30 Sep Travel Journey 14 | Tahiti – Maupiti
Travel Journey 14 | Tahiti & Maupiti
2 juli 2019 – 26 augustus 2019
After a few beautiful weeks on Tahiti we lift anchor and sail to the neighboring island of Moorea. This island is known for its overwhelming nature and beautiful clear water. It is a 20 mile trip and we have good weather. It takes a while before we have the wind in our sails because of the high mountains on Tahiti, but in the end we have a nice speed. Of course the rods go out but this would prove useless. Since we left the Tuamotu’s, we have never had a bite, while things were going so well for that. According to the local fishermen, this is due to the enormous Japanese fleet of fishing vessels that come here twice a year and fish the entire sea empty. Fortunately we are not dependent on our fishing, but for many here the impact is huge!
When we arrive at Moorea we decide not to lie in the dark blue water of the Cook’s Bay, but at the azure water just before the entrance of this bay. While we lower the anchor, we already see several arrowheads swimming under the boat. A little further behind us lies one coral rock after the other and we have a view of a coast strewn with palm trees. A beautiful place.
We explore the island with a bicycle. There is one road on the island that runs along the coast all the way around the island and is 65 km long. Our SUP boards are also widely used for trips on the crystal clear water and between the huts on stilts. Plastic is hardly available here, but that does not prevent us from making an appointment at the local school for a plastic education morning. The director is immediately enthusiastic and we make an appointment to teach 3 different classes the next day. What we don’t know yet is that the next morning would be one of the most exciting moments since the start of our journey.
A tropical storm is expected the next morning, but we think we are sheltered on the lee side of the high mountains of Moorea. However, hearing from a fellow sailor that the wind can fall over the mountain here and can sometimes be 10-15 knots harder than predicted. To be sure, we are releasing an additional anchor and hoping for the best. The next morning the director is at half past eight, in the shadow, at the appointed place to take us to the school. At the same time, it is now chaos on board with us. Gusts of wind over 100 km / h fly over the deck while we try to tie everything together. When we suddenly hear a loud bang and see the ship lying across the wind, we know enough. The anchor does not hold and we have just landed on the coral reef! Immediately Niels flies behind the wheel and starts the electric motor while I try to pull in the anchors. We manage to get the nose of the ship back in the wind and to drop the anchor a hundred meters away in a deep channel. We give all the chains that we have until we calmly lie in the wind. In the meantime, we see objects blowing in the air and several dinghies with outboard motors fly upside down. Only deep into the night does the wind begin to decrease. The next morning the underwater ship is checked and there appears to be a big hole in the keel. Fortunately not through the entire hull and we do not make water. We know how to fix this with kneadepoxy and we realize all too well that we have crawled through the eye of the needle and that the journey here might as well have been over.
Not only are we relieved that everything went well, my father and uncle also realize that their vacation could have looked very different if they were at Tahiti airport a week later. For weeks they have been looking forward to the two weeks of summer vacation they would sail with me. Niels and Bibi allow me time with my family and are in an AirBnB. We have a wonderful time together and include a two-day trip from Tahiti to Huahine, snorkeling in a coral garden on Tahaa and a tough and exciting hike to the top of the mountain on Bora Bora. Time flies and after two weeks my father and uncle are exchanged again for Niels and Bibi.
On Bora Bora we have to take a longer term. The following destinations, Maupiti and Palmerston, are so remote that you run the risk of empty shelves in the store, if there are any. We leave Bora Bora with a rather tricky weather forecast. Maupiti is only accessible with a ship when the sea is calm. The entire week before our departure, there was not a single ship that dared the access pass in or out due to the high waves, but according to the forecast, the swell would decrease.
After a short trip of half a day we reach Maupiti. The waves at sea are not too bad, but the entire coast of Maupiti is covered in a white mist. As far as we can see we see large breakers breaking on the coast. I look down the coast with binoculars looking for the entrance to this atoll. We can hardly imagine that we can sail in here somewhere and are already starting to prepare for the trip to Palmerston, 600 miles away. Then suddenly a strong swirling stream appears before the bow. The water here flows off the coast at a considerable speed, but the waves no longer break here. The pass! Ever since we left Panama, we no longer have a working diesel engine that could serve as a back-up, and recently the emergency generator no longer works either. We fully roll out our genoa and make the most of the electric motor. We sail half wind and motor sails with a speed over the ground of 2.5 knots into the pass. We have enormous power against it, but we finally manage to sail inside. A light blue lagoon with crackling clear water, surrounded by palm trees, lies ahead. Large rays and other fish shoot under the boat. In the middle of the lagoon lies the mountain “Te Uru Fa’atu”, the remains of a former volcano. When the anchor falls into the water and has dug itself in, we look around in wonder. Now first an anchor beer!
The next morning we set off with the snorkels. Around 30 manta rays seem to be swimming here in the atoll. During our first dive we see 3 huge manta rays. They don’t seem to care much about us and regularly “fly” less than a meter away. Very impressive. After a while, 30 tourists are dropped into the water, which is the signal for us to leave again and come back somewhere at a quieter moment.
The wind has increased again and the waves have built up, so we cannot leave the atoll. We take a beautiful walk to the top of the mountain where we regularly have to hoist ourselves up with ropes. The view we have is enchantingly beautiful. When we walk on the beach the next day we notice something else. You walk hundreds of meters on the beach without even encountering 1 piece of plastic. We continue to be surprised that one beach is completely littered with plastic, while the other is completely clean. We think it has to do with the ocean currents.
I learned from a friend how to launch my kite from the aft deck of the ship and since then I have been able to kite a lot more often. Here too the conditions are beautiful and I sail back and forth while large fish shoot under me. Sometimes during a jump I see a huge black spot moving quietly through the water, a manta. It stays nice and quiet around us with boats because of the strong wind and high waves. Nobody can reach or leave the island. Fortunately it is no punishment to have to stay here for a while.