Barracuda's Blog

The adventures of Kate and Graham and their OVNI 395

03 May 2021 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
02 May 2021 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
01 May 2021
30 April 2021 | Airport Anchorage, Tahiti, French Polynesia
25 April 2021 | Moorea, French Polynesia
22 April 2021 | Moorea, French Polynesia
21 April 2021 | Moorea, French Polynesia
20 April 2021 | Moorea, French Polynesia
17 April 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
14 April 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
13 April 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
10 April 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
07 April 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
06 April 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
31 March 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
24 March 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
23 March 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
19 March 2021 | Toau, French Polynesia
18 March 2021
17 March 2021

Memory Lane - Walks to Waterfalls

03 May 2021 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
Many a walk in French Polynesia ends at a waterfall. The water is always lovely and cool. Here we were cooling off in a pool on Ua Pou after a hike up the hill. So refreshing.

BTW - yesterday we headed up the hill near our anchorage for a walk to a little water fall. Not big enough to swim in but at least we could have a cooling paddle. The walk ended up being longer than planned and we reckoned we did about 12 miles round trip on a warm day. Sore feet at the end but good to get up in the hills and trees again. We fell into the sea when we got back to the boat.

Our trip down memory lane

02 May 2021 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
Over the next week or two, until we leave, we are going to post some of our highlights from French Polynesia. Many of these pictures have been on the blog before but this will be our trip down memory lane for the last 12 months.

Today we are thinking about when we first made landfall in Nuku Hiva with Dave and Lesley on board after 21 glorious days at sea. It was one of the most consistent sails that we have ever enjoyed. Our friend Andy should have been with us and it is a real regret that we never managed to make that happen. Arriving at Nuku Hiva, we had little idea of what awaited us in French Polynesia. We were happy to find that it included pizza on our first night.

Remembering Bora Bora

01 May 2021
Graham Walker
Using this blog to share this stunning picture of Bora Bora. We were lucky enough to visit there last year during our tour of the Society Islands. Leaving French Polynesia soon will be hard and you can see why.

The Waiting Game

30 April 2021 | Airport Anchorage, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Kate Walker
Well, here we are at the end of April. This time last year we were in the middle of the Pacific, on our way to French Polynesia, not at all sure what was waiting for us. Now we are back in Tahiti, planning our exit for Fiji - and once again, not at all sure what awaits us.

One of Fiji's main islands has uncovered an outbreak of Covid-19 - just a couple of days before the anniversary of its last 'community' case. For the last year the only cases have been those among incoming passengers in quarantine, so they have been prevented from infecting others. This time there was a breach of protocol in the quarantine facility and now the 'main' island, where the airport and capital city are, is under lockdown and there is no inter-island travel. The Fijian government's Facebook page is well worth looking at.

We plan to travel under the 'Blue Lanes' initiative, whereby we have to have our Covid tests 72 hours before departure and quarantine for 14 days before being tested again. Our passage - around 10-14 days - is taken into account as part of our quarantine, provided we do not stop anywhere en route. The island we heading for is not affected by the current outbreak, but we're obviously keeping a close eye on things.

In the meantime, we have had a lovely couple of weeks in Moorea, but are now back in Tahiti, waiting for a weather window for the next adventure and starting on the long list of pre-departure preparations. Lots to do, from refueling and refilling our gas bottles, through getting the boat back into passage mode, to getting clearance from French Polynesia customs and immigration as well as final (post-test) clearance from Fiji.

Just now we're anchored off the airport, which is unusually busy. We were invited to join a 'bob' yesterday - which turned out to be a late afternoon get-together for a beer in water shallow enough to stand in. Just four or five boats, and lots of chat about places west.

BTW - that's a pineapple field in the background.

As time goes by

25 April 2021 | Moorea, French Polynesia
Graham Walker


We’re still waiting to hear about Fiji, and the weather does not look quite right yet for thinking about casting off so we still have time in hand - but plans are being made.

So, to use some of that time G went for a couple of dives with Dive Moorea. The corals and fish were stunning, but the real highlight was diving with a big lemon shark. The dive leaders all know the sharks individually by their fin marks and shapes, and have given them all names. Our shark was about 3m long and with the underwater magnification she looked bigger. Very placid and unconcerned by our being there; a beautiful creature.

G and his dive buddy wanted to meet again, so yesterday we went round to a lovely local hotel to meet him for a drink (Google “Manava Moorea”). The only problem was that on the way in the dinghy we got caught in the heaviest rain squall we have known in these parts. At one point we completely lost sight of the land as well as the marker post in the channel we were trying to follow. We arrived at the hotel soaked through, but the hotel staff kindly brought us towels to dry ourselves and we enjoyed the luxury of a fine hotel for the afternoon, which felt strangely alien from all our time on the boat.

Our daily walks continue; we are really enjoying this routine here but we do need to dodge the tropical downpours!

It has been surprisingly cool recently (by local standards), probably dropping into the low 20’s C at night, which is very refreshing.

Last night we enjoyed a meal out at Te Honu Iti (The Little Turtle), a quirky restaurant we like to visit when we are here. The place looks like it is going to fall into the sea, but the food is great - mostly traditional French cooking. You eat out on the veranda watching the floodlit sharks and rays circling our dinghies below, waiting for scraps. What was noticeable was the lack of tourists. The borders are still sealed tight (for tourists) so the only people out are locals, cruisers like us or folk over from Tahiti for a break.

