04 Apr 2018 Richard Galapagos to Marquesas

The past couple of nights have been spent at anchor in the Baie des Vierges, or for those of you that have forgotten your school French, Bay of Virgins. Interesting name. Apparently the early explorers called it Baie des Verges, or Bay of Phalli, due to the shape of the rocky pillars surrounding the anchorage. The missionaries thought that highly inappropriate and so inserted an “i” into the name. Some friends of ours who sailed half way round the World more than 20 years ago, described it as the most picturesque place they visited on the entire trip and so with a recommendation like that, we felt it would be worth the 40 mile beat to windward. It certainly lived up to expectations; it was stunning.The bay is surrounded on all sides by steep, verdant slopes, sheer cliffs and the stone pillars, the latter eroded into weird and wonderful shapes. Perched precariously on the narrowest of ledges were goats, and every now and then the peace would be broken by the plaintive bleat of a kid (or goatling, as Daisy insists on them being called) that had become separated from its mum. The one downside of all this vertical magnificence is that the wind sweeps down the valley and swirls around the anchorage, and so the yachts in the bay are continually swinging around their anchors. A bit like synchronised swimmers, except every now and then one of the boats forgets where it is supposed to be and messes up the whole pattern. Thankfully there were no bumps or scrapes, just a few heated exchanges.The guidebook said there was a 60 metre high waterfall behind the village that was worth visiting, but gave little in the way of directions. We, along with the crew from another boat, asked a local and headed on with purpose. A little confusion over what constitutes left and right turned the two-hour amble into a five-hour trek, but it meant we got to see a lot more of the interior. Everywhere was lush vegetation, with the gardens of the scattered homesteads laden with grapefruits, bananas and exotic looking vegetables. And lots of chickens, not in pens but running free.After a exploring a number of very interesting dead-ends, we eventually found ourselves on the right path, which seemed to fit the “more of a scramble that a walk” description of the guidebook. After a hot and sweaty climb through the undergrowth the waterfall was suddenly before us. It was beautiful. The volume of water wasn’t huge but it fell down the sheer rock face like a lace curtain, and at the bottom was a deep, inviting plunge pool. The guidebook had warned against “skinny dipping” in the pool due to the presence of “biting” eels. Jacob and my interpretation of that warning was that as long as you wore a swimming cosie, you would be immune from nibbles. We plunged in and swam over to the foot of the waterfall, and let the water rain down on our heads. After weeks and weeks of being salty, with the only relief a rather feeble boat shower, it was total bliss. Having washed away every particle of salt from our bodies, and without even the faintest of nips from the rumoured monsters, we left the pool and were happily sitting at the waters edge, eating our lunch, when a very large eel slithered between the rocks at our feet. I did go for one more swim after that, but somehow the carefree magic had gone.———-radio email processed by SailMailfor information see: http://www.sailmail.com