Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last Rites

On Saturday I walked 6km to Uturoa the main town. I thought there might have been a Tourist info place but I didn't find one so wandered the shops along the waterfront till they all closed at noon when I headed back to the boat for a swim . Later I started the frustrating business of sorting through my clothes and other bits and pieces , trying to work out what I could take and what would have to be left behind. - stuff inevitably accumulates over the five months I had been living on board. The next day Sunday I decided to take the inflatable out to visit a picturesque "motu" - an isolated little island on the reef- read my book and do some snorkeling as it was likely to be my last chance for a while. I got quite a surprise when I arrived at what had appeared a deserted island from a mile away, to find it swarming with campers and day visitors and their families and tiny tents, music turned up, the small sandy beach covered in sunbathers, barbeques on the go, speedboats lined up - it was like being in one of those ads for Coke, colourful party central in the sun! But I managed to find a coconut palm to sit against and read, and later, snorkeling the edge of the reef saw all those wonderfully colorful fish one more time..

On Monday morning I went ashore at 8am to meet with the people from Raiatea Carenage and to find out what the procesdure was and when we would bring Sapphire out of the water. Two hours later I was almost in shock, as they had sent me straight back out to bring her in, and by ten am it was all done - Sapphire was secured in a steel cradle in a security fenced enclosure with a dozen or so other yachts for company. I spent the rest of the day in the steaming heat taking the sails off , drying and packing away the dinghy, and the outboard, sorting through the food stores, cleaning and various other chores to prepare her for the layover.

I slept on board that night but decided I would stay at a nearby motel for my last two nights in Raiatea. At 11, I took my suitcase and backpack, closed the companionway hatch and clambered down the ladder wondering if how I was feeling was what it would be like leaving an aging parent in a Nursing Home, reassuring them they would be well cared for and that I'll be back real soon!

So now I am in a lovely bungalow by the water about a kilometer from Sapphire, Ive had a long and much overdue shower and change of clothes, and Ive been back to town for a haircut, food shopping and a visit to the Gendarmerie . On Thursday I fly to Papeete and Friday to Auckland - where it will be Saturday! Like I said before, Times funny stuff!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

After hearing back from Raiatea careenage – that there would be room for Sapphire and she could be liftedf out next week – I started looking again at my calendaer and working out what I should do and when, and on Wednesday booked a fligt back to NZ. It takes a mere 6 hours!  Somehow it ended up taking most of the day to do that!

The next day, Thursday I went ashore and hired a bike again and this time cycled across that bridge and right round Huahine Iti, It was a longer ride and a hotter day than my first cycle tour and I didn’t get back till 5pm.having had several stops to rest and read my book at various wonderfully scenic spots on the way round. I remember thinking – now would I rather do this or go to work?  
How terrible could it be to have to live here?
Speaking of books, the ones Ive been reading I picked up at the Laundry at Marina Taina. Its customary for cruisers to leave their finished- with books at such a place and help themselves  to any left by others – and out here lots of them are in French so any in English I tended to snatch up indiscriminately. Thus I read The Rain Maker by John Grisham and I enjoyed it. I also read Blow Fly one of those Forensics and autopsy riddled novels by Patricia Cornwell which are heavily promoted in Airport bookstores. It’s the first one of hers Ive read and I was disappointed – yes the technical descriptions of what happens to blood if its sprayed off a knife that’s being used to hack someone to bits are interesting,  but the story and the way it all fitted together, and in this book the way it all ends, is clumsy.  Great Expectations, which I read on Tubuai I think, was brilliant.

