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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.

Three on a boat

The morning of the 13th started with my going ashore to collect a couple of fresh baguettes for breakfast and lunch. On the way back I learned that the fuel dock was already open. We decided to go and refuel straight after breakfast as we figured there would be less chance of finding someone ahead of us and also having a good chance of finding our convenient anchorage still free. This all turned out to be the case so we were back in our spot within an hour of leaving.

Shortly after we both dinghied over to the Interncontinental Hotel to investigate the possibility of using it as a base for the dinghy to collect Ben from the airport. We quickly realized it wouldn’t be too good but we really enjoyed walking around the grounds. We also learned that around 8:30pm tonight they’ll have professional dancers so we plan on sneaking in for that.

In the afternoon we dinghied over to say hello to Werner and Cathy on Legend II. Perhaps on the most astute blog readers will remember them from our hike up to the top of Mount Diablotin in Dominica – the one where we got thoroughly muddy. Cathy was away in the UK visiting a new grandchild but Werner was there. He remembered Helen in her hiking boots and dress – a rare combination. They’re on their way to NZ via the same route as us so we’re very likely to meet again and will look out for each other. We want to get them aboard one day to learn about the good hiking in NZ.

Shortly before 5pm we went ashore and walked to the airport. We went a little early so we could look at hiring a car for today. In the end we decided against it thinking Ben may be a little tired after traveling from New Jersey.

We ended up having about 45 minutes to wait for Ben to show up. We bought a garland of flowers to welcome him and fortunately he came through quite early. We had our hugs and hellos and quickly caught a cab back to the marina which cost less than I feared.

Helen had cooked up a chili earlier so we ate that along with beers and wine. We stayed up a little late chatting before we all retired.

Today is Bastille Day. There is not a lot on it seems. We had hoped there would be fireworks and dance competitions. There is a military parade in Papeete which doesn’t appeal to us and there is a sports competition on at the museum down the coast. We would have needed the hire car for that but instead we’ll watch the canoe racing planned for the bay here.

Not a lot

We went food shopping this morning. Cathy and Werner popped by to collect some yogurt culture and drop off a copy of an interesting TV series on tribes. We had a mutual chat about destinations as they’re off north next. Tero from the other Lagoon 420 popped by with some news from Martinique as we’re both heading that way. Andy from Drimia popped round for a bit more PC support. Nice to have his company. Rest of the day we’ve been reading and aching.

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

Today was the day we had ordered our hiking excursion. We had made it very clear on a number of occasions that we wanted to do some long hiking and were reassured on same number of occasions that this is what we would get. We had hooked in a NZ couple we’d heard on the VHF looking for hiking partners on the previous day to make a sixsome along with the US couple from yesterday.

Alexis came along at 7am to pick us up. We then went over to the US couple who couldn’t come due to Emmy having a headache. The NZ couple, Cathy and Werner from Legend 2, did come so we were pleased we’d picked up their request. We were taken to shore where we were handed over to Stratford – the tour guide/taxi driver. He first took us to the Syndicate Forest which was a gentle walk around a circuit in the rainforest. Stratford was very helpful in explaining what the trees were and pointing out the wildlife. The big thing to look out for were the parrots which came in two kinds. The Jacos which went around in pairs and the imperials which were the national bird. We managed to see both kinds.

The next stop was Milford Falls. Along the way Stratford stopped to pick up fruit. The local custom is that fruit is free to eat but not to sell. We had bananas, two types of grapefruit, orange, raspberries and chocolate nuts. The falls were quite nice although spoilt by the fact that the pool at the base was surrounded barbed wire to stop people swimming in it. People downstream drink the water so they are trying to control pollution. Understandable but the fencing took away a lot. Got some nice pics though.

So this was it. We didn’t really get the hike we’d asked for. We negotiated with Stratford to drop us off at the base of the walk to the top of Morne Diablotin, the highest peak in Dominica. The climb itself was 2,800 feet up to the peak at 4,600 feet then back down to the road. Seemed a push but doable.

The first half of the hike was very steep and relentlessly upward. Log steps were placed most of the way but we had to negotiate fallen trees, rocks and a fair amount of mud. We were all hoping the path would dry up as we ascended. After a while the exhaustingly steep (and stepped) part gave way to progressively harder parts. We found ourselves scrambling up very steep rocky outcrops (covered in mud), climbing over tangles of roots (covered in mud), climbing through and under tunnels of tangled roots (covered in mud), negotiating some very small flat parts (which turned out to be pools of mud). At one time we had to climb up (down on the way back) about 20ft through a nest of roots and branches. Sometimes we felt like we were walking across the tops of trees as our heads would pop out of the rainforest on a rocky outcrop (muddy of course). Other times you think you’re climbing over roots and suddenly there’s a 15ft gully beneath you. We tried to keep clean but bit by bit we were defeated as each part of us succumbed to the aforementioned mud. In fact, the whole of the final half of the climb was up a muddy gully which was about the only thing that gave the path it’s course.

The reward (and boy was it worth it) were some spectacular views. We didn’t quite make the top as the final part of the path had washed out but we made a peak just below the top. From here we could see south to Martinique and to the north end of the island. We could also see Portsmouth where we were anchored. Climbing down seemed to take longer than going up and was very tiring. Arms and legs had to be used at all times. Our backsides found the mud several times on the way down and we picked up a number of scratches. We were so pleased to finally reach the road. This is a hike we won’t forget.

Stratford showed up shortly after. I took off my shorts and shoes and put them in a bag as they were simply too muddy. Werner did similar. We all felt an urge to visit the recently opened KFC to pick up fried chicken – the first food we’ve had since leaving the US. I had to put my muddy shorts back on as I felt it wouldn’t be proper to walk in in my underpants.

Chicken acquired we made our way back to the boat where the food was consumed and washed down with beer. Then it was a matter of cleaning our boots, clothes and ourselves. The mud was pervasive and hard to remove so it took the scrubbing brush on our skin to make real inroads.

Now we plain ache. Everywhere. Arms. Legs. Backs. Everywhere. We are tired and ready to crash. A memorable day indeed. Tomorrow, we think, will be a very, very lazy day.