15:53.1S 148:26.8W Attempted passage to Tuamotus and return to Tahiti
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Tue 30 Jun 2015 00:42
Dear Family and Friends,
Our hopes of returning to the Tuamotus atolls have been cut short by our generator failure. Yes we could run the main engine to top up the batteries; this is more expensive on fuel, almost twice so, but more to the point we need to get the generator repaired and if parts have to be flown in that can be a considerable delay. So it’s back to Tahiti, we were about 125 miles away and we should reach Papeete tomorrow morning. This is disappointing but the decision was a ‘no brainer’ really.
The hand mike from our SSB radio that we took back to the UK for repair is also not working, again possible to do without it but should anything happen whilst cruising we would rather have it functioning as it can be an invaluable source of help. I am not looking forward to the 3rd thing! Still Tahiti is a good place to make such repairs, the best until New Zealand, a lovely if expensive place to be with their Heiva festival of dancing, song and Polynesian sports to look forward to in July, so that’s the upside.
We returned to self catering just a few days ago only to find many of our opened dried goods crawling with small bugs, again. This will be the 4th time I have turned out the locker, thrown away affected foods, although other cruising guides suggest you just pick the bugs out!! The tiny insects seem to hide in the creases of the packaging, and get in to the food no matter how tightly sealed the packaging is. I have learnt the only option is to use the clip down storage containers but then the sizes don’t work well for the size of the storage lockers, did the designers think of this?
So whilst I have time on my hands I thought I would write a little more of the Society Islands. I suspect I have not been alone in only having a vague notion of the geography of Oceania although Tahiti and Bora Bora are better known. Firmly put on the chart quite literally by Captain James Cook who visited 3 times between 1767-1770. Cook was among a vanguard of explorers to reach Tahitian shores, the English Cap:t Samuel Wallis in 1767, was the first European to reach it closely followed by Louis Antoine de Bougainville who claimed the islands for France. Following some skirmishes between France and England for the Islands, the ruling chief family of Pomare signed the Protectorate Treaty of 1842 with France, the last king Pomare reigned until his death in 1880 when it became a full colony of France. (There is a picture of his tomb on the photo blog and the Pomare family continue to be buried in the Royal cemetery not far away). Cook named the islands after his Royal Geographical Society sponsors who funded the voyage to observe the solar/Venus transit at Venus point, the northern tip of the island and Bougainville is remembered in the anchorage on the eastern coast and not forgetting the flower of that name. Cap:t Bligh of the Bounty visited and was shortly after to be set adrift by his mutineers, he survived the ordeal as did his mutineers who settled on the island of Pitcairn. Descendants of the mutineers have erected a plaque at Venus Point to remember the event.
The Society Islands like their Marquesan cousins are volcanic in origin, much of the interior is uninhabited with limited access via tracks that follow the steep contours. Richly covered in tropical vegetation, there have been some local economic development with cotton and coffee plantations in the 19th C, today fruit and vegetables are grown on the narrow coastal lands that ring the islands. The cosmetic base, manoi oil is manufactured here from copra, (dried coconut). The mountains rise steeply from the plains in many places, so homes follow the coastal road and the short dirt tracks on either side. The communities, kingdoms of recycled materials, the modern (cars, fridges, Tv’s, running water, mobile phones to name a few), sit alongside the most basic of domestic arrangements, while in Papeete and its suburbs there is the convenience of modern living standards with desirable and expensive properties covering the hills surrounding the city.
Tahiti is nearly two islands, Tahiti Nui the largest is joined in its SE corner to Tahiti Iti by a narrow isthmus. Of the 6 highest peaks, Mt. Orohena is the highest at 7353 Ft (odd thought it would be in metres). It is fringed by coral reef with passes where ships may enter, created by fresh river water joining the sea. (Coral can not grow in fresh water). Today this is home to the international surfing competition between the worlds top 44 surfers and many other nautical pursuits.
We enjoyed our drive around the island, visiting the king’s tomb, Venus point, the Trois Cascades of Fa’Auruma’i the Vaipahi water gardens and the Mara’a Caves, featured in the photo blog. We have also visited the excellent Robert Wan Pearl Museum in Papeete which is everything you wished to know about the black Tahitian pearls. The pearl shellfish, the size of dinner plates, have a black lip to them and when the seed (normally shell) is introduced into the oyster, a tiny piece of the mantle or oyster muscle is also put inside in the oyster sack. This gives the pearls their varied colours through grey, blue, green, purple, gold,cream and rarely black tones. The mother of pearl is translucent and the light is reflected and refracted to give the simmering effect and lustre. Quality in pearls is all about a completely perfect spherical shape, a good depth of mother of pearl which takes 2-3 years to grow, its colour, peacock colours being most favoured and its lustre. They showed a grading and to be honest I could not see the difference between the top 4 grades although the ones you find in the market are likely to be poor quality. Do I covet some local pearls, you bet! Sadly repairs come first and they wont come cheap.
Well that’s enough rambling for the moment.
All our best,
Lynne and Alan