Anchor buddy and chain at 7 o.clock
So today, Friday I left Huahine and motor- sailed to Raiatea – well motored really as the hoped for breeze did not appear so it was a rather tedious 5 hour grind straight across and round to anchor near Raiatea Carenage (RC). The interesting part of the trip was getting the anchor up – at 7.30 the water was flat calm so I had a perfect view of what the anchors chain was doing so motored first forwards and to the right to pull it out from under a ledge and then where it had somehow lassoed a washing-machine-sized projection from a second rock at right angles to the first  decided to power forwards and pull the loop off the rock rather than try to untwist it – and this worked after a couple of goes at the wrong angle.  So off we went with an escort of dolphins – the first Ive seen in the entire trip!

I was hoping to talk to the guys at RC and find out something about what I needed to do to prepare the boat  but they didn’t seem interested on Friday afternoon! So I walked along the road, found a shop and bought a tin of Salmon for my dinner Back at the boat I had a swim to cool off and then got the razor out and got rid of my beard. It was getting to the point where it needed some sort of trimming and I couldn’t be bothered with that!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Pass into the Lagoon on the Eastern side of Huahine
The strong gusty winds continue, and a number of yachts have shifted after dragging their anchors. – One catamaran slid down the side of a nice big Beneteau whose crew managed to put fenders down in time, one of them jumped on board the cat and once it had dragged further into clearer water, paid out lots of anchor chain and it stopped. Shortly after the crew of the Cat appeared in a dinghy and eventually the cat motored off somewhere else. I had to reset my anchor after dragging in Moorea, the only time that’s happened so far, and, interestingly, it was when the Anchor Buddy had somehow managed to come off the anchor chain. Here in Huahine I have the added security in these amazing gusts of having my anchor chain wrapped round a small lump of coral in the mostly sandy bottom – its clearly visible 15 feet down – and I don’t expect when the time comes to  leave it will be too difficult to free up but we shall see.

Today I went ashore just after eight to collect the Pushbike I had booked for the day. In the village an open air Market was in full swing with lots of fresh produce on sale including some unusual looking fresh fish as well as Tuna hanging off a tree. I was about to head off when I noticed men unloading drums and guitars from a van, and then women and young girls started appearing with hula costumes on so I waited and soon enough the street in front of the main supermarket was blocked off by a lively hula performance with singing and drumming – not sure why but it was great to have a free concert. And then I set off this time clockwise round the island on a very comfortable almost new bike with 30 gears and a basket in front for my backpack.

The Bridge joining the two islands is Top Right
Huahine is like Tahiti in that it consists of two islands joined together – though here there actually is water separating the two but  a small bridge gets you from one to the other. I cycled only one of the islands  but crossed the Bridge for a photo. On the way round there were some fascinating ancient Marae sites alongside a lake. At one there were information panels set out overlooking the various parts of the site which consisted of large paved rectangular courtyards with stone walls and large flat stones lined up standing in rows. Unfortunately the Information Panels were so old the writing and whatever was originally on them had completely disappeared so it was impossible to know anything at all about the sites function and age. A lovely new traditional thatched roof building is nearing completion and will have all the information inside once its completed.

Further on I saw stone walls built in a river to guide fish into traps – I think these are quite ancient too and beyond that, ten Sacred Eels in a  creek by a bridge. The eels were large and quite tame – but they didn’t really like being touched by a little girl who stepped in among them. Further along still I stopped at a Map under a tree where several young men were listening to loud Rasta style music and smoking dope out of a bong made from an empty plastic drink container, a hollow stalk from some nearby tree and a small cone made from a piece of a coke can. They offered it to me but I declined – they were Polynesians but the next guy who offered me dope was a white dude who was so wasted he could hardly stand up. I ran in to him back in Fare later on in the afternoon. . The round island trip took 4 hours and I got back sooner than I thought I would, so I ordered a Beer and read my book for an hour before taking the Bike back and returning to the Boat.

