Baie de Taiohae, Nuku Hiva.

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The Caledonien anchored in Taiohae. Photo from the Collection of Richard Francis
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As soon as the ship anchored I rushed to gather up my stuff and get ashore. It took awhile for my trunk to arrive from the boat and then was taken directly to the Gendarmerie. I was given a rendezvous for sometime a bit later. When I got to their office my trunk was waiting in the garage and they asked me to open it for inspection. To my shock and horror they immediately started confiscating food items, these were not allowed unless in specially sealed containers or tins, they took my rice and flower and seeds! Well, I didn't put up much of a struggle as I had only a few dollars and was just happy that they were letting me stay, I had already my Visa* from the French consulate in London. They said I could buy more rice and flour in the store and that the owner spoke English. I was glad to hear that there was a store! After they inspected everything with a fine tooth comb, I repacked everything and headed off to the store pushing my overloaded trolley through the streets. A strange site for the locals, wondering I suppose, who this mad person was and where was he taking all this stuff?

Note: When I applied for my Visa, I included with my application a complete list of all the items I was planning to take, there was about three pages of items listed, in due time I will include that list here (if I can find it).

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Maurice McKittrick's store 1970, Photo by Richard Francis.
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I eventually found Maurice McKittrick's store, we can see that, in the 1970 photo shown above, the store looks to have been only recently constructed (and maybe was quite different in 1969?).As his father was English, Mckittrick was perfectly conversant in English. This was a great blessing for me, as I was able to explain that I had come to Nuku Hiva to build a tree house in the jungle, grow my own food and live a life of "back to nature". He told me that I should go to Hakaui because the old man there (who owned the whole valley) spoke some English. He said that this would be a good place for me, a huge valley with no one in it. I said it sounded perfect and asked how I could get there. McKittrick advised me to go to see a fisherman, named Tunui (who also knew some English having worked with Robert Suggs in the 60's). I left my gear at the store and hiked up the road to Tunui's house, he agreed to take me to Hakaui the next morning in a small boat. Now when I am writing this nearly 40 years later I see how amazing all these events were. I arrived in Nuku Hiva with only a vague plan and within a few hours of being there my path was guided with an absolute precision. That night I tied up my Australian army jungle hammock in the trees down by the beach and waited for the dawn with great antisipation.

Taiohae black sand beach

Slept in my hammock next to the beach in Taiohae Bay.

Tunui arrived at the beach in the morning as planned, however his boat was smaller than I antisapated. He was surprised to see the size of my trunk which we had to partially unpack to be able to lift it into place. After unpacking and a hurried repacking at the Gendarmerie this additional unpacking had things so disturbed that the trunk could hardly be closed. Finally we got everything into the boat and set off. The boat was so loaded down with my affairs plus Tunui and his son, that we were barely afloat. We had to go out of Taiohae Bay into the open seas and skirt along the coast for a couple of miles to get to Hakaui (total distance is about 10 kilometers or 6 miles).

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Part of a Marine Chart showing the south coast of Nuku Hiva.
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On the map shown above I show our voyage in red, starting at Baie de Taiohae on the right and traveling west to Hakaui. This was a hair raising trip, I was sure that we would capsize at any minute in the heavy waves that were crashing onto the huge cliffs that line this coast. Not to mention that Tunui's old out board motor was coughing and sputtering the whole way.

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South Coast of Nuku Hiva, Photo by Erwin Christian

When you get to the entrance to the bay you go through a narrow pass which opens out onto an incredible spectacle of huge mountainous cliffs that wall in the valley of Hakaui.

view from Hakatea Bay

View of Hakaui from Hakatea Bay. Photo by Dylan, see more of Dylan's Hakaui photos.

See the next page, arrival in Hakaui.

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