Raiatea and Tahaa

                                                        Intercontinental hotel Papeete, Tahiti

Monday is a public holiday here so with the long weekend and no workman available Ross and I have three days to work uninterrupted on the boat and get everything in place. We can relax and enjoy the evenings at Raiatea Lodge where we are staying until Impulsive can be put back in the water.
From Tuesday on Ross needs to be at the boat during the day to meet with the sailmaker (who made another spinnaker pole to pole out the  second headsail, and supported the foil near the base of the mast so it doesn’t wobble about so much), the mechanic ( to replace the new prop when it arrives, replace the prop shaft bearings and replace the stern gland) and the electrician (to confirm the batteries are dead and re-install the new ones, and repair the shore power connection which we have had many problems with).
Ross has a lovely experience today while he is working up on the deck. A tiny ovoid shaped  egg dropped out of the mast beside him and out came a very small ghekko which then disappeared across the foredeck.

Checking the dinghy

                                                 Lifting the new batteries onto Impulsive

Ian and Ruth arriving

Tuesday 21st. May
It is very exciting to have Ian, my brother  and his wife Ruth join us today. While Impulsive is up on the stand we are not able to help Ross, so we do some exploring including the major Maree ( an important religious and cultural site), the main town – Utaroa, and a canoe trip up the R. Faarora with a very informative guide.
Ian and the guide 

Stopping for fresh cocnut

Children helping Ruth

It is very exciting to have Ian, my brother  and his wife Ruth join us today. While Impulsive is up on the stand we are not able to help Ross, so we do some exploring including the major Maree ( an important religious and cultural site), the main town – Utaroa, and a canoe trip up the R. Faarora with a very informative guide. When we return with the canoes to the head of R.Faarora there are many locals gathering for a volley ball match and barb-e-que. There is quite a group of children who seem fascinated with us and what we are doing, including when our guide backs his car into a post and they all try to help .

Early the next morning I have an unscheduled trip to the dentist because a cap has come off a tooth. Fortunately I am seen by a young, very competent French dentist. Apparently he works here 6 months of the year and in the U.S.A. the other half of the year. Needing a dentist is my main concern on this trip!

Later Ian helps me parcel up the propeller we have to return to London. It is very heavy and a very awkward shape. This is quite a challenge to wrap and then to actually send it via DHL. The saga ends when we finally reach the airport and the attendant there says he has to see it. We can’t believe this news but of course we have to comply. Fortunately he was very kind and once he sees the first prop blade exposed he allows it to be sent.
Ian and Ruth can relax at the Lodge this afternoon and enjoy a swim and a snorkel. Ross and I want to complete our preparations to leave, hopefully tomorrow.
                                                                                                Parceling up the propellor

Thursday, 23rd. May
The boat goes back into the water this morning, so we all move on board. Raiatea Lodge is very generous and invite us to use their facilities e.g. the pool, snorkeling off their jetty and wi.fi. Also their dining facilities. We still have the hire car so this is very convenient and appreciated.
The fridge man cannot re-gas the fridges until Impulsive is back in the water and he is not available now until Friday after his work finishes. We have dinner at a local restaurant  which has a great atmosphere with delicious Italian cuisine.

We are unable to provision the boat until early Saturday morning and then set sail late morning. This is what we have all been waiting for.

Ian and Ruth at Naonao Motu

The plan is to sail within the reef surrounding Raiatea and Tahaa Islands mainly so Ian and Ruth can avoid seasickness and rough seas. We tack south along the west coast of Raiatea. We do have to go outside the reef for a very short distance as there is a non-navigable area that is impossible to pass through. Luckily it is very calm outside the reef so there are no sea-sickness problems. We re-enter through the Passe Naonao into the lagoon after a lovely sail around the south and s.eastern part of the island with s.e. to east winds, 15-20 kts., with the headsail out on a starboard tack.

