Blue Sky's Voyage
George & Michael
Sun 23 May 2010 21:40
Hello Friends                                   "17:35.2S 149:36.9W"   
We made it to Tahiti OK but with irritatingly little wind so we had to actually motor most of the way from Toau - all 240 miles of it - and arrived in rather overcast and damp weather. Not exactly what the holiday brochures promise of the South Pacific.
We're in the Marina Taina which is handy for shopping and has been handy for Simon and Tyson* to wander on and off for entertainment purposes. Here's the view of Blue Sky this morning up to the volcano, with unusually clear weather for once:
We are sad to have said goodbye - or at least au revoir - to Simon who is now in Paris, checking out the City of Light before wandering north to Sweden. I know I'm going to get hate mail for this, but Simon is the new best ever Blue Sky crew, partly because he's an experienced skipper himself and partly because he's just an extremely nice guy. He has skippering commitments in the Med in July and is available after that.
Here's a typical afternoon pic on the foredeck with the Blue Sky guitar, though it's not typical to be surrounded by the drying laundry...
Lady blog readers are invited to contact through the website for Simon's email address.
As we were in the marina and one sees everyone walk by on the dock, we bumped into the US crew of 'Enchantress' who we'd seen in Fatu Hiva and Fakarava. It turned out that one of their number, *Tyson, was jumping ship but did not fly out from Tahiti until the end of the month and further, had nowhere to stay. So Tyson has joined us on a temporary basis and was also wingman for Simon for checking out the bars and clubs of Papeete.
Lots of photos in this blog (posted by WiFi) and we couldn't resist this one of Simon making sure Tyson is clean before coming on board.
We've checked out town, the market and the entertainments. Shortly after we arrived there was a visit by a fleet of traditional (though new) boats from other Polynesian islands, together with dancing.
We might take time to comment on pricing in Tahiti as it's a truly weird place.
- The bus to town is fairly priced at CFP 200 - about GBP1-50 - OK no problem.
- At a roadside stall, a locally grown ordinary melon is CFP 1000 - GBP 7= or about three times what you'd pay for one that was imported to England and available in a supermarket there.
- A can of local beer in happy hour, no less, will set you back CFP 500 or about GBP 3-50. Fortunately we're still on excellent Costa Rican beer at $1 a can.
- A trolley of ordinary goods in Carrefour, excluding meat or alcohol or anything fancy, kills at least GBP 400 amazingly.
In fact Tahiti is quite insanely priced and it defies all normal economics as the whole place is shutting down without any lowering of prices. Both Club Meds have closed, the Moorea one even says 'former club med' on googlemaps and the Bora Bora Club Med says 'closed' on their website. Hotels are closing every week in fact and tourism has virtually disappeared. Downtown Papeete is mainly closed with numerous locked up hotels and shops. The Black Pearl business is in crisis and good bargains are to be had for those in the market for such things. Air Tahiti Nui which runs a fleet of A340s and relies largely on tourism must be suffering terribly.
Apparently price bargaining is 'not traditional' in Polynesia, but you'd have thought that some of the traders might have cottoned on to reality.
We hear that Fonctionnaires shipped out from France are paid 3 times their French salaries, one presumes in an attempt to feed money into the islands from the top down. But since Carrefour has a number of first growth clarets on the shelves at truly huge prices, we wonder what this extra money is actually spent on. Certainly lots seems to be spent on Japanese / SE Asian 4x4s which seems a good way of exporting money from Europe. As usual, the public areas of Papeete have been extravagantly refurbished with lots of money presumably from Paris or Brussels, but the private areas of town are distinctly run down and tatty.
Anyway, enough of that, let's dwell on some of the good sights here - the Polynesian dancing which we saw near the traditional boats.
 - and the market in Papeete where the prices on different stalls are all exactly the same and appear to have been set by a Fonctionnaire rather than anything approaching market forces. George and Tyson in foreground..
That's about it for Tahiti as we've just sat on the dock and done some shopping. STOP PRESS news is that Michael plans to fly back to the UK for a couple of weeks (provided Air Tahiti Nui doesn't go bust meanwhile!) At least we have moderate internet service here, which is welcome after the remoteness of the Marquesas and Tuamotus and useful in current market conditions.
And we hear you're enjoying good weather in the UK, if not in Australia.
So Au Revoir from Simon
and Best Wishes from George & Michael