2010-07-July 2010

July 1st- Happy Canada Day!! Believe it or not, in over 20 boats in the anchorage and we are the only Canadian one! The kids and Chris got out our very large Canadian flag, tied it to a hockey stick and motored around the anchorage in the dingy. We biked around Moorea today for a couple of hours.

Another potluck on the beach is organized for tonight. It is Pierre's (sv Victoria) and Brad’s (sv Capaz ) birthdays as well as it is Canada Day so that is the reason for this one!

Frank on Tahina gave the kids and adults a talk on the eclipse that we will be able to see almost in entirety on July 11, 2010. He did a great job and it was very interesting.

We tried before to find the underwater tikis and failed, this time we had success. There are mooring balls for the dingy to tie to that is a clue that there is something there to see! It was very interesting to see around 6 or 7 tikis lying on the ocean floor in about 10 feet of water. Stone Tikis are usually only made in the Marquesas. These were apparently carved and put in the ocean to protest against the missionaries throwing the old wooden Tikis into the ocean years earlier.

Afterwards, Sammy and Mike from sv Quartermoon came over for fresh baguette and nutella. Yum!! The weather has finally improved enough for us to move on, so off to Huahine, we had a blast in Moorea and really enjoyed our time here.

July 2, 2010 Opunohu Bay, Moorea to Fare, Huahine – 85nm

It was fairly good sailing conditions considering the weather lately. The real navigational hazard was all the boast around us. There was a mass exodus leaving from Moorea tonight and we were surrounded by boats, I just kept counting lights every 5 minutes. Of course there never seems to be an overnight sail around here without the requisite squall and we sailed through a few of them. The anchorage at Fare is very deep and we motored around for a while trying to find the best spot, we eventually found a spot close to shore in shallower water. We walked around the very cute town of Fare and happened to see a fisherman come in with a sailfish that was 540 pounds!! Ryan was extremely interested in watching the whole procedure and we left him to it for hours. First they put the fish in the water, then hauled him up by a forklift to weigh it, then put it on some crates and cut it all up for distribution to some restaurants in town.

The Heiva events are still going on, definitely July is the time to visit French Polynesia. Every year for a month from late June to late July islanders from all over join together for a full program of festivities on most islands. The emphasis is on traditional dance contests, singing and drumming competitions. There are demonstrations of niau making (woven coconut-palm leaves) and other crafts. There are processions of floral floats, a vote for Miss Tahiti and Miss and Mr Heiva and many more events happening every day like outrigger canoe races, fruit carrying competitions, firework displays, fire walking and tattoo displays. It’s hard to get bored during the Heiva events.

So along with Totem and Stanchion, we decided to go see the dancing in the evening, we didn’t realize how far it was but a nice local lady in a big jeep picked us up, all the kids and ladies squeezed in and she dropped us off, then she drove back and picked up the guys and dropped them off!! Did I mention that it was raining and completely muddy along the road? The dancing and singing were very good and we were glad we made the effort to get there. On the way back, the same lady picked us up and drove us back to the dingy dock!!

In the morning we watched the outrigger canoe races for a while then we took our bikes on a tour of the island. We visited the Maeva Archaeological Site. Prior to European influence, Maeva was the seat of royal power on the island and marae are found along the shoreline, scattered among the modern buildings of the village and also up the slopes of Matarea Hill. Excavations and restoration of the site commenced in 1923; nearly 30 marae have since been located, more than half of which have been restored. The exceptional density of marae on the hillside has led to a theory that it was entirely inhabited by nobility and the families of the chiefs.

There was a hike into the woods where many more structures were found and we walked for over an hour seeing all the different marae, houses, agricultural terraces and other signs of habitation dating from AD 1300 to 1800, plus signs of an earlier settlement dating form around AD900.

One of the interesting structures was Marae Tefano, where a massive banyan tree overhanged at one end of an ahu (alter). Did they sacrifice people here before they ate them? Spooky.

There was a museum on the water but it was closed for renovations. There were people there moving the articles out into the back of a truck. We asked them when the museum closed and they told us we could go in and look around so we were lucky to be able to read up more on the history of the area.

On our way back into town, we crossed the bridge and stopped at the waters edge to view the ancient V-fish traps made from rocks. They have been here for centuries and some are still in use. The tips of the Vs point towards the ocean, the long stone arms emerging above the water level. As the fish are pulled towards the sea by the ebb tide they become trapped in the circular basin at the point of the V, where they are easily caught, usually by net or harpoon.

We finished our route down a very bumpy and wet road past the airport and back to the anchorage. Cari is still in the bike trailer, so Chris hauls Cari, plus all our water, snacks, cameras, backpacks etc. We have to find a bike or trail-a-bike for her. Her bike was stolen in Martinque and we haven’t been able to find her a replacement yet.

One new danger in our wandering life – aggressive dogs! It seems that recently every time we take a walk or a bike ride that at least once, some dog or dogs growl, bark and even 3 dogs chased us, running and barking while we just kept pedalling faster and faster. It was rather scary. I started carrying a stick on my bike to chase them with. Later I found out two things: one-all you need is a rock and you pretend to throw it at them and they run away or back off; two- they eat dogs in Huahine!!!

