Two Quick Days in Moorea
28 May 2009 | Ra'itea, French Polynesia
The kids and Tommy met me in the Tahiti airport at 4:30a on Saturday morning. Maybe everyone was tired, maybe the 9 day separation was 9 days too long, maybe the miles in between felt too massive, but the hugs were teary and tight, accompanied by floral leis to welcome me back. Zen played "Santa", carrying boat parts and goodies from the USA for surrounding cruisers. After catching a nap, Cammi and I joined Judith and Jet from s/v Bravado to see the crowning of Miss Papeete, one of the largest beauty competitions on the island. It was an evening of music, dancing, and stunning handmade costumes that would rival any New York City runway. Early Sunday morning, Zen was on the move to Moorea, an island only 10 miles away from Tahiti, which serves as a weekend getaway for Tahitians and a global resort destination. Cooks Bay is the most populated with the best amenities, but Zen was on a Santa-mission and needed to make a delivery to a neighboring bay, called Oponohu. As we motored through the pass and entered the anchorage, we noticed at least 4 boats we hadn't seen in a few weeks. Just like you might drive through your neighborhood, waving and saying hello to friends, we had the same experience driving our family home instead of the car. Looked like a perfect place to spend the night. The guys from Obsession came over, Liam from Flashback was onboard in minutes and a plan to have a pot luck party on Zen was put in place within an hour of arrival. We hosted 8 boats, some were old pals, others became new buddies. The conversations flowed, laughter lasted late into the night, the food was delicious (can't even go into the menu, outrageous stuff was placed on our buffet table after giving guests only 2 hours notice) and thanks to Julie's homemade cake, Cole and Liam celebrated their joint May 14th birthdays again...together. Listening to suggestions from s/v Migration, we left the friendly Oponohu 'hood and ventured to a tiny, unchartered anchorage through Pass Tareu for a visit with some friends I met on the plane and a local pod of stingrays. Starting with the humans: Maelisa and her daughter, Grace, have been visiting Moorea bi-annually from California for the past 8 years. As we approached their hotel, we saw their full-body welcoming waves. The anchor was down in a measly 6 feet of crystal clear water with current rushing past our hulls. Grace is the same age as Cammi and is an avid regatta sailor in Coronado, CA. She and her mom blended w/nautical living in lightening speed and we settled into a quick lunch on Zen before departing for our fun w/the stingrays. New pals, Richard and Krista from m/v Karma, came for a visit and joined the entourage. Maelisa and Grace were the pros, the rest of us were rookies. After dropping our dinghy anchors in the shallows, we immediately noticed the large rays coming to see who has arrived w/food for them. Fresh tuna meat was our gift and it was obvious we chose the correct menu. At first, we put the pieces of meat into the water and let them gobble it up as we stood nearby in chest-deep water. Soon, their patience waned and they just started flying up to the food buffet, aka Tommy! They flapped their wings at the surface of the water, looked into his astonished face, and opened their mouths right next to his hands. He literally dropped the tuna into their mouths only inches from his own face. While the feeding was happening, all the rest of the stingrays would flap their wings to the surrounding humans, looking at our smiles, saying "Hi, do you have food too, like the guy in the white shirt?" We kissed and pet them, as they rubbed up against us like house pets. It's hard not to laugh while typing this blog, it was totally astonishing! Finally, the tuna ran dry, our bodies ran cold after being in the water for so long, it was time to head back. We met Maelisa and Grace for a dinner ashore at their Hibiscus Hotel, ate way too much dessert and called it a day. For the final day in Moorea, we couldn't resist a 2nd visit to the stingrays, received a quick driving tour from Maelisa and lifted anchor for a late afternoon departure through the pass and beyond to the island of Ra'itea. Our overnight sail was lickety split. Zen covered 100 miles in just 12 hours, making an easy morning arrival for our marina haul-out. Although only 48 hours was spent on Moorea, it was packed with friends, fun and fantastic experiences. Now, it's time for Zen to be hauled to receive new bottom paint and some TLC.