One Man's Haven

Daniel's Bay (Thursday, June 22, 1997)

We reluctantly hoisted anchor from Baie Hatiheu at 2000 and headed to Daniel's Bay. The winds were still out of the northwest and there were a lot of sizeable swells for our pleasure. We saw 15 to 20 knots of wind all the way across the top of the island. As we made the turn at the northwest corner and headed down the west side of the island, the winds increased. We were sailing close hauled and saw consistent winds of 20 to 28 knots. We were sure that this was supposed to be the leeward side of the island. No such luck! As we made it around the southwest corner of the island and approached what was to be Daniel's Bay, the winds did not seem to be subsiding. At the entrance to the bay there was a heavy current and pretty large swells. We had been warned that this was typical for entry into this bay. If we were absolutely sure we were entering the right bay, we would have worried a little less. As all of the bays that we enter are new territory for us, we worry that we have miscalculated the navigation and may be entering the wrong bay. So far, so good. We have not missed one yet.

As we rounded the point within the bay, we headed into the wind and dropped the main sail. The bay was off to the right. As we moseyed into the bay, we noticed coral heads on our right. We stayed in the middle of the bay just to be safe. There were a half dozen other boats at anchor in the bay. We wandered around and found the ideal spot to drop the anchor. We were anchored in only 2.7 meters of water. I'm always glad when we find a nice shallow anchorage. It's less chain for me to have to muscle. Once the anchor was set we hopped in the dinghy and checked out the neighborhood. We went to a couple of the boats and introduced ourselves and discovered who our new neighbors were. We noticed a Seven Seas Cruising Association pennant on one of the boats. Since we also belong to SSCA, we had something in common. The boat was Jenny out of Seattle (we think). The first mate, Ginger, was busy mending the main by hand. She would be there for days. She said that she was doing a general overhaul on a very tired sail. I felt sorry for her since it there was little wind in the bay and the temperature was anything but cool. We learned that the skipper, Neil, was down below with his head buried in the engine compartment. They had blown a seal on the water pump on the engine and could go no where until it was fixed. They could travel a maximum of 15 minutes with the engine before it there was too much water down below. Unfortunately, we did not have any spare parts that we could share with him. We had a totally different system.

As we wandered around the bay, we checked out the coral reef from the entrance to the bay, all the way back to where we were anchored. As we did this we noticed that the reef was alarmingly close to the surface quite a ways from the shore on both sides of the bay. We checked Charlie's Charts when we got back to the boat to see if there was any mention of this condition. As it turned out, there is no mention of the reef as it protrudes into the bay. For those contemplating this bay in the future, be advised that the reef extends out at least 100 feet on each side of the bay. Stay in the middle as you traverse the bay. We also noticed a lot of sharks in the bay. Although they were only about a foot in length, I was not about to swim with them. We checked out the coral and the fish from the dinghy.

The next day, we dinghied ashore. We had read that there was a path leading to a waterfall. We did not see this path. We were a little apprehensive to explore too far inland since it was fenced off. We thought it was considered private property. We had also read that the one and only resident, Daniel, was a sculptor. We wanted to see his work and were hopeful that he might have something that we could buy as a souvenir. We saw a man raking leaves. We attempted to introduce ourselves to him but it was apparent that we did not speak the same language. We then headed across the beach and looked at the coral and crabs that were crawling along the shore. We became suddenly aware that NoNos and mosquitoes were eating us. I had no desire to stand still and let these little monsters eat my legs and arms. I suggested that we head back to the boat.

