Tahiti and Moorea, S 17° 30' 0.00" W 149° 51' 0.00

SV Jenny
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Wed 24 Jun 2015 23:23
Dear Family and Friends,

Thursday 18th June 2015

After a first hectic day back (from landing at 5am), and a lovely dinner cooked by Jonathan and Anne on Sofia, our knees wobbled, our eyelids drooped and as inevitably as water escaping when the plug is pulled out, sleep enveloped us completely. Fortunately the jet lag seems much better on our return journey.

Friday 19th June 2015

The Pacific Puddle Jump rally started in Papeete, with registration, a welcome pack and the now familiar Polynesian welcome of musicians signing traditional songs and playing their ukulele’s, ( just while I think of it, they were there to greet the passengers disembarking from our plane at 5am, now thats impressive). Followed by speeches from the organisers, Archipelago, Latitude 38 magazine, Tahiti Tourism among others, from the head of Tourism in FP, assistant mayor, all the mayors of the Marquesas and a sailing briefing. Freshly opened coconuts provided water, easily at least a pint in mine, cool and delicious followed by cocktails and traditional ‘fire’ dancing. Skippers were blessed in Polynesian with a branch shaken over their heads before the dancers put on an awesome display of mesmerizingly fast moves, the men with seriously well built thighs, stamping and crouching their knees a frenzy of rhythm, the women beautiful in their headdresses, palm fronds a blur as they shake and gyrate their hips. How do they move them that fast? A little touristy but worth the experience, eating out at the Roulette food vans on the sea front in the warm evening air, the barbecued whole veal was excellent and if you have missed the all pervasive Chinese dishes, they were here too.

Saturday 20th June

We rushed down to the rally start line, (asking permission to sail across both ends of Tahiti airport runway which has been built in the lagoon), and with winds of 20 knots we had an exciting and fast sail to Moorea an island just off the Tahitian coast. Well reefed in our sails, we covered most of the 15 miles in under 2 hours, the last few miles were the trickiest with very little wind as we crossed the island wind shadow. Cook’s bay our rally anchorage is a deep inlet in a flooded caldera, tall peaks and green, green, green, low cloud covering the summits and as we are discovering in this part of the world, frequent and heavy rain. A lovely meal was followed by more dancing by a local professional dance troop. The energy that goes into the dances is enormous, the men are quickly drenched in sweat so when they chose our table for an aggressive warlike dance at close quarters we too shared the wet experience. In their final dance moves, assertive and intimidating to their enemies and us alike, their faces were thrust just a couple of inches from ours, their bulging eyes locked in contact with ours, staring us down, their tongues poked out at us, it was impossible not to pull away the effect hipnotic and overpowering. Alan was pulled to the dance floor by a beautiful dancer, and acquited himself with a degree of robust knee shaking!

Sunday 21st June

Another full day of activities! Alan, Anne, Jonathan and Derek (from Asmara Sky, fellow American OCC member), made up a crew with 2 locals for the canoe races. ( I had injured a finger and would not have been an asset in any case), and gave a strong team from New Zealand, (get the feeling the dice are already loaded against our heroic efforts?) a close race. Our team, “Kick ‘em Jenny” very nearly got to the turning point of the race before the Kiwi’s with some competitive battling at the buoy but as they came out of the turn the Kiwi’s had a nose in front and although they hung on in there battling to the last, second place was the reward. It was with some restored pride that the Kiwis went on to win 1st place and no other tem gave them such a close race!

Demonstrations of palm weaving, coconut husking, splitting and grating, leia making (flower necklaces) and the wearing of pareu (large cotton cloths wound and twisted into many different forms of clothing, dresses, bikini top and shorts to shirts) and lessons in traditional dancing topped with a buffet of Polynesian proportions, more wonderful local dancing and the awards ceremony. Drinks aboard Sofia with Anne and Jonathan, and Barbara and Phil, from Hobart Tasmania, completed a perfect day.

Monday 22nd June

A peninsula lies between Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay, a similar tongue of sea, pushing a mile or so inland, within the same caldera walls, Mount Rotui, (899m) dominates the bays and is a special place in Moorean and Polynesian mythology. It sounded like a good idea to try to see both bays from a walk towards Mt Rotui and with only vague instructions and confidence in our sense of direction(!!) we set off the Anne and Jonathan. Our journey into the interior took us through commercial scale pineapple plantations, fording more streams and arriving in Opunohu Bay. The road back around the coast was busy and devoid of open bars, we have been walking for 3 hours in the middle of the day and although we have water, a beer is what will hit the spot. In the end, having found that Monday is a day of closure for the few businesses we pass, we stumble on a cafe that provides soft drinks and homemade ice cream, lovely. Annoyingly a Hilton Hotel is around the next bend, never mind we walk on! Our four hours we have reached the dingies and are grateful for it, I might have made a small exercise inroad into the enormous amount of food consumed over the weekend!

Tuesday 23rd June

We have a morning tour booked to encircle the island, to visit the Belvedere lookout, high in the central mountain range, a marea site and a local distillery, makers of coconut eau d’vie, ginger spirit, pineapple wine and fizz, (now I haven’t seen this outside of the Society Islands). Learning a little more of the island, with its 18,000 inhabitants, mainly living on the coastal road, close to the sea. Tourism is the main income, followed by agriculture, (pineapples, papaya, bananas, coconuts, mangoes, pamplemousse, lemons, vegetables, taro, plantain and gosts, chickens and cows), and work in government services. Their tourist season is relatively short for somewhere that enjoys year round good temperatures, June through to early October.

The archaeological Marea are similar to those of the Marquesas but they do not have Tiki. Instead the very stones of the platforms are sacred and thought to possess power to protect the tribe and families. Alarmingly captured enemies were sacrificed, their skulls bashed in with rocks and their blood on the rocks held to have their enemies power and made part of the Marea. When I asked when was the last sacrifice, our guide just laughed, mmm… the locals seem friendly enough but is that the Captain Cook experience? He poor chap ended on the the menu in Hawaii.

Wednesday 24th June

We have moved around to Opunohu Bay. This is actually where Captain Cook first landed in 17XX although it is the sister bay that is named after him. As I write we have breakfasted early at 7am, the warm sun and light breeze just perfect, the palm trees reach down to the lagoon beside us, the scenic hills to one side, the breaking surf on the reef edge and the turquoise waters to our other side. I am going to give the body boarding another go as the waters are deliciously warm. Just back, lovely swim watching the small reef fish, close to shore. I haven’t quite worked up the courage to go much offshore!

All our best, photos when I get time to sort them.

Lynne and Alan