My time in Tahiti seems a bit of a blur but after months of sleepy islands and remote anchorages I don’t think i’d ever been more excited about being in a city. Fresh produce market two minutes walk from the boat, warm baguettes every morning, plenty of options to grab a morning coffee or evening beer ashore and an open air food court. I tried to do boat jobs but didn’t achieve much, drank a lot of coffee, drank probably too much rum and partied with old and new friends alike. For a few days I lost track of the big picture, didn’t think about the next destination or anchorage, what the weather was doing or my bank balance. It was like I had been sucked into a Papeete bubble, and I enjoyed it.
Adva, Oceana and I hired a car for a couple of days and did a road trip around the island. We visited some caves, did a couple of hikes and stopped at Venus Point to have a beer on the beach and watch the sunset. It was here that Captain Cook observed the transit of Venus in 1769 during his first voyage around the world. The car also came in useful for taking jerry cans to the fuel station and doing a big food shop at the supermarket. It was great to catch up with Ned, a friend from back home, who is now Captain of the ‘Wind Spirit, a four masted sailing cruise ship that travels around the leeward islands. Thanks Ned for bringing all those bits and bobs out for me from the UK.
After nearly two weeks of city life it was definitely time to escape. Oceana joined me for the short sail to the neighbouring island of Mo’orea with Waterhoen sailing alongside Fathom once again. A pleasant sail in 10 to 15 knots of wind on the beam. It was nice to have crew for the day but Oceana must learn that if she throws a banana skin over her shoulder into the wind it is likely to fly back across the boat and hit the skipper in the face who is sitting on the downwind side of the cockpit. She did make a nice lunch so all was forgiven!
Once in Mo’orea, Oceana returned to her boat Danika and Fathom and Waterhoen spent two days at anchor in the lagoon at the entrance of Opanohu Bay. Beautiful turquoise water and dramatic scenery. We got driven around to see some sights including a stop at the Belvedere, a view point that looks down on both Cooks Bay and Opanohu Bay, somewhere I had visited when I was here ten years ago. After a couple of days we decided to head round to Cook’s Bay and join some other boats we know. The bay is very deep and our small boats don’t carry so much anchor chain but we found a shallower spot in the S.W corner and settled in there. The weather became very unsettled as a trough approached from the west with 30 knots + of wind funnelling into the bay and heavy rain. Several boats dragged but Fathom and Waterhoen held firm. Unfortunately the bad weather put pay to doing a planned hike and more exploration inland.
Some highlights of my time in Mo’orea included playing football in the late afternoons with the local kids. They are hard as nails and play in barefoot or flip flops on concrete. I felt a bit of a cheat wearing trainers but received my comeuppance when I was tackled by an 8 year old less than half my height, fell over and grazed my knee quite impressively. A few of us got together several times to sing and play guitar the best time being the evening on Danika where we first cooked home made pizza and then had a good jam session in the cockpit. One day Adva, Oceana and I hitched a ride to the next bay so we could get on some faster internet. The older frenchman that stopped to pick us up proceeded to play ‘Blue Christmas’ on full blast and we all sang along without saying a word to each other. Singing along to a christmas tune with a complete stranger on a tropical island in the South Pacific in JUNE was certainly unusual.
One day John, the Owner of Danika, and I dinghied down the coast to a small spot where we had heard black tip sharks and stingrays hang out. We found it and proceeded to swim amongst them. What an amazing experience that was (see video). The next day ‘Wind Spirit’ was visiting the island so Captain Ned invited us onboard and gave us a tour of the ship with lunch after. You have no idea how exciting an all you can eat buffet lunch is after living on a small boat for over a year. Cheers Ned.
With so much of the South Pacific still to see and time ticking I was keen to get to the island of Raiatea soonest to make a start on the repair to the deck under the mast step. I met a Canadian guy called Richard in Papeete who lives in Raiatea and is a licensed professional electrician and boat builder. He is going to help me with the repair which unfortunately is going to be a fairly big job. We think we can do it by leaving Fathom in the water and the mast up with loosened rigging and hydraulic jacks. I write this now at the carenage in Raiatea and work on the repair will begin in the next day or two. The mess and disruption is about to start so fingers crossed all goes well and the mast doesn’t end up in the cabin. I’ll write about how it goes in the next post hopefully sooner rather than later.