Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Manta Ray Meeting

Since being in the French Polynesian islands, we've been trying to "swim" with manta rays. They have been in a few o f our anchorages and we've managed to watch them as they swam by the boat. Finally, the last two mornings, we were in the water with them and it was a incredible experience. On Monday,we got up early to beat the dive boats and snorkelers to a sight that is supposed to have manta rays regularly. We beat everyone else to the sight and got in the water and swam and swam in search of the huge plankton feeders. Finally, Michael spotted one pretty deep in the murky water. We were able to follow it and got a pretty close look at it as it swam underneath us. This large (probably at least five foot wingspan) didn't have a tail but had wonderful white markings on its dark wings. Way cool. This morning, we decided to try the manta spot again, this time going a little farther. We were rewarded with sightings of many very, very large mantas. At one point there were four swimming together – but they were often in pairs. We followed them as they swam so gracefully. All of these had tails and again the wonderful, and different, markings across their wing tops. Some were very large and a few were quite small by comparison. We stayed in the water well over an hour to savor this wonderful experience. They are magnificent creatures and we were honored to be able to see them so close.

Of course, our underwater camera (Panasonic Lumix) got flooded so we will be without water creature pictures for awhile. Panasonic isn't being very cooperative about customer service for us folks out in the middle of nowhere – so by the time we get it back to them our warranty will have expired. That's too bad because we are now getting to areas where the underwater life is supposed to be incredible. No more Panasonic cameras for us.

To catch up – on Sunday, we have come back around Bora Bora and are anchored in an area that is called the Lagoonarium – a lagoon that has such clear water its like an aquarium. It is very pretty over here and we are simply waiting for a good weather window to start our trek towards the Cook Islands. We ave a great view of Bora Bora's mountain, though it is regularly under a cloud.

On Saturday night we splurged and went out to a nice dinner. This is something our budget rarely allows us to do...but we decided that it would be the last time for quite awhile to eat out at all (even to cheap places). We went to Maikai Yacht Club and had an incredible feast. Ann and Bob from Charisma joined us and we enjoyed cocktails aboard their boat first. The restaurant is very pretty and we sat outside on the deck. There were two locals playing music in the restaurant and they were very good (and Barbara reports the one with the pareo, no shirt and Tahitian tattoos was very nice to look at). It was a great evening with great company, great food in a wonderful setting. The bill was typical French Polynesian prices – but we did get four additional meals from Barbara's leftovers!

Its been lovely here in Bora Bora and we've enjoyed our time.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Radio Waves

It's pure entertainment! It isn't soft rock, easy listening, all news or country. It isn't the AM Band or the FM Band. Our radio entertainment is the VHF radio. And the boating world has its own mix of "DJs" aboard. The VHF is the radio used for emergencies, local weather info and most often used to call other boats. Because it's "broadcast" over the airwaves, everyone can (and certainly DOES) listen in to your conversation. It's our version of "facebook", the old telephone "party line" or simply eavesdropping. Because we've been out here awhile now, you hear the same boats, the same voices and you get to know each person's individual style. Over time, we've come up with some categories of these boat personalities on radio.

"The Yeller" - this is the person who hails VERY LOUDLY over the radio in a tone that is like fingernails on a blackboard. This one reminds Michael of working in Russia way back when. The Russians on the crew would always yell very loudly in the intercom – to the point where those folks' connection was simply shut off as it was deafening the rest of the crew. That's this radio personality – they think they are actually talking over the distance instead of into a quite sensitive microphone.

"The Persistor" - this is the type that calls over and over and over and over again to the same boat and never gets an answer. Always in a very persistent fashion. They don't seem to understand that the person they are trying to reach is either not there; doesn't have the radio on or simply doesn't want to talk to them. They can't give up. After two times – give it up! Unless they are dragging down on you.

"The Needy" - these folks have a driving need to either hear their own voice or to constantly be in touch with someone – anyone. They are on the radio more than anyone else – morning, noon and night. They try one party – if there is no answer, they simply try another boat...then another, and another until someone answers the call.

