OK, so we have been swimming with dolphins, check, humpback whales, check, sharks, check and now we can add to the list stingrays. Not quite out in the wilds of the Pacific, but in Mo'orea, where the hotel daily feeds them and so they are pretty much tame and all over you if you want a close encounter. After negotiating the shallow water channel between our yachts and the motu (tiny island) where they are, we were in no doubt as to the location of the rays, it being ambushed by 3 boat loads of cruise-shippers and honeymooners, all slightly pink in matching swim wear (I mean top and bottoms, not all of them in the same swim suit!) The Goody, Luna, and Pegasus children jump right in, with the instruction from Mia that if the black tipped reef sharks swim towards you, don't worry, just swim towards them and they'll swim off, they head straight to the centre of the feeding rays. Dirk (aged 2) wasn't too impressed however and I was the first to offer to go back to the dinghy with him and work on his two word level language skills (that'll be $60 please!!) "Big shark" "two rays" "mummy's gone" "Mia's hat" etc etc.
In the afternoon, I once again kidnapped the two mums (as I did in Martinique with Samba and Eol) and whisked them off for a hike up to Belvedere point, a four hour round trip. The rain didn't deter us, whilst we stomped up the hill and had a nice girly chat with no kids. A beautiful view rewarded us from the top, before we had to head back before it got too dark.
We take it in turns to cook on each boat and are making the most of Goody being here when they have just sprung it on us that they have to fly back to South Africa for 3 months in 10 days time, much to my (and Jacolette's) disappointment. I think the parcel has now been cleared by customs now ready for collection (though my French is not so good when someone speaks quickly on an answerphone) so we'll probably return back to Tahiti in the next couple of days and then be ready to make our onwards journey, though we'll be sad to leave French Polynesia.
10/05/2011, Papeete, Tahiti
The package didn't arrive. Doh. The tracker on the USPS website says arrived, but we don't know where it is. So, Mark and I decided to come into Papeete as we still needed to check out (Mark arrived at 3.30pm yesterday, so of course they were closed already.) So we are alongside the town pontoon, which has security gates. When we went to check out, the man said if we didn't use electricity and we left by 10am, we could stay for free which was very nice, so we had Dan and Perrine round for dinner to say thank you for being so fantastic whilst we've been here. Lochy and Mia were running up and down the dock with some French kids from the boat next door. They still haven't mastered French yet, but they were playing battles with big sticks and remarkably, they denied me the pleasure of saying "I told you so" after I had warned them that it would all end in tears, probably Lochy's. I was secretly hoping they wold knock Lochy's front teeth out, which are now protruding at such an angle that we are going to Have to do something about them, like tie a string between them and the pontoon whilst we drive off. Lochy tried extra hard to pull them out in the bank as I had suggested he may get paid double by the tooth fairy if he loses them in a bank, but he has never been one for pain, so there they remain, wobbly and at right angles to his mouth! We got some NZ dollars in the bank, because I've been doing my homework on Nuie and it turns out you can't use a bankcard in the shops and there is no ATM on the island. No flies on me. So, today (Wed) we are off to Moorea with Goody and Luna also delayed due to deliveries and engines. And maybe this afternoon, we'll go to a motu where they feed stingrays and finally see some rays in action.
10/03/2011, Papeete, Tahiti
I've collected all the seeds and pulses and popcorn and rice in one box because I know that once we are in NZ we'll have it confiscated. So when, yesterday morning, I went to said box to get dried chickpeas to soak, I was gutted - and a little disgusted - to find them crawling with weevils. So the whole of yesterday morning consisted of going through ALL of our provisions to check how much had been affected. Luckily, we keep most of our provisions in plastic boxes with sealed lids so it was actually only one box that was affected. Also, it was unlikely, despite my best intentions, that we would be able to have got through all of our dried beans and peas. Our advice to potential family cruisers? If you didn't pre-plan your dinners with dried beans the day before at home, you're unlikely to do so at sea. We'll be sticking to the cans from now on.
On the positive side, I now have a completely up to date provisions list and a very clean under bunk storage space. And our salad cream stock was unaffected, thank the Lord!
At lunchtime yesterday, Mia started to complain that she wasn't feeling very well and we realised that, for the first time on our trip, she was feeling seasick at anchorage. It was REALLY swelly, and I was quite glad to take the kids to shore and spend the afternoon chilling out around the marina with Luna and Goody. There's been a strong wind for the past couple of days and you can see the surf crashing over the outer reef. However, in the last couple of hours, all is calm again which is good for our stomachs but not so good for the batteries which really benefited from the extra wind power.
Tomorrow, we will check out of Tahiti, collect final packages, fill up with water and gas, lightly provision (don't want to break the bank!) and Tuesday will see Luna, Goody and us off to Moorea.
09/30/2011, Papeete, Tahiti
30 September 2011
Old dog new tricks
I have a confession to make. I love snowboarding, I got a kick out of jumping off a bridge attached to a bungee in my younger days, I've even jumped out of a plane and been ice climbing. I can climb the mast mid-ocean and I can give birth using hypnosis. In other words, I'm not a wuss. But SCUBA diving has just never appealed to me. You're just not supposed to breathe under water. I can snorkel until the rays come home, so long as it's not cold, just don't ask me to duck dive.
