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Rose Says Hello

Nowadays, hundreds of boats make the month-long passage from the West Coast of the Americas to French Polynesia each year. But 47 years ago only true adventurers dared to attempt it. Rose and Frank Corser fit that profile.

They were both in their mid-30s in 1972 when they set sail from Newport Beach for the Marquesas Islands aboard their 35-ft Seagoer Buccaneer — a design similar to Islander, the boat that Harry Pidgeon famously sailed around the world in the 1920s to become the second solo circumnavigator (after Joshua Slocum).

Even today, the Marquesas are considered to be some of the most remote, exotic and undeveloped islands on Earth. But back in ’72 these jagged volcanic isles may as well have been on the moon — and for Rose and Frank that remoteness was part of the attraction. She was pursuing a master’s degree at the time, and figured that the Marquesas’ unique arts and handicrafts — including dramatic full-body tattooing — would make a fascinating thesis.

Rose Corser
If you want to know about ancient Marquesas arts, Rose Corser is the person to see. She sends out a hearty “Hello!” to all the cruisers she’s met over the years.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

Following their 1972 trip to the islands, Rose and Frank returned in 1979 in the Cascade 42 Courser (no typo) and eventually opened the Keikahanui Hotel on a hilltop overlooking Nuku Hiva’s main anchorage, Taiohae Bay. According to Rose, back in the day it was a prime happy-hour destination for the salty international cruisers who arrived each spring — of whom she still has happy memories.

Nuku Hiva anchorage
The remainder of an ancient volcanic caldera, Taiohae Bay is extremely well protected, and thus the most popular bay in the archipelago. It’s now peak season for recent arrivals.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy
Fish station
Although Taiohae Bay is the ‘big city’ of the Marquesas, you won’t find a supermarket there. But if it’s fresh fish you’re after, you can buy all the fresh-caught tuna you can carry, any morning on the town wharf.
© 2019 Andy

Rose never did complete her master’s, but over the past 40 years she has become an acknowledged expert in Marquesan arts, and a good friend to the international cruising community — not to mention an occasional Latitude 38 contributor.

Although Rose sold that hotel years ago (it’s now the Pearl Lodge), she still runs the cozy He’e Tai Inn nearby, and maintains a fascinating mini-museum of Marquesas carvings and other handicrafts. If you ever find yourself in Nuku Hiva, be sure to check it out.

1 Comment

  1. Tony M Spooner 2 years ago

    We were there in Taiohae Bay in 2013 with our Tri “Macha”. I wish I had known of Rose’s whereabouts as I was also in the Marquesas in 1967 with my former tri “Triton” and would have loved to talk to her about the “old days”. On that ’67 trip, we anchored at 3 islands Hiva Oa, Ua Pu and Nuka Hiva and N H was the only place we encountered another boat. The 2 of us had the entire Taiohae Bay to ourselves. There were no docks, just one stone jetty. We also witnessed,what we were told was, the first ever arrival of a Cruise ship.
    Things sure have changed.
    Tony Spooner. Trimaran “Macha”. Currently in Fiji.

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