romping in the surf. He wanted to play. We gave him a couple minutes of frolicking and then departed.

We were fueled up and had toured the town thoroughly so we decided that it was time to move on. We wanted to return to Ua Pou one more time. We wanted to spend some more time with Etienne and his family and get some of those wonderful vegetables. Tomorrow morning we would pull up the anchor and head to Ua Pou.


Leaving the bay behind
Motoring out of Daniel's Bay

NOTE: Comments and suggestions should be sent to Jerry Reese, Council Bluffs, IA.


Created by the Skipper of Mouse Pad.
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Revised: 19 September, 2005 .