Having fun in Mo’Orea

Early Friday afternoon we headed over to James and Mary’s water bungalow for our final get together.   This was supposed to be a quick visit as they had to leave very early the following morning but, despite good intentions, we ended up staying out quite late and were also joined by their neighbours Bob and Anna.   At one point Richard even returned to Morphie to get more supplies and put anchor lights on.  Was a really good evening!   Shame they had to leave us, but I know we’ll see each other again some day. 

Oh yes, and remember the picture of me surrounded by giant ferns on our day out in Mo’Orea?   Well what we didn’t know at the time was that they are poisonous….and I got contact rashes on both of my arms.    My right arm is feeling a lot better now – thanks to James and Mary’s medical knowledge and potions – but still looks pretty awful even after 10 days!      

Saturday morning we were up at a reasonable hour and got on with preparations for the final varnish coat.  Finally, around 2pm, we had finished.   We will need to do the whole rail again in a few months but the keepers will definitely protect the wood for now….and the eyebrow and under the rail will probably be OK for the rest of the season.   During the afternoon it decided to rain quite hard but, luckily, the varnish had dried enough that it didn’t get ruined so remains nice and shiny.    The rest of the day we spent on board just chilling out.

Sunday morning and we decided to have a lazy start.    We did the laundry and generally just mooched around and had a quiet day.    We were upset to receive an update that our friend’s boat which hit the reef in Huahine had been deemed unrepairable and they are now going to have to pay to get her off, to be made safe in terms of pollutants/hazards, and then sunk 13 miles away in international waters.   They are not insured and this is their home so our hearts goes out to them – after paying heavily for this final act (think in the region of US $75k) they then need to relocate the family and start again.   What an absolute nightmare situation to be in.

Monday morning we were up early and walked to the supermarket feeling like poor relatives as no one walks anywhere here, unless they are hiking into the hills.  We needed to restock our beer supplies as the last few social evenings had made a dent in our provisions.   We walked for about 30 minutes to the supermarket which was surprisingly big and well stocked.  

We enjoyed the views of the bay from the road and Richard decided I had to recreate the shape of one of the mountains which the locals think is a woman looking up to god….not sure it was a great likeness LOL.  When we arrived we also spotted a nearby dinghy dock attached to a snack bar – doh!!!   That could have made a bit of a difference….

We staggered back heavily laden towards the hotel….returned to Morphie and put everything away.    Later on we took ourselves off for lunch at the hotel – where we were joined by Bob and Anna – and then went to the pool for a final bobbing session before an early night.

Tuesday morning we were up very early as we had decided to go back to the supermarket and get more supplies – so stopped at the nearby dinghy dock, had breakfast pastries in the attached snack bar and met this cute little puppy who we would have happily adopted!   

We picked up more beer and soft drink supplies plus some fresh bread and a roast chicken for tea.   By 10 am we had picked up and worked our way out through the reef saying goodbye to the spectacular anchorage of Cook’s Bay.  

The wind was on the nose when we got out through the cut and there with a big swell running but we were only going five miles around the corner into Opunohu Bay…so we just motored.    We spotted the channel markers – surprised that they were inside the cut and not marking the entrance – and made our way into the anchorage opposite the public beach.   

The water was a beautiful blue and it was great to be able to anchor on sand in only 25 feet of water.    Richard made the most of it and snorkelled the anchor to check the set and cleaned the hull whilst he was there….I got ourselves organised and reinstalled our canvas etc.   This bay is huge and even a cruise ship doesn’t take up too much room LOL.

Later on we headed out in dink towards the Moorea Beach Resort and Spa – a Hilton hotel – and we were amazed at the coral heads showing through the azure blue water as black marks.   

We had to reverse and do a few 180s to find our way through but eventually arrived.   We had a look around the resort and had a cold beer……nice looking place, however, after five years of cruising we’re not sure that this type of holiday would suit us anymore…..

We returned to Morphie, dinked across to the beach, and had a nice bobbing session in the sea whilst watching the light fade on a stormy night.  

Wednesday morning we were up early and worked our way around Morphie in the dink – I did the stainless cleaning whilst Richard worked on removing the salt from her hull.    Was a hard day’s work but she sure looked lovely – the ‘patches’ are water reflecting on the shiny hull by the way.  Still some stainless work to be done but it was nice to give Morphie some care and attention. 

Later in the afternoon we took dink out for a run through a narrow channel.   We passed the Intercontinental Hotel nearly running around near their confusing reef markers, and finally reached our destination.   This is a shallow sandy area where tour boats feed stingrays and sharks each day and we wanted to see if it is was feasible for us to do the trip independently.  It was a long way – almost 4 miles – but a nice trip nevertheless.   We returned to Morphie and had a quiet night on board.   During the evening we found an internet hotspot and purchased some online time but the speed was appalling and we barely got our emails sorted in the hour that we were connected.  Grrrr….

