ARAGORN ... Not all those who wander are lost (JRR Tolkien)

The Marquesas

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The Marquesas Islands lie between 400 and 600 miles south of the equator and approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Tahiti. They fall naturally into two geographical divisions: the northern group of Nuka Hiva and Ua Pou and Ua Huka, and the southern group of Tahuata, Moho Tani and Fatu Hiva, situated around the main island of Hiva Oa. Although off the beaten track, the beauty of the islands of the Marquesas archipelago is matched only by their serenity. We sailed 3040 nm—the longest ocean passage of the rally to arrive at Nuku Hiva from the Galapagos. The Marquesas are steep islands, created from relatively new volcanic activity and have not yet developed surrounding reefs. The landscapes are dominated by vertical walls and lava cones, severly indented by valleys.



Starting at the end of the long voyage, this is the first land in 18 days: Ua Huka. We sailed by her to finish at Nuka Hiva in 18 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes, for an average speed of 7.3 knots, good considering the wind averaged less than 15, and the course was close to directly downwind. In fact this, the longest leg was very nice; you kind of get into a rhythm of three hours on watch, and then six hours below.
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But what else did we do during the long passage? One thing was keeping in touch with the other rally boats during a daily roll call. These and listening sessions every two hours were important. In fact, two rally boats had serious troubles during this leg, and the radio checks meant another boat could change course to support them if necessary (good news, all problems were solved safely).
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Leslie loves having clean clothes. On the long leg, this meant hand washing. Leslie's favorite site was sitting on the bench in the shower with the wash/rinse bucket. Want to bet which shoreside service was most in demand when we arrived in the next port?
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Leslie had to hang the laundry in the cockpit when underway. She convinced Dick that the additional sail area added 0.02 knots to the boatspeed when sailing downwind, the only reason he agreed to the unseamanlike sight :)
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We anchored in the wonderful Bay of Taiohae in Nuka Hiva, the capital of the Marquesas. ARAGORN and most of the rally boats were anchored in the lower right hand corner of this photo, looking south. The absence of a surrounding reef in the Marquesas means that sharks come into the bays frequently, restricting swimming to only necessary activities ... with a lookout for fins.
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This is Typee Bay, the next one east from our anchorage. Literary readers will remember this as the site of Herman Melville's hideout after jumping from his whaling ship in Taiohae, and "Typee" as the name of his subsequent book.
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The landscapes in the Marquesas are spectacular. Here is yet another perfect tropical bay - Hatiheu. The volcanic vents form the conical spires rising everywhere over the Marquesan landscape.
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Of course, the people are what makes the places we visit. Here some kids walk with their teacher back to school after lunch in Hatiheu.
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The Marquesas are known for wood carving. Here a Marquesan sits in his doorway working on his craft.
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This modern "Tiki" carving is set at an archeological site in the hills in the Marquesas. During the "time of many people" before Europeans came and spread disease), the Marquesans built large stone structures for pagan ceremonies. Visiting these and other civil engineering works makes you marvel at how the ancients moved stones.
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One part of the stoneworks was the platform containing the "Sacrifice Pit". A man was selected from four or five candidates for a human sacrifice, and placed in this deep pit on the sacred platform to await his fate. It is unclear if he was eaten, or whether cannibalism was simply done to the losers in the regular wars.
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For the rally, our "Pig Roast" featured the four-legged variety, not the "long pig" (human) of the older people. Here the pig parts, fish and root vegetables go into the pit of hot coals. Cover with banana leaves and dirt, and come back in four hours for a great feast.
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We were lucky to have Ross Sherbrooke join ARAGORN for the Marquesas and Tuamotus. Here Ross plays Pied Piper to some Marquesan kids.
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Up from the famous "Daniel's Bay" in Nuka Hiva is the third highest waterfall in the world. We climbed two hours up the valley to the base of the waterfall - a neat trip through the Marquesan rainforest.
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The hike to the waterfall involved crossing the outflow stream many times. Here some of the hiking group fords the swift-flowing stream. You had to be very careful and slowly work your way along to make sure you didn't slip in and get drenched!
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Jim and Lolly Burnett-Herkes are crew on CONDOR. They have sailed on ARAGORN, helping on the leg Bermuda-to-Newport in May 2001. Jim grew the beard on the long leg from the Marquesas, but he has shaved it off since winning the Sean Connory look-alike contest.
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