A Taxing Life
26 July 2016 | Anne in Shirley Valentine Moment
Earlier this week we did a road tour of the two islands that make up Huahine. In summary, it's like driving through a professionally kept botanic garden. All the roadsides are as neatly trimmed as a 1950's moustache. The roads and sides streets are swept clean and every property is bordered by dead straight lines of local flora.
It's like how I imagined the Caribbean to be like before we got there and saw the reality.
The Pacific Islanders have a lifestyle and work ethic of their own and it's very relaxing to be around. Everyone has a smile for you and no hidden agenda.
No one we've spoken to can understand e economics of the islands. It seems every family drives around in a new truck yet there's little or no industry. Tourism seems locked behind the hedges of Intercontinentals and Hiltons. As visitors we surmise the French taxpayers support the islands, one rumour to the extent of €2 billion a year. However, one tour guide we spoke to was adamant they didn't receive a penny. Or indeed a Euro.
So thanks to all our friends in France for your contributions. If you would like to bypass the French government please feel free to send any donations to Time Bandit and we will see your hard earned cash is wisely distributed.
Two of the boats in our "fleet" have decided to stay in French Polynesia, planning to turn around, head back west to sit out cyclone season in the Marquesas.
Could be worse plans.
19 July 2016
Moored inside the reef here after quick overnight passage from Moorea. Just the one boat on the reef here so quite reassuring. Off snorkeling then beach BBQ for lunch,.
Sh, Shhh, Shaaark
17 July 2016
Sh, shh, shaaaark
I'm not sure which travel genius came up with the concept of an attraction where feeding the sharks was the main event but here in Mo'orea it's big business.
Pretty much all day there's a steady stream of tour boats and kayaks heading for a sandy bank on the reef where the sharks and rays know to come for some free and effortless nosh.
Sardines is apparently the favoured dish and the rays will eat out your hand. Or your hand if they can get it.
"Feed them as if you're giving a horse a carrot" said the rather attractive "guide" showing a tinned sardine on the opened flat palm of her hand. The poor girl was obviously supplementing her income with this summer "guide" job as poor thing could only afford the bottom half of a bikini.
After twenty minutes of instruction I thanked her and went off to commune with the wildlife.
Sharks and ray's were all around, in the crystal clear water, the rays happy to brush their silken wings up against you to get a morsel, or in one case, a nibble of a tourist's index finger. If only she'd had the instruction!
We leave our anchorage here, mid reef in the lagoon to head for Huahine, an overnight sail of about 85 miles. The forecast is good so we should get a good run.
Pics when I work out how to get them off my underwater camera and onto this phone.
Hunt For Red October
16 July 2016
Remember that movie? Remember the bit where old Sean is sneaking through the deep water canyons to evade the chasing subs?
Well, we did something like that yesterday, albeit on the surface. After a week in Cook's Bay we headed around the corner to Oponuha Bay or, more accurately, inside the lagoon at the top of the bay. The entry was marked but thereafter it was eyeball. "brown, go around" Blue, push on through" was the order of the day. At a knot or two we followed the 30 metre "canyon" around and into the pool at the end. The canyon walls shot up abruptly from the seabed, to just 1 - 2 metres on either side. A bit nerve wracking but we made it into the pool meeting up with some other cruising buddies meeting up for sundowners with the azure blue water, slowly drying out around us 'till we were surrounded by coral reef.
Dead calm all night to the point I was convinced we were aground. Running around the deck with my lead line at 02:00 proved we weren't. Just our long keel making us sit differently to everyone else. Oooh the strain. So I went back to bed.
This morning we headed off down the lagoon, check it out on the Google Earth map, to swim with the rays and sharks.
Folk were feeding them. The rays would eat out your hand. The sharks just kept looking at juicy legs but none made a move.
Pics when we next hit wifi.
14 July 2016
It's just getting tougher and tougher the longer we stay here in Mo'orea.
It always takes us a few days to settle into a place. Problem is, if we then like it we get stuck. And it's not only us. Wee Rupert and his missus are round the corner, his twin masts dominating the skyline for miles around but again, no sign of the newlyweds. Probably down below counting the money.
Yesterday was walk the island day, or at least as far as our wee legs would carry us. Given our daily exercise is largely made up up climbing the cabin steps into the cockpit then finding the most comfortable position to repose, yesterday's mammoth walk had us in our pit by early evening.
If you've got an iPhone you get a free fitness App to measure how many steps you take per day - in our terms, the Slothometer.
A tough day on board can see you put in upwards of 160 steps. Sometimes over 200 and some of these are up a ladder so, pretty hard core.
Yesterday's marathon was
45645 steps. From 160 to 45k No wonder we're knackered.
However, it's time to move on so this afternoon we may see if we can unearth the anchor from 15 metres down and head around the corner to Oponuha Bay so were positioned to A) go swimming with the rays and sharks tomorrow and B) move on oop north to Raitea and Bora Bora.
