Farewell to the Society Islands & Huahine "Round up" 17:19:04S 152:33:97W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Fri 30 May 2008 14:36

I am scrunched up on the port side corner of the Nav' Station on Zipadedoda, whilst we charge along on the pitch dark on a beat to windward. The sails are close hauled and well reefed as we lurch from squall to squall in this quite unseasonal weather. The up side is that we are making great progress towards our next destination, Rarotonga, in the Southern Cook Islands.  After weeks of virtually no wind and nearly 100% motoring between Islands and anchorages, this makes a very refreshing change.  Especially as we are not burning diesel!


We departed Raiatea this afternoon after a 24 hour “pit stop” to sort out some teething problems with the new Leisure Furl Boom.  We had arrived the previous morning after a very early start in Bora Bora, some 26 NM north of the moorings off Raiatea Marine, and spent the night on a mooring buoy provided by BMS Services.  Having sorted out matters with the boom (to about 95%) we went around to the Total fuel station for our duty free diesel, next to the public marina. There is quite a performance on the paperwork front to get the duty free price, but we eventually loaded 230 litres for 23,200 CFP. Which is about 195 Euros’. The staff were very helpful and the station was immaculate and quite easy to negotiate to the fuel berth, despite the strong on shore breeze.  We then headed for the Pai Pai Pass through the Raiatea & Tahaa reef, which is very easy to navigate compared to some we have encountered!


WE have enjoyed the Society Island experience enormously. Each Island that we have visited was quite different in certain aspects, and they were all memorable. So I will try to document a “flavour” of each of those that we have visited and not yet written about.  This I will do in chronological order, so to start with the first will be Huahine, the first of the Leeward Islands we visited.


We embarked on an overnight sail cum motor from Taina Marina, Tahiti to Huahine Island some 120nm North on the 9th May. It was a magical experience passing Moorea in the dark and seeing the large three masted schooner that ply’s these waters with all her rigging lit withy fairy lights….looks very romantic. But I prefer the one we’ve got! The service is brilliant and the food is to die for………….we also like the company!


The sunrise the following morning was one of the most spectacular we have seen so far……..



Captain Cook discovered Huahine in 1769, and subsequently visited the Island several times, until 1777 when one of the natives stole his sextant.  The Missionaries from the London Missionary Society arrived in 1808 and set about converting the Islanders to the Christian Protestant faith. Huahine was the last of the Leeward Islands to become part of colonial France, some 40 years after Tahiti, in 1897. By all accounts not without quite a fight. The good citizens of Huahine were not granted he right of French citizenship until 1946, presumably as punishment for not being so compliant as all the other Islands in French Polynesia,


The Island itself is some nine miles long north to south and six miles wide. It in fact consists of two Islands inside a single reef, but the Islands are now joined by a causeway, so it is not possible to sail between them. The highest peak is Mount Turi which is 669 metres. So in common with all of the Society Islands it has spectacular scenery, flora and fauna.


  Motu Vaiorea off Port Bourayne


The Island enjoys a very low population density, and it seems to be a place where quite a lot of families from Tahiti have a second home. The first thing that strikes you when you tour the island is how manicured it all is. It is spotlessly clean with perfectly maintained roads and infrastructure. The people are mostly of Polynesian decent, which made a refreshing change. They are smiley, and extremely friendly and welcoming.


   Native Dancer at the local hotel, adjacent to our anchorage


We entered through the reef on the North West coast, via the Avamoa Pass. This did not present any difficulties as it was well marked with leading marks and channel; buoys. But I still have difficulty getting used to surfers overtaking me as I negotiate passes through reefs in the Island Lagoons! This pass gives direct access to the main village on the Island, Fare. This is well served with amply stocked supermarkets that sells everything from Potatoes to scuba diving kits, harpoon guns, car batteries and tires! There is only one 5 star resort on the island, otherwise it is French style Pensions, hostels and small boutique family hotels.


There is a very well marked channel all the way down the west side of the Island, which gives access to some stunning anchorages. There are a couple of points on the way to the southern most anchorage that are a little too exciting with one cardinal mark which is very misleading. So we did have a near “keel cleaning” experience at one point. Otherwise we had at least 3 metres of water under the keel the whole way down the west coast.  The water is crystal clear, and most hazards are easy to see.  We headed straight for Bay Avea, on the south western tip. This is an utterly stunning anchorage. It is quiet, tranquil, with warm clear water, and easy access to shore at either of the two small hotels at each end of the bay. It is not possible to land a dingy on the beach elsewhere as it is all coral fringed and this would wreck the dingy.