Thursday morning and we were up early, got some tuna out of the freezer, and took off in dink towards Stingray City.   We dropped our anchor and almost immediately dink was being assaulted by these huge stingrays  who had come to check out the food on offer.  

Richard fed a few of them by hand as they climbed up the side of the dinghy and then he jumped in, wearing his mask and snorkel, for a closer look. Well, it was like an attack force!!!   They surrounded him and climbed all over him….eventually he threw the tuna away to get them to leave him alone LOL.   Oh yes, and they feel like velvet…not slimy at all.

In the meantime I took advantage of the action elsewhere to get in the water….and found myself surrounded by sharks instead.    Was a fantastic experience and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.   Interestingly we found the stingrays more threatening than the sharks once we were in the water….

On the way back to Morphie we marvelled at the clarity of the water – absolutely stunning.  

We got back on board, cleaned up and had breakfast, and talked about what to do next.  Well….the beautiful isolation of this anchorage is great….but there are no services whatsoever.  Not even a place to go ashore really other than beaching dink.   So we decided to pick up anchor and return to Cook’s Bay.

We arrived back around 1.15 pm and dropped the hook opposite the Bali Hai Hotel.  We caught up with the internet and then Richard took himself off to the gas station for more petrol while I started downloading photos.  

Later on we headed across to the hotel and sat on the veranda for a couple of cold ones – from our supplies as the bar shuts here at 2pm – and then wandered down the street to a restaurant we had spotted a previous day.   The food was surprisingly good and we enjoyed this lovely end to what had been a great day.

This morning, Friday, and we are going to do more shopping and hopefully some pool bobbing later.   Providing the weather gods are kind to us we plan to leave Mo’Orea late Saturday afternoon for an overnight passage of about 80 miles to Huahine.   In view of what happened to our friends we will be staying a long way offshore and will be extra cautious until we are certain of our entry point through the reef to our destination.   Obviously the tracker will be active so you can keep up with our progress. 

Bye for now


Mo’Orea to Tahiti to Mo’Orea

Saturday morning we got up early, secured dink at the hotel, and wandered across the road to the tour operator to await our pick up.   The 4WD open-backed truck arrived and we took off – we were the last people to be collected so we said hi to the all English-speaking group (New Zealand, USA and UK).

We immediately headed around the island and up Magic Mountain.   The path was paved and it went straight up with very tight switchbacks and huge drop offs – it looked barely big enough to carry us.   Then we parked up and had to walk up a very steep footpath to get to the top but it was definitely worth the effort as the scenery was spectacular looking over the reef and out to the deep water beyond. 

We drove back down the mountain to our next stop at the pineapple plantation.   They are really small here and you can eat everything including the core, all of which is very sweet and soft.  I was interested to see that they plant citronella bushes amongst the pineapples to ward off bugs.  

We then went to the agricultural college area – admiring spectacular mountain scenery along the way – where there was a little shop which offered us free tastings of jams and marmalades made from local produce.   We absolutely loved the pineapple and vanilla jam so that was a welcome addition to our boat stores.    Oh yes and the vanilla ice cream was stunning too!

We then moved on to visit the black sand bay of Opunoho which is beautiful and definitely on our list of potential anchorages…..its backdrop is another spectacular volcanic crater. Interestingly there is a prawn/shrimp farm here which supplies the whole island.  

Back in our trusty truck we headed up to the Belvedere lookout where you get more beautiful views across mountains and down to the two main bays of the island.  

On the way down the mountain from the lookout we went to visit a Marae (a Polynesian temple) and listened to the tales of sacrifice and the communication with the gods of the earth, sky and sea before the people converted to Christianity on the arrival of the London Society missionaries.   We wandered around the site and enjoyed checking out the huge trees and ferns.

Next stop was the local distillery where we tried a variety of rum-based pre-mixed cocktails – and ended up buying two one-litre cartons to take back on board.   The one we preferred was made with pineapple, passion fruit, orange and pamplemousse (grapefruit) which kept it from being too sweet.  I wanted to try the local pineapple wine but they didn’t offer this at the tasting and, at £30 a bottle, was a little expensive when we were unsure of its taste…so we decided not to purchase any.  I’m hoping to come across it somewhere further in our travels so I can actually get to taste it.

The final part of the tour was to a pearl shop which was opposite the Bali Hai – so rather than continue in the truck which was only now going to drop off the other tourists at their hotels – we decided to leave the tour at this point.   We returned to Bali Hai for lunch which was OK but the average food was more than made up for by the surroundings….including the chicken waiting patiently for handouts.  Morphie loves this anchorage!

