Jacana's yarns
Sailing west about from Melbourne, Australia.
Tahiti - Trekking the interior
Yo and Dan Hellier
May 23, 2011, 8:17 pm, Tahiti

A load of yachties from Jacana, Kailana, Blue Heron and Duncan from a superyacht, bumped and thumped our way up the lush Papenoo Valley in the back tray of Patrick Adventure four wheel drive.

The bridges were narrow

The roads were suss

With the odd tunnel thrown in.

Waterfalls abounded. In the wet the mountains are wall to wall waterfalls. Tahiti never has a water shortage.

The valleys are lush, the hills incredibly steep and crumbly - too dangerous to climb.

The interior is almost deserted. Used to be 10,000 odd people lived there, nowadays there is no one.

We were very lucky to see this endemic orchid, that has not been some for some time. It only lives in this valley.

"Alors, Voila", as our guide said..... interminably.

Birds of Tahiti
Everything is quiet. It is rare to hear the song of a bird.
There are few species here and introduced animals and birds have culled the natives.
Ratus ratus loves eggs. The common minor was introduced to eat pests but is bullying the locals out of their terrain.
The introduced Swamp Harrier is cutting a swarthe through the endemics.

The Red Vented Bulbul

In the towns, the common minor, the introduced Red Vented Bulbul and the Chestnut Breasted Munia make up the numbers.
In the interior we saw the Grey Green fruit Pigeon and the Tahiti Swiftlet, both endemic to French Polynesia.

May 28, 2011, 9:27 pm | Janette
Wow! The clouds in those mountains produce a dramatic effect. Looks cold but obviously not. Alors voila! You can keep the roads though - that tunnel looks particularly suss. A great little trip it looks.
June 23, 2011, 9:40 am | norni
Wow those moody mountains wrapped in clouds are gorgeous, how I'd like to paint them. I can practically smell the warm tropical air. Beautiful.
Yo and Dan Hellier
May 11, 2011, 2:54 pm, Taina Marina, Papeete, Tahiti

The land of pamplemousse, breadfruit, D cup frangipani toting beauties, and French food opulence.
This is our front yard as we lie tied stern to the marina wall looking out over the nearby island of Moorea, and watching super strong Polynesian men training for the forthcoming canoe race around the island.
We almost feel guilty as we clink glasses "sante".

The marina is host to large boat and small. Our neighbour sure cut us down to size!

As you walk out of Taina marina in Papeete, or take le bus to town, the first thing you notice is that you can only catch the most occasional glimpse of the lagoon or beach. The rich have fenced it off for themselves.
Their houses fringe the beach and 8 ft walls are a most effective barrier to keep the landless at bay.
It is mostly the local people who use the splendid bus service. The French drive the citrons, renaults etc. But there does appear to be a high level of friendliness from all.
It is sad to know that we are in the southern hemisphere, in the pacific and we have to say we are in France. The colonial rule stretches on and on.
Mururoa is just to the south east.

Where stuttering is not an impediment.
Most of the locations in Tahiti are in Polynesian; a language where every syllable is pronounced.
Try our nearest suburb Faaa, pronounced far,ar,ar.
We rest our case.

Canard and chow mien

The roulottes are loads of fun.

These food vans offer fairly sophisticated tucker. Tamarind duck was the standout. Plastic seats and tables are provided.

Small fleets of these vans set up at well known locations, the most prominent is on the promenade smack bang in the middle of town.
They are open most nights, but the yachties tend to congregate on a saturday.

The Polynesians flock to them.

Music is the go. One night we enjoyed reggae, but on a follow up visit we had to endure the music of the god botherers. The luck of the draw.

It's a tiny world

Lo and behold there are Aussie voices everywhere.
Peter Hardy and Millie, from our own yacht club, Hobsons Bay, hail us at dusk from the dock. They are in Tahiti to sail to the Cook islands on a sustainable holiday on a yacht that collects data on plastic pollution in the ocean. It turns out Yo and Peter taught together at Footscray City for years.
Inside the marina are a couple of people from Geelong who belong to the same yacht club as our friends Bill Ethell and Danny Connor.

May 14, 2011, 1:50 am | Janette
LOVE yer front yard! And glad to see you haven't (yet) erected an 8 foot wall to block it off from sight. Not sure about the far,ar,ar - sounds a bit like Captain Peg Leg.
Passage to Tahiti- Arrived after 6 full days
Yo and Dan Hellier
May 5, 2011, 9:30 pm, Taina Marina, Papeete, Tahiti

We arrived at 1100 hrs Thurs after a fine but willing sail overnight.
A band of wind down south moved up enough to give us 20 to 25 knots during the night and lakes full of rain - damn.

The anchorages here are very tight. These days mainly mooring buoys all bar one filled with local boats. We ended up going into the Taina marina as we are not prepared to anchor with 2 to 1 chain anywhere.
There are about 20 buoys available on a first come basis, but getting one would be like winning the Melbourne Cup.

