Elevation - World Adventures

An occasional blog covering our world circumnavigation.

19 September 2017 | Bora Bora
15 September 2017 | The Society Islands, French Polynesia
03 September 2017 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
02 September 2017 | Western Australia
31 July 2017 | M'oorea, French Polynesia
14 July 2017 | Papeete, Tahiti
03 July 2017 | Pacific
02 July 2017 | Pacific
30 June 2017 | Pacific
30 June 2017 | Pacific
29 June 2017 | Pacific
20 June 2017 | Nuku Hiva
13 June 2017 | Pacific
12 June 2017 | Pacific
11 June 2017 | Pacific
11 June 2017 | Pacific
09 June 2017 | Pacific
09 June 2017 | Pacific
08 June 2017 | Pacific

French Polynesian Beauty

19 September 2017 | Bora Bora
As a child of the 60's, I grew up in a household where an exotic print of a Polynesian maiden was boldly displayed on the lounge room wall. I often thought it was odd that we had such a dusky beauty gracing our abode although I never once questioned how she came to be there. She disappeared during a decorating spree by my parents during the 1980's and before we arrived in French Polynesia, I had not considered her in years. My curiosity was rekindled in Nuku Hiva and with the aid of Google, I've discovered that her name is Tina; she was painted in 1961 by British artist Joseph Henry Lynch and mass-produced prints were sold in Woolworths and various other stores. Whilst not as luscious as Gauguin's vahines, Tina radiates a shy and exotic charm and it's kind of sad to think of her being no longer fashionable and unceremoniously discarded.

Both Paul and I have been overwhelmed with the natural beauty of these many varied islands, her people and her exotic flora. We've loved all our interactions with locals - the casual "Ia Orana" greetings from strangers as we pass by them on the streets, irrespective of location, go a long way to indicate that everyone is welcome here. Even where there have been language issues, primarily due to our almost non-existent French, we've felt in tune and have been able to communicate through a mix of Frenglish, mime and Google Translate. We've enjoyed shopping for fresh produce at local markets and roadside stalls. We've spent time wandering through the various craft markets, admiring the intricate carvings and collecting a few small trinkets. We've loved the effortless way both the ladies and the Mahu dress, glorious flowers either tucked behind an ear or woven into elaborate and ornate headdresses. We've noticed what is obviously a resurgence of traditional Polynesian tattoos, sported with pride by many, each symbolising significant cultural and life events. We've been thrilled by the soaring, lush and rugged scenery; the crystal clear and stunningly azure waters of the lagoons; the sea life and the coral gardens. We've completely enjoyed our immersion into Polynesian history and culture - from the tales of the cannibalistic head hunters of the Marquesas to the visual and very exciting dances favoured across all the archipelagos to the few remaining sacred tikis. To be in Papeete during Heiva was a truly memorable experience; the competitive and entertaining programme really bringing to life the spirit and grace of the islanders.

French Polynesia is as heady and seductive as the scent of the sacred Tiare flower and the vanilla beans that are harvested throughout her islands; as chilled as her calm and translucent waters; and as varied as the many hues of her cultivated black pearls. We have absolutely loved each and every location we have had the privilege of visiting and will cherish the memories of our time here. Who knows, perhaps a long-ago siren call of Tina was imbedded into my psyche and readied me decades ago for this lush green paradise.

We've got a good weather window so we've completed our check out procedures and are just waiting on the Gendarmes to process documentation and issue our international clearance. It's a two day process here - serious island time is obviously observed on Bora Bora! We've offloaded the last of our very colourful and pretty Pacific Francs and are excited to be to be moving on to new locations. We will be off the grid for around three weeks but will, as usual, complete daily position reporting and blog posts. Mauruuru Polynesia - it's been an awesome experience!

Cruising in Company – The Society Islands

15 September 2017 | The Society Islands, French Polynesia
It's always such a pleasure to share our cruising lifestyle with others, especially with mates from home. What a fantastic 10 days we have just enjoyed with our friends Denise & Brad, first time sailors and long-time buddies (in fact I've known Denise since we both began banking careers back in 1976).

