Hiva Oa, closing one chapter and opening another one.

September 20th, 2021

One full tour around the world.

Hiva Oa is the point where the full tour closes. Here is where Cedric completed his first tour around the world sailing. Let me explain with a short sequence of events.

Back in 2008 Cedric and Thira, a 36ft sloop left from Los Angeles, United States. They sailed to Mexico and then crossed  the Pacific Ocean from Puerto Vallarta to Hiva Oa in 26 days.

From Hiva Oa they continued thru The Society Islands, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Italy and arrived in France in June 2010. Thira was on land at port Saint Louis until 2014.

On 2014 Thira was sold in Colombia, so Cedric and Thira sailed from Port Sanit Louis in France to Cartagena, Colombia.

September 2019 Cedric and Happy Days started sailing from Barcelona, Spain, Canary Islands, crossing the Atlantic to Barbados and continuing in the Caribbean thru St Vincent, Dominica, Martinique, Curacao, Bonaire and arrived to Cartagena Colombia.

Thira and Happy Days where in Cartagena, Colombia at the same shipyard in December 2020, just a coincidence but let’s say here is where the two legs tied.

In January 2021, Cedric left Colombia with Happy Days, to Panama where they did the Channel crossing and then continued to Galapagos. From Galapagos it was 22 days nonstop sailing to Gambier, French Polynesia. And in July 2021 from Gambier to Hiva Oa in the Marquesas, French Polynesia. Therefore, here is where the loop closes. One full tour around the world sailing. Congratulations!!!!!! to a great Captain.

That deserves another full post.

From my side, I started sailing with Cedric and Thira in Tonga and with Cedric an Happy Days in Barbados, so in fact, I have done probably 1/3 maybe 1/2 of the world tour. I don’t like long crossings so normally I skip them and fly.

Opening another chapter

The original trip we planned with Happy Days was from Spain to French Polynesia in one year. However, with the pandemic starting in  March 2020, all plans changed. The spots, the visits and the timings too. Nevertheless, 18 months later, we had completed the plan and were ready to leave Happy Days and fly home to Australia.

Simple things like flying have changed so much these days, so the flying back home part of the story, which in theory was the easiest, got impossible. So here we are, back in French Polynesia opening a New Chapter, 100 days from Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia to Sydney, Australia. Everything will need to come in place, weather, papers, the boat, the crew… it is going to be an interesting ride.

Happy Days is back in the water.

First step of the new plan was to get the boat and crew ready!!

Call it luck, chance, good karma, good planning or something like that. The truth is we managed to arrive to Hiva Oa from France and put Happy Days back in the water in less than a week. That is extremely fast, normally people takes at least a couple of weeks to prepare a boat to go back in the water.

Our flights were from Paris to Tahiti, with stopover in Vancouver without getting off. That means we were in the plane for 25hrs, with a face mask on. Can you imagine? not fun at all. At least the plane wasn’t full so we had plenty space for ourselves. After, the connection from Tahiti to Hiva Oa, was another 3 hours flight. This last flight had been cancelled the day before and it was also cancel for the next two days after our arrival. The cause, a new COVID outbreak in French Polynesia. The Society Islands, which includes Tahiti was in lockdown and Marquesas had curfew and lockdown on weekends. I was afraid we were going to arrive in Papeete and got stuck there. But because it was a transit they let us thru.

When we arrived to the shipyard we found out that the few things we had left to be repaired on the boat were not ready. The most important one was the windlass, which is the system to drop and pick up the anchor. They had dismounted the one we had and it was very rusted and in bad shape, I’m not sure how it still worked. It was beyond repairs.

We could have brought new parts from France easily, but every time we called or email they said everything was under control. The only option we were left with was to adapt a secondhand windlass they had in store. I will not go into the details of the whole thing because I’ll just bored you. But let me tell you that at the end they succeeded to installed it and tested it. Once they had inspected the installation it took a lot longer than expected, the new part was different

I had so little expectations they were going to be able to do the swap and the adaptation. Every day they were saying it was going to be ready tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. The weekend was approaching and on Sunday it was my birthday. I did not want to spend my birthday on a shipyard and in any case, they would put us in the water Friday or Monday. So I rented a car and an Airbnb for the weekend.