I’ve sent an email to Raiatea Carenage to enquire about leaving the boat with them for a few months, having now received two reports from other sailors who have used their services and been happy. Its looking like the 2011 Cruise might finish at the end of the month.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lunch at Fare Village, Huahine

I had  plenty of sleep last night though I never seem to stay asleep for more than about two hours. I think that subconsciously when I am sleeping on the boat I am a little more  vigilant than  otherwise so I regulairly wake up even when safely anchoered. Not a bad habit to have gotten into I suppose! I had cornflakes for breakfast – I had been complaining about my diest a few weeks back and in papeete decided to make changes, so I started with weetbix which I really enjoyed and now I  am looking forward to cornflakes with sugar on and UHT milk from NZ which I managed to track down at one of the smallr supermarkets near Marina Taina. I also bought tinned sausages, like hotdog sausages and last night for dinner had some of them along with my own coleslaw from carrot and cabbage that I grated and mixed with mayonnaise. I also had tomatoes and some cold pasta I had cooked earlier and seasoned with heaps of freshly ground pepper, olive oil and pre-grated Parmesan. And red wine – French  - and not as nice as the Australian one I had before – so no wonder I slept well.

Last Night
Looking about this morning, I noticed that anchored off the village a bit further up from where I am , was  Narama, the Brolga 33  being sailed by Stephen and Heidi whom I had met briefly in Marina Taina. so after inflating the dinghy, I went over for a visit. Stephens parents were on board as well – it was Stephens dad who previously owned and raced an EC 31 just like mine 30 years ago in Sydney, so he was interested in Sapphire and I was interested in his opinions about her too. Stephen gave me some excellent tips on using my Pole when going downwind, explaining how he and Heidi set it up and  it worked well. They were planning to sail a similar route back west to what I had been planning, though Stephens parents were only going as far as the next stop which is Raiatea. However last night, looking at my calendar I could see I was running out of time. I told them I had realized I needed to skip straight to Bora Bora from here, and then except for probably pretty brief stops, straight through via Niue and Tonga to Fiji,  because I simply had to be back in Australia in September, which is only six weeks away. This was why I had been frustrated at how long it took to get my sail mended and why I had left Moorea earlier than I really wanted to, and I was becoming anxious about forecasts and further delays, as it would lessen even further what opportunity I had not just to sail to fantastic places but to explore them as well.

Swimming in Moorea

And this is what Stephen told me – he said friends of theirs had left their boat on the hard at a Yachting centre in Raiatea for almost a year, then returned and carried on at their leisure, and as far as he recalled they had been more than pleased with the service there. My plan had been to leave Sapphire in Fiji. He suggested investigating leaving her in Raiatea, the next stop, and continuing on in 2012 with much more time to get to Fiji without pressure and having lots of time for Tonga which he had sailed to before and which he felt would be a pity to not spend plenty of time in.
Amaszing Moorea

I went ashore as Hirama headed down the coast of the island to explore Huahine further, and the more I thought about Stephens suggestion the more it made sense. So tonight I am having a rethink of my immediate plans, and will make what enquiries I can about leaving Sapphire in Raiatea instead of Fiji.

Monday, July 18, 2011


The forecast was for winds 15 - 20 knots then 20 knots and stronger in a day or so-all from the east. There were no wind warnings, so it seemed as if the time to go was now, or else wait for the stronger winds and bigger seas to settle in a few days - but I didn't feel I had enough time up my sleeve to wait in Moora a few more days. So yesterday morning I lifted the dinghy out onto the foredeck to get it dried out, though this was frustrated by some rainy squalls that started coming through, and there were wind gusts to 23knots, which made me wonder if perhaps the stronger wind was already here. And so all morning I debated with myself the wisdom of leaving for Huahine, about 85nm away to the north East. At te same time as I debated, I put everything away, tidied up, made myself a filling lunch and then when the dinghy finally dried out after about the fifth squall, I quickly rolled it up and put it away. I had calculated that if I was to leave I should actually leave at about 3pm so that I would arrive at Huahine in daylight. And that's what I did - with some trepidation, hoisting only the mainsail, and even then with one reef in. This turned out to be more than enough as the wind was consistently over 20 knots and the sea built to 2 metres during the night which was pretty well sleepless for me, but we were almost going downwind so it was reasonably comfortable. I saw two vessels nearby during the night and at daybreak another Cruiseliner crossed a few miles behind heading for BoraBora. I motored in through Pass Avapehi and found some sand over the reef to drop my anchor into. I was too tired to get the dinghy back out but have just rested on the boat and had a little nap. Despite being on the lee side of the island, which is mountainous but nowhere near as rugged as Moorea, windy gusts of 15 to 20 knots are managing to spiral over the hills and keep me watching my marks closely to see we aren't drifting. The reef is beautiful and I can hear drumming in the village, and earlier, church bells. In the morning I shall go ashore and investigate.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Walk in a Park

