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.

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