Fiu in Adriatic


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Tahiti and Society Islands [September 9 thru October 8, 2004]

September 9 thru 17, 2004, Papeete

We are anchored opposite Taina Marina on the west coast of Tahiti just a mile or two South of the airport runway. In order to navigate the Faa channel past the airport runway we had to call Papeete port control and ask for permission. They in turn call air traffic control to ensure that there are no planes landing or taking off at the time the yacht wishes to pass.

We have now been at this anchorage for over a week enjoying the lagoon waters and nice weather with a beautiful view over Moorea. Spectacular sunsets every evening with the sun setting behind Moorea.

Sunset over Moorea Fiu anchored in Tahiti Taapuna reef marker

We are waiting for the new camera to arrive via Fedex. It should arrive today, Friday the 17th and then we can leave for Moorea.

We’ve taken a few bus rides to see a little of the island – Ivo went South to see Port Phaeron and Susan went North as far as Point Venus. Neither area was better than where we are currently so we have stayed anchored in front of Marina Taina which is conveniently located near Carrefour, a big supermarket and the local buses (trucks) going into Papeete.

Last weekend there was a big surfing competition (Taapuna Masters) by the outer reef with impressive surf left over from a big southerly swell. We went out into the pass on Sunday in the dinghy to watch for a while and then visited the lagoon by crossing the shallow coral reef and the white sandbanks where many local motor boats were anchored and the people having their drinks in the water or eating lunch onboard.

Doing shopping, laundry, taking on fuel and water has been really easy. Water is free from the marina dock, we obtained tax free fuel because we have the clearance papers from customs, the laundry lady comes to the marina every day and we paid 1800 CFO for about 10kgs of laundry. And the laundry was really well done. Shopping: well, just like back in France, except for the prices of course.

Ivo has been working on the boat, cleaning the hull so Fiu is like new for the next step of the journey, repairing the bimini & cleaning the sprayhood.  We also updated the website and are now ready to go as soon as we receive the camera. 

Yesterday, Thursday September 16, we went on a day trip to the interior of Tahiti. This was an organized tour, with a 4WD and driver and there were 6 other people on the tour: a couple from Israel who were about to embark on Windstar for a two week cruise to the Marquesa islands, a young Japanese couple on honeymoon, and a couple from Pennsylvania, US who were also on holiday here in Tahiti.

Tahiti's interior Car being chased by chickens! Pura Hao, aka Pissing Cow

The trip was alright, nice to see so much greenery and high ragged mountains in the interior. Tahiti is a volcanic island, young in age – about 15 million years old (all is relative) and we went up into  the crater (the caldera). The driver, a rather taciturn French/Tahitian, stopped often to show us various plants, flowers and trees explaining their medicinal or quirky virtues.

Hibiscus Tilluos (Tilleul – linden): The flower  - according to Teva, our driver/guide, each flower only lasts a single day and in the morning it is yellow and when it falls from the tree in the evening it has turned red. The flower is good for anti-fogging of a snorkeling mask, the pistle can be used as nail polish – the pollen is a powerful coloring agent, while the petals of the flower can also be used as a solvent. The leaves can be used as plates, or toilet paper.

We saw several waterfalls including one where we could swim in the pool below. This waterfall’s name is Vaihaurura which means water/peace/talking, in other words, the place by the water where people gather in peace to talk. The other waterfall we saw is called Pura Hao – loosely translated as pissing cow!

Teva explained that there are over 300 types of fern in Tahiti, the seeds and pollen having travelled via the jet stream. Many are used for medicinal purposes and he also showed us how the dust/pollen on the underside of a fern leaf when placed on dark fabric and pressed down hard leaves a nice imprint which the Tahitians then make designs of by using fine ink

In the morning we stopped at the Interncontinental hotel to pick up the young Japanese couple and all went inside the lobby briefly to admire the view over the lagoon. In the lobby there was a big tika, quite explicitly demonstrating the male phallus. Pity we had no camera! 

Friday, September 19, 2004, Papeete

At last we received the camera!! Despite our anxieties (and it being a Friday) we were able to clear the camera out of customs immediately with no trouble and no additional import duties and so we were now ready and able to leave Tahiti for new adventures. 

On our way back from the airport and customs where we had picked up the camera, we stopped at an agricultural fair for a good look around. We managed to buy a stem of bananas for only CFO 500, some local honey & a bottle of FIU rum! The fair itself was interested with lots of different stands including a tattoo stand.

