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SV Panta Rhei Retirement Trip
Superyacht viewing
Larry Nelson
19 June 2012 | Anchored at Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Tahiti appears to be a "yachting scene". There are superyachts at the dock downtown and in the Marina Taina . There are both motor and sail superyachts. Of course we think the sailboats are the most interesting. The amount of sail area is intimidating. Their masts are about 200 feet tall. They accentuate this by lighting their spreaders at night. It looks like a front and rear skyscraper on a floating platform. They are usually made of carbon fibre though they might equally likely be made of diamond. Money is clearly no object. Apparently their draft is equally impressive (15 feet or so not including a centerboard extension) so these boats are hard to put into a marina. They are med moored where we see them (anchored by the bow and tied stern to the dock). So we get to see their "toy storage" area when they open it. Imagine a (highly finished) dock that you open up and put in the sea and you have some idea of what the door on their toy storage area looks like. Of course they all have a retractable boarding plank so it is easy for people to enter and leave the boat. These are not your Home Depot 2 by 10's. Think carbon, with telescoping elements and finished in a teak nonskid surface. One of the boats has a container in the parking lot apparently to manage its need for spares and tools that are not on the boat. Aboard Panta Rhei we do this task with a suitcase and a friend who is coming to visit. This gives you some idea of the scale difference between our vessel and theirs.

We were invited aboard one of the tiny yachts, 85 foot SV Leonore. It is a Chuck Paine design (like SV Panta Rhei) so it was actually quite familiar. It has a stand up engine room, which of course I loved. Even here though, the scale intimidates me. The anchor was a 150 pound Bruce with half inch chain. You wouldn't bring that up by hand. I wonder what they do if the windlass fails?

I did ask what they did when they encountered a thunderstorm? Aboard SV Panta Rhei this can be an adrenaline flooded experience. Apparently it is also so for them only below decks is not so noisy, so it is the captain and crew that get the adrenaline while on deck. The basic experience sounds similar to what happens aboard SV Panta Rhei. They manage it by reducing sail area and still go 8-9 knots. Another superyacht whose crew we visited with had a more adventure oriented owner. So they sailed fast, frequently reaching speeds over 20 knots. That might stop my heart.

I would be remiss if I didn't report at least a little on our exploration of this island. We rented a small rar with Aussie friends David and Angelena and Natalie (SV La Fiesta) and circumnavigated the island including an brief adventure excursion into the interior of the island. The interior of the island has 4wd roads that cross the island. The mountains are like those of the Marquesas, very steep and very green. The surprise is that they are also very remote. The population of the island is a thin veneer along the coast. The inland mountains are beautiful and pristine. The hydro plants provide the reason for the road and along that road there are undeveloped parks. We hiked through a bamboo forest and to several waterfalls. The picture is of our rental car on a bridge near the beginning of the trek into the interior. Note the road on the lower right which goes through the river, not over it. That was the return path. David had been hang gliding off the hills the day before our trek.

We were worried about losing our place in the anchorage so we fueled up with jerry cans yesterday. With that completed, we just have to check out and we can go. We'll do the puddle jump party on Friday and Saturday and then leave for the leeward islands.

Today we are hanging out in perfect calm sunny 83F weather enjoying catching up on email and reading. I'm pretty sure that we will make a trip this afternoon to Carrefour (the local Fred Meyer look alike) and buy a raspberry pie. They are so yummy!
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