09 July 2016
This photo doesn't really do it justice but this is a really nice shirt complete with a little yacht motif.
08 July 2016 | Bali Hai Hotel, Mo'orea
Marinas really should come with a health warning, "Caution: Marina Velcro Disease prevalent here".
We stopped for a few days - in fact, we had no intention of going to the marina, we were on our way to the anchorage but, under a bit of pressure I said OK, we'll just go in for a look. That was nearly three weeks ago.
As perhaps the main "cross road" for Pacific Puddle Jumpers, the marina was full of boats we knew. Party on! On passage, people diverge to visit their chosen spots then, like bees to pollen, or more like, yotties to a party, all come together again to make further assaults on their gin and beer supplies.
Being tied up to a big steady pontoon in a new marina, flat calm, no anchor clunking, no chain wrapping, stress free, shore powered, walk off the boat environment was, after six months at sea, just too much of a luxury to miss.
Having just typed that, maybe "luxury", while correct in relative terms, misses the point that as an option, like our posh pals Julian and Lyn, we could be on the Queen Mary. Or like my brother, doing our trip but with P&O. Now that's luxury.
In keeping with our relative luxury approach to tourism, in an effort to see more of the island we decided we'd get the local bus to the furthest point on the island. Jumping in, we showed the driver our map and pointed to where we wanted to go. He hadn't a clue what I wanted, despite hours of Michel Thomas Learn French in Twenty Minutes. He wasn't much interested in the fact that the "ciel was bleu aujourd'hui" or that I was 16, so some locals came to the rescue.
The consensus was that there was NUTHIN to see way out there so we should sit tight and get off with the lady and her two kids in front.
"D'accord" I said completely fluently and we headed off in the chicken shack on wheels that passed for a bus.
A half hour later, our new best friend turns and says, "come with me". Shades of Morocco go through my head, but away we went. Off the bus, along the street, down a dirt track, definitely Morocco I'm thinking, to this woman's house on the beach. Strangest thing was, in her back garden which ran down onto the beach, was a Contender, the same single hander boat I used to race as a boy. Somehow it found its way from Bob's Boat Yard in London to Tahiti.
Anyway, our NBF, had us hop in the car and she drives us for 30 minutes into the tropical rain forest interior. Was that the sound of drums I heard????
As we parted Anne went into her wallet to give her a boat card. She thought Anne was getting some money and vehemently said "No, no, no."
Polynesia so far has been like this. Everyone is so friendly and unlike the Caribbean no one has a hidden agenda.
Such a pleasure.
Meanwhile, back in our peasant / sea gypsy existence we finally managed to tear ourselves out the marina, although we might still be linked by the huge tendrils of weed we accumulated during our stay, and headed for Mo'orea, 15 miles west of Tahiti.
We are on the deck of the Bali Hai hotel under the mountains, sipping a coffee in the blazing sun.
It's tough, but someone's gotta do it.
Nothing in the Papers?
05 July 2016
Well, if there's nothing in THE papers, other than pictures of celebrities you've never heard of, photographed and, scandal, apparently a couple of pounds heavier than when last snapped through the bushes by some paparazzi at 200 yards and/or recently split for the fourth time after a full 5 months of marriage to their latest hunk, it seems there is money IN papers.
Rupert Murdoch turned up in the marina in Vertigo, his 64 metre, 850 ton ketch. The water level rose 3 inches when they arrived and the lights dimmed when he plugged into shore power.
We walked round to say hello but either he and Jerry were down below or maybe just too busy. Ahhh. Young love.
Today's grand outing was to the Mussee de Tahiti et Les Isles with Trevor and Jan from Villomee. An hour on the bus in the morning rush hour traffic of Papeete then another two wandering around the museum. The blessing here was that, as they didn't have any, there were no ranks cases of broken plates to admire.
Wooden plates. Wooden bowls. Wooden boats. Wooden spears. All to go with their houses which, of course, are made of, you guessed, wood. With a bit of thatched palm tree leaves for roofing.
All seemed to be going well for the Polynesians, populated from the west over centuries by pretty good sailors and navigators. Then the western influence made its impact.
Measles, mead and missionaries. Not necessarily in that order.
Despite all that, the friendly locals got on very well with their guests from afar. Too friendly for Captain Cook's crew who brought gifts of nails, clothes and, latterly, small children.
We had our own friendly welcome yesterday hitch hiking back from a trip to the closed museum, when a local chap went ten miles out his way to run us back to the boat. Polynesia has been like that throughout. Friendly, welcoming folk, in a clean and tidy environment.
We're moving on tomorrow just in case we get Velcro'd permanently to the easy life of the marina. Not sure whether north or south. We'll see where the wind blows us.