"The Stealth" - 007 perhaps not, but these are folks with code names or secret channels. The problem is, you have to remember your friends stealth names as well as their real boat names. They have "love channels" that they set up with friends so they'll often just say "switch" without naming the channel...or simply stay on a different channel so that they don't disturb the peace if they are going to be talking a lot to a specific boat(very considerate). It also provides some privacy – though certainly not guaranteed.

"The Panickers" oh my goodness, the sky is falling, the earth is flat, the wind is howling, the seas are huge, the anchorage is bad, the boat is dragging...oh my goodness. These folks sound like something is very wrong when they call on the radio. The tone in their voice is intense, panicky and really gets your attention. The reality may be something altogether different – but it does wake you up!

We may laugh at or with (or be laughed at ourselves), but we do get really entertained by the radio and the various personalities that frequent the channels. Hey, out here, you get your entertainment wherever you can!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Inside the Lagoon

FIRST – NEW PHOTOS labeled Bora Bora 1

Yesterday, we took a "walkabout" on Bora Bora. We went the opposite way from town (the way we had previously walked). We went past the Bora Bora Yacht Club and stopped in to check it out. It is a well-known spot amongst cruising sailboats and quite nice. We ran into some friends and then continued to hike. We went along Fannui Bay which is a large protected bay surrounded by pretty hills. On the way back, a woman on a bicycle stopped us and suggested we hike up to see the cannons (this was done in Tahitian, French, English and charades). She sort of described the turn-off to get to these World War II US cannons. As we got to this point, there was a man clearing some brush and Michael asked him about the cannons (again in Tahitian/French/English/charades) he told us where to head. So we did! It was quite a hike up a hill, around a few bends and then into the mud. And it was muddy. Ankle deep in places. We never did see the cannons – it was getting late, the bugs were coming out, the mud was getting thicker and we needed a beer! So we retraced our steps (now with very muddy shoes) and made our way back down the hill and back to Mai Kai Yacht Club. There we had a few happy hour beers. Mai Kai is a very nice place with extremely friendly people and a very nice restaurant. They had live local music that night.

This morning we left our mooring ball behind at the Mai Kai Yacht Club to explore the other side of Bora Bora. This meant an interesting motor in a narrow channel close to the main island. Bora Bora is a true atoll with motus and reef surrounding an inner lagoon. We are now anchored behind one of the motus in 10 feet of gin clear water over a nice sandy bottom. There are a few bommies around – but they are easy to see and avoid. The main island which has a few high points is very beautiful – especially from this vantage point with the turquoise water between us and the main island.

The wind is still blowing from the east 18 to 20 knots and though we are well protected from the swell and chop by the motu, it is still howling. We won't be able to get too far in the dinghy thanks to the wind (there is a place to swim with manta rays – but it is quite a dinghy ride away). We will be able to explore the coral heads near the boat and if we get ambitious enough, we'll launch the dinghy and head to the white sand beach of the motu. This morning it looked like a wedding on this beach with drummers helping provide the background music. With the swaying coconut palms, white beaches, turquoise water... it is very beautiful here – even with the howling wind.

Now the history lesson:
Bora Bora's interesting name goes back quite a long way. Before the arrival of the Europeans (and the missionaries) it was called Vavau and also, Mai Te Pora. The first means, "risen from darkness" and the other "created by the gods." Ancient legends claim this was one of the first islands to rise from the water, Over time, "Pora" or "Popora" became "Pora Pora" and then ultimately "Bora Bora."

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bora Bora Bounce

The wind and waves have been treating us to a show in Bora Bora. We are tied to a mooring ball near the Mai Kai Yacht Club and our first night here was not very calm. The wind has picked up to more than 15 knots with higher gusts and it is coming from a little too far south so we are also getting a big chop in the anchorage. We put an additional line on the mooring ball (so we now have three) after hearing stories of people lines breaking and boats drifting away here.

We did manage to get the dinghy launched (that was exciting) and get to shore (that was wet) to walk around the town of Vaitape. We need to find propane (or cooking gas of some variety – every country has a different mix of butane, propane or a combo). Plus we are trying to get some New Zealand dollars for our next stops and we needed to get some baguettes and veggies. It is a nice little town with two big groceries, lots of roadside fruit and veggie stands, a nice chandlery with lots of boat parts, a hardware store, three banks and lots and lots of t-shirt shops and pearl/jewelry stores. We also needed to check in with the gendarmes for hours of checking out of here at the end of the week. The gas station has the cooking gas but eggs are hard to find. Baguettes were plentiful and we bought some nice little bananas from a fruit stand (and got a good deal – the woman threw in an extra bunch free!) and we bought tomatoes from the day care centers' stand!

