Papeete, Tahiti

We’re on anchor near the marina in Papeete, Tahiti. French Polynesia continues to amaze and impress us at every stop. The Polynesian people are friendly and the islands are spectacular. The traveling is much more challenging than Mexico or Central America, but absolutely worth the extra effort.

The overnight passage from the Tuamotus to Tahiti was quite intense. We had thunder and lightning as bad as any I’ve ever seen in my life – even worse than Central America during the rainy season or the 3 ITCZ crossings we made. We were right in the middle of it for hours as it ever so slowly passed over us. I would see the huge bolts of lightning flash and count seconds to figure out how close it was getting. When it got too close for comfort I just started counting faster, trying to convince myself it really wasn’t only a mile or two off. Rob had put our handheld GPS units and VHF into the stove so we had some way to find our way into Tahiti if we took a hit and lost all of our electronics. The storm finally passed by mid day the next day, and we arrived in Tahiti late on our second day. It was after dark so we pulled in to a bay east of Papeete where there was a wide pass through the reef that was well marked and usable at night.

The next day we moved around into Papeete harbor and Med-moored on a pontoon right in the city. A boat named Imagine was across the dock from us with a new membrane for their watermaker, which Rob spent 5 hours helping install when we arrived. In return for his help, their sister had carried two new laptops down from the states. My brother Tony had helped us find new machines, which we had shipped to his house. He installed all the necessary patches to the operating system and downloaded lots of programs and installed them for us (Thanks TB!). Then with my sister Leslie’s help, they arranged to ship the machines to Kentucky to a person who was flying down to Tahiti the next day. Funny thing was that they were all thinking we were crazy to just ship off two brand new laptops to someone we’ve never heard of before and trust they’ll arrive in Tahiti a day later. In our minds there was no doubt the machines would show up fine – that’s just part of the cruising life. My brother calls it “living by the seat of our Bermuda shorts”; we just call it Karma.

Last night since we were in the city we enjoyed dinner at what they call the Roulottes. They’re a bunch of little vans sitting in a big park near the water with folks making dinner, and they all have little tables and chairs nearby. We had steak with blue cheese and fries for $14, and it was the best value meal in Tahiti. They also make lots of Chinese food. When we were in Lima we found it odd to see Chinese people speaking Spanish after having grown up in the Pacific Northwest where the Chinese speak only Chinese or English. Here the Chinese speak French, which is even more odd for us than Spanish. Another odd event happened our first night out at dinner when two of the local drag queens decided to stop and pose at our table. Don’t know why they chose us, but it was quite a surprise after 6 months away from big cities and big city type people. Apparently the drag queens in this town are quite famous and we shouldn’t have been surprised.

The Polynesians are gearing up for their annual winter festival and we’ll likely get to enjoy some dancing and athletic contests. Yesterday there were canoe races with 5 man teams. There were about 40 canoes and they all lined up and started right near our boat at 8 in the morning. About 2:00 in the afternoon they started coming back and they looked absolutely exhausted. We learned this morning that they paddled all the way to Moorea and back – about 12 miles in the open ocean each way. We’ll find out tomorrow what events we can still get tickets for.

We’ll stay in Papeete for a week or so. We’re trying to figure out which way to go at the end of this season, and where there’s some work for two software types. I had hoped to find work in New Zealand or the Marshall Islands, but we need to decide if we’re going north or south. We also need to get a vet out to the boat to draw blood from Maya to ship off to Paris and get a rabies test done. If we end up in New Zealand they’ll need proof that she’s been rabies free for 6 months and only in rabies free countries since then. If we’re working we will undoubtedly be at a dock somewhere and we’ll need to be able to let her off the boat to roam a bit.

Today on Yohelah we’re enjoying Polynesian life and happy to have two new computers……

The anchorage in downtown Papeete is here