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Alone then not so alone

Overnight there had been only two other boats in the anchorage. By the time we were up there was only one.

The tides here are less than a foot but even so they were rising in the morning so Ben and I decided to go and snorkel the pass around the corner hoping to get some sort of drift dive into the island. When we got there we found the currents were sweeping us out to sea which is not a good thing to do in case of a dinghy motor failure. We tried about four or five different spots but didn’t find anything exceptional. We saw a few more fish than the previous day but they were all quite shy.

Back at the boat we were down to just us in the anchorage which is a very pleasant state of affairs. This didn’t last too long though as for whatever reason quite a few folks decided to make it down here including a few we knew: Renova, Kamaya & Victoria.

We went for a walk on the beach in the afternoon and soon ran into the guys from Renova up to much the same. We agreed to join up and ended up in a quaint bar on the beach for a beer. When we parted it was slightly deeper goodbyes as the Renovas are going on the hard in a few days and it’s unlikely we’ll see them again – at least in this lifetime.

Back aboard we grilled up some ribs which were delicious and made our way through three episodes of the recent series of 24.

Feeding Time

Turned out there was plenty of interest to go and see the sting rays and sharks. Shortly after 10am we rendezvoused at the sunken tiki heads (about half way to the rays) with Steve & Dorusha from Scream, David & Suzie from Sidewinder and Jim & Brendan from Escapade. We were carrying Mike and Naomi from Renova. Snorkeling on the tiki heads was fun for most but soon we were back on our way to see the sting rays. It was not hard to find the spot as there were two tourist boats already there and lots of people already standing around in the water with rays swimming amongst them and sharks patrolling the perimeter.

Earlier in the day I had chopped up the month old skip jack tuna occupying a corner of our freezer and put the pieces in a container. In the water the sting rays were intensely interested in the fishy morsels. (Note – I would not normally feed wild animals but these have been fed for the tourists for so long I feel the damage is already done so we may as well enjoy). The rays would come up to us and try and take the fish from our hands. Holding them in our fingers was not so smart as the rays had tough gums and gave quite a nip if they caught our fingers. I was bitten twice and Ben once which caused a bit of bleeding.

Apart from that it was a huge amount of fun. At times we were blanketed in four or five rays each trying to find something to eat. They were so tame we could hold onto their edges and stroke their backs and bellies. I shared the fish around with our party although it took some some time to brave holding onto raw fish while surrounded by rays and sharks.

After a while everyone got a little chilly – it is winter here after all. Heading back three miles into wind was never going to be fun. We’d agreed to drop Mike and Naomi off so they could hitch a ride back to the beach near where we were anchored. Ben and I pounded the waves all the way back arriving soaked and colder still. The cold water showers on the boat felt warm and refreshing.

We stayed on the boat for the afternoon prepping for the trip to Huahine. The wind forecast suggested the wind was going to drop in 24 hours and we wanted to catch what we could. One of my tasks was to change the zinc on the generator. For a while I couldn’t get the new one back in leak free but in the end I succeeded. Shortly before 5pm we were off. As Ben has yet to have some recent practice sailing during the day we decided to sail with the head sail only. This would mean there was less to watch and less to go wrong. At some points overnight the winds reached 30 knots so this ended up being a fortuitous decision. During my early morning shift I raised the main once there was light to see. We arrived at Fare, Huahine around 10:30 in the morning.

We’ve already been ashore to pick up baguettes for lunch. Our guidebook suggests there will be lots of outdoor food choices available this evening so we plan to go ashore again then.

This afternoon we have a few things to do. First we all need a nap as none of us slept well last night. Next, we want to bring down the headsail, restitch a part of the sun cover and put some tape over some parts that look tatty. We also want to swim the reef which we hope will be more alive than the one surrounding Moorea.

Baie d’Opunohu

On Saturday our plan was to move over to Baie d’Opunahu. We had a few choices. One was to go inside the bay where it was cool but with great views. The second was outside west of the bay which would be isolated and nearer to where we could go and see the sting rays. The final choice was to go back and anchor off the public beach where we first came to Moorea with the Rendezvous nearly a month ago.

We’d heard Verner from Legend II on the radio nearby and as we wanted to meet him again we called him on the radio. We learned he was anchored off the public beach and was getting together a beach barbecue with a few others. That made our minds up. We also heard Renova and contacted them learning they’d be there too. They needed a beer pickup and as we needed to go ashore we agreed to collect some beer for them and keep it cold.

Ben and I did the shore thing picking up a couple of baguettes, some burger buns/sliced cheese and the beers for Renova. This being done we hoisted the dinghy and sailed around to Baie d’Opunohu using the headsail only. We anchored in 10ft very close to where we first anchored knowing we had good holding at that spot.

We relaxed around the boat for an hour or two after lunch before deciding to walk back to Baie de Cook to visit the Fruit Juice Factory for a second sampling of their wares. Unfortunately we found the place was open only in the morning on Saturdays so we only benefited from the exercise and pleasant surrounds. On the way back we bumped into the Renovas just outside the Hilton Resort. We all agreed to explore the resort which turned out to be very nice inside.

Heading back to the beach we took a diversion to collect some firewood for the evening’s fun. Back on the boat Helen cooked up some chicken to take to the beach. Verner from Legend II was taking his grill and gas ashore so we left our burgers until later. At 5pm we headed ashore to meet up with the rest. As well as Legend II and Renova we met Dave and Suzy from Sidewinder. They left the Galapagos around the same time as us but had to turn back with refrigeration problems and have since been a week or two behind us. We’ve heard them on the radio from time to time but never met them. We also met Jim and his son Brendan from Escapade which we’ve seen around.

