Haamene to Tapuamu
02 September 2023 | Tapuamu, Taha'a
William Ennis | Rainy
We did motor to the lovely village of Haamene, as planned. We strolled through a place that we've grown to appreciate and enjoy through the many years that we've visited. I've always slightly distrusted the people since there were thefts by a group of rowdy young men several years ago, aboard cruisers anchored in the bay. I was tempted to use Joshua Slocum's (first human to sail alone around the world) method of deterrence, spreading thumb tacks on the decks. The young men no longer steal, although we have no idea if it was maturity, the local elders, or the law that convinced them otherwise. That doesn't affect the beauty of the bay, though.
Since we've been here, the nights have been as still as a bathtub. Not a breath of nighttime winds so a fine sleep, even hanging on a hook. We have enjoyed the Super Moon, too.
During our day visit, we made a reservation at Taha'a Maitai, a local restaurant owned and operated by the French, Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Bruno François. He always remembers us, as most people do, by the tall/short American couple. We arranged for a 7PM dinner, then continued our wandering.
The Haamene store is one of the best in the Leeward Islands, and they had improved their shelving and arrangements since our last visit. There were baguettes, thankfully, so we restocked. We're still trying to get my surgery wound healed, so looked for bandages, but had no luck. There's a sign for a pharmacy, but it's long closed. What do people do?
The bay is very long and when at the end, we're almost in the center of the island, so we're well protected from most seas and winds. We just wish that the holding ground were better. Many years ago, there was an effort to set moorings in the various bay so that cruisers could have secure moorings and the village could make some money by maintaining them and charging a fee. Alas, that plan failed and Haamene is down to one unusable mooring, and now that the mooring ropes have rotted or broken, there's no resurrecting them. Bora Bora is the only island that we visit that has made the system workable, and they have continually upgraded and maintained their moorings. As we said, we don't mind paying for a well-maintained, safe mooring.
Just before 7PM, we hopped into the dinghy and motored to Taha'a Maitai. Conni chose to sit inside, so we selected a table and made ourselves at home. Their cocktails are splendid and original, so that was our start, and both ordered the best fish in vanilla sauce we've ever had. Fish that night was Wahoo, a fish that I've caught but never prepared like this. We finished by sharing a Cremé Brulee. Bruno is a highly trained chef and uses fresh local ingredients, so his preparations are stunning in their finesse and finish. We always take visitors to Taha'a Maitai.
Bruno dropped by our table several more times and we discussed his survival in the time of CoVid. He remarked several times that his restaurant was for the village, and a few cruisers, but his focus was on his community. They obviously reciprocated, since the restaurant was almost full , with local families on a Thursday night. He said that he had been approached by a charter boat company (probably on Raiatea, the charter boat capital of the country and in the same lagoon) to provide meals and entertainment for their charter customers. A representative told Bruno that he could bring 16 people a few times a week to dine if Bruno provided entertainment and opened on the nights that he needed. To his credit, Bruno refused, saying that he would have made a lot of money, but the changes would have re-focused his restaurant on visitors and away from his village customers and he wasn't willing to do that. We both admire his steadfast dedication to serving his village and not money.
We had a nice bottle of wine, and of course we could take it with us, so we paid our bill and motored back to the boat. Conni noted that Bruno had comped us cocktails: a typically nice thing to do. As we departed, Bruno asked me for our website address, which I provided. We offered our Anchorage hospitality if he and his Polynesian wife ever visited Alaska.
["Nibblin' on sponge cake, watching the sun bake, all those tourists covered in oil." Conni just read that Jimmy Buffet died yesterday. It's a loss. He was an outstanding singer/songwriter, superb businessman, and talented author. I'll miss him, but thankfully, his music will live on. Every cruiser is a bit of a "parrot head."]
After motoring to the main village dock to acquire some money, we motored back to the boat and pulled the outboard from the dinghy. While in the lagoon, we don't mind pulling the dinghy, but not with the motor attached. Conni pulled the anchor, and we were off, motoring to Tapuamu Bay. With only a hankie jib out, we moved along at 5.5 knots.
As we entered the mouth of Tapuamu, a catamaran departed, so we motored up to an unused mooring. This is another bay with a bad holding bottom, so we are both pleased to be on a mooring.
After settling the boat, we motored to Pari Pari, the wonderful rhum distillery that we've visited for the past 8 years. We bought some interesting rhum, which we'll take home. As we've described, rhum is made with fresh sugar cane juice, and rum is made with molasses, leading to quite a different flavor.
We are rapidly ending our water time for the season. We'll depart Tapuamu tomorrow, and return to Raiatea.