Friday, July 25, 2008

Moorea, Huahine, Raietea, Taaha

We spent several more days in Moorea as it was a very beautiful location and the weather was fantastic! During our time there, we swam with the stingrays four times and hiked up, almost to the top, of the island to Belvedere which has a viewpoint to the bay. Unfortunately it was an overcast and rainy day, which made the 3 hour hike cool and pleasant, but made for a hazy view of the bay. Here the girls are looking out over Opunohu Bay.
Tourists come in all shapes, sizes and colours; this young tourist is adjusting the aperture for a beautiful shot from atop the mountain.

There were many beautiful species of flora and fauna on this walk, pictured here is the ginger flower, not much fragrance, but very beautiful. In ancient times, Polynesians would pick the buds and, with the rainwater that was trapped inside, wash their hair in the fresh water streams.

While were sailing in the lagoon at Huahine, a fellow in an outrigger was paddling right behind us and wanted to know how fast he was going, 6 knots! I climbed down onto the swim grid to take this picture of him; he’s only about 10 feet behind us!
Unfortunately for us, the weather was poor while visiting Huahine, so we were unable to experience the wonderful snorkeling we were looking forward to. We had three days of overcast skies, rain and strong winds. The two foot chop in the lagoon made dinghy excursions very wet and swimming unsafe. The adults spent those days reading while the kids played monopoly, cards or watched movies.

The grocery store in Huahine sold whole pigs which we thought was very funny!

All that wind caused the sea to be really lumpy when we made the four hour passage between Huahine and Raietea. While the 20-25 knot winds made for a wonderful sail, the crew was less than appreciative of the sea state. In Raietea, we were able to tie to the Quay right in front of the grocery store which made provisioning very easy, and it was really nice to visit the little town. As we arrived on Sunday when all the stores were closed, we spent the night on the quay and left the following afternoon for Tahaa, a small island that shares the same lagoon as Raietea.

We took a mooring ball at the Taravana Yacht Club on the South end of the island for two nights so we could enjoy the Tuesday night Polynesian dance show. Monday night, several boats met at the Yacht Club for a music jam night, where several played instruments while others sang along, it was a really fun night.

Tuesday morning, we took the dinghies deep into the bay then walked up to La Maison Vanille to see and learn how vanilla beans are processed. Vanilla is harvested once a year for export to the US and Europe. Vanilla beans grow on a vine that trails up another tree. The farmers who grow the vanilla beans have to “marry” (pollinate) the orchids since there are no bees to do this job for them. The beans are green when harvested then they sit undercover to ferment until they are brown then they are put out into the sun for four hours every day for four months to dry.

We are all really grateful for our friend Natalie who does a wonderful job translating from French to English for us.

I am holding a package of 300 vanilla beans which will sell wholesale, for export for 20,000 Polynesian francs which is about $280, the cost is so high because of the labour intensive process.

The weather was perfect while in Tahaa and we all enjoyed swimming and hanging out. The yacht club had reservations for most of its moorings so several of us cruisers rafted together and shared a mooring; we shared our mooring with O’vive which was really fun. Here’s a picture of Jocelyn & Maya, and Jenny & Alec playing on the boom.

The dance show on Tuesday was wonderful! All of the dancers and musicians live right in the bay.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Malachi at anchor in Opunohu Bay, Moorea

We’ve spent the last week here on the beautiful island of Moorea, just a short distance from Tahiti. Moorea means yellow lizard, although we haven’t seen any of those here yet.

Our first night here we had dinner at the Bali Hai with friends from Imagine and Destiny followed by a Polynesian Dance show in which all of us girls participated and learned some new moves. The friends, food and fun amounted to an amazing evening!

On July 4th, our American friends hosted a dinghy raft up to celebrate their independence day, about 8 boats participated and platters of food were passed from dinghy to dinghy as we all enjoyed meeting one another. Boaters always have things in common!

One of the highlights of this trip so far has been swimming with the sting rays here. We’ve gone twice already and plan to go once if not twice more! Just a 15 minute dinghy ride away, a colony of sting rays hang out in the shallows just waiting for visitors to come and play and hopefully bring a tasty snack of raw fish. It is an amazing experience to have 10 sting rays swimming right at you! When you hold a piece of fish out, the rays will swim up to you and flap against your torso and your legs, it’s almost like a hug! They are very soft and enjoy being touched.

