Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Catching Up On the Cool Stuff

The grass is always greener on your neighbor's lawn when you have a lawn. Someone else's cruising schedule and stops usually seem more interesting than your own. This time, however, I think we may be in the sweet green spot of touring the Marquesas. We've finally had a chance to compare itineraries with the group that left Puerto Vallarta about nearly two weeks ahead of us, and oddly enough, I'm not jealous. It would be lovely to be part of this cohesive group of cruising buddy boats (complete with three kid boats and a couple of multihulls), but I don't think I'd trade it for the many little and big experiences we've enjoyed these past two weeks.

Taking a step back, since we've arrived in the Marquesas, Don Quixote and Loose Pointer have been anchorage sampling. Settled weather largely from the east south east has resulted in really nice conditions on the north and west sides of the islands. Little pocket anchorages that are somewhat marginal in bigger winds or when swell runs from the north have been for us really pleasant, beautiful spots to spend a day or a night or both.

Our first tour was of Tahuata. We visited all the little anchorages and villages from Baie Hanamoenoe on the northwestern end and down the back side. Some we dropped the hook and spent the night. Others we simply motored into, dropped a lunch hook, and explored for a few hours. We completed our tour by motoring around the southern end to oogle the island's incredible rock formations, cliffs, and spires.

We briefly returned to Atuona on Hiva Oa to get our laundry. While there, DrC and I took in the Gaughin museum. While the art work was fascinating, I must say that my appreciation for the artist is considerably less. From his letters and writings, he sounds frankly like a prick. His is definitely not a personality I would go out of my way to spend time with. The museum was strangely compelling, however. The art work is all copies. Yes, copies. So here is the explanation. Gaughin actually only spent the last few years of his life in French Polynesia, with the final year or so on Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. He was very prolific during those final years, but due to debts owed to the French government and others, all his art work was sold and nothing really remains here in the islands.

The museum as a result features almost no original pieces. In fact arguably the only items of source interest are artifacts from an archeological dig conducted on his homestead -- e.g. bits of glass, a morphine syringe. Instead, the museum commissioned copies of an enormous number of his pieces. They are quite open about this. The entrance features a copy of a famous piece done by four different artists so that you can see how different reproducers interpret the original work. Each piece has a digital image of the original as well as where it can be found and its provenance. So basically, you're wandering around examining 100s of fakes. Yet, if you want to really get a sense of an artist's total body of work, this is a compelling way to do it. We "saw" pieces from his first years all the way through to the very last sketches completed on Hiva Oa. The work was life-size, life-like, and officially certified by the French government complete with provenance stamps and all. It's a fascinating approach to displaying art, and the first time I have encountered this strange "official reproduction" phenomena. For that reason alone, I recommend visiting this museum if you ever happen to land on Hiva Oa.

After grabbing a bunch of fresh bread, tuna, and veg, we zipped around the corner to rejoin our buddy boat. Loose Pointer was tucked into an anchorage on the northwest corner of Hiva Oa waiting for us. Baie Hanamenu featured a fresh water creek and pond for washing but not much else. So after a day, we both enjoyed a speedy downwind sail to Ua Pau, roughly 60 NM west. Again, we didn't head for the popular and populous anchorage on the windward side but instead tucked in next to a cute little village about a third of the way up in Baie Hakamaii. I've already described that one, so we'll move a day forward and 2 NM north to the next anchorage at Baie Hakaotu. This looked like another rather unexciting little spot at first glance, but it grew on us to the tune of three nights. First, it was completely unpopulated, which is nice. Second, there was surprisingly good diving on the north side of the cove. DrC, Jaime, and the Loose Pointer adults indulged in several dives while the rest of us dodged jellies and snorkeled.

However, we're running out of propane so Don Quixote left Hakaotu yesterday to head around the corner. Our original plan (such as we plan anything) was to pop into Baie d'Hakahau just to see it, then head over to Nuka Hiva's main anchorages today to fuel up before rejoining Loose Pointer in Daniel's Bay. Arguably, these were nothing like a "best laid plan" so it's not really a spoiler to let you know we're not going anywhere today. The supply ship is coming in so the locals are putting out the artisan tables, putting on a dance, and rolling out the friendly mat. The spires are even more stunning on this side of the island, there are fresh baguettes on shore, and we may have a bead on where to get some garden vegies.

Also, the bay is simply packed with puddle jumpers -- two of them multihulls and three of them kid boats. We hosted sun-downers on our boat last night to meet all these folks, hear their stories, let the kids run wild, and learn how to pronounce Cielydh (Kaylee... I will never understand the Gaelic). These are really good people. Their crossing was rougher and faster, and they seem like highly supportive, good people in a fleet of boats that is the kind of group we remember best from Mexico. On the other hand, they haven't seen what we've seen. Tomorrow, they'll head out to the Tuamotus without us but no worries. Don Quixote has propane and Loose Pointer waiting for us on Nuka Hiva and a whole bunch of anchorages left to visit before we head west.

1 comment:

Terri said...

I can't remember how I found your blog but enjoy reading of your journeys. Will we ever see a pic or two? Thanks - Terri from Kirkland WA