Society Islands 22 April to 13 May
The Society Islands are the western group of Islands in French Polynesia and include Tahiti, the capital of which is Papeete where we spent much of the time. It was a shock to get back to a town with heavy traffic and lots of people and shops after the last 4 months of island life. We spent more time in Papeete than we wanted, not out of choice!
Working on the Boat (22 – 24 April).
We had arranged to have the boat hauled out to have the anti-fouling done which Andy and Emma did (I have anti-fouling and preferred to pay them than do it myself). So Catherine and I spent three days fixing things on the boat which kept us more than busy for the three days while Andy and Emma scrapped, sanded and anti-fouled the boat. Andy also checked our rig for us when he found that two of the terminals had failed with 6-8 wires snapped out of the 15 wires that make up the stays. It was too dangerous to sail the boat in that condition (we would lose our mast if they failed completely) and we arranged for a rigger to replace them. Unfortunately he was off to the Pearl Regatta the next day and would not be back for 10 days!
|We had picked up some growth on the way!|
I contacted the only other rigger on the island who could do the work in the next few days. He started off by telling me that the rigging was poorly designed, that we should think of replacing the deck fitting, the wires were too small for the boat and the terminals were all wrong. He did not have the exact terminals we needed but could drill out the next size down and that would be OK. But he would advise having them replaced in Australia. And it was going to cost $2000, in cash up front, and we only had 30 minutes to decide since he needed to book the wharf next to his workshop. He did not inspire any trust and so we decided to wait the 10 days for the other person.
Catherine and I slept on the boat while it was out of the water while Chris found a hotel. Originally we were going to have a couple of nights of luxury in a hotel as well but with so much to do on the boat it was better that we stayed on the boat to complete all the jobs and source all the parts we needed. The local chandlers was 20 minutes walk but did not have everything we needed. So I would be out at 8am walking to the three Chandlers, buying yet spares for the boat, getting back 2 hours later, hot exhausted and carrying large quantities of pumps, anti-fouling, bulbs, wires, connectors etc. We should have hired a car!
Meeting up with an Old Friend
I had seen her parents in Brittany and Paris a couple of times but Chloe had moved to Tahiti with her now husband Thierry soon after leaving Tahiti so I had not seen her since.
Their house in in Tahiti Viti (the smaller of the two islands making up Tahiti) about 70km from the Papeete and 5km up a steep road. Our hire car had to take some of the hills in first gear. We met one of her friends who was also staying with her and spent a very enjoyable evening over a BBQ a few drinks.
We visited one of the local churches with the locals smartly dressed and all the ladies wearing hats. Still a very religious community. Driving to the Southern tip of the island, we walked around one of the most beautiful parts of the island, only accessible by foot and where they had once lived. Now very fashionable, expensive and more densely populated. We learnt a lot about life on the island from someone who had made their home there.
After a late lunch we made our way back along the West coast back to the Marina. Later in the week Chloe came to Papeete to see the boat and say goodbye as we were soon to be off.
We find a Windlass
We receive a call from the Agent who had found one windlass on the island that may be what we needed. I had toured all the Chandlers without success so I was a little sceptical that it would be what we needed. When I first saw it the gypsy on the top was for rope and not anchor chain but it looked the right dimensions to fit with our existing gypsy. After measuring the fittings on our current anchor windlass (including the shaft dimensions with a micrometer) I went back and confirmed it was a perfect match. As a visiting yacht we could buy large equipment duty free after filling out all the paperwork and getting Customs approval which took 24 hours.
The only snag in fitting it was that the top of the windlass was not wide enough to allow the bolts from the deck plate to go inside but we had already decided we could use the existing fitting with a little ingenuity. Using the angle grinder, Chris and I cut off the top fitting off the old windlass (no going back now), cutting through ½” cast steel to make a large collar to provide the space we needed for the deck fitting bolts. The fitting and wiring up of the windlass took a further 90 minutes and we were up and running with a more powerful windlass that we had before. And what a difference that made when anchoring!
Anxious to leave Papeete and see some of the other islands, we motored across to Morea, an island 10 miles to the NE of Tahiti. The anchorage was picturesque and nicely sheltered from the rough weather we had on passage to get there. It is a holiday island where many people stay rather than staying in Tahiti and has a couple of large hotels as well as quite a few restaurants.
The first evening we strolled along to the Hilton and had cocktails on the balcony overlooking the sea. Indeed we went there every evening we stayed on the island, taking advantage of their two for one cocktails during happy hour, arriving just before sunset.
In the morning Chris went for a run and Catherine and I thought we would walk to the town, just around the creak. After an hour of walking in blazing hot sunshine and only just getting to the bridge, we gave that up and walked back. Chris caught us up from his run and the town was at least as far again from the bridge and there was next to nothing in the town. So good decision not to keep walking.
We rented two scooters the next day with Chris taking one and Catherine riding on the back of mine. What fun that was, touring the island and stopping off at a café for morning coffee overlooking the reef. The fruit juices were made of pure fruit by the café and they were laying out the tables for lunch. It was only 11 o’clock so too early to eat and we thought we would find another one further round the island, not aware that outside of the hotels, there were only a couple of other restaurants and that was the best of them.
We stopped at many places along the way to take pictures and appreciate the island. It felt like we were on holiday. We ended up near to where the boat was moored before we found another restaurant and had a very nice pizza and salad for lunch.
Back to Tahiti
We arrived back in Tahiti on the Tuesday afternoon, but this time going into Taina Marina where the rigger was based. It is far out from Papeete and there is nothing much close by apart from a huge Carrefour which was the first time since Gran Canaria that we had found such a well stocked supermarket. It made provisioning easy.
We got a message from the rigger to say that he had been delayed in getting back by the Northerly winds and so would not be there for another 3 days. With the heat, thunderstorms and lack of much to do there we were all felt trapped although we did get on with more jobs on the boat, not least of all fixing the gas regulator that was leaking.
On the Friday the rigger turned up and assured us he would be finished by 4pm and we prepared the boat to leave on an overnight passage to Raiatea where the next leg was due to start on the Sunday. The rigger did finish by 4pm but the succession of thunderstorms for the next 36 hours meant we could not leave. Another night of frustration.
On Saturday, we decided to wait until one thunderstorm went through and then head back to Morea, just to get out of the marina. We arrived there before the next thunderstorm and had a BBQ on the back of the boat. All our moods lifted.
Off to Raiatea
The next day we set off for Raiatea, timing our entrance for first light to make going through the reefs safer. We had missed the start but decided we would leave the next morning but our plans were dashed when the mainsail would not furl in. something had broken and it took us two days to figure out what was wrong and fix it. It meant two trips up the mast for me and removing and refitting the main sail three times. Fortunately we were moored against the wharf so folding the main was relatively easy – it is a big sail to fold up.
Apart from the main strip of shops, there was not much on the island. And there was not much in the shops either. But we did have some enjoyable lunches with Andy and Emma and Barry and Caroline while we worked out how to fix the main furling system.
Chris had been out running and seen an Italian restaurant just done the round so one night we all set off for dinner. An hour later and asking directions from two different people we found the restaurant and had some very good pizzas. Chris’s estimate that it was 400 yards along the round was way out and even he was starting to think we must have walked past it and not noticed it. He took a lot of ribbing over that one.
Despite the forecast of no winds for the next four days, we decided we would set off anyway as we were three days behind the main fleet and we wanted to go to Suwarrow on the way to Nuie. At least we were back on passage.