Friday afternoon we had completed all our pre-passage checks and re-provisioned so we headed into the Bali Hai for a final bobbing session in the pool. We then returned for an early night on board.
Saturday morning we had a late start – hoisted the outboard onto the rail and put dink on the bow – before eating an early dinner. The wind had picked up, as forecast, and we were looking forward to a good overnight passage. We picked up anchor around 5ish and headed out through the pass saying a sad farewell to Cook’s Bay and Mo’Orea.
The winds were 15-20 knots on our starboard beam so we decided to sail under a reefed down genoa only….and glad we did as the wind then picked up to 30 knots and stayed that way for a while mostly dead downwind.
The seas were large and confused and we were being bounced around again. Oh well….then of course the heavens opened up with horizontal rain from behind, which we had no shelter from. Nice sunset though despite the squally conditions.
We went into our shift patterns but neither of us slept very well – I think we were both slightly anxious to get this passage under our belt. The Mayday Relay heard in the night didn’t alleviate anxiety levels either although the French language was spoken way too fast for us to understand….I worked out that the incident was nearby but that was about it. The Coastguard had it under control so we weren’t unduly worried but it felt wrong to just listen as the drama unfolded.
As the sun came up Sunday morning we were still being pushed around by strong currents and could see the mountainous island of Huahine ahead. This island is completely surrounded by reef and only has a few navigable passes and we were heading for the main one in the north west near the main settlement of Fare. We stayed well offshore as we knew that the charts were inaccurate. Finally we reached the entrance to the cut – although the markers are actually half way inside the channel rather than marking the edge – and worked out way into the anchorage. We dropped anchor in 17 foot of pale blue water and got a good set straight away. Yay!
Due to lack of sleep overnight we decided to stay put for the day and just enjoy the vista. This island is mountainous and wild and has just the coast road running around it – with many communities accessible by boat only. The water is crystal clear to the extent that we can see the anchor chain laying on the sand beneath us……. We had an interesting afternoon on board with 30+ knot winds howling through followed by torrential rain which cleared up as quickly as it arrived. Apparently the unsettled weather was due to this area being squashed between a front and the convergence zone. Later on we went for a snorkel and showered off the back – and sat and watched the sun go down whilst having a couple of celebratory beers on board before having an early night.
Monday morning we got dink off the bow and the outboard reinstalled and then headed into Fare. We tied up at the very nice dinghy dock and then wandered the town. Well, it is tiny! It has a couple of banks, a couple of restaurants, a public beach and a yacht club…. Plus a huge supermarket which must feed the whole island as it is so close to the main quay where the supply ships tie up.
If you look at the mountains…..you will see it resembles a woman lying down….and this the island where the Disney film Moana’s ending is based upon. We had a couple of beers in the yacht club at Happy Hour prices and then decided to stay for dinner. We had some great food – steak for me, fish for Richard – and we loved the dauphinoise potatoes and green beans….just a shame that everything turned up tepid. Oh well, never mind. We watched the sun go down on a nice day and returned to Morphie for the night.
Tuesday morning we were up early and headed into the yacht club. We had organised a boat trip out for the day. Seemed a shame to pay for a boat tour but this takes us to places that are not navigable with Morphie or within range of dink so we are going to be tourists for the day! The boat headed towards us….and it was a little outrigger…..and it was full of French tourists.
They clearly weren’t going to speak English to communicate with us so they left it up to the captain Parker to make us welcome….. As we were the last ones to board he took to his ukulele (which are made here in the islands) and sang us a nice song from the comfort of his captain’s seat.
We took off down the coast admiring the lush mountainous hills….the isolated motus (islands)…the occasional resort….and then turned towards the channel between the top island Huahine and the bottom island Huahine Iti. We enjoyed the shallows and the views and went under the road bridge that joined the two together. Then we headed to a small motu where we did some snorkelling. The coral wasn’t very exciting and the fish were skittish but we enjoyed being in the water.
Back on board and we took off towards a pearl farm going past many isolated communities which are only accessible from the sea. We had to navigate very carefully through the very shallow water….and eventually tied to the pearl farm’s dock.
We had a wander around the shop and I was not tempted to purchase any pearls as I had already bought my lifetime’s allocation in Tahiti – or so Richard reckoned anyway LOL – and we were treated to an explanation of how pearls are made. As there were only three English speakers in the group – the other being a Dutch guy – we had a good question and answer session. Fascinating stuff…… Interesting facts – did you know that the mantle creates the mother of pearl inside the oyster shell? And they have no control over the colour – each is unique to itself. They carve a ball from an old oyster shell and then transplant that, and a piece of mantle, into the gonads (seriously that is what they call the reproductive organs!).
The oyster then is put back in the water for 18 months and either turns the ball into a beautiful pearl or spits it out and rejects it. The oysters that refuse to grow pearls have shell balls glued into their shell which, over time, become covered in mother-of-pearl and then are turned into shell jewellery.
Many pearls end up misshapen with the rarest ones being those that are perfectly round and without imperfections. This transplantation can happen up to four times so you can see that to make a large perfect pearl takes a lot of time and patience and a little luck!
We all got back on board the boat again and headed to another motu which was going to be our lunch destination….all kitted out with picnic benches in the water and umbrellas. The beach itself was made of old coral rather than sand. Great spot for lunch!
We were surprised to find that beer was generously included in the day’s trip so we had a couple and watched Parker prepare Poisson Cru, the national dish of French Polynesia. This is raw white tuna (can be any fish I think) which is first coated in lime juice. Then you mix in carrots, cucumber and onions. Then squeeze coconut milk from fresh grated coconut and give it a stir. Voila! The buffet also included some chicken, rice, salad, bread and copious amounts of fresh fruit. Was a veritable feast and we thoroughly enjoyed it and a few cold ones while we chatted with the Dutch guy who was travelling alone and had been feeling a little bit fed up as the French wouldn’t speak to him either.
Oh yes…and we have found out that this is where the teletubbies come on holiday…think this might be Dipsy and LaLa LOL!!!!
After a few hours, including some bobbing, we were royally entertained again before getting back onboard and continued towards the top of the island.
We looked out to sea and ended up going past the wreck of our friends’ catamaran on the reef – what a sad end to a fine boat – and it looked OK despite the fact that we knew it was damaged beyond repair. Shows the real dangers of navigating in this region at night….
Back towards Fare we continued to admire the scenery and the face in the rock….and saw that Morphie was still happy on anchor.
We went through the anchorage out towards the reef and tied up to an old boat anchored just inside the reef and got off onto a viewing platform. Time to feed the sharks! Well, actually, it is time for us tourists to watch the sharks getting fed and we were told to keep behind a roped off area…. Had never seen so many black-tipped reef sharks in one place and they were swimming around us, towards us and behind us. But never really felt threatened….. Was a great experience although some of the kids were freaked out by it LOL.
Back to land and we were dropped off, we had a couple of beers in the Yacht Club watching a young girl – maybe six year’s old – going up and down on a wakeboard. Future champion we reckon!!! We had a lovely day.
This morning, Wednesday, we were up early…. We did all the laundry by hand – including the sheets this time – as I refuse to pay £20+ for one washing machine load plus more for drying! So Morphie had washing hanging from every conceivable drying space. Richard cleaned the racor fuel filter again…we have some sludge appearing each time we are in a big rolly sea….so think there must be sediment in the bottom of the tank. We may try to get the fuel polished and the tank cleaned at our next island stop as they have facilities there…. Anyway, we’ve also made water, downloaded weather and other boat jobs. Sea Bear has just arrived into the anchorage and we have arranged to have a beer with Chris later.
Bye for now