Sensory Overload in the City
We arrived just after dark at Point Venus on the North Coast of Tahiti. It was a joy to awake to clear blue skies above and verdant green peaks ashore. After the low lying atolls of the Tuamotus we could smell the land again and we also took in the splendour of the lush interior, our senses were overloaded.
Our morning motor along the outside of the reef was rather lively, the wind had really filled in and with it a choppy sea but it was a short distance to the main pass entrance into Papeete - the vista of the neighbouring island Moorea was a dramatic backdrop. Once through the pass we headed for the Taina Marina Mooring & Anchorage area.
Ticking Off Things on “The List”
- Any spare minute skipper didn't need me I made trips to Carrefour and other grocery stores. Just to paint a picture on buying the groceries:
- Calculate how many of everything we will need for the next 5 months and make a very big list
- visit multiple supermarkets we have never been to before & have most of the labels in French
- shop until trolley full
- pay & pack into strong bags then wheel the trolley on very uneven surface back to marina
- transfer goods onto dock then into dinghy
- prepare for possible wet dinghy ride back to Balvenie then unload onto deck, move into cockpit then lastly down below
- unpack & carefully stow in lockers – noting where it has gone
Then do it all again in various supermarkets till all items have been crossed off list (except marmite and easyyo yogurt mix!). After filling many grocery trolleys and contributing thousands of francs to the local economy provisioning for the next 5 months was completed, eventually space onboard was found to stow everything – we had food and drink again.
Luxury – A Week in the Marina
Conditions in the mooring field had not been very comfortable with a slop coming over the reef so we decided to treat ourselves to a week in the new City Marina. Located right downtown with new docks, excellent security & facilities and an affordable price it encouraged us to have a weeks ”city break” after our seriously hard work.
Papeete surprised us, we’d heard some negative comments about the downtown harbour area and maybe they have had a recent major clean up and redevelopment but we’d have to say the area was superb.
The waterfront promenade was palm tree lined with cycle paths and wide footpaths, large tree filled parks adjoined the marina at both ends, there were playgrounds, picnic areas, an adjacent open air arena and even a huge underground parking area. It was an extremely well thought out and developed area, one Papeete should be very proud of, and it was certainly well used by the cities inhabitants.
Each evening in a large area within one park “le roulette trucks” sell a huge assortment of tasty meals, there were a few tourists dining but this seems mainly frequented by the locals which was great to see. The shopping and market area opposite were very handy, quite compact but functional, open air cafes added that French feel, all was clean & tidy and it felt very safe.
Time to Play Now
June and July are festival months and we enjoyed watching street parades, performing dancers, garland making competitions, wood carving workshops – there were even basket weaving classes. The Heiva Festival is an annual event throughout French Polynesia and on each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in July there are excellent song and dance performances in the open arena near the marina. With tickets costing less than a meal out it made an excellent evenings entertainment, and each night had different groups performing. The winners are decided at the end of the month.
Exploring Further Afield
We shared a car hire one day with David & Betty Anne off Canadian boat Confidence and off we went to explore the island. First we stopped at Point Venus where Captain Cook had been sent on his first voyage into the Pacific with astrologers to record the transit of Venus across Sun in 1769, a failed mission as they did not see the transit due to having the wrong timing information.
Then we followed the coast road down the east coast and crossed the isthmus to smaller Tahiti Iti. We continued up onto the plateau, a surprising open area with cows grazing in green pastures, fields planted in vegetables, all looked just like home, quite a change from all the nearby tropical vegetation. After a picnic lunch at the belvedere (lookout) we made our way back across to Tahiti Nui and up the west coast to Papeete.
Catching Up with Old Friends
Our remaining few days in Papeete were spent at the excellent anchorage outside the Papeete Yacht Club, tucked behind a deep drying reef on the north coast, just a stones throw from Point Venus. We had a great few days here, surrounded by Australians and New Zealanders (we just sort of took over the anchorage really).
We hooked up with our longtime friend Tony on Tactical Directions, first met in Darwin 2006 and since shared many an anchorage in Asia, The Red Sea, Turkey, the Caribbean and most recently the Bahamas in 2014. Just great to see him, Out of the Bag & Ednbal again and to meet new friends who we have been talking to previously only via our SSB Radio net, now we can all put faces to voices and names.