Closer to leaving
04 May 2016 | Home in Anchorage
Here we are, only eight days from leaving Alaska for the South Pacific and our beloved Wings. How we’ve missed her!
We’ve been buying and packing frantically since we returned last year and we’ve STILL not got everything that we wanted! How is that even possible? We’ve got a lot, to be sure, but not everything.
An interesting point: this is our first trip since we’ve departed from Mexico that we’ve not had a particular destination in mind or had major repair work hanging over our heads. Where will we go? We have only the broadest outlines at this point. Raiatea, of course, our home island, needs a lot more exploration. We’ll do that by car and boat. Taha’a, the sister island within the same coral reef, has several vanilla plantations and we’re bound to visit at least one to learn the story of vanilla in the tropics. From there, Huahine and Bora Bora are on the list. We’ve only seen a tiny bit of each and yearn to see more. Bora Bora, especially, is high on the list since we’ve seen so little of it and it’s so beautiful.
We’re considering an island in one of the five island groups of French Polynesia: Raivavae. Cruise leader and innovative sailor, Jimmy Cornell, says that it’s the most beautiful in the world but its location in the Southernmost of French Polynesian island groups limits those who get to visit. It’s about 440 miles SE of Tahiti, or about 5 days for us to reach from that island. With no guests or timetable, we might do that. Of course, five days there means at least five days back, so it’s a big chunk of time. We’ll see how we feel when we’re there.
We also want to see more of Moorea, the sister island to Tahiti. Its mountainous area has garnered some great reviews.
At this point, we have no huge problems to solve nor major installations to complete, so we hope that the work that we’ve requested (some minimal maintenance such as bottom painting) will be completed correctly and prior to our arrival. We’ve not had great work done there but hope springs eternal.
We’re staying in the same will Pension Tiare Niu in which we’ve stayed before. This will be our second time there and we’re getting to be regulars. The manager is even fetching us at the local Raiatea airport and delivering us to our little bungalow: how’s that for great service? We know where the stores are, we know some of the people, and feel quite at home.
Raiatea is the second largest island in the Society Islands (another island group in the five in French Polynesia) and the center of the voyages that colonized Hawai’I and other archipelagos. It’s also considered the “holy island” for the local people, and has many old historical and religious sites. Raiatea is part of a three-island group that includes Raiatea, Taha’a, and Bora Bora. Bora Bora is a mere 60 miles away and is easily visible from the northeast to southeast side of Raiatea.
The large religious area, or marae, is named Marae Taputapuatea and is quite extensive. Although the ruins, as I would name them, are the layed-stone platforms, there are still regular religious celebrations held there, as alters and gifts will attest. Historically, the Taputaputea site was in place prior to 1000 AD and was the location of the departure of the great double-hulled sailing canoes that discovered, colonized, and allowed trade, with the Hawai’ian islands. The site features a number of marae and other stone structures and was once considered the central temple and religious center of Eastern Polynesia. We want to visit again.
We will be in French Polynesia for 11 weeks, and we have a week, at least, at either end for commissioning and decommissioning the boat. We’ve reserved the Pension Tiare Niu for both events, so we’ll have a clean and non-messy place to stay as we work in the clutter.
Alaskan weather has been miserable for the past few weeks: overcast, cool, and windy. When it’s like this, it’s not difficult to imagine being in sun and beauty. Our decision to leave a bit later will pay dividends because it’s so much cooler in the islands that late.
More later, I’m sure.