We got back to the boat and bounced around all afternoon – not very comfortable. Our friends from Chapter Two came over to enjoy some of the mahi we caught and we had a lovely evening. She brought the "pudding" (that is the term for desserts) – a yummy apple crisp with custard – yummy! They will be heading off for the Cook Islands today – so it was nice to have a chance to visit with them before they leave. They also pointed out some good anchorages on Bora Bora. So after we get some fuel and baguettes (today or tomorrow) we'll probably be off as well – but just around the island.

Lots to see here – including (we hope) getting in the water with some manta rays!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Bora Bora IS our Backyard!

Today we decided to burn some fuel, drag some bait AND catch a fish when we left Taha'a headed to Bora Bora. We left the motu and sand bar near the coral garden of Tautau on Taha'a after a few days and nights there. We were boat bound for a few days when the wind was hooting – but we did manage to enjoy some social time with our friends on Ladybug and Charisma. Chris from Ladybug delivered chocolate chip cookies one afternoon and then we did a tasty potluck aboard Astarte on Saturday night. At that point, the sailboat Buena Vista had also joined the pack. So that turned into a very fun evening.

Earlier on Saturday we did get to snorkel an area called the "Coral Garden" and we can understand why it has that name. It is a beautiful nonstop garden of coral of many varieties. It's like a maze to snorkel through the shallow channels and see the amazing amount of colorful tropical fish. We saw lots of new fish varieties that we had to try to remember so we could identify. Unfortunately our underwater camera flooded...we'll see how Panasonic is with customer service! Barbara saw a lively red octopus and watched that for some time. It was very cool – so it was a coral garden and "Octopus Garden." Later in the afternoon we did a second swim and snorkel around a different area – that was filled with black urchins but fewer fish than the morning's adventure.

After a great water day and fun potluck evening, we left early for Bora Bora. We had to backtrack a bit to get to the cut in the reef to exit Taha'a. Then you have to go all the way around Bora Bora to get to its one and only north west entrance in the reef. Unfortunately it was a motoring day with not enough wind to keep a sail full. So we rationalized by calling it a fishing day...burning fuel and dragging bait! First, Michael got a barracuda on his line – a big one. We let that toothy guy go. Then a few hours later, Barbara snagged a very large bull Mahi Mahi. Yummy. After almost falling off the boat trying to get him in (and learning a lesson about the hand line wrapped around her fingers,ouch!), we got him aboard. Photoed, and filleted for dinner tonight and more dinners in the future. He was a nice size and will be enjoyed.

We entered the pass into Bora Bora and came around to the Mai Kai (not Mai Tai like the drink) yacht club where we grabbed a mooring ball. We have lots to get done here – so we thought this would be the safest and easiest place to leave the boat while in town on errands (propane, fuel, some groceries, gendarmes etc).

The afternoon turned a bit squally and rainy – but has settled down a bit. We are glad to be here.

We actually made it to Bora Bora- how cool is that??

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Pics

We have posted some pictures from both Huahine and Raiatea. Enjoy

Thursday, July 19, 2012

“We Can See Bora Boar from our Backyard!”

Ann, from "Charisma" announced that on the radio as she anchored. And it is the best description of where we are now settled for a few nights (we hope).

We are now at the Island of Taha'a - another of the Society Group of French Polynesia. We had a great sail today from Ra'iatea to Taha'a. We sailed the entire way on the inside of the reef so the water was quite flat and yet the breeze was steady for a nice downwind sail or a reach at times. We did a steady 5 knots and got to see the island of Ra'iatea which is very beautiful with its hills, mountains, plateaus and valleys. There were a lot of bays as we sailed by the island – many of them went way back. Our friends tried to enter a few to anchor but found them all very deep – 80 feet or more of water.