They arrived bearing gifts - their full allowance of duty free - plus some essential boat bits for us (new electric priming pump for our genset and a new icemaker). After a big night at the marina, we departed from Tahiti at 1000 on Monday 4 September. The weather forecast was extremely favourable with only a 5-10 knot easterly - perfect for a short introductory downwind sail to Mo'orea. After obtaining permission from the Papeete Port Authority to proceed through the lagoon and past the airport, we headed out to sea and raised our mainsail. Brad was trolling for fish, we were sailing comfortably at around 6 knots and we were even blessed with a show by a breaching whale. As we left the lea of Tahiti Nui, we could see some very angry looking clouds forming; before we knew it, we were slap bang in the middle of an intense tropical squall with winds of 30+ knots and gusts to 45. What a baptism for our guests who handled the situation extremely calmly! We reefed in some of our main, deployed the iron sail and worked our way towards the anchorage at Baie D'Opunohu, passing James Packers MV Arctic P as it headed out from Baie De Cook. Inside Mo'orea's lagoon, the conditions became much more benign and we dropped the pick in 5M of gorgeous turquoise water just off the Plage de Ta'ahiamanu and in the shadow of Sommet Parata. Two fantastic days at Mo'orea followed - we took the dinghy out to "Stingray City" and swam with the rays and the blacktip sharks; we putted around to Pointe Hauru to show Brad the ruins of Club Med (he'd spent a very happy time there back in his teens); we went ashore at Pointe Tehau and had a great lunch at the beachfront Les Tipaniers. We explored Opunohu, where Cook and the Endeavour anchored and checked out the many over water bungalow hotels. We once again caught up with Mike and Kylie from SV Slice of Life, enjoying sundowners and stories onboard Elevation.

Our next island stop was Taha'a, around 120NM from Mo'orea. With a population of less than 5000, this laid back and sleepy island is mostly visited by cruisers and charter boat users - tourism is a very small industry compared to vanilla and pearl farming. Our overnight sail there was another first for Denise and Brad and it was fantastic, if a little unusual, to have company whilst doing our watches. The very easy passage gave us all plenty of opportunity to reminisce and enjoy the glorious full moon and clear and starry night sky. Arriving at Passe Paipai and entering the lagoon, we took a quick trip up past the village of Tiva with its stunning pink church to the Coral Gardens (we'd been given the heads up that this is a great snorkelling spot). From there, we meandered south through the lagoon to Baie Apu, where we picked up a Champon Pearl Farm mooring just off the shore. We made a booking to visit the pearl farm the following morning - what a fantastic and informative tour they put on! We learnt about the processes used at the farm, from the collection of oyster larvae in the Tuamotus to the grafting and then harvesting of the finished product at Taha'a; we were even given the opportunity to watch as pearls were removed and inspected and the oysters either reseeded or discarded. Of course, we HAD to make a visit to the showroom where we learnt about the Tahitian grading process; the variances in lustre, size and shape determining the quality of the pearl and the location where farmed influencing colours. At Taha'a, as well as the standard Tahitian black pearl, they cultivate golden, russet and aubergine pearls. Denise picked up a gorgeous necklace with a trio of pearls, I selected a pair of deep gold studs - great mementoes of a special place.

Friday night in Baie Apu means dinner at Le Ficus - a traditional Polynesian feast complete with dancing and fire walking. The anchorage began to fill up with charter vessels from nearby Raiatea and at sunset, a convoy of dinghies began heading in to the small restaurant dock. One step ahead of the "tourists", we arrived first and were able to select the prime table between the bar and the grassy entertainment area. The restaurant is a family run affair, is authentic Polynesian and a great night out. As well as enjoying the amazing dancers, we loved watching the next generation - the little girls of the family practising dance moves on the side lines and the little boys itching to play with the firesticks!