Later on we bobbed in the pool until some kids turned up and played tag….so then went into the sea and bobbed there instead from the little beach.  We were joined by an Australian couple called Mary and James who we had a laugh with….they were guests in the hotel…..and they bobbed with wine while we continued drinking our beer.   It had been a great day.

Quite late, just before dark, we returned to Morphie to find that our batteries were very low.   We decided to run the engine rather than the generator as the sound doesn’t carry so far and we didn’t want to annoy our neighbours.   The engine started great….and the batteries improved….but didn’t go as high as they should have.   We went to bed hoping that they would last through the night – and I changed the settings on the fridge and freezer to ensure that they wouldn’t draw too much power.

During the flat calm of the night – this anchorage is so amazing it feels like you are sleeping on land – we awoke a couple of times and checked the batteries.   Well, they were fading fast, so I ended up switching the fridge and freezer off so that the Lifeline AGM batteries – which have a memory – didn’t get too low and end up damaged.

Very early Sunday morning we started the engine again.  This time the batteries did not respond – clearly something had gone wrong with our alternator / charging system.   Mindful of a meat-filled freezer we decided to return to Tahiti so that we could plug into shore power in the marina whilst troubleshooting the problem.

Decision made we picked up our anchor….and it got stuck!    We manoeuvred around a bit and, eventually, it came up.  Phew….     We then motored out of the pass and the battery charger kicked in so looked like an intermittent issue – and just turned towards Tahiti (still motoring) when the fan belt broke!   Richard went down to install a new one while I kept watch as we were being swept closer to the reef – eventually I decided that the waves were growing and the wind wasn’t that strong – so pulled out the genoa, went 90 degrees to the coast and sailed away giving us more wiggle room.   Richard surfaced having put a new fan belt on, we restarted the engine, and turned back towards Tahiti.   Phew!

We arrived at the marina and Bill – surprised to see us again so soon – came down to help us tie up.   We checked in and agreed to meet him later for Happy Hour.  We got busy washing Morphie down and plugged her in.  We also arranged for Guy to come by on Monday morning to help Richard do the trouble shooting.   We stripped the bed – might as well make the most of the access to washing machines whilst in the marina – and eventually had an early dinner, got ourselves cleaned up and headed to the Bora Bora lounge.   We had a nice few hours there chatting…..

Monday morning and Guy was due to arrive so I took myself off to the cruisers lounge along with the laundry….and persevered with the rubbish internet….trying to get on top of a few things.    Guy and Richard, in the meantime, could not replicate the charging fault.   So they decided to swap the alternator out for a new one – seems like we have used pretty much every spare we brought with us this year LOL.   I gave up on the internet, returned with the laundry and then took myself off shopping….and got some fresh bread, fruit and vegetables from the market.   I also got out some more drinking vouchers from the ATM.

Returning to Morphie I was pleased to find that everything was working as it should and Guy headed off.   Whilst in the engine compartment, though, they had noticed that a diesel fuel line was getting a bit worn so Richard headed off to buy some more hose while I put things away and tidied up.    Richard came back, fitted the hose, and we’re good to go.   We headed to the 3 Brasseurs, caught up with some more people and had a chat, then headed over to the Roulettes for another Chinese!   Fantastic food…..

Tuesday morning and we were up early and pulled away from Papeete Marina, Tahiti, hopefully for the last time!    The trade winds decided to switch on us so we ended up motoring the 19 miles right into the wind getting rolled around by the swell……   But we were delighted to be back out there again.   We pulled into Cook’s Bay, anchored in 70 feet of water this time, and decided to go out in dink.   Here’s the view of the Bali Hai from the cockpit.

We explored the bay, checked out a couple of hotels and restaurants, and even went behind the reef around the corner to a little village but failed to find anywhere to tie up and go ashore.   So we poodled back to Morphie and had a quiet night on board.

Wednesday morning and we decided that as this anchorage is so calm – apart from when we get buzzed by tourists on jet skis – we will do our varnishing here.   So we spent the morning going around the rail looking for ‘keepers’ and taped up.   In the meantime someone is shouting and waving at us from one of the water bungalows and it is Mary….   So we took ourselves over to see her and made arrangements to return later.

At around 4pm we took dink over to their water bungalow and had a lovely time catching up with them.    They were very pleased to see us again and it was nice to have company after a day’s work in the sun.    We took our own beer but they provided nibbles – we had a really good laugh – and they invited us back for a bobbing session on Thursday afternoon once we had finished our chores.