We rounded the top of Ra'iatea and were between it and Taha'a. We then came up the leeward side of Taha'a and looked for a spot to anchor. The goal for tonight was to be "windless" as the last few nights on the windward side, inside the reef was noisy from the howling wind and crashing waves. So we were looking to sneak into one of the bays and find silence. Unfortunately, the first bay was packed with lots of charter boats on moorings. The second very deep bay was like being in a wind tunnel as the wind came down the mountain sides and swooped down the bay. We were getting gusts of more the 20 knots inside the bay! Plus, we found no depth less than 72 feet for anchoring. So we then headed to a place Ile Tautau – a motu off the northwestern tip of Taha'a. It has a spot called the Coral Garden and we are anchored in 20 feet of water looking at beautiful azure water, a few bommies and Bora Bora's mountains as the backdrop. There is a lovely resort of thatched roof huts sitting on stilts over the water and we are facing the island of Taha'a in the foreground. It is absolutely beautiful. We hope to get enough wind protection from Taha'a across the way and it should be okay unless the wind switches or really picks up. The shallow sand bar is behind us.

Tomorrow will be a water day (weather permitting). There is good snorkeling here and we hope the sun is out so we can see what are supposed to be quite healthy and varied corals and the fishes that hang out within them. Unfortunately this is a spot where lots of tour boats will come – so we'll try to get an early snorkel in to beat the crowds of bottom kickers and sand shufflers.


The most spiritual site in the French Polynesian islands is the very large marae called Taputapuatea. Yesterday we walked all around this site that is set right in the water near the village of Opoa. It is spread out and you could get a sense of its importance by being there. They had very good information signage to help you understand the various elements and purposes of the different stone structures. We went ashore with our friends Chris and Rani from "Ladybug" and Ann and Bob from "Charisma." After the marae visit we found some great chocolate ice cream in one of the nearby food stands. That night there was a festival of dancing and singing at the site – so the food tikis were set up for dinner. We then walked up the road to a nearby church that we see from the water. It is now empty now and in need of a paint job when you see it up close, though it is picture perfect from the waterfront when the sun hits it against the background of hills.

We would have gone in for the festival but we would have to negotiate the dinghy over some shallow corals in the dark and wind and decided that wouldn't be prudent. So we went back out to our boats and gathered on "Charisma" for sundowners and snacks. And were serenaded by Chris and his ukelele.

Today, Thursday, we'll move to Taha'a going inside the reef along Ra'iatea to see more of this lovely island – dodging pearl farms along the way.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Route to Ra'iatea

This French Polynesian Society Island is said to be the most steeped in mystery and spiritualism. We are now anchored inside the reef on the windward side of this steep island, just across from the ancient seat of Polynesian religion, Taputapuatea. This is considered by most to be the most important of all "marae" - with many legends attached to its beginnings. Stones from this particular temple are often used as a sacred stone to start marae on other islands and prove allegiance to the gods.

Ra'iatea also boasts the islands only navigable river and its signature flower, tiare apetahi can only be grown on the island's 800 meter high Temehani Plateau.

We left Huahine early this morning (Tuesday) to sail across to Ra'iatea after being "stuck" due to weather in the fare anchorage. We had a bit of excitement in the anchorage with lots of boats coming and going in the squally weather (sometimes not as intended), a few rescues and the "bad ferry." This is the ferry that would come in way too close to the anchored yachts and also push an incredible wake. You'd think he didn't like sailboats! Bob on "Charisma" nicknamed it the "Bad Ferry."

We celebrated the day after Bastille Day with a "Let them eat cake" party aboard Astarte with friends from Buena Vista, Ladybug, and Charisma. We then went in for a happy, fun-filled "happy hour" on shore and enjoyed meeting some new boats.

Now we are on a new island and have this anchorage to ourselves. We've dropped the hook in about 20 feet of water with a sandy bottom but are sitting over a ledge so we are in about 40 feet of water. We did put out a lot of chain so we should be fine. This is not the ideal anchoring conditions – but the good news is the wind is blowing us away from the reef. If we drag, we have quite a long way to go before getting to the other side of the inside channel. The reef keeps the roll and waves down – but there is nothing to block the wind should it pipe up. Its been blowing around 15 knots all morning for our sail and continues to stay around that speed. It is pretty here though. The clear, aquamarine water on the reef side and the island with several hills and Mt. Toomaru(1017 meters) behind us. There are lots of shadows created by the hills on the plateau and valleys so it is quite dramatic.