Later in the evening Ben started the beach fire and soon had a blaze going. Helen had brought some marshmallows which pleased a couple of young children who were there too as well as many of the adults.

Today we’re off to see the rays and sharks. We may be making a group of it but hopefully not too large. It’s possible that this evening we’ll set sail for Huahine 80nm to our north west – an over night sail.

Weather

Our heavenly break at the southern anchorage was broken by poor weather which had developed over night. We had expected the winds to shift to the north but we were hoping they would die down to. We got the wind shift but the winds remained firm. This meant we were receiving the chop picked up as the wind traversed the interior of the lagoon that were being compounded by the currents in the area which, until then, had been the source of such delight. Our main reason for staying at the southern cut was to go diving and we figured that the northerly winds against an incoming current may cause problems for us.

So we made the decision to up anchor and move east for the protection of the atoll which curved around there. We were in no rush though. I visited Imagine to wish them Happy Anniversary and to help out a couple of things on their computer. While I was there, John dove on our anchor/chain to assess the extent to which we were wrapped up in the coral heads.

Back on the boat we made ready to leave. We held back to allow a squall to pass over. Once it was we headed off. We were wrapped around one coral head but we knew this in advance so getting off was straight forward. As it turned out we were one of the last boats to leave the anchorage as practically everyone else had come to the same conclusion and had either headed off east or north to the village at the other end of the atoll.

We had planned to have the folks from Renova over for the evening. They were a young couple with a couple of relatives aboard who we first met in the Galapagos and bumped into a few times since and always meant to get to know. They had moved with the pack that had gone to the eastern corner so we moved near to them so they didn’t have far to go in the evening.

The eastern anchorage was much calmer from the one we’d left so we settled down for lunch. After a rest we headed out to a nearby marker for a snorkel. After the rich area we had just left this snorkel was incredibly tame and a little boring. We tried to find a coral head we’d seen on the way in but from the reduced height of the dinghy we were not successful. Before returning to the boat we landed the dinghy on the beach and walked to the shallow area to the south of us. The shallow area was filled with smallish brown sea cucumbers/slugs looking like something less than pleasant. Wading through the area was tricky to say the least.

In the evening we had Naomi, John, Amy and Strawn from Renova over for nibbles and drinks. As ever, the time was good.

We won’t be going back to the southern anchorage as time is limited. Our intentions are to take about three days to make our way up the inside of the atoll to the village/town at the north end where there’s internet, a pearl farm to visit, some excellent diving and some small commerce.

Hiva Oa

After our brisk overnight sail to Hiva Ona we anchored in the harbour close to Atuona, the main town here. John was already asleep and Helen went below immediately to catch up. I was left to sort out the dinghy and set a stern anchor on my own which I did badly. It was enough to hold us so I did my blog and sorted a few things out before waking John to reset the stern anchor. As soon as that was done we were called over to Papa Joe, a French boat, to let us know we were in the wrong place. Oops. We should have been behind some orange markers.

Helen had woken by now so we up anchored (both of them) and made our way around to the back of the pack of boats here. There were two boats preparing to leave so we had to wait while one of them struggled to removed their stern anchor.

Once we were hooked we quickly went ashore to walk the mile or two into town to clear in. The walk was hot and sweaty but we found the gendarmerie easy enough and cleared in. Just like the French islands in the Caribbean the all import zarpe from the previous port was unnecessary.

We then had a wander around town getting some cash, ice cream, French bread (we ate one there and then) and some very expensive vegetables.

In the library the internet fees were as expensive as the harbour so having lugged our laptops all around in the heat (at least I lugged them) we passed on this.

Back on the boat we ate some left overs with some more bread and crashed out as we were all very tired. In the afternoon I bought an hours worth of internet for over $5 and downloaded my emails as well as sending our boat docs and clearance papers to our agent in Tahiti. At the end of the hour we had my email download was interrupted while downloading message 289 out of 289. Arghhhh. Further attempts to reconnect via the pay for service failed with all error messages in French. I did manage to get into a free open connection but that was incredibly slow.

Around 6pm we went ashore to meet up with Richard and Christie from Lileth and Naomi and John from Renova. We planned to walk into town to watch the dancing and beauty competition. As luck would have it a bus full of drummers and their drums stopped to pick us up. We had to sit on laps to squeeze in but we made it.

Sitting in the audience amongst the locals watching their own annual event was quite a treat. We picked up a vast portion of chicken and chips which was very filling. As the night wore on we saw different dance groups. Some all male, some all female, some kids, some mixed. There were a couple of truly atrocious comedy sketches to fill time. In between we got to see 8 young ladies competing in the beauty competition. We first saw them in traditional outfits, then the beach ware then formal. Not quite Miss World but it was that kind of thing. We didn’t see the winner but we had our own personal favourites.

We came back with the Lileths before the end due to tiredness. As luck would have it we were picked up by someone with a pickup truck. We rode in the back despite it being illegal here. We slept very, very well last night.

One thing we’ve learned is that quite a few of the boats here are awaiting parts from their crossing. It’s a rough ride on boats and even little things need to be fixed. One boats entire set of batteries is screwed which is a nasty situation to be in. We feel relieved our problems allow us to keep moving while waiting for our water make pump.

Today we plan to walk to some nearby petroglyphs. We understand we can pick fruit along the way. We may end up leaving for Tahuata today and perhaps come back here later on when we need to collect our part.

Right now I’m uploading photos very slowly. There’s no chance I’ll get them all up but our crossing photos are done. This is all mainly the pilot whales. No photos of dead flying fish. I don’t need photos to remember these ghastly, stinky creatures.

If I manage to upload more the first place you’ll begin to see them will be on our photos page .