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After four weeks in the Marquesas and two weeks in the Tuamotus, we arrived into Tahiti. We had – maybe not rushed, but moved quickly – through the islands to arrive into Tahiti in time for a quick trip back home and then the Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendez-Vous, the finale of the Pacific Puddle Jump.
The Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendez-Vous is the final event of the Pacific Puddle Jump. The first events were back in Mexico or Panama, an introduction to sailing the South Pacific. The Pacific Puddle Jump is a loose organization of the sailboats crossing the Pacific Ocean, sponsored by Latitude 38.
We left Starry Horizons on a mooring at Marina Taina while we were gone, and our friends Simon and Marg on Margansie graciously kept an eye on her for us.
When we booked the stay, the marina neglected to tell us we needed a local contact in case of an emergency. When we left Tahiti, the weather was rough…despite the barrier reef around Tahiti, the swell was strong and the wind was pretty brutal. The boats that were med moored in the marina were bouncing around quite a bit. So we panicked for a little while until Margansie stepped up. We’d only crossed their path a few times, and I don’t even think David had met them yet. We are SO grateful to them. They were in the marina, so we left LD with them in the water so they could ferry out to check on Starry Horizons. They even drove us to the airport in their rental car! We kept in touch with Margansie during our trip to the states to make sure everything was ok.
Unfortunately for our first few days in Tahiti, it was gray and rainy. We managed to ferry everyone out to SH only getting a little wet.
Unfortunately, the weather got worse as the day progressed. We couldn’t get anywhere in LD without a good soaking, so we stayed aboard in the afternoon, napping, cleaning, and unpacking. The sun did clear up around sunset, so we had some time out on the trampoline watching the sun set over Moorea, and then had some bubbly and dinner in the cockpit.
As soon as possible, I set off for the Carrefour grocery store to buy as much food as possible; especially perishables like meats and cheeses. I filled up one cart with as much as I could and grabbed a taxi back to the marina ($15).
I have two tips for people provisioning in Tahiti:
Meats – The Carrefour was well stocked with beef, lamb, and veal from New Zealand, including odds and ends like hearts and tripe. There was absolutely no pork. The chicken that was available was only whole, legs, or thighs, all bone-in, skin on, and frozen. No fresh chicken, no chicken breasts.
Liquor – Fortunately we flew in and out of Tahiti, so shopping duty-free was very easy. We bought a bottle of Tito’s vodka and some wines in LAX. We also bought some M&Ms because the only size you can buy in Tahiti are small 8 oz, whereas the LAX airport has 56 oz bags. We scoped out prices for 1L bottles Bombay Sapphire, and I expect the price differences can translate to other popular liquors as well:
- Carrefour in Tahiti: $83 dollars
- Tahiti departing duty-free: $21
- LAX: $31
- Tahiti arriving duty-free: $26
I was disappointed to learn that the departure duty-free has a good selection of Tahitian wines from the vineyard in Rangiroa, but those wines are not available in arrivals.
The next morning we dropped the mooring and made it over to the fuel dock around 8:30. We refueled SH and LD and set off for Papeete. The trip only took us about an hour. Although it was overcast, it didn’t rain.
Arriving in the Papeete Marina, we encountered a conundrum. The marina was not answering their VHF, so we didn’t know where to go. We decided to just pick a slip. We were glad we didn’t have to med-moor.
Dave walked to the office to talk to them and they told us we had to move slips…but while David was gone, a monohull came in and took the slip they wanted us to move to. So we had to shuffle boats around to make the marina happy. One cool thing was how many people we knew in the marina; Beachhouse, SwiftSure, Blowin Bubbles, Windekind, Etc.
We had a big project to do before we left Papeete; the thru-hull to our laundry machine was leaking. I went off to the chandleries to see about courtesy flags for the rest of the South Pacific and scope out replacement thru-hulls if needed. David started to re-bed the thru-hull but discovered that yes, we did need to replace the thru-hull because it had completely split in half. To add to the issue, some of the fiberglass around the hole was damp. David took out the thru-hull and used our blow dryer (which has never been used on hair) to dry the fiberglass.
In the meantime, the map I had showing the chandleries in Papeete was shite: I had to ask for help and wander around quite a bit. I stopped at three stores before I found courtesy flags at Nautisport. After going back to check on David I went back out to buy a new thru-hull. Thankfully the Ocean 2000 store had one with the proper tube connector. The thru-hull size wasn’t right, but David was able to drill to fiberglass to fit the bigger thru-hull. Yay, no more leaking!
While the Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendez-Vous hadn’t actually started yet, we went ahead to Moorea with our guests, where they would take the ferry back and we would enjoy the end of the Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendez-Vous.
