Fixing the boat. Getting off the boat.

Big tiki's.

6th April 2024

Atuona, Tahauku Bay, Hiva Oa, Marquises, French Polynesia

The priorities after every ocean crossing are the same. Fix the boat and get off the boat. After 38 days at sea crossing the bulk of the mighty Pacific Ocean, these have been our priorities and we’ve done them both in spades.

After nursing Ruffian for 2,200 miles, top of our ‘fixing Ruffian’ list was sorting our lowers that had broken all those miles ago. In this remote corner of the world, where the peaks looked prehistoric and the foliage matched the hills we ventured ashore with low expectations.

The boat yard was a hive of activity with anti-foul being slapped liberally on boats, power tools working hard in every corner and a state of the art travel lift that gave shade to cute kittens and stray dogs. This was a first world boat yard with a Polynesian twist.

Overseeing it all was the ever competent Vincent who greeted us like old friends and filled us with confidence. It seemed that within mere days Ruffian would have parts flown in from around the world, experts would be utilised in Tahiti and everything would be flown in using Vincent’s extensive list of contacts. All he needed from us were exacting measurements, technical specifications and rafts of photos.

Climbing the rig with a tape measure in hand we could finally view the scary predicament that our failed rigging had put us in. At deck level we had 8 broken strands (on port) and with Iain up the mast he found another 6 broken (on starboard). Thankfully , due to our prudence, the mast was still standing, and there was no other damage to be seen and Vincent would be in receipt with everything he needed. We could now have fun and ‘get off the boat’.

Spying trails, points of interests and some willing participants we set off to explore the interior, but being France, we first loaded up with freshly baked baguettes and being Polynesia our packs bulged with Pamplemousse (giant sweet grapefruit). All ready for our adventure we walked off the beaten track and into the verdant green forest.

The countryside was like nothing we had experienced before. If trees were not dripping with fruit of every shade, size and colour they oozed fragrances from flowers the size of European shrubs. For mile upon mile we followed the babbling river under dappled shade until the path abruptly stopped and it was time to seek out our ancient quarry.

Bushwhacking through dense undergrowth we felt like Indiana Jones as we skirted around boulders the size of houses and suddenly we were in a clearing with a rock that sat all alone. Its sides had been rubbed smooth by aeons of ancient hands and those same hands had carved the most intricate shapes with the most basic of tools. We’d found the petroglyphs of Hiva Oa.

With our little legs stretch and walked out, we got back on with the task of ‘fixing Ruffian’. All those jobs that had been racking up during our Pacific crossing were ticked off and principle among them was the big hole in our exhaust pipe where the overheat alarm should be. After lots of head scratching, and slowing taking the whole boat to bits Iain was in the final stages of installation and took a safety first approach.

Not wanting to potentially ruin his eyes with shards from a broken dremel grinder he donned the only eye protection that was available. Complete with diving mask and snorkel he ground out the last of the holes, slipped in the new alarm and flicked the switch. This was just in time for Brown and Eileen from “Blown Away” to swing by and see him in his bizarre safety first attire.

Needing balance, we once again set out to get off Ruffian. This time we didn’t have just 2 legs, we had 4 wheels and those wheels were going to take us to every corner of Hiva Oa.

Climbing up away from the sea we quickly neared the cloudline and with every twist and turn the road took the views just became more and more sensational. The landscape was prehistoric with unscaled peaks jutting into the sky and high cliffs plunged into the sea when we looked away from the hills. At the top of the cliffs and the base of the mountains stood ancient monuments that had been carved over the generations and this all just added to the prehistoric feel of these most remarkable islands.

After fixing the boat and getting off the boat, we are now playing a waiting game as Vincent puts his plan into action and that waiting game will as usual involve fixing the boat and getting off the boat.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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