Society Islands – Tahiti, Moorea, Tahaa, Raiatea.
08 July 2018
Photo: Outrigger racing.
Sunday 10th June we left the anchorage at Toau at 05:30am for the 220nm overnight passage to Papeete, Tahiti. As tends to happen, we motored in relatively flat seas with little wind until 17:00 when just on dusk the wind picked up along with the seas. It was also a moonless night so we were barreling along in the dark in confused uncomfortable seas, not a pleasant night. The wind did not ease or the seas flatten out till we were 20nm from Papeete. As we approached Papeete harbour we called Port Control on VHF Channel 12 to ask permission to enter the port as it is a commercial port with commercial traffic, they also ask you to confirm when you pass the northern end of the airport runway to ensure there are no planes due and once you are given permission to pass the end of the runway you again have to call them as you approach the southern end. We then proceeded to the anchorage area which is on the south side of the island and were met with 20 – 30kt winds as we anchored. A challenge but we did find a spot and had the anchor down by 15:45.
The next day there was no breeze so we set about taking the Yankee off the forestay as it needed a minor repair. As we were doing this Sam, a cruising English sailmaker anchored next to us, came over and offered to have a look at the sail and repair the sail for us. What a bonus, it meant we did not have to take the sail ashore in the dinghy to find the sailmaker, and it is a very heavy sail. We transferred the sail to Sweet Chariot, then went ashore to find our bearings and visit the supermarket and Gail got a much needed haircut. We also found out that the best internet was in a local park next to a public building, it was free and used by locals and tourists. When we returned to the Dol later in the afternoon, Toby, Sam’s husband, returned our repaired Yankee, great service.
Wednesday we took the local bus into Papeete and spent the day walking around chandleries, the craft market and various other stores. Papeete was a disappointment, the focal point is the harbour with the ferries and yachts and was quite nice, the people were very friendly and helpful but there is rubbish littering all the roads and footpaths. We were back at the boat late afternoon for drinks and a quiet evening. The next 2 days was spent provisioning, wheeling the supermarket trolleys back along the road from the very large Carrefour to the dinghy dock, not an easy feat. With the boat cleaned, we are now ready for the arrival of Brian’s son, Damon and his wife Jacs with the 2 grandkids, they will be with us for 2 weeks, looking forward to lots of fun.
Sunday17th June at 16:30, Brian took the dinghy ashore to pick up Damon, Jacs, Isla and Zach. It was then a busy evening settling them into boat and catching up on all their news. Monday Brian and Damon set about fixing the Reef-Rite roller furler while Gail and Jacs went into the supermarket for the final provisioning. Later in the afternoon everyone went into the water for the first swim of the holiday, great fun.
After breakfast on Tuesday we lifted the anchor and sailed across to Opunohu Bay, Moorea in 24 knots of breeze dropping the anchor just inside the entrance to the east at 12:30. It was time for the grandchildren to go ashore for a run on the beach and swim. They came back pretty excited as they had seen fish and a small shark, how cool was that. The following day we moved further into the bay, for a look and decided to stay for the night. We took the dingy over to a small cove on the west side of the bay where there is a small magasin which had baguettes, great fresh baguettes for lunch. Later after a walk ashore, we inflated the paddle board and took turns around the bay while Isla and Zach played off the back of the boat with whichever adult was free. During our walk ashore we saw the shrimp (prawn) farm at the head of the bay and remembered that on Wednesdays they sold fresh shrimp, packed in ice, we bought a couple of kilos. They were very fresh and tasted wonderful cooked on the bbq.
The walk up to Belvedere lookout was approximately 5kms and too far for the kids, so Brian and Gail left early the next morning and walked up. We took the road as it had rained quite heavily during the night and the tracks were all slippery and muddy. Along the way we passed an archaeological dig at a Marae site and saw the Agricultural University which seems to be prominent in this part of the island. There were several walking and cycling tracks coming off the main road, which unfortunately due to the heavy rain of the night before would have been too wet and muddy for us, there is always another day. Whilst we were ashore Isla and Zach saw a turtle swimming alongside the boat, exciting for the little ones. A quick trip to the Magasin for more baguettes then it was off to Cooks Bay 2nms away. However we could not get there inside the reef and had to go outside in 22 knots of breeze and reasonable seas to re-enter the reef into Cooks Bay.