It was only a 10 nm sail over from Papeete, although the wind did die out so we had to motor most of the way in. But Liz and I spent the entire time on the lounge deck enjoying the view – my favorite sailing activity.
In Moorea, the bay is long and very deep. We anchored in about 70′ of water just off the Bali Hai Hotel, and there were a few sailboats and two mega yachts. The landscape is lovely, reminding us of the Marquesas.
After hiking around the pineapple plantations, we went back to Starry Horizons for lunch and naps. Then we threw our snorkel gear into LD and headed north. Outside the mouth of Cook’s Bay, we went east to the shallow anchorage and then anchored LD and went snorkeling. The water was clear, and there were lots of fish, but the coral was 90% dead.
Friday morning we opted to move Starry Horizons over to Opunohu Bay, and we anchored just west of the mouth of the bay and near the dock for the cruise ship excursion boats. From there, we dinghied west, following a tiny narrow channel with black and white markers. Just past the Intercontinental hotel, we found a few tour boats and mooring balls for the stingray feeding.
We came back to Cook’s Bay that afternoon and spent the rest of the day swimming with pool noodles and drinks.
That evening we went to dinner at the Bali Hai hotel. We shared poisson cru, David had steak frites, Liz and I had shrimp curry, and Brandon had grilled Mahi Mahi. I thoroughly enjoyed the Mai-Thais. Friday nights also include a free Polynesian show. It was live music from a four-person band, with seven dancers. The audience was a small group, so we all had a good view and Liz and I got picked for the audience participation, a dance lesson.
Our guests departed on the ferry the next morning, and then the real party began!
The sailing part of the Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendez-Vous started in Tahiti at 10:30, so we watched as the boats filtered in throughout the morning. Again, this was a lot of boats that we knew already; SwiftSure, Margansie, Blue Raven, Carthago, etc. Also, some cruisers we knew hitched a ride on other boats and left their boat in Tahiti, such as Blowin Bubbles and Beachhouse. Also, many people used the ease of traveling in and out of Tahiti and the celebration as a good time to have friends and family visit. We got to meet friends and family members of our cruising buddies. There were about 150 people attending the event.
At five we headed into the Bali Hai hotel for cocktails and entertainment. There was an hour or so of mingling and socializing, and then partner companies gave presentations – marinas in Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. We picked up materials to read later – all these places seem so far away right now, we barely have a detailed plan a few days in advance.
After the presentation, the entertainment started up and we all sat for dinner. I think the show was the same entertainers we watched Friday night with Liz and Brandon, but the show was bigger and included fire dancing. To see this show twice was pretty great, considering you have to pay $110 per person to go see the show and dinner at the Tiki Village on Moorea.
The meal was a house of steak or fish. I had the fish and David had the steak. Some people at our table ordered the steak, which came out way too underdone so they sent the steaks back. A few tables complained about poor service, like not getting their food, but David and I were both lucky and enjoyed the meal. I advised the organizers to stick with the buffet.
The next morning (Sunday) we headed to shore in the morning for the outrigger races. Cruisers had made 35 teams of four to race outriggers. With five boats and a collection of about 20 experienced paddlers, each canoe had two locals (one coxswain and one in front) with us. We named our team Greek Tragedy, and it consisted of me with the crew of Margansie.
There were seven initial heats. We lost but enjoyed cheering our friends on and David got Phoenix up to take video. After the seven heats, there were three semi-finals, a kids’ run, and then the finals.
Some of the boats were surprisingly good. One family (two adults and two boys) have apparently spent the last year here in French Polynesia and have taken to paddling an outrigger together very often. It was amazing to watch the coordination they had.
After the races we had lunch. The Bali Hai Hotel served dinner buffet-style and billed it as a Polynesian menu. I loved it! There was veal, pork, and chicken, plus Polynesian poisson cru, poisson cru chinoise (Chinese), sashimi, potato salad, rice, and a green salad. I really enjoyed the poisson cru chinoise, and now I’ve found a recipe for it to try at home. They also served a dessert, something with a firm jelly consistency. It was also quite tasty.
After lunch, David and I were feeling pretty maxed out. It had been a busy two weeks, so we went back to Starry Horizons for a nap. The rest of the cruisers enjoyed dance lessons and coconut husking lessons.
After things broke up, we had some friends over for cocktails: Carthago, Blue Raven, and Nauti Nauti. Several boats had guests visiting, so in total, we had 13 people on board.
Monday we spent quietly doing chores and running errands, in addition to saying goodbye to the boats headed out. Many boats seemed to head to Opunohu Bay or back to Tahiti. We had a blast at the Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendez-Vous.