Society Islands

Society Islands

The islands here are emerged underwater volcanoes. There are many lovely anchorages in the lagoons which are protected and are the most exquisite beautiful hues of blue and turquoise. The lagoon is surrounded by the reef which produces the large waves you can hear crashing. Here is the scene of some of the best in the world for surfing. There are many wonderful snorkelling areas.  This is all all a contrast to the dark indigo blue beyond the reef. Ashore there is luxuriant growth.
French Polynesians originally immigrated from Asia and Taiwan. They must have been incredible sailors as they crossed vast stretches of ocean on their big double canoes, carrying their food supplies and live animals. What wonderful sailors they must have been to  reach the french Polynesian islands step by step which they settled, and finally reached New Zealand, and are referred to now as Maoris.
There are very few "pure" Tahitians now, most being a mixture of different people. e.g. Raiatea´s population is mostly a mixture of polynesian, french and chinese.
The people here seem very happy and still have their traditional music, dance and arts.


Monday 11th. June
This morning is thwart with anxiety. From the exterior Impulsive looks wonderfully spick and span and ready to go except there is still no propeller. The mechanic is still preparing it in the workshop. The interior looks anything but ready to leave with another mechanic in the engine room changing the filters and re-checking all the belts.

Feeling very despondent I persuade Ross to encourage Prue and Bob to come to Impulsive at noon rather than mid-morning. He is right though in thinking they will be interested in seeing her on the hard stand and seeing what happens behind the scenes.
Prue, Bob and I have lunch in a delightful local café. When we return it is very exciting to find the crane and its cradle standing by to put Impulsive back in the water. It didn´t seem possible she could be ready today. The propeller is refitted and is looking like new.
Ross has had to cope with a couple of dramas in the meantime with the other mechanic. Firstly he has dropped a vital wing nut down in the engine room. Fortunately Ross happened to notice some spares yesterday and one of them fits. Then somehow the glass jar at the base of a filter is cracked. Ross cannot believe this has happened. Apparently Bernard walks by just now to check on the progress. He offers to drive Ross to a shop where he will be able to purchase another one.
Time is marching on and the yards stop operating at 3.30pm. We cannot believe it when the crane starts up and Impulsive is being taken back to the water. We just have time to retrieve our frozen food from James and Marina´s freezer on their nearby yacht. They kindly took it for us while Impulsive was on the hard stand.
This afternoon we are just tracking to the town dock in Papeete where we plan to stay the night. This is a great position to be in because we can walk into the town and the market.
Ross and I are so happy to be able to leave with Prue and Bob as planned. We feel we are back into the cruising lifestyle again.

We discover it is very expensive to live in Tahiti. Food and clothing, even at the market costs a lot and we are told it is cheaper to hire a car than to use taxis.

Tuesday 12th. June
The Mercury dinghy motor department has been thoroughly inefficient and unreliable. They first told Ross the motor would be ready on Friday afternoon. Ross goes each morning to pick it up and there is yet another excuse. Today they tell us it needs a new part which will take 15 days to come in! We want to leave Tahiti this afternoon. Finally they suggest putting in a new carbaretta and we convince them to deliver the dinghy  to us at the Papeete Marina this afternoon by 2.30pm.
The only other issue is the fridges need re-gassing. Somehow Laurent manages that to make this  possible at the fueling dock at Papeete too.

At 2.30pm - We leave from Papeete marina after refueling, gassing the fridges and picking up the dinghy motor.
It is wonderful to be underway again.

Prue and Bob on Impulsive

We arrive in Cook´s Bay at Moorea Island to anchor just before dusk. The scenery at this lovely anchorage is dramatic with the high mountains in the background. It is so peaceful here with only two other boats anchored in the same area.
Some distance away Mr. Google´s boat is anchored with all its elaborate equipment including its red helicopter.

Wednesday 13th.
We visit the resort where the family are joining us in a few weeks. It looks wonderful and very suitable. We talked with the skipper of the only yacht anchored near this resort. We can come in through the pass but it is difficult. He also suggests where we might anchor later today when we venture around to Opanohu Cove, where Captain Cook was anchored years ago.
At the head of this cove we are the only yacht to anchor here just off the shore lined with coconut palms and surrounded by the stunning high peaked mountains. It is very tranquil.
A kind lady we meet when we go ashore allows us to tie the dinghy up on her jetty. It is a treat to walk through her magnificent garden.
Apparently theft is rife on the island and we should take all precautions especially as we are planning to take a long walk up to Belvedere to take in the view, and visit an old archeological site. We have a break at the Agricultural school where they make delicious fresh fruit juices from their produce. They give Prue some fresh pineapples.

Returning in the dinghy to the yacht the gorgeous turquoise  water here looks like glass and has many  hibiscus which must have blown off the trees on shore floating over it. It is a very beautiful sight.