Time to move on to Bora Bora - considered to be the Society Islands "jewel in the crown". The dramatic peaks of Mt Otemanu, the remains of an ancient volcano, rise majestically in the centre of the island and to see it, surrounded by the stunning azure water in the lagoon, is a visual feast. We dined at the Bora Bora Yacht Club - a hip and popular island location complete with its own version of a pool bar. We spent time on anchor in the crystal clear water behind Motu Toopua, indulging in an afternoon lazing on pool lounges tied off to the stern and sipping Moet. We dinghied around looking for snorkelling locations and checking out the very exclusive Conrad Hilton (minimum accommodation USD3K per night). We caught up briefly with Kevin and Mai from SV Whisper HR who were readying themselves for their passage to Tonga via Palmerston Island. Making use of the free mooring offered by Bloody Mary's, the iconic restaurant and a Bora Bora "must do", we enjoyed one of the best meals we have ever had ashore. This is the place visited by all the rich and famous, where you check your shoes at the door and enjoy a Polynesian "feet in the sand" experience whilst sipping on their signature Bloody Mary and their very unique Vanilla Rum Punch. We took a dinghy ride around the east coast of the island, marvelling at the many variegated shades of blue and enjoyed some local Hinano beers and burgers at a beachside snackette. We passed by the remains of the Hotel Bora Bora near Matira Beach; destroyed by Cyclone Oli in February 2010, it's a visual reminder as to why the coral reef within the lagoon are barren and bleached. All too soon, it was time for Denise and Brad to head home - we motored around to the airport anchorage and in another first, ferried them across to the terminal by dinghy!

We've now got just over 2 weeks remaining on our visas so we will spend what's left of our Froggy Poly time enjoying stunning surroundings here at Bora Bora and nearby (Taha'a and Raiatea are both less than 30NM away). We will then check out, take on our last duty free island diesel and continue westwards. We've spent this morning investigating downtown Vaitape, locating the Gendarmerie and sussing out provisioning options, even taking a slow meander through the Fenua Arts and Craft Market.

Whilst it's all been fun and frivolity here in the South Pacific, we've been devastated to see the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. So many people and locations impacted; it's just heartbreaking to view footage, photos and first hand accounts of the destruction and chaos. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this horrific storm - the road to recovery will be a long one. There are many amazing charities working hard to provide both immediate and long term assistance - Cruising World Magazine has just published a comprehensive list if you're considering donating.

Sunset - Ralph Von Loeben
We are really saddened to learn that Ralph, a friend and a colourful Fremantle Sailing Club identity, recently lost his brave battle against cancer. Our thoughts are with his beautiful wife Sandy and all the family at this time. Rest peacefully on calm seas Ralph.

Back Onboard

03 September 2017 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
Fare Suisse is nestled in the foothills of Mount Orohena, known as the dwelling place of the ancient gods, and surrounded by frangipani and tiare. The heady and intoxicating fragrance of these delicate flowers will forever remind me of our time in Tahiti; I just love the aromas of this island. An excellent first night's sleep after our long flight eliminated any feelings of jetlag and we were up bright and early and off to Technimarine to check on Elevation's progress. During our time at home, Sebastien and his team had been labouring away on the construction of our new rudder plus all ancillary work and whilst we had been sent a few progress reports and photos, we were very keen to see first-hand how everything was coming together. The rudder looked great - strong, robust and beautifully fibreglassed and all on continuous 3 inch stainless stock. The welding to our davits and cockpit aft seats however was not to the required standard; Sebastien agreed and instructed his welder to redo. We had planned to apply a new coating of Propspeed however Border Security in NZ had confiscated our package on route - strange as we had not had an issue carrying the same product in our luggage from the US to Panama. Luckily, Sebastien could source locally and he arranged for his guys to apply at a discounted cost; a small favour as compensation for the initial not to standard welding. Antifouling was mostly completed, with only the rudder to be primed and painted plus a quick touch up to the hull once we were in the slings.

