Tahiti 2

Farr Gone Blog
Stuart Cannon
Fri 13 May 2011 18:24
Just sittin on the dock of the bay, waiting for Monday to roll by. Monday is when I can get my somewhat worn main repaired. It's lost two battens and has a few bits of damage caused by the flapping and pounding it got on the way here. Also a chance to get the daisy drifter fixed properly. My only remaining challenge is to get the gas bottles refilled. None of that sounds difficult but when you add in the fact that the boat is on a mooring and I have to get the main on the dinghy (hopefully it doesnt sink it) to get it to shore and taxis and buses dont like you carrying gas bottles then the challenge becomes apparent. The good news is that one bottle lasted half way across the pacific so I probably only need one which I can back pack the 4 kilometres to Papeete.
We are moored at the Tahiti Yacht Club which is in Arue to the northeast of Papeete. The Yacht Club is a very active youth training facility where everyday about 50 kids get sailing tuition from some very dedicated teachers. During school holidays around 800 disadvantaged children are introduced to sailing. They come from all parts of Polynesia to spend a week developing boat handling skills and learning the value of team work. Quite an impressive effort really. Only problem is I have a pet hate of the boats they train the kids in, The optimist dinghy. When a beginner first tries a new activity, if they are given crap equipment they will most likely not enjoy the experience. A beginning skier shouldn't be given skis that an expert would have trouble using after all they need all the help they can get. The optimist is an ancient design, an inefficient dinghy, that is boring to sail, has a sail configuration found nowhere else and when its swamped is impossible to right. These days there is no excuse for such poor design, A boat should first of all be fun and safe. \It should be easy to right when the inevitable happens and it should give the kids a taste of the thrill of sailing. Fact is retention rates prove my point. Less than 6 percent continue in sailing after using an optimist. Kids who learn in a skiff type design have a much higher retention rate as its bloody good fun. Trouble is yacht clubs around the world have adopted the optimist and its very hard to change as the cost is high. There is a noticeable difference between sailors who learnt dinghy sailing first and those who later in life bought a yacht and started sailing. A good dinghy develops touch and you very quickly learn the feel of the helm and how to trim sails. If you dont you get wet. All sailors should start in dinghys and spend at least some time in a fast skiff. Here endeth my rant.
Its 7am here and I am being treated to a beautiful sunrise over the reef. The protective reef is around 200 metres away with surf continually pounding on it so the sounds and the view are sublime. I think its the first clear sunrise since I've been here and its gorgeous. The omnipresent outrigger paddlers are grunting their way up and down inside the reef. Some of the canoes are very high tech, there has even been signs of carbon fibre here which is sort of amusing as a single kayaker can go faster than a five man canoe but they are seriously into it. They have relay races that cover long distances and when they reach a change point all five members of the crew eject themselves from the canoe in perfect unison and the new crew who are waiting in the water haul themselves in and start paddling. The timing and choreography is a delight to watch as the boat itself doesnt seem to slow through the process. Its very clever stuff and highly entertaining.
Yesterday I watched the maiden sail of a brand new but traditional design sailing canoe with a huge gaff rigged main and small jib. They had quite a few problems to start with and even had an altercation with the reef. By the time I'd got the dinghy started to go and assist they had extricated themselves and took off on a screaming broadreach which seemed faster than the dinghy could go. There was much whooping and hollering as the two crew were treated to a seriously wild ride. The canoe is only about 400mm wide and relies on the outrigger to stay upright. The outrigger was being submerged by the force of the large main and so staying upright was a great challenge. I have never seen a man with a broader smile than the owner/builder when he got back to shore.
Being such a great day I think a bit of tourism is in order. A walk to Papeete followed by some hinterland exploration sounds like the go. Plenty of time tomorrow to do the chores.