Oyster 46, Voyager II, April 2023

Cruising French Polynesia

French Polynesian consists of five different archipelagos, the Marquesas islands in the north, the Tuamotu archipelago southwest of the Marquesas, the Society Islands even more west, the Austral Islands south of the Society Islands and the Gambier island group, south east of the Tuamotus.

In total, French Polynesia comprises 121 geographically dispersed islands, islets, atolls and everything in between.

For the next 5 weeks we will sail from the Marquesas through the Tuamotus archipelago to Papeete,  Tahiti, the largest island of the Society Islands and the capital island of whole French Polynesia.

From Tahiti I will fly home on May 1ste. By then I’d be almost four months at sea. About time to go home and spend  some time with my family. May will also be a special month. First we’ll celebrate our 10-year anniversary (May 5th), then my granddaughter is turning 1 (May 12th). A week later we’ll celebrate the belated 50th birthday of my beloved wife (May 18th) and finally My son Rutger is going to marry Evelien, Jun 3rd.

The plan was that I’d return to Fiji to continue the trip. However, as all sailing plans are written in jelly, that didn’t happen.

Saturday March 25, Taha Uku, Baie d’Atuona, exploring Hiva OA

Crossing the Pacific was an extraordinary experience and it also was quite tiring. When I woke up after the first night at anchor, a night without night watches, I still was very tired. I guess it’ll take a couple of days to fully recover.

First thing we did after we got up was to go ashore and get some nice fresh French bread. That was a real treat.

We couldn’t clear customs yet, the gendarmerie would not open for another hour. When we tried to clear customs some time later, it turned out something had happened on another part of the island and the gendarmes would be busy with whatever for the rest of the day… if we could please come back tomorrow.

The bay where we are anchored was really beautiful. Later that day I decide to walk over to the village. That would take at least an hour and a half but hey, I hadn’t been walking for three weeks. Halfway however, a car stopped over…. are you on your way to the village? Hop in. And, I did. Would be rude to refuse that kindness wouldn’t it?

The village itself wasn’t much. There’re a few stores, a hairdresser and I also saw a pharmacy. When I wanted to have a coffee it took quite a bit to find a place. It turned out there’s only one restaurant, the Mongo bar.

That evening we had dinner at the only hotel. Loraine from Far had reserved a table for the boats that had arrived with us. The food was delicious and it was very nice to catch up with everyone and share the experiences of the crossing.

Loraine had also arranged a day trip across the island for the next day. The trip was a great introduction to the Marquesas. Hiva OA itself is a beautiful island and the guide’s explanation of the tiki’s, culture and history of the island made it very worthwhile.

In the evening, we ate again at the hotel where we had diner the day before. This was a special evening though. It was graced by the local song and dance group. On the rhythm of the drums, they performed some spectacular ancient dances. The explanation was all in French so I didn’t understand too much of that unfortunately. Later, I learned from one of the drum players that the dances mainly depicted the connection with nature.

Today is all about some boat jobs, filling the jerry cans with diesel, doing the laundry and hopefully we can fix the wind instruments. In the meantime, I also went over to Orpheus. Rowan had asked if he could pass on my name and have a look into a ‘fire’ accident they had had on Orpheus.

It turned out that some wires in the control box of their generator had melted, probably due to a broken capacitor that had also burned out.

Fortunately, all systems were still functioning and the damage seemed to be limited to the capacitor and some wiring. In itself not very difficult to fix, if you have the right gear and parts. I could help him with the gear if he could get hold of the parts. That would be a challenge out here.

Tonight we will have a bbq on the quay, organised especially for us. There, the group from last night will also perform again. Early tomorrow morning we will then leave for Fatu Hiva, some 40Nm to the south.

Sunday, March 26, Fatu Hiva

The bbq the night before we left Hiva OA was a great succes. The dancing, the singing and the music was very impressive. Very different from the night before and now we sat 1st row.

Next morning around 7 o’clock we left for Fatu Hiva. We had a nice breeze and we were able to sail most of the way. At some point, the wind backed a bit and the Bay of Virgins, which we were heading for, was to much upwind. We furled the genoa and had to motor the last bit.