With everything ticked off by Thursday afternoon, including payment in full by our insurance company's underwriters, we were ready to launch. We collected our frozen produce from Sebastien's onsite freezer and waited whilst Elevation was carefully Happy Splashed once again. Dick, the architect and builder of our new rudder, came onboard and we took a quick turn around the lagoon whilst he checked that everything was functioning effectively. With both he and Captain Paul happy, we headed for the work jetty to drop Dick off and bid farewell to all the guys at the yard. Overall, the service and the work completed by Technimarine has been of a high standard and even with language difficulties, it's been easy to deal with Sebastien and his team. We are therefore pleased to recommend them to other cruisers (for any contact with Sebastien, email exploitation@technimarine.pf).

It was getting late in the day and with a stiff southerly blowing, we opted to take the port channel inside the lagoon in order to quickly get to Marina Taina before the office closed. Big mistake, as our passage seemed to coincide with the arrival and departure of several ferries and aircraft. The Papeete Port Authority control both maritime and aviation traffic and we were required to stand to before entering the port, before reaching the eastern end of the runway and before reaching the western end of the runway to allow commercial vessels and aircraft to proceed. Luckily, Phillipe and Henri from the marina were considerate of the situation and were waiting for us to arrive to assist with berthing.

We've spent the last week here at the marina working diligently onboard. Our time in the yard left Elevation covered in fine, black volcanic dust so a good scrub, polish and vacuum was needed both inside and out. We've run new cable for our Forward Facing Sonar in order to improve the connectivity; we've also had Christophe, a local electrician, onboard to assist with running new cable through the mast for our masthead light and our new wind vane. Christophe came to us at short notice as our original electrician, Andrei, has contracted dengue fever. A former nuclear electrician, he's a very personable and competent tradesman who can be contacted at +689 89 54 16 15. We've reprovisioned and we've refuelled, making the most of the availability of duty free fuel concessions. It's been an interesting time here at Marina Taina- we are on the same dock as several superyachts and our impressive view out across the lagoon to Mo'orea is occasionally lost as vessels come and go. We're also close to the fuel dock and have been privy to a slice of Tahitian life as local boats, mostly small runabouts come alongside to fill up. There are many, many serious fishermen with very impressive and expensive rods and electric reels; there are enthusiastic scuba divers squeezed into various dive boats (the most we've seen is a dozen all together with their gear in a tiny centre console Hypalon tender); and there are party boats filled with attractive French Polynesian girls and guys just out to enjoy some time on the water.

We've caught up with SV Slice of Life, last seen in Shelter Bay Marina, and we've reacquainted ourselves with Jorgen from SV Restless Oslo who we last saw in Antigua in 2015. Jorgen also had an extremely challenging passage to the Marquesas when the hull of his yacht developed a large crack and started taking on water. Luckily, he was able to obtain some strapping from a passing merchant ship in order to make a temporary repair whilst he sailed towards Hiva Oa. He's planning on hauling out in Raiatea very shortly to affect a more permanent fix.

We've also prepared our guest cabin for our friends Denise and Brad who arrive today at 1625. Paul has serviced the genset and is just waiting on a new electric primer pump to arrive via their special delivery; somehow the old one decided to fail whilst we were out of the water. We're certainly ready to go cruising and are very much looking forward to sharing some of the Fenua Raro Mata'i (literally, the islands beneath the wind) with them both over the next 10 days. We've got an action-packed itinerary planned for between here and Bora Bora - the weather is looking good with mid to high 20's forecast and light winds. I've squeezed dozens of limes for drinks; I'd like to say it's because we have fallen in love with the local Citronade, a delicious mix of lime juice, water and sugar but it may also be the occasional Dark and Stormy or perhaps even Monday Mo'orea Margarita Madness! We're really looking forward to being back out on the hook.