Moorea is shaped like a Love Heart, except that instead of one deep indentation along the top there are two - the Baie de Cook, and Baie Opunohu. In between them there is Mt Rotui, a massive chunk of volcanic rock with almost vertical sides that rises to 2600 feet. Behind Mt Rotui the main mountainous ridge of the island curves from one side of the love heart to the other and is equally precipitous but even higher, and worn into serrated ridges and the jutting spires and peaks, probably photographed a billion times by now - but for good reason! It is utterly spectacular.
I went ashore quite early and took a scrubbing brush. I had been surprised at how much slime and growth there was underneath the dinghy after two weeks in the water in Papeete, so had tied it to the foredeck rather than deflate and put it away for the trip over, and this morning on the white sand beach, scrubbed it all clean. I then set off to the right, along the road that follows the perimeter of the entire island, following it round into the Bay and then at its head continuing left to cross behind Mt Rotui and cross directly to the head of Baie de Cook, ultimately continuing round to where I started from, Essentially I circumnavigated the base of Mt Rotui and it took about 5 hours with a stop for lunch in the baie de Cook.. It was a great walk - initially in the cool shadow of the mountain, past local homes along the waterfront then inland through some forest then past pineapple plantations and other gardens, a shrimp farm, a goat farm, past the Resort on the reef I mentioned yesterday - it's the Moorea Hilton Lagoon Resort and Spa - and back to the dinghy for rest in the shade. At the waterside snack bar in Baie de Cook I met a Kiwi sailor from Wellington - and we had a good chat about getting here and where to next and so on - he plans t continue east and eventually make it to Chile! His crew have gone back home for the time being but his wife is expected to join him next week.

The thing that seems so amazing about this place, is that for the people who live here this is their home! They are so lucky, I almost wish I was French - its hard to imagine a place anywhere else on the planet more like a Garden of Eden. But, in spite of all that I am leaving tomorrow for Huahine - about 100 miles so I shall leave mid morning and arrive about the same time the next day. Surely it cant be as magnificent as this place?

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Friday, July 15, 2011


Last night a Swedish man rowed across to Sapphire to warn me that he might have entangled his anchor chain in mine. He could see I was making ready to depart in the morning - pulling the dinghy out, taking the shade screens off, putting my mainsail back on - but he explained that in the morning he had to go ashore to take his wife to the doctor very early but said if there were problems, they should be back by 9 or 10. Actually the water was so clear I had seen my anchor, the anchor buddy and all the chain at various times, and even the lines and patterns left in the sand by my chain so I assured him that I didnt think there would be a problem - and indeed this morning, there was none and I was motoring out of Marina Taina on a cloudless windless day by 0830. It felt great to be on our way again, even though we weren't sailing but motoring across towards Moorea , and I saw a turtle and a bizarre organism called - I think - a salp - a primitive creature about the size of a milk carton with a completely translucent body so that its innards are visible - something I have known about since my Zoology days but never before seen. A breeze slowly built till at last, after 3 hours I was able to switch the motor off and sail with a 12 to 14 knot breeze across the northern coast of Moorea and into Baie Opunohu, a place of legendary and breathtaking beauty on one of the worlds most beautiful islands, Moorea. I dropped anchor inside the reef at 2.30 pm and haven't done a lot since other than check my anchor is holding, and put the dinghy back in the water but I haven't been ashore or even had a swim. One would of course prefer to have Paradise to oneself, but unfortunately that cant happen, so there are another 15 or so yachts in this reasonably confined sandy anchorage. I'm 75 metres from a coconut palm shaded beach which was busy all afternoon with families picnicking and swimming, and at the far eastern end is one of those tourist places consisting of lines of thatched roof chalets snaking out onto the reef. At the other end the beach curves round a point and continues up into the bay at the head of which are those massive rock walls, cliffs and spires and jagged ridges that give this place its magnificence. A huge P&O liner - "Pacific Pearl" occupied one little bay but has now departed, for Bora Bora I would imagine, having seen the direction it went once cleared through the pass in the reef.
So how good can it get? Ive had a great day, some very nice sailing and now I am going to finish my wine up on deck in the early darkness of the evening. And tomorrow? I'll decide in the morning! Au Revoir

