Kevin at Nuka Hiva Yacht Services, located in the Marquesa Islands of French Polynesia, is no stranger to questions from cruisers of all kinds. “Good Morning Kevin, Do you know where I can go to get fresh water?” “Hey Kevin, how much is it to fill my propane tank?” “Can I get my laundry done by time for tea?” “Kevin, I need to rent a truck for 2 days” So, on a hot, humid morning in march, I ventured into NHYS with my normal cruising questions, but had a stumper at the end- “ ok, propane, visa information, oh and can I order one male and one female goat?,… yes, alive.” The look on his face was priceless.
Luckily, Kevin’s beautiful and charming wife Annebelle was in ear shot and immediately started dialing. By 9AM we had an order for 2 goats, one male, one female to take to the Tuamotus with us.
We just spent the cyclone season of 2015/16 in the Marquesas, exploring the deep green waters, steep valleys and high peaks that the islands have to offer. In December I called our friend in the Tuamotus to see if there was anything he needed from the Marquesas. Like our other friends who I made the same offer to, I expected a request of vegetables, citron, or seeds to plant. But goats. Of course, goats is what Regis wanted. A resident of Raroia for over 8 years, Regis owns one of the only markets on the island is always dreaming of the next steps to grow the island and its community further. He is one of few that manages to maintain a lushes garden, growing from nothing but coral rubble and sand, he has pigs, chickens, dogs and even banana trees on his property. It would make sense that a breeding pair of goats would provide much for Regis and his island counterparts. And of course he would have to ask me, who can’t turn down a favor. Good thing Regis is a good friend.
The Challenge was on
By the end of March the cyclone season was coming to an end and we prepared for our passage back to the Tuamtous, and back to Raroia- the home of Regis, our dear friends, and the future home of 2 baby goats. Now, if you are thinking we must have had some experience in something like this before… believe me, nope, never. Come to find out we didn’t even know what goats eat! We had requested a wooden crate for the goats to travel in, but got a call the day before departure letting us know that was not going to be possible (or at least is was going to be much more expensive than a boat full of goats). Kevin suggested a cardboard box, but knowing the ending to that setup, we passed and said we figure something out.
So in the first week of April, we set out on a 4 and half day voyage from the Nuka Hiva to Raroia, with 2 people, 1 dog, and 2 goats onboard… tied to the binnacle in the cockpit. Good thing Silent Sun is always up for an adventure. And an adventure it was.
Each morning and night fellow cruisers tuned into our daily position reports on the SSBnet (Pan Pacific Magellan net) for updates on the goat saga. It mostly went something like this-
Day 1- Jess LOVES the goats. They are just the cutest little things ever, always cuddling with each other on the cockpit benches. I even take them on walks to the bow once a day to stretch their wobbley legs and they freak out when they are apart. So sweet.
Day 2- The goats, “Beeeeavis and Butthead”, are exploring the cockpit and going everywhere, they must be getting comfortable. It’s amazing how agile they are and they’re great jumping skills! I have given in to feeding them some of my fresh veggies, but they better not eat them all!
Day 3- The seas were confused last night, Beavis and Butthead were not fans. Between taking care of Martini and keeping the goats happy, there hasn’t been much sleep. Good thing they like vegetables and all fruit because we are running out of things to feed them. The sheets, rigging and just about everything else is looking tasty to them. I hope the seas are calm again soon.
Day 4- Be quiet!!!! Stop eating that!!! REGIS’!!!!!! A nice fresh lamb chop is sounding real good and we are still 80 miles out. All my cabbage, cucumbers and carrots are gone and they have just about eaten the entire stock of bananas (the bananas were gone yesterday). And do I really have to hand feed them all the time? Oh and their poop and piss have now clogged up the drain holes and we are dealing with a shit bath tub. Who’s idea was this? Oh and all my veggies are gone..
Day 5- If we aren’t there soon I really am going to have to eat them. Raroia is in sight and could not come soon enough. Beavis and Butthead will not stop trying to eat the boat away and they won’t shut up. Sh$& P*ss F^c* wieoruofndos;iu!!!! Not to mention the shit bath tub we are all dealing with…
We made it. I don’t know who is ready to get off the boat the soonest. After dinghy preparation, a call to Regis on the radio, martini getting head butted off Silent Sun… Noah’s Ark boards the small boat and we are off to deliver Regis his precious cargo.
It’s been 2 months now and the goats, now called “Chris and Jessica” are happy at their new Paumotu home of Raroia. They have grown to love coconuts and drive Regis a bit crazy, but they have him trained well. The kids of the village are still in awe and some think they are tiny horses. Most of the people here have never seen goats before and we were treated a bit like royalty for awhile… which was nice, because, well as I have learned, it’s really no small task to take goats onboard!
While I would never recommend this kind of adventure to anyone- IF you are going to ever have goats on your boat, I have learned a few things-
- Goats piss and shit a lot. Like all the time. I still don’t know of a good solution but I would figure one out before departure.
- Goats will not eat dog food. Well at least, Marquesian goats- they prefer all the fresh fruits and veggies you have, and only the freshest. Oh and unless you have figured out a way to act like a tree for their chowing pleasure, you will need to hand feed them. I recommend figuring out the latter.
- If you want to use your cockpit at all during your passage, or at least on your watch, I recommend to fork over the francs for some sort of cage.
- You may also experience a “honeymoon” like period, be prepared… this does not last forever and goats are cute, but they belong far away from your sleeping quarters.