So after the obligatory heated discussion with Mark last night in which I accused him of bullying me into doing something I wasn't ready to do and him retorting that he knew I'd be like this the night before, picking up the phone to cancel, me replying we can't let Perrine down, I sulked off to bed at about 7pm. I even popped over to Dan's this morning to ask how much trouble I'd get into if I cancelled at such short notice (to which the reply was LOTS) There was no getting out of it. I was going to SCUBA dive today.
I set up the kids with their school work this morning and get all my stuff together. Mark drives me over to the dive school in the dinghy and I don't even say goodbye, because I'm still annoyed with him and if truth be known, pooping my pants. I've obviously already unconsciously divorced Mark by accidentally giving my maiden name in checking in. But we don't have a Catherine Lambert. The other guest smiles and says that his wife is still getting used to using his name - they're on their honeymoon. I didn't tell him we'd been married for 9 years.
And then, we're on the dive boat and Perrine is reassuring me that she will do everything for me, all I have to do is breathe and pop my ears. I put my two wetsuits on (OK, so I am wuss sometimes) and jump into the water, getting my BCD on. Perrine is a great instructor; taking everything at my pace, so calm all the time, not even flinching when I burst into tears twice and curse Mark for putting me into this situation. Yes, really. I hate not being good at something, but every time I went under the water I had an irrepressible urge to get to the surface of the water again. A bit like the roofer who can't bring himself to bungee - he's spent his whole life clinging on, so he can't let go.
This is ridiculous. I'm a hypnotherapist. I work with people's fears. If I can't work on my own, then what does that make me? So I have a word with myself and we start again. And this time I go down - OK, only 6 metres, but nevertheless, I am actually submerged and I can pop my ears and the fish are amazing and I can totally appreciate why people love diving. Perrine smiles at me but I hope she doesn't expect a smile in return; that would involve a whole other thought process and I can't multi-task right now. Does it make me want to dive more? I'm not sure. But I'll be happy to live vicariously through my children who can't wait to be old enough to SCUBA. Mark tells me how proud he is of me and I'm proud of me too. But I haven't quite forgiven him yet.
09/29/2011, Papeete, Tahiti
Thankfully, we have received 2 of the 4 packages on which we are waiting so it looks like we might be leaving Sunday or Monday for.....well, we haven't got THAT far yet!
Mark has been enjoying his first forays into the underwater world of SCUBA - what better place to learn where the water is so warm he didn't need a wetsuit and there are tropical fish everywhere! Unbeknownst to me, he has also booked an introductory dive for me tomorrow so I'll give you an update. Lochy and Mia can't wait for them to reach the minimum age so they can SCUBA too - probably after NZ during our next South Pacific season.
We've been focusing on school in the mornings - Johannes from Goody has been joining us which has helped his and our kid's attitude to school - nothing like a bit of competition! For PE, we joined Goody and Luna for a game of beach volley ball just along the road from the marina which was completely tiring for the adults - well, me anyway! Mia has been making herself another skirt and Lochy has been mastering his magic kit we bought from Jersey and have only just re-discovered. We also re-discovered our game of Cluedo I had put away because the kids were too young when we left and we had a fun evening, once Lochy learnt not to say for example, "So, it's not the candlestick then" every time he saw a card! Mia asked if we could play it every night, but I'm not sure Mark and my patience could last for much longer than once a month! At least it wasn't monopoly. No thank you, we don't need monopoly on the boat - perish the thought!
09/24/2011, Papeete, Tahiti
I've just realised I didn't update the blog about our wonderful wonderful humpback experience two days ago. Dan offered to take us out to see the spinner dolphins, but just as we got out of the pass, we spotted humpback whales. Dan's girlfriend Perrine does whale spotting tours for a diving company and so we knew that if the whales looked like they were just chilling out, we could snorkel with them. What I didn't realise until we got in, was that the whale we could see on the top was just a baba and was being held up to the surface by his mother who we couldn't see until we were looking under the surface. Dan reckoned the baby was about 4-6 weeks old due to the colour and the fact that he was still needing help to breathe. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing the experience was, to be within a couple of metres of a 20 metre whale and her baby. That was our first win of the week.
The next win was closely followed by a lose, as last night we watched the France -New Zealand match on a big screen on a superyacht - Tiara. 5 minutes before the game ended we were winning the sweepstake for the scores and then the referee made a terrible decision on France's last try and the scores changed - we were so close to winning $600. Mark stayed on for a little while after the rest of us and I got a message to say our dinghy wasn't where we had left it. Thinking rather negatively that it had been nicked, I was relieved to hear the chug chug chug of our 3.3HP engine coming back to the boat, having been found by Mark drifting in the marina. I think someone must have accidentally let it go when they were untying their own painter and whilst I have my suspicions as to who that was, they shall remain nameless!!
We are now anchored back in our original spot with very clean children, very clean clothes and a very clean boat. Mark and I scrubbed up quite well too!