For a few days now I was considering to step off Amanzi and sail switch to Cepa. Long story short: the atmosphere and emotion on board Amanzi was tensed. Whereas Marc and I make a great team, Clare and I are not the best match for a venture like this and that was not going to change. For me, it was mostly the feeling of letting Marc down that made it very difficult but continuing on this footing was not an option. That was bound to go wrong at some point.

A couple of days earlier Thomas, the skipper of Cepa, had asked in the group app if there was anyone who knew an experienced sailor to take Ebo’s place. That  could not be a coincidence.

When we were well and truly on our way to Fatu Hiva, I shared my thinking with Marc and Clare and told them I wanted to switch boats. Marc had more or less seen it coming and also understood how I felt. Clare, on the other hand, had little sympathy for it. Needless to say, this depressed the mood for the rest of the trip to Fatu Hiva.

We arrived around 1.30 in the afternoon. It took a while to to get the anchor out okay. Twice we didn’t manage to drop anchor where we wanted it and the 3rd time the windlass wouldn’t work. Anyway with some help from Mororo we eventually anchored properly.

Fatu Hiva is said to be the most unspoiled island. It was amazing! Like stepping into a real Jurassic park scenery, overwhelming. There’s no airstrip and the only way to get there is by boat. Your own boat or as a passenger on the Aranui 5, the ship that supplies the Islands all the way from Tahiti once every two weeks.

Arriving at the Bay of Virgins is spectacular. The colossal cliffs with their unusual ‘towers’ is more than impressive. Crystal clear water and a small rocky beach, truly beautiful. Even a 56ft boat is utterly dwarfed by this backdrop.

Monday 27 March, Tahuata

The following morning we did a hike to the waterfall. It was not very far form our anchorage but right through the jungle, very special. The path was perfectly passable. That was very pleasant because I was on my flip flops. Not very convenient but it went okay.

The waterfall itself was very special. The water slid and seeped more than it fell but that was because it  hadn’t been raining much lately. The effect of la Niña. The fall was about 60 metres and perpendicular.

On the way back, we asked a friendly lady if we could buy any souvenirs somewhere. For that, we had to go to Louise. She could take us to a woodcarver if we wanted. We ended up at a home where the father and the son carved tikis in wood and stone and the mother made jewelry from fishbones and the shells of black pearl oysters.

We all bought some very nice souvenirs and by way of change, got some grapefruits and breadfruit from their own garden.

By 11:00, we were back on the boat. We had been talking whether we would sail north again to Nuku Hiva in one go, some 110Nm, or make another stopover at Tahuata. If we left right away, we would still arrive at Tahuata in daylight. So, anchor up and go. I very much would have liked to spend more time at Fatu Hiva. It’s a spectacular place but the atmosphere wasn’t to good because of my decision to switch boats. The sail to Tahata was nice with the gennaker on a beam reach, we did 7kts SOG with  only 10kts of wind over a flat sea. Just before dark we arrived at a nice anchorage.

Wednesday March 28, Taiohae Bay Nuku Hiva 

We spent the night on anchor at Tahuata. Marc and Clare weren’t feeling well when we woke up next morning. There was not much desire to go ashore so we decided to sail straight on to Nuku Hiva. We had fair winds if we were lucky and the wind stayed that way, we would get there just before dark.

It was one of the best bits of sailing. 15kts beam reach, all sails set and with the sea virtually flat, we were flying. In the afternoon, the wind dropped slightly and we swapped the genoa and staysail for the gennaker. With this sail plan wen kept on  still flying..

At the end of the afternoon, the wind dropped even more and we ended up motoring the last bit.

We didn’t quite make it by daylight but Taiohae bay is a very large bay where, despite the 60 boats already anchored there, we found a fine anchorage without much difficulty.

Clare, meanwhile, also had quite a fever and went to bed pretty quickly. Marc and I spent some time talking about my transfer to Cepa. We definitely have to work this out further at a later time.

The next few days were intense. I was to transfer to Cepa that Thursday. Ultimately that didn’t work out. Marc and Clare were of the opinion that I should fly home from Nuku Hiva. I wasn’t quite ready for that and when I spoke to Andrew from Voyager II we agreed that I would sail with him and Sven to Tahiti. Chris, who had sailed the crossing to the Marquesas on Voyager II, had transferred to Sarah of Sweden. So I could take his place.

Marc and Clare weren’t pleased by this at all. I packed all my stuff and went over to Voyager II. From then on we basically went our own way. Since the whole ARC fleet was there for the departure to the Tuamotus the group was big enough to avoid running into each other all the time.

