We arrived at Marina Taina just as the sun set. We toured through the mooring field to find Mary Ann II shining our torch around but failing to see them. We picked up a free ball, celebrated our arrival with a beer and listened to the traffic rush by.
Mary Ann II was but 200m S from us when we woke the next morning in the big mooring field. It was good to see them and hilarious to listen to a good, loud Yorkshire lady in full flow, suggesting the lady on the next boat over really should “PUT SOME CLOTHES ON”. She didn’t comply whilst we were there! The two fields have maybe 150 balls between them with more anchoring space on the W side of the channel as well. “A” is for long term stays and “B” is for more transient boats. We paid about $15 a day. The facilities in the marina are pretty good with the best showers I have had in the Pacific, reasonably cheap laundry and a good bar with happy hour. There were lot of boats inside the marina as well as the off season rates are very reasonable. It all changes on the 1 Apr and there were a lot of people getting ready to leave.
We ended up at one dockside party thrown by Liward, which was another great education for the girls. The lady of the party, Lili, was impressed with Eleanor’s announcement that she liked maths and wanted to be an engineer like Kym on Phylis. Lili massively reinforced the Girl Power mindset we are giving the girls by presenting each of them with a sticker of where she had been an engineer. Some small place called NASA!
We feel into a routine quickly. I’d be up early to go to the local shop for bread. Breakfast would follow just after 0800hrs, there would be school for the girls, some bits and pieces for me to fix and then play in the afternoon. The girls were a great help as we rerigged the lazy jack system after our personal saviour, John stitched it up with his solid iron ancient sewing machine that just works a treat. Both kids went up the mast, one to take measurements for the new sails and one to take lines up. It was a great view from the top of the mast. The view across the reef to Moorea was fantastic.
We travelled in to Papeete to shop a couple of times and found out to the cost of a taxi that buses stop running out from the city by 1700hrs. Lesson learnt – Travel in early and leave by just after lunch, before the buses get taken over by kids travelling home from school. We met back up with Phylis and met new friends, Aron and Craig, a NZ couple that have decided to push off and try the sailing life. They bought a boat in Tahiti, Reao, a Dufour and are learning to sail the hard way. Just pushing off and going for it. I admire their spirit and wish them all the best in their travels. They will head back to NZ this year.
John and Julia had visited the local Intercontinental Hotel for its Friday night dance spectacular and recommended it to us. Having only seen a couple of shows before, the brilliant kid one at the end of the school year and then Bastille Day at Hiva Oa, we were keen to see the differences. The show was fantastic. I still don’t understand how someone can wiggle their hips quite as fast as the soloist did. Stunning. Some of the older generation of male watchers looked as if they were overheating a bit! The troupe danced for about an hour and the girls got the chance to have their photos taken with some of the stars.
It was a great night but unfortunately with a sad ending. Julia on her way back to our table slipped and fell. She was in considerable pain and John had to take her to hospital. One bust and displaced humerus later, Mary Ann II’s ideas of travels were on hold for a couple of months. Can’t really call it an upside but with Julia unable to get on the boat, Topsail Insurance came through big time to cover the cost of staying ashore in a lovely Air BnB house on the water front, a few hundred metres S of the marina. We understand Murphy is just loving the aircon! The girls certainly enjoyed the pool that the house has. Only trouble is, there was so much chlorine in it, their hair went green!
We had organised a day out to explore Tahiti the next day. In the end, with John and Julia being unable to come out to play, Steve and Cheryl from Emma Louise and ourselves went off in two cars. We visited the Point of Venus, where Capt Cook spent time in 1769 to watch the transit of Venus in an attempt to work out how far the Earth was from the Sun. Interestingly also at the point there is a memorial to the landing of the first French missionaries (there had been earlier British ones but the locals hadn’t taken to their form of Christianity) and just along from it was a genuine Robert Stevenson lighthouse, built in 1867.
One of the problems with car hire in Tahiti is that unless you pay the $180-250 a day price for a 4×4, you are left very restricted where you can visit. Really, it is the main road around the outside of the island only as all the roads up the hills are dirt tracks and you can’t take a normal hire car on those. The main tarmac road stops at in the N side of Tahiti Iti at Tautira. The rest of the road around the southern part of Tahiti Iti was destroyed a few years ago by a storm. It is yet to be rebuilt. We ended up stopping there for lunch, eating enormous portions of chow mien and a baguette butty with chips and steak at the outside kitchen that all the locals frequented as well. Bliss – even though I did feel afterwards as though the proverbial wafer thin mint would not be a good idea! We also found a big tiki guarding the village. These are rare in the Societies as most had been destroyed during the transition to Christianity.
On our way back towards the Marina, we stopped at the official Botanical Gardens which was just across the road from the Paul Gaugin Museum. Perhaps both had been good in their day but sadly the museum is now a closed ruin and the botanical gardens need a lot of work. There were plenty of interesting plants but not a single sign up to say what they actually were. The cage that the two Galapagos tortoise are kept in, gifted to the Gardens in 1928, was small and could have been in far better repair. It rather looks like the funding for the botanics ran out long ago.
Just another mile down the road, we stopped at another park, the Vaipahi Spring Gardens. This was beautifully maintained, plants well signed and told a story of a chiefs’ elevation to heaven by way of a series of ritual purifications in the streams around the park. It had 2-4 hrs walks up in to the hills which we didn’t have time for. I am sure they would have been as interesting as the park. Eleanor will remember this place as she fell in to the last purification pool and we had to rummage around in the silt to find her flip flops.
For our last day, John, Eleanor and I went up and dived a crashed plane and a couple of wrecks on the S end of the runway. Hannah, Aron and Craig snorkelled above us. To our delight we saw our first proper Clown Fish on a patch of reef close to the aircraft but other than that there wasn’t a lot of life about.
We stayed about a week in Tahiti, all at Marina Tiana. After saying our final goodbyes to John, Julia and Murphy we left Tahiti and drove out of the pass towards our next stop, Moorea, a whole 15miles away. We look forward to seeing them back in the UK in a year or so.
Lou, with perfect timing, captured a great photo of one of the many boarders playing in the surf at the edge of the pass. More practise required before we try this!