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Au revoir Papeete

At last my sail has been repaired and I picked it up last night. Today I have to report to Immigration and the Port Captain in Papeete and let them know I am leaving Papeete tomorrow, for Moorea. And, really I have been here long enough - My view is that theres not really anything too special about Papeete - in fact, I dont really like it. The cost of everything was excessive - as I was warned - the bureaucracy is unfriendly and at least in Papeete there is a distinct feeling of there being two halves to the population - well off ex-pat french, and struggling Polynesians. This is not evident in Tubuai or Rurutu where the colonial presence is minimal, or well out of papeete itself, such as down south in Pueu, but here there are extremes of privilege alongside what looks like a polynesian underclass. This is at its extreme at the SuperYacht dock!  Evey Tahitian I asked about the French expressed quite open ambivalnce, almost resentment - and a feeling of being caught between the economic dependency on them, and a desire to be truly independent. They have a Tahitian President who is pro-independence but thre is a degree of  dissatisfaction with him as well.   Whatever....

The Dinghy Dock at Marina Taina
So today I will finish off getting supplies, roll up my sunshades and bring the dinghy on board to dry out before putting it away and tomorrow head for Moorea which will only take half a day. But tomorrow is Bastille Day so there will be things happenig throughtout the Teritory, but the Shops will be shut again!

Looking across to Moorea last night
Leaving for Moorea is the start of the return journey, which will be 6 or 7 trips of vaying lengths but nothing as testing as the Outward Leg ( I hope) There probably wont be any pics for a while as I will revert to posting from the Boat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thats Entertainment

Its Sunday again! Time is such strange stuff - at one and the same moment it seems to be racing by but taking for ever! So, as the buses are not running I am hanging round the marina and the boat doing chores - including washing, and Ive just end-for-ended the Jib sheets, and been round the boat in the inflatable scrubbing all the dried brown foam that surrounded the boat a few days ago and left a high tide mark. Later, as we've now had two hot days in a row and no rain, I'll be squirting a bit of goo round potential sources of leaks to try and reduce them a little - vain hope I know! I am also slowly restocking the boat - diesel and water are all topped up now - one manageable load from the Supermarket at a time - I'm after UHT milk and probably the most useful commodity, Paper Towels, today.

