Just as we were picking up our anchor to leave Nuka Hiva for the 25 miles sail south to Ua Pau, the French Polynesian Customs, aka the Doune, decided to board us. We had seen them going around the anchorage the day before boarding boats. They came by our boat, took pictures and left us alone. One of the boats that they boarded was fined US$200 and a case of wine was seized for under-reporting the amount of alcohol they had onboard when they cleared in.
I was a little concerned about them boarding us because when we cleared-in in Hiva Oa in the section for alcohol on the declarations form I put “Ship’s Stores” and didn’t detail anything else. The Gendarme who took the form was happy with it. When the customs guys saw it, they knew what it meant. They sent Chris off to go below and count every bit of alcohol onboard. 15 minutes later she came up with a list. The customs guy said read it out. “161 cans of beer, 5 bottles of gin ……”. He was fine with it all and didn’t even bother to write it down, it just wasn’t enough to bother with. 25 minutes later we were on our way.
Here’s the Navy boat that carried the Customs folks coming around the corner, in the rain. Last year the customs had its own boat, but it was lost on a reef in the Tuamotos under curious circumstances. It’s no wonder they care about the alcohol onboard. The exact same bottle of Gordon’s Gin that we bought in Panama for $17 sells in the Marquesas for $55.
We sailed down to Ua Pau (Wah Pooh) for a few days after our circumnavigation of Nuka Hiva. This is the Austrian steel ketch Le Belle Epoque anchored next to us, enjoying some tropical sailing after completing an east to west transit of the Northwest Passage.
We did a land tour around the island with Juergen and Claudia from Le Belle Epoque. I think Chris is pointing at goats from the mountain top.
This is what a goat sees when it is spotting from the mountain side.