Mission accomplished - Papeete ahoy!

Rumpelteazer Pacific Crossing
Robert Holbrook
Sat 22 Mar 2008 23:17


149:35.208 W


Rangiroa proved a delightful two-day resting place before the final leg (of this half of the voyage) to Papeete.  While Rumpelteazer remained anchored off the Kia Ora hotel, Robert, Peter and Pippa hired scooters and visited the Gendamerie to sort immigration matters, bought fresh vegetables in a roadside store, and explored the only road on the motu before enjoying a great fishy lunch with Max and Andy at a small restaurant on the Tiputa quay.  


After a leisurely afternoon, we re-grouped for drinks at the Kia Ora Hotel and dinner at the only restaurant on the island open in the evening.  It was fortunate that we were collected, by what looked like the chef, from the Kia Ora hotel as our departure coincided with a torrential downpour. 


On Thursday, we had planned a scuba diving excursion with Olivier, with whom Peter had been diving earlier in the week.  Due to dive-boat problems, and the passing of time, we decided instead to go snorkelling over the reef inside the Tiputa Pass.  Exotic coral and fish, and the occasional 6 foot shark, kept us entranced if not a little wary – a truly memorable experience.


Meanwhile, Max took a tour of the motu by taxi, and visited the black pearl farm in search of treasures.  We all considered the idea of having a traditional tattoo done, but eventually turned it down due to the likely pain.


In the afternoon we motored for an hour down the lagoon and anchored 100 metres off, in the lee of the Mahitu motu.  We swam ashore and spent an hour or more exploring the motu – its dense coconut groves, salt water pools, and the extraordinary rock formations lying on the beach on the ocean side of the atoll (big argument – was this coral or was it volcanic rock?). We returned to Rumpelteazer armed with small pieces of coral and volcanic rock on which to perform our own scientific experiments, and a coconut which Andy shinned up and picked from a tree.  Max later had to use a hacksaw to open it but the milk and flesh were much appreciated ingredients in Andy’s chicken curry that night.

 Yesterday morning, Friday, we set sail back to the Tiputa pass, arriving at slack water.  In the event, the pass was quite turbulent once again, but as the current was beginning to ebb, Robert motored very slowly through the huge swells and we came through safely. We sailed north-west along the windward side of the motus, looking at the immense size of this mostly uninhabited atoll.  As we sailed past, Max went halfway up the mast to take wonderful pictures across the reef and into the lagoon.


We then turned left and sailed on a close reach for 24 hours in the direction of Papeete.  The winds were remarkably constant, from 15 to 20 knots from just south of east, and we averaged 8 knots during the day and night. 


This morning, Tahiti looms larger and larger on the horizon ahead of us, its high volcanic peaks making a huge contrast with the low coral atolls of the Tuamotus.  Our estimated arrival time is 1415 (Hawaii time = GMT minus 10) - only two hours away.


Robert and Rumpelteazer are then going on a two-week cruise, en famille, around the Society islands.  The crew will rejoin in Bora Bora on 7th April for the voyage to Australia.  In the meantime, avid readers should note that future blogs may become a bit irregular!