Hunting for Tikis in French Polynesia

PHOTO Adventurers Catherine and Neville Hockley are spending May 2009 meeting the people of the Hiva Oa, an island in the Marquesas of French Polynesia.

Maps point to imaginary roads. Locals direct travelers "over there." But for true adventurers, the hunt for French Polynesia's unmarked Tikis is worth the hike.

Travelers Neville and Catherine Hockley trekked in search of the storied stone statues earlier this month on the latest leg of their trip around the world.

The couple arrived at French Polynesia's Marquesas islands after 3,000-mile ocean crossing. Read more about the Hockleys' recent adventures -- from their travels through Panama, to their preparations to sail to the Galapagos, and their exploration of the isolated islands made famous by Darwin.

See photos from the Hockley's travels.

Visit the boat's Web site to learn more about their journey.

Read the latest excerpts from the Hockley's adventure below:

April 7, 2009. South Pacific


Catherine Hockley writes: We are now into day three of our 3,000 mile expedition across the Pacific and it's hard to comprehend the distance we still have ahead of us.

For me, our last passage from Panama to the Galapagos was quite an achievement in itself as it was our first, just the two of us, almost 1,000 mile leg. But there wasn't much of an opportunity for laurel resting once we got there, as our Galapagos visas only allowed us 21 days, so no matter what, whether we were ready or not, at day 21 we had to leave.

It felt a bit like being nudged towards the edge of a precipice. I was nervous about going forward, but we couldn't go back and our visas said we couldn't stay, so once we reached our departure date, that was it. Maybe it was a good thing though because it would have been all too easy for me to raise entirely compelling arguments to stay: Perhaps just one more day with the iguanas, just one more ice cream, just one more really good night's sleep before setting off on the longest passage in the history of us… ever!!

But on Sunday, April 5th, we reached our get out of town date, and get out of town we did. Sailing away from the last terra firma we'd see for a month felt pretty strange, but once we were out of sight of land, and all we had was our little circle of ocean, I began to settle down and ponder the miles ahead.

One of my pondering points was that we had read reports of piracy in this area, and when we were in the Galapagos we met an Australian who had been forced to make an unplanned detour there after having been tracked and followed by a 'fishing boat' very close to where we are now. It had appeared to be a fishing boat, but it was behaving more like a predator circling its prey. For every course change the Australian made, the other boat did the same, and after several dark hours of this, he called in a Mayday and made a b-line for the closest port, San Cristobal Galapagos.

So with that in mind we have been keeping a very close watch in our little patch of ocean and from time to time we have seen boats on the horizon, but nothing more sinister than a few like-minded sail boats and a fishing boat that happily turned out to be a just a fishing boat. Ironically, this aspect of the journey so far means the farther away from land we get, the safer we feel.

The weather is beautiful. We are averaging about 80 miles a day, we have a knot of current in our favor, and the wind is light but useable. So all in all, day three is turning out to be pretty good. We are, however, not having any success in the fish department, so I guess it's pasta for dinner again.

Crossing the Ocean to French Polynesia

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