Fatu Hiva to Tahuata: sail vs paddle
I am sent off by many of the local friends that I had made over the last three days. They watched with a combination of fear and excitement as I paddled off along the steep cliffs of Fatu Hiva. A couple of hours later I reached the north point and rigged my sail in the water to start the crossing to Fatu Hiva. I’d picked a good day, the last days were dominated by very strong wind conditions, which makes everything a little harder. Today was perfect, 15 knots and from a good angle. After 12 hours I got to the island just before dark, but I still had a good two hour paddle to the bay where I wanted to set up my tent. I thought that windsurfing would be easier than the paddling. Let the wind and sail do its work, you think. But the reality is a little different. Rigging at sea is quite easy as long as you keep everything together and don’t lose any parts. Windsurfing a heavily packed board like this is different. There is not much space for your feet and because of the weight there is a lot of pull so I mostly sailed without using the harness. The swell also makes most reaches hard to be hooked in. Especially downwind when the board starts to surf down a wave and you constantly have to adjust the rig. The hardest thing, because you go only in one direction for many hours in the day, your neck hurts. So paddling is easier, but windsurfing is faster. On the longer crossings this saves you a lot of time, but it all costs a lot of energy and mostly when I would get to the next island I would be toasted, hungry and tired.
So far no dolphins, whales or sharks close by, only the occasional bird checked me out. They would make a few circles around me and leave again flying effortlessly between the waves.
At one point a man-a-war jellyfish got between my toes and stung me many times before I got rid of him. I found a beautiful sandy beach with only some coconut trees on Tahuata. The following day I just relaxed and paddled over to the main village, the next bay over, to buy some food and do some sightseeing.