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