Thursday, June 30, 2011

Another Defining Moment

So we spent the last three days doing what cruisers do best! Hah! You thought I was going to say "eating and drinking"! We do that very well too, but what we actually do best is: rapidly make good friends, swap (unexaggerated) sea stories and share dreams and schemes for the future. The venue for this three day intensive was the Tahiti-Moorea Cruiser's Rendezvous where people from all over the world converged to celebrate canal passages, ocean crossings, and a spirit of adventure on the water. For the crew of Rutea it was also a celebration of our completion of our first six months at sea, of one of the longest ocean passages one can make and of 4,600 miles under our keel since leaving San Diego!

True to the Polynesian culture our gathering began in Papeete with flowers and blessings. At any gathering, beautiful young people stand at the entry and hand out flowers, usually a sweet smelling Tiare Tahiti gardenia, to place behind your ear (the ear you place it behind indicates whether you are "taken" or "available")! Looking beautiful and smelling sweet one's confidence is bolstered for mingling, learning new crafts and trying new foods. Of course the hypnotic dancing and music deepens one's Polynesian connection and readies you for love OR going to war!

Moving the party Polynesian style by boat onward to Moorea (remember South Pacific?), the tribe continued two more days of festivities with more flowers (leis and crowns), more ukuleles and dancing and typical sporting competitions- outrigger canoe races, coconut husking races, banana stalk hauling races and a race to the line-up for the traditional Polynesian feast! Slipping back out to our boats at night, away from the mosquitoes and no-nos on the beach, informal happy hours, potlucks and dinners were formed and reformed. It was as if we couldn't get enough of each other before we once again set sail to go our different ways.

Hard as it is to imagine, I think the next half of our trip is going to be even more exotic than the first half! We are headed off of the beaten path and are going to step into a world where communities are still ruled by Chiefs and trading is the major form of commerce. I have only been able to fathom our trip one leg at a time because each new stretch only felt doable to me after successfully accomplishing the previous stretch, which helped build muscle and confidence for the next. Excitement and courage for what is to come also is contagious, and caught from sharing stories with other cruisers! Comparing experiences, routes, local knowledge and knowing you might cross wakes with someone again draws me forward to the next island adventure!

Feeling very well celebrated and feeling like we celebrated others very well, we have ten (or so) days to complete our tour of the Society Islands. We have made and revised plans many times because even the best laid plans can't accommodate for how hard it is to leave a place that you are really enjoying! We are provisioned with food, water, fuel and gifts for the Chiefs and ready to leave when we "have to". In the meantime we will continue to do what we do best: make new friends, rendezvous with old friends, share stories and plan for all of those ports out there just waiting for discovery!
R of Rutea
At 6/30/2011 6:07 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 16°50.67'S 151°21.73'W
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous

Approaching the Island of Moorea

Last November, I attended a seminar on cruising the South Pacific at the local West Marine store in San Diego. The speaker was Andy Turpin, the managing editor of Latitude 38 magazine, a widely-read monthly publication that particularly focuses on sailboats cruising the world. One of the things that Andy spoke at length about was the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous - he said if you're in French Polynesia, it's not to be missed.

Sponsored in part by the Tahitian Board of Tourism, the Rendezvous is a three-day event that attracts cruisers from all over the world but primarily those from the US and Canada. It frequently became a topic of conversation amongst cruisers and was often a way of avoiding having to say, "I'll probably never see you again." Instead, I'd say something like, "Are you attending the Rendezvous?" and most of the time the reply would be, "We're thinking about it . . . " "Great," I'd say, "We'll see you there!" A high percentage of cruisers love to party and enjoy hanging out with other cruisers - a small minority keep to themselves and stay in the most remote anchorages.