Anchoring in Cooks Bay we went ashore to the supermarket to find some ice blocks and ice creams, not as easy as it sounds as the only ice blocks we found contained alcohol. It was back to the dinghy and across to the Mobil service station were we found ice blocks. Back to the boat for nibbles, dinner and relaxation. The wind tends to funnel in Cooks Bay and we had some good gusts, but the anchor held and we had a comfortable night. Before breakfast we upped anchor and moved to the outside of Cooks Bay where Brian and Damon went for a snorkel on the reef while Jacs, Gail, Isla and Zach puttered round in the dinghy. It was then time to go ashore for a walk on the beach, a swim in the shallows and Isla and Zach to burn off some energy with mum and dad. They came back to the boat excited as there was a village ashore with shops, there was also somewhere to have lunch. So we all piled back into the dinghy and went to the Morea Boating Club for lunch and a walk around the shops, where Isla and Zach made friends with a little Tahitian girl. Language is no barrier to children, as they happily chased each other around and then sat down to read a book. The next morning Damon and Brian went for a snorkel in the reef entrance and then did a couple of jobs on the Dol including replacing the forward deck flood light up the mast. We then moved into Cooks Bay in preparation for the Pacific Puddle Jumpers Rendezvous which was due to start early evening.
All the rally boats started to arrive and at 16:30 we went ashore to be welcomed with a drink and a flower. It was then time for some presentations on Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand before a buffet dinner and entertainment of dancing, music and some fire dancing. We met up with friends John and Lynn from the Island Cruising Association, we left NZ with their rally in 2010, Mike and Kelly, Dash, Chris and Elissa, Barefeet and many others. A late night but the afternoon nap the kids had worked well and they managed to stay awake.
Saturday morning we were ashore by 8:45 as Damon and Brian had joined with Lisa and Hank, Harlequin, to race in the outrigger canoe event. Each outrigger had 2 locals in the bow and stern and 4 cruisers. There were 24 teams with round robin racing followed by semi-finals and a final. The guys surprised everyone as they made it through to the final and managed to finish second, a great effort. The racing was followed by lunch, more dancing and local games. There was local arts and crafts on display and Isla painted her own sarong and did a great job, the lady running the stall was most impressed. The children also enjoyed playing on the beach, swimming and making friends with other children. A great day was had by all.
We left the Rendezvous at 15:00, packed the boat up and sailed overnight to Raiatea and Tahaa, 100 nms away, arriving early morning. We motored around the inside of the lagoon and anchored outside Tahaa resort in crystal clear water. Anchored alongside us was John and his family on Sakari, we had not seen them since Tenerife in 2016. It was then time to put the dinghy in the water and go across to the Coral Gardens for Isla and Zach to have a run around with mum while Gail, Damon and Brian went for a snorkel. What a surprise, it is shallow but teaming with fish life and coral, including lots of clams. Isla and Zach had their first ever snorkel with mum and dad helping, they loved the fish so much they went back the next day. We moved to Patio the next morning and went ashore to the supermarket and a road side fruit stall where we chatted to a friendly local man who told us all about the Hieva dance festival, and we tried some rambuttan fruit. An afternoon out at the reef and a trip ashore for the kids to the beach, we motored around to Haamene Bay for the night. The bay is quite deep, almost totally enclosed and on the way in 2 local guys in outrigger canoes enjoyed a surf and paddle in the wake of Dol.
A walk around the village in the morning and a visit to the reasonably stocked supermarket, then it was off to find a sandy beach for a swim. We anchored at Isla Tipaemau, Raiatea, on the outer reef, a small island with lots of coconut palms and sandy beaches, where we spent a couple of days swimming and enjoying the beach. With a potential change in the weather late Friday afternoon we moved to Vairahi Bay for the night, then onto a mooring at Baie Apu, Tahaa, opposite the airport. Sunday morning, 1st July, we motored across to Raiatea and Brian took Damon, Jacs and the grandchildren into the airport dinghy dock to catch their flight back to Papeete and then onto Auckland, a great 2 week holiday for them had come to an end.