Saturday, 24 September 2016

9-2016 Tahiti, Moorea with Friends

Hi from Clare,                                                            Thursday 22nd September 2016

We took the boat into the Papeete City Marina, Tahiti for the arrival of our good friends Patrick and Cheryl who flew in from Australia on 12th September. Since then our life has been a blur with a flurry of activity quite uncharacteristic for us. Our friends arrived late at night and after receiving our requested goodies from Oz plus other gifts donated by Patrick and Cheryl our boat looked like present opening time on Christmas morning.
Tahitian Dancers and the Polynesian Festival

It was very hot in the marina but we stayed for another night so we could go to a dance spectacular at the Grand Theatre which was part of Festival Polynesia. The dance groups came from Tahiti, Polynesia, New Zealand, Easter Island and Hawaii. A very colourful and vibrant event with the dancers performing on stage and also up and down the aisles. This gave us a very close up view of their moves and beautiful costumes. The dancers perspired so much we decided to have a cool beer for them after the show. So off to the “local” in company with cruising friends Sue and Rob on 'Athanor' and Cathy and Woflgang on 'Plastik Plankton' for a cool drink and chat; a perfect finish to the evening.
Steve "rocking the dock"
Beer and the 1 metre long Pizas

The following day we went back to the Taina Marina anchorage for final provisioning and to enjoy some snorkelling in crystal clear water. As you can imagine Patrick and Cheryl having come from Australia's winter were very eager to experience 28 degree water and glorious sunshine. That night we were invited to a dock party by American friends Steve and Lili on 'Liward' whom we knew from the Polynesian Magellan radio net. Steve is a very accomplished musician and is well known for regularly 'rocking the dock' encouraging local musicians to join in. It seems now that whenever Steve is in town the word gets around and the locals arrive. It was Steve's 64th Birthday and he provided Beer and Pizza and hours of good music. It was a gorgeous evening with a warm breeze, a full moon, a star studded sky and good company.
Cooks Bay, Moorea
Bali Hai Resort, Cooks Bay
Dancers at the Bali Hai Resort
Our photo with the dancers

The following day we sailed twelve miles to Moorea and anchored in Cook's Bay named after Captain Cook of course. This beautiful bay is surrounded by huge mountains and tropical vegetation. We met up with cruising friends Mark and Cheryl on 'French Curve' whom up until now we had only spoken to on the radio net. They invited us to join them ashore that evening for a dance show at the Bali Hai Resort. This was held outdoors in the Resort's garden which was very pleasant on such a warm evening. The performers invited the people from the front row of the audience to join them in the dance. We were in the second row so thankfully were not called upon to entertain the crowd with our not so fluid hip shaking movements.
Stingray City
Black tipped Reef sharks patrolling Stingray City

We took the boat around to the Tiki Anchorage named such as there are some carved stone Tikis lying on the sea bed. We snorkelled on them but the only fascination they held for me was how they got there in the first place. The statues in themselves are a bit underwhelming. Our purpose for being at this anchorage was its proximity to Stingray City. This is a shallow area not far from the Intercontinental Hotel where daily tripper boats bring tourists to hand fed sardines to the Stingrays. Consequently they are very friendly and come quite close to you. Black tip sharks circle around in great numbers but hold no threat to the people in the water. It was a great experience to be there in their world.

Bikers Patrick, Cheryl, Andrew and Clare
A & C 
Cooks Bay from Belvedere Lookout

We hired motor cycles for a day and toured around the island of Moorea stopping at all the gazetted points of interest. Andrew did a great job dinking me around as I'm a nervous passenger. Good thing he had a helmet on and the wind in his face as this would have drowned out most of my expletives. I kept thinking of how much skin we would lose if we fell off but I am pleased to report there was no loss of skin or face. We enjoyed Belvedere lookout with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and bays. Then Polynesian archaeological sites with ancient platforms (paepae) dwellings and sacred places. Further down the mountain was the Agricultural College which reputably sells the best ice cream made from local fruits. Andrew and I shared a scoop of vanilla and one of banana and Patrick and Cheryl shared a passion fruit sorbet, both products were outstanding. We later visited the Tropical Garden which apart from offering a stunning view of the bay, it is a working farm growing many tropical fruits, vegetables and flowering plants. It has a shop serving exotic fruit juices and selling their bottled jams and chutneys. A trip around the island wouldn't be complete without stopping at the distillery and sampling some local liquor and mixers. We purchased the local Tahiti Drink L' Exotique which is a rum and fruit juice mix which we will drink at our leisure. Best we do this when safely back on the boat.
Driveway to the Tropical Garden

Yesterday we went for a dive with Top Dive which operates out of the Intercontinental Hotel. The cost for a single dive was A$125 each and for that we expected Top Dive to take us to a good dive location. Our dive was inside the lagoon and we saw twenty three eagle rays and not much else. There were very few fish even though the Divemaster carried a chum box with him to attract the fish. The ocean floor was all sand and rubble with lifeless coral and the visibility poor. In contrast Patrick and Cheryl went snorkelling off the back of our boat this morning and saw six eagle rays, a turtle and plenty of colourful fish. This of course was free. I guess you can't win them all.
Intercontinental Hotel, Moorea
C & A diving in the lagoon
Squadron of Eagle Rays

We feel we have covered the island of Moorea from its highest lookout to the depths of its lagoon. Today we will have lunch out and take advantage of the Cafe's Wifi to send this Blog. This evening we will sail eighty odd miles to the island of Huahine and start another adventure.

