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Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia


To ocean sailors, sighting land can be one of the most exciting, welcomed, comforting experiences of all. Land ho!, we yell when we first set sight of land, even if it isn’t our intended destination. And when we spotted our intended port of call after 40 days at sea, we yelled, “Nuku Hiva ho!” We saw it under tropical cumulus clouds, so typical of the aerial formation above high volcanic islands in the oceans of the world.

This exotic volcanic tropical island of Nuku Hiva is the home of some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met in the world! Immediately after anchoring Joyful in Taiohae Bay, formed from an ancient volcano, before we did anything else, we said a prayer to the Lord for giving us His hedge of protection all these 40 days days at sea from Panama, allowing us to arrive unharmed at Nuku Hiva. We marveled at the sight of land after sailing on the open South Pacific Ocean for over a month! We kept on saying, “Look over there at that tree! Look at those houses! Look! There are people” The myriad shades of greens from the mountains, the ever changing colors of blue from the sea around Joyful at anchor, and the amazing hues of pinks, oranges, and purples from the sky cast upon the island at sunset, to us, were mesmerizing.

That night, and every night since, while at anchor, I have slept in Joyful’s cockpit in order to enjoy the cool sea breeze, gaze upon the starry sky, hear the music, drum beats, and singing from the land, and to breathe in the fragrances from the tropical flowers, trees, and mountains! At day break I awoke by the sound of roosters‘ crowing, followed by the extraordinary sunrise over the land. I wish each of you could experience this way of being so close to nature. So if your schedule won’t permit you to go camping or to the beach, I recommend you try sleeping outside in your garden, balcony, or patio to experience similar delights!

The next day, we took Joyful’s dinghy (inflatable tender with a 6 hp engine) ashore. The first person we encountered was truly an angel from above in the form of a strong, friendly local Polynesian man, who reached out to hold the dinghy’s line and to offer me a hand to help me up the slick, rock steps leading to the land. People speak Marquisan and French here, and I was able to resurrect the amount of French I learned in school, you know, back in the Pleistocene Era.

During the next day, at the same location, another very kind local Polynesian man was on the dock near our dinghy, and offered assistance, while I spoke with his friendly wife. She didn’t speak much French, but primarily the Nuku Hivan dialect of Marquisan, and told me to meet her there the next morning so she could give us grapefruit from her trees! So I did, and she gave us about 17 perfect pamplemousse, the delicious Polynesian variety of grapefruit. I gave her a Swiss handkerchief with a hand embroidered heart of flowers on one corner, and some cards with verses from the Bible relating to loving your neighbor as yourself, as Jesus commanded, and a card with John 3:16 on one side.

Almost every day there in Nuku Hiva we spent some time with a wonderful man and new friend named Emmanuel, and another wonderful new friend, his sister, Conchita. When I saw a doctor to examine my big toe, which was recovering from surgery since the day before we entered the Panama Canal, he took me to the hospital to help translate. The kind hearts of these two Nuku Hivans we will always remember with fondness. Every once in a while I meet someone who influences my life in such a positive way, that I wish to incorporate certain aspects of their character into my own. Emmanuel is one of those people! Thank you, Emmanuel! Thank you, Conchita, for your kindheartedness in giving us delicious bananas, limes, and pamplemousse from your garden, and for your farewell present of gorgeous leis you made from flowers from your garden. We shall always remember you with fondness, too!


Emmanuel graciously organized two Skype sessions between two local schools and one of Joyful’s schools, the Round Hill Elementary School of Round Hill, Virginia. So, one fine morning, students from the C.E.D. St. Joseph school of agriculture, and the St. Joseph Primary and Elementary school, a private Catholic school, both in the village, met us for a Skype session. Students, the principal, and teachers from those schools connected over the internet via Skype, to students from Mr. Muldowney’s 5th grade science class at Round Hill Elementary School, as well as with Mr. Andrew Davis, the principal, and Mr. Muldowney. All these participants of the Skype sessions communicated in a combination of English, French, and Marquisan languages. The students discussed issues concerning the status and care of the oceans, recycling, ecology, culture, and other topics. Everyone had a worthwhile, memorable experience with these Skype sessions. This was the first time students from the St. Joseph Elementary School had experienced Skype sessions, and both of the schools from Nuku Hiva, and the Round Hill School, look forward to further communications, either by the mail or via Skype.


