TNS458 06/04/2016

Once again we are back at sea, having left the Marquesan island of
Nuku Hiva at 1330 yesterday.  We set all sails on departure (except for the
spanker, which was set this morning) and during our 8 pm to midnight watch
were bowling along at a steady 7+ knots, covering a total of 28 nautical
miles during the four hours.
However, the wind later dropped and we are currently making 5 – 6
knots on very comfortable seas, with blue skies, sunshine and high
temperatures (31 degrees). At night, we continue to enjoy the amazing array
of stars; and last night also had the novelty of seeing the lights of other
vessels – 3 yachts sailing along on the horizon on the starboard side, also
heading in the direction of the Tuamotu islands and Bora Bora.
The sight of any of these islands to sailors and explorers of the
past must surely have filled them with hope of fresh food and water.  While
these are still important considerations today, islands to many 21st century
sailors mean renewed Wifi/Internet access and the chance of beer and chips –
all enjoyed in Nuku Hiva by many of Tenacious’ crew.
That said, we have also much enjoyed some of the delicacies of the
island: the juicy ‘pamplemousse’ (huge grapefruit) with its slightly limey
tang; fresh tuna; and some delicious lemon drizzle buns, made by Micah with
lemons from the island, which tasted so good that someone confessed to
having eaten no less than 5 at smoko! The decks are currently festooned with
branches of bananas, rapidly ripening in the sun: if they all ripen at once,
we may find ourselves on a Banana Diet for a few days!
In yesterday’s blog, Sari mentioned some of the things that people
had done while on the island: I went horse-riding with Michelle, Louise,
Mike A and Dr Kate, which was an extraordinarily memorable experience for
many reasons.
We were driven up to the Toovii Plateau, ‘the only cool area of Nuku
Hiva’ according to the local tourist information and an hour from Taiohae.
The views as we drove up the mountain road, round endless hairpin bends,
were spectacular with mist hanging over the higher peaks.
Once up on the Plateau we emerged into a grassland area bathed in
sunshine: the home of the horses.  The driver got out and started hollering,
at which a cavalcade of horses appeared at speed, looking all too sprightly
to the inexperienced riders’ eyes.
A group were selected and prepared with a motley collection of
saddlery: some European style, others Wild West style with a pommel designed
for a lasso, and bridles with reins made of rope.  It was all as
unconventional as our attire and accessories: sandals, shorts, beach-bags,
bum-bags and phones on selfie-sticks – perfect for a wild ride in the
Clearly the owner knew what she was about, as she had brought her
grandson and nephew (aged about 10 and 12) to bring up the rear, while she
led the way with five hound-like dogs racing here and there as we progressed
…… at a stately walk.  If anyone broke into a trot, cries of alarm rang
out; and if anyone got ahead of the leader, we were duly admonished to get
back into single file. Our lack of equestrian finesse was a constant cause
of hilarity as we processed across the hills in an absolute deluge of
pouring rain.
The horses proved remarkably placid, which was just as well since
they clearly didn’t understand English; and at one point we encountered some
small black and white pigs, which the dogs set upon in a scene reminiscent
of old paintings of royal boar hunts. There was much squealing, barking and
shouting; our guide and the boys dismounted and abandoned their horses to
avert what looked like imminent slaughter.
That incident past, we continued until we reached the edge of the
Primary Rain Forest before heading back to base along ferny tracks and past
some pinewoods where the trunks of the trees were covered with whispy green
lichen – very beautiful and reminiscent of ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
By the time the ride was over, we were soaked to the skin but it had
been a wonderful adventure.  Little did we expect that dismounting would
prove so complicated and, at the same time, such a hilarious spectator
sport.  Warning to female riders: when faced with dismounting from a Wild
West saddle, place left hand on pommel and swing one leg gracefully over
hindquarters of horse. Avoid, at all costs, getting bra hooked on pommel of
saddle (used for lasso, remember?) – this can lead to unexpected attachment
to the horse for unlimited period of time.  As I said before, lucky the
horses were placid!
All for now, more sailing news next time.
Best wishes from Aft Port watch: Kate S, Charlie, Kath & Paul,
David/Dave, Chris W and Michelle.