Friday, September 30, 2011

Cross the ocean for a heart of gold

Our arrival on Tahiti is anticipated.  Raced past beautiful Marquesas at the beginning of the world & hundreds of unexplored underwater volcanoes in the Tuamotus to get here.

Despite it's exotic connoctations, Tahiti is the industrial hub of this part of the world.  If we had any doubts about finding civilization..  Internet, hotels, highways (well, one highway), bars, nightlife, & all the workings of a proper city.  Lucky for us, since we have to fix some sails (at least 1 but up to 5), order generator parts, buy new batteries, fix the autopilot, collect my credit card, & buy 2 new cameras.

Spent the night drifting.  I spent the night falling asleep during watch in the cockpit.  It is very dangerous to enter a harbour at night without being able to see what you're actually getting yourself into.  The dark is incredibly decieving.  The lights on the coast stretch out over water & feel nearby all the time.  Tahiti is completely surrounded by reef, so even after a long night, I will definately agree with this call.

Parked right on the main drag in downtown Pape'ete, the capital of Tahiti & French Polynesia.  We look like gypsies with our house parked on the side of the road.  The convenience of being within stumbling distance of anywhere that sells liquor is positively brilliant.  Welcome to civilization - let the neanderthals out.
Always looking for excitement.  The Polynesians have taught me alot about trust & I've started a habit (for better or worse) of never refusing anything.  In the most seemingly shady situation I found myself in, these guys lent me a surfboard, & we spent the afternoon chasing waves with a picnic on the beach.
*This is a great example of the generosity & hospitality of Tahitians.  It is inexhaustable.  More on that to come.*

World famous breaks!  Barrels!  Hang Ten!  Gnarly!  The day we went out there was almost nothing.  We circled the island & found some little ones in Papara.  A beach break against black sand.  I didn't do very well, but managed to break a fin on a rock!  It was the shallowest I'd ever been.  I was basking in the moment - admiring the handsome mountains & the beautiful beaches surrounding me.  And out on the waves, there are 3 of us.  That is crazy for The Birthplace of Surfing.  Then 2 of the only 4 people I know in the world are waving from the shore.  It took me a whole minute to even recognize them.  I had even gotten a new suit to disguise myself.  Drat.  I could have gotten some sweet surfing shots from Hanne!  But they would be hilarious cause I am awful.

Teahupoo is the wave on Tahiti Iti with mythological reputation.  A monster reef break that hosts major surf competitions constantly.  Love the culture.  Surfers everywhere, even on the shoulders of channels into the lagoon when the sailboat itself is surfing.  Somedays we live on a 46ft surfboard.

After being ratted out, we were going to be charged docking fees for being a disturbance downtown.  What do you mean?  We did not unfold two enormous sails on the sidewalk!  Preposterous!  That was someone else!  Plus the dock kicked us & took a big chunk out of our outer rim.  Okay we get it.  We hung our heads, left to the other marina & stole a private mooring ball for the remainder of the week.  ...and every following weekend.

We spent alot of time in Marina Taina, Punaauia - our first real marina.  It is here we get our heads put back on straight, get some chores done & get the boat in shipshape.  We get to know the bartenders, the security guards, the happy hours, where there's good water & free wifi.  We go whale watching with friends of Jamie's from the Caribbean & Hanne gets a dayjob polishing stainless steel on our friend Neil's yacht.  Friends & friends of friends; we make plans to meet up later with all of them.

One night one of the superyachts at the marina were hosting a Rugby World Cup dock party for NZ vs France - since all the crew are one or the other.  It was a blast with a full on BBQ & super cool to meet other crew from other boats.  Made a bet with the boys to see who could do the best coaxing to get on board.  They won.  Jimmy & Chris were allowed on board Tiara, the sleek host of the night with the >100ft mast.  Hanne was brought back to a boat in such disrepair she said she would swim home if he didn't take her back immediately.  Meanwhile I was partying with the crew from SuRi, a huge garage yacht filled with toys.  We spent sunrise in the jacuzzi on the roof next to the helicopter.  I think I was the real winner.
(I left my camera at the bar that night & picked it up the following weekend I picked it up.  The beer & Jamesons that were also in my bag had mysteriously disappeared.  I lost it again at the marina & picked it up the next day.  Possibly also while watching rugby.  :P)

With waterfalls, stunningly beautiful flowers, good surf on black beaches & the friendliest people - I still think the heart of Tahiti lies behind the sunset from Punaauia.  Every night the sun sinks tangerine sihouetting the island just across the bay.  Tahiti's little sister Moorea...

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