Thursday morning we were up early and were horrified to read that the American family we had first met in Panama and had been bumping into regularly along the way had hit a reef hard in Huahine in the night and had to be airlifted off the boat.   At this moment their large catamaran is still on the uncharted reef being bashed by waves and they are trying to find out whether it is salvageable.   Our heart goes out to them about the potential loss of their boat but just grateful that all seven of them are safe and well.   Fingers crossed it can be recovered and repaired so that they can continue their journey around the world….

In a sombre mood, we got on with rubbing down – all of the wood under the rail, the eyebrows and keepers only on the main rail.    We got this done and then Richard went round and varnished while I chilled for a while.   Later on I made some nibbles and we headed over for a bobbing session with Mary and James.   We had another lovely evening…..and they had made us promise to return on Friday as it is their last day before they head over to Tahiti.   They have a week booked on a crewed catamaran after that so you never know, we might still bump into them again!    And we have promised to visit them when we reach Australia…..

Friday morning we were up really early and rubbed down again trying to do most of the hard graft before the sun is high in the sky.    Richard finished under the rail while I started blogging….we’ve just had breakfast….and now he is varnishing while I get this finished.   Later on we are going to say our farewells to Mary and James but will be back on board before dark tonight as they need to pack and get ready for a very early start to the airport in the morning.   

Saturday will be the final varnishing day for now and then, once we have removed the tape, I want to go round and give the stainless some attention.    Not sure yet what we’ll do next but probably move to another anchorage on this beautiful island of Mo’Orea (its Polynesian spelling).

Bye for now


Tahiti to Moorea

Saturday night we headed into town and were tempted by the sounds coming from 3 Brasseurs – there was a live band on so we found a table and settled down to watch their performance.  They were really good….singing a range of songs from local Tahitian through to reggae and hard rock.   Excellent!    The guy in the front of the photo, apparently, is a groupie that follows the band around and dances all night.  Bill had been to see the Heiva show and joined us later for a beer.   Was another fun night in Papeete.

Sunday we had a quiet day on board cleaning and tidying and didn’t venture out at all apart from to the marina lounge to catch up on emails etc.   Oh yes…and remember the heavily-armed gendarmes who were looking for GoldenAge in Hiva Oa??   Well, looks like the law caught up with them – the word on the street is that it is up for sale as it has been confiscated by the authorities!!!  

Monday morning and we hit the shops again.   First stop was the internet café where we managed to get our printing and copying done – hugely expensive – but we are set all the way to New Zealand now with just a few boxes to fill in by hand when they are known.    Relieved that is out of the way.    Oh yes and I bought some pearls!!!!!   Sadly couldn’t afford these amazing designs.   But Christmas is coming…..

Back on board Richard finished his anchor locker project – it looked really good.  In the afternoon we spent some time doing some navigation and weather studying in preparation for our future passages.  We’ve identified islands we fancy visiting including a couple of uninhabited reef atolls on the way.  Everything is weather dependent especially as we will be crossing the ‘Dangerous Middle’ which is subject to the vagaries of the South Pacific Convergence Zone which is a moving area full of high winds and thunderstorms.   The knack is to identify where it is….so we’ve been boning up on that as we get ready to start moving on again.

In the evening we went out with Bill for dinner at the 3 Brasseurs – great food – and huge pitchers of beers.    We had a fun time but managed to get Bill a bit tipsy and had to walk him back to his boat later.   Oops LOL!

Tuesday we had a quiet day on board after the partying of the last few days and did a few boat jobs before having a movie night.    Appropriately, considering where we are, we watched Walt Disney’s Moana.   It is a great animated film about the people of this region with recognisable dancing, hand movements and traditional songs.   The giant magic fish hook even appeared in one of the dances we saw at the Heiva….so well done Disney for authenticity.

Wednesday morning I did laundry and we went shopping for the final time.    Later on Richard went up the mast to install a new block for our safety line which we will also use to lift dink onto the bow and to check our rigging. 

All being well we then headed into town for a final bit of sightseeing.   We enjoyed the street art….

We also visited the Catholic Cathedral where the flowers were stunning….

Oh yes…did I tell you about the large numbers of homeless people sleeping rough in Papeete?  I think this local guy is just sleeping off his excesses though LOL.

Later on we headed over to the Bora Bora Lounge for a mini Island Packet rendezvous with Linus and Janet with their daughter Sophie, Bill and ourselves.   Later on we headed over to the Roulettes where we enjoyed our final Chinese meal and said our farewells to Bill.

Thursday morning we got up early and used the last of our credit on the dock to give Morphie a wash down.   At 10 am we slipped away from our slip towards Moorea having got clearance to exit through the Papeete Pass.   

We said our sad farewells to Tahiti and, once we had cleared the pass and were out in open water, we did a seatrial calibration of our autopilot.   So if you were wondered why our track was a little weird that’s why LOL.  

