Tuesday 14th June 2016
As I came up on deck this morning I was struck by a novel feeling – there was a chill in the air. It only lasted about half an hour, as the sun rose higher, by 7.15 I was again seeking out the shade but the cool breeze was sweeping down off the top of the jagged mountains that tower 2000ft above us. We have finally escaped the marina.
The oceanic swell continued to increase as forecast and by Thursday night Raya was been battered and jolted uncomfortably by not only the incoming waves but their reflections as they bounced off the wall of the dock. As day dawned the next morning, the cost of the night was revealed, we had sustained more damage in those few hours than in last six months of cruising. The port quarter fairlead had been pulled lose (luckily not completely off and lost to the depths of Taina marina), the passeralle although raised for the night had taken a bashing and its attachment point on the swim deck ladder had come apart. Rick determinedly marched around to the marina office and finally a spot large enough for us in the inner marina was found and we spent our final few days in a still if not quite so salubrious spot.
In French Polynesia we have found that their balance of work to play definitely comes down on the play side. Lunch break is often from 11am-2pm and the end of the day can be as early as 4.30pm, 11am on Fridays and Saturdays. The chance of us getting materials or manpower before the beginning of the next week was remote. We were itching to get out of the marina and we probably won’t be in one again until New Zealand, so the need for fairleads and pasarelles was minimal. We opted for Rick making temporary fixes.
The 4m swells were forecast to decrease to 2m by Monday, we spent the weekend readying to leave. This included me winching Rick up to the top of the mast. Being scared of heights, to the extent of being scared when seeing other people at heights, especially when I’m responsible for that person, make this one of my most nerve racking jobs. All went smoothly thank goodness and the fixtures and fittings aloft were all in good order.The short crossing to Moorea was lumpy with at one point, off the northern tip of Tahiti, the 2m swell coming at us from two directions at once, but inside the outer protective reef of Baie D’Opunohu is stunning, it is lovely to be back surrounded by dramatic peaks.
The geography of French Polynesia is interesting. All the islands were formed by volcanoes. The Marquesas group are relatively young the mighty peaks still soar 4000 ft into the sky, the coastlines are deep and there hasn’t been enough time for reefs to form. The Tuamotu lie at the other extreme, created by much earlier eruptions the volcanoes themselves have been completely eroded and have collapsed leaving just the circular reefs above sea level. The Society Islands, where we sit now, are at an in between stage, the islands are formed of high craggy mountains still a few thousand feet high, but there has been enough time for a surrounding reef to form. Inside these reefs there are beautiful protected lagoons full of clear turquoise water, with the added bonus of great mountain views. Moorea is more developed than the islands we have visited so far, the anchorage can’t be called isolated however this does mean a short dingy tide away is a five star Hilton Hotel. It has required digging deep through the wardrobe for something decent to wear, but we are off now to treat ourselves to lunch.