November 15, 2009
The Hawaiki Nui Outrigger Race Huaghine to Bora Bora!
November 14, 2009
We get down with some rays, a few sharks and a mamma humpback whale and her baby in Moorea! What an experience!
November 10, 2009
In Moorea, Heinui, our hitchhiking friend and he of the big crown, exclaimed excitedly that our arrival in Huahine would coincide exactly with the Hawaiki Nui Va’a. Ummm… what?? It turned out that the Hawaiki Nui is the biggest sporting event in French Polynesia. A 3 day outrigger canoe race, the first day a long distance race from Huahine to Ra’iatea the second a lagoon sprint between Ra’iatea and Taha’a, and the third, another long distance paddle from Taha’a to Bora Bora. The race this year had about 95 outriggers, each with 6 people in the team. The tiny main street of Huahine was a hive of activity in the 3 days lead up to the race. Every possible pillar and street light was decorated with ferns, palm fronds and exuberant flowers (I noted that the gardens, normally so lush, were devoid of any flowers!) There were so many food stalls that I could not possibly believe that they would all have business. I was wrong! People from French Polynesia are hungry folk, and the delicious deep fried chip is an institution in itself. And the barbequed steak.. with garlic butter (and the chips with the garlic butter and mayonnaise). And don’t even get me started on the Nutella Crepes! There were many gloriously muscled, tattooed, oar wielding competitors wandering around shirtless and as many fatties rolling around eating ice cream and crepes (see above!). Race day dawned clear and by 7:30 iDada was bumping and grinding in the wake of all the spectator boats, press boats, and support boats, not to mention all the va’a (outriggers) rushing past powered by serious muscle! To my immense disappointment, all the competitors were white t-shirted and capped…. Where was the chance for ogling and tattoo spectatorship, which has become a boat obsession since in the land of the intricate and beautiful tattoo. Rijk at the helm of iDada took us where no tender has gone before- I think we must have broken some speed records going out of the pass behind the canoes. All very exciting!
(have to break in here with a bit of current info- it’s night time, and raining on and off. We are waiting for Jay and Olivia to get back from shore and Rijk is braaing chicken in a howling wind. He has just come down below, complaining about the rain, his head torch blinding me with its lighthouse ferocity, and taken off his pants. He is now braaing naked. Apart from the head torch. Lordy! The Naked Chef ala uMoya)
So there we were in Huahine, post race start and suddenly our anchorage, which had been buzzing to the tune of about 25 yachts, was empty save 2 European boats, who had not even bothered to get out of bed on race morning! Glumly we surveyed the scene and decided, to the Finish line we go! Well, 3 of us decided that, and one poor surfer, no names mentioned, cried his eyes out to be leaving the best surf of the trip, apparently. Dry your eyes I said, there is a party to be had!
We upped anchor (hoo boy, loving that new windlass!) at 4am, and left Huahine in a silvery moontrail. We arrived in Bora Bora around midday and headed straight to the finish line. Let me paint the scene- aqua water, 28 degrees in the lagoon, fringing reef beating the tune of the pounding surf and about 50 boats of all shapes and sizes, boom boxes and speakers mounted, bobbing in between the flower bedecked heads. Heads, I said, what are you doing! Where are your bodies? Turned out they were all just below the surface, bobbing boobs, weightless legs and all! Everyone was having a great time, drinking beer and jamming to the 3 or 4 different CD’s being blasted over the airwaves (did wonder where that beer was going!!!!). After a light refreshment of hot chips smothered in garlic butter, we retired to the boat for an afternoon snooze. We had heard that the after party soiree started at 8, and so notified I woke up at about 6:30, quietly making myself a vermouth, whisky and grape juice (booze is running dangerously low on this boat- at R120 for the most basically drinkable of wines, one has to make combinations of whatever one can find!), and waited for everyone to wake up. By 8:30 I had eaten a jar of olives, a pot of burnt popcorn and found the vinegary remains of half a bergie bottle of wine (R60). Still no-one would get up. Finally opened a bottle of 3 yr old, “organic” mampoer. Finally everyone woke, bleary eyed and pledged their allegiance to the 20 minute, wet tender ride to the sokkie-jol. A few tots of mampoer later, we headed out. Thank goodness we did! Nobody beats the people of French Polynesia- they have a soul of the utmost joie de vivre, hospitality and friendliness. There was a live band at the soiree, playing the craziest remixes of every danceable song at every wedding you have ever been too.. back to back and double the speed. To a Tahitian rhythm. The women all wore crowns of flowers or fragrant leis of gardenias. The dance style was beautiful to watch, especially when performed by 15 yr old coolsters, diamond studs in their ears. They strutted onto the dance floor, herding their wide eyed, lei crowned prey. The music started and we waited with breathless anticipation for what we were sure was going to be an enactment of an awkward pre-adolescent mating dance. Oh no! Nothing here is what you would expect. The boys pulled out the moves, arms outstretched, one arm encircling the girls waist. From the waist up, one would say that the 15 yr old girl was a very accomplished long arm dancer. From the waist down, however. shimmy shimmy shake shake! See the end of the Teahupoo movie for the dance moves referred to! Certainly something to aspire to! We all hit the dance floor, mampoer fired and ready to get to grips with the beat…it was a long and very amusing tender drive back…..
