Today I feel a little sad because yesterday eve Wendy caught her flight back to the UK. I really enjoyed having her company and we had some good fun together.
After a few days at Port du Phaeton we continued our circumnavigation of Tahiti. First we sailed inside the reef to anchor by Teehupoo, here the road around the island ends and next day exited the reef by pass Havae with amazing surf to left and right.
Rounding the SE tip of the island we carried on and once more entered behind the reefs by Passe d’ Aiurua and anchor in the lee of a tall cliff by Paofai. only a few scattered huts along this coast as the only access is by sea. Carrying on we next stopped after Passe Faatautia. Here the anchorage was very deep and we had to let out all 45m of chain and 40 m of rope rode.
Raising the anchor the next morning without a windlass we resorted to use of a mooring warp tied to the chain with a rolling hitch and led back to the primary winches, 30 m of free hanging chain and an anchor being too heavy to haul or even hold by hand. The reefs in the next section of coast are mostly submerged and harder to spot so we maintained a good offing until we got to Point Venus where we anchored off a beautiful back sand beach in just 6 m. This bay was visited by the Bounty (before the mutiny) and Captain Cook and the point derives its name from the observatory set up by Cook to observe the transit of Venus.
Amazingly in the days since Port du Phaeton we saw only ! other cruising boat, it seems rare these days for cruiser to sail around Tahiti.
Off then for the short sail to Moorea, Tahitis smaller sister. We anchored just inside the reef at the entrance to Cook’s Bay, that man again, a most idyllic spot with water so clear we could see our anchor on the bottom and the occasional passing ray. A couple of night here and we moved to anchor deep within Cooks bay itself amidst most spectacular peaks. We walked up the valley, named the route de Annas, to a pineapple plantation and then continued up well marked trails in the forest past several Mairae (ancient ceremonial platforms) to a viewpoint called the Belvedere from where you could see down into both Cook’s bay and Baie d’Opunohu. Carrying on through the forest we came to another wonderful viewpoint of Col des Trois Pines, before returning back to the boat.
It was a tiring but well worthwhile day. Truely this is a garden of Eden.
Moving around to Baie d’Opunohu, maybe even more spectacular in scenery than Cook’s bay, we anchored inside the reef near the entrance off the small village of Papetoai.
We took a long dinghy ride, the channel across too shallow for yachts to an area called Sting Ray City. Here there is a shallow sandy area where you can stand chest deep and snorkel frequented by sting rays and reef sharks. The local tour guides encourage them by feeding the rays. It was thrilling to swim with these magnificent creatures and feel them brush past you with their wings and allow themselves to be petted. I don’t have a water-proof camera unfortunately but my friend Thom on Fathom was there earlier and took some footage which you can see on his blog www.yatchfathom.co.uk
Sadly our time in Moorea was up and we had to return to Tahiti.The weather had been grand for the past weeks with gentle winds but shortly after exiting the pass through the reef it started to blow. We soon had 30-35 knots of wind which kicked up with big waves, a short and horrible breaking sea. Of course it was dead on the nose as well. It was iff the weather was telling us not to leave Morrea and we both wished we could have stayed but Wendy’s flight was the next day so we had to press on. Later the wind eased to about 20-25 knots and the when we were nearing Tahiti dropped away altogether but still leaving of course a sloppy sea. Eventually we were back inside the reef via Papeete harbour and soon past the airport to anchor once more at Maeva Bay near marina Taina. Here we recognised lots of boats still at anchor in the same spots as when we left weeks ago.
With Wendy gone its back to single handing. I will stay here some days myself as I must wait for my new staysail to be finished.