Dreaming in Broome – another Aussie Adventure

02 September 2017 | Western Australia
Jill - Photo by Betts
One of the things we cherish is our continued friendships with our "dirt dwelling" friends back home - whilst we may not physically be with them, we still stay close thanks to the easy technological world we now all live in. Of course, we are always up for a good celebration with them and this year we've been counting down to August and a visit home to help our great mate Bazz mark a milestone "0" birthday.

We flew out of Tahiti at 0900 on Wednesday 2/8; our journey basically being a "Coconut Milk Run" via Auckland and Sydney. With short delays at each stop, we arrived in Perth very late and by the time we had retrieved our luggage, it was the early hours of Friday morning ..... crossing the International Date Line certainly lengthened the trip! Our first few days were spent with family at sister Frances and BIL Terry's home. It was delightful to spend our first Saturday afternoon with them both, our niece Katie and her partner Zane feasting on fresh oysters and grilled local crayfish caught by Terry over summer. Perth was in the grip of a very wet and cold winter and we struggled with the low temperatures, the persistent rain and occasional hail, and the need to wear warm clothing and SHOES! I actually discovered I no longer have any "heel fitness" when I endeavoured to get around in an old, reliable pair of boots - sailing has changed me forever it seems. Of course, there were the obligatory shopping expeditions for boat parts - nice to catch up with both Roger and Trevor at Yacht Grot.

Bazz and his gorgeous wife Betts had migrated north with their van for the season at the beginning of winter and we were extremely grateful to leave for beautiful, warm and sunny Broome. What a week we had! The "Festival of Bazz" was a full-on celebration with functions and dinners galore, a day at the races, some local sightseeing and plenty of laughs and camaraderie. Bazz and Betts are our Besties and we just love being with them both; being around for this special birthday also gave us the opportunity to spend some quality time with special mutual friends Pete and Mandy, Terry and Vicki and Bob and Ronda - all long-time mates from our stinkboat days at Stark Bay, Rottnest, the East Fremantle Yacht Club and the Swan Yacht Club. We ate well, we drank good Aussie wine and we talked, laughed and enjoyed each other's company immensely and often. We took long walks on Broome's beautiful beaches; we spent an afternoon whale watching onboard the magnificent 60' MV Jude; the guys went fishing and returned with a big catch of local species; the ladies languished around the pool sipping bubbles at Cable Beach Club Resort. We caught up with our dear old friends Pat & Graham who have wintered in Broome for over 30 years and we made new friends amongst the lovely community who call Broome Vacation Village their home away from home.

Broome is a special town - the stunning blue sky, vivid turquoise sea and rich red Pindan soil all combine to create a colourful palate of rich and exotic shades. It's an old, old pearling town - in fact the local Yawuru people harvested and traded shell with Makassen merchants from SE Asia for hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans in Western Australia. Industry initially started in the 1880's when both the unique Pinctada Maxima Pearl and the shell were harvested - the pearls for much coveted jewellery pieces and the shell for cutlery handles, buttons and decorative accessories. The early days of commercial pearling were tough - the divers in full, heavy and cumbersome suits with hard brass helmets were weighed down by clunky lead boots and were required to walk the seabed for long periods whilst being fed air through a long hose from the wooden luggers above. Many divers suffered from the bends; many were lost in industrial accidents and a few were taken by sharks or massive groupers. Most paid divers migrated from Japan and the headstones in the old Japanese Cemetery on the outskirts of town are a permanent reminder of their sacrifice in pursuit of the gems of the ocean. There is also a very dark side to the early days with Yawuru people, particularly young females, being enslaved through the shocking practice of "blackbirding" and forced to "naked dive" i.e. free dive for oyster shell. Whilst the old pearling masters for the most part presented themselves as gentile and refined in their standard wardrobe of white linen suits and straw hats, their desire for wealth obviously compromised their humanity. Times became hard just prior to WW1 when the price of mother of pearl plummeted. By 1939, the industry employed fewer than 600. With Japanese bombers targeting Broome during WW2, the industry came to a standstill as Japanese divers either discreetly returned home or were interned. The industry was revitalised in the 1980s following the introduction of cultured pearl technology and today, Broome pearls are highly desirable and account for a significant portion of the local economy.