We'll be here to explore Taputaputea tomorrow morning and then perhaps head to the next island, Taha'a.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Boat Bound on Bastille Day

The weather has been awful! The wind has been howling over the hills of Huahine for four days. It is blowing constantly and gusty. There is a French boat anchored very close to us (he snuck in when we went on our hike) and of course, he's not on the boat. So we get to watch his boat swing near us and we have to listen to his very noisy wind generator's high pitched scream in the wind. Luckily, our anchor is quite secure (or so we hope) after all these days of heavy wind. The rain also comes in annoying cycles – not enough to collect – just enough to have to close the windows. Between turning on and off the wind generator (too much wind causes it to overheat) and opening and closes the hatches, we are busy!!!

The bad news is that we are boat bound. It is not prudent to leave the boat for any length of time. We did go over to a neighboring boat for sundowners and enjoyed that evening. And yesterday afternoon we had company. Bruce swam over from "Adventure Bound" and Chris rowed over from "Ladybug" and we enjoyed their company over tea and treats.

Otherwise we are simply reading, doing a few projects and doing anchor watch. We had hoped for some Bastille Day celebrations in the town of Fare. We don't even see the outriggers gathering for races – but perhaps later in the day.

Happy Bastille Day

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hiking Huahine

The weather has been pretty ugly the last few days. There are lots of squalls with big wind and rain on and off. The wind goes from 5 knots to 25 knots in quick bursts but doesn't last very long. Our anchor is holding and we hope it will continue to do so – as well as all the anchors of the boats around us! One local boat is anchored quite close to us and nobody is aboard. This weather is keeping us in Huahine probably longer than we had hoped.

Yesterday morning, with the weather looking more settled (at least temporarily) we headed off to explore the island on foot. We roamed through the village of Fare and then headed towards the village of Maeve where we had hoped to find the large marae(temple). We walked along the perimeter road and went by a huge lake - Lake Fauna Nui. We stopped and saw a stadium and went in it. People were taking down lots of decorations from an event (don't know what). Near the stadium was a silly sight – an outdoor – tiki game arcade. There were three electronic video games sitting under the cover of a tiki hut.

We walked for awhile and then turned back. The rain was picking up and we were wearing out. On the way back we said hello (bonjour) to a man raking his yard (the yards and gardens here are really well maintained and very pretty). We walked past but he called us back. He then told Michael to pick some of the delicious grapefruit (pampleousse) from his tree and gave them to us. He also gave us a lesson in a few Tahitian words. "Yorana" – means hello.

We made it back to the town and picked up a baquette and looked at bananas – but they were all way too ripe. Then back to the boat to keep anchor watch as the rain and wind squalls came through all night long. There was a very pink sky this morning – so that could mean another bad weather day. Pink sky in the morning – sailors take warning.

We've been invited to a neighboring boat for sundowners today – so we'll hope the weather settles.

Bastille Day is in a few days and we're hoping there will be some festivities on Huahine. Many of the islands have major dance competitions and sporting events. We hope we can enjoy some local events here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

New Society Island Anchorage

Huahine Nui. We are anchored off Fare, the main town of Huahini,.one of the Society Island group. This is a less "touristy" island and quite laid back with pretty white sand beaches, lots of coral reef and motus. It is a less dramatic island with regards to the landscape, though it is still very hilly and green. There are two islands, Huahine Nui – (the larger island) and Huahine Iti (the smaller one).

We left Papeete on Saturday morning around 0800 and went through the smaller, more treacherous pass closer to where we were moored. (Richard – this was the pass that had the big waves and surfers). We made it through quite easily – it sure looks worse than it was in reality. We had hoped to sail the whole way and kept hoping. We thought at first we were in the lee of the island of Tahiti, than we passed Moorea and thought that was blocking our wind...but the reality was there were very light winds (contrary to the weather predictions). So we motor sailed most of the 100 miles – bummer. We got in around 1100 on Sunday with a little "avoid the squalls" maneuver as we got close to the entrance pass. That was the best wind we had the entire trip. .We found a nice spot amongst the dozen sailboats, closer to the sandy beach in about 20 feet. It is a really good sandy bottom with just a few bommies around. The water is clear and lots of fish are around.