We anchor at the n.west corner of Motu Naonao which is the most idyllic tropical island, with completely calm conditions and with the most exquisitely coloured , clear waters to swim in. We have a sunset drink in the cockpit just in time to see dolphins come by and a large school of black fish leaping out of the water.
          Preparing to moor

  Canoeists often "catch" the wake

The following day we venture up the east coast and try to anchor in Baie Opoa near Marae Taputapuatea but are too close to many bombies so move to the narrow and long Faaroa Bay. Ross, Ruth and I take a dinghy ride up the R. Faaroa . A local man offers us fresh coconut and coconut milk from his property and invites us back at 7am in the morning to his family market at their well organized market garden and orchard. This is a lovely experience and we come back laden with a large hand of bananas, papaya, and coconuts. He takes us to his friend’s house to buy as many pamplemousse as we would like.

A hand of bananas

Sunday 27th. May

Today we sail across to Tahaa up the west coast to Baie de Hurepiti opposite the pass to Bora Bora. We sailed with 24 kts. of wind from e to  s.e. on a broad reach on the starboard tack just managing to run when we turned to port. This is a great sail up to 7.6 kts.
Here we moor off Alain and Cristina’s beautiful traditional house right by the bay.( they are the same people we went with last season on the Vanilla tour.
Again we really enjoy the 4WD vanilla tour, climbing the mountains, seeing the many view points, crossing inland through the wild tropical mountain forest. Alain explains the traditional use of the native plants, indigenous or introduced, during the early Polynesian migration.
It is fascinating to see how the hermaphrodite vanilla plant 8an orchid plant) is fertilized. Ruth and I both buy some vanilla to take home. It is claimed to be the bet in the world and is well packaged so will keep well.
From here we motor north up the west coast to anchor near the Coral Gardens located between MotuTautau (with its 5 star resort) and Motu Maharare. The snorkeling here is wonderful as you drift between the islands across the coral and enjoy the very diversified  show of brilliantly coloured fish. Unfortunately the thorn of crown starfish has damaged a lot of the coral.
We have problems getting the anchor up here where we dropped it in 8-9 m. of water. Ross thinks it must have got  caught up around a bombie. It is a great relief  when it is freed because it could have taken sometime to organize some help eg a diver.
We next venture across the north coast to Motu Vahine, one of our favourite places.
Luckily the mooring is available and we are able to go in by dinghy for a sunset cocktail, which is a beautiful experience with Bora Bora outlined in the distance. It is a treat to experience some of the South Pacific exotica. They don’t take outside guests for dinner – only for lunch. This is understandable as it is a tiny island with only 9 bures. People obviously visit here for its peace, quiet, beauty and tranquility. A wonderful place for a honeymoon!
The following morning we have a delightful swim in the turquoise waters here. Then we head off down the east coast of Tahaa  and cross to the n.east coast of Raiatea.
We have had a wonderful time with Ian and Ruth. We feel Impulsive  is our own special bure  which we can move from place to place as we choose. In fact we have done a figure of 8 encompassing both islands. Most of the time Bora Bora has been in the background.

Dr Ruth!

We are lucky to have had perfect weather for this part of the trip, and not too hot. We have had many good discussions  and loads of fun with Ian and Ruth. They both embraced the sailing and are very practical on the boat. Ian also helped Ross with the sewing job on the bolt rope of the mainsail. Ruth was our resident doctor . She helped Ross with a leg injury (all healed now) and went through my first aid kit with me. They leave us this evening to fly home.

Fixing the bolt rope

Favourite recipe this leg:
Mahi mahi with vanilla sauce
Barb-e-que the fish, marinated with fresh lime juice

Vanilla sauce:  to serve with the fish
Simmer milk with a vanilla pod ( you can use each pod 5 times)
When flavoured lightly thicken ( can stir in cream – optional)

Serve with : rice
                    eggplant – stuffed with garlic, spanish onion, diced tomatoes, goats
              cheese and seasoning ( vege. stock if necessary)
                    green salad

We anchor outside the small CNI marina (where Impulsive spent the last 9 months on the hard stand) where she can have a few issues checked before we head off across the Pacific to the west towards Australia.
We track the shipment of the new propeller and it has reached Papeete in Tahiti. He boat is booked to come out of the water on Tuesday to have the propeller fitted. Also one of the heads (toilets) needs attention.