We first visited Broome with Bazz and Betts in the early 2000's then again onboard Elevation in 2010 at the beginning of our world voyage. The roadstead anchorage at Gantheuame Point sticks in our minds as one of the most rolly we have ever encountered however the brilliant sunsets compensated for one or two uncomfortable nights. A must do for both tourists and locals alike is to head down to either Gantheuame or Cable Beach to watch the setting sun, ostensibly with a picnic, drinks and a couple of comfy beach chairs. With the tide out (Broome is subject to tidal variations of up to 10 metres), the variegated Pindan rocks are exposed and the kaleidoscope of colours as the sun slips away below the horizon is simply breath-taking. At Cable Beach, the added attraction of a passing caravan of camels carrying fare paying tourists on a dusk beach walk makes for amazing photos. The "Staircase to the Moon" phenomenon is also a tourist must do; the full moon rising creates a visual golden stairway across the sea, it's total "Wow" factor thrilling all who witness it.

Paul's grandparents lived in Broome prior to the commencement of WW2; his Pop Dick being the headmaster at the primary school. On one of our previous visits, we had spent an afternoon at the museum seeking out family information and discovering that Dick was involved with Z Force and instrumental in covert operations in the region. Prior to the bombing of Broome in 1942, Nanna Eileen and her three children Frank, Mary (Paul's mother) and Michael were evacuated along with most local families by ship to Perth. Dick's war service escapades from there on were classified so very little is known of his active service.

All too soon our week in the sun was over and we bid a tearful farewell to Bazz & Betts before flying back to chilly Perth for another few days with family and friends. I lunched with my darling friend Francie at Jamie Oliver's Italian in the city - an afternoon filled with much chatter and laughter; how I love her company. We took a trip to Bunbury with Frances and Terry to catch up with nephew Robert, his wife Juanita and our great niece Olivia, giving Livvy a small, soft Blue Footed Boobie from our Galapagos adventure. She's a lively little cherub, very engaging at 6 months as she discovers more and more of the world. We spent a morning with good friends Denise and Brad planning a week or so onboard Elevation in French Polynesia - will be lovely to share some of the Society Islands with them both. We did chilli mussels in Fremantle with Francie and her gorgeous hubby Gus and we packed and prepared to return to Papeete. After one last evening with Frances and Terry, we packed up our hire car and headed off to Perth Airport to do the trip in reverse. Leaving from WA at 2355, we arrived back at Papeete at 2325 on the same day - crossing the International Date Line from west to east actually makes you a time traveller! With a reasonably quick exit via CIQ and confirmation that our visas will expire on 30/9, we were met by the very lovely and accommodating Beni who whisked us away to Fare Suisse, a delightful little guest house and home for the next few days. Great to be back in the warmth of Polynesia!

Marvellous, Magical M'oorea

31 July 2017 | M'oorea, French Polynesia
Polynesian for "Yellow Lizard" and the inspiration for Darwin's coral reef formation theory, this little tropical South Seas gem is just 11NM from Papeete; a quick 10 minute flight or a leisurely 40 minute ferry ride away. With Elevation being worked on, we decided to indulge ourselves with a week of French Polynesian resort life and headed out on last Sunday's afternoon Ameriti ferry. Given that it's high season, we were limited with our accommodation choices so we opted for the family run Hotel Kaveka; small, intimate and right on the waters edge at Cooks Bay. It's been sheer pleasure to sit out on the deck of our island bungalow; a hop, skip and a jump away from the brilliantly turquoise lagoon. We've enjoyed swimming and snorkelling along the fringing reef, alive with colourful tropical fish, regenerating corals and the occasional turtle. We've walked each morning to the local Supermarche to buy fresh baguettes and croissants plus fresh fruit from roadside vendors. We've been introduced to the delights of a woodfired, fresh yellowfin tuna pizza at 'Allo, named as the best pizza place on the island and just a short stroll from our hotel. Paul also loved their 300g Steak au Feu Du Bois! We've lazed out under the stars at night listening to the sounds of Polynesian drums beating out across the tranquil waters. We've definitely relished the opportunity to relax and recharge our batteries after the rigours of our last two passages.

