Ua Poa Sunrise

Like a kid at Christmas, I would wake up before dawn if we were going to make landfall. There are other early birds on this trip, who we would join on deck 9 and we would watch with fascination the abilities of the men of the Supercargo. These men would initially be hoisted off the ship on a barge and life boats and approach the harbour to prepare for docking. They were able to handle all types of conditions.

Approaching Ua Pou in the sunrise

On Ua Pou, the Aranui goes into a small harbour with a smaller wharf. These men of the Supercargo are experienced in docking the Aranui with precision and speed.

After breakfast, we left the boat and hiked to the white cross which overlooks the village of Hakahau. You can see Aranui in the lower right hand corner.

Rick and Sandy over Hakahau Bay

Almost every village we visited welcomed us with song and some with dance. We hiked down and went to Pae Pae for a welcome dance and haka. The men did the haka and then jumped into the crowd. There was an abrupt intake of breath and a few people in the front row were heartily surprised.  The dancing woman are more welcoming.

Marquesian dancing

Ua Pou is famous for Flower Stone, spewed out by volcanoes with crystalline garnet flowers in the stone. We went to the cultural centre to find a hand carved Cailloux Fleuris or Flower stone.

On the way back to the Aranui, we could see the children using the ship as a playground. They would dare each other to ‘walk the plank’ on the ropes and then jump in.

Children tight rope walking


As the ships leaves the harbour, James spots a big stingray coming to the surface with the churn of sand from the harbour and once the Aranui is in place to leave Ua Pou, they bring the barge back onto the ship.

loading the barge at the end of the day.


Ua Pou is also an island known for its majestic volcanic spires, which are often captured in cloud. We see this as we sail away.

Ua Pou volcanic spire



Sicily: Favignana and San Vito lo Capo

The first thing we noticed about Favignana, an island 7 kilometres off the coast of Trapani, is the crystal clear water. We look at the plotter, which tells us we are in nine metres of water and we can see the bottom. The clarity is beautiful. We are in Italy’s largest marine reserve.

The beach in the harbour at Favignana
The beach in the harbour at Favignana

Many of you will say that you have never heard of Favignana, but if you read Homer’s Odyssey, in a bid to extract yourself from high school, you will know it as Goat Island. This island was the last stop before the Cyclop’s island and was full of goats, which fed the big O’s crew for awhile.

View of the tuna cannery & township of Favignana
View of the tuna cannery & township of Favignana

From the 15th Century, the island was famous for it’s tuna catches and fishermen. In the 19th Century, a wealthy industrialist, Florio built a major tuna cannery on the island, bringing prosperity to the small island and its inhabitants.

Painting of tuna fishing of the past
Painting of tuna fishing of the past

The Arabs were here in the early Middle Ages and they brought the ancient fishing technique called Mattanza, trapping scores of bluefish tuna.  They seemed to be on very long flat boats and they had enormous anchors to hold them fast.  When they switched to long line boats, many of these anchors came onto the beach – a veritable anchor’s graveyard.  Behemoth anchors rusting in silvered wood on the beach near the marina.

Anchor graveyard
Anchor graveyard

We were here on a Sunday, so we weren’t surprised at the number of people riding bikes, scooters and eating gelato even before passeggiata.   Just before sunset, a ferry  came in and engorged a large number of tourists, back to Trapani, home and work on Monday.

Isola Formica, we passed this on the way to San Vito Lo Capo - it is part of the Isole Egadi, and was also the site of a tuna cannery
Isola Formica, we passed this on the way to San Vito Lo Capo – it is part of the Isole Egadi, and was also the site of a tuna cannery

Monday found us on our way to San Vito lo Capo on the Costa Gaia, one of Italy’s most beautiful beaches. San Vito explodes with colour as you approach the beach before turning into the marina.  Brightly coloured umbrellas, beach towels and cossies across the light sand beach animate this patch of Sicily’s coast.

The beach at San Vito Lo Capo
The beach at San Vito Lo Capo

Unlike most of the ancient ports we visit, San Vito lo Capo seems to have been developed in the early 1950’s.  The main street reminds me of Coney Island without the rides, lots of lights, souvenir stores and Havianna stores up and down the street. We will explore a bit more today.