On September 20th, with our major errands finished and our fridge kind of working, we set sail for Moorea which lies about 10 miles north of Tahiti. We anchored in our favorite spot just off the northeast entrance to Opunohu Bay on the north side of Moorea. As usual, the wind was ripping around the northeast point of Moorea and coming right along the shoreline. It’s like living in a wind tunnel but we did have lots of ventilation in the cabin.
|The view south into Opunohu Bay.|
Anchored just to the south of us was Eye Candy, with Andrew and Clare and their Australian guests, Patrick and Cheryl. We all ended up renting motor scooters the next day, but we got a later start and ended up going the opposite way around the island from Eye Candy. Despite our motor scooter not being able to go up a modest hill with the two of us aboard (we got a replacement), we had a great time seeing the island. We stopped at a nice seaside resort called Les Tipaniers where we splurged on cheeseburgers and Cokes and watched the sunburned tourists frolic in the surf. Meryl finally found a jeweler who mounted her large teardrop black pearl on a silver necklace, so everyone was happy during the excursion.
When the wind dropped down a bit on the 23rd, we dinghied east along the shoreline to see the underwater tikis and to snorkel in the large lagoon just opposite of the old Club Med. It’s amazing to see how many resorts and large hotel chains go bust down here; I guess it’s tough to compete with the cheap flights to Hawaii. When the typical “over the water bungalow” rents out from $600 to $1500 per night, it’s amazing there are as many people here as there are.
On Sept. 24th we left Moorea in the late afternoon for the 90-mile downwind sail to Huahine. We were fortunate to have a nice 5- to 10-knot easterly and sailed through the night, interrupted only by the large sailing cruise ship S/V Windspirit that was lit up like a Christmas tree as she passed on our starboard side.
|A little disconcerting to have this light show come by you in the middle of the night.|
|The view approaching Moto Murimahora on the east side of Huahine.|
Given the generally light wind conditions we decided to follow Eye Candy to the more remote eastern side of Huahine to a secluded anchorage in the lee of Moto Murimahora. Normally the typical strong easterly winds kick up the surf making the east-facing pass too dangerous to enter, but this day the conditions were perfect. We were delighted to see our old friends Roger and Sasha on Ednabal anchored nearby. They had planned to sail the opposite direction to the Tuamotus, but at the last minute changed their minds and came to Huahine. Our other friends, Mark and Cheryl on French Curve were also there, just north of us, so it was like old home week.
|The usual cast of characters: L to R Roger and Sasha, Clare and Andrew, and Walter.|
Whenever the Australian contingent (Eye Candy and Ednbal) get together you know it’s going to be interesting. We had a raucous beach bonfire with them that night and they proposed a long trip up the inside of the motu to the village of Maeva to see the fish traps the next day.
|Mark and Cheryl in the turquoise bomber.|
|Meryl and Cheryl from Australia.|
|A semi aerial view of the fish traps (from the bridge).|
|Cheryl communicating with the locals on the best route through the fish traps.|
On the 26th our little flotilla, consisting of the crews of Eye Candy, Ednbal, and French Curve, slowly made our way north through the very shallow waters of the lagoon up to the village of Maeva, where the lagoon enlarges to the size of a small lake. Just to the south — where the lake narrows — are a series of ancient fish traps, fashioned in a V-shape to force the fish into a trap at the point of the V. The design is remarkably effective and the traps are still in use today. Making our way around the various fish traps was a challenge, however, given the very shallow water. Locals would lean out the windows of their lagoon-side homes shouting and pointing us this way and that to avoid the shallowest areas.
|Interior of the museum at Maeva Village.|
|A replica of the Polynesian sailing canoes that crossed thousands of miles of ocean.|
|Mark, Sasha, Cheryl and Meryl walking up the path to the upper village.|
|Map of the upper village called Mata'Ire'A.|
We toured the beautiful thatched-sided museum to learn more about the fish traps and the ancient Tahitians, and explored the large marae that served as ceremonial grounds for the Chiefs and their tribe. Steve on LiWard had raved about a hike just behind the marae, and after a little futzing around we found the surprising wide trail up the side of the hill. In the olden days an extensive village extended along the ridge line (Chiefs were always wary of attacks so they kept the main housing areas up in the hills). Called Matra’Ire’a, the area was full of old stone paepae and other structures, including the Chief’s residence with a great view out across the ocean.
|View of the oceanside from the lookout near the Chief's house.|
|Walking to see the sacred eels L to R: Meryl, Sasha, Clare, Patrick, and Cheryl.|
|Patrick getting "up close and personal" with the sacred eels.|
|They really do have blue eyes. (Photo by Patrick)|
|Roger and Sasha are very good at negotiating with local landowners for great prices on mangoes and other fruits.|