22 July 2013 | Island of Huahine - least commercial island in French Poly
HUAHINE, FRENCH POLYNESIA (more photos here: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/sailmaestro/?show=gallery&aid=24865 )
We have anchored off the island of Huahine and the natives seem to be restless! Upon early morning arrival after an overnight sail from Moorea we anchored close to a lovely white sand beach. This is great! Another perfect French Poly anchorage.... could this be to good to be true? Yep. To our alarm we heard a loud voice coming from the shore. Looking at eachother...Is he talking to us? We took a closer listen and noticed the older Polynesia man, who was now yelling in Tahitian, that he owns the area that we were anchored in. Apparently he also owned the area where another french boat was, as he was getting a lashing too. This was all semi-translated by giggling French sailors passing by in a dinghy. Let me preface this with the fact that Huahine is supposed to be the last remaining polynesian style local island. Most of F.P is quite westernized by all things French including the loss of their Tahitian language. Our idea of local island is tiki huts, fishermen, dirt roads and lots of fruit to barter near by. You wont find that here anymore. Anyway - back to the story. After feeling dumbfounded as to why this guy is so protective of the waters in front of his, very western large house, we figured he must be a lunatic, right? The anchorage is filled with about 15 other boats but we and the other french boat were the closest to the beach. He was yelling at him too? So this cant be an anti-american thing? Then another guy runs out onto the beach yelling in plain english to MOVE YOUR F-ING BOAT OR ILL COME OUT THERE AND SHOOT YOU WITH A GUN AND KICK YOUR ASS. Now... initially this was kind of funny until the thought actually sunk in and he continued to repeat other profanities in plain english. It was way to early in the day for this kind of conduct and we were quite shocked, very tired from the nights passage so we picked up and moved the boat to another anchorage which was nearby across the bay. I am pretty sure they hit us with a pellet gun as we were picking up anchor - welcome to Huahine, we thought! We reported the problem to the Gendarme and of course they told us it hasn't been the first complaint. We have since met people who have had the same encounter so the police didn't do much to help the situation.
French Poly has been a mix of paradise, partial welcoming vibes and dissapointment. In my opinion; simply put, the water, sailing and scenery are some of the best we have seen but the lack of beaches, hospitality, (which the polynesias are apparently known for), are a dissapointment. I wont say anymore on the subject because we are having the time of our lives and wouldn't change our decision to make the crossing. It is well worth the small inconveniences that you will get anywhere you travel. It is just that it is different than the pastime stories you hear from sailors even 15 years ago. The political problems here are difficult for the Tahitian people to overcome. They are educated by the French, paid by the French and policed by the French. It feels like modern day colonializm. If you think that modernizing people into tax paying citizens, at the loss of their own culture, is a great idea then you would disagree with my perspective. I have felt sad for the polynesians since I arrived in Marquesas. The last 150 years out here has almost all but wiped the polynesian culture from the world. So... the moral is that tolerance when getting hit will pellet guns may be required when traveling in F.P. It is a complex cultural transition into western society.