Thursday 9th August - Tahiti

Jon & Carol Dutton
Sun 12 Aug 2012 02:34

17:35.12S 149:36.99W

Thursday 9th August – Tahiti

The 200NM passage to Tahiti passed without incident although the beam reach in Force 5-6 with an accompanying uncomfortable cross-swell was probably not the gentlest of introductions to sailing for the inexperienced.  However, by 1430 on Saturday 4th August we’d come in via the Papeete pass through the reefs off Tahiti and berthed in the Taina Marina, several miles south of the city of Papeete.  This proved to be a good choice for us.  The marina is quiet and has some very decent facilities.  The alternative, in the docks in the city centre, is just about the opposite although access to the major chandleries and boatyard facilities is a great deal easier.  Nonetheless, there is a good bus service from Taina Marina which works well.

The situation regarding immigration/customs formalities was pretty confusing.  Having cleared into French Polynesia in Hiva Oa we’d been told by the gendarmerie there that we had nothing more to do before we finally checked out of Bora Bora (or wherever) when leaving French Polynesia.  A number of other sources of advice suggest very strongly that you need to go through a full clearing in Tahiti regardless of whether you have already cleared in to French Polynesia in the Marquesas or wherever.  Since customs and the Port Captain are located a good way north of the town centre whilst immigration is based at the airport – well south of it – this does seem a bit of a palaver.  Soundings around the place seemed to indicate that we could just ignore all that advice.  So, we did.  With luck we won’t end up in jug.

A trip to customs was required for a rather different reason – to obtain the necessary bit of paper to permit us to buy fuel at duty-free prices.  Since the price of duty-free fuel is about XPF101 ($1.01US) per litre and the alternative is to pay over XPF160 ($1.60US) and we needed around 300 litres that made the effort worthwhile.  We can apparently use the same authorisation to buy any more fuel we need whilst in French Polynesia.  So, that’s good.  

Sunday 5th saw the divers off diving (see diving blog).  On Monday 6th James and Mira went to Papeete to hire a car, shopped in town and toured the island.  James returned with a considerably thinner wallet whilst Mira was by then the proud possessor of a very fine top grade black pearl pendant (That boy has much to learn – Ed).  Carol sussed out the excellent supermarkets locally whilst Jon disappeared to the chandleries in Papeete and made the first of two visits to the Customs office.  That’s a bus and $25-30US round trip taxi job.  Having arrived at Customs he found that the person who deals with fuel duty exemptions works only on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 0830 -1130.  Obvious really – he should have known.  The morning of Tuesday 7th saw the divers off to do more diving whilst Jon made a more fruitful – but still as expensive - visit to the Customs office.  After James and Mira had given Arnamentia’s bottom a good going over, they were keen to go up the mast and experiment with their various cameras.  James also made some cheeky use of his telephoto lens from the deck.


                                                    Fish eye view of mega yachts with Moorea in the background


                                                                                            Long Way Down


                                                                                Does my bum look big in this?  

Wednesday 8th saw us all tour the island in the car, walking a bit, visiting Faarumai waterfalls and Ponte Venus where Captain Cook took observations on the transit Venus so allowing the distance from the earth to the moon to be calculated.


                                            More water to shower in at the Faarumai waterfalls than on Arnamentia


                                                                        Unusual lighthouse at Pointe Venus

We made a quick sortie into Tahiti Iti the smaller “island” (they are joined by a short isthmus) to big sister, Tahiti Nui.  The landscape here is remarkable; you could easily think you were back in Wales or the West of England!   Having chilled out we did a final shop in Carrefour – you might have thought yourself in Paris – for preparation for departure the next morning for Moorea, about 20NM distant.


                                                                Rural Tahiti with very healthy looking cows


                                                                                The view north from Tahiti Iti

On Thursday 9th August we slipped at around 1030 and headed out of the harbour.  A certain amount of discombobulation arose in the narrow channel inside the reefs because a rather enthusiastic hosing down of the boat just before we left had resulted in water getting into the compact flash card in the Raymarine chart plotter and it just would not show us any detailed charts.  Um; that’s all a bit of a surprise given the environment in which chart plotters are supposed to work but there we are.  We have a C-Map back-up on a normal laptop computer but the charting is not nearly as detailed.  After a somewhat anxious interlude during which we discovered that no replacement flash card was available anywhere closer than Australia we were mightily relieved to find that it all worked once it had dried out fully.  The very helpful Navionics man in Oz had meanwhile told us that it was most unlikely that that flash card would ever work again and was about to despatch a new one to us to pick up in Raiatea or Bora Bora at a cost of 250 Oz dollars plus P&P.  Whew!