Haamene Bay and a Great Evening
10 September 2020 | Haamene Bay, Taha'a
We departed Vaiaeho Bay on 7 September, slipping the mooring after our usual engine check and instrument check. With everything running smoothly, we slipped the mooring and motored out of Vaiaeho Bay. The conditions were calm so we motored within a mile of the Raiatea reef and re-entered the lagoon at MiriMiri Pass or Rautoanui Pass, and continued on to Haamene Bay, on the SE side of Taha'a and one of Conni's favorites.
As luck would have it, we were the only visitors so the one and only mooring was ours! Yes, we trust our anchoring system, but we also trust a many-hundred-pound block of concrete with good chain! This mooring appeared to be new and we were delighted to have its use.
Hurepiti Bay, on the SW side of Taha'a and Haamene Bay almost meet and divide Taha'a, with both intruding deep into the island. From our location at the head of Haamene, it's a full 3 miles to the lagoon. It's not the bay from which to hide from storms: that's Tapuamu on the west side, but it's a beautiful, lush bay with much to see. Taha'a is known as the Vanilla Island, and rightfully so, since it's home to countless small and large vanilla operations. The tiny village of Haamene has a single fairly-stocked store, a few restaurants, and a large church that's been renovated through the years. They're also home of the Taha'a MaiTai, a world-class restaurant that's on the top of our cuisine list.
We stayed aboard that first afternoon, taking in the sights and enjoying being there. Various other cruisers have been coming in since then, but here we are still on our mooring. There was a local (or French Polynesian, in any case) sailboat, small, with EVERYTHING in red: hull, sail covers, even crew's hats and dinghy chaps! Today, there's a beautiful Outremer cat with a French couple and young son, and a Swiss Beneteau with a very nice couple on it: he's German and she's Swiss. They dropped by on a trip back to their boat from town. They both speak English better than we do, of course, as well as French, German, and who knows what else. On our recommendation, they're planning on dinner at Taha'a MaiTai tonight.
We've walked around the tiny village of Haamene a few times, all of a 1/4 mile of it. Yesterday, we walked well past the store and into the surrounding land, enjoying the friendly people and lush growth. Many homes have small vanilla operations of their own, both small and fairly large. Since the cultivation depends on a lot of hand labor and the prices are so good, I'm sure that it makes for a suitable family money-earner.
By the way, I have tried, several times, to send through the backlog of blogs (backblogs?) via SSB, but usual and closest station in Manihi has either been down or hasn't been reachable. I tried in Vaiaeho Bay, but that 4000-foot mountain just east of us probably blocked that signal: no surprise there. Also tried from here in Haamene, but they didn't respond. We return to Raiatea and Wings will assume her land-life tomorrow, so I'll have much better communication, although we'll be on land. Last night was our last one out by ourselves, unfortunately.
We had made a 1900 hour reservation at Taha'a MaiTai for last night and we were both so grubby that we set up our shower bag. I've decided, as an aside, to fabricate a pressure water shower back here in the cockpit to facilitate better showering, but it's a project for next year. Both of us clean, we jumped in the dinghy for a ride to shore. As I was steering us ashore, I realized how exotic that was, actually, and how much we take it in stride. To motor through the darkness to the shore of another country is a treat that shouldn't be taken for granted. We arrived and immediately knew it would be a great evening, part of the certainty based on clean hair.
Conni's cocktail was a Taha'a Dream and mine was the traditional Taha'a MaiTai, both being superbly prepared. We split a poisson cru, the raw fish and crispy vegetable national dish. Conni, who's a big fan of the dish, pronounced it the best she'd tasted, and I agreed. It was the blend of flavors, really, and the lovely fresh tuna. For our main courses, I jumped on the pork with spices and coconut milk, while Conni chose the MahiMahi in vanilla sauce, also the best preparation that we've ever tasted. The chef, Bruno, is Cordon Blu-trained and it shows. Even though we were absolutely full, we shared and finished their creampuff! Their motto is, "French cuisine with local ingredients", and that's exactly right. If you're in the neighborhood, give them a try. We also enjoyed a bottle of crisp Alsace Reisling, a fine compliment for our two meals.
So, here we are at trip's end. Being Thursday, we'll stay on a mooring or nearby for a pull on Friday sometime. We stay aboard through the weekend and move to Pension Tiare Nui for the remainder of our stay, then fly home. I'm sure that I'll write some more blogs, but this will be the last while we're out and on our own.