Sunday, 24 July 2016

5-2016 Makemo, French Polynesia

Hi from Clare, Saturday 26th July 2016

We left Raroia and sailed overnight to the atoll of Makemo. The stars were magnificent, the breeze warm and we sailed on a beam reach in flat water for the first nine hours. Pleasurable sailing like this is what we dream off, unfortunately we ran out of luck before reaching Makemo and for the last four hours we had wind squalls, rain, and lumpy seas, pretty horrible really, but that's sailing.

Makemo is one of the larger atolls and has an orderly village with an airport, post office, French bakery, supermarket, junior and senior schools, concrete roads and even some underground power as well as solar street lighting. Unlike Raroia there are quite a few cars and 'utes', but the main mode of transport is a tricycle with a large basket on the back which transports small children or a girlfriend. But that's only if the basket isn't taken up by a pulsating boom box. (It reminded us of the young guys at home cruising for chicks with the car windows down and the stereo flat out). There is Wifi here and we can buy a Vinnie card for Internet connection. However it is dreadfully slow and bombs frequently; an exercise in total frustration. This is why we havent been able to send any photos, much to our disappointment.
Mainstreet of concrete

The School
When we arrived we tied up to the town wharf and stayed there for the first week. It was good to get off the boat, go for a walk and have easy access to the town. The people are very friendly and all ages from small children to adults say "Bonjour" every time they see us. Some adults say "welcome to Makemo" which is the extent of their English. They all wave from their cars and sometimes offer us a lift if we are carrying heavy bags.

Just before we arrived in Makemo the ship supplying fresh produce had been to the atoll. I was thrilled to purchase some fruit and vege, even lettuce and tomato which we haven't seen since we left the Marquesas and unfortunately haven't seen since. Another supply ship came when we were on the wharf and spent all day off loading fuel, gas, building supplies, a car and numerous boxes and ordered goods. At the same time the local folk were racing outrigger canoes. They had men's, women's and then mixed races. It was a beautiful day and town kids were playing on the wharf and good naturedly throwing each other into the water. I think half the township was on the wharf that day, it was almost a festive occasion.
Outrigger racing

Close encounter with the supply ship
We joined in the celebrations on the 14th July for Bastille Day. The officials raised the flags, French, Tuamotu, and French Polynesian and sang the National Anthems. We then had a procession to the centre of town to the tune of a Polynesian group beating the drums. The Mayor gave a speech then danced a traditional Polynesian dance before breakfast was served. We were standing to the side along with another cruising couple watching the proceedings and taking photos. An elderly local lady and clearly one of the organisers took us by the hand and led us to the front of the sizeable breakfast queue. We were not expecting this at all, however it is typical of their genuine hospitality. After breakfast there were games and competitions mostly for the children.

Bastille Day flag raising and anthems

Breakfast for all

We spent two days at the eastern end of the atoll anchored near a motu. There are a lot of coral bommies and the water was very shallow so we couldn't get in close enough for the coconut palms to protect us from the wind. So we have now moved some sixteen miles to the western side of the town. This motu offers better protection and we have a lovely sandy beach to walk on. The water is clear and warm and although we still have the bommies to contend with Andrew has rigged up fenders on our anchor chain so we won't get wrapped around one.

The wind drops in few days and so we will continue on to another atoll. We haven't made up our minds which one yet. It probably doesn't matter much here in paradise.

So until next time stay safe and have fun.

Love Candy xx

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Thursday, 7 July 2016

4-2016 Raroia, French Polynesia

Hi from Clare, Tuesday 5th July 2016

Today, 5th July, is Charles Payne's (Andrew's Dad) 90th Birthday. We hope Charles and Andrew's Mum, Jo, are enjoying the celebrations in Hobart Tasmania. Our thoughts are with them on this very special day. Ninety years is quite an achievement and so congratulations and our best wishes. Let's hope we can all achieve the same.

So meanwhile back in Raroia, French Polynesia on the sunny side of the street it is a magnificent day. We are anchored against a palm studded atoll in glassy blue water in total peace. We are in company with an American couple Sue and Rob on 'Athanor ' and so we have some playmates. Tonight Rob and Andrew are going crab hunting on the island. Apparently the rather large coconut crabs are good eating and best caught at night by putting your foot on them and tying the two front claws together. So they will be off tonight with flash lights, bits of string and buckets and I hope we won't hear any screaming coming from the island. I'm glad I am staying on the boat, why not just open a tin of tuna I say?

We have spent the last week or so polishing Eye Candy. We just do a few hours a day and it has been quite pleasurable without the pressure of a completion date. The deck, the hull and stainless are gleaming. The bottom of the boat is barnacle free and the white waterline is once again white. I still have a few inside jobs, like polishing the clocks, but it won't be long before we have everything ship shape.

Raroia has a small village with about forty houses. The main industry is a pearl farm and copra. The local French shop keeper Gerard, who speaks good English, told us that a kilo of dried copra pays $1.40 US and this is a set figure throughout the Islands. To collect the coconuts, split them open and dry them seems a lot of work for not much money, especially when one orange cost me $1.30 US. The cost of goods is a little higher than the Marquesas. However nothing in the shop is priced so visitors might pay more than locals. Andrew bought 40 litres of diesel (at $1.80 per litre) in two twenty litre containers. He had quite a distance to carry them back to the wharf but fortunately Gerard said we could use his car. I was surprised as we had only seen bicycles on the island. Anyhow the car duly arrived out the front of the shop in the form of a green wheelbarrow; better than no wheels at all. The little village seems to be well supported by the French Government with an airport, good public buildings, a school, concrete roads and a substantial wharf. The people in the village are very friendly and seem to have a simple but happy life.

It is now the next day and so I can report that Rob an Andrew caught seven crabs for dinner last night. Rob who comes from Seattle and is familiar with crabbing cleaned and cooked them for us. They were quite tasty but very messy. We didn't have to worry about getting indigestion from eating too quickly, it took forever to prize the meat out of the shells. It was good fun and a great local experience but I think once is enough unless we find some much bigger crabs. By the way, the hunters were very efficient, no bites were suffered and consequently no screaming was heard coming from the island.

We have been here now for nearly three weeks and the time has passed very quickly. We are enjoying being on the boat in such calm conditions within the lagoon. We can see and hear the ocean waves crashing on the surrounding reef. There are a number of small islands or Motus dotted along the reef. These are mostly covered with coconut palms and offer good protection from the wind. Occasionally we find a Motu covered with leafy green trees. The birds claim these and build their nests, it is lovely to see and hear them each morning. It is hard to comprehend that in such calm conditions we are in the middle of the Pacific ocean. It is almost like the eighth wonder of the world, we are loving it.

All the boats we arrived here with have now left Raroia and moved further west. We have to get used to being left behind. A new experience for us but I'm sure it is good therapy. We might move on to the next Atoll of Makemo later this week if the weather is right.

Love Candy xx

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