I have wanted a tattoo for a long time…but I wanted it to mean something. Nothing ever felt right to permanently affix to my body. I made it through college without any poor decision tattoos. I knew someday the time and place would be right. When we started seriously talking about cruising and crossing the Pacific ocean, I decided a Marquesian tattoo would be a great badge of courage. Well, we made it across the ocean and it was time to start searching for a tattoo artist. The larger towns had tattoo parlors and numerous cruisers were getting their own badge of courage….but none of it felt right. I wanted a more traditional feel. One of the cruising guides we had talked about a guy named Fati who lived on Tahuata island in the village of Vaitahu… The book mentioned that Fati was thought of as one of the best tattooist in the Marquesian Islands. So we went to Vaitahu bay and started our search for Fati. The little map of the village was not accurate, so in horrible French we started asking around about Fati. Apparently Fati is a popular Marquesian name meaning big or large. The first Fati we found offered to trade for fruit, but said he was not tattoo Fati. He did know where he lived though and told us enthusiastically how high up in the mountains tattoo Fati lived. Fruity Fati thought it was a good 2 km straight up😯 It was high noon and hot as hell. We almost gave up, but in the end started the hot ass trek to find tattoo Fati. A quarter of a mile up we ran into a local kid and asked him where Fati’s house was. He said not far, I’ll show ya. Total distance was maybe a 1/2 mile walk…maybe we shouldn’t asked for distances from men named Fati. Anywho, tattoo Fati is a super nice man. He spoke no English and us no french…but it all worked out. We would come to his house tomorrow to talk about tattoos. As we were heading out we heard a whistle and saw Fati flagging us down. Turns out he didn’t know that “tomorrow” was the Lord’s day (Sunday for all you heathens😉). His wife very adamantly told him so and that he had agreed to cook for the island children who had just had their communion. He asked us to come and that we could do the tattoos the next day. C’est Bon! Meanwhile, while walking around town we saw some other cruiser’s who looked like they had new tattoos. We went to their boat and talked with them. They did indeed get their tattoos from Fati and they were amazing. The boats name was s/v Letitgo, they were French and had also been invited to a kaikai (meal) at Fati’s house. The next day we met up with Letitgo and headed up the mountain. The meal was great and was served out on the lenai. Thank goodness Letitgo was their to translate and help us with explaining what we wanted for tattoos. Fati is an original Marquesian tattooist. He wants to hear your story and then creates a tattoo for you in his mind. He needs a night to think it over, and when you show up the next day he sketches it out for you on your chosen body part. For me it was my ankle (one of the most painful places). I wanted an inch wide band that represented our crossing and a few other personal things. The next day we went to Fati’s and his lenai had been  transformed from eatery to tattoo parlor. As I laid out on the same table that I had ate at last night looking out at the mountains and lush valley, I realized that we had found the special experience we were looking for. Even more amazing was that we found out that Fati had tattooed friends who went cruising 2 years before us on s/v Estrelita 5.0. As I cringed and took the pain (these things aren’t licked on by kittens people), my badge of courage transformed into a beautiful piece of art that I would have with me for the rest of my life. Thank you Fati and the crew of Letitgo! I love my tattoo.

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This is the Marquesian symbol for boat and the waves underneath represent our passage. The next symbol is man (CB).

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This is the symbol for woman (me) and the Marquesian flower.

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This represents courage, but also is similar to the design of our rings (the turkshead knot).

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Finally, the Marquesian cross representing the land and people of the Marquesas.

Some quick info on the crossing.

We left Isla Isabela, in the Galapagos Islands on April 9th at 11:30am. We arrived here at Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia at 7:00am on May 3rd. A straight line shot from there to here is 2914 nautical miles. Since we wanted to stay in good wind as much as we could, we went a little further south to do that so our total trip miles ended up being 3094.

Our daily average: 129.25 nautical miles
Average speed: 5.4 knots.

We covered that entire distance under sail alone with the exception of 24 hours in which we used the motor. That means that we only burnt somewhere in the neighborhood of 14.4 gallons of diesel fuel. Those 24 hours were not consecutive, but spread out over the course of the 3 week crossing.

23.5 days of constant motion on a 32 year old boat that never really sits still anyway is a lot and we had a few things break along the way, but nothing huge. A small valve on the head (shitter) broke, but we improvised a fix. That fix is still in place and probably will be until we get to New Zealand.

