Sunday, May 26, 2013

Baie de Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

Leaving Baie d'Hakahau (photo courtesy of Kyanos).
We left the next day for Nuku Hiva and had a great sail.  We dropped our anchor in Baie Taiohae with a couple dozen other boats.  Once we were settled in, Richard and I went to shore in the dinghy and bumped into Heidi and Joe from s/v Huck.  The four of us, plus Joe and Liz from s/v Set Me Free, headed to a little restaurant and ordered a round of Hinanos and talked about our passages.  Joe (from Huck) mentioned that the agent they used to clear into the country has a brother here on the island that does traditional Marquesan tattoos.  That was all I needed to hear.  I have been thinking about this tattoo for a couple of years now and here I was in the Marquesas with a tatt connection.  It doesn’t get much better than that. 
Heidi told me that all I had to do was go down to the second food truck and ask for the tattoo guy…that simple.  So after our beers, Richard and I walked down to the second food truck and I inquired about the tattoo guy in my less than perfect French.  “Excusez moi, mais une amie me dit que le frère du son agent ici faire le tatouage and je cherche pour lui.  Lui connaissez-vous?”  It might not have been correct, but the next thing I know the woman in the food truck is on her cell and asks me, in French, what time I’d like my tattoo tomorrow?  “A dix heure a la matin?”  “Ca va bien!”  And it was done! 
I told Ben about my discovery and he indicated that he would come along for moral support.  Richard was at best “neutral” about the idea of me getting more ink so having Ben along made the experience at least a bit more exciting.  The next morning, Richard took Ben and me to the small pier, I stopped at the bank and then Ben and I headed to the food truck where we were picked up by Francois who drove us out to his house.  Now, this might not mean much to most of you, but this Francois is the grandson of Daniel of Daniel’s Bay in Nuku Hiva.  And Daniel’s Bay was the set location for the very first “Survivor” season.  And we will be anchoring in Daniel’s Bay in a few days so the “full circle “ of getting a traditional tattoo in the Marquesas really hit home for me.
Let the tatting begin!
Francois and I talked a bit about my life so that he could put together a “story” in the form of traditional Marquesan motifs.  Francois speaks very little English so the entire day, about eight hours in all, was spent speaking in French.  He then drew the design on my arm and once he was done that I jumped up on the table and the needles came out.  In all I spent 4 hours under the needle, and for the majority of that time, I really have to admit that it was a painless experience.  Yea, a few times the design was in those fleshy places that hurt, but for the most part it was no big deal.  By the time it was done, the design had morphed into something that started on my shoulder and worked its way down to my elbow.  Opps…the original design that I had showed Richard was about the size of a quarter and somehow I ended up with a significantly larger tattoo.  Ben confirmed that it looked great and that the modifications that Francois was making while the needle was going were definitely enhancing the overall design.

Almost done.
When Francois finally pulled the needle away and I got up off of the table and had my first look at his work I was amazed.  I looked over at Ben and he gave me the “thumbs up” indicating that he thought it looked good and when I looked over at Francois, he seemed somewhere else as he admired his ink work, and kept repeating, “Tres joli”.  The rest of the story goes something like this…Ben got convinced to get a tattoo of a manta ray on his ankle (ouch!), which looks great and he loves (he was a tattoo virgin prior to this “peer pressure”).  We called Richard on the VHF radio and met up with him and Jory on the dock and then went back to Kyanos where Ben made pizza for the four of us.

And here it is…I hope you like it as much as I do because I LOVE IT!

Excuse the mess in the background and focus your attention on the tattoo.
Per the artist: PLEASE DO NOT COPY THIS DESIGN...thanks.


  1. I posted on the other page asking for a picture! This looks great, and like it hurt!

  2. That is a beautiful tattoo!!!
    SV Wecantu