Friday, August 26, 2016

Raiatea and Tahaa

After spending a few days in Avea Bay in Huahine, we made the short hop over to Raiatea on August 18th.  We entered the southern most pass and found a deep bay to anchor in.  Luckily, there were mooring buoys and we were able to pick one up, and spend the night there.  In many of the bays around the Society Islands, we have found free mooring buoys, because some of the anchorages are just too deep for a boat to use its own anchor.

Raiatea is home to the site of Marae Taputapuatea, one of the most important religious and historical sites in Polynesia.  Marae are open air temples (and, incidentally, this is what Dave and I stumbled upon in Huahine, when we went on the dinghy ride.  I had mentioned it in my previous post, but at the time, was not completely aware of what we were looking at!).  The marae and open air temples at Taputapuatea on Raiatea were a very short dinghy ride away from our anchorage, so we went there the next morning to explore.  The entire site is a candidate for inclusion on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it was extremely interesting to learn about the ancient Polynesian culture, and of course, a great school field trip!

Marae at Taputaputea.  The trees you see are sacred trees, as the birds that sat in the trees were considered messengers to the god 'Oro (to whom the marae were dedicated), and they used the bark and wood of the trees to carve their tiki idols

Some of the slabs were over 3 meters (almost 10 feet) tall!

Another view of the marae

Stone Tiki at the marae

View from the Marae site - I couldn't was just so beautiful!

Gaby found this piece of coral here that looks like a cross.  Quite ironic given the pagan nature of the place! 

After our excursion to the Marae site, we upped anchor and headed to the next bay.  We had heard there was a nice river to explore, so we moved our home and relocated to Baaie Faaroa and picked up another mooring buoy to go and explore the Aoppomau River. As we were getting into the dinghy, we were met by "James", who was on a kayak, and offered to show us the river as his home was up there. We were a little skeptical at first, wondering how much this guided tour was going to cost us, but he never answered that question!  We couldn't really decline, so off we went, James on his kayak, and us following in the dinghy.  Well, what an educational day it turned out to be!  First the ancient temples, and then a lesson on flora and fauna of Polynesia! (primarily Flora...we didn't see too many animals, other than James' dog, whom the kids loved!).  Gaby completed a paper for school entitled "Plants I Learned About Today" after our trip up the river!  She included drawings of the plants, a description, and what the plant was used for (eg: medicinal, decoration etc).

 James never asked for a cent for his time, he was just happy to share his knowledge and show us the river!  This friendliness is what we've come to experience from the locals pretty much wherever we go.  We of course gave him a tip, and bought a big bunch of bananas from him for $5!

The entrance to the river

Up the river

James showed us to a vanilla we are with the vanilla pods!

Row, row, row your boat (dinghy) gently down the stream...

The following day we headed over to Tahaa, the next island which shares a reef and lagoon with Raiatea.  We explored a couple of bays and then went to anchor on the reef in 5ft of beautiful, turquoise water.  We were pleasantly surprised to find our friends on Invictus and Excalibur already anchored there!  Invictus and Excalibur are the 2 boats we met in Huahine, and whose kids Ben and Gaby had played with while there (swinging off the side into the water).  Also anchored there was a boat we'd met in Rangiroa (in the Tuamotus), a Lagoon 500 with a Belgian family aboard!  It certainly is a small cruising community after all.  

Invictus ended up hosting a party with all the boats in the anchorage - we left the kids on Cool Runnings and had a great time with 6 other couples on Invictus!  Let me just add that Invictus is carrying about 300 litres of really good red wine, so you can imagine the most excellent party that was had!!!

The next day, Ben and Gaby completed a project that required them to design and build a sailing vessel.  They constructed the "SS Butter" (pronounced "Butar" according to Ben.  The reason for this name is that they used an empty tub of butter as the hull!).  The "SS Butter" was subjected to some sea trials in a pond created in the bean bag by all the rain we had overnight and then we attached a fishing line to it and let it sail off the back of Cool Runnings.  Dave has already posted the video of both of these events.  A great project and "SS Butter" is still alive and well!

Teamwork was required in the construction of the "SS Butter".  No adult help was allowed in the design and construction

The completed "SS Butter" complete with port and starboard lights.  Well done, Ben and Gaby!

Our anchorage in Tahaa.  Site of the launch of the "SS Butter"

She floats!  The "SS Butter" is dwarfed by "Wind Star", the 4 masted cruise ship that we saw in Tahit, Moorea, and now again in Tahaa!
Gabs and mom share a special moment :)  The next day we sailed to the north of the island to a place called "Coral Gardens".  We anchored the boat and then took the dinghy over to a coral reef.  We walked to the top of the motu, and then drifted down with the current over the coral.  Great snorkeling and we saw lots of beautiful fish!  