After this long and hot hike we all enjoy a refreshing swim off the back of the boat. Floating is amazing here as you can lie back and relax, taking in and appreciating the magnificent scenery.

                                                           Fixing engine room hinge

Thursday 14th.
Early this morning while it is cool and Impulsive is in the shade we all help to fix the engine room door hinge. It is a great feeling of success to find the hinge has been aligned correctly and the door closes exactly into place.
We enjoy this spectacular anchorage until after lunch when we move to the opening of the cove to snorkel, which we can just do off the beach. There are about twenty boats anchored here. We are invited to join some of the crews later for a drink on the beach which would have been  fun but we have planned to move on.

At 5pm we winch up the anchor to leave for an overnight sail to  Huahine. This is Prue and Bob ´s first experience of this. The weather forecast and Bruce´s report suggest  this is an excellent time to make this crossing.
Unfortunately this wasn´t to be. The wind changes from ESE to ENE and back again which makes for a very sloppy and choppy sea. This makes for a very uncomfortable sail. Ross claims it would have been alright if we had been sailing during the day and could have poled out  the headsail to keep it filled and stop it flopping all over the place.
It is a pleasant change to be sailing with five other boats at different times during the night.
It certainly wasn´t much fun for Prue  and Bob but fortunately they were both able to have some sleep. Also the foil for the mainsail is broken again. 

Friday 15th. June
Arriving early morning at Huahine the scenery is beautiful but not on the grand scale  of the other islands we have visited here. We anchor off the Tapito village hotel at Fare, the major town on the island. It is a good holding here on a fine sandy bottom. We go ashore to this small, unpretentious, sleepy town with its small market stalls along the waterfront.
Later in the day the navigation must be watched closely through the narrow channel between the land and the reef as we track down to near the southern most tip to the beach rimmed Avea bay, with its clear water and just a few houses.
It is fortunately very calm here and Ross and Bob are able to fix the foil including glueing in a small fibre glass strut to prevent it all slipping down again. Hopefully we won´t have this problem again. Also they pad the end of the track with a piece of old headsail sheet and glue it on with silicone to the end of  the car that holds the headsail sheet down onto the deck. This is a great help because otherwise the end of the track is exposed and and we have all severely stubbed our toes often there.
We can snorkel off the beach where there are a few scattered coral heads crowded with small fish. There is better snorkeling out at the surrounding reef but there is a strong current and a slight chop so we decide not to venture out there.
The several hours round trip walk along the coconut palm, hibiscus and fruit tree lined road around Tiva Point to Parea , a very tiny village,  is very pleasant. There is a very attractive art and craft shopenroute where Prue and I buy some hand-painted sarongs.

 The owner explains it is very quiet here. Apparently tourism has fallen right off and the government has raised the taxes on restaurants. It seems sad that the well known restaurant in Avea Bay, Marara has had to shut down for at least a year.
Midway along the walk on a lovely is Marae Anini with its ancient ruins. It used to be the principal place of worship for all of Huahine-Hi.
The locals here support themselves with fishing, agriculture and copra cutting.
Back at Avea Bay we discover Chez Tara , a small thatch roofed, feet in the sand restaurant. The cuisine here is excellent and we all try the fresh local fish dish with  the locally grown vanilla. It is delicious.
We all enjoy this anchorage so much we decide to stay an extra night including returning to Chez Tara to try their prawn dish.
It is lovely sleeping at this tranquil anchorage listening to the surf  breaking over the reef.

Returning to Fare we anchor off Tapita Village again. Swimming here in the late afternoon is wonderfully refreshing but we have to be wary of the current here. Sitting in the cockpit for happy hour at dusk it is lovely watching the surf board riders in the sunset. They paddle back in to shore just before dark. The surf here is considered one of the best sites in the world by the top surfers.
It is only a very short dinghy ride into Tapita Village where we have a wonderful dinner in their large thatched roofed restaurant. The atmosphere here is happy and realaxed.
We all enjoyed being at Huahine island. It is unspoiled and very relaxed.

Sunday 17th. June
As we are tracking across to Bora Bora Ross comments that the bearing cap, the part we still needed for the propeller hadn´t arrived in Papeete. Weren´t we lucky to find someone who was able to make it in Papeete!

Crossing to Bora Bora the headsail is poled out to starboard . There is not enough wind so we motor sail. The wind is in a better position tracking across the north coast of Tahaa and we average 7 kts.

It is an amazing site arriving at Bora Bora by sea. The twin-sided peaks dominate the landscape. The cliffs drop sheer into the sea. Fingers of land come out to form beautiful bays and outside these is the circular coral reef. Within this is the crystal clear lagoon with its white sandy beaches.

