The beach at the foot of the anchorage in Hanamoenoa. Just to the right of center on the beach you can see an aperture in the beachfront palms — that’s where Steven makes his home. Yes, I know this photo really needs to be cropped.

After a few days in Daniel’s Bay, Nuku Hiva, we made an overnight sail to Tahuata, a small island just across a channel from Hiva Oa. It was a sailing trip in name only – although we ever so slowly sailed off our anchor in Daniel’s Bay, the wind came around onto our nose only a few miles offshore and we motored all night in 10-20 knots from the southeast. Splashy, somewhat bouncy but uneventful trip here; we got in about 0700.

Specifically, we anchored in Hanamoenoa Bay (in French, Baie Hanamoenoa). I guess that’s redundant; apparently “hana” (or “haka up on Nuku Hiva) means “bay.” Very pretty and popular anchorage – large enough for a dozen boats without undue crowding, generally quite clear water and usually enough breeze to keep the temperatures quite pleasant. “Clear” means that the bottom is clearly visible in 25 feet of water. Perhaps more water – we’re anchored in 25 feet and can easily see the end of the anchor chain.

Turns out a local guy named Steven lives on the beach at the foot of the anchorage. One afternoon Steven mentioned that the “ferry” – a 25-foot cuddy cabin motorboat – would be coming in the morning to take him over to Atuona, and we could get rides too, if we wanted. Atuona, which is on Hiva Oa, has a gendarmerie and thus is a secondary port of entry into French Polynesia. So bright and early the next morning Ryan, Meaghan, and I headed over with Steven to see what was what.

We did get to see the town, but the big adventure was that Steven, in addition to getting his mother or auntie or someone to give us rides hither and yon around town in her little pickup truck, invited us up to up to his father’s house, where we were given a nice lunch and hung out for a bit while Steven collected various cuttings and seedlings to bring back to his beachside garden. The family, as open and friendly as could be, invited us right in and treated us like guests rather than the perfect strangers we really were.

That evening, when we were back on the boat in our anchorage, Steven came over for dinner. We had been advised by other cruisers that busting out lots of alcohol wouldn’t be a wise move, so everyone indulged only very moderately, and a good time was had by all.

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