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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