12 September 2008 | Raiatea
We finally left the Carenage mooring field today. The wind is still cranking pretty good but the skys are blue and we need to be somewhere else for a bit. We also need diesel after all of the experimentation and cloudy days.
We motored out past Marina Apooiti and around the end of the airport. We hailed the air strip to ask permission to cross, per the cruising guide, but got no response. After a couple of tries we gave the sky a careful once over and, seeing the coast was clear, we headed around.
Shortly after the air strip is the municipal marina. This marina is full up with local boats of all types but there are some spots for transients also from time to time. They have a dive shop and basic facilities but the real advantage is that it is close to town. Just outside the marina is a Total Station fuel dock. This was just what we were looking for so we entered the little bay only to discover that the Maupiti Express II was on the dock, and there's no dock left when the MEII is in port.
We floated around in the bay battling the 20 something knot winds for a bit trying to hail the shuttle. No one answered on VHF 16 and the guy we finally waved down on deck didn't do English and my French only got a vague idea of their etd, which was 2PM.
So we headed on to Uturoa. Uturoa is a small harbor and the good bit is reserved for local boats, mostly shuttles and the like. The town dock is free for cruising yachts but it is also pretty exposed. It is inside the lagoon of course but this is a big lagoon and Uturoa is on the east side of the island right in the path of the wind acceleration zone. The dock is outside of the little harbor area and more less open to the lagoon. It can get pretty choppy on the dock in big winds.
We pulled onto the fuel dock which is the slightly more sheltered end of public dock. We had acquired a duty free permit in Papeete when we cleared in that saved us a lot of money on our fill up. We also filled up our two gas jugs and the diesel jug we carry with full duty as it seems only the big boat gets duty free treatment.
Hideko grabbed us some Special Chow Mein for lunch while I handled the arduous job of fuelling through the baja filter. The fuel turned out to be fine but you never know until afterwards and I never let the anxious attendants talk me out of using it (they always try). I did have to take a break to let a taxi boat fill up as they only have one diesel pump.
The wind was really ripping through the harbor, sticking around 23 knots. We did manage to back the boat up along the dock to get out of the fueling area. This gave Hideko a chance to hit the Champion shopping store while I cleaned up around the boat. The Champion is about as large as the Chin Lee in Bora Bora, which is about as big as markets get outside of Tahiti.
After the Shell station closed a shuttle came into port so we had to move forward again into the fuel dock area. Normally the shuttles pick up on the outer dock but it was too choppy today. We met some friendly Kiwis on a yacht called Jellyfish and they moved up behind us to try to get out of the chop.
It was kind of fun to be tied up in town but I think one day would be enough. It is pretty busy, rough on the boat with the wakes and chop in big winds but the worst bit was the Paul Gauguin. The PG is a cruise ship that does the Cooks and French Polynesia. It is big but small enough that it can get into most of the lagoons. Unfortunately it spews nasty diesel fumes day and night and the wind was blowing them right into our boat half the time. At least it was blocking the wind a bit.
Hideko and I though about leaving when she got back from the store but it was late and we were in no rush. It was also blowing pretty good and if it calmed down tomorrow (as, once again, it was supposed to) it would be easier to get off the dock in the crowd.