Two tomatoes

04 Apr 2018 Richard Galapagos to Marquesas

I’ve just noticed that it’s more than a week since we last posted a blog - apologies; we’re clearly having too much fun! We have now left the Marquesas (and Jacob, who has returned to the UK to see his girlfriend) and are heading for the Tuamotus. The total passage is around 600 miles and we have 220 miles left to go. The sea is an electric blue, the swell is low and gentle, the wind is on the beam and we are sailing along at a very comfortable 6.5 knots. All is peace and tranquillity, albeit tinged with slight apprehension on Vanessa’s part at the navigational challenges ahead. The two tomatoes, as they seem to have been christened, are a group of atolls with only narrow passages into the lagoons. The tide races through these passages at speeds that would challenge Shepherd Moon’s little engine, and so entry needs to be timed for the 30 to 45 minutes when the tide is slack. I’m sure all will be OK; it will be like navigating in North Brittany but with softer rocks to bump into!We had a great time in the Marquesas. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful, with steep peaks rising up from lush vegetation. Abundant rainfall and rich volcanic soils means that everything grows with gay abandon. It’s like the Garden of Eden without the snake; even the walking trails are carpeted with crushed mangoes. What’s most surprising is that just 8,700 people populate this paradise, scattered across six inhabited islands. And every one we met was friendly and welcoming. Well almost everyone. We did meet one couple on Fatu Hiva who offered to barter grapefruit and limes for rope, sweets, pens etc. That would have been fine, but once the negotiation started, it soon became apparent that what they really wanted was alcohol. On the plus side, things have clearly improved. My friends who did this trip 20-years ago said that back then the desired items were guns and ammunition!Apart from the walks through the jungle to see waterfalls (including the third highest in the World, apparently, although I think it more likely that the local tourist board got in a muddle with their units) and swimming in refreshingly cool plunge pools, the highlight for us was our visit to a local church on Palm Sunday. The two-hour service was in Marquesan and so we struggled to follow exactly what was going on, but the singing was so uplifting. Three hundred or so voices singing in close harmony. The church itself was beautiful, with intricate wood and stone carving, with the pulpit shaped like the prows of a boat. There were no windows; the walls stopped just above head height and pillars supported the roof, leaving a gap for the air to circulate. But who needs stained glass when the beauty of God’s creation is all around.———-radio email processed by SailMailfor information see: