After a long time travelling with several connecting flights, I found myself overlooking the bay of Atuona on Hiva Oa. Being high up on a mountainside – basically the most common geographical location to be standing on, regarding all the Marquesas Islands – I had just finished my lunch, approximately 2,5 hours after landing. And there it was, a small white spot slowly making its way into the bay! I immediately felt it was my vessel for the upcoming weeks, Kenobi. With a few French words and a lot of sign language I managed to catch a ride down to the harbor. After some time, Lukas, Simon, Johan and Hampus had managed to anchor both main and stern and I greeted these four bearded men when they came ashore. Simon is one of my absolute best friends, and it was a joy to see him again. I had missed him immensely. Lukas I knew since quite some time, but Hampus and Johan I did not know at all – as it would turn out, three weeks later I now consider them all friends. Four men with very different personalities and strengths, something that I felt made them a highly competent, and strong, team.
I did not join the crew straight away, but spent the first and second night at the pretty much only resort on Hiva Oa – not a bad idea actually, considering jetlag and so forth. We all hanged out the first days in Atuona, the main village, and I tried to adjust to the heat and humidity. On my third day, I moved in on Kenobi – Simon gratuitously offered me his cabin, and I accepted. I was impressed by the boat, or rather yacht, nay, floating villa! I had not expected such comfort; Kenobi left nothing to be wished for.
I am into fishing, and this was naturally something I had really looked forward to do on this trip. I could use Lukas fishing gear, which was very nice of him. I had not used poppers – a surface going lure, making splashes and bubbles – and went for that first. I cast out from the stern deck on our anchoring spot. A strike, straight away! Lukas was not lingering, and soon he was also hooked on. Unfortunately, he lost his, which I think was a bigger fish than the one I caught – a 2,6 kilo Pacific Crevalle Jack. A fish we later ate that evening. When I was cleaning the fish, the tropical darkness had laid its blanket over us. Therefore I used a headlamp. In the light I saw a small hammerhead shark, which was not a coincidence as we later learned that the very same bay we were in was famous for being a hammerhead baby chamber.
On Hiva Oa we rented a car. Going up the mountains we could really experience the diversity of the Marquesas’ biosphere. The vegetation struck me in particular. All the island’s greenery has the same structure – it starts off with palm trees at the bottom, followed by bigger leaf trees and fruit plants, after that dense jungle and at the very top: coniferous forests with different kinds of pines. On the north side of the island the roads were narrow and winding – as I was not the driver, it really took a toll on my nerves, but Simon steered with steady hands.
After a couple of days, we pulled the anchors and started sailing for Tahuata, the neighboring island of Hiva Oa. The course there was mainly in the form of a sound or canal. In the distance I could see a large Mahi Mahi breaking the surface, which immediately made me check that the lures were behaving correctly, as we had rigged the fishing equipment – as usual – basically the first thing we did after the engines had started. Soon, we could see large schools of baitfish, making the sea boil. The schools were attacked from all sides; from above the birds dove down like fighter jets, from the sides dolphins enclosed them and beneath, larger predatory fish were on the hunt. The latter soon became obvious when we landed an 8 kilo Big Eye Tuna – wonderful eating later that evening when we made the famous Tuna á la Kenobi.
Tahuata was a chilled out location, but it was also the first place where the crew’s obsession with fruit became apparent. I stayed on the boat, while the rest headed for land. In retrospect, I truly understand the preoccupation with this, as I suspect that one of the things I definitely will miss is actually the fruit – especially the grape fruit, which was as big as footballs and sweet, a stark contrast to the bitter version of them back home in Sweden. On Tahuata, Lukas and me had the first early morning fishing raids to come, using the dinghy. It is a special thing to share, as it always evolves around one thing and one thing only: where to go next, what lure to use, where have we fished prior to this moment and so forth. We also caught fish of course: Blue Fin Jacks, Emperors and Triggerfish among others.
I am a novice on sailing, to say the least. Fortunately, the Kenobi crew is – as already noted above – an impressive team. On the way to the most southern island, Fatu Hiva, the genoa broke and we had to use the storm jib instead, which worked out nicely. Upon arrival, we tried to drop the anchor but there was something wrong with the electrical engine. It was then that the Kenobi crew’s experience and coolness became apparent to me – if we could not get the anchor down, the alternative was to sail back to Hiva Oa, a scenario none of us wanted. We immediately turned the boat around and headed out from the bay, where an emergency meeting was held followed by troubleshooting. Eventually, Simon had an idea and unplugged the remote controller (which had been acting up before) and we were back in business.
Fatu Hiva was such a great island, truly a place of natural wonders, nice people, culture and food. The pinnacles were a traditional dance competition and an approximately 70 meter high waterfall. I could easily have stayed on Fatu Hiva, but after a couple of days the end of my trip was drawing to a near and we had to start sailing northwards. We anchored both Ua-Pou and lastly Nuku Hiva, which resulted in me having – thanks to our friends on the Kenobi – visited all islands of the Marquesas, save one.
I feel truly blessed to have been able to join captain Wilczek and the crew for a short while. However, I have a feeling this is not the last adventure they will be on – there’s always the Indian Ocean, right?