Resting and chores

by Glen

Ua Huka, Marquesas, French Polynesia day 1, Friday 14-April:
After our midday arrival yesterday we just relaxed, soaking in our surroundings. The bay itself has steep sides, even cliffs next to us, such that the sun was gone by 4pm, giving us welcome shade. The incoming ocean swell is very noisy, and almost disconcertingly, ramming onto the rocks within 75m of us. (We hope the anchor dug in OK! No chance of checking in this 15m water).
Directly in front of us is the valley village of Hane, which lies in what would have been the center of a huge volcanic crater (this is the geologist coming out in me!) with a steep slope upwards behind the village to the crater rim high above. The other half of the crater would have been where the sea is now, either eroded away or dramatically blown away by a later eruption. Who knows. But what the geological events have left is a dramatic and very green scenery before our eyes.

At first, we estimated there couldn’t be more than ~200 people living on this remote Marquesas island. So we were surprised when two fully kitted football teams and several observers gathered for a game on the village pitch, right next to the beach. Almost surreal!
At the same time, other sporty locals are out in their canoes. Now, of Polynesia you might imagine wooden dugout canoes with basic out-rigger floats all held together with bamboo strips and powered by a wooden paddle. No, the canoes, although of traditional design, are in fact carbon fiber from a new age. Several of them gather in the bay and are either training or racing. Whatever, their single fit looking paddlers can really make them move fast! Clearly, it’s a popular local sport.
And talking of modernism, most of the vehicles at the football gathering are newish looking 4WD pickups. Unlike the Caribbean, you don’t sense there’s any poverty here. Now no doubt France “helps” with that, just like they do in Saint Martin, but clearly these are different peoples to the Caribbean – almost certainly not into rum, pot, and dirty lyric music!

And now to today. Amazingly, we both managed to sleep the full night through, 9pm to 6am. My first full night in bed for 3 weeks. My passage naps had been a maximum of 3 hours, but usually 40mins at a time.

After an easy start it was time for some chores. Oana tackled 3 loads of laundry to freshen up towels, bedding and the two pairs of shorts I’ve been in for the last 3 weeks (!). All quickly drying in the hot cabin.
Meanwhile I needed to tackle the new ecosystem that has been attracted to our hull. I had been hoping, given the speeds we have been doing, that not too much would cling onto us. Not so. Now a marine biologist might be interested to know we have gathered very different “things” on our hull compared to anytime previously. There are none of the expected barnacles or white stringy calcareous growth which plagued us in Colombia and Panama, nor any green slime.
In fact, from 30cm below the waterline and downwards, Cloudy’s bottom is almost as clean as when I last finished cleaning it in Panama. But around the stern, and especially all over the gel coat up to the transom, is covered in little 1-footed translucent rubbery beasties. Some up to 5cm long and all very slippery to get hold of. And when you do get a grip, they are like trying to remove stiff chewing gum: they just stretch and still don’t release their powerful grip. So a paint scrapper was called for, which did the trick. Considering we are technically in France now maybe I should have saved them for the locals to eat. They are probably a delicacy!

Next to tackle, again mostly on the gelcoat, all along the waterline and up to 50cm above it, are thick brown stains which, despite the ceramic coating on the hull, are really tough to remove. Even after two hours of exhaustive work, I still couldn’t get clean the juncture on the upper edge of the antifoul line. I guess in the Pacific it’s going to need a daily swim for waterline cleaning.
Oh, back to the rubbery beasties. I’d said there were very few low down on the hull, but one of the little bar-stewards had made its home inside the speed impeller, of all places to grow! And there I was, for the last few weeks, thinking we had always been in favorable current – seeing the different readout from STW (speed through water) by this impeller and SOG (speed over ground) by GPS. Where all the time the STW reading was actually only low due to this creature taking constant head-blows from the paddle wheel! By the last few days I kind of realized something was amiss, because we were getting up to 4kts difference on the readings and there are certainly no currents of such magnitude out here.

So we go to bed early, with clean bedding, clean bottom, and clean impeller. Ready for an early start tomorrow. 35nm to Nuku Hiva. Just a short walk in the park.

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