So now we have a few days to enjoy some nearby places. These include an extended lunch at Apooiti Baie marina ( just a dinghy ride away), a night anchored off Tainuu Pt (some unexpected swell here), then off Raiatea Lodge (enjoying their hospitality of  snorkeling, visiting their small motu and later a lovely dinner) and then back to Tahaa to Motu Vahine (for a wonderful lunch at a table for 2 on the beach).
We also need these days to check boat issues. We put the mainsail up while sailing. The stitchjng of the bolt rope was successful but unfortunately the main halyard parted. It is extremely lucky this happened on a short test sail in the lagoon inside the reef and not on our crossing to the Cook Islands.

Monday 3rd. June
Of course it is too much to expect the propeller to arrive today as planned. We have had extra time in a relaxed atmosphere to prepare the boat which has proved useful.
This evening a lovely French couple from a nearby boat came on board for a drink. They have sailed in French Polynesia for many years and speak excellent English so it was quite informative. They hope to come to Australia one day which we hope they do. They are also grandparents. We all miss the grandchildren but are fortunate to have plans to see them all.

Tuesday 4th. June
 The propellor arrives on the early morning ferry But we are held up yet another day because a large aluminium yacht is being hauled out before us. It has an incredible intractible keel and is a very heavy boat which gives the men many problems and takes them all day. We actually have time to read. In the evenings we are watching Downton Abbey when we can which is excellent.

Thursday 6th. June
This morning at 8am.we are hauled out and stay just on the cradle. The new propellor is fitted and the anti-foul is painted  on the few areas needing it on the hull, and on the new propellor. Impulsive is back in water by 11am.
Impulsive is gleaming and in top form as we sail off , at last,to Bora Bora. While still in the lagoon we have a great sail
up to 6.7 its. with the headsail and half the mainsail up. Unfortunately once we re through the pass and out in the open seas the conditions are very sloppy and not so pleasant.

It is a treat to be anchored at Bora Bora yacht club which we so enjoyed last year. It is calm and lovely having dinner amongst the beautiful bougainvillaea, looking out across the lagoon with the famous two peaks towering up behind us.
We are invited to join a table with an American couple and their Canadian friends.
They are all well traveled , interesting and have some great yachting stories.

The following day is a wonderful day. We take bikes  and ride down the west coast returning to some favourite places from last year. We also visit the gendarmerie to find out about checking out. We planned to take the small ferry out to Motu Piti Aau, a small, secluded island about 4 hours from here,  but discover it only goes once a week at this time of the year and on Thursdays. We really can't wait as long as that  so decide to take Impulsive. Apparently it is a very long, narrow and difficult entrance. Chris, who re-gased the fridges in Raiatea is a close friend of the man , Gerard, who organises the ferries  and has offered to help us. We thought after checking out here we would have to go directly to the Cook Islands but the gendarme says it is O.K. for a day or so. 
On the way back to Impulsive we inspect the supermarket for provisioning. Many of the shelves are empty. It seems we may be using cans for the next 3 weeks! Later in the day we see two supply ships arrive. Apparently they are two days late. This is a frequent occurrence here which is difficult for everyone.
Tonight Lachlan at the yacht club organises us to go out to St Regis resort on a nearby motu for dinner. It is a very elegant place and the dinner by the lagoon was exceptional.

We must provision today because the supermarket is closed tomorrow and we hope we can leave leave early, about 4am. on Sunday or Monday depending on the conditions. Bruce Buckley's report says it is fine so we just need to check with the motu this evening.
The super market is buzzing and lively. There is a musician and singer there who are performing well and giving it a good atmosphere. It is fun to watch a little girl dancing with her mother.