July 6, 2010 – Fare, Huahine to Avea Bay, Huahine Iti – 8.428nm

There was an excellent grocery store in the town of Fare, and it was right by an excellent dingy dock. We went into shore and watched more outrigger canoe races. Then we decided it was time to head to another anchorage. It was a very beautiful motor down the East coast of the island, Huahine is stunning. The channel inside the reef is very well marked so there is no problem. There were about 7 boats in the anchorage. We went for a walk on shore to see the Marae by the beach. Then we had Inn for a Penny, Totem and Aliisa over for happy hour. Ah the cruising life......

July 7, 2010 – Avea Bay, Huahine to Raiatea, French Polynesia – 29.64nm

We decided we were a bit behind schedule so only after a few days in Huahine we were off again. Our rod started whirring and we were so excited to see a huge Mahi Mahi jumping out of the water. Chris spent probably 30 minutes reeling it in while Ryan ran to get the liquor, I slowed the boat down , Andrea got the gloves out. It was a flurry of excitement. We finally got the beast onto the back step, I was about to gaff it, I even had the gloves on, Chris said well perhaps we should just pull it up together so just grab the line, the minute I touched the line, bye bye fish. By trying to pull on the line, it created some slack in the tension and the fish got off the hook. We were so miserable, I could just taste that fish frying up in the pan, it was probably 45 pounds. Our misery soon turned to joy when we spotted a humphead whale. We saw it off of our starboard then it seemed like it almost was chasing our boat, we thought maybe he was chasing our lures so we quickly pulled them in and then he was gone.

We entered the lagoon through Pass Iriru so that we could go up the jungle like Faaroa River in our dingy. The cruise ship “Paul Gaugin” was in harbour so we saw lots of other tourist in motor boats, others were in kayaks. We only had one hour so we had a whirlwind tour up the river, it wasn’t really that exciting. There is a botanical garden about 1 mile up the river but we didn’t have time to go there. We saw lots of locals who either live along the river or have a farm. We saw some kayaking, and catching fish, which they do by standing chest high in the water very still with ancient looking fishing rods. Then it was back in the mother ship and up to find an anchorage by the town of Uturoa.

Another 10 miles inside the reef and we found an anchorage by the Apooti Marina and the Carenage in 45 feet of water. It was just a little shelf as the rest of the anchorage was 90 to 100 feet. Captain Cook visited Raiatea three times - it is said that it was his favorite island. In his three visits, ranging between 1769 and 1777, Cook spent a total of about two months anchored in the Raiatea lagoon

We decided to rent a car in Raitea as everything seemed very spread out and it was a long walk into the village from where we were anchored. We drove the 98km loop road around the whole island in about half day. We saw some type of Taro competition, auction or weigh in or something we were not sure what but there was a lot of the root vegetable lying around and people were sitting around while it was all being weighed and some lady was writing it all down while a man talked on about it on the microphone.

The island was beautiful but not that exciting except the very large Marae - Marae Taputapuatea. This is the most important marae (traditional temple) in French Polynesia, it looks out to Te Avamo’a (Sacred) Pass. Dedicated to “Oro, the god of war who dominated 18th century Polynesian religious beliefs, the marae sprawls extensively across Cape Matahira. It dates from the 17th century. Despite its relatively short history, this marae assumed great importance in the Polynesian religion. Any marae constructed on another island had to incorporate one of Taputapuatea’s stones as a symbol of allegiance and spiritual lineage. This was the centre of spiritual power in Polynesia when the first Europeans arrived, and its influence was international: ari’i (chiefs) from all over the Maohi world, including the Australs, the Cook Islands and New Zealand, came here for important ceremonies.

The main part of the site is a large paved platform with a long altar stretching down one side. At the very end of the cape is the smaller Marae Tauraa, a taboo enclosure with a tall stone of investiture, where young ari’i were enthroned. The lagoonside Marae Hauviri also has an upright stone, and the whole site is made of pieces of coral. The huge double canoes of royal pilgrims used to sail through the Te Avamo’a Pass en route to the marae.

We went to some of the marine stores which we were told were great because of all the yacht charter companies located in Raitea. They were not great at all, Nauti-Sport was closed for one month for renovations and the other one had items that looked like they had been sitting around for centuries. There was a good aluminum shop though at the Carenage. The grocery stores were not great, Tahiti was a better place to stock up or even Huahine.

Because we hired the car for 24 hours we still had it available to us at night. So we took the opportunity to go back into town to the Heiva events – the dancing and drumming show. We happened to run into our friends on IO so we all piled in the car. It was an excellent show and great drumming as well that we have not seen before. I just loved having a car.

Our Lonely Planet guide says this about Rairetea “What is undeniable is that the island emanates a hard to pinpoint, mysterious energy that you won’t feel anywhere else in French Polynesia, some love it while it makes others feel continually uncomfortable.” We couldn’t put our finger on it, but unlike Captain Cook, neither one of us liked it in Raitea. It is our mission to try to see as many islands as we can but we were feeling so uncomfortable for some reason being in Raitea that we decided to skip Taha’a which is Raiatea sister island as they are both within the same common lagoon within the reef and we decided to bolt to Bora Bora. Luckily the winds were brisk and we made good time arriving just before dark.