November 06, 2009
uMoya at anchor in Opunohu Bay and Haapiti Bay,Moorea. Matt and Jess left us, Olivia joined us (and fell out of a tree!) Jen inadvertently wowed the bar patrons in Marina Tahine with a Belinda Carlysle rendition and Rijk got some perfect surf. We rented scooters and drove round the island, explored the marae and found some very curious fish!
November 03, 2009
Our time in Moorea has been just phenomenal. I think the most wonderful part of our whole experience in Moorea, and French Poly so far, has been the unstintingly generous hospitality of the locals that we have met. Everyone has gone a million miles out of their way to help us and to make us feel welcome. Louis, the French ex-policeman, found Jay, Olivia and I wading, neck high in water, up his jetty in an attempt to reach the main road and hitchhike. He promptly put is in his car sopping wet and drove us into town, and found out tattooist for us, not leaving until he was satisfied that we were happy. HeiNui (means Big Crown.. the names are amazing!) brought us breadfruit from his tree and braaied it for us on the beach and then took us the next day to watch the dolphin show, after picking us up twice while we were hitchhiking! During the beach braai,.. all of us sitting there in the dark, suddenly there is this shout from another boat, and there floated iDada off to sea!!! 101 mistake- the tide had risen, naughty iDada, obviously desperate to escape, NOT tied down, was making a break for the pass! Rijk, Baywatch style, leapt into the water and retrieved it. That would make the 3rd escape attempt by that naughty tender! We also had some really up close and personal time with sting rays and LOTS of black tip sharks, as well as eyeballing a nursing humpback and her calf. I didn’t see the calf until it was right under me, swimming up to the surface catching my flipper on its fin! Just awe-inspiring
We are in Huahine now. We spent 2 nights in the south of Huahine Iti- what a magical anchorage. Yesterday there was singing and ukulele playing on the shore for hours that dissolved into a perfectly still, orange and fuchsia sunset that was overseen by a perfectly fat moon and its sparkling train. There was even a baby break, where Jay and I caught a few waves. Hopefully we’ll be returning there in a few days. There is a huge outrigger race starting here in 2 days time- the biggest sporting event in French Polynesia. Hawaiki Nui is an international race over 3 days. We are here totally by luck, but it’s so exciting- the little town is buzzing and strumming, lots of food stalls and bands, and just happy days! Feeling like a luckiest person on earth, albeit a slightly homesick one!
http://www.tahitiguide.com/@en-us/8/5/189/article.asp for some more info on the Hawaiki Nui.