This year the Rendezvous got started on June 24, with registration and the Friday night's events taking place at a pavilion on the campus of Papeete's City Hall. The pavilion, with it's thatched roof and no walls, started to get crowded once the 100 or so attendees filled the place during registration. There were booths from vendors as far away as New Zealand (they know a lot of cruisers are heading there) and there was a group of Tahitian women who were making the spectacular flowered crowns and leis. There was a skippers meeting to talk about Saturday's sail to the island of Moorea, speeches by local dignitaries and even a traditional blessing where a pretty girl placed a lei around the neck of each skipper and kissed each cheek, followed by a large Polynesian man in an elaborate costume who placed a short rope made of palm frond around the wrist of each skipper secured with an over-hand knot. The fed us fruity drinks laced with rum and had a nice spread of fruit. From there, we walked en masse down to the water front where there was Polynesian dancing and the 'roulotte' trucks where cooking up a storm. I had been told that the Chinese food was the best thing to eat there but the one at which we ate was only mediocre. The buses in Papeete quit running at about 1730 leaving you with the choice of walking or taking a cab which are terribly expensive - often charging $30US for a 4-kilometer trip. Not feeling like walking that late in the evening, we started looking for a cab when what should stop right in front of us? A bus!

I had ignored many of the normal preparations I would make before leaving port so I had to get up early on Saturday and work fast. Ruthie and Corie pitched in and we dropped our mooring at about 0800 and steamed out the Arue Pass, back into the swells of the South Pacific Ocean. We motored to the starting line of the rally where the boats were congregating and waited for the start, which was delayed a couple of times. There was almost no wind, which may have been a good thing as few cruisers and very few cruising boats are good at sailboat racing, particularly the starts. It almost reminds me of what roller derby would be like with morbidly-obese players, in this case, the cruising boats laden with wind vanes, solar panels, wind generators, provisions, spare parts and everything else are like over-weight players, lumbering to position themselves. We got a pretty good start but with the wind so light, we abandoned the 'race' about 45 minutes later and motored the rest of the way to Moorea. Of the thirty-nine boats that were entered, nine sailed the entire fifteen miles. We never saw more than 5 knots of wind and it was all right on the nose.
Moorea is one of the two Windward Islands in the Societies, the other being Tahiti. With tall green crags jutting into the clouds, it reminded us much of the Marquesas. There were already about twenty boats anchored in Oponohu Bay when we arrived and the steady stream of boats swelled that number to about sixty by the time everyone got their anchor down. The water here is very clear, unlike the cloudy water of Tahiti. In fact, it's one of the picture postcards of the South Pacific and we couldn't stop talking about the over-the-top beauty. All the chores associated with arriving at a new anchorage were ignored for the time being, as we all jumped into the almost-too-warm water. We made our way to shore with the other cruisers and enjoyed more fruity rum drinks and Polynesian dancing but we made an early night of it. The anchor lights of the sixty-some-odd boats was a very pretty sight. Fortunately for Corie, there are some people her age in the fleet and she invited a group of them aboard Rutea, where they played guitars, joked around and didn't drink too much beer.

Events got started pretty early on Sunday with outrigger canoe races. Four large canoes, each holding six paddlers, raced in heats. Since the canoes take a lot of skill to steer, locals manned the bow and stern while the silver-topped cruisers tried their best to move the canoes as fast as they could. Ruthie and I came in a very close second in our heat but posted one of the best finish times. Corie raced with a bunch of people her age. There were other games and races, followed by a typical Polynesian meal. Then more dancing and an awards ceremony followed by still more dancing and music. All in all, it was a very fun weekend and gave us a chance to see people whom we've met in Mexico and along the way.

I could see how we could easily spend a couple of weeks here in Moorea but our visas expire in thirteen days so we don't have that option. We'll probably leave here on Tuesday for the Leeward Islands before jumping off to Suwarrow Atoll, almost 700 miles to the west. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble with the internet here and have to post this using the radio, which means no pictures. I'll add photos as soon as I can.
At 6/27/2011 12:38 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 17°29.49'S 149°51.17'W
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Huahine to Tahiti

Sunset over Huahine

Just before we were going to weigh anchor, our friend, Norm, came by with gifts of a fresh baguette and a ripe pineapple. We’re hoping to rendezvous with him and his wife, Beth, in Bora Bora prior to our departure from French Polynesia. Our countdown has begun as our visas expire on July 9 and our request for an extension was denied.

