On Oct 22nd we motored down inside the reef from Papeete (carefully weaving in and out of red and green and yellow markers — that are passed exactly opposite of the way we navigate in the US) to Marina Taina. The route goes right along Faa’a Airport, so we had to call in to Airport Control at the end of each runway so we didn’t get run over by a 757.
Marina Taina has duty-free diesel (which works out to approximately one-half price). Our plan was to fill up, then come back up inside to Papeete and leave for North Fakarava in the Tuamotus that day. We ended up running late and the weather was very windy so we just took a mooring ball for the night, with the plan of leaving in the morning. Once we checked the weather, however, we saw the conditions were too light to sail to the Tuamotus so we went with Plan C and decided to motor over to Moorea, about 10 miles to the north.
On Oct 24th we ended up motor sailing most of the way to Cooks Bay on the north side of Moorea. Cooks Bay, home of the famous Bali Hai Club and admittedly the most beautiful bay in the South Pacific, was socked in with storm clouds. When we rounded the corner to enter the pass the wind was ripping through the bay at 20 -25 knots. We got anchored and went down below for short nap when we heard someone outside our boat yelling. Meryl popped up and it was a Spanish guy (Paco) on a catamaran that we had followed into the bay. He said the 40 ft. sailboat next to us had dragged anchor and was headed onto the reef.
Meryl got on the VHF and issued a “Pan Pan Pan” distress call hoping to elicit more help. Paco went back to his boat to get his spare Spade anchor and I tore apart my aft lockers looking for a 120 ft. spare line I had. We then jumped in his dingy and rushed over to the boat. When we boarded (we had seen the owner leave earlier in the day) we looked for the ignition key (we always leave ours in for exactly these situations) but there was none. And the cabin was locked so we couldn’t turn on the windlass. All the while the boat was slowly drifting towards a reef about 100 feet away.
So we went to Plan C (we seem to do that a lot) and dropped the Spade anchor off the bow and payed out the line. Just as the anchor started to grab (we’re now 50 ft from the reef) the French-speaking owner comes rushing up in his dingy. He immediately turned on the engine and started motoring ahead. Luckily Paco speaks excellent French and English so he translated between the three of us. We eventually got all the anchors up and motored back to the head of the bay and re-anchored.
To say the Frenchman was appreciative is an understatement. We all knew how close he came to loosing the boat (and that’s how quick things can happen out here). His name was Pierre and he lived in Tahiti, but his recently divorced wife and their 11-year-old daughter lived on Cooks Bay in Moorea so he was visiting for the weekend.
We all met later for Happy Hour at the nearby Club Bali Hai (yes, the famous Bali Hai resort) for drinks (Pierre would not let us pay). It was interesting getting to know each other. Ironically we had a child’s wetsuit on board that a boat named Sunrise had given us in case we ever ran into a cat called Ole. That was Paco’s boat so we gave him the wetsuit for his 2-year-old son.
Paco had also sailed across from the Galapagos to the Marquesas with Messaluna, other friends of ours who we hadn’t seen for over a year but just got an email from the other day. We even got to see the special Friday night Tahitian Dance Show that they put on for the tourists. The highlight (for me) was when Meryl was selected by an especially hunky Tahitian guy to dance with him. I think a strong gin and tonic helped her.
|Meryl found some good bargains from the local artisans.|
|Artisans have booths set up selling the beautiful black pearls from the Tuamotus.|