After a quiet day seeing a few friends also at anchor here, we called it an early night after the all night passage. On Monday morning, we went in to check out the village of Fare. It was a bustling place with everyone carrying their fresh baguettes. That is the thing here – starting around 0800 – everyone is seen carrying around the long loaves of fresh, French bread. There were a few nice fresh fruit and veggie stalls and a big grocery store. A few shops selling local goods, clothes and a small souvenir shop or two. The dinghy dock is a well maintained dock and people seem quite friendly. There is supposed to be a good snorkel spot nearby so we'll check that out – and we're having our friends Mike and Karen from Chapter Two over for dinner tonight.

We'll probably be here a few days. There is word that some big weather is coming – and this looks to be an okay place to sit it out. Or we may head down the island inside the reef and find another more remote anchorage.

Huahine, another idyllic island.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Repairs and Errands

Repairs and Errands

We had a successful day yesterday getting lots of little projects completed. First thing in the morning, we met our agent and received our "clearing out of country" papers. The agent was very efficient and between the discount on fuel and all the legwork – it was worth the money. After that was completed, we journeyed into town and the industrial section again (now that we had located everything) and picked up our welded part (it was ready on time!). We also found some 4200 caulk (it was outrageously priced in some chandlers – as much as $40 US for a small tube); - but at this one spot it was more in the $20 range. We also went to the duty free store called Kim Wa. Here you can buy some duty free wines, they get delivered to your boat in a few days and you cannot open them until you are out of the country. You have to provide all kinds of paperwork for the privilege of spending money. We did buy some French wines at really good prices and they will be delivered on Friday.

We had another good walk and came home tired. It didn't feel like the 4th of July!

Today, (Thursday), Michael installed the repaired autopilot part (which meant cleaning out the lazarette yet again). The freezer got defrosted and we'll do some last minute provisioning. The plan is to depart Papeete, Tahiti on Saturday and head to Huahine (an all day and overnight trip). Friday we'll get our wine delivery and have to store it so we don't drink it until we reach the Cooks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The “Not-so-Scenic” Tour

Well it's back to work aboard Astarte now that our excuse to play has gone (that would be Richard). On Sunday we got three loads of laundry washed and hung out aboard Astarte. We're sure the neighboring floating party tiki that had guests on board were "thrilled" with the laundry boat! We also reorganized a bit below taking back the attic (the V-berth) and the garage (the forward head). Starting on Friday it was "Fete de Autonomie" in Tahiti (their sort of Independence Day weekend). All the floating tikii huts and the tiki "barges" were in use and the music was blaring from them and from on shore. Sunday night ended it a lovely fireworks display – and we had front row seats as they were set off from shore right where we are moored.

On Monday, we got up early and went to town in search of a welder to fix a part from the boat. (For you technical types – it's the part that attaches to the quadrant for the autopilot which has some cracks in it as well as a loose screw hole). We had a general idea of where he is – but it was pretty broad. So we got off the bus and walked through town to the other side...it was the industrial section of town. We roamed around and sure enough after going up and down a few streets, we found it! Luckily the welder spoke good English and said he could do the job. It was very expensive so we opted to get a smaller repair done on it. It will be done Wednesday afternoon so we'll trek back there then. We also went to a few other shops for stainless hardware. One shop would tell us to try another and give us directions. It ended up being a lot of walking but we did manage to get a few things we needed. We still can't find "3M 4200" here that is reasonable. One store had a tube for more than $40. Another store had expired 5200 for $39. Ouch.

The bus fares in Tahiti went up on July 1 from 130 CFP (French Polynesian francs) to 200 CFP. That almost created a riot on the bus trip home as the riders were not at all happy with the large increase, The driver tried to explain that they should buy the newly offered round trip ticket as that was only 340 CFP so that would make the increase only 40 more each way rather than the 70 more. But people weren't happy. The bus system seems a bit weird here – because they don't run very late in the day. They seem to stop around 5 or 5:30 pm – so people who work can't get home if they bus into town. The taxi cab union must be big here!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Check out "Richard's Visit" and "Rallypics"

Plus you can see a picture of "Barbara's paddle team" on the Latitude 38 web page:

Parahi Richard, Mauruuru

That's farewell Richard, Thank You in Tahitian. Richard (Soby) is on his way back to the states for some rest! And, you no longer have a guest blogger – you're back having to read Barbara's and Michael's entries. Thank you Richard for posting so many entries!