Was a little swelly out there…..here was another boat (coincidentally an Australian-registered Island Packet) coming towards us….watch him disappear…..

We admired the coastline of Moorea before heading through the reef into the bay.

Cook’s Bay  – named after Captain Cook who arrived here in his square rigger in 1777 – is absolutely spectacular!  

We motored around a bit looking for shallower water and eventually dropped our hook in 60 foot of water in the middle of the bay opposite the Bali Hai Hotel.   Richard’s project worked perfectly so thankfully no worries about the anchor chain hitting the windlass motor in future.   Good job!   We had a quiet afternoon and evening on board just enjoying the solitude and the peace and quiet after the noise of Papeete.

Friday morning we got dink off the bow, cleaned and pumped him up, got the outboard off the rail and reinstated it.    Everything worked as it should thankfully.   We headed across to the hotel – checked out the restaurant and the pool – and then wandered the street. 

We found a Chinese supermarket but were too late to get fresh bread this being a holiday – Bastille Day.   We enjoyed the view of the bay from the road and, having found a tour company, booked a 4WD tour into the mountains for tomorrow. 

We then returned to Morphie for a quiet afternoon on board.   We are very happy that, for the first time in a long while, we actually have free internet from the hotel as we are close enough to pick up the signal.   It is very slow and spotty but definitely an improvement LOL.

Morphie is happy here in this beautiful place…check out these photos of her at anchor.

We are planning an early night tonight in preparation for our day out tomorrow.   While I’m sitting in the cockpit typing this I can hear singing from shore where a choir are clearly practising for their slot in the Heiva competition.   What a lovely distraction!   

Bye for now


Having fun in Papeete, Tahiti

Sunday was boat cleaning day so we cleaned and tidied before heading out for Happy Hour.   Whilst there we caught up with a Swiss couple whom we had previously met in Hiva Oa – amazing stories from cruising Patagonia, Chile and Brazil – and they’ve only been out for three years!  We had a nice social evening.  

Monday morning we headed off to see our agent – who turned up late and had forgotten to get our inter-island clearance for us.   This is needed before we can leave to explore the other Society Islands.    Never mind – best laid plans and all that.   By this time it was late so our plans to head to the French restaurant near Carrefour for breakfast and internet had been thwarted.   So instead we headed to the municipal building armed with supplies from the supermarket along the way.  We made camp and that is pretty much where we stayed for the day.   We had a long list of documents that we needed to download so that we can fill them in and send them off in advance of our future destinations – bureaucracy gone mad!!!    Check out the size of the welcome pack from New Zealand as an example.

About four we decided we had had enough – despite not completing the list of tasks that we had set ourselves – and headed back to Morphie.   We got ourselves cleaned up and went to the Dinghy Dock for Happy Hour.    There was a large family group of locals who were singing, dancing and just generally having fun.  Their melodies were fabulous…..we thoroughly enjoyed listening to them….and they clearly enjoyed entertaining the audience. 

Tuesday we did exactly the same as Monday camping out at the municipal building.   Finally, by the end of the day, we felt like we had enough information from a variety of cruiser compendiums, additional pilot guides, online chartlets for anchorages etc as well as finding a great app specifically for Tonga with local knowledge.    Pilot guides and charts in this region are sketchy and our main book – Warwick Clay’s South Pacific Anchorages – although recommended and we have one on board we are not keen.    

On top of our continued internet frustrations our printer decided to quit as it has no ink in the yellow printer cartridge even though I only want to print in black – a safety feature apparently and despite online workarounds – including changing the driver – none of them would work for me.   Very frustrating when the black cartridge is full to the brim as I only swapped it out earlier in the season.   That means no photocopying either but, at least, we can still scan.   After another tiring day in front of our screens we took ourselves off for Happy Hour and had a good time despite being caught by Carl the constantly-drunk single-hander LOL.

Wednesday morning we picked up our inter-island clearance document and headed to Carrefour for a final shop.   We had lunch at the French restaurant first, this place does great food, and returned to Morphie with additional beer and soft drink supplies.   We put all the shopping away, did the laundry, and final preparation for the morning including engine checks – as we were finally leaving Marina Taina after almost a month!  Woo hoo – very excited….    Well, we wandered in for happy hour, had a couple and then walked back to Morphie but got enticed to the Pink Coconut by the music we could hear and it was our favourite group again doing another set.  So we settled down and enjoyed the music until they finished at ten.

Thursday morning we were up early, paid the hefty marina bill, phoned the Papeete Marina to confirm they had space for us and headed out into the channel admiring the scenery and the colours of the water as we went.   We sought Port Captain authority to pass both ends of the runway – this is very carefully controlled – and we were just through when a plane took off.   