As we walked the beach back to the dinghy, the man that we had met earlier came out again and called us onto his property. He motioned for us to join him at an area where he had a picnic table close to his house. We followed him and sat down at the table. He proceeded to pick up a couple of coconuts, crack them open and lay them on a fire that he had going in a bucket near the table. I was curious why he was burning these perfectly good coconuts. At first he was not very friendly but as time went on, he opened up. We settled into a nice chat. The next thing we knew, two hours had passed. We eventually learned that the man's name was Daniel. He lives in the bay alone with his wife. He sees a lot of cruisers come and go from his bay. Many of the cruisers spend time with him and he is very proud of the friendships that he develops with the cruisers. Daniel no longer does sculpturing. His eyesight is failing and he finds it difficult to see his work. It is obvious that Daniel is somewhat selective about who he makes friends with. He takes his time deciding whether you will be one of those cruisers he wants to get to know or are you one that he will let pass without getting to know you. We were fortunate to get to know Daniel. He continued to fuel his small little fire with the coconuts and talked about the many boats that have visited his bay. Daniel explained the reason for placing the coconuts in the fire is to help ward off the mosquitoes. There is something about the burning coconuts that act as a repellent to mosquitoes and NoNos. Daniel maintains several volumes of guest registers that he is very proud of. We spent a lot of time looking at these books. They are like his family albums. As we worked our way through the guest registers, we found several boats that we recognized. We didn't get to meet Daniel's wife, Antoinette personally. Daniel talked about her a lot but she remained in their house. Antoinette's health is not good and she is not able to leave the house.

As we sat around and chatted with Daniel, the crew from three other boats came ashore. They were from Crane Dancing, Kabloona III and Wind Gypsy. We had watched them enter the bay and settle in shortly after we had arrived the prior day. We had only met the crew from Crane Dancing. We all sat around and visited with Daniel. Our conversation got onto the subject of lemons (citrons in French Polynesia). I had been noticing that they were typically only the size of a plum. I asked Daniel if they get any larger. His eyes lit up and he asked if we liked citrons. I indicated that they were perfect for Phill's martinis and gin and tonic. He said "Come with me'. We followed as directed. Daniel took all of us into a small orchard at the side of his house and began picking citrons. He filled a bag for us. He told us we had to take 3000 each. I was quick to reply that we could not and would not take 3000 citrons aboard Mouse Pad. We were already having enough difficulty with her water line. If we took 3000 citrons aboard, she may sink. He laughed and continued to put more citrons in our bag. We had a great time in Daniel's orchard. He talked about what grows easily and what does not grow so easily. He gave each of us a couple Pumplemouse. He sneaked a couple papayas into our bag. We thanked him and headed back to the beach where our dinghies were tied up. We learned that Wind Gypsy needed water onboard their boat. Daniel offered to let them use his water faucet to fill their tanks. We loaned them a couple of our Jerry jugs so they would have to make so many trips to and from their boat. We learned that Daniel has a wonderful sense of humor. The skipper from Wind Gypsy thanked him once he had filled his jerry jugs. He indicated that he would wait until morning to get a second load of water. Daniel said that he would have to start over and beg permission to fill them again. Since he had already thanked him, he assumed that he had all the water he needed. Everyone got pretty quiet until we figured out that Daniel was having a little fun at the expense of the Wind Gypsy crew. Wind Gypsy reserved their thank you's until they had completely filled their water tanks.

We all hopped into our respective dinghies and headed back to our little homes on water. The next day several of us returned to shore to properly thank Daniel and Antoinette for their hospitality. Wind Gypsy brought Daniel a brightly colored hat and a bag of hard candy. Daniel said he already had hat, what did he need with another one? Again Wind Gypsy was the base of Daniel's teasing. They were very good-natured about it and didn't seem to mind being the brunt of the humor and teasing. We had taken one of Mouse Pad's tee shirts to Daniel. We signed it and presented it to him as our token of appreciation for his hospitality. We were asked to sign his guest register. We prepared to leave Daniel and Antoinette and head back to Mouse Pad. We definitely enjoyed our visit with Daniel and hope to return to his bay again.

The next morning we prepared to depart to our next port. We were planning to go to Taiohae.

Phill and Daniel
Phill with Daniel

 

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

 



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Revised: 19 September, 2005 .