We really didn’t want to leave Huahine and the beautiful anchorage that we had called home for the last three days. Even though we hadn’t done much (I did get the hull clean and Ruthie and Corie removed Rutea’s ‘beard’), we felt like it was a place where we could spend some serious time. Our plans had us going back to Tahiti, almost 100 miles upwind – except – that the forecast called for no wind for a 24-hour period. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to avoid a beating, we got underway at noon and by 1300 we were back at sea. With no wind, we motored through the afternoon, down the length of the island we were going to remember fondly. Shortly after sunset, the moon rose, one day after being full.

 Moorea at sunrise

At 92% the moon still looked full and it’s light illuminated the entire ocean. The swells undulated in a comfortable yet massive way, often times reminding us of the soft hills of the prairie. So captivating was watching the ocean that my watch passed quickly. A very light breeze had come up by the time it was Corie’s watch so we unfurled the sails and cut the engine. Ghosting along at just a few knots, it was a very peaceful night. By daybreak, we were just off Moorea and the moon was still high in the sky.

We entered Papeete through Passe De Taapuna, on the southwestern side of the city. Much narrower than the main entrance, it caused our pulse to quicken as Ruthie steered Rutea between the huge breakers on either side of us. The morning sun was right in our eyes so it made seeing the range markers impossible. Without incident, though, we made it into the lagoon and to the fuel dock which, fortunately, was unoccupied. For some reason, being foreign nationals, we get to purchase fuel without having to pay duty but the final bill was still astronomical.

A large percentage of the yachts arriving this year from North and Central America are descending onto Papeete and the main anchorage is very crowded. We called the Yacht Club de Tahiti to see if they had any moorings available and they said no. We went there anyway (about 10 miles away) and once there, Ruthie got on the radio and asked, “What should we do now?” Even over the radio, I could hear the dock master at the yacht club smirking and thinking to himself, “There Americans are nervy! I told them there was no room here and they came anyway!” He said that anchoring near the moorings was forbidden but they’d let us do it for one night as a mooring was becoming available the next day. We thanked him profusely and set our hook. After showers, we went ashore and had drinks with friends. Later, we walked to the parking lot of the municipal gymnasium and had a delicious dinner at a ‘roulotte’, the ‘roach coaches’ that are so popular here. Corie met some younger people and attended a concert with them. I was so sleep deprived from the night before, I didn’t even hear here come back aboard.

A Whole New Concept for Going-Away Parties

From the mooring this morning, we could see some preparations on shore for some kind of event. As it turns out, the apartment building right behind Rutea is military housing and four of the officers where finishing their tour of duty and were heading back to France. They threw a big party for them complete with a Tahitian dance troupe. No one seemed to mind that a bunch of yachties came ashore to watch.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tahiti to Huahine

 Public Market in Papeete

It seems that if we spend more than a week in any one spot, we get antsy.  So, after ten days in Papeete (seven of them being at the Yacht Club de Tahiti), we decided to cast off our mooring line and check out more of the Society Islands.  The obvious choice would have been to sail over to Moorea, which is only fifteen nautical miles away but we’ve never been ones to make the obvious choice.  Instead we headed to Huahine, about ninety-five miles northwest of Papeete.