Yesterday I caught the bus into town and had lunch with Dino and Sasha at McDonalds - Sashas choice - And later we went and played Pool again and had a couple of beers, but after they went back to their boat I stayed in town , had an early dinner then went to watch dancing and singing and drumming at a temporary outdoor waterfront auditorium, its called Heiva, an annual cultural competiton. I went because I had been the previous night and it was so fantastic I decided to buy another ticket and go again. The performances are groups from round the Islands and are competing, from what I can tell in two categories. One is a sort of mass choir chanting - performed by maybe 40, mostly women dressed in that appalling Christian Missionary garb you see on Sundays throughout the 'evangelised" Pacific - a floral patterned cotton dress that goes from neck to wrists and down to the ground. They mostly sat on the ground in a big group nodding and swaying and singing a sort of chant without accompaniment. It was interesting shall we say, almost hypnotic! However in the other category, a cast of not thousands but certainly 100 or more performers were dressed in much more interesting traditional Tahitian costumes with colourful flowers, feathers fronds and leaves and amazing headware, showing lots of bare flesh - men and women - and accompanied by incredible traditional drumming, singing chanting and music making, and the spotlight on the narrator every so often while the cast changed costumes again and again. They enacted a story - that I could vaguely guess at but there were warriors and maidens and mortal combat and love interests. The drumming was breathtaking - those amazing polynesian rhythms-and the gorgeous women - and men it must be said - put on an action packed show that was unforgettably vibrant and sexy. Each groups performance lasted an hour and there were two of each category so it didnt finish till after 11pm by which time the Buses had stopped running. I set off to walk the 12km back, but was offered a lift the first night, and stuck my thumb out the second, and made it back to the boat within half an hour! I would have to say those two evenings were the Best Value for money in papeete by a long shot!

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Con Jobs?

Yesterday I decided to go and see what it was the sailmaker was worried about with my sail and for which he recommended a repair costing nearly $500. I took the bus int Papeete and then had a long walk through the Port Industrial area to API Yachting and I met the guy, Christophe who showed me how the Leach Tape was degraded and cracking and would easily split when he bent it. (The Leach tape - as I have now learned - is the tape, about 3cm wide, sewn over the trailing edge of the sail) This was another of those situations where I simply had to accept what the presumed expert was advising me - but ti cold easily be one of things that someone else would look at and dismiss as something to watch in the future! However I do recall many a time between NZ and Rurutu being glad I had accepted the advice in Opua to get the keel taken off and properly re--attached! So I just bit the Bullet and urged to him to get on with it.

After that, I walked back round into the city, where I was loudly hailed by a guy playing Pool at an open air Pub - "Hey, you're a sailor aren't you?" he said in an American Accent. Yes, I said and he then asked me to stop and have a beer with him as he was a sailor too, he said we could talk sailing shit and play pool and have a beer! So I did, and it was more beer and pool than talking sailing shit, but it was great just to have someone to chat to for once in English, and he had a surprising story to tell. He was more than half way through his second circumnavigation (ie round- the-world trip) after nearly ten years, in a 41 foot yacht. He introduced me to his crew, a girl called Sasha who was sitting nearby, doing some Crochet, but she was hardly noticeable, as she was only 10 - his daughter! Six years before her mother had been killed in a car crash in the States, but they continued on. The dad, Deano he called himself - made Documentary films of his travel! Sasha was quite remarkably level headed and sweet, wise beyond her years and uncomplaining, but devoted to her Poppa as she called him. In fact though he sounded like an American he was Swedish, and Sasha told me her mum was a Russian but she had been born in Colorado where other relations still live. She also said that sometimes they get an extra crewmember but when their Electric autopilot broke down between the Tumotus and Tahiti, it was only her and her dad so she steered the boat for a total of 27 hours. Amazing kid!

This morning I met two more English speaking people - Stephen and Heidi - they rowed over to Sapphire to talk, Stephen having reconised her as an EastCoast 31, a yacht he had sailed in for several years in Sydney, and which his father had raced in the 70"s. They are heading back to Australia via NZ having already sailed from Australia a few years ago to Canada, Heidis homeland. They plan to visit more or less the same places I am going to, except from Tonga they will head for the Bay of Islands, so I hope we will run in to each other along the way and swap info. Their boat is a Brolga 33, similar vintage to Sapphire, same type of yacht as Berrimilla, a well known Sydney yacht that has circumnavigated twice via the Horn and recently sailed from the Pacific to the Atlantic over the top of Canada as the summer ice is melting and opening up the Northwest passage, thanks to Global Warming. Berris crew are two remarkable men in the 60"s who maintained an exceptionally interesting Blog of their voyages. (Google them if youre interested)

