Arrival into Papeete
04 August 2021 | 17 32.383'S:149 34.232'W, Papeete Marina, Tahiti, French Polynesia
17 32.383 S
149 34.232 W
Weather; sunny, wind 5-10 knots, waves 1-2 feet
What a difference a few hours can make. Today was almost as frustrating as it is when we can't move around the boat but the difference was that today turned out to be one almost without any wind what so ever. During the course of the morning it started out with just enough to move us along at around 6 knots but by lunchtime the wind had taken off for some unknown destination and it certainly wasn't going where we were heading. Whilst it was nice to have a beautiful sunny day the no wind situation was having us wonder if we were ever going to get to Tahiti, our arrival time kept extending out further and further. We had originally thought we would be docking in Papeete after 5 days but the instruments were telling us that it was going to be more like 7 days, it's a good job we weren't having to pick up anyone from the airport in Tahiti this time around though we would have loved to have had the company like last time. So we wallowed around for most of the afternoon doing 3-4.5 knots, it was painfully slow going but the sea had flattened out so we weren't getting the bumpy ride that we had previously experienced, in fact it was so smooth that we both managed to get a couple of hours sleep in without being thrown out of bed, so very much needed and good to have caught up. The clouds began to gather as normal around late afternoon and managed to block out the sun set yet again but they didn't affect the wind or seas for a change. When our speed dropped to below 2.5 knots we finally gave in and started up the mechanical wind which we set to give us 4.5 knots which might sound a bit slow but we had worked out that if we went any faster we would be arriving into Papeete in the early hours of the morning. Knowing that the harbour has undergone a few changes since our last visit here we didn't want to be left floundering around in the dark, trying to find our way and knowing that there is nowhere to anchor where we anchored last time as they have built a marina there now. There is also the fact that the airport runway extends over the end of the harbour entrance and you have to make sure that you get clearance from the airport authority to cross the runway approach - no one needs to be wearing a small airplane as a mast decoration! Our aim was to arrive just at sunrise then spend the half hour or so fiddling around and dropping the spinnaker pole back into place on the deck and tidying away the main sail and all of the lines and other stuff that we have out for the passage. We were spot on with our estimation and although we could see Tahiti for a few miles before actually getting close, we made our approach to the harbour just after the sun had risen. We spent the next short while doing the putting of stuff away before we called the port captain to get clearance to enter the harbour. The port captain asked us to go into a holding pattern as he had 2 ferries and a cargo ship about to negotiate the channel, no problem as we were still a little way off and could easily do figure of eight turns for a while. We watched the ferries and cargo ship clear the channel and then got called up by the port captain to go ahead and enter the harbour, he had asked where we were heading and we had said that we were hoping for a marina berth but it hadn't been confirmed, he kindly tried for us but as it was before the marina office opened we still had no idea if we had a spot to go to but we headed into port where we could go around in circles until the office opened. Once we were into the harbour we tried unsuccessfully to call the marina by phone, usually the most successful way to get through but not this time, so we then went to the radio which is more often than not unanswered but got through on the very first try. The marina guy said he would check on where we could berth and would call us back (much like the cheque being in the mail, we thought) but sure enough he called back minutes later and instructed us to go to a starboard side tie up slip at the far end of the marina. The fenders and dock lines were quickly put into place and we headed to the appointed slip where the dock master was waiting to help us tie up. Despite knowing the size of our boat he had put us in a slip which wasn't quite long enough to allow for our dinghy hanging off the davits and our anchor hanging off the bow and as we approached he called out that we would have to go to a different slip, he needed to check what was available. So we backed out and did a circuit whilst he found us another spot, of course it was a port side tie up so we had to scramble to change the fenders and dock lines to the opposite side and by the time we had done that he had vanished from the dock. We headed slowly into the slip and a couple of boat owners from nearby boats came across and caught our lines and helped us to tie up, we had arrived and were now able to turn off the engine. After 6 days we were glad to be able to stop and not worry about the next thing to break or go wrong, though the prospect of fixing stuff looms large in our minds at this point. We had covered 82.2 NM in the last day and had run the engine for 9 hours during that time.
Our trip total mileage was 755.2 NM and I haven't worked out the average speed for the entire trip at this point. It was time for a much needed cup of coffee and some breakfast (I swear I'll kill anyone that offers me a muesli bar at the end of this trip) followed by a shower and some clean clothes. Gerry took off to the marina office to get us checked in and find out what we need to do as far as checking in with customs and immigration is concerned, although we suspected it would be easy as we have already checked into French Polynesia in Nuku Hiva one can never be certain what today's rule might be! The good thing was that they have made it simpler than it used to be as the marina manager is an agent for the customs people and he just forwards all of our completed documentation, we didn't need to go to anywhere else or check in with anyone else and there is no quarantine (possibly because we had come directly from Nuku Hiva but we weren't going to question it.) I did a bit of cleaning up inside the boat whilst Gerry did the checking in stuff and once he had returned it was time to go ashore and find a place to have some lunch. The whole water front is so different now that the marina has been built, there are walkways and a couple of bars / restaurants so we made our way to the furthest one and claimed a table. We had the most wonderful lunch that we've had in a while, proper restaurant style food (and prices!) we even opted to have dessert and I made the biggest mistake of ordering profiteroles, thinking that they would be small and few. Talk about eyes being bigger than bellies there were 3 enormous puffs with massive scoops of cream between them, it would easily have fed 3 people. Gerry had unfortunately ordered a separate dessert for himself, we normally share one between us but this time I was left floundering by myself. I managed to polish off 2 of the puffs and one lot of cream and then gave up. After visiting the ladies I returned to find Gerry had taken a chunk out of the 3rd puff so it didn't entirely go to waste but there was a lesson to be learnt here for sure! So now we are back on the boat and Gerry is already snoring away, I really need to join him once I have got this loaded. I have a few photos to share but they are going to have to wait until tomorrow as I am too tied to upload them right now.