Saturday morning we got up early, secured dink at the hotel, and wandered across the road to the tour operator to await our pick up. The 4WD open-backed truck arrived and we took off – we were the last people to be collected so we said hi to the all English-speaking group (New Zealand, USA and UK).
We immediately headed around the island and up Magic Mountain. The path was paved and it went straight up with very tight switchbacks and huge drop offs – it looked barely big enough to carry us. Then we parked up and had to walk up a very steep footpath to get to the top but it was definitely worth the effort as the scenery was spectacular looking over the reef and out to the deep water beyond.
We drove back down the mountain to our next stop at the pineapple plantation. They are really small here and you can eat everything including the core, all of which is very sweet and soft. I was interested to see that they plant citronella bushes amongst the pineapples to ward off bugs.
We then went to the agricultural college area – admiring spectacular mountain scenery along the way – where there was a little shop which offered us free tastings of jams and marmalades made from local produce. We absolutely loved the pineapple and vanilla jam so that was a welcome addition to our boat stores. Oh yes and the vanilla ice cream was stunning too!
We then moved on to visit the black sand bay of Opunoho which is beautiful and definitely on our list of potential anchorages…..its backdrop is another spectacular volcanic crater. Interestingly there is a prawn/shrimp farm here which supplies the whole island.
On the way down the mountain from the lookout we went to visit a Marae (a Polynesian temple) and listened to the tales of sacrifice and the communication with the gods of the earth, sky and sea before the people converted to Christianity on the arrival of the London Society missionaries. We wandered around the site and enjoyed checking out the huge trees and ferns.
Next stop was the local distillery where we tried a variety of rum-based pre-mixed cocktails – and ended up buying two one-litre cartons to take back on board. The one we preferred was made with pineapple, passion fruit, orange and pamplemousse (grapefruit) which kept it from being too sweet. I wanted to try the local pineapple wine but they didn’t offer this at the tasting and, at £30 a bottle, was a little expensive when we were unsure of its taste…so we decided not to purchase any. I’m hoping to come across it somewhere further in our travels so I can actually get to taste it.
The final part of the tour was to a pearl shop which was opposite the Bali Hai – so rather than continue in the truck which was only now going to drop off the other tourists at their hotels – we decided to leave the tour at this point. We returned to Bali Hai for lunch which was OK but the average food was more than made up for by the surroundings….including the chicken waiting patiently for handouts. Morphie loves this anchorage!
Later on we bobbed in the pool until some kids turned up and played tag….so then went into the sea and bobbed there instead from the little beach. We were joined by an Australian couple called Mary and James who we had a laugh with….they were guests in the hotel…..and they bobbed with wine while we continued drinking our beer. It had been a great day.
Quite late, just before dark, we returned to Morphie to find that our batteries were very low. We decided to run the engine rather than the generator as the sound doesn’t carry so far and we didn’t want to annoy our neighbours. The engine started great….and the batteries improved….but didn’t go as high as they should have. We went to bed hoping that they would last through the night – and I changed the settings on the fridge and freezer to ensure that they wouldn’t draw too much power.
During the flat calm of the night – this anchorage is so amazing it feels like you are sleeping on land – we awoke a couple of times and checked the batteries. Well, they were fading fast, so I ended up switching the fridge and freezer off so that the Lifeline AGM batteries – which have a memory – didn’t get too low and end up damaged.
Very early Sunday morning we started the engine again. This time the batteries did not respond – clearly something had gone wrong with our alternator / charging system. Mindful of a meat-filled freezer we decided to return to Tahiti so that we could plug into shore power in the marina whilst troubleshooting the problem.
Decision made we picked up our anchor….and it got stuck! We manoeuvred around a bit and, eventually, it came up. Phew…. We then motored out of the pass and the battery charger kicked in so looked like an intermittent issue – and just turned towards Tahiti (still motoring) when the fan belt broke! Richard went down to install a new one while I kept watch as we were being swept closer to the reef – eventually I decided that the waves were growing and the wind wasn’t that strong – so pulled out the genoa, went 90 degrees to the coast and sailed away giving us more wiggle room. Richard surfaced having put a new fan belt on, we restarted the engine, and turned back towards Tahiti. Phew!
