Hot boat, burnt feet, Faaroa

Dick and Irene Craig
Sun 16 May 2010 22:05
During Saturday afternoon Dick and I took the rib from our anchorage in Baie
D'Avea, to find Marae Anini, round from Point Tiva. This was the first marae
that we had seen where the walls had been constructed from slabs of volcanic
rock rather than boulders. The location to me was just perfect with a flat
terrace, below the walled building where rooms could be discerned, edged by
a supporting wall built from boulders. Beyond the terrace was the lagoon,
with a reef providing a natural terrace and then a further reef making yet
another terrace. It all appeared very symbolic to me. To the south of the
marae is Araara Pass, perfect for the access of canoes and other small
craft. It was from here that the Maoris made their journey by canoe, to New
People were practicing surfing in the pass, beside the motu (island), just
opposite the ancient ruins.
The journey by rib had been a little treacherous as we skirted round the
coral heads, some uncovering as the water passed across the top. The colors
were amazing, blue, mauve, yellow, red.
We left the anchorage around 8am making passage along the lagoon, through
the Avapehi pass and on towards Raiatea. The wind, once we had left the
lagoon was erratic and we were motor sailing between 80º and 150º off the
wind for at least two hours until we were sufficiently far away from Huahine
for the wind to be more settled. Unfortunately, at no time was there enough
wind for us to switch off the engines and sail.
Our arrival at Raiatea coincided with lunch-time so we dropped the anchor in
15 fathoms, in mud, at Baie Hotopuu and ate pizza, before moving to a small
concrete jetty, very much in disrepair, near to the sacred site of Marae
Taputapuatea, where we tied up alongside with the assistance of a local chap
who lived next door and who farmed black pearls.
Before we had tied up, two local lads of around ten or twelve arrived on
their Choppers. I offered them some sweets but one of the boys was too shy
to accept though the other took the sweets and we saw him share them with
his friend.
We went ashore and walked a couple of hundred metres to Marae Taputapuatea,
the most sacred site within Polynesia.. It is from here that canoes set
forth to Hawaii and to Huahine, from whence they continued to New Zealand.
During the afternoon some friends from another WARC boat visited us. They
had seen our boat while they were visiting the marae.
Next morning another WARC catamaran rafted against us while they went ashore
to visit the marae.
We snorkeled off the boat, admiring the huge variety of fish swimming in the
crystal clear water. While snorkeling near the pontoon from which the
"cages" supporting the oysters were strung up, Dick retrieved two from the
seabed at the request of the proprietor, a small payment for spending the
night on the jetty.
There was only 8metres of water below us at the jetty but 10 metres further
out, the water was 30 metres deep. In fact, we were surprised at the depth
of the water in the lagoon, other than where the reefs and the coral heads
had grown, the water was at least almost 30 metres in depth. Deeper than any
other lagoons we have so far explored.
We moved on from there mid morning making passage to Faaroa bay, passing
several huts which were supported on stilts, in the middle of the lagoon.
Taking the rib, we left the boat to explore the river which was very shallow
at the mouth but became a little deeper as we progressed.
We reached a partially disintegrating wooden jetty and as the water in the
river became shallower at this point, turned the rib, with a view to making
our way back to our boat for some lunch.
We had traveled 100metres when a local man offered to show us the botanical
gardens so we returned to the old wooden jetty and with James, the local
chap as guide, wandered round the largely overgrown gardens stockeded with
all types of fruit and flowers. Leaving the gardens Oisin, Moe and Bev
climbed into his boat which he then punted back along the river with us
following in the rib. Shrieks came from his boat as the crew, none of whom
were wearing shoes, burnt their feet on the metal boat, hot from the fierce
We tied up next to James' boat and stepped ashore on the opposite side of
the river from the botanical gardens and James then took us through various
plantations and residential gardens. He shinned up a palm, tossing down some
coconuts which he then opened with a machete so that we could drink the
By the time we said au revoir, we had been given 300g of green beans, 24
limes, ten mangos, 3Kg of yam, a coconut, 10 star-fruit a root of tapioca
and a bag of home-made popcorn..
The yam we roasted to eat with our barbecued meat. We also boiled it then
mashed it with orange juice. The tapioca still remains an unknown quantity
but not for long.
Next morning we raised the anchor and motored to Uturoa, the largest town we
have seen for a long time, finding space in a small marina, not marked in
any of our pilot books, located no more than half a kilometre from the
municipal marina, round the corner from where commercial and cruise ships
berth and quite close to where the ferries collect and deposit their
As soon as the boat was secure, she was dressed overall and because we were
tied up alongside, I was able to clean the rest of the hull which had been
covered by a fender when we were alongside at the concrete jetty near Marae
During the afternoon we registered with the Tahiti Pearl regatta, although
we had already made payment while in Papeete. All participating boats had
been allocated four t-shirts so it became necessary to persuade another
participating boat, with less than four people on board, to let us have one
of their spare t-shirts. No problem.
Then a squall hit but in the very nature of a squall it soon passed.
However, it seemed to herald the onslaught of wet weather and when we went
out for dinner that evening we had a veritable monsoon which, apart from a
brief interlude when we managed to return to the boat reasonably dry, it
poured for several hours.
Next morning the rain didn't start before 10.30 but then it set in for the
day which was disappointing as the practice race, scheduled to start at 2pm,
actually commenced at 3pm but was over by 4.30pm due to lack of wind. There
was no shortage of rain.

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