Handbrake turn in slow motion.

6:30 am approach to Vaipae’e Bay on Ua Huka.

Everyone knew this would be a fascinating anchoring so many of us were up on deck for the 6:30 am approach. Now the Aranui 5 is 126 meters long and I read that the “bay” ahead of us is about 176 m wide leaving us about 25 m on either side as she makes a 180 degree turn inside.

We are going in there and we will turn the ship around.

We steam in rather slowly and offload the barge as insurance in case we need help making the turn. While under way I suddenly hear the bow anchor chain start to run out and the “handbrake” has now been applied. The stern keeps moving to the left as can be seen in the photos below. Difficult to capture but the stern slowly comes around till the bow is now facing the entrance and it is time for the stern to be secured.

Barge is already in the water in case we need a stern thruster.
Stern coming around.

The green motorboats have also been launched and they will carry the stern line from the ship to the rocky shore where a nimble seaman will physically loop them over the white bollard on the rocks. Click on the photo below for a short Youtube video.

Setting the stern line. Click for video.
Our excited driver over to the other side of the island.

From the small village we were ferried up & over to the Arboretm, a large unruly collection of plants & trees. Somewhere in the narrative  I heard that the new owner or overseer of the land was not that interested in maintaining it and you can see it sliding slowly back to the jungle. Another factor I am still trying to get my head around is that there is a relatively high minimum wage here making it expensive to employ labor to maintain the Arboretum, unemployment is around 12%. The islands in general survive on a massive bailout from France.

Entrance to the arboretum.
Our tour.

At first glance this reminded me of a Vietnam era scene of stacked skulls but they are stacked coconut shells to grow vanilla vines, a declining cash crop.

A small museum with a collection of artifacts and these wooden limb carvings raised my curiosity. Now the European missionaries arrived in the mid 1800’s and proceeded to impose some western standards on the local tribesmen one of which being to ban the practice of body art tattooing.  Word has it that they then started carving their designs on wooden limbs so as to preserve the practice and especially the Marquesas designs. It was only in 1980 that the ban was lifted and today a lot of the indigenous people have started to tattoo themselves again.

Wood limbs used to preserve tattoo designs.
Original canoe.
I liked this vibrant rendition of the rafts used to migrate from SE Asia to the Marquesas
Ua Huka coastline could be parts of California.


Lunch time entertainment.
Last stop was short hike up to some tiki’s but the view back down was more rewarding.

A final stop in Taiohae which had been our first stop on arrival in the Marquesas. Wandered round for some exercise.

Taiohae Bay.
A cemetery and a closer look at some of the dates shows that these two both died in their 50’s, maybe due to a high rate of diabetes?
Donna, Louise, Rose and Marie in full regalia for Polynesian night.
Polynesian dinner on the deck.
Heading back towards Pape’ete.
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