Agriculture fair, Tahiti Ivo with stem of bananas Flowers for Fiu Fiu rum

We did a last minute water top up at the marina and were now ready to leave early the next day.

Saturday, September 18, 2004, Moorea

After 13 days in Tahiti we finally left today with an early start to sail/motor across to Moorea, a distance of about 20 miles.

First went through the pass Vaiare to the main town on Moorea . As we were crossing and getting close to the pass we saw several pirogues manned with approximately 6 people each obviously coming from Tahiti and paddling across to Moorea. Later we also saw a competition of sorts with many pirogues and their following supporters. This is of course the traditional means of navigation between islands here in Polynesia, and in the very big ones in the past they would transport animals and their goods and this is how the islands were populated.

A lot of ferries cross this channel all the time – while we were inside the pass there must have been at least 4 ferries in an hour.

We had two fishing lines out, one being the new fishing rod bought at 30 USD. A real bargain.

We had a good look around, there is anchorage space both right and left of the pass by the reef and the nicest looked to be the one on the right in about 5 meter’s depth. But we wanted to make up for lost time so off we went out the pass again and onwards toward the northern part of Moorea toward Cook’s Bay and Opunohou bay. Confusingly James Cook actually anchored in Opunohou bay rather than the bay named after him.

 We visited first Cook’s bay, where there was an interesting anchorage to the left inside of the pass near the reef but we decided to move onward again and continued to Opunohou bay. On our way to the next bay we saw a whale in the distance but were unable to catch up with it.

Pirogue crossing from Tahiti to Moorea Opunohou bay, Moorea Opunohou bay, Moorea

In Opunohou bay we stopped just inside the reef on the left hand side where several other yachts were anchored. We were in shallow waters, 2.3 meters and it was very quiet with no swell and hardly any breeze. Quiet except for all the various jetskis, catamarans & learners of pirogue paddling and racing out for the weekend.

We went ashore for a walk in the evening down to the Sheraton hotel / resort.  Very nice of course, but a hotel is a hotel. During the evening we began to not feel too well, and were eventually both sick.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Food poisoning, again?  Vomiting etc and aches and pains in all the joints. Susan slept most of the day trying to get over it and Ivo who seemed a little less affected just took it easy. So no sailing that day or any activity for that matter.  Toward the end of the day Ivo decided to go for a dinghy ride over to the other side of the bay to have a look at the other resort there. Also a very nice lagoon with a shallow reef, barely enough depth even for the dinghy.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Leaving Moorea

We took off at 6.30am for Huahine 90 miles northwest of Moorea. We motored all the way, the first time we’ve had to do that during our trip. The sea was flat like a mirror with barely a ripple. Just a long lazy day recovering from the previous day’s sickness and with Ivo doing some odd jobs, like making adjustments to the underwater camera box from the previous camera to be able to fit in the new one. With several wooden sticks it now works as if custom made (which it is now!).

Arrived at the northern part of Huahine, the main pass into the town Fare at about 7.30 pm. Anchored just after the red light entrance marker where a couple of other (charter) boats are anchored.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Visited Fare and sailed down to southern part of island on the leeward side. Strong gusts of wind coming down off the hillside which made it a little more difficult finding a good anchorage. Most of the outer reef was quite far away preceded by a wide & very shallow area of mainly sand therefore not much to see underwater. We eventually anchored near the southernmost area of the island close to the shore which is cluttered with coral patches. Ivo went snorkeling with Susan rowing the dinghy alongside for safety in case of sharks.

Surfing in Huahine Fiu's friends Wow! Humpback whales snorkeling in Huahine

Wednesday, September 22,, 2004

Came back up to Fare and anchored in the same spot as first evening.

Weather overcast, windy and rainy! When it cleared up Ivo went out to the reef by the pass taking photos and Susan on the beach reading and some snorkeling.

Otherwise just relaxed, some reading & some preparation for 2005 itinerary

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Weather overcast, rainy and windy. However today we saw an extraordinary sight of two humpback whales coming into the pass and playing for at least an hour. We went out close to them in the dinghy and it was really very impressive to get so close to them and a bit scary too since they were completely indifferent to us and sometimes suddenly came very, very close to us.

Earlier that day Ivo had gone out into the pass on his own with the dinghy but ran out of petrol. The current was quite strong and it was a near impossible task to row back against the current. The additional difficulty was that the attachments for the oars broke off so rowing was particularly difficult. Susan had been watching and in the event Ivo ended up on the outer side of the reef she would have sailed Fiu out to pick him up. Eventually a fisherman in a small boat came out to help bring him back and Ivo had also by then managed to get behind the reef to one side of the pass and into the shallow area where he could anchor if needed.

