Papeete, Tahiti


French Polynesia

June 2010

Part Five








June 24, 2010



The wind was light as we left Rangiroa the afternoon of June 15 bound for Papeete, Tahiti 200 miles southwest. There was no need to hurry as we wanted to arrive after daybreak on Day Three.

I am fond of night watches under the vast, dark sky lit only by moonlight or the multitude of stars.  Our first night out was a particularly beautiful and peaceful one sailing directly toward the moon smiling low in the sky.  It lit a narrow path on the sea which Tenaya glided along toward the horizon. 

During the passage Tenaya logged 20,000 miles.  That's a long way from Holland 4 years ago! We arrived in Papeete with one day to spare before the start of the Pacific Puddle Jump's festivities. 



Tahiti is a geologically young island with tall, green mountains rising steeply  from the brilliant azure sea.  A narrow broken semi-circle of eroding volcanic rock towers above all else, the landmark of the island. From the sea we watched the clouds envelope the highest peaks as the morning sun warmed the land.



The busy Papeete harbor contrasts greatly with the small harbors and anchorages we have been visiting the last couple of years.  Cargo ships and ferries are constantly on the move.  The public yacht quay is nestled along the shore of the bustling downtown in the shadow of enormous ships. But, to remind us we are in French Polynesia, a paddler in his outrigger joined us at the entrance to the harbor and paddled in our wake to the yacht quay. 




Although we had a reservation for a slip, we thought, the pontoons were full so we tied up to the wall outside.  What we assumed was an unfortunate location turned out to be quite nice as a pleasant, uninterrupted breeze cooled us and the noisy waterfront boulevard was buffered by a manicured park.




































Papeete is the largest city in the South Pacific.  Shops and restaurants line the four lane boulevard that runs along the waterfront and the myriad of side streets heading inland toward the mountains.  A marvelous two-storied market with hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce, fish and flowers along with dry goods and souvenirs is close to the quay. Several chandleries and a large hardware store are welcome sites for cruisers.






Thursday afternoon was the beginning of the Pacific Puddle Jump's Tahiti to Moorea Sailing Rendez-Vous.  A tent at the end of the quay housed registration and information along with representatives from Whangarei, NZ.   Marinas there are inexpensive and all types of work can be commissioned.

That evening the Tahitians hosted a fabulous cocktail party welcoming the Puddle Jumpers.  Originally planned for the garden of the town hall, it was held inside the lovely, grand building because rain threatened.

Polynesian dancers put on an extraordinary show. How  those alluring women can move their hips so quickly and effortlessly baffles me!  At one point each dancer grabbed someone from the audience and Jim was chosen.  Not capable of the movements his partner made, Jim waved his arms, wiggled his hips and wobbled his legs while bobbing his head at a frantic pace.  The crowd loved it!  If only I'd brought my camera ...



The next morning more than 30 boats left the calm water outside of the harbor to sail 20 miles across the channel to Moorea.  Once away from the shelter of the island the wind blew 25-30 knots on the beam.  What fast and fun sailing!  When we decided to reef the main for the second time, which only involves rolling it into the mast, the shackle holding the main sail to the outhaul snapped.  The unclipped main flappered wildly in the wind until we rolled it in so Jim could put it all back together.   We were on our way in about 20 minutes but not before 3 boats passed us. 




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