Astra Blog: Moorea 05.08.08 - 13 .08.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Mon 8 Sep 2008 02:42

Astra Blog: Moorea 05.08.08 – 13 .08.08



Tuesday 05.08.08


Leaving Tahiti to a fanfare of foghorns, we set out across the ‘Sea of the Moon’ for Moorea. It was an unpleasant crossing: very rolly with an unpleasant swell and no wind. It was, however, mercifully short; we motored the 12 miles in a couple of hours and were anchored in Cook’s Bay in time to enjoy the sunset.  


Wednesday 06.08.08


All tendered ashore to reconnoitre in the morning. There being no real centre to the settlement along Cook’s Bay, we wandered a mile or two up the east side of the bay before making an obligatory stop on sighting a pearl shop. It emerged that the pearl shop owner was a mine of information which he disseminated willingly. An hour later, having learnt as much about Moorea as we had surmised from hours of reading, and once Sally had got her shopping ‘fix’ we went for a drink at one of the luxury hotels dotted along the shore. 


While Jeremy, Sally, Oli and Charlie stayed for lunch, Ash and George returned to Astra to catch up on some jobs neglected over a hectic weekend. However the job list lengthened rather than shortened when Ash went to return ashore; the throttle cable on the tender outboard snapped. Being an innovative fellow, he was able to improvise with a bit of spectra for the time being. It was also reflected that requiring the know-how to drive the tender using a piece of string might prove to be an additional ‘security feature’, tender theft not being uncommon. 


In the evening we popped ashore to watch another (and Oli’s first) performance of Polynesian dancing. Now aficionados of Polynesian dancing, we discussed the pros and cons of Marquesan style (aggressive, haka-like movements for the men, furious shaking of the hips and posterior by the women) versus the Tahitian style (slightly camp prancing and knee-knocking for the men, hip wiggling and arm waving for the women) over dinner aboard Astra.


Thursday 07.08.08


A sign of the times, there were more yachts at anchor at the entrance to Cook’s Bay than in the traditional anchorage in the heart of the bay. The reason for this is that at the bay’s entrance one can pick up wireless internet from a nearby WiFi hotspot. Early morning we went to join the masses in order that we could benefit from the said service.  


Dolphins were seen playing around the boat before heading back out to the pass. We headed out in the tender to meet them but unfortunately they were not terribly interested in playing with us and scarpered every time we got close.


At 1430 we left Cook’s Bay to motor round to the other significant bay on the island, Opunohu Bay (interestingly, the bay in which Cook anchored, Cook’s bay being something of a misnomer). On the way we saw a large whale breaching three times. We suspect that it was a humpback but our photographs did little to aid with identification: in each the whale does a remarkably good impression of a tree trunk. It was a lot more impressive in the flesh!


Despite having only three miles to cover we did not anchor until 1630 on account of spending a good chunk of the afternoon floating around waiting for our whale to reappear. Being in shallow water, the boys went snorkelling in order to check that we had sufficient swinging room without running into any coral heads.


All were early to bed in unknowing anticipation of an exhausting weekend ahead.


Friday 08.08.08


Early doors, Ash, Charlie and Oli cleaned the hull, George being exempted on account of his “sick note.” With the hull sparkling they rewarded themselves by setting off in the tender with Sally to find the famous Opunohu Canyons and Rose Garden dive sights, which were located easily just outside the reef and provided excellent diving.  


Clearly missing Astra already, Arcadia and Foftein arrived in Cook’s Bay during the day!


That evening we headed to the place to be on a Friday night in Moorea, “Maria @ Tapas.” Getting there and back was to present a minor problem as it was about 5 miles by road. George formed an advance party as he wished to stop on Ogopogo (in the next bay) to get his stitches removed by Peg, a former nurse. The “auto-stop”, or hitch-hiking, is a very effective way of getting around in this part of the world and within an hour he had got round to Ogopogo, had his stitches whipped out, and was being driven to Maria @ Tapas by Cedric, a dog-trainer from Normandy who had found work in Moorea!