 The Lagoon at Huahine

Since we wanted a morning arrival, we left the yacht club at about 1500 on Sunday and after a very rolly sail, we entered the northern pass at about 0900 the following morning.  Our friends, Beth and Norm, on Sarah Jean II, were anchored in the Baie D’Avea, on the southwest corner of the island.  I had a problem with this as our chartplotter had red lines running through the bay, just like it does for every other hazard.  We talked with them on the radio and they convinced us that it was protected and had good holding.  We motored for about five miles, between the island and the coral reef that surrounds it, completely transfixed with the staggering beauty of the island.  Dark, dark green foliage covered the steep slopes that rose from the water’s edge, with sheer cliffs and spiky crags that were often shrouded in clouds.  The route was well-marked but still had us crossing some places where we had less than nine feet of water under our keel.

The bay turned out to be as close to ideal as we could hope for, with clear water and just a few boats. One of the boats was Mahina Tiare, the boat that’s owned by John Neal and Amanda Swan-Neal, who are world-famous cruisers and have written much on cruising.  I went over and introduced myself but only stayed a minute as they were in the middle of a class.  They offer berths on their boat for want-to-be cruisers.  They were very gracious and gave me a grapefruit.  That night we had dinner on board Sarah Jean II.

 Bike Repair in Paradise

At dinner, Beth and Norm told us that one of the pensions on shore rented bicycles so in the morning we headed into shore and in minutes were wheeling our way on the empty asphalt pavement towards the southern end of the island.  At first, it didn’t matter too much that none of the bicycles could shift gears as along the shore it was pretty flat and the riding was easy.  As we got further around the island, the road turned inland and became steeper.  To compound things, the bike I was riding had additional problems and it would feel like there were teeth missing on the sprockets.  We wound up walking the bikes up the steeper grades.  After twelve miles, we had completed our circumnavigation of Huahine Iti and completely soaked in sweat, returned the bikes. 

Waiting for The Killer

We had been told that the restaurant at the pension served a fantastic sandwich they called The Killer.  Ruthie and Corie split one and I ordered a whole:  Almost two feet long, it’s a baguette stuffed with grilled fish and French Fries.  You get your choice of sauce – Ruthie and Corie ordered the vanilla/coconut and I ordered the House Special.  The only bad thing was that I ate all of it.

We’ll probably stay here until Friday and then return to Papeete – kind of a circuitous route, I know, but not nearly as circuitous as the route the package that Caity shipped to us.  Here’s it’s route from the tracking page of the US Postal Service:

Transferred Through, June 12, 2011, 4:17 pm, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Shipment Picked Up, June 12, 2011, 4:17 pm, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Customs Clearance Process Complete, June 12, 2011, 4:17 pm

Departing Origin, June 12, 2011, 6:10 am, ALEXANDRIA, AUSTRALIA

Transferred Through, June 11, 2011, 4:07 pm, MASCOT, AUSTRALIA

Transferred Through, June 10, 2011, 10:12 am, HONOLULU, UNITED STATES

Departing Origin, June 10, 2011, 10:01 am, HONOLULU, UNITED STATES

Departing Origin, June 09, 2011, 5:16 pm, SAN DIEGO, UNITED STATES

Shipment Picked Up, June 09, 2011, 11:44 am, HONOLULU, UNITED STATES

Transferred Through, June 09, 2011, 8:00 am, LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES

Transferred Through, June 09, 2011, 7:46 am, HONOLULU, UNITED STATES

Departing Origin, June 09, 2011, 5:29 am, LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES

Transferred Through, June 09, 2011, 3:07 am, LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES

