We left Taiohae Bay early on the morning of the 20th in order to sail around to Anaho Bay on the north of the island. There, we planned to clean and check the boat over before departing the Marquesas for the Society Islands, where our one planned stop is Papeete on the island of Tahiti. We refilled the main fuel tank from jerry cans on deck to replenish the fuel we had burned during our passage from the Galapagos, and then motored and sailed to Anaho Bay.
The southeast tradewinds were blowing at 15-20 knots, which made for perfect sailing across the eastern, windward side of the island. The sea was a little confused due to waves rebounding from the rocky cliffs, but it wasn’t rough. We enjoyed the scenery of island as it passed to port. There were plenty of photo opportunities.
We put the anchor down just at noon in 35 feet of water. We had to clean the boat in Anaho Bay instead of Taiohae because the locals said that the sharks in Taiohae could be aggressive. Besides, it was a good excuse to visit the only coral reef in the Marquesas. Starlight needed a good cleaning after the trip from the Galapagos. We had spent so much time sailing on one tack in consistent wind that barnacles had taken hold more than a foot above the waterline, and algae up to three feet above the waterline on the bow and starboard side.
After scrubbing a good deal of growth off the boat and also cleaning the propeller and other places where barnacles had begun to take hold, Idoia and I went off to explore the reef. I was not disappointed to snorkel in Anaho Bay. It was definitely the best reef that I have seen on this trip. The coral was in fair condition, though there was still a lot of bleaching and algae growth. We saw a few manta rays, a sea turtle (I haven’t identified which type yet…), and a great school of yellow fish that numbered in the hundreds if not more. Those were highlights of the swim, but it was great just to see a reef that still seemed to be alive.
We hauled the anchor at first light the next morning. The 15-day deadline to arrive in Tahiti looms over this part of the trip, so we couldn’t stay longer in Anaho Bay. Besides, the season is advancing and we need to make miles towards New Zealand if we are going to arrive before the risk of cyclones begins to increase. Good time was made the first two days after leaving Anaho, but the southeast tradewind is beginning to falter now. We are currently making only about 4 knots, and the wind is forecast to drop to nothing over the next few days. Winter is over in this part of the world and the steady southeast tradewinds that are a feature of the winter months are bound to become less reliable. The boat’s owner wants to stop at an atoll on the way to Tahiti, as would I, but we may not have time. We have a limited range under power, so we may have to go nonstop through the Tuamotus. I’ll update when we know more.