The night before our last day at Nuku Hiva the ARC people had organized a very nice dinner with another spectacular dance group. What a great way to say goodbye to a spectacular group of islands. Our stay was way too short. I definitely want to come back another time!

Voyager II

Voyager II is the same type of boat as Amanzi only a bit smaller, 46ft instead of 56ft. Funny how much they’re alike, not only the furnishings but basically the whole interior down to the location of the light switches etc.

Andrew I had spoken to many times before and I get along very well with him. Sven also is a very nice guy. A little less outgoing but very experienced. It’s the third time he’s cruising French Polynesia and he knows exactly which are the most beautiful places to visit.

The boat itself does have a few glitches. The generator is not working and the noise it makes suggests that something substantial is broken. Without 220V, the water maker doesn’t work either. So we have to be very frugal with water and power. Fortunately, the solar panels provide decent power and when we sail, so does the Watt&Sea.

Before we left this morning I shortened the steering cable that was broken during the crossing and repaired it with a dynema line to add some more tension.

Shortly after we left, we found that the line of the vang was stuck in the block and the cocer was broken. Fortunately I was able to get it loose again and I was able to fix the break in the cover with some sewn-in twines. The dynema core was undamaged so my repair allowed us to use the vang again.

A somewhat unusual start but fortunately I have some experience in fixing things. Sven is also happy with that because until then he was the one who had to fix everything.

With us, four more boats left Nuku Hiva.

Monday, April 3, position 12:20.239S 141:32.433W

We’re having a great trip so far. A nice breeze on a beam reach, we’re doing about 6-7kts SOG. Also the atmosphere on board is very good.

Unfortunately Sven is not well. Fever, unable to taste and smell, everything points to covid although a test was negative. He is in bed most of the day. Fortunately he is of the “it will pass by itself” type but Andrew and I are still trying to spare him as much as possible.

For some reason I am ‘suffering’ from quite a bit of diarrhea. That’s very impractical but otherwise I’m feeling fine. Well, that too I hope will pass soon.

On Voyager II they have been catching quite a lot of fish. So far we haven’t had a bite, we might be sailing too fast. Andrew tried to lure the fish with some guitar playing and ballads. That was a lot of fun. He can play and sing well even though he sometimes loses his lyrics. Not that I notice that by the way.

Since the sun has set, the wind has dropped a bit but at the same time has cleared a bit. As a result with only 8-9kts of wind on a somewhat downwind course we can still get 5kts of SOG.

Tomorrow when it is light again we will put up the gennaker. The forecasts for the next few days indicate mainly light weather. If the wind direction stays as it is, that should be a nice sail plan for the rest of the trip.

Which atoll we will eventually arrive first remains to be seen. In any case, we want to sail into the lagoon with daylight and as close to the neap tide as possible. We still have about 200Nm to go with possibly even less wind, so we’ll just have to see how it all will work out when we get there.

Tuesday, April 4. Position 15:39.844S 143:06.209W

We’re now pointing to Makemo. With some 60Nm to go, we plan to get there sometime Wednesday morning. ETA still remains a somewhat rough estimate for now. With a wind between 7 and 10kts we’re doing around 4kts SOG but the wind is predicted to pick up a bit and then we might sail a lot faster.

Well, we’ll see. Sven has been here 3 times before. The channel to enter the atoll is wide and deep. That makes it a lot easier. We can best assess the tide situation when we get there.

At the beginning of the evening we saw some impressive squalls coming very close but they passed behind us except for a few drops. We did get an extra push from the accompanying wind though. It almost seemed as if the boat wanted to flee from the squall.

Meanwhile, all the squalls have blown over and it is another beautiful serene night. Full moon, no waves and we are calmly sailing along. The ocean looks like an inland lake so calm.

Yesterday late in the afternoon we caught our first fish. For Andrew and Sven the first of this trip, for me the first of the entire trip since Malaga.

It was a huge fish, 1.47m, that I had never seen before, let alone caught. So did Andrew and Sven, for that matter.

It took some research and it turned out to be a Shortbill Spearfish, related to the swordfish. What a beautiful fish it is.