After Stephen and Heidi left I took my 4 empty Diesel containers into the Superyacht dock to refill with diesel. I could have done this a week ago as I had emptied them all into the tank, but waited till now because I have paid my Bond at last, and this entitles me to Tax free diesel. But would you believe it - you can't get it if you're putting the diesel into containers unless they're on the Yacht. I was gravely advised that people might sell the diesel later and make a profit! What stupid Bloody Bullshit!
So I just paid the normal price - I wasn't going to up-anchor, and motor over to the dock and back just to save 2000Francs ( $25)

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anticlockwise Tour on Wrong side of the road

I decided to hire a car for two days as one would have meant there was only time for a mad dash south to visit the Paul Gauguin museum.  So on Sunday I ended up walking in the sweltering heat with two small backpacks all the way to the Airport and the Europcar Depot as there were no public bus services, something that became obvious to me after a long wait at a Bus Stop. (It was interesting at the Bus Stop because there were 4 men there, initially I thought to be waiting for a bus but I realized soon enough one of them had set up a little stall - but all 4 were engaged in a very lively debate about something deeply Theological, each at various times rummaging about in their Bibles for verses which they then quoted at the others with an air of triumph and a satisfied smile - only then to start another round of rummaging and quoting from the others! - it was all in French so I didn't know what it was they were talking about but the guy next to me was reading from Ezekiel ) Anyhow, I decided to also book some accommodation down that way and stay a night then return at a more leisurely pace. The Europcar lady was really helpful and rang around and found me a place at Pueu Village so off I went, - driving on the right hand side of the road - heading down the western coast. The Paul Gauguin Museum was interesting, - no original works of course - and all the displays fading and dusty. The road followed the coastline and I stopped at several places where there was public access to the beach - and there, people were having picnics in the sgadde and some were swimming or boogy board riding, and at one place there were a few surfers as well. The beaches were quite exposed and windy.

Looking back at Tahiti Iti and Pueu
So I proceeded to Pueu ( Poo-air -oo ) If you look at a map of Tahiti you will see it is almost two separate islands, the northern and largest, almost circular, Tahiti Nui is joined to its southern partner Tahiti Iti - shaped like a tear drop- by a narrow isthmus. Pueu is on the eastern coastline of Tahit Iti and this part of Tahiti is quite wonderful. It is much less densely inhabited, hardly built up, overwhelmingly Polynesian, and of course wonderfully tropical, fragrant and lush with only a very narrow coastal rim that isn't densely covered in bush and precipitously steep and rugged. If I were to settle in Tahiti, this is where I would want to be - it has a much more natural and Polynesian and unaffected feel to it.

My accommodation was a bungalow by the beach - coral with colourful fish swimming through it was literally 50 feet from where I would sit, in the Bungalow overlooking the lagoon but well shaded by coconut and other trees. Victor, the owner, a lovely Tahitian man in his late 60's had asked me where I was from, shortly after arrival and after telling him he lifted up his Hawaiian style shirt and showed me the thick scar running down the centre of his chest - a surgical scar from heart surgery he had in Auckland a year or two ago - so he was very fond of NZ! There were no other guests - there's only 4 bungalows - and that night Victor and his wife invited me to have dinner with them.Their home was like a large shed only metres from the lagoon, open on the side facing the sea except for a wide verandah which includes the space where his 4WD is kept. We had a lovely meal on that verandah by the 4WD of fish, rice and salad , carrots and potato. Their daughter and her son were also there.