Love Candy xx

Thursday, 8 September 2016

8-2016 Farewell Fakarava, Hello Tahiti

Hi from Clare,                                                 6th September 2016

We spent a few days anchored off the main township of Rotoava in North Fakarava. After re-provisioning and some much needed internet access, we rented a bicycle each to tour some of the township. I was a bit wobbly, as I haven't ridden a bicycle for a number of years. Apart from running over a few plants and having difficulty turning corners and even straying off the road at times, I thought I did rather well, but it helps not having high expectations.

Look out!
We peddled out to the old lighthouse and then on to the airport. Fortunately the road was straight and flat, so not too challenging and thankfully we had a lovely sea breeze to keep us cool. Slow travel is a great way to see how the locals live. The village houses are open and airy with very few doors or windows and usually shaded by coconut palms. Most of the local ladies wear flowers in their hair and the pace is definitely very relaxed. It is not unusual to see people in the heat of the day having a snooze under some leafy shade. When we arrived at the airport a plane was due that day. To the tune of swaying Polynesian music the open air reception area was being hosed down and the counters decorated with highly perfumed tropical flowers to welcome new arrivals. A very nice local touch which accurately depicts the flavour and pace of this beautiful atoll.

Rotoava Village, Fakarava

Old unfinished Lighthouse
We sailed back to our favourite anchorage Hirifa at the south east corner of the atoll. As you can see by the photo it is picture postcard perfect. It never ceases to calm you and most days we would stroll along this peaceful beach. We could also cut across the atoll and walk the coral beach on the outer reef. In contrast this is totally wild with the wind in your face, the sea crashing on the reef and hundreds of years of broken coral which in places is metres deep. It was hard to walk on the uneven rubbly coral beach but the attraction for me is finding the prettiest shells I have seen. As you can see by the photo they are really shiny and although I have never before collected shells, I couldn't resist picking them up. The big large white puffy things in the other photo we picked up on the beach in Raroia. They are very fragile and would break if dropped. I am not sure what there are, we have had a few suggestions but we are yet to find a published photo of one for confirmation; just another treasure I couldn't resist.

Beach at Hirifa
Garden planted in coral rubble
Shells collected

Mystery carcases

So we sat in paradise enjoying the company of our American friends Dave and Kim on 'Maluhia' and new friends Paul and Jen on 'Serenity' until conditions were right to head out. We left the peace of Fakarava for a two day sail to Tahiti with a gentle 12 knot breeze on our beam and a flat sea. This stayed with us for one and a half days which was perfect. After that we had 20-25 knits and bouncy conditions for the final night. We were very tired and glad to sail into Tahiti on Tuesday 30th August and settle down in very calm water by the Tahiti Yacht Club. Our Aussie friends Roger and Sasha on 'Ednbal' had been anchored there for some time so when we arrived at 6 am they invited us over for breakfast. They then jokingly complained on our Radio Net that we ate all their merge supplies – Oh how we have missed the Aussie sense of humour. Other long standing friends Geoff and Katie on 'Mezzaluna' were there and 'Maluhia' arrived the same time as us and so we had quite a gathering.

View from Tahiti Yacht Club anchorage

We have mountains and greenery all around us to feast our eyes on, something we haven't seen since the Marquesas. The world is an active place now with Optimist dinghies, Hobiecats and keel boat class racing in the bay. There's a Yacht Club with restaurants, laundry and local shops and supermarkets. After being in the Tuamotus for eleven weeks I was starting to dream about supermarket trolleys and some variety on our dinner plate. So now we are enjoying real treats like strawberries, brie cheese, smoked salmon and all the yummy goodies we take for granted when at home. I have also hammered the laundry, as this is the first 'do it yourself' laundry we have encountered since we left Panama eighteen months ago. There is only one washer and dryer and so I was there for most of the day. One other cruiser appeared with a bag of laundry but when he saw all my washing he just rolled his eyes, whistled and walked out – good call.

We have been into the city and picked up our Long Term Visa's and also a document that allows us, as a boat in transit, tax free fuel. We purchased diesel today for $A1 a litre which is very inexpensive. We have also been to the Ship Chandler and ACE Hardware so Andrew could have a little retail therapy too.

Sunset over Moorea from Taina Marina anchorage

Yesterday we moved the boat to the anchorage by Taina Marina. The Ship Chandler here has very competitive prices and so Andrew has purchased a new anchor chain. Our old anchor chain suffered badly sitting in Taiohae Bay in the Marquesas for nine months while we were at home last. It is rusty and pitted and splatters black muck all over us when raising the anchor. We took the boat into the Marina this morning and swapped the chain over, see photo. We also took the opportunity to hose the boat down which was a wonderful bonus. We also bought a number on new ropes as some on the boat are the originals and damaged after eleven years of service.

New chain coming aboard
Replacing the furling line
Our next exciting adventure is the arrival of our Australian friends Patrick and Cheryl who fly into Tahiti on the 12th of this month for a few weeks. We are hoping to cover the Leeward Islands stopping at Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora. We are looking forward to this, it will be fun.

love Candy xx