We arrived at the marina and Bill – surprised to see us again so soon – came down to help us tie up. We checked in and agreed to meet him later for Happy Hour. We got busy washing Morphie down and plugged her in. We also arranged for Guy to come by on Monday morning to help Richard do the trouble shooting. We stripped the bed – might as well make the most of the access to washing machines whilst in the marina – and eventually had an early dinner, got ourselves cleaned up and headed to the Bora Bora lounge. We had a nice few hours there chatting…..
Monday morning and Guy was due to arrive so I took myself off to the cruisers lounge along with the laundry….and persevered with the rubbish internet….trying to get on top of a few things. Guy and Richard, in the meantime, could not replicate the charging fault. So they decided to swap the alternator out for a new one – seems like we have used pretty much every spare we brought with us this year LOL. I gave up on the internet, returned with the laundry and then took myself off shopping….and got some fresh bread, fruit and vegetables from the market. I also got out some more drinking vouchers from the ATM.
Returning to Morphie I was pleased to find that everything was working as it should and Guy headed off. Whilst in the engine compartment, though, they had noticed that a diesel fuel line was getting a bit worn so Richard headed off to buy some more hose while I put things away and tidied up. Richard came back, fitted the hose, and we’re good to go. We headed to the 3 Brasseurs, caught up with some more people and had a chat, then headed over to the Roulettes for another Chinese! Fantastic food…..
Tuesday morning and we were up early and pulled away from Papeete Marina, Tahiti, hopefully for the last time! The trade winds decided to switch on us so we ended up motoring the 19 miles right into the wind getting rolled around by the swell…… But we were delighted to be back out there again. We pulled into Cook’s Bay, anchored in 70 feet of water this time, and decided to go out in dink. Here’s the view of the Bali Hai from the cockpit.
We explored the bay, checked out a couple of hotels and restaurants, and even went behind the reef around the corner to a little village but failed to find anywhere to tie up and go ashore. So we poodled back to Morphie and had a quiet night on board.
Wednesday morning and we decided that as this anchorage is so calm – apart from when we get buzzed by tourists on jet skis – we will do our varnishing here. So we spent the morning going around the rail looking for ‘keepers’ and taped up. In the meantime someone is shouting and waving at us from one of the water bungalows and it is Mary…. So we took ourselves over to see her and made arrangements to return later.
At around 4pm we took dink over to their water bungalow and had a lovely time catching up with them. They were very pleased to see us again and it was nice to have company after a day’s work in the sun. We took our own beer but they provided nibbles – we had a really good laugh – and they invited us back for a bobbing session on Thursday afternoon once we had finished our chores.
Thursday morning we were up early and were horrified to read that the American family we had first met in Panama and had been bumping into regularly along the way had hit a reef hard in Huahine in the night and had to be airlifted off the boat. At this moment their large catamaran is still on the uncharted reef being bashed by waves and they are trying to find out whether it is salvageable. Our heart goes out to them about the potential loss of their boat but just grateful that all seven of them are safe and well. Fingers crossed it can be recovered and repaired so that they can continue their journey around the world….
In a sombre mood, we got on with rubbing down – all of the wood under the rail, the eyebrows and keepers only on the main rail. We got this done and then Richard went round and varnished while I chilled for a while. Later on I made some nibbles and we headed over for a bobbing session with Mary and James. We had another lovely evening…..and they had made us promise to return on Friday as it is their last day before they head over to Tahiti. They have a week booked on a crewed catamaran after that so you never know, we might still bump into them again! And we have promised to visit them when we reach Australia…..
Friday morning we were up really early and rubbed down again trying to do most of the hard graft before the sun is high in the sky. Richard finished under the rail while I started blogging….we’ve just had breakfast….and now he is varnishing while I get this finished. Later on we are going to say our farewells to Mary and James but will be back on board before dark tonight as they need to pack and get ready for a very early start to the airport in the morning.
Saturday will be the final varnishing day for now and then, once we have removed the tape, I want to go round and give the stainless some attention. Not sure yet what we’ll do next but probably move to another anchorage on this beautiful island of Mo’Orea (its Polynesian spelling).
Bye for now