Of course, we also wanted to see more than just our comfortable resort! We decided to take the opportunity to be "real tourists" and headed out on a day trip onboard an Albert's Moana Tours vessel. Our guide Siggy, a French Polynesian Rasta, was both entertaining and informative and provided great commentary on sights along the way. Cooks Bay, or Pao Pao Bay, was named in honour of Captain James Cook even though when he arrived at M'oorea he chose to anchor in Opunohu Bay (next bay around to the west and one of the backdrops for both the 1950's musical South Pacific and the 1984 movie The Bounty). Both bays are favourite anchorages for cruising yachts and we're looking forward to bringing Elevation here soon.

We passed by the Hilton's overwater bungalows then across the lagoon to see the Intercontinental. I was devastated to see that this hotel has 4 captive bottlenose dolphins housed in a small pool. They offer tourists the opportunity to "swim" for 15 minutes with these poor, trapped ocean darlings for $200 per head. Shameful. Please, never, ever go there! Continuing to follow the very shallow inside channel, we arrived at "Stingray City" and along with dozens of other tourists, we jumped into the crystal clear waters to snorkel amongst the rays and black tipped sharks whilst guides from each tour boat hand fed them. Now we've got the location, we will come back in our tender before the daily hordes arrive to enjoy some quiet interaction. Roger & Sasha, our friends on SV Ednbal, have advised us to take a can of sardines to hand feed the rays who very gently rub against you while you give out treats. Will be a much better experience without the ubiquitous squealing of groups of teenage female Asian tourists! After around an hour of swimming, we clambered back on board and headed to Motu Fareone for a traditional Polynesian lunch complete with beers and rum punch. Whilst our feast was being prepared, Siggy entertained us with a "Pareo" demonstration, enticing both female and male models from our group to showcase numerous different ways to wear this colourful local cloth.

French Polynesia is famous for it's Poisson Cru - raw fish marinated in lime and coconut milk. I was lucky enough to be given the honour of being Siggy's "Sous Chef" as he demonstrated how to make this very delicious dish. A brine, made up of a very liberal dose of salt and fresh water, was firstly added to a huge stainless bowl filled with freshly caught and diced tuna. This I mixed gently for several minutes. The fish was strained and then marinated in the juice of a dozen Tahitian limes, again with me mixing gently until the flesh began to turn opaque. A very generous serving of diced cucumber, tomato and onion was then added and tossed through. The last ingredient was fresh coconut milk, made on the spot from grated coconut flesh strained and squeezed through a cheesecloth bag. This was also mixed through, coating all ingredients thoroughly - Voila, Poisson Cru for the crew! This, along with grilled tuna and chicken, coconut rice with carrot, mixed veggies and bread was enjoyed by all. More swimming followed lunch, then Siggy completed his final demonstration - how to husk and open a coconut using only a pointed stick; very impressive! Our trip back gave us the opportunity to see several different resorts and hotels as guests, initially ferried to the boat by coach in the morning, were dropped off at their individual accommodations.