We moor on a buoy at the Bora Bora yacht club. The setting here is idyllic and as another yachtie says as he comes into the club house - "This is paradise". Everyone here is very welcoming, friendly and helpful.
We meet Toby here who has been a guide for private tours on the island. He is very generous with his time and how we can best see the island and its surrounds.

Coming ashore at Bora Bora yacht club

Monday 18th. June
In the cool of the morning the four of us cycle, on the yacht club´s bikes, 3 k. into the main town here, Vaitape. The ride is lovely with the lagoon on one side and the hedges of hibiscus and tropical gardens on the other. The town is bustling with the ferry terminal and people manning their fresh fruit and vege stalls.
Ross is able to buy the necessary adhesive for the dinghy where the transom is coming away from the pontoons. As soon as we return to the yacht club he fixes this as even with this constant hot temperature it will take 3 days to cure, so we will not have the use of our dinghy for this time. The yacht club kindly lend us their dinghy to go out to Impulsive and back when we need to.

After an early delicious lunch at the yacht club it is time to farewell Prue and Bob as they continue onto the next part of the their trip to one of the nearby resorts. We have had a lovely time sharing this part of our trip with them. Bob has read a great deal about the history of the area, Cook and other seafarers which added to our interest of the place.

We have a few days now exploring Bora Bora before Marc and Jano arrive on Friday. This includes an early morning cycle of 32 ks. around the island which is a great way to see it. We go in an anti-clockwise direction so we can stop for brunch later in the morning and can return before the heat of the day.
All the tropical gardens are well cared for and we see many people tending them. Going across the north of the island seemed more relaxed, the east side seemed more windswept, the southern and s.east tip was very scenic with the wonderful colours of the lagoon and attractive small cafes by the water. We stopped not far from here at the famous Bloody Marys for brunch with its thatched roof and feet in the sand floor.
It is interesting to have a stop at the Robert Wan pearl shop. They have some beautiful pieces.
Ross spoils me with some more R and R. We take Impulsive with us (so we can run the generator to charge the batteries and keep the fridges going) to a lovely nearby resort to have the experience of staying in a buree here. We have advice from the resort´s captain where to anchor and security are keeping a watch over her through the night.  Ross goes early in the morning to check her and is back within minutes for me to go with him. Impulsive is sitting on the sand. We are unable to move her by ourselves but with the help of the resort´s captain and his twin 100 H.P. engines she is soon afloat again. We take her back to a mooring at the yacht club where Charlie is happy to charge the batteries for us that evening. We return to the buree for a late breakfast, much more relaxed.
We take snorkeling trip from the resort because the dinghy is still curing.While our dinghy is out of action we take a half day snorkeling tour which includes circumnavigating the island. The blues of the lagoon and their different hues with their marked contrasts from deep indigo blue through to turquoise and then to the palest baby blue in the shallow water over the white sand is beautiful.
Our first stop is on the northern reef between 2 motus. The coral is very healthy here as it grows between the lagoon water and the water coming in from the ocean. The previous 2 years the coral has suffered from the crown of thorn starfish when the guide tells us they were trying to remove it from the coral. This year it is not such a problem fortunately. There are many fish here and colourful clams.
The second stop is in the channel on the east side where the manta ray come into a “cleaning station”. The current flows slowly here so these amazingly graceful rays
can just drift as this process takes place. Ross and I are not keen on the idea of snorkeling near these large majestic sea animals but it is a wonderful experience especially as the sun comes out as we are directly over one with a wing span of 3 metres. and in very shallow water which is so clear we can see the feeder fish swimming and feeding in its mouth by taking off parasites and dead cells.  Apparently they don´t often come into such shallow water.
The final stop is a magic snorkel over the reef off Matira Point at the south of the island. The sand here is white and we are all given some bread to feed the hundreds of fish. We cannot count the many different varieties as they swim around us. They even nibble our fingers looking for more food.

Friday 22nd. June
We wake up this morning enthusiastic to prepare Impulsive and provision (on the bikes) to welcome Jano and Marc on board at lunch time. Lachlam,  from the yacht club kindly takes us in their van to meet Jano and Marc at the ferry from the airport at the dock in the town. It is exciting to have them in French Polynesia with us. Jano and Marc arrive bearing gifts for the cellar despite the fact they had their original collection confiscated in N.Z. even though they had been advised it was possible to take them on their flight. They are weary after their travels so after a welcoming drink at the yacht club we venture out to Impulsive for lunch.
This afternoon we cycle into town to see the beginnings of the famous Heiva festival, which starts officially tonight. We watch several groups practice their dance routines in the open air grand stand.
We have a delicious dinner ashore at the yacht club. The Polynesian chef here is excellent.