November 03, 2009
We’ve been here for about 3 weeks now, and what a place it is! WE pulled in to Teahupoo, on the South Coast of Tahiti- Iti looking for a place to drop anchor close to the surf breaks. We spotted a little marina and asked whether we could moor on the end of their jetty. Sure they said…how much we asked. No charge they replied. Very good news in this outrageously expensive place. Our keel just cleared the sandy bottom with Jay swimming ahead to guide us in. It was hairy but we were very determined. Bathrooms, showers and water on the jetty- for free! It turned out that the marina was for the fishing fleet, about 4 medium sized fishing boats and a few low bowed fishing boats which are particularly effective when it comes to spearing huge mahi mahi (dorado) from the boat. We saw some pretty awesome catches of tuna, dorado and a massive marlin. It was an amazing place to be as we felt like we were right in the heart of the community, part of the fishing vibe as well as in the backyard reefs of the locals. The guys got some epic surf, and we got to see the famous Teahupoo wave working the day before the Tsunami. A French guy came over to tell us about the Tsunami warning, and we dutifully secured the boat and made everything fast. By some weird coincidence there was a spitbraai lunch being cooked for all the fishermen that day, so we decided that until we saw everyone leaving the lamb we were’nt going to get too stressed! They invited us over for some curried goat and a huge amount of lamb, and that’s how we spent the Tsunami warning. Very lucky indeed when I see the pictures of Samoa. We’ve subsequently moved to a marina near Papeete, which is lovely. There are lots of restaurants and bars, a huge, very exciting Carrefour nearby to buy all the delicacies that have been in short supply and , of course, a surf break close by. I am loving the city atmosphere and the marina has a really buzzy feel to it- lots of Frenchies living on their boats, walking babies in the evening, kids running up and down the quays and washing fluttering about in the breeze. Lots of life being lived here!
Here are some snapshots of Tahiti as we’ve seen it.
-I was walking along the one and only road in Tahiti Iti, handsome roosters and maniacal flowers ambushing me when I noticed a very long post-box. It had 2 baguettes nestled in it. I then noticed that most of the post-boxes where this shape and can only conclude that some people have their hot, crispy baguettes delivered to their door. Got to love the French influence!
- All the women (and some of the men!) wear flowers behind their ears; mostly bright red hibiscuses, fragrant frangipanis or a creamy gardenia. What I didn’t realise is that which ear you wear your flower on also counts! If you wear it behind the right ear, you are spoken for, behind the left and you are advertising your availability. Must make life much easier!
- Rik and I were hitchhiking back from the Gaugin museum and got picked up by a French couple who have been living here for a few months. The drive went via the bank, the garage, 2 supermarkets and their friend’s exquisite house on a hill overlooking the whole Teahupoo Bay. We invited them all over for drinks the next evening and they arrived with 2 in-laws off the plane from France that morning, 5 children, 2 platters of nutella and sugar crepes, a batch of chocolate chip cookies, a bowl of the Tahitian fish speciality, Poisson Cru Coco (ceviche fish with coconut milk) bowls of papaya and wine. A Hawaiian friend joined the party and hey presto, we had a rollicking night! It was wonderful.
- We took iDada to check out the break just outside the Taine Marina but counted 20 guys and 2 stand up paddlers on the wave. As an alternative way to spend the morning, we joy-rided along the shore and then headed back to the boat. On the way we saw a guy paddling to shore from the reef which is quite a long way to paddle. He had obviously had enough as he flagged down another boat and hitched a lift back with them. Hitchhiking Tahiti-style. Love it!
October 29, 2009
uMoya found an unexpected fisherman’s marina to tie up right on Te Ava Iti surf break.. and 5 minutes by tender to Teahupoo, the heaviest left in french Polynesia, home to the Billabong Pro Surf competition. The guys scored thumping surf and we experienced the gentle bustle of daily life in Teahupoo, Tahiti. Also for your viewing pleasure, a Polynesian dancing spectacular at the InterContinental Hotel in Papeete.
October 28, 2009
Landfall at the Bay of Penis’s (renamed the Bay of Virgins!) after 18 days at sea! We had some monumental scrambles up the ridges and mountains of Fatu Hiva and some great chilled time in Daniel’s Bay & Anaho Bay, as well as some admin time in Taiohae Bay. The game of poker was perfected by Rijk who took all our money as we haven’t yet learned that ‘you gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em’!
October 27, 2009
After a 10 ten day horrible beat, we arrived in Galapagos, home of Darwin’s evolutionary thought. The weather was a bit grotty, actually a really nice change from the sweltering weather we have got used to! We swam with sealions and turtles and got up close to marine iguanas and tortoises. What a prehistoric feeling place!