Both jib sheets and the second reef line chafed. But those are easy to flip and get the chafed area out of use. The big break was the whisker pole. I was on watch and got hit by a smallish squall one night. The pole was up and wind rose from 12 knots to 30 in about 25 seconds. I did not have time to get the pole down or the sheet eased and we fell off a wave and rolled back on a gust just as the jib collapsed and then loaded up big time. The shock blasted the whisker pole mount on the mast completely off. Ripped the rivets right off, and blasted the top off one of our mast winces for good measure in the process. No show stopper though. No such thing as that really, we didn’t really have an option out here. Once the sun came up, I dug out the tool bags and re-riveted the whisker pole mount back into place with a better backing set up and stronger rivets than I had on there in the first place. So it should all be good to go….

But now on to the good stuff. The island of Fatu Hiva.

INCREDIBLE!

This place has easily made my top 3 spots in the world. Actually, it is firmly in 1st place.

I’ll grant you that in order to get here we had just crossed half the pacific ocean and had not seen land for over 3 weeks. So you could argue that had we pulled into a Walmart parking lot in French Lick, Indiana we probably would have been pretty excited. But screw you and your cynical attitude.

The night before arriving we slowed down to time our arrival to sometime after sun rise the next day. Pulling into the bay, we were met with an amazing view. I’m not even going to attempt to describe it, i’ll just let you look at a few (inadequate) pictures.

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As we pulled in we saw a friend standing on the bow of his boat waving to us. We motored past him and he tossed a couple of huge pamplemousse to us as a “You did it!!” gift. Also, after 3 weeks fresh fruit and veg is but a memory. So very welcoming.

I had never had a pamplemousse before. Now that I have, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

I love them. I don’t say that about many fruits. The list is: Pineapples, Strawberries, Dan Lofstrom and now pamplemousse. And sometimes Granny Smith apples, but I sometimes go overboard with those and burn myself out on them. Soooo, no. I do not LOVE Granny Smith apples.

But, back to the pamplemousse, imagine if a grapefruit and a pineapple made sweet, sweet (and probably forbidden) love. Then went to the store and bought a pamplemousse, which they then gave to me as a treat. Shit is sooooo good. If you have had one, keep it to yourself, this is about me right now.

There are roughly 600 people on this island (Fatu Hiva), in two different villages. There is no airport so the only way to get here is by boat. The village at the head of the bay we are anchored in is called Hanavave. Sleepy little town, with one small store, a church, a post office and a pay phone. That is about it.

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When we left the Galapagos, we only had about $25 USD on us and absolutely no French Francs. But we were told that you could trade with the locals for fruit and veggies. The main thing they wanted to trade for was old rope. Nothing fancy, but they seemed to want it. So we dug some out of storage on the boat and Tawn grabbed some trading stock items she had picked up in Panama City (shitty perfume, lip stick, crayons, coloring books, pencils, paper, stuff like that) and we headed in to do some trading.

For a few yards of old rope and some lipstick, Tawn loaded us up on fruit.

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Thats not all of it, just the stuff we keep out side to ripen.

We took a look at a few Tikis, but nothing really caught my eye and they were just too big. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, we are not really big on knick knacks. But some of the stuff was pretty cool.

Later that day I ran into another local carver at the little store and he wanted to know if I had any old rope to trade. I said I did and I ask if he could carve me two small tikis so I could us them to replace the wooden knobs on my throttle and gear shifter on the boat. He said he could, and they they would be done the next afternoon.

They were. I got these two custom shifter knobs for my boat for the grand total of 16 feet of 3/8 inch line.

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I was looking through a guide book we have on board and saw a drawing of a Marquesian war club (yeah I know, ‘nough said). I started asking around town and all the carvers said they did not make them. Only one dude did and they pointed me in the right direction.

We went to the guys house. His name is Tema, and he carves the coolest stuff. It is next level. Blows the other guys stuff away. And he knows it, so do they. :) He sells his stuff on other islands and in Tahiti. He had a crate of his stuff getting ready to ship to Tahiti next month for a competition of some sort.

He starts dragging it all out and showing it off. It was amazing stuff. The War clubs were cool as hell. I wanted one bad, real bad. Then I saw his price tags….No way I could justify that, even if we did have the cash on us. Some of his Tikis and fruit baskets were $200 USD. The war clubs ranged from $120 to $400.

As we were talking I ask if he would consider trading. He said no right away. Oh well….didn’t need more crap on the boat anyway.

Tawn was inside looking at and buying a Tapas his wife made. Tapas are cloth that they make from the bark of different trees and then draw these very cool designs on.

This is the one Tawn got.