M'oorea is only 134 km2, with one major road running all around the island. For our last day, we opted to hire a small car and set off to circumnavigate, with a detour up to " The Belvedere" to check out the view from up high. Our first stop was the Jus de Fruits distillery and fruit juice factory for a free tasting of their wares - great juices; tantalising tetra packs of a wicked Rum Punch and a delectable Tahitian Cocktail; plus some very different fruit liqueurs - we especially liked the M'oorea Coco! This outlet also produces a pineapple sparkling wine, which was not available for tasting - given that the M'oorea pineapple is meant to be the sweetest in the world, we're pretty certain it will be a super syrupy pineapple "fizz". We checked out various anchorages along the way before turning inland for "The Belvedere". This amazing lookout is situated on the dormant volcanic slopes of Mt Tohevia and provides a stunning panorama of the three peninsulas of M'oorea, beautiful Mt Rotui and both Opunohu and Cooks Bays. Nearby is a series of Marae, including the significant Ahu O Mahine, the large Marae named for the famed warrior chief of Moorea. Captain Cook was entertained by Mahine on his visit of 1774 and again on his third and final visit in 1777. Mahine was instrumental in defeating Tahitian invaders - in fact Cook noted seeing some 200 strong war canoes heading towards Moorea on his departure in 1774. After forming an alliance with the ruling Tahitian King Pomare through marriage to one of his daughters, he was ultimately murdered by the Pomares as part of their quest (backed by the British) to form one large Kingdom of Tahiti.

Returning back to the coast, we meandered around to Pt Tepee for lunch at the delightfully laid back beach cafe at Les Tipeniers. We then continued on, occasionally stopping to photograph more of M'oorea's very luscious landscape. The Toatea lookout provided an amazing view of the upmarket Sofitel resort and nearby anchorage - definitely somewhere we'll be dropping the pick. Our final stop was at Plage Publique de Tenae, a long white sand public beach which is very popular with both locals and visitors alike.

Our lazy week came to an end; we bid farewell to our hosts at Hotel Kaveka, returned our hire car and were dropped at the airport for the very quick but scenic Air Tahiti flight to Papeete.Marvellous, Magical M'oorea has certainly been great for both heart and soul!

Tatairaa i te mau poti i roto i tona mau vahi (Fixing Boats in Exotic Locations)

19 July 2017 | Papeete, Tahiti
It's dawn and Papeete is coming to life; this town seems to operate mostly between sun up and sun down with of course a healthy European lunch break. We're watching the early morning fast ferries depart for Tahiti's sister islands from our bijou Harbourside apartment whilst sipping an espresso coffee - tres French Polynesia! This little place that we will call home for a short while is wonderfully located in the heart of Papeete, close to the daily Marche, opposite the nightly roulettes and within 15 minutes walking distance to Fare Ute, where Elevation is now residing for repairs.

Our haulout yesterday at Technimarine was the most efficient international lift we have experienced - as we came through the lagoon leads we could see their 75T lifter and staff waiting dockside to receive us. Once in the slings, we disembarked and then watched with interest as Elevation slowly came up out of the water, revealing a completely intact and almost pristine Mona Lisa. My Captain had most certainly made a robust and hard working "Barbie" plate! Our girl received a much needed spa treatment (aka high pressure clean) to remove the very hardy Pacific weed growth and the mud of Nuku Hiva before being hardstanded - it was really great to see her looking a little more sparkly. Over the next few days, we will change out our anode (Mona has certainly decimated what was a brand new electrode installed in Panama) plus several other jobs whilst our Technimarine guys start on repairs. As well as work to be covered by insurance, we have a separate list of tasks for them including straightening our anchor shaft which was somehow bent whilst anchored in the swells of Taiohae Bay. Our experience with the insurance underwriters, The Beasley Group, has so far been extremely positive, with claim approved promptly and without question. Rudder rebuild, installation and ancillary work will take a few weeks and we are anticipating being back in the water in just over a months time. It will be joyous to then be able to actually enjoy some cruising time in this very exotic island group.
Vessel Name: Elevation
Vessel Make/Model: Buizen 48 Mark II
Hailing Port: Fremantle, Western Australia
Crew: Paul & Jill
After deciding to live our dream of sailing the world, one day at a time, we left home in April 2010. Since then, we've cruised the West Australian coast, the Kimberley, Northern Territory to Darwin, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. [...]
Extra: When we're at sea, we are contactable via a slow speed Email service we access through our HF radio. If you wish to touch base, send a message to vnw5919@sailmail.com. No photos or attachments though, as they won't transmit!
Home Page: http://nococonuts.wix.com/sv-elevation
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