While all of this playing and swimming with the rays is going on, about a dozen or more black tipped reef sharks linger patiently in the distance just waiting for their turn to be fed then they will come swim around close to you as well, but thankfully not as close as the rays! We saw one about five feet in length swim within a few feet of us…..spooky!

We’re just enjoying this beautiful relaxing anchorage while we wait for our friends on O’vive and Orca III to catch up then we’ll have a few days with them before heading across to Huahine. We’ve only got three weeks left here in French Polynesia before heading to the Cook Islands, it’s been so beautiful we don’t really want to leave.
Malachi, viewed from the top of the mast
The girls lounging around in the hammock after a hard day's school work
Jenny, just hanging around at the top of the mast 70 feet above the water!

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Tahiti is a big city, quite the change from the remote little villages we've spent the past few weeks visiting. We tied to the quay right in the center of down town which allowed us easy access to the shops and to the market, a wonderful experience indeed. The market opens at 5am every day and on Sundays even more vendors come and they close off two of the side streets to accommodate the extras. Here you can buy fresh fish, meats, fruits and vegetables along with local handicrafts and much much more. Around noon each day, most of the vendors as well as most of the local stores, close for sieste, as you can see, the Tahitians work very hard! There was a huge paddling competition all weekend we were there, all the activity took place right in the bay!

Our first night in the city we went out for dinner, a rare treat, but in Tahiti, most of the restaurants are only open for lunch, if you want to go out for dinner, you go for a stroll along the quay until you get to this big open area where all of the local "Trucks" come to offer their fare. It is here were you can enjoy Chinese food, crepes, pizza, Steak and more! The kids ate hamburgers while we had an excellen T-Bone steak and fries, something we haven't had since we left home!
After three days at the quay we moved a couple miles further West to a popular anchorage where we were able to refuel and provision and the big Carrfour grocery store - awesome! I loved all of the French products and could have spent hours and a small fortune in there.

The girls are getting very proficient at handling the lines as we come into the dock for fuel.

Since we moved from the quay on a Sunday and were unable to pay, we had to travel back into Papetee one more time, this time, we took Le Truck one of the forms of local public transportation.
Pretty well everything in French Polynesia is more costly than home, but somethings more than others, such as Candy, Ice Cream, Alcohol, Perfume and Cars all considered to be luxury items and in an attempt to solve the country's problem with diabetes a very high tax is applied to sweets. Can you guess how much this little cache of candy set us back??????
Shockingly, this special treat cost 1100 Polynesian Francs which is just over $15 Canadian! We won't be doing that very often!
ONE MORE SPECIAL NOTE: Larry Pruit, would you please include your email next time you post a comment, we would love to correspond with you. We really appreciate your support.


Toau - Tuamotus

We spent several days in the lovey atoll of Toau where we were warmly welcomed by Valentine and Gaston who run a little restaurant in this tiny village of 12 people. Malachi, O'vive and Orca III enjoyed an excellent lobster and parrot fish dinner and wonderful company. Gaston cooked 12 lobsters on the BBQ after getting up at 2am and running through the palms out to the reef and then chasing the lobsters in the shallows, grabbing them then flinging them into a barrel that he carried on his back. Jay and Steve were very excited about going lobster fishing, but Gaston was too fast for them to keep up.

Jay and Jocelyn went for a dive down a sheer wall while the rest of us snorkeled above, but the best snorkeling was in the little bay where the coral and fish showed up really well on a backdrop of white sand.

We played volleyball every day with Gaston, Valentine and whoever else was around, other cruisers or Valentine's sister's kids. The Polynesian hospitality once again continues to amaze us.

Gaston has rescued a baby frigate bird named Mr. Lilly who sits on a perch on the dock, he won't be able to fly for another 6 months.

One day, Jay, Dave and Steve spent the morning helping Gaston build a fish trap, a 'V' shaped funnel measuring about 75 feet across at the opening used to catch parrot fish which are sold at the market in Tahiti. It was an enjoyable morning for the guys.

We had the pleasure of attending the little church service in Toau where 8 of us (4 of us were guests) sang songs of worship in French, Tahitian and Tongan and then joined in a lesson and discussion lead by Valentine - it was indeed a memorable experience.