Such delightful people
The next morning yesterday - I packed all my stuff, and was about to load up the car when I thought - what am I leaving for? It is wonderful here, relaxing, quiet, friendly… I went to ask Victor if I cold stay a second night - and of course he said yes, and at a reduced rate, and come for dinner again tonight at half past 6! His wife called out that she would make Poisson Cru, just for me! So I stayed, only driving to the nearest town for supplies and to visit the ATM , and walking the local roads but mostly I sat outside my Bungalow near the water reading "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens - trying to remedy some of the many deficiencies in my woefully inadequate "education" .And we had another wonderful dinner together with much laughing and joking. We drank nice French red wine that I had bought.
The waters Edge at the Bungalows

This morning they insisted I have breakfast with them - exquisite papaya, bread and coffee - but I had to get going at 8 to give me time to do a little sight seeing on the way back. And so I continued the anticlockwise Tour of Tahiti, stopping to marvel at the coastline on the eastern side where there appears to be a greater rainfall and less habitation - like the West Coast in NZ, the prevailing wind comes up against high mountains and drops its rain.

 There were numerous impressively deeply gouged out ravines clad in dense bush, and then as the road wound round to the northern end, return of sunshine and blue sky, and ultimately the City again. I stopped at Venus Point, named and made famous by Captain Cook, and returned the car, unscratched, at 11.30. I walked back to the Marina but called in at couple of little supermarkets on the way, just to be cooled by their Air Con. I already had water so I didn't buy anything!

Point Venus ( The Tower went up a century aftrer Cook was there)
Va'a Storage
I rang the sailmaker. It might be ready by Friday so I will give him a ring but he warned me it was more likely to be ready Monday or Tuesday which seems like forever away. And, as I had been expecting, given that EVERYONE warned me how expensive things would be in Tahiti - his quote was hellishly expensive! Such is the capitalist way when you have a Monopoly! I daresay he's used to Superyacht jobs and isn't really interested in my tiny problem.
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Guilty as charged

When I was struggling to make it to the Austral Isles last month one of my good friends wrote saying she felt almost guilty to be living in a nice safe house and sleeping in a dry bed when I was having such a tough time of it, sodden bed and all. So I suppose now its my turn to feel a bit guilty, as I am on a tropical island, lazing about reading, snacking, diving off the boat to cool down and going shopping and doing pretty much whatever I please while lots of you guys are having to go to work and endure winter cold and rain. Tonight I sat in the cockpit as the sun disappeared behind Moorea and watched the golden clouds on the horizon become increasingly and intensely orange and the sky behind merging into pale green blue and black. I ate fresh French bread with huge slices of soft and mellow Brie, and started drinking the one bottle of wine I brought with me, a quite decent Merlot. And then, remembering my IPOD Mini for the first time in many months I switched it on and listened to one of my all time favorite albums, St Dominic's Preview by Van Morrison, This album was first released in 1972 and Ive been listening to it ever since. It was a pretty lovely evening and there are going to be a few more Like it I expect. I'll try to feel a little bit guilty....

However it hasn't been all play today - my fresh water pump has been making weird noises of late, and the water flow has been weak so this morning, early , I decided to investigate and so undid all the hoses and what-have -you, and sucked and blew through them to see if they were blocked.. Eventually it seemed the water filter was clogged up so I took it on the bus into town and eventually, quite remarkably, found the exact same model in an out of the way marine supplies shop. I also returned to the Tourist Bureau to ask about visiting the Paul Gauguin museum and was almost laughed out of the building! There are no regular buses and its 60km from town - the guy in the bureau suggested I read about him on the internet! Ive decided my best option is to Hire a Car for a day it would seem so I will investigate that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I have installed the new Filter and all is good, except that the boat is a shambles inside as Ive emptied out all the lockers and storage places so they can dry out, and their contents are piled up all over the place inside. I guess I'll put them all back tomorrow….or whenever…:

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Various Boats

Lining up to admire Sapphire
Manpower vs Horsepower in papeete Harbour
Superyachts at Marina Taina
More Superyachts

Another Super Yacht