The shipyard manager was supposed to leave on holiday on Friday, and Happy Days is not the biggest boat but maybe one of the most difficult to manoeuvre for them, in terms of the tractor they used to move boats in and out the water. Our keel is 2.3m and that is the maximum they can take. Therefore, we preferred for the manager to be there when they put Happy Days in the water to operate the tractor. That really help things to get done a little faster. We had a new second-hand windlass in place, sail repaired, engine maintenance done, mast checked and few other items crossed off the list. Plus putting everything back in place sails, bimini, dogger and everything inside. Anyway, by Friday afternoon we were back in the water with Happy Days perfectly anchored and attached to a buoy on the back, all ready and secured.

On Saturday morning we were with the rental car all bags packed and ready to explore Hiva Oa.

Hiva Oa

Seahorse shaped Hiva Oa is considered the garden of the Marquesas and is located between fertile mountains and raging oceans. The sharp cliffs that fall into the Pacific ocean show a rugged and beautiful coastline.

We had a 4×4 because all the guidebooks tell you it is a must for a tour around the island. And once you start driving it is easy to understand why. The roads go up and down  with sharp turns. That makes a lot of viewpoints with breath-taking views of the different bays. But in the last couple of years all the road around the island has been paved, so 4×4 it is not really necessary, but it allow us to explore a bit more on the smaller roads, then it is a must.

We visited the main sites, the Smiling Tiki, the Giant Tikis, Autona the capital and a few other towns. However my preferred part was the road itself and driving around, turning and turning to find one spectacular bay after the other. The panoramic just takes your breath away, it is so remote that is hard to imagine how all this land is so lush and beautiful and so far from other land. Few pictures here for you get a better idea although they don’t really make full justice.

Tikis are very present in Marquesas, do you know why?

Originally from the Marquesas, the Tiki statues are present on most of the Polynesian islands. These sculptures in wood or stone represent Ti’i, ancestor half human half god who according to legend was the first man. This is often represented as a stocky man with arms stretched forward, his hands on his stomach and legs folded. It usually has a huge head, symbolizing his power. Her big eyes represent knowledge. Very expressive, this tiki has a big mouth sometimes giving it a happy or rough air. The Polynesian tiki can be a whole man, or only a head depending on the skill and perserverance of the sculptor.

We visited the most famous Tikis

this one is the smiling tiki, it is a very special one because normally they don’t smile. It is in the middle of the forest, so it is was an expedition to find it, besides it is not than big, so you need to get closer to be able to see it. I think it is cute!!

 Another birthday Onboard!

It is my third birthday on a boat. 2009 was with Thira in Indonesia, 2020 with Happy Days in Curacao and 2021 again Happy Days this time in French Polynesia. If someone had ever asked me I would had never imagine it was going to be this way!!!

For my birthday we wanted to make a reservation in a restaurant for dinner, but the curfew was still in place. We had to be back home early at night. Which wasn’t that interesting to go and rush to eat. So we did the opposite, the most luxurious hotel in the island offers a Sunday Brunch and not only that, there is WI-Fi available (very important to talk to all the family) and you can used the pool. It was a perfect deal.

In the afternoon, we did a walk closed to the Airbnb we were staying. It took a bit longer than expected. We were at the top of the mountain at sunset which was a fantastic view. Our terrace on the villa face the east so no sunsets there. The only little problem was the descent in the dark, completely black dark walking on rocks and with a small rain, making them slippery, not my favourite part of the walk. We arrived safely!!! For small dinner and cutting the cake

It was a great weekend, so glad we had the opportunity to tour Hiva Oa, it is amazingly beautiful. Now ready to start making some miles.

Our last stop in Marquesas was Tahuata for couple of days, the anchorage there is less rolly than Hiva Oa for sure, plus we were the only sailboat on the bay.

The small town was lovely and the people was super friendly. The church is beautiful, it is all open. We had the chance to be around for the mass and when they sing the acoustic is very harmonious and lively.

We also got plenty lemons and pomelos to take to Fakarava. The contrast is huge, Marquises has so much green and they grow everything, we did a walk a found a street that basically had a carpet of lemons, they have so much, it was harvest time. On the contrary, Fararava is an atoll only coral soil, only coconut trees grow there.

So once the weather is good few days sailing to get to Toamotus in Fakarava, famous for having lots of sharks!!! Hopefully we get to see them!

Published by h4ppyd4ys

Hanse 44 IMMS 235098069

2 thoughts on “Hiva Oa, closing one chapter and opening another one.

  1. Awesome! What beautiful islands, and lucky that things seemed to have fallen into place despite all the challenges. (Too bad you couldn’t have stopped off in Vancouver for a few days. Covid makes travel so difficult).


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