After the horrific disappointment of Tahiti, we were looking forward to sailing away to the other islands in the Society chain. We had some friends join us and spent one day exploring Tahiti with them, including a trip to Papeete. The huge market there is well worth a visit with lots of local produce and crafts. Some of the timber carvings are beautiful, if only we had the space and money for them all. The Queen Mary 2 just happened to be in town the same day and we went over to the welcoming set up for their guests. It was a highlight for our guests as one of the ladies was asked to dance with the two people demonstrating local dances and how to tie your sarong in many different ways. To say the lady demonstrating had fluid hips was an understatement.
The next day we decided to dive the wrecks again before heading to Moorea. Visibility had improved a little but still a lot of debris was floating in the water. The plane is an old Catalina which for those that don’t know, they land on the water. There are many all over Darwin harbor at home, but none in the condition this one is in, it’s like it sunk on the anchor here. The body is pretty much all still there, just the engines missing the props etc. The fact it is right next to the boat wreck makes it great to do both in one dive, as long as you have the air supply and are quick enough. Our friends were stoked, especially our new diver who had his first proper dive on a wreck, having just completed all his skills for the open water course.
That afternoon we set sail for Moorea which is about 20nm away. It is a smaller island and the main feature was to visit a shark and stingray feeding location. It is located over on the north west side but the entrance is quite tricky, so as we arrived late in the afternoon , we went in Pass Tareu and anchored in the shallows in the NE corner. Wind Spirit, an old sailing cruising ship that now cruises the islands here was in the pass before that (Pass Avaroa) and in our pass was QM2. It made the mountains seem quite small, but knowing the size of this cruise ship, at 318m from memory, it was easy to understand that the mountains surrounding this bay were quite majestic and reached high into the sky. It was really nice to anchor in azure waters with a white beach and palm trees…..and no rubbish floating past.
We had a quiet night as the plan was use the next day to explore the island and visit the sharks and rays and then head off on the overnight trip that evening to get to Huahine without wasting a day for our friends. In the morning I checked the weather and simply said to the guests that they should have breakfast and we were going, to Huahine that is. The forecast had changed drastically overnight and instead of a gentle 15 knot beam reach up to Huahine previously forecast for the evening, we were facing a 15-20 knot run in the morning and then picking up to 30+ by night fall. So we had to pass on the Moorea attractions otherwise we were going to be stuck there for 2-3 days and when our friends were with us for just a week, it wasn’t worth it.
The sail up was quite quick, averaging 7 knots and the rain came and went and the swell rose with the wind. By the time we got to the southern tip of Huahine it was blowing a good 25-30 knots but the island sheltered us from the swells. We entered the main pass on the north-west side just south of the main town of Fare and in the night, found the first sheltered spot to drop anchor. It just happened to be an inlet near the village of Fitii and you could tell even in the night that it was very brown from run off, but we were just happy to have stopped for the night.
In the morning we left straight after breakfast and cruised down the southern side, and just past Motu Tarohu there are three moorings off a beach at Mt Teapaa. We took a mooring as the wind was gusting over the hills quite badly and the beach looked good to get our guests on land in a sheltered setting. I stayed aboard to make water and clean the boat whilst Annika took them ashore for a swim and they met the local owner who showed them the lookouts over the bay to the north and out to the west. They aren’t the best tracks and there are no fences at the lookouts but the views are great. On the way there is a bamboo plantation, a star fruit tree bearing plenty of fruit and plenty of crabs amongst the foliage.
Eventually they came back off the beach with the ladies having bought beautiful necklaces created by the owner and with breadfruit cooked in a fire and wrapped in leaves. We had lunch and then went for a dive along the reef edge. It wasn’t the most spectacular dive but we had to do it as I wanted to go night diving there. And it was the perfect night diving set up. Parrot Fish lay hidden amongst the rocks, we saw several scorpionfish, including a rare single banded one, plenty of crustaceans and more life than we had seen during the day.
The next day we took off down to Avea Beach on the South West end and anchored next to the shallow sands. We backed up pretty much onto the sand and the visibility was excellent. We swam for probably an hour before lunch and then after lunch Annika did some more training dives, the ladies went into a local restaurant for some relaxation and drinks and I went to find a possible diving spot for the afternoon. I didn’t find anything suitable but on the way back I saw a Manta Ray swimming along. Always a good sign when the mantas are in town. We had dinner at the main restaurant that night and enjoyed a spectacular night on the boat afterwards.
The following morning and our luck with the weather had turned again. I updated the weather as we started heading off to Raiatea and found the wind would be strong all morning so we delayed and picked up a mooring near Fare at the North West end of the island. There are 4 moorings over shallow waters and several have rocks within swing room so you have to be careful of your draft but the third one from the south has clearance all round so we picked it up and waited till the wind abated 3 hours later. We then left Huahine, for Raiatea, the sailing capital of French Polynesia. Huahine had shown glimpses of how beautiful these islands could be as it was more untouched by development than Tahiti. Still a bit of rubbish but nowhere near as bad as Tahiti had been. Things were improving. What would happen when we get to Raiatea, another developed location. Would it be another Tahiti or was Tahiti a one off??
In our next edition we explore Raiatea and Tahaa, two islands surrounded by one reef.
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