In the meantime Oli, Charlie and Ash were also benefiting from the locals’ generous willingness to share their vehicles. Having hitched half the way, the party of three decided that they would have to split when they were offered a lift on the back of a moped, there not being room for all three.


Oli went on ahead on the back of the moped and managed to order some drinks before the end of Happy Hour and was soon joined by the other three. On the advice of some of the locals, George, Charlie and Oli made the 5 mile trip to the golf club bar (auto-stop once more, Oli on his moped once again!) They went, were refused entry on the basis of their attire, and returned to Maria @ Tapas before Ash had so much as realised that they were gone!


Maria @ Tapas, however, had no dress-code so they spent the remainder of the evening before hitching their way home with various degrees of success – Ash last back on this occasion and a little soggy from a walk in the rain!


Saturday 09.08.08


Wishing to make the most of the diving opportunities, Sally and Oli went off to buy another dive tank in order that we would have three full sets of equipment. Once Ash had finished filling the tanks, Ash, Oli, Charlie and George set off in the tender to the site of the famous Opunohu Canyons, George doing safety boat duty. He was somewhat taken aback by the colour of Oli’s language when he surfaced and attempted to get into the tender still in full dive gear. The gist of what he was saying was “he is very large and I would like to get out of the water now.” This was confirmed a few moments later when Charlie and Ash also surfaced looking rather wide-eyed, making similar statements, and also attempting to scramble into the tender at a rate of knots. Apparently they had encountered “Jojo”, an enormous great barracuda (later identified by a dive master, he has been known to nibble fingers before!) Fortunately, all emerged unscathed on this occasion, if a little shaken.


Not to be deterred by a big fish, Ash and Oli returned in the afternoon with Sally (albeit to a slightly different dive site) and returned, pleased not to have seen Jojo again, just as the sun was setting.


Preceeded by the normal auto-stop capers, Oli, Ash and George headed for a hotel in Cook’s Bay for a few drinks.  Oli then headed off to join Sally, Jeremy, and Charlie in Alfredo’s for Charlie’s farewell dinner. After dinner, Oli rejoined Ash, George and members of Arcadia, Foftein and Ogopogo at Maria @ Tapas for Moorea’s biggest night out of the week. Once again the hospitality of the locals proved excellent as the night ran into the morning and the boys were taken to various parties around the island!


Sunday 10.08.08


With the generator leaking, Jeremy called in Arcadia’s engineer, Henri, to come and offer some professional assistance. Following Henri’s advice, Jeremy dismantled it and found the offending O-ring needed replacing. As luck would have it, we did not have a spare of the required size! 


As the morning progressed the troops began to trickle back after their night out. Ash slept on the beach and radioed in at 8am, Oli appeared a bit later at 0930 in a fire engine and George did not re-appear at all!


In the afternoon, George breached radio silence and gave his position - just round the corner in Cook’s Bay. Things started to look up as Andy, the skipper and engineer on Foftein discovered that he had a spare O-ring to replace our damaged one, so we motored back from Opunohu Bay to Cook’s Bay to collect George and, more importantly, the O-ring. The latter did the job so we stayed anchored in Cook’s Bay for a final roast lamb before taking Charlie to the airport to fly back to the UK.


Monday 11.08.08


The O- ring was not the last of our troubles. A resistor on the water-maker burnt out so at 1030 we left Cook’s Bay and returned to Pape’ete Harbour, Tahiti to get a replacement. We were again treated to the sight of whales breaching on the way as we motored back to Tahiti for a bonus visit.


The watermaker agent arrived promptly at 1400 to check the parts required.  With some jobs out of the way, all went to Les Trois Brasseurs, an excellent micro-brewery for drinks and a bite to eat. Following that, Sally and Jeremy returned to Astra and the others moved onto another bar to make the most of having an unexpected night out in Tahiti.


Tuesday 12.08.08


Jeremy settled arrangements with the water-maker agent and at 1300 we left Pape’ete and set a course for Huahine.  We had light winds till we were out of the lee of Tahiti, after which we had 20knts of true wind enabling us to make up to 10 knots SOG as we headed northwest.