A well earned batch of banana pancakes was quickly made and eaten after so much unexpected hard exercise.

We then sailed for Raiatera where we arrived at around 2pm (approximately 20 nm west of Huahine) and stopped at the north point of the island northwest of Atuona the small township. We went into a small local marina to have a quick look and ended up staying there. It is a marina not catering to tourists and it seems run by the port authority rather than being private.

People very friendly and nice and we met Gerard who helped us tie the boat up and a couple Paul & Daniele who have retired and now live on their boat here most of the year.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Spent the day in Atuora shopping, internet etc

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Ivo went diving in the pass with a group but was quite disappointed with what he saw while Susan went looking for the fan belt for the salt water pump. Paul kindly drove her down to the Moorings and Raiatera yacht charter base where she bought the one and only fan belt on the whole island for our kind of pump. Lucky again! In the afternoon Ivo helped Paul upgrade their e-charts.

We then left at 3pm and sailed a few miles around to the west coast and into a small bay Tetooroa.

Here we suddenly realized that there was a problem with the engine, it had stopped cooling and was overheating. In the quickly fading daylight we used the genoa to maneuver around and find a suitable anchorage. In the process we bumped into one coral patch, no harm done, then anchored in very shallow waters where the gusty wind then made Fiu drag so we found ourselves hitting coral patches and were very nearly grounded. By starting the engine and using it just to lift anchor and push us away from the shallows, we then went off again under sail only and eventually found a spot where we anchored in 20m depth. What an experience!

Atuora marina & the day's catch Coral patch: 0,5m one side & 20m the other side of marker Local Raiatera boat Boat silhouettes

Sunday September 26

Ivo managed to fix the engine – it was the cooling pump impeller which anyway was long overdue a replacement. He also fitted the saltwater pump with the new fan belt.

It was obvious to us that the guide book had given a wrong indication of good anchorage, indicating we could anchor inside the pass to the left behind a motu near a black & white marker. However this is where we nearly went aground. What we did find out the next day was that near the other motu (on the right side of the pass)  the private one owned by an Australian industrialist, we found good possibilities in shallow waters with sand and coral heads – we could have anchored there in about 4 meters.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Left our anchorage in the morning at about 10.30am, had no problem hauling the anchor out from 20meters depth. Continuing our sail clockwise around Raietera we stopped at the northern side of a motu Nao-Nao in the Southern part of the island– very nice anchorage, depth about 6 meters with some coral heads. This motu appears to be private property, two guys living and working there. The guide books indicate that someone once built an airstrip on this motu.

This south side of Raiatera is very pretty with wonderful views of the ragged mountains and at the same time of the pale blue waters of the reef area. Ivo went snorkeling nearby and found that there were more fish here and they were bigger than elsewhere, but still not as good as Los Roques, in Venezuela.

Tuesday September 28, 2004

We will today sail up to the bay on the Eastern coast to visit the marae Taputapuatea. The marae was the place reserved for ceremonial activity in both the social and political realm of the ancient Polynesians. They were monuments of imposing size which aroused the interest of the early European explorers at the end of the 17th century. If the conceptual layout and constructions of a marae varied from island to another, the architectural standard was a rectangular structure, with a court upon which were erected a platform or ahu at one extremity, the whole associated with an ensemble of upright stones.

We left early – about 7.30am which is good in one way and not so good when you need good visibility in order to see the corals.We arrived in Opoa bay very soon, not too much wind, just a breeze coming up so were using the genoa to help us along. In Opoa bay it was difficult to find a good spot to anchor but eventually found one just behind a concrete dock in about 4 meters of water very close to the shore. We went ashore and visited the marae which is/was the most important one in Polynesia and very impressive.

Taputapuatea Marae Ivo at the Marae

We then left this anchorage and sailed (genoa & engine) further up the Eastern side of Raiatera to Faaroa bay – deep and very green bay. Stardust, now Sunsail, have their base there and we were allowed to use one of their moorings to stop for the night. Which was good because again the bay is very deep and any anchorage means 20 + meters.

Ivo went to Sunsail and was able to obtain an impeller for 40 USD so we now have one as spare part again.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

In the morning we went with the dinghy to the end of the bay and into the river Apoomau which is dinghy navigable for about 1km. Very green and jungle like, fortunately without the crocs, spiders and snakes.