Departing Origin, June 09, 2011, 2:13 am, OAKLAND, UNITED STATES

Departing Origin, June 09, 2011, 1:07 am, OAKLAND, UNITED STATES

Transferred Through, June 08, 2011, 10:48 pm, OAKLAND, UNITED STATES

Departing Origin, June 08, 2011, 9:49 pm, ONTARIO, UNITED STATES

Transferred Through, June 08, 2011, 8:59 pm, ONTARIO, UNITED STATES

Departing Origin, June 08, 2011, 8:32 pm, SAN DIEGO, UNITED STATES

Shipment Picked Up, June 08, 2011, 6:39 pm, SAN DIEGO, UNITED STATES

Acceptance, June 07, 2011, 9:14 pm, SAN DIEGO, CA 92110

Processed through Sort Facility, June 07, 2011, 8:37 pm, SAN DIEGO, CA 92137

We’re looking forward to the Tahiti-Moorea Rendezvous that takes place the last weekend in June.  Jointly sponsored by the Tahitian government and Latitude 38 Magazine, it’s a three-day party for cruisers.  Many of the people we’ve met along the way are planning on attending so we’re hoping to renew some of those friendships.  Keep watching this space for more details.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lunch in Tahiti

The bus ride from the Tahiti Yacht Club to downtown Papeete is pretty quick, even at 0830. Once downtown, I picked up a rented car and drove back to the yacht club, driving very carefully as not only has it been a while since I've driven but I'm also too cheap to buy the Complete Coverage Insurance (we have the wrong credit cards). Back on the boat, I removed the empty propane tank from it's locker and loaded it, Ruthie, Corie, Corie's surfboard and all the other shore-related paraphernalia into the dinghy. Inevitably, I forget something, sometimes creating so much frustration that I say bad words.

I drove, Ruthie navigated, Corie played the ukulele and the empty propane tank rolled around in the hatch back area of the tiny Peugeot. Our friends Chris and Jessica on Namaste had told us where to find propane, not butane as is mostly used in the South Pacific. We drove to the Propane Farm but were told at the gate that we needed security clearance from the Port Captain in order to get in. Armed with French driving directions, we found the building where the Port Captain lives but there's no directory. I started trying different doors and a woman asked me what I wanted (at least, I think that's what she asked me. For all I know, she might have been making rude comments about my sloppy clothes but her face did show kindness and concern that I was going to enter someplace I wasn't supposed to be). I said, "Propane." and just then a man appeared and quickly interpreted "Gaz," on my behalf and went on to say, in English, that he was going to the same office. Amazingly, we got the security clearance, got the propane and headed south out of Papeete. Our agent had told us of a store where we could find cookware and we replaced some of our non-stick frying pans, albeit at extraordinary prices.

Continuing south along the Tahitian coast, we passed through village after village that sit at the foot of the steep, jungle-covered terrain. As lunchtime had already come and gone, we were looking for a place to grab a bite to eat. It's not that we're picky but some of the places just didn't look very appealing while a surprising number of others were closed. As we rounded one of the hundreds of curves, we could see up ahead a restaurant that looked both appealing and open. Even though it wasn't a good choice for our budget, it did serve a delightful French lunch on a wide porch that was cantilevered over one of the bays.

Perhaps the best part of lunch was dessert. Called a perfiderol, imagine a gigantic cheeseburger except the bun is made out of a sweet puff pastry. And instead of a hamburger patty, imagine a smooth, creamy homemade vanilla ice cream filling. And instead of ketchup and mustard, imagine a thick, dark chocolate sauce poured over the top of the whole thing with whipped cream on top of that. Even though it was huge (our server giggled when she delivered it), it disappeared quickly. It kind of reminded me of my new favorite ice cream bar, called Magnum: With a very dark chocolate shell (I bet it's 60% dark chocolate), it has a wonderful chocolate ice cream center. The only problem with it, other than being a complete calorie and fat overload, is that it costs over $4.00US, again, out of our budget. On the plus side (perhaps I should say 'plus size'?), it does satisfy the meanest of chocolate cravings.