Our anchorage at the Coral Gardens in Tahaa looking over at Bora Bora

Benjamin enjoying sunset in Tahaa 

One more of the sunset in Tahaa:  next stop:  Bora Bora

Another great day and another beautiful anchorage.  Next stop, Bora Bora!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hot dogging in Dinghy on my birthday - Huahini Island, Society Group

No more formal sit down dinners aboard Coolrunnings ;)

Moorea and Huahini

The trip over from Tahiti to Moorea was a quick one.  We left Tahiti around lunchtime, and made it to Cook's Bay in Moorea that afternoon.  Moorea reminded us a little of the Bay of Virgins in the Marquesas, with its huge peaks looming over the bay.  The island, like most of the Society Islands, is surrounded by a reef, and the water around the reef was crystal clear.  Entering the pass was nothing like the atolls in the Tuamotus, and soon we were at anchor and enjoying sundowners!  We spent 1 night in Cook's Bay, and the next afternoon moved over to the neighboring anchorage in Opunohu Bay.  

Dave and Ben relaxing at anchor - Cook's Bay in Moorea

Moorea's Opunohu Bay

Beautiful clear water and a another view of Opunohu Bay in Moorea

We left Moorea on Sunday evening (August 14th) to head over to Huahini, the closest of the Leeward Society islands.  Since the trip is about 90 miles, we had to time our departure from Moorea to coincide with a morning arrival in Huahini, so we could enter the pass there.  By leaving just before dusk, and averaging a speed of 5 knots, we were able to arrive in Huahine at sunrise.  We traveled with 2 other boats that left at the same time, and it was the first time we'd done an overnighter with other boats.  It was both strange, and comforting to see their red port lights behind us all night.  We spoke to them on the VHF radio, and they were both Australian boats, and they were on their last leg of their circumnavigation!

We arrived in Huahine at sunrise, but had to travel up the side of the island to enter the pass, and then travel all the way down again to reach our anchorage at the southern tip of the island.  This scenic cruise gave us some gorgeous views into the interior of this island that is known as "the wild one".

Land Ahoy - sunrise over Huahine - morning of August 15th, 2016
 After we anchored and snorkeled and explored a bit, we saw 2 new boats enter the anchorage.  Not too long after that, a paddle board came over with a mom and 2 little girls.  They were from "Invictus", a beautiful, 52 foot Lagoon catamaran that we had seen coming in.  They are a German family, and the 2 little girls are 3 and 4 years old!!  They are the cutest little things, and are completely bilingual, with their mom, Nicole, speaking only English to them, even though both parents are German.  While we were chatting with them, another dinghy came over and we were introduced to Nicolas, Ann-Marie and their 3 kids on the French boat, Excalibur.  Soon all kids, and all parents were at the beach getting to know each other.  To me, this is what cruising is all about.  Where in the world can you get 7 kids together:  3 French, 2 German and 2 American, of ages ranging from 3 to 12, all playing (and somehow communicating!) together on the beach and in the water, while the parents sit on the beach comparing boat and cruising notes?!  It was great to meet these new families, and we've made plans to keep each other posted on our whereabouts and we will definitely meet up with them again after we leave this anchorage.

Tuesday, August 16th dawned and it was Captain Dave's birthday!  The kids had made happy birthday cards, and the "Happy Birthday" banner was hung!  We looked back to a year ago when we were celebrating his 50th birthday in Florida, and were speculating where we would be a year from then...and here we are!  Not quite Bora Bora, but close enough!  We dropped the kids off at "Excalibur", the French boat, where they had a ball swinging from ropes and fenders off the side of the boat into the water.  I believe Dave has (or will) upload some video of the fun they were having.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!!  (Card by Gaby)
Dave and I took a dinghy ride around the point and explored another pass.  He really wanted to surf on his birthday, and we found a surf spot at the pass, but there was a little too much current and a reef a little too close, so Dave decided to give it a miss.  But we did enjoy watching the local surfers catch a ride, and we enjoyed dinghying around, exploring the beautiful surroundings.

Crystal clear water

A little cove we discovered on our dinghy ride

We also stumbled upon this archaeological site.  We still need to investigate what the significance is of the stones and how they were arranged, but it was pretty cool to find it!

 We celebrated Dave's birthday that evening with dinner at this little restaurant with chairs on the beach, bare feet in the sand!  It was terribly expensive, but, oh well...special occasion!!

Dave's birthday dinner in Avea Bay with Adrian, Michelle and Rebecca
Sunset over the anchorage
Tomorrow we move our home again to another anchorage on the next islands of Raiatea and Tahaa.  They are 2 islands that share a reef, and a big lagoon in the middle, and we've read that there is no shortage of beautiful, secluded anchorages.  So off we go again, to see what we can see!  For now, farewell from all aboard Cool Runnings!