Reeling in was easy on the one hand because despite its size, it offered surprisingly little resistance. On the other hand, it was quite a tour because it was way too big for the net and Andrew had no hook to pull it in. Eventually it worked and two minutes later it was dead.

The filleting took some time and resulted in so many fish that the freezer is now completely full. We don’t have to fish anymore for a while. Anyway, I finally caught a fish and what a fish it was.

Friday, April 7th

Wednesday morning at 11:00 hr. we dropped the hook. The last bit initially was very calm sailing with 8-10kts of wind. Then the wind picked up to 15-18kts and we even had to reef. The wind also shifted so much that we couldn’t make the passage anymore and we had to motor the last 5Nm straight into the wind.

We arrived just after low tide but that was no problem. The passage is pretty wide and deep so we didn’t have much more than 1kt of current against us.

When we were well and firmly anchored Sven and I went ashore. Andrew wanted to figure out some things for the remainder of his trip and at the same time it is always good to have someone keep an eye on things.

We were anchored in front of the village. That is, a main street with two side streets, two stores, two “restaurants”, two churches and a post office. There weren’t many people on the street but everyone incl the youth, that you met greeted very friendly. By the way, the lagoon itself is huge, especially compared to the ‘land’ which in many places is no more than 60m wide.

Thursday morning Hoka Hey also appeared in the passage. That was both very fun and also very nice because they would help us filling up our water tank. That was quite a tour because that went with nine 5lt containers with the dinghy up and down. After 10 tours we were on 3/4 of the tank. We should be able to make it to Tahiti with that.

In the afternoon we took the dinghy to the other side of the passage to snorkel. That was quite an experience. Crystal clear water with many different kinds of fish. Normally you only see something like that on TV.

That evening we had dinner with the people of Hoka Hey. The restaurant turned out to be almost full when we arrived. Fortunately, we had already indicated that we were coming that night when we checked in passing the day before to see if it was indeed a real restaurant.

Sven had told me that he had met a man called Beko at Makemo three years ago.        

Beko engraved the famous black pearls of the Tuamotus with the most beautiful Polynesian images. He had also bought some at the time and had pictures of them on his phone.

I already decided some time ago that I wanted black pearls for ear studs and/or a necklace as a gift for Marischka for our 10th anniversary. Engraved black pearls were, of course, an even better option.

After some searching and with the help of a local, we found Beko. A big man with impressive tattoos. He really liked that we, that is Sven, came to visit as a returning customer.

When I asked if I could also buy some engraved pearls from him, it was initially no. He had recently been working on a special project for someone and now had nothing on sale.

However…. he did have the pearls and could engrave some. If we came back the next day he would have them ready. He would then be busy all night but that was no big deal. Because of the heat during the day he worked normally at night.

I told him what I would like and when we agreed on the price he would take care of it. I was very happy this worked out anyway!!!

Our plan was to sail on Friday to the other passage 30Nm to the west. Then to sail on to Fakarava via a stopover at Tahanea. So the timing worked out very well and when I returned Friday morning Beko he had done a great job. I even got a few more, for a necklace for all my daughters too.

Once back on the boat we lifted anchor and sailed off with Saphire of Stockholm to the other passage.

Sunday April 9th, Tahanea

The trip to Tahanea was great but although the start was a bit tricky. We left as planned late afternoon but that turned out to be a little too late. When we arrived at the pass it was already dark. Based on the satellite map we knew exactly where all the shallows and rocks were but it does go against all the textbook advice. This is what you shouldn’t be doing, especially in such a narrow passage like this. Nevertheless, it went perfectly.

We had a nice breeze of 20-25kts from a good angle and on a beam reach we did 7-8kts SOG to Tahanea. It was only a 55Nm trip and with this speed we’d get to the pass nicely just after low tide only…. at 01:30 at night. In the dark… (again) but this time the pass is pretty wide and deep and the anchorage is easy to reach.

Along the way we had some serious squalls. In these kind of squalls you better handsteer. The winds tends to shift very quickly and you don’t want an accidental gibe!

First up was Andrew and he got soaking wet from the rain. Just after I had taken over his watch, the next squall came over. So I too got soaking wet. Then Sven came on deck. He had woken up from the water he heard coming in the boat…. I had left my hatch open on ventilation position . That was okay during the squalls but now a wave had washed over the deck. my whole bed was soaking wet. Fortunately only the sheets and not the mattress. Salt water just won’t dry. Sheets but quickly taken off. Tomorrow I will rinse it out with fresh water. In the sun it will dry in no time. The rest of the night I slept on the couch. It is a bit short but dry.

