March - April, 2006
The Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia

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Our tracks in the Marquesas


(Click on any photo for a blow up)

The passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas was our longest non-stop journey so far, almost 3.000 nautical miles.  We were lucky with the weather, however, and the trip was very pleasent and enjoyable. Our first anchorage in the Marquesas was in Hanavave Bay at the island of Fatu-Hiva, 21 days and 16 hours after our take off at Isla Isabela in the Galapagos.

Bananas at sunset in the Pacific

Catch of the day: Dorado

Fatu-Hiva is the island where Thor Heyerdahl and his first wife Liv spent a back-to-nature-year in the late 1930s. The anchorage at Hanavave, also known as the Bay of Virgins, is spectacular in its dramatic fjord-style beauty. The western name is a misnomer: Erosion has sculptured the huge pillars of rocks in the form of protrusions that are said to bring in mind the suggestive symbol of virility. The bay was consequently first called Baie de Verges (bay of Dicks!?), but outraged missionaries slipped a letter "i" into the word, making it vierges. And so the bay has usually since then been called Bay of Virgins by the English speaking visitors.

Our next stop was at Hiva-Oa, where we anchored in Taahuku Bay. Here is the port of Atuona, the main settlement of this island and former home of such famous names as the French impressionist Paul Gauguin and the Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel.

 "Bay of Virility"

Hanavave at Fatu Hiva

Next we visited the island of Tahuata, which is where the White Man first set his foot upon Marquesan soil. The Spaniard Alvaro Mendana landed in 1595 killing 70 Marquesans (he left behind a total of over 200 dead Polynesians). Captain Cook also visited this island, landing in a bay that he named after his ship: Resolution.

 Resting with Paul Gauguin

Abandoned Copra shack behind Hana Moe Noa beach

After a brief stop in Hanamenu bay on the north west coast of Hiva-Oa we sailed to Ua-Pou 60 nautical miles to the NW. This island has a very dramatic skyline: several jagged volcanic plugs loom above and behind the main settlement at Hakahau bay. Fortunately the skies were relatively clear on the afternoon of our arrival and we could admire the suger loaf shaped mountains. During the following days they were completely covered with clouds. One of these peaks was the inspiration of Jacques Brel's song, "La Cathédrale".

 A fresh water spring with pool at Hanamenu

Oa-Pou's dramatic skyline,
the highest peak is at 1.200 meters!
The harbour's breakwater in the fore ground

Our last island in the Marquesas is Fatu Hiva. At the time of writing this report we are anchored in Taiohae bay on the south coast. This is the island where Herman Mellville deserted the whaling ship Acusnet. He hid in the Taipi valley among the natives for a month. All Marquesan tribes practiced cannibalism at the time, and the people of Taipi where known as the cannibal's cannibals! However, Melville managed to get back to Vaiohae and signed aboard a passing Australian whaler. When he returned home some years later, Melville wrote the book Typee about his Taipi adventure. Later he wrote his most famous book, Moby Dick.

 An old guy of times past ...

.. and two more

From Taiohae we sailed to the nearby bay of Hakatea, also known as Daniel's Bay. From there we hiked to the foot of the 350-meter high Vaipo Waterfall, highest of the many in the islands and, someone told us, the 3rd highest in the world.

 We crossed the stream 4 times each way ...

... before arriving at the Waipo Falls

Hakatea was our last anchorage in the Marquesas before setting sail for the Tuamotu arhipelago, 500 nautical miles to the west southwest

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