 Saturday is Lucinda´s birthday. We are always pleased we can call home for these special occasions.
Today we track down the west side of the lagoon to anchor off the Bloody Mary restaurant where we plan to have dinner. Unfortunately it doesn´t open on Saturdays!
It  is unusually overcast today and as we walk towards Matira Point  we are caught in a very heavy downpour of rain. We happen to be outside a pearl shop so Jano and I do some window shopping. The young woman here is rather pushy, which is a pity but apparently it is usual in this economic environment.
We have lunch by the sea at Tamaá Maitai restaurant which is very pleasant and delicious cuisine.
Tonight we dine on Impulsive which is very relaxed. There is more rain so it is lovely not to have to go anywhere. Actually there is nowhere nearby to go ashore for dinner from this anchorage.

Sunday 24th. June
This morning a large canoe race passes by our anchorage. It must be part of the Heiva festival. It is very colourful and there are many spectactors in small boats watching or supporting the event. The participants look so strong as they paddle their canoes in unison and the canoes glide through the water.

Instead of the usual prevailing wind here we have 10-12 kts. from the north so we can cross comfortably in a south east direction with the headsail up averaging 6 kts. across to Uturoa the capitol of Raiatea.
We enter through the Paipai pass on the western side of Tahaa and we track down to the western side of Raiatea to moor at Apooiti marina, 5 ks. from the main town Uturoa. This is a very attractive place but extremely quiet – no-one seems to be here but there are many hire yachts moored and anchored at this marina.
The restaurant is open so we have a lengthy and relaxed lunch here. We find one very helpful young man, Laurent from Sunsail hiring company. He offers us a free mooring for the night which we appreciate very much especially as we are unable to find an available one and it is too deep for us to anchor here.
The four of us take a hire car to explore the island. Fortunately we don´t go ahead with the motor scooters as first planned as there is another very heavy downpour of rain.
Uturoa is a small, attractive and busy port. The high mountains  are steep, and in places are streaked with long, tumbling waterfalls which look fantastic. The island is surrounded by a reef fringed lagoon. The tropical vegetation is lush and there are some areas of agricultural terracing. The gardens are well tended. There are many fruit trees –eg bananas, bread fruit, guava, pampelmousse.
Walking through Marae Taputapuatea is interesting, dating from C17. The marae are the remains of the traditional Tahitian culture. The whole site is made of pieces of coral , is situated by the sea and is wellcared for. It has the most important traditional temple in French Polynesia. We wonder how the marae was built with the large slabs of heavy rocks used.
Monday 25th. June

Practicing knots

Marc at the helm

This morning we leave in good time to track a few nautical miles south to visit CNI haul out facility where we plan to leave Impulsive at the end of this season. This looks like a very well organized business and Ross is impressed with the people he meets here.
We can see Robbie and Phil´s Free Spirit 2 up on the hard stand here and she looks well cared for.

With a satisfactory forecast from Bruce and with 8-10 kts. of wind from the south we motor sail with the headsail up across to  Huahine. There is a gentle, even swell with some 4-5 m. waves amongst it, but it is comfortable. Thank goodness it is a lovely sunny day and it is possible to appreciate all the stunning colours in the water again.
It is much easier and more relaxed to track down the beautiful west coast channel this second time and we anchor again at Avea Bay.  This is one of our favourite anchorages and we enjoy sharing our time here with Marc and Jano. There are only two other boats here overnight  until the following morning when a few more arrive.
We spend time in this tranquil area walking, swimming and snorkeling. It is a shame to see quite a percentage of the coral has lost its colour and is dying off. However the colours of the lagoon are wonderful and the tropical growth on shore is prolific and lush. We return to Chez Tara, a Polynesian feet in the sand restaurant by the sea, for dinner.

On Tuesday morning just as we return to Impulsive from a snorkeling venture out to the reef a dinghy approaches us and we are thrilled to see it is our friends from Mawali (we first met in the San Blas Islands). It is wonderful to catch up with them again and all their sailing news.

The return trip back up the channel is lovely including seeing the many small white sandy beaches lined with coconut palms, with the tropical growth and high mountains as their scenic backdrop. In one of the many delightful coves and anchorages is James Packer´s renovated tug boat with all its amazing looking communications equipment on top.
We anchor at the small main town, Fare. There are only two other boats anchored off the beach here at the northern end of town. We take a short dinghy ride in to the town to have lunch and do some provisioning. Jano and I are keen to buy some of the famous “Noni”, a nut which is used here as traditional medicine and is also available in the USA now. It has many attributes including boosting the immune system and to improve general health and fitness, and is anti-aging!
Again it is very quiet here which seems amazing for high season.
Back at Impulsive we enjoy another snorkel before we prepare her to leave for an overnight sail of 80 n.miles to Moorea at 1700 hours, planning to arrive there in daylight. We track to the northern end of the island and then turn eastwards to our destination. At first we are disappointed with the winds and the slightly choppy seas which are giving the boat an uncomfortable cork screw action but after dinner this changes favourably to 10-12 kt.winds from W of south. We have a wonderful sail (with the motor on low revs.) with half the main sail and the headsail up tracking at 6-7 kts. Early the following morning there were 17 kts of wind still west of south and so we can sail. We arrive an hour earlier than we expect and I am still asleep from night watch so Jano takes the helm for Ross, and manages admirably!

