I am sitting at anchor in Huahine, an island in the Society island of French Polynesia, preparing to leave. Somehow 3 months have flown by since I arrived.
French Polynesia has been wonderful, from the tall volcanic mountains of the Marquesas to the flat atolls of the Tuamotos, to the mountains and reefs of the Society islands it is truly a country of contrasts.
The Marquesas were spectacular in their grandeur, narrow valleys will water falls ever where. The Tuamotos islands are opposite extreme low slung island atolls. What they lacked in grandeur they made up in clear water and fantastic diving. As I had been delayed in Nuku Hiva fixing the engine, I only got to spend 4 weeks in Tuamotos. In Makemo I hooked up 3 other boats: Aussie Rules, Fire Fly and Kookaburra after which we were buddy boated through the islands. This really made the trip for me so far as there was always someone one up for snorkelling, diving, kiteboarding, spear fishing or fishing. Thanks to Dave and Rose on Aussie Rules, Drew and Shelly on Fire Fly and Mac and Wendy on Kookaburra. Endless laughs, scrummy meals were shared … just brilliant. They will all be friends for life.
The Toumotos for me were two things: the rediscovering the joy of making pics again or rather video and secondly sharks. During the last 14 years of doing website and computer work, I lost the focus on making picture so it has been wonderful to refind that passion. I got completely consumed by taking video with the go pro camera. As for the sharks, I grew up in South Africa in the 70s, so between Jaws movies and and the fact that I did see that many sharks, I was really fearful of them. The Tuamotos has really changed that. We have been surrounded by white tip, black tip and grey shark almost every time you got in the water. What we found was while they were inquisitive they kept their distance. We were careful not to go swimming after dark as this is their feeding time and if something went wrong we would be up the creek without a paddle as there were little or no medical facilities around.
In the south Passe of Fakarava, an atoll in Tuamotos, I got to to some scuba diving during which I literally saw hundreds of sharks. Managed to get some great footage of sharks and huge school of Barracuda just hanging in the current . Very majestic and stunning.
After Tuamotos, our posse headed to Papeete, Tahiti for one day then over to Moorea for the Puddle Jump rally. Great to catch up with 70 of the boats that were part of the crossing the pacific this year.A highlight of the weekend, we entered a paddling team into the 6 person canoe race —the Budgie Smugglers(Aussie for speedo). Each team was made up of 4 crews plus two locals. Our team was made up of Rose and Dave from Aussie rules, Mac from Kookaburra and myself. There were 32 teams. We rocked —ended up making it all the way through to the final race off between the last two boat. Unfortunately we were beaten. But we felt vindicated as the only team to beat us was a team of Kiwis who had done the race 4 times previously and not actual cruisers. Plus we had gone through three races beating some really stacked canoe teams of young 20 and 30 year olds. They could not believe they were left looking at our transom and the end of the races. Go Budgies!!
After the fun and games, it was back to Papeete to undertake boat repairs for two weeks. Since I have had the Anahata , I have had issues with charging the boat, and when the main cog in the crankshaft key stripped out causing the main crank shaft pullies to fall off the day before arriving in French Polynesia, I knew it was time to change the system. So while I was in Nuku Hiva in Marquessas I ordered a serpentine belt system from the states. Basically its a much wider belt system to stop slippage. End result was I changed Anahata’s system from running two alternators down to just one, but as the remaining alternator is 205 amp this will be less strain on the pulleys.
The second major issue I had to deal with while in Papeete was coming to terms with Buddy the Cat and New Zealand. I have been hearing for months that this is going to be a problem. Papeete was the first opportunity to visit a vet. I was able to get Buddy all her rabies and vaccinations shots redone but also a chip implanted. Unfortunately, I did not get the chip implanted last year in Toronto so New Zealand is not accepting the fact she had rabies shots last year. Net result, if I go to New Zealand I will have to remain at anchor in one spot until the 6 months is up after the booster shots done in Papeete — 3 january 2015.
I am going to look into Australia and see if they are any different.
Thanks to all for the assistance helping repair Anahata and for making the last three months truly memorable.