Thursday, July 28, 2011

Huahine finally!

Well, it was a hell of a trip, but we made it and are safely anchored off of the village of Fare on the island of Huahine Nui.

It was only a 90 mile sail from Moorea to Huahine - a short overnighter - no worries mate. But it definitely turned out to be more challenging than expected - especially the last half of the trip:

-- lots of boat traffic (we aren't used to that)
-- winds gusting over 30
-- confused seas and large swells
-- rain, rain, and more rain
-- and a crazy freighter that came way too close (Thanks Carol for the tip)!

We dropped our anchor, had lunch, and went down for a 2-hour nap. We were pooped.

Tomorrow, we will start exploring Huahine, which is supposed to have the best beaches in the country. Can't wait!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heiva i Tahiti 2011

Well, if we gotta be stuck in Tahiti, we couldn't have picked a better time - Heiva i Tahiti 2011!

Heiva Dance Competition - Toakura Dance Group

Heiva is the largest festival of the year and spans four weeks and reaches a high point around Bastille Day (start of the French Revolution). 

Bastille Day Parade

The Bastille Day Parade was very short, but included the civil defense groups, fireman, policeman, marines, etc.

That's it and there weren't many spectators. Kind of strange, but we enjoyed it.

Carol and Dennis enjoying the show

Heiva is a month long celebration that includes competions in dance and chant, plus lots of sportings events like canoe races, javelin throwing, stone-lifting, fruit races, and more.

Winners of the Tahiti-Moorea Relay Race

"Va'a" is Polynesian for canoe. The 6-man canoes left Tahiti at 8am, rowed to Moorea and back again (about 24 miles over open ocean) crossing the finish line around 2:30pm. It was a relay race, and we aren't sure how often they changed crews. No matter - it was very impressive and the fans stuck with them for the distance. It was fun to watch the finish.

16-Woman Canoe Races
Well, these women didn't win their race, but they were very colorful. There was also a children's race plus more men's races, so lots of canoes and other boats in the water. These races were shorter, in the Papeete lagoon, but it was still a long way - we would never have survived.

Coconut Huskers
Polynesian title for the following 2 events "pa'aro ha'ari". The male event (1-man teams) removed the husks off of the coconut using a sharp stick. First man to finish his pile won. There was some serious muscle flashing around!

Coconut Cleaners
The female event (3-women teams) came next. 1 woman split the coconut with an axe; 2 women shelled the meat from the coconut. The first team to finish their pile of coconuts wins. Women with axes - pretty exciting and very competitive!

Javelin Throwing

In Polynesian, this event is called "patia fa" et "patia ai" - Javelin is easier for us to say! This was a great event to watch.

Javelin target - a coconut
Several teams lined up throwing hundreds of javelins (in several heats) at a coconut - way up on a very tall pole. The winning team had the most javelins stuck into the coconut. These guys had a great time - competition is always fun to watch.

Stone-Lifting event
The Polynesian title "amora'a ofai" or Stone-Lifting. Lifting the stone from the ground to the shoulder with heats starting at 55kg up to 120kg (120lb - 265lb). It is definitely an art - those are some big rocks.

Fruit Races
Fruit Races or "timau ra'au" in Polynesian. There were several men's races carrying sticks full of fruit weighing from 20kg (44lb) all the way to 50kg (110lb) and running around a very long track - twice! There was also one female heat carrying 15kg - they only had to run the track once.

Doug tried a short/lighter version of this event - it is a lot harder than it looks.

Our Hero

We loved this guy! Part of his fruit fell off during the first lap of the 50kg (110lb) race. To complete the race, he had to carry the fruit weighing about 50lb which meant changing arms often. It took him almost twice as long, but he finished. We were very impressed.

Enjoying the festivities!
These events were scheduled all around Papeete on different days, so part of our adventure was getting to the events. Buses don't always run when you need them, so we improvised:
  • Hitchhiked with a travel service for a nominal fee
  • Flagged down an older gent driving a Mercedes (very fast - yikes)
  • Museum security flagged down a car and made him take us home - hah! We invited our driver to the boat for happy hour, so it all worked out!

People are wonderful whereever you are, aren't they?

Not sure, but I liked this statue!
We were fortunate to see the Toakura Dance Group perform. They won the dance competition last year. We can see why - they were fabulous and we hope they win again this year. Too bad we couldn't take pictures and wish we understood more Polynesian.

All very amazing, so glad that we got to experience Heiva!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Road Trip - Tahiti

Thanks to Carol (Evergreen) for sharing her photos!

Since we are still in Tahiti working on projects, we partnered with the crew of Evergreen and rented a car to do some exploring.

Doug and Carla and the Big Tiki
Tahiti is beautiful - not great beaches, but beautiful anyway!

It is actually 2 islands: Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, which are connected by the isthmus. We drove almost all around Tahiti Nui, which is only 114k.

Mystery Flowers
The first day, we drove north. Our first stop was visiting a replica of James Norman Hall's house (co-writer of Mutiny of the Bounty). Lots of memorabilia and photos of Tahiti's past.

Lighthouse on Point Venus

Then we stopped at Point Venus, which used to be the site of Cook's observatory. Now, there is a lighthouse on a black sand beach, with several memorials to the Mutiny crew, historical events, and the missionaries.

Doug walking to the waterfall
We visited the Arahoho Blowhole - impressive but my pictures didn't do it justice.

Faarumai Waterfalls
There are actually 3 waterfalls within walking distance, but it was raining and we were soaked so we wimped out and just went to the nearest waterfall. It was a big one - very loud and very wet!