Groaning and waddling from eating too much, we got back into the car and continued our circumnavigation of Tahiti. We stopped at Teahupoo, one of the most famous surfing spots in the world ("Gnarly," Corie calls it) but even though the waves were huge, there was no one out as the form was poor. She did get to catch some waves on the northeast side of the island, just before sunset. Tomorrow, we're back in the car again, this time to provision for the next four months of our adventure.
At 6/8/2011 10:21 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 17°31.37'S 149°32.15'W

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mara'amu Watch

Papeete, Tahiti

During the Austral winter (June to September) there are strong winds that blow up to Tahiti from the southwest, then the south eventually becoming the kinder, gentler southeast trade winds. We saw on our grib files that there would be 20 to 25 knot winds from the southeast but thanks to Francois, a live-aboard here off of Marina Taina, we now know that the mara'amu winds funnel up this side of the island, between our anchorage and Moorea, and when the gribs say 25 to 30, the locals expect 40 to 60 knots! Oh, and these can last up to eight days! Right now the gribs are calling for four days.... So! That got our attention (and everyone else's in the anchorage) and for the past 48 hours everyone has been letting out more anchor chain, reanchoring, jockeying for position, lashing down canvas and, of course, provisioning with lots of good food because it's not going to be a good idea (or not even possible without getting really wet) to leave the boat! The winds hit us about 2:00 this afternoon and we spent the afternoon in the cockpit (as did everyone) watching boats drag anchor, lose things overboard, decide in high winds to pull their dinghies up on board and of course to making sure that we didn't drag anchor ourselves! It felt like a hurricane watch except that so far (gracias a dios) we haven't seen any winds higher than 30 knots, the wind waves here in the lagoon haven't been too bouncy and the rain squalls that have come through have showered us with more rainbows than rain! What is a bit disconcerting though, is to watch the waves crash against the reef at the lagoon edge because they are huge! There are twelve to sixteen foot seas out there!
It's a bit of a shock to be back in a big city again after being is such remote areas for the past couple of months! I told Neal that I didn't think we should attempt to cross any busy streets on our first outing past the marina gates! It's bumper to bumper traffic and everyone is talking on their cell phone! Of the 230,000 people that live in French Polynesia, over half of them live in Papeete- and everyone drives! We walked to a super store and the choices of goods was overwhelming! We just stood there star-struck (feeling very inept) and stared at aisles of French cheeses, pates, meats and fruits and vegetables! Of course, then you have to figure out the grocery store routine so that you don't get up to the cash register and get sent back to fruit department because you didn't get the apples weighed and priced in the fruit section or so you remember to bring your own bags because the stores do not provide ANY bags for groceries and you have to end up putting your checked out goods back in the shopping cart one by one, pushing the shopping cart back to the marina and unloading your goods into the dinghy.... one by one....
OK- the wind is down to 20 knots and I just checked and we have still not dragged anchor! I can barely make out the outline of Moorea against the darkening sky and I can hear the roar of the breakers on the reef! It is amazingly beautiful here! Tahiti is a velvety green island whose peaks are typically shrouded in clouds. The ocean is a royal blue and the water near the reefs, an aqua blue. Coconut palm trees line the shore and the people are gorgeous! I can smell flowers from the boat! Very exotic! We have only been into the center of Papeete once since we arrived because we have been busy! I can't remember right now what we have been so busy doing .... but something like LOTS of laundry, provisioning and a couple of boat projects that needed immediate attention! Then we had to prepare for this mara'amu and today we couldn't leave the boat! Corie, on the other hand, has gone surfing for the past three days and has already driven around the entire island by car with her surf buddies! But when Corie surfs, everybody is happy and this is really the first time she has been able to surf since Mexico! After the mara'amu passes, there is the island to explore, music to be heard, dancing to be seen, waterfalls to be hiked and lots of wonderful French and Asian food to try! In the meantime it's my anchor watch so I better go check our position!
R of Rutea
At 6/5/2011 5:41 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 17°34.81'S 149°37.14'W
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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Taou to Tahiti

A Spectacular Grotto

The anchorage at Anse Amyot on the north end of Taou Atoll had filled up, mostly with boats we knew. Our good friends on Songline had taken the mooring just off our starboard beam and we could shout at them if we chose. The wind continued to blow between 15 and 20 knots but the extensive reef at the south end of the bay kept the fetch from the atoll down to a minimum. Soggy Paws, the CSY 44 sloop in the mooring just to the north of us, had invited us to join them on several dive/snorkel trips to some hard-to-find spots that they had located on a previous visit. The underwater visibility was good but we agreed that it couldn't match that of Makemo where we had excellent visibility of almost 100 feet.