We are very pleased to have these favourable crossings from Bora Bora back to Moorea. Ross has been concerned it would be difficult because of the prevailing winds here and that we could have been bashing into it. We are worried too after speaking to the Mawali crew who had an excellent sail in the opposite direction the previous night. We leave Huahine a day earlier because Bruce´s forecast and advice suggest the passage will be more difficult the following day. We are happy to do this as we enjoy both places very much.
The other major considerations with these plans are Marc and Jano need to be back at Papeete in Tahiti to leave for their trip on the Aranui to the Marquesas and Tuomotos, and we have Scott and Heather and their families meeting us in Moorea at the end of the week so we are pleased to have this favourable weather window.

Robinson´s Bay

We anchor at the very scenic Robinson´s bay again, another favourite anchorage of ours. We spend a couple of lovely days here. The weather is at least 10 degrees cooler than last time we were here, which is very pleasant.
We take a 6 hour hike up to 3 coconut´s pass which is through beautiful rich sub-tropical areas and it gives us wonderful views of the areas and coves below. On the return route Ross goes ahead to the prawn farm to buy fresh prawns for dinner before it closes. Jano, Marc and I go to the agricultural school to have one of their delicious fresh fruit juices.
Ross and Marc cook a wonderful prawn dish tonight with the prawns and Ross´ thai marinade recipe. It is wonderfully delicious.

Thursday 28th. June
This morning we take a dinghy ride. First we visit the small town, Papetuai. It happens to be a market day there because there is a visit from a large cruiser. This is colourful with the different pearl and clothing stalls.
We continue further along the lagoon to where we can swim with the rays and sharks in their cleaning station. I never thought I could do this, as Jano, Marc and Ross thought, but it is amazing. The sharks are small and are not particularly interested in us but the rays are fantastic. They are used to being feed but are not aggressive at all. They are exceptionally friendly and wrap themselves around us.  They feel very like velvet but have a raspy tail. One of the rays is pregnant and you can feel the baby inside her. The rays live to about 45 years.
We then take the dinghy over to a small, nearby motu (island) for lunch. This is a very Polynesian experience which we enjoy very much. The setting is beautiful and the cuisine is delicious.

The dinghy ride back to Impulsive takes some time so Jano, Marc and I have a walk, to stretch our legs, towards the next anchorage seeing many of the houses and their well tended, attractive gardens. Ross stays on board to tend to some stainless steel and anti-rust work which needs attention. Impulsive is sparkling when we return. Ross and Marc evict the girls from the galley tonight and prepare a scrumptious salad nicoise for dinner on board.

Friday 29th. June
Jano and Marc are leaving us today to continue on their travels. We know what time the ferry leaves from the main port here, Vaiare. The problem is catching the bus to meet the ferry. We find a timetable at the only local shop we could find last night, and we are told there are no bus stops – you simply wave the bus down and it will stop. This doesn´t seem altogether reliable and luckily we all go ashore earlier than planned as the bus comes 15 minutes earlier than expected. It did stop though which is a great service.

Waiting for the bus

 It is impossible to get a reliable timetable. Ross and I need to catch a return bus (the taxi ride is exhorbantly expensive from here). We soon realize the regular timetable is altered because it is a public holiday.
The ferry is on schedule and we wave Jano and Marc off as they head across to Papeete.  We have had a great time with them. They have been great fun sharing a range of activities and participating in the sailing. We look forward to hearing about their trip on the Aranui.

The wines bought from Papeete were very drinkable. They included some Bordeaux reds, Languedoc rose´, Listel rose´from Cote de Provence and Rothchildes champagne, thanks to Prue and Bob.

A favourite recipe this leg

Marinate 6 scallops / person with lime juice and herbs
Place on a skewer of lemongrass
Cook and serve with rice and lobster bisque (or seafood sauce), julienne of baby carrots in a bundle and baby broccholi pieces

Now we are looking forward to having our family here with us. We spend time provisioning the boat and catching up on odd jobs. We take Impulsive around to anchor inside the reef and off the resort where the family are staying We are looking forward to taking excursions with them all on the boat.