Walking on Moorea

22 April 2021 | Moorea, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
We are trying to use our time on Moorea to get/stay fit ahead of our next passage so we are making sure to do our 10,000 steps a day. It really is no hardship here. The scenery as we walk up into the volcanic hills is spectacular and the foliage lush and plentiful. It’s an easy climb, with plenty of shade. Wherever you walk there seem to be fruit trees lining the paths with a profusion of coconuts, papaya, passion fruit, breadfruit and mangoes and the strange pale knobbly noni fruit. Then you come upon the wide expanse of a pineapple field, with its tidy rows of dusty green spikes, and the smell is just amazing.

The paths we are walking on seem to be used by plenty of locals for exercise. At one point we came across the school cross-country run (mostly barefoot). On another occasion it was the local running club, and then sometimes we meet mountain bikers. Every now and then you come across beautifully simple dwellings tucked away in the trees. The grounds around these are often immaculate, which is a challenge given the ferocious growth rate here in the tropics.

Start ‘em young

21 April 2021 | Moorea, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
One of the things that we have grown to love watching around Polynesia is the Va'a racing (and the associated practicing). These are the modern version of outrigger canoes. They come in many versions - one person, three person, six person - male teams, female teams, mixed teams. At lunch time you see people head out for a quick paddle. And after work there is nothing better than a blast around in your Va'a. We see the teams practicing together; it is very physical and requires a lot of upper body strength, stamina and good rhythm. The modern day paddles are carbon fibre and probably the boats are as well. Today was the first time we have seen the junior version. The school in Cook's Bay on Moorea has several Va'as and it is obviously a school sports activity.

Remembering Eddie

20 April 2021 | Moorea, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
Yesterday we were privileged to attend a tree planting ceremony in memory of Eddie, the young British boy who was killed last year in a tragic boat accident at Moorea. The ceremony, which was organised and led by the local authorities, included speeches, Polynesian songs and prayers. The ‘ati’ tree was planted just behind the shoreline near where the accident happened. It is surrounded by a frame of palm leaves to protect it until it grows stronger.

The ati tree’s leaves are used to help heal broken bones. The hard green fruit produces the tamanu oil, used to heal cuts and skin problems. The wood is used for carving, and used to be used for building outrigger canoes. The tree itself is planted in the maraes, the sacred open air ceremonial sites, and the spirits rest in the tops of the trees.

We wanted to use this blog as a reminder for ourselves, and our fellow boat users, to be extra careful around other boats and where there could be swimmers in the water. Too often we see craft passing at high speeds between or near anchored boats. It is just not necessary. If you are reading this blog and are a boat user then please join us in doing what you can to make the water a safer place in memory of Eddie.

Back to Moorea

17 April 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
Status Update: our Fiji application is now in. We are not aware of people being turned down for this one so it should, touch wood, just be a matter of time; usually about two weeks. In the meantime we don’t need to be in Tahiti, so we have moved to Moorea to swim and walk and generally chill before we head west. Once the approval comes through we will need to head back into Papeete for about a week before we leave. On the slightly amusing side – eleven months on, our long stay residency cards are finally ready for us at the High Commission. We may just pick them up in case they are useful in future – they are good for five years.

The outflow seems to be starting. One boat left for Fiji yesterday (it’s a bit early but they got pushed out when their 90 day visa expired). Several boats, like us, are leaving for Fiji or Australia soon. The occasional US boat still heads for Hawaii. We know of a couple of boats going back home on a ship in May. Some remain up for sale. The air borders with the USA are about to open which may help people selling, although the border with ‘the metropolis’ remains closed. There seems to be minimal inflow of boats, and the sea borders remain closed. We heard of one boat that arrived without permission and is being sent on its way (with repairs needed, and nowhere to really go).

While we are enjoying our last couple of weeks here, French Polynesia is having its last couple of weeks without tourists, perhaps for a very long time. We hear stories of what it is normally like when everything is running full tilt – we are just glad we have never seen that. Our memories will be of a French Polynesia that is relatively tourist free.

BTW – for anyone interested, we have an article published in the JUNE issue of YACHTING MONTHLY (available for sale from 24th April, we are told).

A walk in the park

14 April 2021 | Papeete, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
Just south of the marina there is an extensive park laid out along the waterfront.

The palm trees waft in the breeze.
The fountains play on the lily pond.
A couple lies in the shade of the frangipane.
A tattooed young man showers outside the washrooms.
A family picnics on the grass.
A mother pushes a toddler on a trike.
A fitness group does a workout routine.
Two Polynesian girls record a dance routine on their mobile phones.
An old man sleeps on a bench.
A teenage boy does wheelies on his bike.
A lady feeds a stray cat.
A man plays a ukulele on the grass.
A father plays badminton with his daughter.
A girl whizzes silently past on her electric bike.
Two middle aged ladies power walk past.
Four men pass on the water in their outrigger canoes.
A lady walks by with her two sausage dogs.
A jogger passes by.
A teenage boy does long hand stands.
His friend exercises on the parallel bars.
Two girls quietly talk, out of earshot.
And an old man sits and stares at the sea.
Vessel Name: Barracuda of Islay
Vessel Make/Model: OVNI 395
Crew: Graham and Kate
About: Learning as we go
Extra: One day at a time
Barracuda of Islay's Photos - Main
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