Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Anaho Bay, Our Brush with Luxury, and Our Return to Taiohae Bay

While driving around Nuku Hiva, we were able to see a little bit of the north coast and we decided it was worth the trip up there with the boats to see it in a bit more detail. We left Taiohae Bay on the 20th and sailed upwind to Controller Bay on the southwest corner of the island off the village of Hooumi. On the way there we nervously watched behind us as a huge 120' sailboat passed uncomfortably close to Ryan and Alex. Shalimar (Ryan and Alex's boat) makes Architeuthis look small but this boat made Shalimar look like a toy. Shalimar escaped and anchored next to us for the night. In the morning we all sailed out around the point, up the east coast of the island, and around into Anaho Bay near the northeast corner. We arrived considerably ahead of Shalimar and saw the giant mega yacht already at anchor in the bay. Christine and I anchored while grumbling amongst ourselves about the evil James Bond yacht that had given our friends a scare.

After we'd been anchored for a few minutes, a guy came by on a kayak and asked us some questions about our boat and complemented Architeuthis on her good looks. We, of course, love it when people tell us how great our boat is so we invited him aboard so he could admire the woodworking and varnish. It turned out that Murray was one of a small group of friends who had chartered the nearly new and very very fancy mega yacht called Bliss - the selfsame mega yacht that had scared the pudding out of Shalimar on the previous day. In fact, Murray had been at the wheel. He'd been certain (because the electronic navigation equipment was telling him so) that Bliss was going to pass in front of Shalimar and they probably would have but, as Ryan watched the huge boat barreling toward him unsure if anyone aboard knew there was a fragile wooden boat ahead, he got understandably nervous and started up the engine to try and get out of the way. When Shalimar accelerated, Bliss had to alter course slightly to pass behind rather than in front. Shalimar was on starboard tack and therefore had right of way so, technically, should have stayed on course and maintained his speed. However, I'm of the opinion that in a situation where nobody's racing and you've got a million miles of open ocean to maneuver in the guy at the helm of 22 million dollar high speed mega yacht should cut the little guy some slack and make his pass in a manner which will avoid staining anyone's shorts. We discussed the drama with Murray and he was good natured about the whole thing. So good natured, in fact, that he invited Christine, Ryan, Alex and I over to Bliss for drinks despite the fact that Shalimar hadn't made it into the anchorage yet.

So, at the appointed hour, all four of us loaded into our dinghy and motored over to Bliss. Murray and one of the professional crew members were waiting on the giant fold down swim step thingy on the stern. The crew guy took our line and tied up our dinghy and we went aboard. We met all the people who'd chartered the boat. Aside from Murray, there were two well dressed British couples and the son of one of the couples. As we talked, two crew members in matching dresses with the boat's name embroidered on them continued to appear out of thin air and pour champagne in our glasses - which may help explain why I'm a bit hazy on our hosts' names. There was a Colin and an Alexander and perhaps a John but, regretfully, that's about as much as I can tell you. After a while, we were given a tour of the Bliss's accommodations. The companionway door (if it can be called a companionway at this scale) was a giant translucent double door that silently slid open as you walked toward it. No ducking necessary as we entered the air conditioned interior. It was quite fancy. The galley was literally larger than the entire below deck space on our boat. The engine room was clean enough to eat off of. The state rooms all had the beds meticulously made up with fresh sheets and a little chocolate mint next to the pillow and I came to believe that this bed making and mint distribution thing was a daily occurrence. It was a completely different world from Architeuthis. It was a world that, if given the chance, I probably wouldn't mind becoming accustomed to someday. For now though, I'm happy to be traveling on a smaller scale. If we were aboard a boat like Bliss, I don't think we'd be able to meet and interact with people the way we have. It seems to me that such luxury would have to isolate you not only from the more modest communities that you find on small islands in the south pacific but from the community of cruisers as well. We often approach strangers on boats in anchorages to say hello but, if Murray hadn't approached us, I'm sure we would have been too intimidated by the sheer size and fanciness of Bliss to motor up in our dinghy and knock on the side to say hello.

The next morning Bliss was gone and I failed to get up early enough to get any photos (this also might have had something to do with the bottomless champagne glass) of the outside of the boat so here's one I stole from the internet (in order to get an idea of how big this thing is, try to find the person in the picture - hint: it's the tiny ant sized thing near the port side steering wheel):

SY BLISS -  Main

We spent several more days in Anaho Bay. We snorkeled, cleaned the bottom of the boat, went on a little hike, and spent some time with some new friends that we'd met in Taiohae. Pierre Paul and his wife Caroline are both doctors from France who've been working in Nuku Hiva for the past year or so. If I were a good blogger I would have already told you about meeting them about a week ago but, alas, I am not. Anyway, we met them in Taiohae bay and they invited us to their house so that we could use their filtration system to fill our water jugs (the tap water available at the dock is not for drinking). We ended up staying for diner and had a great time talking to them and they had told us that they were going to be at Anaho Bay. So we spent an afternoon aboard Shalimar with Pierre Paul, Caroline, and their three kids. Ryan and I rigged up a swing off the bow so the kids could swing out and jump in the water. It ended up being so fun that the kids had to wait in line while we all took our turns on it. Alex took some pictures of us all acting silly on the swing but we haven't copied those from her yet.

After four days in Anaho, we decided it was time to get going so we left on the 25th in squally conditions with lumpy uncomfortable seas and went back to Taiohae Bay after another one day stop at Controller Bay. We were planning on a quick trip to Taiohae for provisioning and the to head out for the Tuamotus almost immediately but the crappy sea conditions and reports we were hearing from boats already on their way convinced us to give it a few more days. We'll make at least one more brief post before we head off so you'll know exactly where we're going and approximately when we expect to arrive.


Isla said...

A Blissful experience you two are having! Good on ya.
Loomba-Loomba here.....we are still up in Sea of Cortez, getting ready to head home for summer. We'll follow your blog all the way! Fair winds and fast passages, jim & Chrissy

Isla said...

Oops. Isla was the name of my old boat.