There were several other rally boats already there, so it was good to catch up with the BWR gang and to get tips on what to do and see and were to go to eat! Always a major point of concern for BWR participants!!


The next day was a Sunday and we decided to explore the bay and go for a long walk along the beach down to the southern tip of the island. Along the way we saw thee guys sitting in the water, chatting and drinking from Hinano beer bottles, 50cl size no less and at 1000 in the morning! We exchanged “Bon Jours” and carried on. About an hour later, on our return journey, paddling along as you do. I spotted one of the three chaps dragging an enormous cool box into the water where it floated in the sea, adjacent to the Sunday revellers. As we approached, another one of the team, arose from the water, walked up the beach picked up a white plastic table from a garden and returned to the water “sans” table and promptly parked it in the sand. They then placed the cool box and beers on the table.  So I applauded their ingenuity. This resulted on both Jennie and I being given large Hinano beers to share with the guys, as well as a plate of raw, marinated (sushi) Tuna. This is a local delicacy and not one of my favourites, But we both enjoyed the “Chirac” with the guys who by this time we very well refreshed and having a lovely time. So after a good portion of raw fish and cool beers we headed back up the beach for more RnR.


After a couple of days just chilling out after the excitement of Tahiti, we decided to join Paul & Harriet from Anahi on a circumnavigation of the Island(s) by scoter. They ordered there’s from the local French owned hotel whereas I ventured some 25 minutes walk up the road to a local Pension and managed to hire a nearly new Chinese made scooter for a mere 3,500CFP for the day.  So at around 10am we set off.


   The Biker set rides again. Note the coral reef and lagoon in the background


This all took place on one of the many Bank Holidays that the Islanders enjoy. So EVERYTHING was closed. It turned out that the scooter Paul was given by the hotel was not in good shape. In  fact it was a dangerous wreck! As we followed them bits of plastic fell off, the steering was wonky and the brakes we well passed their sell by date! Ours was OK, but had just over half a tank of petrol to start with, and a very small engine for two persons……..So speedy it was not! But it was a pretty blue colour so all was well.


This tour was truly enchanting with magnificent views wherever we went.


  Complete Fisherman’s Kit. Including boat, nets and watchful Little Heron



Interestingly all of the local boats are stored on “lifts”. These are usually two poles on a wheel and ratchet system to lift the boats clear of the water,  when not in use. This is possible because there is in effect no tidal range here. It has the major advantage of negating the need for anti-fouling, reducing the chance of osmosis, and protecting the boat when there are sudden surges over the reef during storms.


There is a complete re-constructed Tahitian style village on the East side of the Island. Complete with “Long House” over the water and burial site and loads of information boards on the customs and rituals.





By late lunch time, we were getting low on fuel and Paul’s scooter died.


  Running repairs? Harriet looks for the defibulator!!!


We diagnosed fuel starvation as the problem. Paul did a magnificent job of trying to solve the problem. But bottom line was that the carburettor was shot and so was the bike! So I took the two girls and myself (a threesome no less) on the blue scooter back to Fare. I then dropped them at the only café open that day and returned to collect Paul. By this time my scooter was running on fumes, and there was no way it would get us back to the Bay Avea. So once I found Paul, we took the bottom feed out of the petrol tank on his bike and transferred the contents onto my bike. Meanwhile Paul had been “taken under the wing” of a local woman. She very kindly called the hotel to tell them their bike was out of action and that they had two stranded customers in Fare. They agreed to collect the bike and then collect Paul and Harriet form the Café in Fare.  So we returned there, had a late lunch and awaited the transport. It did not arrive so they got a taxi and we rode home on our trusty Blue steed, complete with all of Paul’s fuel! The hotel were really good to Paul. Refusing to charge him for the rental and re-imbursing his taxi fare (and paying for my petrol). To cap it all,  the “Patron” bought us all a free drink in the evening.


This summed up the spirit of Huahine. It is a real gem. Unspoilt, Not to be missed. Very special and we were very reluctant to leave. But leave we did, for Raiatea and Tahaa on the 13th May.