Storyteller at the Tuomotus,Tahiti and Society Islands

Mon 19 May 2008 07:42
Position  16.43S  151.48W
Sue writes:
Well, a lot has happened since our last blog, en route from the Marquesas to the Tuomotus, when Jim, Rosemary and Tony were still on board. David Crankshaw, our new long distance crew member has joined us and is busily becoming familiar with all the equipment, particularly the fishing gear. Several pages of fishing tips were left by Tony, so with any luck tuna and mahimahi should figure heavily on the menu. Meanwhile David is busily cooking curries and tagines for the next leg of the voyage, from Bora Bora to Suworrow in the nothern Cook Islands. Unless you have read Tom Neale's autobiography, An Island to Oneself, you won't have heard of it, as it's an uninhabited atoll, except for a caretaker who collects the departure tax of $40!
The reason poor David is chief cook is that I am keeping off my leg, desperately trying to get it to heal properly before we head off into the Pacific again. ( I had to take what was a less than short visit back to Melbourne to get a fast -growing skin cancer removed.) 
We were actually supposed to depart today, but the Leg start was delayed a couple of days due to a bad weather forecast. As well, due to excessive competiveness in the Tahiti Pearl Regatta, both Southern Princess and ourselves are waiting for new parts for the furler for their big headsails. Pulling in a huge sail manually is no fun at all, so we're all hoping that the new parts being sent out from Italy via France and who knows where. Based on past experience, we haven't got our hopes up too high. However there are much worse places to spend an extra few days than Bora Bora, which is surprisingly low key and not at all glitzy. We've learned to avoid the tourist places like Bloody Mary's restaurant where all the cruise ship passengers are taken, and frequent little places like the local Chinese restaurant. In fact the only downside of French Polynesia is that it is incredibly expensive--$30 for a water melon, for example. Apart from that it is superb--gorgeous scenery, friendly people and French food. The snorkeling and diving are fantastic, but of course you do have to keep a very careful watch for coral "bomies". The reefs and passes are all very well marked, so as long as you pay attention, it's a great area to cruise. And of course, due to the high cost of everything, it's not at all crowded. It is very hot, about 30 degrees every day which is ok if you can dive overboard. Boy, am I looking forward to that first swim once my leg has healed. 
We've had a wonderful range of guests during our stay here, all of whom have have had to do more than their fair share of provisioning and cooking. First cab off the rank were Christine, Peter and Lucy who spent time in Moorea with John ( that is when Christine wasn't tied to the phone for crisis board meetings). They were followed by Jan and Trevor, artist and photographer extraordinaire, and artist in residence, as well as chef. Jan and Trevor (them upstairs in our Melbourne building) sailed or rather motored with us from Moorea to Huahine to Raiatea finally to Bora Bora, from where they flew back to Papeete. We were then joined by Nick O'Donnell and Rosie (the rigger) Russell who jumped ship from the glamorous 72 ft Oyster to do the 5-day Tahiti Pearl Regatta with us. Yes, Rosie really is a yacht rigger, engaged to be married to Nick who is a quinteesential Irishman--boisterous and full of charm.I especially enjoyed hearing Rosieand Nick abusing each other while we were racing with comments such as, 'You're not running a Sunday sailing school, you know!' John and Nick have written about the races separately, but just as good as the racing were the social events held each evening on different motus (atolls), always with wonderful singing and dancing. On one occasion, all the skippers were blessed by a Tahitian priest. There's no doubt the handicapping system strongly favoured the local participants, and as they went up to collect their trophies they were required to perform a Tahitian dance. It was all very rowdy and good humoured, with some teams having flown out from London to take part in the regatta. The local 'acqua plod' were heavily involved taking people ashore at night, and each morning fresh baguettes were delivered to each yacht. On the World ARC site in the gallery section there is a photo of all the skippers doing a haka at the final presentation with John in the front row. Nick and Rosie have an entertaining web site at and they have a detailed coverage of the Pearl Regatta with pictures.
Following the regatta, Rosie and Nick left to spend a couple of nights in a gorgeous hotel, with their room a bure built out over the water. Meanwhile we had collected Min Allen with Sue and David Crankshaw on the Bloody Mary dock, and spent a very happy few days pottering around the lagoon, with an obligatory trip to the village each day to pick up ice, baguettes and the paper ( for keepiing up with French). Coincidentally, Judy and Tom Hogg were staying on Bora Bora and joined us for lunch on board. Due to my gammy leg, Min and Sue ended up providing lunch for 9 people,  which is not quite as difficult as it sounds, given all the French delicacies in the supermarket.
We hope that our spare parts will arrive in on Tuesday or Wednesday so we can head off to Suwarrow, 680 miles to the west of our current position.