Today as pulled into Taiocha’e bay in Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas Islands I could almost hear cell phones awaken after 8 days’ sleep, pinging the presence of texts, lots of texts, collectively probably thousands of texts as we sailed into range of Nuka Hiva’s cell phone towers.
I downloaded email that, in the last few days only showed up as headings with no content. I checked to see that photos had actually uploaded on my blog. I downloaded all the material for a board meeting later in the morning. As I did all this the internet slowed and cell service diminished as more people discovered that they could get online or catch a cell. Folks living in Sitka will understand this. My phone happily pinged and chirped to a mix of sunshine and thunderstorms during sail in.
It took us 8 days to get to Nuka Hiva from Panama. It seems like one of the most isolated spots on Earth but in history it was the disbursal point for Polynesian culture, spreading from the Marquesas Hawaii and Tahiti. Captain Cook, various missionaries, Yankee whaler men and ultimately the French were colonizing influences. On our voyage to the island we sailed over the spot where a giant sperm whale rammed and sunk the Nantucket whaler Essex. Herman Melville heard the of the Essex story and wrote Moby Dick after spending time on this island. Nuka Hiva is a ruggedly beautiful island, with volcanic peaks, clear water and gorgeous blossoms framing views wherever you look. It inspired Paul Gauguin’s painting. Jacque Brel also spent time here.
Instead of going ashore immediately I spent the morning reading minutes, financial reports, development reports and the Executive Director’s report as well as reviewing a report I wrote on mission that I was to present at my Zoom meeting.
Four- and Five-Star Mariners in the HAL loyalty program get preference on tenders going ashore in ports like Nuka Hiva. When we were no star or low star cruisers, we envied the 5 stars who were heading to shore while we were cooling our eager heels in some lounge. As we advanced in star ranking, we become less interested in getting off early. Either we had been there before, (we were here 5 years ago) or we have learned to appreciate a leisurely breakfast and a relaxed attitude. It took me a long time to learn that. So even if I hadn’t needed to prepare for my Zoom we probably would not have been among the first off.
We got on shore early afternoon. I had hoped to grab a driver and check out the island beyond the bay. But there were a bunch of afternoon tours and no free drivers, so we contented ourselves with walking in a different direction than we did when here 5 years ago. We walked up a hill where a British Fort Madison used to stand. Today it’s a park, returned to its original name Tuhiva, with statues, flowers, monuments, tikis, including a monumental Tiki celebrating a warrior and the woman from whom he gets strength (and birth). It also has a nice view of the harbor, which, I suppose is why it once was a fort. After our walk I had a Hinano Tahitian beer while listening to a combo play two ukuleles that were built to look like Stratocasters. The bar took dollars, which is a good thing because we had no French Pacific Francs. The exchange office on the ship wasn’t working the day before, no internet. (You can see my posts from 5 years ago, when we walked in the other direction, on this blog. Navigate from this link.)
Sail out was scheduled at 10:30 PM. But the town is small with no nightlife and not much happening after dark so why? The bay is very dark, not many city lights. The captain explained this would be a good night to watch stars in the southern sky. He turned off the lights, leaving only what was necessary while at anchor. We sat anchored in a dark bay and enjoying the sky show before sailing out.
If you are interested in seeing pictures and reading posts from our visit 5 years ago on MS Amsterdam please click here. There are several posts but you can navigate to them from the bottom of this linked page.