Secchi Disk –

Unfortunately, there was again too much rapid movement of water in the volcanic anchorage at Nuku Hiva for phytoplankton data gathering via the Secchi disk to take place.

Bird Sightings –

We took photos of a few birds while at Nuku Hiva for Cornell University’s Department of Ornithology’s study of the migrations of birds from all over the world. Most of the birds flew off before we could photograph them!

Dosimeter –

We continued our daily dosimeter readings while in Nuku Hiva. The readings were all between 8 and 15 counts per minute (CPM).


Jeff and I met with the Bishop of the church in the village where we gave a donation toward the translation and printing of the Holy Bible in the Marquisan language. Our cousins, Chip and Lois, also kindly made a donation toward this endeavor. I was able to share ideas on Art ministry with another artist and other people who were also cruising around the world on their boats. There are so many possibilities to share the Word everywhere one goes, and I thank the Lord for presenting opportunities to us!

Artistic Inspirations from the Lord About this Landfall –

By far, to me, the most remarkable aspect of this gorgeous landfall of Nuku Hiva was the genuine friendliness, good hearted nature, and compassionate attitude of the people. Throughout the days Joyful was in Nuku Hiva, the islanders demonstrated their obedience to Jesus’ most important commandment, as expressed in Matthew 22:37-40 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Even though we did not want to leave the enchanted island of Nuku Hiva, or Emmanuel, Conchita, and the other friendly and gracious locals, Jeff, Bill, and I also wanted to catch up with the rest of the Blue Planet Odyssey fleet in Bora Bora in order to continue the circumnavigation together. So after clearing out of Nuku Hiva, we weighed Joyful’s anchor and sailed away bound for Bora Bora, stocked with presents from Emmanuel, Conchita, and other fine locals, the most important being their friendship.

1. Joyful’s view as she approached Nuku Hiva, the Marquises Archipelago’s largest island. The white limestone cross is near the East entrance to the harbor.

2. Joyful’s French and French Polynesia courtesy flags and the Q flag, flew on Joyful’s starboard spreader halyard. The Blue Planet Odyssey flag flew on her port spreader halyard, and Joyful’s USA ensign flew on her backstay.

3. Joyful anchored in Nuku Hiva, protected on three sides by volcanic mountains.

4. Joyful anchored in a submerged volcanic crater in Nuku Hiva with beautiful, lush volcanic mountains in the background.

5. Anne, on Joyful’s deck in the Nuku Hiva anchorage, held the Mission Joyful blanket kindly given to Jeff and Anne by the Huntsville First United Methodist Chapel attendees. Thank you and God bless you!

6. Jeff relaxed after the 40 day non-stop passage from Panama.

7. Joyful, in Nuku Hiva, with 40 days of sea growth on her hull where the blue antifouling paint was not applied. Anne easily removed the growth with a plastic scraper and a sponge.

8. We lowered Joyful’s swim platform in Nuku Hiva to enter and exit her inflatable dinghy, which is her going ashore boat that has oars and a 6 hp engiine. You can see some of the sea growth on her transom caused by 40 days at sea.

9. Anne easily cleaned 40 days worth of sea growth from Joyful’s hull, which took her about an hour to finish. Anne used a sponge, a plastic scraper, and sea water to remove the growth.

10. Anne relaxed in Nuku Hiva with sweet tiare and hibiscus flowers.

11. Bill relaxed under tropical trees near Joyful’s anchorage in gorgeous Nuku Hiva.

12. Jeff relaxed in the popular Nuku Hivan seed lei both men and women wear. Emmanuel welcomed Joyful to his special island by giving us these leis, fruit, and delicious Nuku Hivan cookies his friend baked for us! Emmanuel is an extraordinary person.

13. Joyful at anchor early in the morning. Joyful is the sloop pictured right above her inflatable small dinghy, which is the small boat in the lower left corner of the photo.