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As I’m standing out in his yard, I notice he has an broken spear gun hanging in a tree by the back door. I ask him if he needed a new one. He said he did and he also mentioned that he lost his flippers last month when his boat flipped over.

DING!

I told him i’d come back the next day.

I did, with a pair of almost brand new flippers that my buddy Robbie left with us when he was in the Galapagos with us. I also brought my spear gun. He was drooling over the flippers and spear gun. :)

We talked for a bit, he tried the flippers on. Then he says, wanna trade for a Tiki? I said, no….but I would trade for one of the War clubs and grinned. We went in the house and I pointed to the one I wanted.

This is it:

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It is so awesome. It will go on my wall o’weapons!

This is just one of those “Just another day at the office” Pictures:

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Our boat is the furthest one out.

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Went for a hike, took this picture.
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Turns out that sailing a slow boat across a large ocean affords you alot of time to sit and think about stupid shit. I’ll spare you the truely stupid shit I think about most the time. The other day I was sitting in the cockpit watching the waves and swell passing under the boat and thinking that over the last two years of sailing/traveling from Seattle, Canada, The Pacific coast of the U.S., Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatamala, Belize, Nicaruagua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Galapagos, Ecuador….for some reason it occured to me that other than a very small handful of items, Me and Tawn have no souveniers of our trip. Pictures and memories by the pant load, but no stupid little knick knacks. I shifted my focus from the waves to our shitty old outboard engine hanging off the stern of the boat and I notice the steel cable I made to lock it and our dinghy to trees when we go to shore. Then it hit me….we actually do have a crapload of souviners. In no particular order starting with that rusty old cable. We got that in Chinendega, Nicaruagua at a hardware store. It took me 20 minutes to explain I wanted stainless steel cable. After much hand waving and 3 guys nodding and me speaking louder and louder in shitty spanish I finally got my stainless steel cable…..that is decidedly NOT stainless steel. There are the two new Solar Panels that we bought from an old British dude that runs a solar store in Antiqua, Guatamala, which is just outside Guat. City. He fudged the invoice (thinking it would help us out), it did not and got us thrown off the bus at the El Salvador/Guatamala border. Only with the help of an english speaking business man did we make it across the border and back to the boat. Picked up the perfect oil funnel in a 99 cent store in Port Hardy, Canada while we waited for the liqour store to open up next door. Two surfboards, mine we picked up in Pismo Beach, California and the metro bus driver would not let us on the bus with it, so the stoney surf bum that sold it to us agreed to bring it to us after he got off work. Tawns board we picked up in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We played the two shop workers there against each other and got it for $50 dollars less than they wanted to sell it for. Which reminds me of the surfboard rack that holds them to the side of the boat. Half of it is a couple lengths of stainless steel (for real) tubing we got in San Salvador, the other half is tubing we got from our friend Josh on Gitana. Which we walked around Hualtuco, Mexicoj with in the blazing sun looking for a machine shop that would bend it for us. Two little porcelin bowls we found in a wierd little store in Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. We needed something to mix wasabi and soy sauce togather for sushi nights when we catch fresh tuna. There is the ugly ass metal dryer vent hose that we use to vent out the engine compartment. Picked that up at a Home Depot in La Paz, Mexico. Tawn’s new Android tablet that we got in Panama City in a shop in “Chinatown”. NOOOO WAY that thing was not stolen. My two Machetes, one I got in Mexico and the other in Zacatecluca, El Salvador along with a casting net for fishing. The list goes on and on…. The travel and visiting the tourist sites and seeing the sights your supposed to see are all very cool, but honestly, for me the best part is the adventure of doing the random crap that I like the most. Finding parts for the boat, stumbling into the wrong part of town or getting abit lost and getting help from random people along the way.

We’ve been underway for a a little over a week now. The time has actually flown by. We are doing 4 hour shifts, but really that does not mean alot of work. We have lots of wind and for the most part it stays out of the same direction (ESE) all the time. The wind speed changes a little and the sea state does to, so from time to time we have to do a sail change or adjust the course to make it a little more comfortable ride. The windvave is doing all the steering, so all the person on watch has to do is hangout and read, listen to music or watch a movie and adjust what ever needs adjusting from time to time. The last couple days have been a little squally so it’s been a little more work on adjusting sail trim or dodging most of the storms. But over all been a good trip. We are making way more miles a day than I thought we would. As of day 8 we are averaging 132 miles a day, which is awesome for us. I would have been crazy happy (and amazed) to average 120 day!