At 5 o’clock I was already awake. Only then could I see what a beautiful spot we were in. Tahanea is an uninhabited atoll. We were well away from the reef but still quite close to the island.

To my surprise, a cruise ship came in a little later. It turned out to be a National Geographic ship. They are only here to snorkel because there is not much else they can do. So let’s see where they go snorkeling. That must be the best spot.

Wednesday April 12th, Fakarava

We stayed at Tahanea for 2 nights. It was a very special place, like all the places we have been so far. The land here is even narrower than on Makemo and in most places impassable due to dense vegetation. Sven and I walked along the waterline to the pass. Not much later Andrew also arrived there on the paddleboard. The guides from the National Gepgraphic vessel told us what the best time was to snorkel in the pass given the tide. That was a bit strange since they had left before that. Obviously they’re on a tight schedule.

On Monday we sailed on to Fakarava, a trip of 30Nm. About 6 hours of sailing if we were lucky.

The wind was not too good, it was an 8 hour trip of which we had to motor the last 2 hours because the wind completely died. Nevertheless it was a nice trip. This time we left and arrived in daylight. The south pass of Fakarava is slightly more difficult and the anchorage is also behind a reef and several shallows which are much easier to do during the day.

Fakarava, south pass

Fakarava is inhabited but at the south pass that isn’t much. A “dive center” and some sort of “resort” with not really any amenities except a “restaurant”. This restaurant was obviously the place to be for the black tip reef sharks when they were gutting the fish for dinner. Not the best time to take a swim. We did go snorkeling there later and that was really great. During the time we were in the water the tide turned as you can see by the fish… they point the other way.

The dive center was a hit for Andrew. On Tuesday he went diving in the morning, afternoon and evening. Sven and I went snorkeling and went for a walk on land.

The snorkeling was absolutely spectacular! So many different kinds of fish, very beautiful coral and you swim between dozens of black tip reef sharks. We ended up snorkeling about 4 times and each time was a treat.

That night we had  dinner in the restaurant with several other arc boats that have come in. it turned out really great. Andrew brought his guitar and he wasn’t the only one.

Tomorrow morning we will sail on to the north pass. At the north pass there’s also a “real” village it seems. We’ll have to wait and see.

Saturday April 15th, Fakarava north pass

The trip to the north pass is about 30Nm or so. Some of these atolls are really quite large or better, have been big islands once.

We left at 10:00 hr. a little later than planned and because there was no wind we had to motor the whole bit.

There is a kind of channel from the south to the north pass with only a few shallows clearly marked on the chart. If there had been wind we could have sailed without risk.

Around 5 o’clock we arrived at the town, a bit south of the north pass. It was quite crowded and the good anchorage ended up being 18m deep. Anyway, with 100m of chain it is no problem to put out 60m.

Once at anchor we went ashore. It is sort of a real village with several stores and even a gas station at the dock. It also had a real road. Just one but a road with a bike path on both sides.

Later I went for a bike ride. Eventually I ended up at the airport. On the way I passed an old lighthouse. Chunks of coral stacked with some kind of sand cement. The sign told you not to stand too close to it because of falling rocks.

That evening we had a bbq on the beach. It was in the yard of a local who was willing to host a bbq there. It was a bring your own event and very successful. They also had arranged some local musicians for the occasion and of course Andrew too brought his guitar.

The plan is to sail to the north pass on Sunday and anchor there and then sail to the false pass on the north side of Toau on Monday morning. If all goes well we should have easterly wind again by then and should be able to sail the whole bit.

Monday April 17th, Toau

Before we left we went snorkeling at a shallow spot near the boat. According to someone Andrew had talked to on the beach, that was a very good place to snorkel. And it was! Not only lots of coral and fish but also some blacktip reef sharks that were very curious.

The departure went a little less smoothly than planned. The anchor chain turned out to be stuck around some coral rocks and Andrew ended up having to pull out his diving gear to get us free. That wasn’t easy either but after about an hour we were free.

The trip to Toau was great. Ample wind we did over 6kts SOG and neatly before dark around 5 o’clock we arrived at the false pass in the north of Toau.