There is great excitement when Heather, Paul, Lachie, Anna and Lucinda arrive by ferry from Papeete and then again 2 days later when Scott, Jeanette, Augusta, Lily and Alexander arrive. We are only sorry Steve and Megs, Georgie, Sam and Sophie are unable to join us at this time too. Being in Moorea is like being in paradise, especially when you have 12 days here with your family. They stay at the Moorea Pearl resort and we  stay on board Impulsive. The resort is well suited and the staff are very welcoming to the children. There are many activities available for them including endless time swimming, snorkeling off the reef there which is protected by the resort and seeing all the many varieties of fish in the coral garden. Table tennis is popular too. Everyone enjoys the lovely warm to hot climate here after coming from Melbourne´s cold winter and Denmark´s non-existent summer this year.

There are many highlights. Baby Alexander is the greatest hit. Aged 14 months and with the happiest temperament he is great entertainment for us all and is well looked after by his 2 sisters and 3 cousins. 
The traditional dancing on some evenings is very popular with the girls. They also enjoy making their own batik fabric in the gorgeous colours available.
The girls have a lovely time every evening putting on one of their pretty dresses for dinner and doing their hair in a special way. Lachie has a great time doing "boys" activities with Paul, Scott and Ross. He particularly enjoys his first experience of trolling off the stern of the boat. Canoeing is another favourite with everyone.
The children are all quite at ease at the resort and at night they were quite keen to have their table well separated from ours. They are all growing up so quickly. One night the adults have a barb-e-que with the tables set on the beach under cocoanut trees and the five children, at their own request, had their own table beautifully set up on the deck.

We all enjoy walking in the tropical lush interior and the spectacular views from the Belvedere lookout.
Where ever you are on the island it is beautiful with  the grand mountains in the interior , and with  the blues of the lagoon , the reef and the sea beyond on  the other side.
There are several excursions on Impulsive with everyone having a turn at the helm. This includes seeing the rays and sharks and lunch a short distance further on at the motu we have visited before. It is a great treat to have a large whale pass very close by the boat, when we are just outside the reef. Scott is very pleased to troll and catch a small mackerel. He and Ross barb-e-que it with some prawns, and with a salad makes for a delicious lunch on board.
We have some lunches and dinners on board and sometimes we have “guests” overnight. Ross and I are very happy to see everyone enjoying being involved with Impulsive and it is great fun. One night we had the five older grand children on board in the beautiful Robinson´s bay, surrounded by all its majestic mountains. This is one of our highlights!

Waking up at Robinson´s Bay - with the grand children on board

To have this special time with our families is a highlight of our whole trip. They have now  returned to their own lives but have left us with so many wonderful and happy memories.

Anna at the helm




Lachie at the helm

Paul, heather and Lachie

Alexander, Scott and Jeanette

Scott and Alexander

4 beautiful girls

Lachie and Scott

Walk into the waterfall

Excursion on Impulsive

Heather relaxing

Paul on Impulsive

Jeanette and Scott

Sunrise looking over to Impulsive´s anchorage

Pram on the foredeck at Robinson´s Bay anchorage

                                                            Heather and Paul

family lunch

Fun in the hammock

Playing with Farfar


Saturday 14th. July, Bastille day
We hope there may be celebrations on Moorea for France´s Independence day but apparently most people travel across to Tahiti to join in the festivities there.

Favourite recipe this leg:
A night with the grandchildren on board

Hamburgers for Ross and Lachie, cooked on the barb-e-que
Sushie for Anna, Augusta, Lily, Lucinda and me - all made to order on the boat . Everyone made their own.

Sunday 15th. July
Life seems quiet today now everyone has left.
We feel a bit flat too because when we return from seeing Scott and Jeanette and the family off yesterday afternoon we discover someone has stolen our fuel tank to the dinghy. There is a strong wind so it is quite a row out to Impulsive. We have been warned against this behaviour but it is very frustrating. Luckily we have kept the hire car to provision so we go ashore this morning to find the availability of a new tank.
Being Sunday makes it more difficult but Ross decides the best thing is for him to take the ferry back to Papeete tomorrow morning to buy one.
We have a light lunch at Chez Fifi and then visit the Moorea Tropical Gardens which are terraced and very high up with a wonderful view over Opunohu Bay, the magnificent turquoise lagoon , the reef and out to the sea.
The same as last night we have a simple dinner on board and watch the next episode of the Tudors.

Now we are looking forward to meeting up with Suzy and Dave King.

Monday 16th. July
We get up early so we can go ashore and drive in time for Ross to catch the 6.45am ferry to Papeete. The only positive aspect to this exercise is he will go to the well equipped chandlery to stock up on the large list of all the boat items we need as the one at Raitea (where we plan to leave Impulsive) is very limited.
The ferry depot is very busy and lively. A large percentage of the population of Moorea travel by Papeete each day to work. There are several stalls here where we can buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

With their interest in France and their fluency in the French language Suzy and Dave add an extra dimension to their trip here. They enjoy talking to all the locals and everyone we see finding out about the lifestyle here and the culture. It also makes organizing everything easier.
The four of us leave in time to do a walk from the Belvedere lookout and have fresh juice at the Agricultural school before dark. Returning to Rudy´s restaurant again we enjoy another French/Polynesian dinner and the atmosphere here.

