Tuesday 7 May 2019

Moorea and beyond

Although a busy place, our week in Papeete was a very good one. Not
only did we achieve a great deal, but we had time to reflect a little
on our time in the Marquesas and Tuamotus before we launch on with
visiting more new places. We are crammed to bursting with amazing
memories and stunning vistas and lovely encounters with Polynesian

We said goodbye to Andrew and Swade who resumed their World Arc duties
once we arrived in Papeete. it was a complete pleasure to have them on

A gentle sail/motor took us 25 miles to our next port of call,
Opunohu Bay on the island of Moorea. It is where Captain Cook dropped
his anchor in 1777. The spectacular scenery reminded us a bit of the
Lofoten Islands in Norway (just add palm trees!). The towering
mountains drop right down to the water, with just enough room for a road
and a few houses before the shore. Then there is the lagoon and the
coral reef which encircles the island. The Society islands are like a
mixture between the geography of the Marquesas (young volcanic peaks
with no reef fringe yet) and the Tuamotus (where just the coral rings
remain, the volcanic cores having eroded). I think that is because they
are younger than the Tuomotus but older then the Marquesas, give or
take a few million years!

It was perfect drone flying weather - see photo.

Ashore we climbed a small peak called the Magical Mountain, a
lovely walk through fruit trees giving way to pines higher
up. The birdsong was beautiful. We returned to Tintin with a supply of
passion fruit which had fallen to the ground.
Tourism is bigger here in the Society Islands than in the Marquesas or
Tuamotus. Quad bikes are a popular way to see Moorea
island and jet skis roared past our anchorage from time to time.
Overwater bungalows of the Hilton and the Intercontinental hotels stand
on the reef either side of the entrance to the bay. Balancing the
desire to preserve the lagoons and their fragile ecosystems with the
development of tourism is a challenge.

Tintin's engine died on us en route from Papeete to Moorea, giving us
the opportunity for more boat maintenance in exotic locations... Rob
diagnosed air in the fuel system, and yesterday we narrowed it down
to a leak at the base of one of our 2 primary fuel filters. Luckily we
have built in redundancy with 2 inline, so we could switch easily while
Rob sorted the problem.

Now we are on our way to Raiatea, 100 miles west. We have had an easy
night sail on a settled sea. Together with a few other ARC boats, we
are entering the Tahiti Pearl Regatta, sailing races between the
Leeward Society Islands of Raiatea, Huahine and Taha'a, on 9,10 and 11
May. We will be joined by Joe Grosjean (from Charm, another ARC boat)
and Josie Chandler (from RAID). The regatta website has a video of
last year's racing - worth a look. It should be fun!

Richard has the all clear from his surgeon to join us at Bora Bora,
which is the best news, so we will welcome him and Nicki back on board
on 19th May before we set off on 22nd to Suwarrow (Cook Islands) then
Niue, then Tonga.

We have just been visited by a pod of pilot whales as we make our
approach to Raiatea. 5 all surfaced then dived together, with others
"spy-bopping" ie just poking their heads out above the surface to look
around. Apparently pilot whales are unique among cetaceans in that
they can see in air as well as underwater. (Josie, on board with us en
route for the regatta, is a marine biologist so we are quizzing her at
every opportunity!)

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