There we tied up to one of the mooring buoys. The restaurant turned out not to be staffed but we had prepared dinner anyway.

Tomorrow we will also go snorkeling here. This is said to be one of the best places. With lots of sharks too. That turned out differently. It was mostly sand, and hardly any fish. Well you can’t have it all I guess.

Tuesday April 18th, position 15:44.047S 146:18.000W

We are now on our way to Rangiroa.

Before we left we took a walk on the island on the other side of the pass and, of course, went snorkeling.

The snorkeling was disappointing for the 1st time. The current kept pushing us into deeper water and then you don’t see too much. Moreover, I lost a strap of one off my flippers. Swimming with only one flipper is something for professionals and that is not me. So I was quickly back in the dinghy.

fossilized coralcoconut crabfossilized coralThe hike on the other hand was very nice. It is also very special to see how the lava must have flowed out millions of years ago. In a lot of places you can see the remains of coral in the lava. Kind of like Pompeii but with coral.

Also this was the first place we got to see the coconut crabs. That was quite funny. When they feel threatened they take a position as if they’re gonna attack you. Obviously we were very impressed and let them be.

Thursday April 20th, Rangiroa

The wind, however, did not stay that way the entire trip. It was around noon when we arrived at    the pass on Wednesday. Well with daylight anyway.

The timing should be good considering the tide. Others who had arrived the day before were there an hour earlier and had the tide with them.

That turned out completely different and it was unclear why. What was clear though that we had current against us with a lot of white water. Full throttle it all went okay and not long after we’re at anchor again.

Sven and I went ashore for a walk. Andrew had some sorting out to do for the new watermaker and stayed on the boat.

Exploring Rangiroa

Rangiroa is very different from Toau again. It is inhabited with a village on either side of the pass with a few “stores”. One store had a sign on the door: closed from April 12 to May 3….

The other was also closed but would open at 2:30 pm.  Very important for us because in the meantime it had become apparent that we had run out of coffee. We had shared the last bit with breakfast in the morning and with that a crisis was looming.

When we tried again later, the store was indeed open and they had coffee. At checkout, I was asked if I wanted to order banquets as well. They were going to bake those later and would be ready at 5 pm. Funny, the baker here apparently likes to sleep in and bakes his bread not at 5 am but at 5 pm.

That evening we went to sleep pretty soon after dinner. One night of cruising is too short to get into a sailing rhythm so all 3 of us were quite tired.

The next morning, after breakfast with French bread, Andrew went diving. Sven and I took the dinghy to the village on the east side of the pass first to go for a walk and then to go snorkeling at the ‘island’ in the pass.

Both the walk and the snorkeling were very special. Each atoll has a different coastline even though at first glance it looks the same.

The island turned out to be called the ‘aquarium’. And that was the right name. There were a number of buoys along the reef where the diving school’s boats tie up with their guests.  Those weren’t there today so we could make good use of them.

Once in the water it was again a feast to see all the different species of fish. A school of scissortail sergeants were very curious and almost swam into my GoPro.

Sven also saw a lemon shark that fortunately swam away. Those are not the nicest kind of sharks I was told.

Next to the store where we got our coffee was a pizzeria and one of the other boats had arranged for us all to eat there in the evening.  Everyone had to give their order in advance, though. And you had to bring your own beer or wine. Everything else went fine, except that my pizza Hawaii was without pineapple because they had run out.

Sunday April 23th, Papeete, Tahiti

Change in plans; Sven and I flew on to Papeete today.

Andrew has decided to quit the arc for this year. And if you do stop then the obvious thing to do also is to stay longer in Rangiroa and especially to go to yet other atolls. The new 12V watermaker he had ordered will not be delivered in Tahiti for another 3-4 weeks.

It was an unplanned but perfectly logical change in plans that we all also felt good about very quickly. Tahiti is a real island where I definitely wanted to travel around for a few days before flying home and the same was true for Sven.

We then spent Saturday doing the necessary jobs on board and cleaning the boat. Sven arranged an rb&b and I arranged a rental car. For the flight we ended up with Air Moana. A new airline you need to know because the standard search engines doesn’t show this option. And instead of €200 the ticket now cost only €100.

