Astra Blog: Taha'a and Raiatea 17.08.08 - 23.08.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Tue 9 Sep 2008 03:42

Astra Blog: Taha’a and Raiatea 17.08.08 – 23.08.08



Sunday 17.08.08


We all set out nice and early for a little Sunday morning ‘stroll’; 4 hours later we returned having walked over 10 miles and having taken in much of the island’s stunning scenery. It was a walk enjoyed by all even if one or two people pointed out the fact that it was supposed to be a three mile walk along the way.


In the afternoon we moved around the corner to a motu, Ile Mahaea. With the help of a stern anchor we were able to anchor within a stone’s throw of the island in 5m of water. While Jeremy recuperated from the ‘stroll’ Ash, Oli and George did a drift dive through the pass, Passe Toahutu, closely monitored by Sally in the safety boat.


Again we feasted on tuna for dinner, this time Ash doing the honours.


Monday 18.08.08


The day started energetically with a 0930 swim ashore to the motu, Ile Mahaea. After a little potter around the postcard-like island we set off for Raiatea, the second largest of the Society Islands and Taha’a’s twin sister (both islands share the same lagoon). We went first to the main town, Uturoa, in order that Jeremy could lay his hands on a new throttle cable for the outboard. This entailed a long walk in the midday sun but he returned happy to have the required cable.


Whilst heading down the east coast of the island we decided that it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to dive on the wreck of the Nordby, a 50m vessel that was driven ashore in August 1900. We were against the clock so George, Ash and Oli managed to kit up in record time, complete the dive and were back on board within the hour whilst Jeremy and Sally hovered kindly in Astra. The wreck was well preserved and made for a very interesting dive.


Next stop was Faaroa Bay, a beautiful, long inlet with high mountains on either side. We were anchored just before dusk, in time for the boys to nip ashore and have a quick drink at “La Croix du Sud” before returning to Astra for dinner.


Tuesday 19.08.08


Once Jeremy had changed the throttle cable on the outboard we set out up the Faaroa River in the tender. We managed to get a couple of miles up the river, occasionally resorting to the paddles, Oli and George doing sterling work encouraged heartily by cox Jeremy.


In the afternoon we motored to a beautiful motu, Ile Naonao where we anchored fore and aft just off the beach. It provided stunning snorkelling and George and Oli swam all the way to the reef and back, a distance of about 1.5 miles.


Ash had a rare foray into the galley and did a very good job with some steaks after which Oli, Ash and George disappeared off to the motu to spend some time watching the stars next to a fire.


Wednesday 20.08.08


Another day, another motu: we wiggled our way between coral heads, aided by Ash on the spreaders, to Ile Toamaro where we once again anchored fore and aft in crystal clear, shallow water.


With dive tanks filled and shopping done, Oli, Ash and George went diving in Passe Toamaro with Jeremy on safety boat: lots of coral and moray eels but not much else.


Thursday 21.08.08


With metaphorical chef’s hat firmly on, George followed up the previous evening’s sumptuous stir fry with a Full English cooked on the beach over a fire. After swimming back to the boat we headed out of the pass which was dived the day before re-entering the lagoon at Passe de Rautoanui further up the west coast of the island and motoring up to Marina Apooiti, just outside Uturoa, thus completing our circumnavigation of Raiatea.


In Maria Apooiti we moored stern-to, next to Ogopogo, before going for a poisson cru banquet in the marina bar. Whilst George and Oli went off to fill a gas tank, the others were pleased to welcome Adventure to the marina.


After a long and fruitless walk to fill the propane tank, George and Oli were beginning to become concerned that they would not be able to find a bar in which to refresh themselves. They did, however, hear the pleasant sound of pétanque play which they followed to its cause in somebody’s front garden. They received a warm welcome from the house’s owner, Ceasar, and stayed for a few beers and a couple of games of pétanque.   


They were in luck for two reasons: firstly, Ceasar sold beer at less than half the price of any other bar in the Society Islands (cheaper even than the supermarket?!); secondly he was holding a pétanque doubles tournament which George and Oli duly entered. They were almost late for dinner as they reached the final of the tournament before losing to Ceasar and his wife, who compete in boules tournaments across French Polynesia!


Friday 22.08.08 – Oli’s Birthday


The 22nd heralded Oli’s 22nd Birthday, a once in a lifetime numerical curiosity, and the cause for lavish celebration.  After a smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast, Oli and George set off once more to fill the propane tank.


While Ash helped out Adventure with a rig-check, replaced halyards and changed the anchor light, George and Oli were once trying to find their boules playing rhythm in Ceasar’s front yard, gas tank filled. Despite beating many of the hot shot locals, they were unable to beat Ceasar who could land a boule on a sixpence from 20 yards! Another last minute dash for dinner saw them arrive just in time to spruce up a bit before celebrating Oli’s birthday in style in the marina’s acclaimed restaurant.


Still full of beans the boys returned to the place to be on Raiatea: Ceasar’s House (not to be found in any of the guide books!) for more boules and beer. The perfect way to celebrate a birthday!


Saturday 23.08.08


With haircuts long overdue, Oli and Ash joined Sally on her provisioning trip into Uturoa in search of a coiffeur. They found a barber without too much hassle but were quickly refused service; when they asked if they could get a haircut the barber took one look at their unruly mops and replied tersely “Non!” You can’t blame him.


1220 saw Astra leave Marina Apooiti and head for Ile Tautau, Taha’a. With just enough time for a game of scrabble, we anchored off the motu at 1400. It is said by many to be one of the most beautiful motus in Polynesia, and is indeed the setting of a very swanky hotel. Perhaps spoilt by many of the equally if not more beautiful, more out of the way locations, we were slightly disappointed – we suspect that building work on the island had disrupted the reef life. In any case it is still a delightful motu and we did not waste much time before snorkelling ashore.


Despite there not being that much to see snorkelling, our trip was not wasted: we were treated to a rather interesting wedding ceremony. An American couple were starting their married life wearing native garb, sitting on palm frond thrones before dancing in an amusing imitation of the local style. They topped off the ridiculous scene by being serenaded by the band as they were rowed away in a traditional canoe. It was hard to know whether to laugh or cry!