Today we meet Suzy and Dave at the Intercontinental hotel to go out with them to Motu Haapiti to snorkel. It is a beautiful day and  several rays are swimming close into shore. It is fascinating to watch them and handle them. An engaging sight is watching a pack of 5 dogs swimming over the top of a ray, barking and having fun chasing it. This goes on for some time.
Late afternoon we leave through the Tareu pass, past the Kersaint wreck of a warship,
for an overnight sail to Huahine. We have a frustrating time because the wind started off at the beam and ended up on the stern. We thought we could fill the mainsail  and also the headsail without poling it out, so when the wind came around behind us (contrary to the forecast ), we couldn´t.
Coming in through the reef at Huahine is difficult early the next morning  with the sun directly in our eyes making spotting the reef challenging. We anchor and go ashore at Fare to top up on provisions and enjoy wandering about this small town with its fresh produce stalls.

Typical canoeing with child on board

We track along the channel in the lagoon to Avea Bay near Pt. Tiva. This is a lovely passage through the exquisitely coloured waters, with the waters breaking over the reef on our starboard side and the picturesque shore on the other side  past the small white sandy beaches. Ross and I are very happy to repeat this trip.
This anchorage is lovely. We spend some time with Miri from the craft and souvenir shop at the Pareo village. She is a lovely woman and very interesting to speak with. She tells us Tahitian men are lovely people until they drink and then they are no good, as with her first husband. This behavior is apparently a problem in the islands. Her partner now is French, from Brittany. She claims she will never marry another Tahitian man. She gives some of the tiara flowers from her garden which are lovely to have on the yacht.

Tiara flowers - emblem of the Society Islands

Dinner at chez Tara, wearing the new Impulsive uniform

The following day we anchor still in the lagoon near Pt. Teapan. We all agree this is how we dream of French/Polynesia. It is idyllic with its small white beach, glass-smooth beautiful waters and some coral garden to snorkel in.
There are only a few boats here and by sunset only 2 other yachts. We speak to a man on the beach who explains it is his job to guard the beach. He claims he is paid by the president to do so. During the weekends there are up to 200 people on this tiny beach. If there is any misbehavior  he speaks to the people concerned and if they ignore him he takes a photo of them and sends it immediately to the police. He has been doing this for 25 years and is obviously is very successful in his ex-army job as the beach is pristine.
Soon after we wake up the next morning a fishing boat approaches selling fresh langoustes. Of course we cannot resist! Dinner tonight will be a treat.

We take up the anchor the following day and head out through the Avapehe Pass to sail west to Tahaa. Suzy is trolling so we look forward to fresh mahi-mahi or tuna in the fridge but are all disappointed when  despite all the advice offered, there is no luck today. It is decided the conditions are not right.
With ENE winds of 15 to 25 kts. (rather than just the E winds forecast) we sail across there in about 4 hours. We are all looking forward to exploring this smaller, well preserved island with not many tourists. It is the sister island of Raiatea as they share the same lagoon.

Suzy trolling

Dave at the helm

Approaching the Toahotu Pass on the east side of the lagoon at Tahaa is very attractive with a small motu marking the edge of the reef on both sides.
We have a wonderful few days here soaking in the natural beauty of the island, its history and its culture. Vanilla is the major productivity here and we see many drying sheds for the copra. There are several pearl farms. This island is a great contrast to Bora Bora and Tahiti where tourism with their dream hotels is their main interest. There is no airport on Tahaa island.
This island is like paradise for cruising yachties with its preserved nature, beautiful lagoon and idyllic motus with their white, sandy beaches.

Tracking down Haamene Bay to anchor at the head of it we find protection from the stronger winds outside the reef. Haamene is a very small town but is lovely with its Polynesian style houses, some buildings with French architecture and well cared for tropical gardens. There is Bruno Francois´ water front restaurant, Tahaa Maitai, where we enjoy a delicious French lunch a few days later.
Tonight we have dinner on board and are close enough to shore to hear the music and see something of the locals dance practice for the coming festival competitions. Apparently these dancers have done well and will move on to the next section.

This morning we are picked up early by Ailan in his 4WD to have a tour of the island.
He takes us first to his Polynesian style house on 6 acres by the water. These houses are rarely built now because they are labour intensive and need to have their thatched roofs replaced every 5 years. It is set in the most beautiful garden with typical plants of the island including some indigenous ones of which there are very few  because most were introduced by wind, sea currents, birds and people.
Ailan and his wife sailed here from France 25 years ago and decided to make this place their home, and so built their house and developed their garden. Ailan is a botanist and has a wonderful knowledge of the plants here and the island generally. We are fascinated to see how he pollinates a vanilla flower which is an hermaphrodite. The drive through the jungle up to 360 degree views surrounding the island is breath taking, topped off with fresh fruit and cocoanut juice from his garden.
We hope to see Ailan and Christina when we return next year.

