Moorea, August 11-15, 2007
10 September 2007
MOOREA August 11-15, in which we see a pig running with a bicycle, have some very wet dinghy rides, a very special dinner ashore, and spend some time with good friends.
A quick day-hop of few hours brought us across the channel between Tahiti and Moorea. The wind was far lighter than expected as we went through the pass out of Tahiti, but we needed a bit more power in the batteries anyway, so didn't mind motoring. The seas were fairly big and coming from several directions at once, making for a rolly ride. About half way across, the wind picked up to 25 knots and we had a boisterous sail for the remainder of the trip. Upon arrival at Opunohu Bay, we found many boats we knew anchored in a lovely swimming pool type anchorage - light blue waters over shallow sandy bottom with great holding, just inside the pass through the reef.
The next morning we put the dinghy in and had a very wet dinghy ride inside the reef against 25 knots of wind, up to Cook's Bay, a few miles to the east. Gannet was anchored up there, and we'd told him on the radio we'd try to dinghy up the day before, but had not made it off the boat. After getting totally drenched by the spray, we entered the comfort of Cook's Bay, found Gannet anchored well within, but alas, no one was home. Since then we've managed to speak a few times on the radio, but never did have the chance to get together. Finding Gannet deserted, we went ashore and took a walk along the bay, and had lunch at a small "deli" which was a very simple sandwich shop, not really a deli at all. This island is very laid-back, no real towns, just a few villages and homes and a few resorts scattered along the shore-line. We did see one very unusual sight here - a man bicycling past holding the leash of a pig running alongside him. We weren't sure if he was trying to exercise his pig because he looked forward to lean pork, or if he was just transporting it somewhere. The pig looked like he was used to running, and had no problem keeping up.
Monday morning we had another long dinghy ride, this time to the west along the inside of the reef, trying to find where the tour boats gather to feed the stingrays. Several people had told us how nice it was to get in the water with the rays and have them come right up to you so you could pet them (and they hope, feed them). The directions we'd received were a bit unspecific, and we went a very long way without seeing any tour boats, until after passing the second resort we saw one headed out between two small motus (islands along the fringing reef), so followed him out. The tourists were in the water by the sandy beach, some sitting, some standing in a foot or less of water, while rays swam in their laps and around their feet. We anchored the dinghy nearby and strolled over, only to be told this was a private island, and while we were not allowed there, we could take a few pictures and watch for no more than 5 minutes. No ray touching for us! Another long incredibly drenching dinghy ride back against 25 knot winds and nasty chop took us home again, quite disappointed. The man from the tour boat had told us about a "public" ray area on the way back, but we couldn't find it, although along the way did get to watch some incredible kite boarders soaring into the air off the waves. That afternoon we were invited over to Gammel Dansker to share sundowners with Gisela and Holgar whom we had met in the Galapagos.
Tuesday brought lots of rain off and on, so I was able to scrub the cockpit cushions and catch some water. Bryan went to Gammel Dansker to give Gisela some information on a new weather product he has been using, called Fleet Codes, which we can get either via the radio or the sat phone. That night we got all dressed up and went ashore to the Sheraton Resort for a buffet and traditional Polynesian show, a big treat for us. The food was good, but not great for the price. The show was nicely done, and we had a front table so had a great view. They were very good at engaging the audience, and involving them in various Polynesian activities, from grating a coconut to tying a pareo to dancing. Bryan was pulled to the floor by a lovely wahini and taught a few Polynesian dance steps, and I was presented a gorgeous flower head piece. The funniest part was when the troupe leader pulled a young Japanese honeymooner to the stage, and taught him to tie a pareo so it looked like shorts, which involved lots of squirming and jumping and required him to take his own pants off.