Flying in this part of the world is a bit different. It is, of course, just a domestic flight but still. The airport is obviously very small and what is particularly striking is that there is no security check at all. You get your boarding pass and with that you walk 15m to the gate and that’s it. No fuss about liquids, luggage is not scanned. No questions asked either. The only thing asked for is your passport.

Arrival at Papeete

Arrival at Papeete was also a special experience. When we had walked the 100 meters from the plane to the arrival hall, the luggage belt started running and less than 2 minutes later we had our luggage and were ‘outside’ in front of the Hertz.

We weren’t the only ones there, picking up the car took about 1.5 hours, as long as the whole trip from Rangiroa to Papeete had taken. The plan was to drive by the Carrefour on the way to the RB&B to get some things for breakfast the next morning but that wasn’t going to happen. The only Carrefour open on Sunday closed at 8 pm. Fortunately the guy from Hertz knew a solution , the Marine market was still open … of course….

The place we stayed was super. Two bedrooms with a marvelous view on the ocean and Moorea from the balcony. That night I got into a bed that didn’t move for the first time in 4 months. That felt feel strange and  really nice at the same time.  But with that I also realized that sailing is now over for me for the time being.  Of course I already knew that since we had decided to disembark from Voyager II but now it really hit me. Very mixed feelings, As my return trip gets closer, I am starting to miss home more and more, too.

Exploring Tahiti

The last week Sven and I explored a (small) part of Tahiti.

It’s a completely different island, it’s also a real island. It is quite a strange idea that the atolls of the Tuamotus must have once looked the same. It is hard to imagine that in ten million years Tahiti and its mountains and volcanoes will have eroded into a lagoon surrounded by a reef.

Tahiti Faaiti valleyThe Society Islands are also quite different from the Marquesas Islands. The variety of vegetation and wildlife seems/is much greater. They also differ by as much as 10 degrees of latitude.

Tahiti, with Papeete as the capital of French Polynesia, is quite a western looking island with a corresponding infrastructure. The Carrefours where we did our shopping also have fairly large ‘Mediamarkt, Hema and Blokker’ sections. The contrast with the ‘stores’ on the Tuamotus couldn’t be greater!

The first day we drove a bit into the Papeno’o valley and then walked a bit into the Faaiti valley.

The road marked on the map to cross the whole island from just below Papeete was mostly a road on the map. In reality it was more like a track, half road I would say because about half of the toplayer was missing with mostly potholes and holes in its place. So it took us almost 45 min over the 10 km to the parking lot.

Once we arrived at the parking lot it turned out that the hike we wanted to do started on the other side of the river. The sign also said that this hike crosses the river about 10 times and oh yes, there are no bridges. So you just have to go through them.

Anyway, it was very rewarding. Nature here seems to have kind of exploded. Everything grows especially exuberantly here and the variety is very special. One moment you walk in a bamboo forest, which you can almost see growing before your eyes, the next moment you walk in a Palm forest and 100 m further again in a tropical rainforest.

At the 2nd crossing we decided to turn around and go back. Especially the mosquitoes played a role in this decision.

Next day we did another nice hike Sven had found on Wikiloc. That’s a super app by the way!

Last days on my own

Thursday the 27th, Sven flew back to Germany. I still had a few days before my flight on May 1st. That is… April 30th because I had to be at the airport by 00:00 on the 1st. After dropping Sven of I had to move to another RB&B because the one we were in was rented out consecutively.

That Friday I did a very nice hike: the Vaiphi’s river trail. That was a really cool hike! On my last day I went into town once more to buy some last gifts for home. And then it was packing up…

Returning the rental car went very smoothly and I got to the airport on time/way too early. At 03:00 I flew to Auckland, a 5 hour flight. Then a 4-hour stopover and then a 10-hour flight to Singapore. There another 7-hour stopover for my connection to Amsterdam.

Quite a trip if you write it down like this but that doesn’t make sense when you consider that from September 2022 to May 2023 I was traveling from Malaga to Papeete.

Unfortunately this will be the end of my circumnavigation for now. I won’t be returning to Amanzi. Chances are I might start all over again sailing with Chris and Anne on Annie’s Song in 2024 or 2025. That would be real great. I’m gonna fly over to Croatia to sail with them later this year and we’ll talk about it there and then.

For now I’m looking forward to be home again and celebrate my anniversary, my granddaughter’s first birthday, my wife’s 50th birthday and the wedding of my oldest son