04 July 2008 | Tahiti Quai des Yachts
It doesn't feel like the fourth of July here, but it does feel pretty good. We woke up this morning in Tahiti (!) the center of all life in the Southeast Pacific. You feel like you're right in it when you're on the Quai, and you are.
The Quai des Yachts is a dockage service right in the middle of town run by the harbormaster. It is reasonable as marinas go especially for a catamaran (no extra fee for the second hull). We were paying about $1.37 per foot with a flat rate for all the power 20ish a day) and all the water you want. Water was about $2 a day but we didn't use power. A one time fee of about $10 for trash is also charged.
The Quai is setup for boats to come in stern to with messenger lines tied off on the dock for you to pull up the bow moorings with (no need to drop an anchor as used to be the case). The docks are floating to handle the whopping one foot spring tide range. There are gates at the end of each dock but the one closest to the pass doesn't work so you just reach around to open it. That said I didn't have one minute of concern for the security of the boat even when everyone (except Roq of course) was ashore. To quote our friends on Free Spirit (introduced to us from Crete by Zia Later), "there's no safety and security net here because you don't need a safety and security net".
The Qaui could be in a better location. I see cruisers from Marina Taina or the anchorage there taking long dinghy rides or renting cars just to go to places we can get to in a 2 minute walk. I also looked at the pollution levels posted at the harbor masters office and while I wouldn't swim in the port (!) the water in the anchorage is not so good either. There are few places in the lagoons of Tahiti with a water purity rating in the top two categories (sad I know). Go to Moorea if you want to swim. The one down side is that there is a bit of a sewer smell in the area of the Quai sometimes. It usually doesn't reach the dock closest to the pass though.
Power here is Euro in every way except that it is 60 Hz. This is great for American boats because voltage and plugs are easy to adapt, but cycles are not. We didn't plug in while we were on the dock because we didn't have a Euro connector and didn't get around o finding a store that had the right stuff to build a pig tail. It was so sunny that we made lots of power with the solar and we were off the boat most of the time so e didn't use much. I had to run the genset for a short bit every other day (I'm writing this on 7/11 in Moorea and we're still running on the fuel from Ecuador).
We spent most of the day getting through all of our mail and West Marine goodies that Pabs and Lou brought. Pablo came through customs unscathed (no charges) carrying an 18 inch - 30 pound bronze folding prop, line holders for our coach roof, a new mother board for our Spectra water maker, emergency sail repair tape, four marine smoke detectors, three Westerbeke pressure caps, dinghy outboard lock, new stripe decals for the boat, some DVDs and a pile of other stuff. Pablo is of Columbian heritage but looks a lot like a Polynesian when you think about it. They were the last ones off of the plane but one of the gate attendants walked them straight by the x-ray machine to the front of the line at the customs office. I guess I need to work on my tan and get some tattoos.
I had to run around a bit during the day to knock off some high priority tasks. I checked us into the Marina and country at the customs/immigration/port captain/marina office located just down the Quai past the tourism office. The French officials are courteous but still very "official", inquiring as to who the person standing next to you is and that sort of thing. The Polynesian officials are just wonderful, friendly, helpful and a pleasure to deal with. They collect the fees just the same but they make you feel welcome rather than anxious to get out of the building. Luck determines which you get I suppose.
Hideko, Nobu and I cleared in for the standard 30 days. Hideko and I needed to extend however. This required a tip to the post office to buy two 3,000 xfp stamps. Return these stamps with you passport to the immigration lady and an additional 60 days is a guarantee. How to stay longer we have not yet ascertained.
Next I picked up tickets for the Heiva Tahiti. Heiva means having fun and this is exactly what the Polynesians do during this annual dance, music and culture festival. Unfortunately the government didn't fund the country wide festival that was supposed to go on this year so it was just the Tahiti performers. Typically, every four years all of the archipelagos come together in Tahiti to compete. On the off years the Marquesas, Tuamotus and Australs have their own Heiva as do the individual islands of the Societies. Many locals I talked with were unhappy that the country wide festival was not taking place so I imagine it will be reinstated.
The Heiva tickets were sold at a book and office supply store called Odyssey in the middle of town near the large red steepled church. This is a great store with tons of books. Almost everything is in French but you can find a few things in English or take the opportunity to improve your French!
I spent a lot of time talking boats with Dave on O'Vive. It was great to share tips and see how another owner of the exact same boat has done things. Dave has done a great job with O'Vive and she has a lot of great custom systems which Dave has installed. Dave also hooked me up with the best Wifi Internet carrier which allowed me to check Gmail for the first time in a month or so. Ug.
It was a good day of running errands and catching up with civilization. Everyone went different directions today but we are all looking forward to the Heiva tomorrow!