Hanaiapa Yacht Club

We leave Tahuata headed to Haniaipa Bay. It’s just a few hours north of Tahuata on the east side of Hiva Oa. The east side of Hiva Oa is the arid side of the island. No longer are we viewing the beautiful, lush green landscape we’ve become accustomed to, rather here it is dry and brown and reminds me somewhat of México. As we come around to the east side of the island the swells picks up. We’re going directly into it and getting beat up pretty good.
We can only endure the beating so long before we decide it’s just not worth it. We left a bit later than we planned and it seems it was too late to beat the swell so we turn around and head for Hanamenu Bay. It’s not all the picturesque but it’s nice enough to stay for a night and it appears we will have it all to ourselves.
Not long after we drop anchor the rains come. It’s not hard but it’s steady. One thing I’ve noted here is the weather. It’s a bit cooler than we expected as everyone said we’d by dying from the heat here. Of course we’re from Southern California and Florida and lived through the summer in México. It needs to be pretty hot for us to say it’s miserable. Actually I find it to be a lot like Florida. It’s humid at times and it rains most every day. It’s usually short lived and not on the daily, summer, 4 pm schedule Florida’s rain is but we are enjoying it. In the last year in México we only saw rain twice! We had rain twice today alone. It helps keep it cool out and it also keeps the stainless clean…BONUS!
As it turns out, we did not get to have this little bay to ourselves, a smaller sailboat, SV Little Wing, showed up just before nightfall. They dropped anchor a bit close for our taste but they are behind us so we don’t worry about it too much. After all we will be leaving at first light to head to Haniaipa Bay. I’m so looking forward to this place. Our friends have said it’s truly beautiful.
We leave Hanamenu bright and early for the quick two hour sail up to Hanaiapa Bay here on the north side of Hiva Oa and what a treat this has been. First of all we had a pod of dolphin escort us to the entrance of the bay. Here the dolphin are really small compared to what we’ve seen in México and Florida. As we round the corner to the bay we are immediately struck by its quaintness and beauty. We’re kind of sad we are leaving tonight but there’s still a lot to see and do and the visa clock is ticking away. Kind of wish we’d have gotten the extended visa so we could stay longer but it’s too late now. We just have to get in as much as we can.
We are the only boat in the bay and it’s absolutely lovely. The water is clear; the mountain is lush green; the palm trees are swaying in the light breeze and fishing boats dot the shore. Yes, the view is simply spectacular. As we sit enjoying our traditional anchor down beers a boat comes by with three Marquesan men who have been out collecting copra. They all seem to be in a wonderful mood, laughing and smiling as they pass. I pick up my iPad to snap a picture of them and the guy on the bow waves and gives me a giant smile. I truly love the Marquesan people and their friendly ways.
We enjoy the view for a bit but decide we have to go ashore to check this place out and let me tell you, it’s something we HIGHLY recommend. There’s a small concrete quay to tie up to but bring an anchor so you can anchor off the wall. It can be a bit roly and there is a possibility of your dingy going under the quay.
We tie up and start walking toward the village. On the mountain there are goats everywhere. Some are even on the road as we walk by. They are only somewhat shy so you can get pretty close to them. Dan stops to see if he can trick one into coming up to him. He makes a clicking sound and then holds his hand out as if he has food. While one cautiously approaches he turns back before getting too close. It appears they are a bit smarter than Dan believed.
As we continue along we are greeted with lovely sights of this tiny, perfectly manicured village. There is a river that runs through the village and where it meets the bay there is a pool of completely flat water surrounded by coconut palms and beautiful flowers. Yes, it is yet another Polynesian paradise.
This is a very small village with probably about 100 or so residents; maybe even less. One of them is William. He is a truly friendly and dear old man. We were told he is the owner of the Hanaiapa Yacht Club and that we must visit him. Of course, we are always up for an adventure so why not?
Let me explain about the HYC. That’s just something he calls his home. He loves to have cruisers stop by and visit him. You bring a photo and/or a boat card and sign his book. He has 7 of these worn out notebooks that are full of messages from cruisers who have stopped to see him since the 1970’s. Seriously! It’s really very interesting to read the entries and greetings people have left over the years.
To reach the HYC you take the road from the quay and follow it around to the right. Go over the river and down past the large field on your left. Take the concrete road to your left. Follow this road until you see the large, white church on your left. Immediately past the church you will see a small blue sign that reads, Hanaiapa Yacht Club. If you get lost, which is pretty hard to do, just ask one of the locals. In a village of a hundred or less folks everyone definitely knows everyone and most are related.
We find William in his yard trimming the bushes. As we approach him he literally drops everything he is doing, gets a giant smile on his face and starts motioning toward his home. In his front yard is a crypt with a cross over it. It turns out this is the grave of his mother. William asks if we speak French and we tell him our standard answer, “Un peu”…meaning a little, and for us, it’s very little. He speaks pretty good English, which is nice so we are able to have a conversation.
His baby blue house is the typical open, two room house with concrete floors, no doors and virtually nothing inside. We sat a picnic table on the covered porch and he brought out his books. We started looking through them when he suddenly disappeared inside. The next thing we know he is feeding us bread, bananas and pomegranate juice. We chat a bit and he’s up again. Now he comes out with a stalk of green bananas, a French baguette, a coraso (sp?). It’s a type of fruit. William is actually giving us all this to take to the boat. We were absolutely blown away by his kindness and hospitality.
In the course of conversation we find out that he is 70 and has lived in this village his whole life. He is one of….get this…20 children!!! Yep, that’s right, 20! He has five children who all are married with kids and live here in the village. His teenage grandson goes to school in Atuona, which is a two-hour drive one way. His parents must drive him there and back five days a week but they are dedicated to getting him a good education.
As we sit talking and eating there are huge ants crawling across the table. William picks up this stalk of stiff reeds that are tied together and starts brushing them off the table. He then hands the “ant killer” over to Dan and motions for him to do the same. Now I know we are truly entrenched in the Marquesan culture. In the states people would be freaking out and grabbing every kind of insect spray they could find but here, you just brush them off and move on. It’s really pretty funny when you think of it.
Dan writes a nice message in William’s book and gives him one of our boat cards. William smiles his wonderful smile and thanks us for stopping by. He asks if we will please tell others about him. He just loves to meet people and take care of them. Of course we tell him we will let everyone know so if you ever get to Hanaiapa Bay, please stop by and see dear William. It will truly make his day!
After about a half hour visiting with our new friend we decide it’s time to move on. We thank William for his company and his kindness and Dan, feeling that he needs to do something for him, pulls out 500 CFP and hands it to him. William tries to give it back but Dan refuses. With that William goes to a vine hanging off the side of his house and cuts two vegetables off it and hands them to me. I’m still not sure what they are and either I didn’t let them ripen enough or I just don’t know what to do with them but they were very bitter and I’m not sure I’d eat one again. You’ll see them in the photo and if you know what they are and how to cook them I’d love to know so please message us.
We ask William for a photo and he humbly agrees. It’s one of my favorite photos of all of our travels to date. I give him a big hug as we leave. I know I’ll never forget this man, his smile and his genuine hospitality. Learning about William, his family and his village was a truly wonderful experience we both will always cherish. It’s easy to travel to distant lands but you never really get the whole experience if you don’t try to immerse yourself in the culture and truly get to know the people. Being with William gave us a deeper understanding of the Marquesan people.
Back on the boat we shower and make dinner because tonight we head to Nuka Hiva. It’s our last Marquesan island before we head to the Tuomotus in a week or so. It should be an easy, overnight journey and the weather looks to be perfect.
Until next time,
Jilly

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