06 July 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea
We spent the last night aboard while hanging on a mooring at Marina Apooiti, the same from which we ferried Nate and Val to their flight. It seems that the Marina Apooiti port captain doesn't mind our staying on their moorings without paying, but the use of their showers and other services requires payment. We needed nothing so just stayed aboard.
We knew that there was a “water entrance” to the airport since we had seen the dock each time that we had been there. With so many passengers arriving and departing by boat, it made sense to us for there to be a pass in. Shoot, if you lived on Taha'a, you'd have no option but to arrive by boat, since that's the only transportation between the two islands. Conni and I stood at the side of Apooiti to watch for boats going into the pass as we awaited Nate and Val’s showers before they departed, and fortune allowed us to ascertain the entrance by watching several small vessels journey in. When it came time to deliver Nate and Val to the airport, we all bundled into the dinghy (four people and two sets of luggage) and motored to the pass entrance. To say that the pass was poorly marked was an understatement! There were some sticks protruding from the water surface but sporadically. Everyone scoured the surface of the very muddy water to watch for rocks, but we still hit hard enough to stop the engine on several occasions. My fear was that we'd break the prop and be without engine propulsion.
We were fortunate, and never damaged the propeller, and finally reached the airport dock, tied up the dinghy, offloaded everyone, and got N&V checked in. Afterwards, we strolled to the bar or a beer. Originally, we had planned to take Nate and Val to the “Gold Sail”, the good but expensive restaurant at Apooiti, but for some reason it was closed until August. Conni packed for them a few sandwiches for the trip, but we were sad that there was no opportunity to give them a better send off.
The day after our guests departed, we did depart Apooiti for a few hours and motored a mile past the Carenage, into an area that we had not previously explored. After seeing some interesting bays, we returned to Apooiti for the evening. Squalls had swept past us most of the day, so we didn't feel too bad about staying put.
Actually, we had planned to catch a mooring just outside the Carenage, but our selected and last available mooring was grabbed as we explored. A return to Apooiti was just the thing.
Our pull from the water was scheduled for 8:30 AM, so we awakened early to complete the necessary preparations for the pull. We still didn't get everything done! They know us and we know the drill, so in an hour, Wings was in her cradle, we had electricity
, and had started chores.
I won't bore anyone with details of the pull since it's far from our first. Wings is on her cradle now, where she'll be the next 9 months.
Our host at the Pension Tiare Nui, Raihau, met us at the Carenage as promised and Conni joined him for a trip back to complete paperwork. After her return and a few hours of hot work, we drove into Uturoa for groceries and we were both struck by how well we know Uturoa and how comfortable we are walking around and shopping. We know the stores, what each does better, and we know the rhythms of the town.
We're here at the Pension with Internet, an air conditioner, a stand up shower, and, on sunny days, lots of hot water. The next week will be filled with work in the heat and grime of the Carenage yard, someplace that we know well. At day's end, we can return here, get clean and cool, and even take a drive into town for the occasional meal at a roulotte, the food wagons. Dominique, the owner, dropped by to great us with his excellent English, “Welcome home!” And we do feel as if he's right.
The roosters are still here, and it still gets hot during the day, but those irritations have become routine. Interestingly, we have decided to delay our return next year by two weeks, at least. The weather has been so improved in June and July that we feel that we can radically improve our time here if we move it later.