Astra Blog: Tahiti 25.07.08 - 05 .08.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Tue 19 Aug 2008 20:11

Astra Blog: Tahiti 25.07.08 – 05 .08.08



In French Polynesian terms Pape’ete, the capital of Tahiti, is the big smoke. It was to be an appreciable change after the Tuamotus: there some atolls contained only 60 people whereas Pape’ete is a city of 170 000 inhabitants. It was reasonable to assume that we would not keep on running into the same people time and time again in such a large city: this assumption was falsified before we had even stepped ashore.


The Arrival


At 2130, having just motored into a buzzing metropolis about 8000 miles from the UK we were surprised to hear familiar British voices before we could so much as get our lines ashore. But unmistakably British, and unmistakably familiar, were the shouts from our welcoming committee, two lovely ladies the boys made the acquaintance of in the Galapagos Islands! When we last saw them Emma and Claire were teaching in the Galapagos. In the interim period they had developed a desire to sail, got on a yacht, and managed to get to Tahiti before us!


In addition to Excalibur, the yacht that Emma and Claire had crossed the Pacific on, there was also Ino on our pontoon, a very welcome sight! Once we were settled in George and Ash popped over to Ino and caught up with Bruce and his soon to be new crew members, Emma and Claire.


Marina Taina


The next day we moved to Marina Taina, 5 miles out of Pape’ete. There were a number of advantages to be had from being in a marina outside Pape’ete: Jeremy would know that Astra was safe while he had to make a short trip back to the UK; there was a dive centre at the marina for Oli and Charlie to take further dive qualifications; a good chandler was there to do some work on the goose-neck; and, perhaps most importantly, not being in the centre of town should make it slightly easier for the boys to stay out of trouble! All of these reasons proved to be good excepting the last – distance from Pape’ete not being an impediment to mischief!


Happy Hour


A hidden advantage of the marina was its excellent happy hour which halved the price of the beer between 5pm and 6pm. For that halcyon hour on a near daily basis we watched the sun set over Moorea and enjoyed beer which had been dramatically slashed to £2.50 a pint! It also gave us time to catch up with some old friends and make some new ones: Adventure, and Free Spirit were around to share a drink with and we also met the crews off some of the superyachts…


Playing with the Big Girls


I think it has been universally acknowledged that it was Oli’s fault: if he had not decided to have a night out in Pape’ete while coming to meet us in Rangiroa he would never have met the crew of Foftein; subsequently, the crews of Foftein and Astra may have never met; and we may have not as a result spent several nights of hearty indulgence with the crews of Foftein, Mystere, Arcadia, and Naos. In short, it was all Oli’s fault!


Apparently it is a rare occurrence for the crews of superyachts to mingle with lowly cruisers however the charms of Astra’s crew must have seemed irresistible as the metaphorical gap was bridged and good friendships established.




The vast majority of the diving was done by Charlie and Oli who clocked up over 30 dives between them whilst in Tahiti, both progressing to the qualification of CMAS 2 star. It has been suggested that the dive course had been booked in an attempt to keep them out of mischief; needless to say, another failed ploy! In any case, they both managed to complete their courses – even if the instructors were slightly bemused to see them walking back to Astra with a crate of Hinano after a day’s diving!



With Jeremy out of the country and George rendered out of action (see below) the rest of the diving was carried out by Ash and Sally who joined forces with Arcadia and Foftein to do a number of wreck dives in Pape’ete Harbour.  They had a very enjoyable time exploring the well preserved wreck of a Catalina seaplane and a not so well preserved ship.


Less happy hours


It wasn’t all fun and games; there was a fairly extensive list of jobs that needed our attention during our stay in the marina, ranging from the usual cleaning and polishing to the more serious matters of repairing the wounded goose-neck and finding the fault with the radar.  The whole crew went about these tasks with great zeal and with deadlines to meet each day before happy hour it wasn’t long before Astra was gleaming from stem to stern, with the sails and covers patched, the radar serviced and the gooseneck repair completed.


Ash’s surf trip


Exhausted from his ordeals in Pape’ete, Ash and a like minded surfer hired a car and headed for the famous Teahupoo reef break.  They found somebody who would take them out to the break to photograph it but it was deemed too dangerous to actually surf it.  However, a very enjoyable hour or so was spent watching the waves as they thundered onto the reef against the stunning backdrop of Tahiti Iti.  Over a couple of days of camping and driving around in circles, they managed to see most of the west and south coasts of Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti and after much deliberation actually squeezed in a bit of surfing at Papara.


George’s trek


Meanwhile, George, always keen to do a spot of walking, set off with a couple of other enthusiastic walkers (and happy hour goers) on a trek to the Fautaua Waterfalls. A few miles into the walk they found that the trail had been obliterated by a landslide but decided to continue upstream regardless, having to frequently cross back and forth across the river. After another hour or so, the going was getting tougher and tougher and George took a tumble whilst trying to make his way back down to the river resulting in a rather deep gash on his elbow. Fortunately, one of the walking party, Jeff, being a sensible young man, had a decent first aid kit with him and was able to patch George up well enough with field sutures and bandages in order for him to get back to hospital and properly stitched up (physically and financially!)


Sally’s Birthday


Being the ever diligent husband, Jeremy returned to Tahiti the day before Sally’s birthday in order that he would be in good shape to enjoy the occasion. She was so impressed with the boys’ present of a hand blender (not for the blending of hands, but for the blending by hand of soups, such as celery soup) that she spent the greater part of the day celebrating the acquisition of her new utensil in bed with champagne and chocolate.


Jeremy was delighted to discover that Sally’s birthday meal would be a simple affair: Oli had made a restaurant booking for 25 at the Pink Coconut, a swanky waterside restaurant! It was quite the social occasion with the crews of Astra, Adventure, Arcadia, Foftein, and Mystere all sitting down to enjoy a fabulous feast followed by a moderate amount of dancing and an immoderate amount of drinking.   


The famous Monday night BBQ


The last opportunity for a bit of high jinks and japery before leaving Tahiti was a dock party hosted by Joost, the accomplished chef from Mystere, for the six largest yachts in Tahiti: Arcadia, Foftein, Mystere, Naos, Bullish and Angel; and also for the delight and delectation  of Astra, Adventure and Jeff the Elbow Stitcher.


Mouthwatering barbecued tuna, steak and lobster was washed down with copious quantities of cool beverages before our attention turned to the evening’s seriously contested competition: space hopper racing up and down the dock. Jeremy and Sally competed in an owners’ race and the other crew members filled in as and when required: George competing assiduously in the Stewardesses’ heat; Oli represented Astra in the battle of the Chefs’; and Ash filled in whenever there was an unoccupied space hopper. All in all, it was an excellent evening and a pleasant way to say farewell to the friends we had made in Tahiti – that is until we meet again in New Zealand in November.   


The Send Off


The next day we made our way towards Moorea at the civilized hour of 1500. As we turned out of the Marina in front of Arcadia, Foftein, Mystere and Naos the crews were on deck to wave us off. This pleasant gesture was somewhat upstaged by the noise of their fog horns: they saluted our departure in dramatic, deafening and quite stirring fashion by blasting their horns at us by means of a final farewell!