Fred and Cinda Aboard Songline

The steaming light on Rutea's main mast wasn't working so I got out the block and tackle rig and Ruthie hoisted me up the mast. While I was there, I took photographs of some of the boats in the anchorage and printed them out and gave them away as gifts. The shots came out great and gave the boat owners a unique perspective on their boats; an almost aerial view of their boats moored in pale blue water with the dark green of the palm tree-lined beach in the background.

Alas, it came time for us to move on and we made preparations to get underway. The trip from Taou to Tahiti is 240 miles or two overnights as we often measure our passages. Since we wanted to arrive in Papeete in the morning, we chose to leave Taou just at sunset. Our waypoint had us heading west and across the north end of the atoll with just the genoa flying, we made good time and enjoyed the protected waters but once we got out into the open, an uncomfortable southerly swell of four to six feet would often set Rutea on to her beam ends. Being our first overnight passage in a while and rolling more than we find acceptable, none of us got much sleep.

The next night the prevailing easterly winds had lightened to the point where our speed dropped enough that it warranted running the engine. We motored the rest of the way to Papeete and arrived just before daylight. The pass was very easy to clear and once again we found ourselves in the calm waters that are protected by a reef. Before we went to the anchorage, we decided to check out the quay downtown. In a way, it held some appeal as having the boat right in the center of town would give us easy access but after listening to the noise of a busy city for just a few minutes, we decided to head for the popular anchorage about eight kilometers away. The airport runway is at the water's edge and any boat with a mast height of over twelve meters must get permission to pass in front of the runway from the Port Director.

Even though the anchorage is crowded with boats from all over the world, we found a spot with good holding and not too far from the dinghy dock. Whereas it isn't as calm as the anchorages we had gotten used to over the previous three weeks, it was a welcomed respite after a 240-mile passage. I made us a big breakfast, we put the boat in 'anchor' mode and around noon headed into town.

Marina Taini has a very nice facility and maintains the moorings nearby. The docks have no slips, instead heavy ropes that are anchored to the bottom hold the boat's bow while the stern is tied to the dock, a version of Med-mooring. The dock where the mega-yachts are tied is particularly impressive. Several restaurants line the water's edge.

We took a short walk up to the shopping mall. The amount of traffic was ridiculous with a seemingly-unending flow of cars, trucks and buses. The supermarket rivals those of Southern California with long, well-lit aisles of cheeses, paté(a whole aisle of paté!), fruits, vegetables and almost anything else one would find in a world-class mega-store. Ruthie found a place to get her hair cut and Corie and I found a charming spot to have lunch.

That evening, we headed back into shore with our friends Beth and Norm off of the solent-rigged Saga 43 Sarah Jean II. The guide books say that in the center of town there's an area where 'trucks' set up as restaurants. We caught a bus and found the area easily enough: About fifteen large vans modified to be kitchens surrounded by tables serving everything from hamburgers to crepes with many serving Asian-style food. The place we selected had a large menu of galettas, a savory crepe filled with almost anything you could imagine: salad, fish, beef, cheese and/or vegetables. I chose the Viagra that was filled with spicy sausage and not only was it excellent but reasonably-priced which is hard to find in French Polynesia.
Today we started our official check-in into French Polynesia. The weather reports are calling for a super high pressure system to develop south of here and could bring winds of 40 to 70 knots. I think that means we'll be staying close to the boat for a while. It also means it would be an excellent time to read emails from our family and friends!
At 6/2/2011 8:50 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 17°34.83'S 149°37.11'W
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