Tahaa and Marina Iti
13 September 2008 | Tahaa
After a rough night with squalls and stink exhaust from the Paul Gauguin, I was woken by a wrap on the hull. It was 7AM and the guy who runs the fuel dock wanted us off. As it turned out we wanted to top up with another 60 liters or so now that our tanks had fully equalized.
I told him I wanted diesel (in French) and he said go in 5 minutes and walked away. We were having communications problems? I asked again to get diesel. He got nasty and once again insisted I get off of his dock (which was really the city's dock).
Of course the wind was up over 20 again and blowing from about 20 degrees off of the port bow with us starboard to. Swingin the stern out would be tough due to how close Jellyfish was behind us, our wide beam and the wind trying to put us back on. Also once backing off I would have to stay on it hard to clear Jellyfish and avoid the dock that curved around on the far side. Springing off by the stern was a no go with the ship on the dock off the port bow.
As I was considering all of this I began stripping the lines down to just a bow and stern. At this point I had apparently over run my allotted five minutes. The owner or manager of the Shell station returned and untied our bow line and threw it aboard the boat without a word. I was standing on the dock watching the 20 some knot wind begin to peel our bow off the dock with the stern still tied up.
After a few seconds on time stop disbelief I jumped on the rub rail and grabbed the bow line and quickly made it fast again. Fortunately the wind hadn't gusted around to starboard and I had enough line to make fast.
So not only was this lunatic not willing to sell me diesel but he was also willing to put our home and the yacht behind us at risk. I was on the fuel dock, yes, but no one was waiting and I wanted to buy fuel! This nut was a westerner as was the guy who owned Raiatea Marine who would not let us stay on his mooring after finding we had done business with the Carenage, I am ashamed to be related. I can't imagine a Polynesian ever acting so.
There was no room for us to slide back and I didn't want to wake the Jellyfish crew. There was a tight spot behind them but given the wind and chop we decided to just head out.
We left a forward spring looped onto a bollard and drove up on a fender. This boat seems big to me only when doing this type of thing with the wind howling. It was really hard to get the stern out in the conditions. Once out is was even trickier to pull back quickly to avoid slipping into Jellyfish. The key is keeping the rudder centered or a little to port. If you let it run to lock it will act like a break.
Once out of the harbor we headed for Tahaa. The channel that runs east of the central bank between the two islands is gusty and choppy in these conditions. I would have preferred to have brought our dinghy up but given the hospitality of the non indigenous business interests we decided to leave it in the water.
We circumnavigated the whole island of Tahaa over the day. It is a beautiful island with deep winding bays which we explored fully. There is a cruiser friendly pension and restaurant in Haamene Bay with a Turtle nursery and free moorings for guests. Tahaa itself is not long on beaches but there are many lovely sand spots on the motus at the north end of the island. You can anchor off of the southern most motu on the west side near the Tahaa Private Island Resort and Spa for a nice but expensive meal. The west pass of Tahaa, Pass Paipai, faces southwest but seemed pretty reasonable even with the 25 knot winds coming through the break in the islands. Late in the day we saw the Paul Gauguin cruise ship come through this pass so I would imagine that it is large enough to serve in most conditions.
We wrapped up our day in Apu Bay on a Marina Iti Mooring (aka The Taravana Yacht Club). The marina is really a restaurant with cruiser services (such as laundry, water, internet and the like) and a mooring field. The moorings are nice since the anchorage is about 100 feet in most spots. The restaurant is also fantastic. Hideko and I went in for a late lunch and greatly enjoyed it. Many of the charter boats bound for Marina Apooiti across the bank in Raiatea spend their last night here, so you may want to radio or call ahead to reserve a spot. Maui runs the Marina and is a wonderful host.
The mooring field is well protected but still has some breeze from the trades. It is a great spot to enjoy a day or two at Tahaa.