Surfing, boogie boarding, and paddle boarding - all very popular in Tahiti. It was wonderful to watch the show and the sunset.

Resting at the museum

The next day, we drove south. Our first stop, was the Musee de Tahiti et des Iles. We really enjoyed the museum and learned a lot about the Polynesian islands geology and history. We highly recommend it!

Doug and Dennis checking out the Grotto
We had to visit the Grottos (caverns) and wander through the park tucked along the roadside. A great place to cool off, plus explore.

Carol wading thru the Grotto

The Grottos are supposed to go back quite a ways, but we decided just to peek in. Carol at least got her feet wet!

Marae Arahurahu

This marae (traditional temple) was in excellent condition and we could imagine the ceremonies and rituals that were performed here long ago. Very few women were allowed in the temples - not sure why...

Bird of Paradise?
We did some more exploring, but these were the highlights.

If you ever get to Tahiti, be sure to check out the island and all that it has to offer!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Maeva - Bienvenu - Welcome!

The languages of Tahiti - Tahitian, French, English, plus Dutch, German, and lots more. There are visitors from everywhere here. We really need to learn a few of the languages (at least)!

Land Ho - Tahiti
Our first site of Tahiti - beautiful, huh? We have been anchored at Marina Taina (near Papeete) twice now for a total of 3 weeks and we haven't got tired of the view. One of our favorite past times is sitting in the cockpit in the evenings - with the island of Tahiti behind us, listening to the waves crash onto the reef, and watching the sun set over Moorea - hard to describe.

Our view - sunset over Moorea
Oh, and we love checking out all of the other boats - and there are a lot of them - the anchorage is full! All shapes, sizes, makes, and models and the bay is in constant motion. We always have something entertaining to watch - better than TV!

The Big Boats
The Big Boats, and they are big. 100 - 150 footers with full-time crews just to maintain them. It would be fun to sail on one of them - just to see how fast they go and pretend to be rich - just for a day.

Tiki Hut Party Barges
Well, that's what they look like to us - Tiki Hut Party Barges. On weekends, they are loaded with guests and they anchor along the reef for a day or partying and water activities. Watch out for the jet skis too!

It doesn't take us long to settle in and check out all of the amenities - restaurants, laundry, internet, and shopping. What else do you need?

Cruising kids and pizza!
There are lots of Puddle Jumpers here so it has been very social and going out for pizza is always a treat, plus a chance to tell our tales and discuss our plans. We are always hoping our paths will cross again one of these days.

Now, that is a beer!
Hinano - the beer of Tahiti. Definitely not cheap like Mexican beers, but it is better and you can find it on tap and it is usually ice cold. And Chinese food is everywhere - chow mein, fried wontons, and spring rolls have become favorites. Go figure!

Busing it
Tahiti has a good bus system during the day (and cheap) and we are getting the hang of it. At night, only 1 bus an hour runs but the driver will take you almost anywhere you want to go. Can't beat that.

Sunday morning at the Marche
The Marche (market) is open daily, but on Sunday morning at 7am it really is something to see. Fruits, vegetables, fish, chopped meats, flowers, etc., stuffed inside and surrounding the building. We actully think the best selection was outside the market. Crowded, but worth it. Go early though - it starts wrapping up around 9am.

Doug scoring points!
And, the best chocolate croissants ever. But, buy them quick because they won't be around long. We went back for seconds and were too late!

Tahitian War Dance
We splurged and went to the Inter-Continental Hotel to watch a traditional Tahitian dance. It was wonderful! The drinks were very expensive, but if you sit in the bar the show is free. It was definitely worth it.

Papeete Cathedral
So, we have been busy! Lots of walking and exploring. We have really enjoyed our stay in Tahiti, but are anxious to get back to the relaxing island life that we love. We are pooped. Our projects are almost completed, so hopefully next week we will sail to Huahine and then Bora Bora - yeah!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moorea adventures!

We loved Baie d'Opunhohu on Moorea! We stayed there several days after all of the Puddle Jump activities were finished and did some exploring.

Sting Rays
Some cruisers had told us about a spot where you were could snorkel with Sting Rays (marked by a couple of buoys).

My first instinct was - NO - you are supposed to avoid those creatures! And what about their dangerous barbs? But, we had to check it out anyway.

Dennis petting the Rays
Even though I was nervous, I was glad we went.

It was pretty amazing - these big rays swimming all around you (and sharks close by!).

Lots of Rays

Someone had brought goodies to feed the rays and they were excited and fluttering all around us.

Me swimming with the rays - yikes!

Everyone said they were soft to touch and if you fed them, they would gently suck on your fingers.

Not for me for sure!

Sunken Tiki

Another snorkel spot (marked by a couple of buoys) was a wonderful place to snorkel with some sunken Tiki's.

We aren't sure who sunk them, but they were fun to snorkel around.  Plus, there was this strange fish swimming along the bottom - wish we knew what it was!

More Tiki's

And the water was so clear - my kind of snorkeling!

Resting after snorkeling

Afterwards, we did some touring around in our dinghies and ended up at the Inter-Continental Hotel for drinks where we were politely told NOT to get into the pool.


Easy part of the hike!

We decided to get some excercise and hike to the Belvedere - which has an excellent view of Opunohu and Cooks Bays. We had a great time and a great workout, but it was worth it.

At the top - pooped!

Most of the Puddle Jumpers left Moorea before we did, so we had a chance to really relax and enjoy the beautiful bay and we loved it.

Hope we get back to Moorea again soon.

Now, we are back in Tahiti working on projects, provisioning, and exploring. Hopefully, we will be heading to Bora Bora and the rest of the Society islands this week. Yeah!