14. Joyful’s anchorage in Nuku Hiva with surf that crashed day and night. It was a good thing, adding to the natural beauty of Nuku Hiva.

15. Joyful is the fourth boat at anchor from the right edge of this photo.

16. Early in the mornings locals to Nuku Hiva cleaned the fish they caught near the anchorage. Sharks loved that anchorage!

17. At an outdoor cafe near Joyful’s anchorage, Anne enjoyed a typical Nuku Hivan breakfast of red tuna, brioch, and pinneaple juice. Every day, Anne wore the lovely seed lei Emmanuel gave her as a welcome to Nuku Hiva. Thank you, Emmanuel!

18. This is a photo of Anne with a new friend from Nuku Hiva, un petite chien (a little dog), sharing the most popular food on Nuku Hiva, the delicious Poisson Cru au Lait de Coco (that’s French for Raw fish with and coconut milk). They also add fresh Nuku Hivan lime juice!

19. Some Nuku HIvans use horses and mules for transportation, as well as for hunting. The equine assist the hunters to traverse rough volcanic terrain, as well as to bring back their game.

20. This was a common sight in Nuku Hiva. Outrigger canoes, and horses were seen that were used for transportation and hunting purposes, protected by the shade of coconut trees.

21. One of many modern outrigger canoes of Nuku Hiva. Some canoes were built for one person, others for multiple people.

22. Modern roads for cars, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, horses and pedestrians provided access to much of the island. Please note the man riding his horse in the street.

23. Ancient ceremonial lava rocks like this one at the water’s edge in Nuku Hiva were seen in various places on the island.

24. Flowers from this tropical tree in Nuku Hiva fell every day. Joyful’s anchorage is in the distance.

25. Friendly Nuku Hivan locals gave Anne sweet tiara flowers to wear in her hair and by her ear. Anne posed with hibiscus flowers near the church for this photo in Nuku Hiva.

26. Tiare, the Polynesian sweet fragrant flower, were seen growing in countless places. Men and women wore flowers in their hair and over their ears.

27. Proudly wearing the beautiful Nuku Hivan seed lei necklaces Emmanuel kindly gave them as a welcome present, Jeff and Anne enjoyed the sights and people of Nuku Hiva.

28. Nuku Hivan families played games together in the archeological park near the shore.

29. Hand carved lava objects such as this one from generations ago, were important to the Nuku HIvan society, and are still valued by many for various reasons.

30. Tiki symbols are prevalent in Nuku Hiva, and one is included on their island’s official flag.

31. Special stones carved by Nuku Hivans generations ago could be seen in various places on the island, as well as in this archeological park near the shore.

32. This, and other hand carved anthropomorphised symbols are found many places in Nuku Hiva. Many portray dieties from the Nuku Hivan pre-Christian religion.

33. This is the view of the bay from the Catholic church. The land there was sacred, and still is to Nuku Hivans. The land was given to the church by the last queen of Nuku Hiva, generations ago. Emmanuel & Conchita are her great plus grandchildren.

34. This is a photo of a popular style of French Polynesian fishing boat.

35. We saw various kinds of birds while in Nuku Hiva, and the small bird on the coconut leaf in this photo resembled a seed eating bird, not a sea bird.

36. Emmanuel who is the Chief of the Office of Tourism in Nuku Hiva, Jeff, and Anne became friends while in Nuku Hiva.

37. Emmanuel’s father, one of the last surviving master wood carvers on Nuku Hiva, showed us the magnificent, detailed wooden crown he created. He carved ancient Nuku Hivan symbols into the wood. The wood came from a special tree on the island.

38. Emmanuel’s father, a master woodcarver from Nuku Hiva, used modern and traditional tools to create works of art from Nuku Hivan trees.

39. Emmanuel’s brother, expertly carved traditional Nuku Hivan designs in bone & shell. His father taught him the techniques and symbols passed on from generation to generation.

40. Emmanuel and Conchita celebrated their birthdays with us. Happy birthday Emmanuel and Conchita!

41. Jeff, Anne, Emmanuel, and Conchita celebrating Conchita’s, Emmanuel’s, and Jeff’s birthdays.

43. Anne admired the bananas, limes, and pamplemousse Conchita grew in her garden and kindly gave Jeff, Anne and Bill as a present. Thank you Conchita!