Our last day together was spent in a rental car circumnavigating Tahiti Nui (the big island). We hit all the scenic and historical sites along the outer perimeter road. We started at the Museum of Tahiti and Its Islands. This was a very interesting spot with lots of great artifacts, old photographs and a good history of the islands culture, religion and everyday lifestyles. It also included a brief but good overview of the geology of the islands, and the diversity of the area's birds, fish, plants and coral. A different part of the museum had a history of the various dance costumes used in the annual competitions – Heiva 'I Tahiti. From there, we made our way along the waterfront road to the Marae Arahurahu. This is a beautiful example of an ancient, traditional Polynesian temple with its multiple tiers, tikis, altar, and leaning stones. It was being decorated on the day we were there for some type of event. They were putting up long colorful banners on bamboo, had tiki torches ready to go and lots of beautiful shell embedded posts. From that impressive site, we continued to the Maraa Grottos. Here we saw three lovely, deep caverns that were sculpted with live ferns and dripping cool water. The gardens were filled with water lilies, pink and red ginger flowers and lots of tropical plants. It was very pretty – and across the street – a magnificent view of a big surf break and the Pacific beyond. After a stop at a well hidden fruit stand, we continued our drive in search of a lunch spot. We were hoping for a roulotte – the food vans, but we settled on a restaurant/snack stop. It was quite tasty and inexpensive (by Tahiti standards). From there we were looking for the Arahoho Blowhole which is supposed to be quite a sight if the tides and swell is right. But for our visit as Richard said, "the blowhole sucked." It was barely a spray. Then we ventured to Point Venus – this is the promontory that marks the Bay of Matavai eastern end. This is the bay favored by early European explorers like Cook and "The Bounty" with Captain Bligh. Point Venus gets its name because this is where Capt. Cook watched the transit of Venus across the face of the sun to calculate the distance between earth and sun (not successfully). This and the Bounty's arrival are both the subject of monuments in the park which also has a lovely old lighthouse.

After this spot we made our way back. Michael did a great job getting us through the many "roundabouts" without incidence. It was a really fun day and we all learned a lot. Back to Astarte we rested up, Richard packed up and we were ready for a VERY early wake up call to get Richard to the airport on time. He definitely didn't want to miss his 0800 flight so we were up and about at 0415. he got checked in and off through security and we hope had a safe and uneventful trip back to Norfolk.

We figured he came to see us for some rest – but we did go non-stop for his visit. We did a walking tour of Papeete. He saw lots of Polynesian cultural activities – dancing and music. We ate where the locals eat at the food vans – the roulottes. He helmed the sailboat Astarte as we raced (though it really wasn't a race) from Tahiti to Moorea. He raced outrigger canoes as part of a six-man team. He watched dancing, singing, music, fruit races, coconut husking, tug of wars. He dinghied at sunset and hiked to one end of the bay of Opunohu Bay; got jostled on the rough roads on a Moorea tour, sampled rum at the distillery at 10 am; saw the agriculture school, shrimp farms, pineapples, mountains, ancient temples and viewpoints on both Moorea and Tahiti. He snorkeled with sharks and stingrays. He even did some snorkeling. He "enjoyed" music from shore and the nearby tiki huts 'til midnight (even disco fever – mirror ball and YMCA!). He experienced the excitement of a hard blowing squall at night with boats dragging anchor. He helped rescue a young local kid from a broken outrigger. In between, we ate well, had a few laughs and enjoyed his company. It started with lost luggage (found the next day) and ended up with an early departure. He probably only wanted to sit on Astarte and enjoy watching the world swim, sail or float by. Instead he got all of the above and a few beautiful sunsets.

Mauruuru Richard – thank you for coming all this way to see us and for spending your time with the crew of Astarte. We really do appreciate it!