We finally pulled into the marina having travelled a huge five miles or so LOL.   We pulled into a slip, got settled and I went and checked in.  All sorted except that, apparently, the slip we are in is ‘too big’ for us so they asked us to move.   So we moved…..and got settled again into another ‘smaller’ slip.   So much for first come first served eh?!? 

Later on in the afternoon we got ourselves cleaned up and headed towards the House of Culture where the tickets for the Heiva festival where being sold and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the boardwalk areas along the way.     

Heiva pays tribute to the Polynesian traditions; their harmony with nature; and the transmission to future generations.   It is a huge event and attracts contestants from many Polynesian islands and countries.   There are dance, chant and singing competition nights with both sports events and arts and crafts competitions going on in different districts / islands throughout the day.   We managed to get two side-view tickets in the stadium for £15 each for Friday night’s singing and dancing competition and then wandered through the artisan village admiring the local crafts – largely shell and pearl jewellery plus traditional clothes.   I loved watching the old lady making the flowered headdresses…

We then stayed in To’ata Squre as there was a dance group from Papua New Guinea starting the event.  This was a mix between melodic harmonies and fancy hand movements through to war-like chanting not dissimilar to the New Zealand Hakka especially the sinister head twerking!  The group was mixed in ages from toddlers through to middle-aged men – was an absolutely fantastic spectacle.

After the show everyone moved into the stadium for the Heiva opening ceremony and we wandered the promenade back to the marina – admired the sights particularly of the sun setting over Moorea – and then took ourselves off to the square where the Roulettes (food trucks) set up each evening.   We chose one, sat down and had a great Chinese meal sitting on the square watching the world go by….armed with a Coke and a Fanta LOL.  

We then returned to Morphie and had a couple of cold beers in the cockpit listening to the sound of some popular tunes being slaughtered by the participants in the Karaoke bar opposite our slip.

Friday morning and we headed out early – on the lookout for printer cartridges and New Zealand dollars.    We hadn’t realised that the Cook Islands – our next destination if weather permits – have, allegedly, ATM problems so we need to ensure we have some cash on our arrival, just in case.  No banks had any so we gave up and while I returned to Morphie Richard took off to revisit Home Depot and another hardware / chandlery in the industrial area.  On his travels he found a Bureau de Change – so ordered some NZ $ for later – and also found out that there is an Office World here in Papeete.  

After lunch, allowing for the shops to reopen, we headed back into town and came across the municipal market where we admired the range of fresh produce and beautiful flowers on sale.   We also checked out some jewellery shops as I’m on a mission to get a black pearl whilst here – apparently cultured pearls have been over-produced in recent years so the prices are lower than normal.    So we went into a store that was linked to a pearl farm and found out all about the shapes, the sizes and the quality.  Interestingly, the difference – despite the huge price differential – isn’t really that obvious to the inexperienced eye unless they have obvious flaws or lack lustre.

We picked up our NZ $ so felt happy about that but completely failed on the printer cartridges.  However, we did find an internet café who would be happy to print / copy for us.   So looks like I’ll be filling in forms for a few days LOL.

We came back to Morphie for an early dinner / late lunch and headed out to the stadium, admiring another beautiful sunset on the way, for the 6pm start.  

We took our seats and were surprised that the stadium was half-empty.   It started filling a bit more….but considering there were only five seats left in the whole place when we brought ours…it did seem strange.   Anyway….the first dance group arrived…hundreds of them.   And people came to watch and then left so we think most of the seats were taken up by family members just watching their own people perform – lots of shouting out of names etc.   The performance went on for about an hour and then we had two chant / choir events before the final dance performance.    The no camera / no filming rules were strictly regulated so we weren’t able to get any of our own footage but I’ve shamefully borrowed the following images of last night’s event from the official site.   The evening was amazing….truly amazing…. 

At around 10 pm the show was over and we went in search of food and drink.   We ended up having a few beers in the Bora Bora lounge and caught the last 15 minutes of the international rugby which was quite exciting and we were delighted to see the Lions get a draw against the All Blacks.    We carried on drinking……and enjoyed the karaoke for a while too.  

It was interesting that the majority of the party goers heading upstairs to the Bora Bora’s night club were Rae-Rae (pron. Wee wees).  You may be surprised to know that there are huge numbers of cross-dressers and transvestites here in French Polynesia.  Rae-rae are the contemporaries of ‘Ma-hu’, Polynesian men of yesteryear who dressed like women because of their effeminate natures.   As a respected segment of Tahitian culture – whose presence dates back hundreds of years – they often took on the roles of servants, cooks and nannies because of their convivial nature and aptitude for domesticity.   Unlike the ladyboys in Thailand Rae-rae are not involved in the sex industry but are usually found working in the service / tourist industry.   We finally tore ourselves away around 3am…had been a very long day.

