Pape'ete, Tahiti

Scott-Free’s blog
Steve & Chris
Tue 23 Jul 2013 19:37

17:32.407S 149:34.209W


Monday 22nd July 2013


Distance run Day 1: 124 nmiles

Distance run Day 2: 157 nmiles

Total distance run:  281 nmiles


We lifted the anchor with no problems mid-morning and motored to the pass.  Slack water was estimated to be at 12:20 and we arrived, as planned, at 12:00.  Having watched it through the binoculars as we approached, we could see that the tide had already gone slack and the water in the pass was flat, so we headed straight out.  We went through the pass with no problem and once out, set our course to head between Kauehi and Fakarava, round the top of Fakarava and out of the Tuamotu archipelago.


All went to plan, except for the wind – there was none!  The forecast said that we should have 10-15 knots, but we had about 5-10, and that made for very slow going indeed.  Given that there were strong winds forecast for two days’ time, and we had 280 nmiles to go, we decided we needed to keep up a minimum speed or end up arriving in Tahiti in high winds.  Worse still, we might not make it before dark and have to spend a very windy night at sea waiting to enter the harbour at Pape’ete.  There was nothing for it but to raise the iron topsail and motorsail.

The following day, around mid-morning the wind finally picked up, and we had the most enjoyable sail so far in the Pacific with calm seas and winds of 12-16 knots on the beam or just abaft the whole way.


As we approached Tahiti we were hit by a couple of squalls, but as we rounded the top of the island we entered a wind shadow and it dropped away to 2-3 knots.  The sea flattened out and we motored the last mile or two to the pass into Pape’ete harbour.  As this is a major shipping channel we had to call Port control for permission to enter, and very soon we were tied up, bows to, med-mooring style, on the town quay.


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A squall heading for us off the coast of Tahiti.                                                    Entering Pape’ete harbour through the pass.


The town quay is very protected (except from the NW so hopefully there’ll be nothing from that direction while we are here!) but is right next to a six-lane main highway, so a little noisy compared to most places we have been lately!  We are plugged into mains power and have unlimited water on tap, can step ashore whenever we like, and have the centre of Pape’ete, the capital of French Polynesia and a modern town within a 5-minue walk.  And, if we look the opposite way, we have a wonderful view of Mo’orea, an island about 10 nmiles away that is very reminiscent of the islands in the Marquesas with their stunning landscapes.


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The town quay is right next to a 6-lane highway!                                              The island of Mo’orea, off the north west coast of Tahiti.


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The superyacht quay, just off the town quay.                                                     Traffic and parking are a problem in the centre of town.


Pape’ete definitely has a car culture, and traffic and parking are a problem in the centre of town.  The problem for us, as pedestrians, apart from crossing busy roads, is that the places we want to go to are a long walk away!  Despite this, we have managed to get quite a few jobs done since we arrived.  We have been to the health centre and both been checked out by a dermatologist.  After five years in the sun, we wanted to make sure that our northern European skins weren’t beginning to sprout anything unwanted.  Apart from a few warts which the doctor burned off with liquid nitrogen, we had nothing to worry about.  Steve needs to take a little more care with his forehead as the skin has signs of sun damage, but otherwise no problems.


I finally got round to having a haircut which turned out to be the most expensive one on our travels.  ‘This is Tahiti’ they said when I gasped in horror at the price, as if that were some kind of excuse.  ‘No thanks’, I said and made for the door.  Suddenly the price came down by 25%.  It was still around £20, but my hair was so long it was driving me mad so I shut up and paid up. 


We have walked our little legs off in search of items for the boat.  There are several chandleries here and an Ace hardware store, but they are miles away from each other.  We have managed to get quite a lot of what we needed though, so the walking was not wasted.  We have been working our way through our joblist and have managed to tick quite a few off.


We have today had confirmation that our new main sail has been despatched from England, together with a new VHF radio, engine mounts for the generator and a new diaphragm for the compass.   Once they are here we will be able to get on with more of the jobs that need doing.


We have also, of course, been enjoying the company of other cruisers, with ‘potluck’ suppers (a US favourite – bring a dish of whatever you like to share – it’s potluck what you get for supper!) and a trip to the food van area by the ferry port.  Here, every evening, the mobile restaurants set up their tables and chairs and serve you from their vans.  There’s also a micro-brewery a short stroll away that we have visited once or twice....


On 14th July, Bastille Day, we watched the military parade, that also included the Police and Pompiers (fire brigade). 


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The Bastille Day parade on 14th July.


We attended an evening of song and dance at the Heiva festival.  The singing was interesting but rather repetitive and long, but the dancing was wonderful.  It involved a large troupe of dancers, at least a hundred, and took an hour to tell a story, during which the dancers changed costumes numerous times.  It was quite a spectacle and I sat spellbound throughout.  Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos, but the cover of the Heiva programme gives a hint of the lavishness of the costumes.


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Dancers on the Heiva programme cover                                We heard this group singing – enjoyable but rather repetitive!


The plan is to stay on the town quay until the sail and parts arrive, and then move around the corner to Marina Taina, about 5 miles out of town, to get the more serious jobs done.  So it looks like we’ll be in Tahitit for another couple of weeks.  Hopefully during that time we’ll take a bit of time out from boat maintenance to see some of the island!