Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rayage

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After we checked out of Bora Bora we went and anchored behind a motu across from town to wait on weather. The plan was to go to Maupiti, an island 25 miles to the west. It has a south facing pass into the atoll, so we wanted to wait for the large south swell to go down before attempting the pass. On the sand banks near where we anchored they take tour boats out to feed and play with the sting rays. Does “crikey!” ring a bell? (Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter) We took the dinghy out and as soon as we anchored it a dozen rays swam up close to see what we brought them for late afternoon snacks. It was a little unsettling when you jumped in to 3-4 feet deep water and these guys all swarm under you. They are about 3-4 feet across. No food from us.

Since we are already checked out of French Polynesia we aren’t really supposed to go to Maupiti. But, there are no Gendarmes in Maupiti and the locals are friendly. Right now there are about 10 boats in the atoll and probably 8 of them have already checked out. The other thing strange about checking out was the fact that when I gave them Chris’ US passport the visa in it was expired by 30 days. We had a letter from Immigration indicating that they were going to issue Chris a carte de sejour (extended visa), but it wasn’t ready yet. No one asked for the letter, so I didn’t volunteer it. No problems – just a normal check out.

maupitiP7260130 We motored over to Maupiti and followed the ranges into the narrow pass. Surf breaking close by on either side and 3-4 kts of current against us, but it was pretty easy with the 4 ft seas. Inside the pass are some moorings that are right next to an area where the manta rays hang out. There’s a large rock in about 20-25 feet of water that the current passes by and they just seem to hang near.

 maupitiP7260096 As Chris is fond of saying, “It’s always a good day when you can swim with mantas”. If the wind cooperates we will do one more snorkel with the mantas in the morning after procuring fresh baguettes, then its off for 5-6 day sail to Suwarrow, in the Cook Islands.

Paul

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mauru’uru French Polynesia

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We checked out of French Polynesia at the Gendarme's office in Bora Bora yesterday (more on this after we leave). That gives us 24 hours to high-tail out of here – or maybe just a little bit more. We plan to head off on Sunday morning assuming good weather. Above is a typical Bora Bora scene with high-end, over-the-water hotel rooms and the iconic Hiro’s Bell in the background. Our 4 months in FP has been really good. What a friendly, easy place to cruise. Great snorkeling in the Tuamotus, stunning scenery in the Marquesas with a genuine Marquesian culture to go with it, and easy jumping around, great heiva celebrations and some decent snorkeling in the Societies.  Each group is unique, except for the universal Polynesian warmth.

boraboraP7190145 Bora Bora actually has some surprisingly healthy and easy to access coral reefs with a huge variety of corals. Not a lot of big fish, but still some good dives.

spmap Above is an old map of the South Pacific (click on it to biggerate it and see the text I added). We are in Bora Bora now with plans to head northwest toward a small atoll in the middle of the Cook Islands (which is actually a country) named Suwarrow (or sometimes Suvarrow). Then we hope to head southwest to another tiny country/large-rock, Niue. On the old maps Niue is called the Savage or Danger Island, as the natives were thought to be particularly unwelcoming to foreign ships and sailors. After that we’re off to the Kingdom of Tonga, once known as the Friendly Islands based on Cook’s 1773 reception there. It’s a nation with hundreds of islands and many good anchorages to explore.

Mauru’uru, French Polynesia, thank you for everything!

Paul and Chris

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Huahine Heiva

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The ‘Heiva’ is a month long celebration of Polynesian culture held in July each year through out the islands. There is some competition going on almost every day – from competitive copra (coconut) husking, to all sorts of outrigger racing, and strongest man and fruit carrying races, along with judged singing and dancing groups from each village on the island. Tourists are welcome, but the total focus is friendly, island wide competitions between the villages and the locals are definitely into it. This picture above is of the ten outriggers that started the long distance 6-man race. They keep this pace up for an hour and half.

HuahineIMG_1373 This is the 12 girls dual outrigger finish in the rain. They take the ama (float) off the outriggers and then lash two canoes together.

huahineIMG_1388 And the mixed 12-man winners. The teams are fielded by each village on the small island.

huahineIMG_1599  Getting ready for 6-man races on the beach at the main village in Huahine, Fare.

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If I had a program, I could tell you what town these girls were from by the color of their outrigger.

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And just to keep everyone honest, here they are weighing all the competitive outriggers the day before the race.

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We went to the dancing and chanting competition on two nights in the large, sand filled arena of Fare.

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Except for the headwear this team looked almost Indian.

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Without subtitles it was a little difficult to figure what all was going on. At least the colors were photogenic. We think these are the banners for each village, identified by color.

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The first night of the dances started about an hour late with some really extensive pre-dance speeches by the dignitaries. This elder seemed to get things going with her speech.

 

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The dancers and the singers seem to be about evenly split between the guys and gals.

 

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Kicking up some sand and enjoying it.

 

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This dance was a real crowd pleaser by the orange team.

 

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We use the dinghy dock in front of the Huahine Yacht Club bar and  restaurant to land and go into town. They also have a daily ‘Happy Hours’, a rare good deal in French Polynesia. A pitcher of the local beer, Hinano, for a little less than $9.00. Of course from the sign you’d think that happy hour started at 5pm. You’d also think that if you read the sign on the other side of the building. Once inside you might spot a small sign on the side wall that says Happy Hours 5:30 to 6:30pm. And in practice, there’s no exceptions – wait your turn at 5:30.

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Steve, with the guitar, off of Liward, put together some Saturday night entertainment for the Happy Hours crowd. We met Steve and his wife, Lili, in Shelter Bay, Panama (the first time we went through the Canal, 3 or 4 years ago) where he put together a group called the ‘Shelter Belters’. The singer here is Talulah, who is Paul and Andy’s granddaughter’, visiting them on their boat Talulah Ruby III. She’s off for the summer from music college in England. What an amazing voice. Definitely has the potential to make it big – you heard it here first.

Paul