This morning, Saturday, and I’m blogging in the Tourist Office – as the internet is down in the marina – and Richard is in the anchor locker constructing a barrier so that the anchor chain cannot hit the new windlass motor on its way up and down…..   Later on we are going to explore some more of Papeete’s night life.  

Bye for now


Exploring the Tahitian Outback

Sunday morning we had a lazy start and were in a buoyant mood as all the repair jobs had been completed.  We worked hard and got the laundry done as well so finally Morphie was clean and tidy again down below.  And that was it, pretty much, for the rest of the day although we did head over to the Pink Coconut later in the evening when we heard some great music….  Unusually it was very quiet so we managed to get a table and settled down to listen to the guy.   He had a superb voice and we thoroughly enjoyed his set. 

Monday morning we were up early and headed out to see our agent – the FedEx parcel had arrived in Tahiti so we wanted to chase up when we might get it.    We then headed down the main drag towards Carrefour and hopped onto a really decrepit bus to take us to Papeete.  We had a long list of things we wanted to get so this was really a day for wandering the industrial area where we found Ace Hardware and the main chandlery – both of which were actually a bit disappointing.  Fancy a chandlery not having any wax!?!   Was good to see the fishing fleet though….

Whilst we were in Papeete we checked out the new downtown marina and spoke to the manager – there are no reservations as it is run on a first-come first-served basis.  He gave us his telephone number so we could call before we head that way to make sure there is room – there are no anchoring options nearby so it is definitely best to check before we commit to leaving our current spot.  

Whilst wandering the docks we came across Sea Bear who we had last seen in the Galapagos – so went and said hi to Chris and his friend Wendy who had just flown in from the UK.   We were surprised to be able to walk right up to boats but it turns out there had been a power failure so the security access gates were all open….

Anyway….we wandered back to the main town….admiring the peaks of the volcano behind.  Finally we ended up in the Bora Bora lounge having a cold one…..before returning to the bus stop to catch the last bus back to the marina which runs at 4.30pm.   Our initial impression of Papeete was that it was scruffy and slightly run down with poor quality housing – but with some great street art.   We are looking forward to exploring properly another day….and we’re also quite keen on visiting the street food trucks that fill up the boardwalk at night.

Tuesday morning and I didn’t feel too good so Richard busied himself with boat jobs all day while I rested up.    During the day we had a visit from the manager of a marina in Opua, New Zealand.  They had come over to present to the Puddle Jump rally – so he talked to us about his marina and we are quite interested in staying / hauling there.  We know that the Oyster Rally are heading to New Zealand too so we want to make sure that we have a slot booked – so we have sent a couple of emails to different marinas asking for quotes and availability so that we can then make a decision.   Think we need to do this sooner rather than later.   

We’ve also talked to a number of people who have done the run south and back many times before and all of them felt we should miss Fiji this season – instead we should spend the time exploring the many hundreds of islands in the Tongan chain.   New Zealand is then a straight shot if we get the right weather window and catch a norther.  The run back up to Fiji from New Zealand is a better wind angle too so looks like we have made a decision!  

Wednesday morning and the parcel arrived – woo hoo!    So we now have a working drill again, a spare autopilot data cable and a control head.  We took our other gas bottle in for a partial refill as we want to leave here with two full bottles not knowing where we can get them filled again.    Then we took the long walk to Carrefour for a big provisioning run.    We bought a lot of fresh meat for the freezer and a few other things we wanted to try – like Duck Cassoulet.    There was too much to carry so we pushed the trolley all the way back to Morphie, unpacked, and returned the trolley to the superyacht dock where there is a small supply of them parked neatly in the corner by the gate.   I think Carrefour must come by and pick them up every now and again…..

Later in the afternoon, we decided to test the spare autopilot control head that had just arrived as it had been purchased second-hand from eBay.   We were delighted that it worked perfectly.  But as we tested it something went ‘clang’ in the lazarette.   We quickly checked and were horrified to see that the new autopilot arm had parted.  OMG – really?!?   But on investigation it was apparent that the factory had welded only one end and that it had just pulled out.  Very relieved but now we need to solve this latest issue….   Sigh…..   So glad we tested the unit before we left the dock!

Later on we went to Happy Hour and met Chris and Wendy.  Was good to catch up over a few cold ones….. 

Thursday was a really hot sunny day and we never had any pressing jobs to do.  We had also found out it was a public holiday so everything was shut – so we just stayed on the boat reading and relaxing.   We were so lazy we couldn’t even be bothered to go out for happy hour LOL.

