Sunday, 11 August 2013

la fin (the end)

It took many nautical miles to get here. And now it's time to say
"Au revoir".French Polynesia has been good to us. From the Marquesas' majestic
outlines, to the Tuamotus'incredible sea life (yes, including the sharks), to
the ever social Society Islands with their blend of turquoise waters and green
mountains, we were charmed. I won't wax poetic for another 1000 words.
Travelling throughout French Polynesia was also at times difficult, frustrating,
and isolating.

We sailed a lot in the north-east Pacific. We also spent a summer sailing in the
Mediterranean, and a year and a half cruising full-time in Mexico. And while it
prepared us for spreading our wings, the South Pacific is a whole other animal.
The sailing can be more challenging and there is a lot more boat maintenance to
do, the anchorages can be very rolly (mostly in the Marquesas),or they're flat
but riddled with coral heads(bommies)for your anchor chain to get caught on, or
they are incredibly deep and occasionally crowded. You can make a few short
hops, but mostly, you must go on overnight trips to a few days at sea before
reaching your next destination.(That becomes a non-event once you get used to
it.) That is, as long as you watch the weather forecasts like hawks: Where is
that low, where is the SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone),what about that
anticyclone that reached 1045 millibars? That was exciting, for us on the edge
of it. You also want to watch that swell: 4 meter swells are uncomfortable to
say the least. The ever-changing weather affects where you anchor, whether you
can enter a pass(we are in the land of fringing reefs) or whether you have to
heave-to somewhere along the way. Going ashore in our dinghy was particularly
challenging in the Marquesas, surge and concrete docks don't like dinghies. You
need a system to anchor the dinghy out to avoid damaging said dinghy. (We had a
stern anchor drag and our dinghy was fairly badly damaged.) Sometimes it rains
so much you can collect 40 gallons of water in one sitting. Sometimes it's so
windy, you just hunker down, check your lines for chafing,and wait for it to
pass.In other words, you pay your dues to come here.

Was it worth it? Oh yes! Rick and I were enamoured with these South Pacific
Islands. We fell in love with the richly green scenery.(The Tuamotus were also
striking,while differently beautiful.) Elsewhere, the flowering plants,the tall
palm trees and the giant mango trees, the fragrant and delicate monoi flowers
and the watery shades of turquoise, painted a beautiful three-dimensional

We became addicted to the Marquesan pamplemousses, the bananas, the fish, and
most of all the coconuts. At least one crew member of every boat we befriended
had a coconut cracking expert aboard by the time they left French Polynesia.

And then there were the people of French Polynesia. We made friends in every
archipelago, the fact that I speak fluent French made connecting with others a
lot easier. While we had great interactions in Mexico, I never spoke Spanish
well enough to not sound like I was 5 years old. Here, there was an element of
generosity of spirit that I had not experienced before. Of course at times, some
of the locals looked more annoyed than pleased at our presence, but I recall
having enough of "tourists" in Victoria when I lived fairly close to the
downtown tourist zone. I get it. Obviously, the small villages and the copra
camps had a very different vibe than the touristy spots, people reached out
more. We only know a few Tahitian words but smiles are international, that
helped break the ice many times over. Throughout French Polynesia and in the
Society Islands in particular, we also met many like-minded voyagers… The
peaceful solitude of the Tuamotus was stamped out by more social commitments
than we could shake a fist at by the time we reached the Society Islands. It was
fun to be part of a small ambulatory community for a while, and sad to say

List of Faves:

• Favourite destinations – Rick: Hakatea (Daniel's Bay), Tahanea, East of
Bora Bora, Kyra: Hakatea (Daniel's Bay), Tahanea, Motu Toopua
• Favourite Town – Kyra: Vaitahu (Tahuata), Rick: Omoa (Fatu Hiva)
• Favourite Food – Rick: Pamplemousse, Kyra: Sashimi
• Favourite Archipelago – Rick: The Society Islands, Kyra: can't make
upher mind. They were all great for different reasons.


• Climbing to the top of Bora Bora
• Snorkeling in Makemo and Tahanea
• Waterfall hike in Hakatea
• Yoga with the gang
• Befriending voyagers and locals
• The party on Patrick's property
• Baguettes and pamplemousses
• That cold drink after hiking to Omoa
• Spearfishing in Makemo
• Most fun passage: Huahine to Ta'haa
• Best passage: Makemo to Tahanea

Tomorrow, we leave. We are headed for the Cook Islands: Suwarrow to be specific.
But first, we sail 690 nautical miles to get there.

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