Ivo picked a few exotic flowers which we now have on Fiu.


Apoomau river, Raiatera Wild flowers! Mr Gecko, a new passenger

A few days ago we discovered that we have a new passenger – a small gecko. He lives on top and behind the red raisin box next to the fridge and is not shy at all. So we place various fruits such a lemon and banana near him so that he can catch fruit flies. With the flowers we just picked perhaps there also are a few bugs for him. (A week or so later he disappeared and we thought we had lost the gecko, but eventually saw him again outside under the sprayhood over 6 weeks later!!)

The wind was coming up 12-15 knots so we decided to leave and continue up toward Tahaa.

We ended up sailing all the way around Tahaa, just visiting and eventually stopped for the night in Hurepiti bay toward the southwesterly end of the island. The wind from the east was now gusting so we wanted to make sure the anchorage was safe. It was deep, had to drop in 17-20meters first time, then dragged and had to re-anchor now in 20 + meters with 50 meters of chain out. We had attached the anchor cord and bottle so we can lift the anchor if it gets stuck. However, while we were moving around re-anchoring, this was trailing behind under the keel, not exactly the safest way to do things. But no harm done, the line did not get caught in the propeller.  Anchor has held well overnight despite gusty winds and a lot of rain.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Will leave today for Bora-Bora.

Left our anchorage in Tahaa (Hurepiti bay) after a gusty & rainy night. We set sail (genoa) downwind toward Autora in Raiatera and the little marina we stayed in before. Ivo wanted to go back to see Paul to ensure that the e-charts were properly installed.

We arrived there at about 9.30 – 10am having had a good wind on the beam to speed us along– just over an hour to get there. We went to say hello to Daniele & Paul, Ivo finished the chart installation and we took on some more water.

We then left for Bora-Bora at about 12 noon – 12.30pm. Wind was fairly good around the island -15 knots but then died and we only arrived in Bora-Bora at about 5 – 5.30pm. Caught a bonito just before getting to the entrance pass. Gave some of this to another boat anchored nearby.. Stopped for the night between reef and the western side of the motu Toopua. Very gusty here, but anchor held overnight.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Bonito catch upon arrival in Bora-Bora Bora-Bora map The island of Bora-Bora

Saw this morning that Deep Blue was anchored here too – went past them in the morning to say hello and hear how they are. They plan to stay another few days then head off for Cook island and Tonga. We may see them again before they/we leave Bora-Bora.

Went into town today – Vaitape – but wind was gusting so strongly that we could not stay very long. The town dock is primarily for ferries and tourist charter boats, and short stops for others. However, it is not sheltered at all from the prevailing gusts coming down from the hills. So we anchored a few meters off the dock and used the dinghy to get ashore. Managed to pick up both a Fedex parcel with the cable and extension as well as the DHL mail from UK and Ivo went to the internet café (slow connection and very expensive, as all internet cafes seem to be in the French islands).

We then returned to the anchorage on the western side of the motu next to the resort hotel. Stayed closer to the shore and had a little less wind overnight.

Saturday, October 02  – Thursday 7th October, 2004

Bora Bora Fiona from Deep Blue Tame rays

Spent several days at the anchorage on the west side of the Toopua motu, although gusty here, the anchorage is fairly shallow – 5- 7 meters with some reasonable snorkeling areas. We had both caught the flu and were quite sick with fever and a cold and a bad cough which lasted several weeks. 

However Susan did one day rent a bicycle and cycled all the way around the island of Bora-Bora, a trip that took about 4 hours. This is a good way to see the island and there is only one steep bit so it is not a strenuous tour.

We also sailed around to the eastern side of Bora-Bora through a narrow and shallow pass inside the reefs, the depth is 2,3 m at high tide. It was a worthwhile trip, this side has much less gusty winds and the sea was a beautiful turquoise colour and we had a fantastic view of Bora-Bora’s spectacular hills. Deep Blue joined us and we had a nice evening together before parting company the next day toward our respective destinations, Fiu to obtain fresh water at the restaurant Bloody Mary’s dock before heading toward Samoa and Deep Blue heading back toward Tahiti for another two weeks before sailing onward to Tonga.

Friday, 8th October, 2004

Departure from Bora-Bora at 8.30 am from the anchorage in front of restaurant Bloody Mary’s. Through pass at 9am wind easterly 10-12 knts.

[to follow our journey see “Crossing, Samoa & Fiji”]