Saying goodbye to our dear friends in Nuku Hiva was harder than we anticipated. I knew this part of our journey would be difficult but somehow I did not expect to find such dear friends after only a week.
After four rough days at sea we arrived in the little atoll of Ahe. It was worrisome entering the pass in 25 knots of wind. We had been riding hard for the last fourteen hours and came in with a reefed main and we were still going nine to eleven knots. Alyssa volunteered to be hoisted up the mast in the bosun’s chair to spot coral heads. The swells were pretty big even inside the lagoon and it took a bit of strength for her to steady herself so high up. The whole lagoon was dotted haphazardly with crab traps and oyster farms. We had all hands on deck as lookouts. With Alyssa’s directions from above up we managed to pick our way across the five miles of water without grazing our fiberglass hull on coral heads or getting tangled in any sea nets. Everyone was relieved to finally set anchor in still waters. We found a harbour within the lagoon that is double protected and perfectly calm. After many weeks at sea and even in the Marquesas we were always rolling rolling rolling.
This little atoll has many sweet memories from our family trip decades ago. We tried to find Albert or Fransise Fougerrouse.- They both live here but they are visiting Tahiti with their family right now. It did not take long to meet the leader of the local church here. As we walked down the one little main road barefooted islanders smiled shyly and waved as mongrel dogs barked happily around our feet.
We woke up early with plans to dingy over to a remote motu for a family picnic but just as we finished breakfast and morning family activities when we heard voices outside the boat. A man from church and a boat full of his family had arrived to invite us all to go snorkeling and spear fishing. Norm and all the kids were thrilled for a chance to have an adventure and quickly gathered gear and jumped in their boat. I stayed back to finish baking cinnamon buns and watch Zak while he napped. As I said goodbye to my crew and laid Zak down I had an almost giddy feeling of possibilities. I knew many things I wanted to do if I ever got a moment alone but beyond everything I could think of I wanted to mop the floor and sweep under the couch cushions. I wanted to clean the fridge ledge and bleach the sink. I had a fiendish kind of joy as I scrubbed behind shelf and emptied the fruit basket. I almost laughed out loud as I was able to fix the Velcro on the cushions and sweep the cracks under the table. It felt silly to have so much satisfaction as I scoured the stove top and around the oven. I knew the kids were having all kinds of fun and it was blissful to accomplish tasks that I cannot get to with so many people underfoot.
I baked bread, made cinnamon rolls, and cooked up chicken for spring rolls boiled pasta and rice and squeezed fresh juice for lunch. I cut up all the fresh fruit for fruit salad and froze 20 mangos and 60 bananas. The more I accomplished the faster I worked. I considered doing laundry but knew I could do that any time so I continued to cook and clean for four hours. I could not believe all I accomplished by the time Zak woke up. He was happy as a blue bird and covered with mango and pomplemouse by the time I heard the boatful of kids return.
Norm arrived with all his new friends and a pile of the most beautiful tropical fish. They offered us as much as we could ever want or need but I felt terrible to even think about eating these beauties. Our new friends stayed to gut and clean enough fish to last us a couple weeks. They insisted we keep most of the days catch. I happily offered a plate of hot cinnamon buns and a big bag of pomplemouse,bananas and mangoes from the Marquesas. At first they politely refused but I could see their smiles as we insisted. They do not grow fruit on these flat atoll islands and we had been given more than we could eat.
Later Jaeden, Alyssa, Eli and Zak accompanied me on a snorkeling expedition. We took the dingy about half an hour away to an empty section of the atoll. We had a tricky time dodging coral heads that lurk just beneath the surface but Alyssa perched on the front she pointed to any dangers she spotted. We arrived on a pristine stretch of white sand beach backed by dense coconut forests. It seemed not a soul had ever set foot there except the bright colored giant coconut crabs that made huge holes in the forest ground.