Friday morning and we got up early in preparation for our safari expedition.  And, of course, it was raining!!!   We debated whether to go or not – as we hadn’t actually paid at this point – but decided that wouldn’t be fair and another rainy day on the boat would drive us both crazy!    So we got out our pack-a-macs and headed across to meet our 4WD vehicle.   It arrived promptly at 8.45 and we piled in the back of the truck with two tourists in it already….then we stopped at another hotel….and another….  Eventually we had a diverse gang of French, American and Australian tourists.   The Australian women were here in Tahiti competing in an international outrigger rowing competition – they had just won gold for an 18k ocean race.   Totally unaware this was going on – apparently there is a squad from the UK here too – we didn’t even know this was a sport we participated in!   

Anyway…in the pouring rain with the plastic sides pulled down to keep us dry in the back….we headed off for about an hour around the north coast of Tahiti towards the Pampanoo valley.  To start with the road was a single concrete track winding up and down and through some mining operations and hydro-electric power stations.    Then we moved onto unmade tracks towards the interior of the island where our first destination was the centre of the volcanic crater.     

The rain had diminished a little bit and we were rewarded by views of loads of waterfalls crashing down into the river below – and we actually drove across the river bed a couple of times despite the quite strong current running.    The hills rose majestically with dense rain forest and the views were spectacular.

Finally we stopped at the centre of the volcanic crater where there is a reconstructed traditional Polynesian village where people come from Tahiti – particularly camps for youngsters – or from other Polynesian areas, such as Hawaii.   They live as their ancestors did having to hunt wild boar and goats, fish, collect water, make fires and live communally.   It was interesting to see – with the one nod to modernity in the provision of bathrooms – and to hear the tales of the spirits of the wind, the earth and the sky.   Plus their continued teaching of celestial navigation using art…..it is important to remember these proud people arrived here as fearless sailors on their sea canoes in a wave of migration from South East Asia over 30,000 years ago.      

Then we got the gory details when they used to sacrifice humans – by eating their flesh they believed that they gained the power from them.   And in this village is an original stone where sacrifices were conducted.  And we both thought it still looked a shade red from the bloodletting!!!    Apparently the influx of the London Missionary Societies in the late 1700s stopped this practice as they introduced Christianity to the people of Tahiti.   We then went to look at an original temple and were introduced to some native plants – including the “ta-it-ti” fruit which is dried, burnt to carbon, ground down and, when mixed with coconut oil, makes the jet black ink for their tattoos.   Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable about everything Polynesian.

After this interesting cultural part of the trip we continued further up the mountain to a hotel on the top where we had a local lunch – Richard tried the Tahitian national dish of raw fish in coconut milk while I took the safer option of curried goat.    After resting up we then climbed back into the truck.   Sadly our driver said that, because of the rainy weather, we would not be able to swim at any of the waterfalls.  That was a shame…..  We also glimpsed a rescue helicopter searching the area – not good!

We continued to climb up and up towards the summit – the road was now just a mud track and the angle was pretty precarious.   People started getting a bit nervous especially when we realised that the driver spent most of his time looking up for landslides!   Then we turned a corner and were confronted with a basalt tunnel which was an extraordinary sight.   Having passed through we were onto more mud and we slithered down the hill to see the lake Vaihiria which had been created by a rockslide.   This lake was the ancestral home of the sacred eel which is black with blue eyes – although none have been sighted for a number of years now. 

Having taken our photos we then climbed back in the truck and reversed the trip all the way back out to the north coast of Tahiti – this was a long arduous journey in the rain as by now the hard seats and back rails were giving all of us an uncomfortable ride.

We stopped, briefly, on the north coast so we could watch some surfing action on the black sand beaches as the light faded.   And then it was a trip back to the marina dropping people off as we went.    We didn’t get back until about 6.30 pm so returned to Morphie pretty tired and had an early night.    

This morning, Saturday, and Richard has just been to see Michel in the small on-site chandlery.   He helped him reassemble the autopilot arm so the old one has now been reinstalled and everything is operational again.    The new one needs welding – planned for Monday – and will then become our spare.   Phew!

The weather remains pretty cloudy and miserable today and, after yesterday, I think we’ll rest up although Richard has just gone off on the bus to Mr Bricolage while I’m blogging.   Sunday is laundry and cleaning day again….    On Monday our agent is bringing us our inter-island clearance documents so we can head to Papeete marina on Tuesday (if they have room).  We’ll then explore the capital properly and look forward to sampling some of the night life.  I’m particularly interested in the food trucks that fill a public space each evening near the marina.   Next stop will be to head over to Cook’s Bay in Moorea when we have had our fill of Papeete and we’re really looking forward to swimming, snorkelling and bobbing again!   It feels good to be finally enjoying French Polynesia having sailed 4,000 miles to get here from Panama…..     

Bye for now