My arrival in Hiva Oa, French Polynesia was preceded by a twenty day, three thousand nautical mile sail westward across the open Pacific Ocean aboard the Swiss yacht "Aranui" captained by Nikki Schmidt. We were a part of the A.R.C. (around the world cruise rally) that sails completely around the world from the Caribbean to the Caribbean. They set sail early every year to take advantage of favourable weather and wind conditions on a well worn route westward around the globe. My only leg in this journey was from Santa Cruz to this tiny, beautiful island, and it just so happens that it is the longest leg of the entire journey around the world. Our arrival in Hiva Oa was in the darkness of two in the morning during a light rain and a distant thunderstorm veering away toward the north. Lightning lit up the sky with a latent drone of thunder. We had long ago used up all of our fresh foods. I had few good nights of sleep in twenty days from all of the banging back and forth between the walls of my berth as the ship heeled through the sea. I was eager to hit dry land. As we slowly motored into the entrance of the harbour in the darkness with the dim lights of the village homes rising up the side of the island hills my first sense experience was the smell of flowers, and it was lovely. We anchored for the night and settled into our bunks for a well deserved good nights sleep. In the morning we rafted ashore and I set foot on dry land for the first time in twenty days. For the next day the remaining yachts in the A.R.C. sailed into the harbour and set anchor. We met up with the crews from the boats as they came ashore and enjoyed meals together at the hotel restaurant while we chatted enthusiastically about our respective journeys across the ocean. The hotel on the island was a luxurious setting of bungalows in what can only be described as a "garden of eden" island in the Pacific. I spent only three days on Hiva Oa relaxing and capturing images of the stunning beauty of the island. I signed up for and took a day tour around the island with a crew from the hotel that offered that service to visitors. My time on Hiva Oa was short, but I will ever forget this tiny island paradise. I flew out to Tahiti and then continued on to Bora Bora, Moorea, and then Fiji where I ended my South Pacific adventure to fly home.
© Steve Tambosso - "The Wandering Fireman"