Hurepiti Bay - Tahaa

Pollinating the vanilla plant

Enjoying the fresh cocoanut juice

Later this afternoon we track north to Tuuahine motu, another exquisite motu. We are unable to have dinner at the Vahine resort here but are welcome to go in for a drink which we do at sunset overlooking Bora Bora. This is a lovely experience.
The following morning we go across to the reef near this motu and have a snorkel and swim in the amazing clear and sparkling waters here.

                                                                     Suzy and Dave on Impulsive

Sunset at Vahine resort on Tuuahine Is.

After the lengthy lunch at Tahaa Maitai restaurant the taxi driver takes us back to Patio, the main town on the island. Enroute he shows us his establishment and a new marina nearby which he claims they completed last year and the government still has not paid them for all their work. They are finding it very difficult financially.
Tonight is the opening of the festival which the locals are very excited about. Every 4 or 5 years the major islands rotate hosting this major festival and it is Tahaa´s turn this year. The opening ceremony is held on the main oval and ends with an exhibition of fire walking. Unfortunately there is a downpour of rain just before the end but no-one worries much as it isn´t cold and you dry off quickly.

Decorated pole at the festival

Opening ceremony

Head garland
Many of the women are wearing flower head garlands they make themselves.

Later we have dinner in one of the food stalls  cooked with the local produce. We have walked around the different stalls and exhibits during the day. It is an opportunity to view the local produce e.g.. different fruit and veges, some pearl stalls, art and craft work. Everyone involved has obviously worked very hard for this event, including the way they have decorated all their stalls and poles with local flowers and greenery.

The following day we track a few n. miles west towards Motu Tehutu. It is known to have excellent snorkelling but there is a strong wind against us and Ross isn´t happy anchoring here so we move on to anchor in the protection of Herupiti Bay for lunch on board. Our final tracking for the season is to go further south in the lagoon to the north west side of Raiatea Island to anchor in Apooiti Bay.

Final anchorage before haul out

Tuesday 24th. June
Early this morning we round the nearby headland to take a mooring at CNI marina. Here Impulsive will be lifted out of the water tomorrow morning to be on the hard stand until our next season.
Suzy and Dave take a hire car to explore Raiatea for the day until their flight leaves this evening. It is a beautiful evening to see them off .We have had a wonderful time and have enjoyed their enthusiasm for this area for cruising.

Ross and I have long lists of what we need to do to leave the boat . The staff here seem very competent and are extremely helpful. One very time consuming job is to fill the tank with diesel in jerry cans from the nearby petrol station. It is important to leave the tank full (or empty) to avoid condensation in the tank and so the growth of algae  in the water caused by the condensation.
It is always hard work for a few days to accomplish all this but returning each evening to stay at Raiatea Lodge, a colonial -plantation style building a few ks away, is very enjoyable and relaxing.

Ross and I have had  an amazing sailing season this year. Despite the sailing challenges and problems and the disappointment of seeing very little of the Marquesas and none of the Tuomotos (where we pland to return to next year) the special times we have had in the Panama area, the Galapagos and Society islands with family and friends has more than compensated for it.

Society Islands

If you’d met some sailors with great big smiles
And asked them where was the fun,
They might have said “Why, the Society Isles
And this is what we’ve done

We got things fixed in the nick of time
To sail with Prue and Bob,
What with getting things done and supplying advice,
They both did a pretty good job

We dropped them at Bora Bora to rest
And Jano and Marc came on board,
It was hard for the judges to make up their minds
Which one should get the award

And Susie and Dave came and joined us as well
(To make sure we said it right)
This was just as well for our French speaking skills
Had been shown to be rather slight
[Someone had written down the name of the boat as “Impossible”]

But what brought the widest smile to our face
Was the family at Pearl Bay resort,
We got through the pass and anchored nearby
Close enough to enjoy all the sport

We snorkelled and swam, we ate fresh prawns
In Opunohu Bay,
We were even allowed to come in and share
Cocktails at the end of the day

We swam with the rays, we saw a whale
We had dinner on the beach,
(but please don’t intrude on the young people’s meal
some things you don’t have to teach)

We walked up the track to Belvedere
We watched the dolphins play,
We watched the sun setting over the peaks
At the end of a glorious day

The other good spots, we suggest you should go
Are Huahine’s Baie d’Avea
And Tahaa’s collection of unspoiled spots
And the moorings at Raiatea

The yacht club at Bora Bora’s as good
As you’ll find for a place to eat,
Now you know why we still have a smile on our face
Come here and have a treat”

July 2012