The port control speak perfect English and are most helpful.
The actual harbour is simple to enter at night, but I would not be game to tackle the channel down to Maeva beach or the marina at night first time in. There is one particular spot where the coral juts out.

Plan on enjoying Tahiti for a couple of weeks

May 7, 2011, 12:18 am | Stolen Kisses
Thanks for the tips! We are noting them down!! Leave some fish for us. Good to see the weather gods have been mostly nice.
May 8, 2011, 9:33 pm | Robert Millard and Claire Thomas
Just by chance picked up your thread by browsing. Brings waves of nostalgia from pretty well exactly 10 years ago; envy of your brilliant communication facilities, and slight guilt that we havn't afforded you the the support through contact that you gave us. Our passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas took 21.5 days and the notes from the log which I have just looked at are remarkably similar. All of this is now part of a distant former life for us. Best wishes to you both. Don't miss Suvarov. Cheers, Robert and Claire
May 10, 2011, 3:32 am | Janette
you are such lucky buggers - Tahiti, inspiration of Gaugan, his release and, ultimately, his downfall. Fantasised about it for some time but hear it is as expensive as. Let me know if that's right. That tuna catch en route is impressive to say the least. Must have been quite a tussle to get on board.
More about Tahiti please - and pics!
May 15, 2011, 4:31 pm | GEORGE AND CANDICE
was wondering why you skipped the Tuamotus . enjoying reading your blog.
June 2, 2011, 12:23 am | anthea rutter
Enjoy your communications enormously - you really are living the dream..... does it have its downsides!!??
anthea and Hugh
On Passage to Tahiti - Day 4
Yo and Dan Hellier
May 2, 2011, 4:10 pm, On Passage to Tahiti

Threading our way through the low lying Tuomotu Atolls in light winds. A slow but easy trip.

Heaved in a 30 lb tuna bang on dusk. Tuna burgers, Sri Lankan fish curry and sashimi coming up.

Birds we saw in the Galapagos
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 20, 2011, 6:05 pm, Wreck Bay, San Christobal, Galapagos

Cactus Darwin Finch

Chatham mocking bird (endemic)
Vegetarian Darwin Finch
Woodpecker Darwin finch
Cactus Darwin finch
Small ground Darwin finch
Warbler Darwin finch
Tree Darwin finch
Galapagos flycatcher
White cheeked pintail (endemic)
Common Galinule gallinulla chloropus (endemic)
Yellow warbler
Smooth billed arni (introdu ced)
Galapagos storm petrel
Galapagos or lava heron
Great blue heron
Yellow crowned night heron
Lava gull
Laughing gull
Nazca booby (now recognized as a different species to the masked booby)
Blue footed booby
Red footed booby
Magnificent frigate bird
Great frigate bird
Brown noddy
Brown pelican
Wandering tattler
Semi palmated plover
Red billed tropic bird
Elliots storm petrel

We had a day with a local guide called Wilson Roja, who took us to the bird locations. This tour was organized by Sharksky especially for ourselves and was excellent.
We saw most of the Darwin finches that live on San Christobal, and many endemic species. The land tortoise rehab centre was good for these species.
A highlight was viewing the frigate birds washing in the fresh water volcano lake (El Junco).

We had been under the impression that as the frigate bird finds it so difficult to launch into flight, it does not land in water. Not true. They in fact, come to the fresh water lake to clean the salt from their plumage.
They drop into the water for some seconds, take off and soar to a great height, then go into freefall, violently shaking their wings and feathers as they plummet.

They pull out of their fall as they get nearer to the ground.
At Los Loberia, a beach on the south coast, we saw a surprising number of seabirds.
The Darwin finches are another story. Now they have been identified as tanagers. Every type of finch relates back to a pair of blue black type quits, but they have all adapted differently.
While many all eat the same food in the good years, when everything dries up they have adapted to survive in their own unique way.
The vampire finch has adapted to suck blood from red or blue footed boobies, the wood pecker finch uses a stick as a tool to extract lavae from the trunks of dead trees, yet another has learnt to survive on the lice from the giant land tortoises and iguanas.
Adaptability is the key, and it is the beaks that have primarily adapted in varying ways to suit the conditions of their particular terrain..

Tsunami no problemo para Jacana

March 12, 2011, 2:19 pm, Wreck Bay, San Cristobal

March 12, 2011, 4:32 pm | Carol Cardile
Hey Dan and Yo,
Glad to hear you had a great trip, also to hear that you are not affected by the tsunami.
I guess you'll stay put for the next few weeks. Enjoy. Lots of pics please. By the way just cause you're so far away it's no excuse not to be aware of the fact that the Mighty Black Caviar won her tenth race straight. Better than Vain I think Daniel!! And we were there to experience it. Yo, we've got Isaac for the weekend!! Exciting times.

March 15, 2011, 11:12 am | Stolen Kiss
One tsunami in a life is enough!! Knew you would be ok!!

Newer ]  |  [ Older ]