44. Emmanuel loaded his truck with the bananas, pamplemousse, and limes Conchita graciously gave us. Thank you both!

45. Anne sat in Joyful’s cockpit next to Conchita’s present of pamplemousse and bananas she grew. Thank you Conchita!

46. Anne at sunrise after sleeping in Joyful’s cockpit in Joyful’s Nuku Hivan anchorage. The bananas and pamplemousse Conchita kindly gave them ripen from Joyful’s bimini structure.

47. Many mornings, Anne ate traditional Nuku Hivan breakfasts at an outdoor cafe next to Joyful’s anchorage. The owners invited customers to take bananas from the hanging stalks. They were always delicious, sweet bananas. Thank you!

48. Anne’s breakfast of a Nuku Hivan crepe with endangered, rare Nuku Hivan honey, Nuku Hivan bananas, and mango juice. All extraordinarily delicious! One of the best things I’ve ever eaten!

49. Anne with the Nuku Hiva bananas the kind stranger by the dock gave us just to be nice to us. Thank you kind, unforgettable lady!

50. Bill with pamplemousse (Nuku Hivan grapefruit) and bananas. Conchita and a friendly local gave us 36 pamplemousse and two stalks of bananas as a gesture of friendship! Thank you both!

51. C.E.D. St Joseph students with teacher Charline, Emmanuel who is Chief of Nuku Hiva Office of Tourism, and Jeff and Anne, in a Skype session with students from Round Hill Elementary School, principal, Mr. Davis, and science teacher, Mr. Muldowney.

52. Frere Remy, principal of the C.E.D. St Joseph School in Nuku Hiva, Skyped with the students, principal and teachers from Round Hill Elementary School in Round Hill, Virginia.

53. Students from C.E.D. St Joseph School in Nuku Hiva Skyped about the oceans, recycling, agriculture, and their school studies with students from Round Hill Elementary School in Round Hill, Virginia.

54. Students from C.E.D. St Joseph School Skyped with students from Round Hill Elementary School in Round Hill, Virginia.

55. Round Hill Elementary School students Skyped with students from the Nuku Hiva school, C.E.D. St. Joseph.

56. Darling students from the St Joseph Primary School in Nuku Hiva posed with Director Dr. Veronique Tamarii, Jeff, and Anne for this photo.

57. The St Joseph Elementary School of Nuku Hiva, minutes before the Skype session with Round Hill Elementary School in Round Hill, Virginia.

58. St Joseph Elementary School students with Anne as they Skyped with others at the Round Hill Elementary School.

59. St Joseph Elementary School students asked questions during the Skype session with the Round Hill Elementary School.

60. St Joseph Elementary School students, teacher Mr. Taata, Jeff, and Anne, Skyped with Round Hill Elemtary School.

61. St Joseph Elementary School students, teacher Mr. Taata, along with Jeff and Anne, participated in the Skype session with the Round Hill Elementary School Principal Mr. Davis, and science teacher, Mr. Muldowney.

62. Bill and Jeff stood next to boxes of water and other provisions for Joyful. Jeff is wearing the magnificent flower lei Conchita just gave him as a gesture of friendship and for a bon voyage.

63. For this photo, Jeff and Anne in Nuku Hiva posed under a coconut tree with Joyful anchored in the distance.

64. Jeff with Conchita. Conchita kindly made these beautiful Nuku Hivan leis for us with flowers from her garden as a symbol of friendship and a fond fairwell present.

64a. Kind Conchita made a beautiful Nuku Hivan lei for Anne to show friendship & a wish for a bon voyage . Anne also wore the seed neclace Conchita’s brother, Emmanuel gave her as a welcome present. Thank you both so much! You are new friends!

65. Emmanuel, Conchita, Jeff, Bill, and Anne said %22adieu%22 before Anne, Jeff, and Bill sailed Joyful away to Bora Bora.

66. This was the view of ‘Ua Pou Island as Joyful weighed anchor from beautiful Nuku Hiva bound for Bora Bora, the Pearl of the Pacific.


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