Mopelia, day two
19 October 2020
Russ Whitford | bit stormy
Day Two, September 21
The night treated us to a nasty squall. Anchor held as usual but one always questions the ability of 40 pounds of steel to hold a 22,000 pound boat in a storm. We replaced the rusted chain in Raiatea a month ago and are enjoying the renewed faith in our ground tackle.
Norma, from last night's dinner, invited us to walk on the ocean reef and she would show us how to collect shells in the flat rocks of the reef. The morning was gray and rainy but we joined 2K in going ashore just after 9:00. Norma was waiting for us and we hiked through their jungle path to the reef. The sand flats before the reef were covered with low bushes and a thousand terns. They were squawking up a racket and flying overhead. This is hatching season. We observed their eggs just strewn on the gravel under the bushes. Norma said she and Harry eat the eggs in the early season before the embryos develop.
The reef was too rough to wade out for shells. Lisa went right to work and collected some worn specimens from the beach. We later walked back to the "road" along the motu. Norma explained the road was 8 km long and a nice bike ride. Someone must have brought in some heavy equipment at one time (French government spends a lot of money in FP!) The road was a hard packed gravel and fairly smooth.
We hiked a few km south, past some unused homesteads and came upon Kevin, who lives in a modest hut and harvests copra. Kevin's boat was upside down with two holes in the keel. He explained he didn't have any col (glue) to fix it. I explained we had some on Uproar and would help him patch up his boat. He said he had some fiberglass and showed me a water-logged piece in a bucket. Kjell mentioned he had some dry fiberglass. I think we can get Kevin back in the water.
The rest of the afternoon was just reading and relaxing for me. However, Lisa was hard at work in the galley. She baked one of her loafs of sourdough bread for tonight's dinner party and made about eight pounds of granola. Lisa's granola is not much oatmeal but mostly nuts and seeds. I opened and shredded two coconuts to add to the mix. She bakes four batches of her mix in the oven, taking all afternoon. We mix this granola with yogurt (either bought or made onboard) for most of our breakfasts. This batch will last until we depart in December.
We met another boat in the anchorage, Le Pekeko, the day before. We had talked with them on the SSB radio weeks before. They are a New Zealand family waiting to sail to NZ for the November cyclone season. Chris and Magalie and their two girls, Alise and Anok had been in Mopelia for several weeks. Magalie is from Quebec and they are all fluent in French. Anok and Alise are 14 and 15yo. They are great friends with Karina and Faimanu, daughters of Marcello and Adrian, the family for whom we brought supplies. The four girls camped for a night on a nearby motu and hunted coconut crabs at night. That was to be the main dish for tonight's thank you dinner.
We had cocktails on Le Pekeko and all dinghied ashore for another fabulous dinner. A large table was beautifully set near the beach. The open-air kitchen and grill were abuzz with activity. Marcello gave a little speech thanking us and welcoming us to Mopelia. We were made to feel like honored guests. Everyone dug in family style to poison cru, rice, grilled Mahi (again from the monster 2K caught) and large bowls of crab de coco. The coconut crabs are quite large, often several pounds. Their powerful claws taste like most, sweet crab meet. But their plum-shaped body is a mushy meat most often described as fois gras. The crabs were crushed up into chunks and the fois gras was mixed with spices, covering all. This gave the crab meat a rich, earthy sauce. It was a struggle to get the bits of meat out but well worth it. No napkins are used and we were up to our elbows in the meal. Lisa is often reluctant to tackle food she has to dissect but ate more crab than anyone. All enjoyed her loaf of sourdough bread, delicious as always.
We had fun talking and enjoying their three puppies when the meal was over. We had met Marcello and Adrian's son, Hero, a year ago in Raiatea and Huahine. Last summer, I was visiting home and Lisa was alone on Uproar in Huahine. A poorly anchored charter catamaran dragged anchor and bumped into Uproar. Lisa was on shore bike riding and no one was on the catamaran. Hero and Silke put Uproar's fenders between the two boats and helped shove the catamaran away. When Lisa returned, the Catamaran captain was profusely sorry and offered to pay for damages. Luckily, there were just a few scratches on Uproar but our anchor bow casting gouged the entire side of the cat. Served him right. Hero then told Lisa about a sunken mooring that would be quite safe in the strong winds. He helped her move Uproar and dove for the strong mooring. He truly was a hero.
I met Hero in Raiatea when I had Uproar in the yard for bottom paint. Hero was hanging out there doing odd jobs on boats. I thanked him for helping Lisa and he was all smiles. We shared a few sundowners and dinners on Uproar and enjoyed the camaraderie of the boatyard. Hero has an old IOR boat painted yellow, Ugly Duckling. It truly is. I had a spare #4 jib that was brand new but not something I anticipated needing. I gave it to Hero for UD. He couldn't have been happier. Marcello was pleased to hear about the kind assistance his son gave us. What a small place is the large archipelago of French Polynesia.