Galapagos to Marquises

It is difficult to know where to begin just now. Bonnie and I have been very, very bad about getting updates on line here, and we have much to tell. Since my last update we have covered nearly 4,000 miles across the South Pacific Ocean. We have seen some amazing things and met many fantastic people, and one or two not so great people. The moments that stand out the most for me as I sit here in Tahiti thinking back most often involve time spent with the local Marquisans or Tahitians. We have surfed with them, eaten their foods, and made music many nights, laughed as we practiced our language skills and just laughed in general. Each of these memories is what makes up our life out here on Willow, and it is truly a good life, we are happy human beings.

Below is another content creature. A Galapagos Sealion enjoys a rainbow with us from the luxury of our kayak.

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So, I am going to skip the time spent in the Galapagos for now. It was very cool to sail there and get to see some of the things we have heard about, but was also a disappointment in many ways as well. It has become a rich mans destination and not at all welcoming for cruising boats to go and look around. The officialdom there was at the height of annoyance and inefficiency, we were happy to haul the anchor and set sail for French Polynesia. In keeping with tradition we tipped some local rum into the sea as a tribute to whatever gods you wish to see us safe across the most remote piece of water on the planet.

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Our 3,000nm passage from the Galapagos to the Marquises was as ideal as you could ask for. We were never without wind to fill the sails and it was usually about 10-15 knots, which made for very comfortable conditions the whole time. The trip took us 23 days, which is not bad for our size boat. There is not much to say about the passage really, it is like entering the twilight zone for a while and then re-emerging in another world. A beautiful world where the locals speak French and Marquisan and the landscape is truly a fantasy world. Here is Willow at anchor off of Fatu Hiva, the first island we visited. Next is “Bodhran and Willow off of Fatu Hiva.”

The team. Bonnie, Greg and Jason take on the South Pacific.

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Bonnie about to jump off a cliff.

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Bonnie at the top of the road on Fatu Hiva.

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There is really too much to describe, even when trying to do it months after it happened. I fear I am not good about keeping a running journal although I wish I were. We certainly have the time to keep one going, not sure why we are so bad at it, perhaps I will come around. So, first we visited Fate Hive and just enjoyed walking and swimming and not being under way for a while. The language barrier was a problem, but not a terrible one. I seem to have a knack for body language and stringing together words from four languages until I get the point across. It is amazing how a little Spanish, English, Tahitian (I was studying Tahitian on the passage, although Marquis an is different, they usually get the meaning) and French will do for you.

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The Marquises is truly a tropical paradise. We were constantly given gifts of fruits of all kinds that are simply falling off of the trees. The generosity of the locals gave me hope that not everywhere in the world is completely driven by financial gain. How often have we as Americans met a complete stranger on the street and invited them back you our place to meet the kids and parents and share a meal, right then. The happened to us all the time, especially when we had the guitars and mandolin with us.

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That has been the greatest thing for us. With Jason Rose (www.jasonrose.com) as our sailing companion now on his boat “Bodhran”) and his endless songs and guitar playing, me on the mandolin, Bonnie with her guitar and smile and whomever else happens to be with us, well, we are a show for the locals. At first our hosts are a bit shy, however, once they get used to us they take the guitars for a bit of song trading. It nearly brought tears to my eyes at times to listen to these people sing. I would have to say that these are some of the most musical people we have met, anywhere. It seems everyone can pick up the guitar or drum and make beautiful music, never mind how they sing.

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So, the music has been the best form of communication we could have. Everywhere we go, we simply have to take the instruments with us and we are asked to play a bit and that leads to feasting and laughing and more friends.

The little girls everywhere love Bonnie. It never fails, as long as she is alone (no men around her, she has a following of laughing girls. Here she brought in the computer to show them some pictures.

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Our next stop was the island of Tahauata and a village filled with artist’s renown for their carvings. What a great place this was. It was mango season and they were literally falling down and hitting you on the head. We were given stalks of bananas, limes, pompamouse (spelling a bit shoddy there, but is similar to grapefruit, though not as bitter), guavas, coconut and breadfruit. This was a truly peaceful place. We would go in and sit at the central tree basically and play some songs while the locals worked on their carvings and weaving or simply relaxed to talk a bit. I could see staying in a place like that for quite a while actually, but we had to move on. As Americans were only allowed a 3 month visa and there is a lot of water to travel in three months. I did get my first shot in one of the super fast racing outrigger canoes here and I was hooked. Also was taken surfing with two younger guys in their outrigger boat set up with outboard and all.

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A local friend shows off his work.

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Oh, before I forget, another boat from Bellingham met up with us there. Gordon and Jeannine Wunder on their boat “Vari.” I worked with Gordon and Western Towboat out of Seattle and got to help him a bit on building Vari, I count them as good friends and feel grateful to know them. They are currently anchored near us here in Tahiti.

The place we spent the bulk of our time in the Marquises was on the island of Ua Poa. There is a surf break right there in the anchorage and a canoe building shop on the beach and a town full of fantastic people. We ended up staying there for over 3 weeks. Lets see, we surfed a lot, nearly every day. I ate roasted horsemeat, with breadfruit cooked in a coconut milk sauce, as well as some chicken that was running around a few hours before hand. I bought an outrigger canoe here. It was old and beat up, but the price was right. The only problem was the color, bright red, not really my style, but there were no options. It took a bit of work to patch up, but is looking fair enough now.

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Ahhhh, and then there was the music. We played on the streets, on the beach; in the back yards and front yards of people we met, wherever we could. These were some of the best times I have ever had while cruising. I did not get a tattoo here, but I should have. Unfortunately the tattoo artist had injured his hand pig hunting and was out of commission, oh well, next time I reckon.

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Well, this is enough for one sitting, my backside is getting numb now so I must move. I will get some more words and pictures up before leaving Tahiti. Hope all are smiling as much as Bonnie and I are.