Monday, July 23, 2012

Huahine and Raiatea

Our sail from Moorea to Huahine required an overnight passage and some
motor sailing due to very light winds.  The trip was very pleasant though
and throughout much of the night we had the lights several other cruising
boats in sight.  Our first glimpses of Huahine in the early morning light
revealed dramatic mare’s tails of spray blowing off the tops of huge waves
breaking over the island’s barrier reef.   The gentle, rolling swells from
the southwest that lifted “Blue Rodeo” as they passed were creating quite
a sight as they collided with the shallow reefs.  When it came time to
enter the reef pass leading to our destination, an anchorage near the
village of Fare, we were treated to the spectacle of surfers riding waves
as we surfed our boat through the entrance into the lagoon’s protected
waters.  Before long we were at anchor and enjoying the amazing scenery.
During the next few days, large waves continue to break over the nearby
reefs constantly filling the lagoon with water that would then flow back
to sea through the channel where we were anchored.  This created a
constant current that kept “Blue Rodeo’s” bow pointed toward shore and
made swimming from the boat challenging at best.

A shore-side exploration with friends Craig and Bruce revealed a charming
little town with friendly people and neatly kept houses.  Compared to
Tahiti and Moorea, Huahine sees few tourist visitors and we felt fortunate
to be there to enjoy the simple island life.  Our exploration revealed an
extremely well-stocked grocery market giving us an opportunity purchase
fresh fruit, vegetables and other supplies that we’d need for the weeks

On our second day, we shared a car rental with Craig and Bruce and took a
driving tour around the entire island visiting several restored
archeological sites, and a pearl farm.  Our drive also became a quest to
locate and feed the island’s famous blue-eyed eels.  Prior to leaving
town, Anne had purchased several cans of mackerel which, we were told, was
favored by the eels.  After asking directions, we zeroed-in on a drainage
canal, still wondering where exactly to find the eels.  Another clue came
in the form of a trash can filled to the brim with empty mackerel cans.
As we peered into the canal, still unable to see the eels, several local
children approached and politely asked for our cans hoping to participate
in the fun.  We were happy to observe and let them do the dirty work.
Canned fish in hands, they scampered down into the canal where they lured
the eels from their hiding place under a bank and created a feeding
frenzy.  We watched in amazement as the 4 to 5 foot long, blue-eyed
creatures swam, slithered and writhed around the children greedily
gobbling up chunks of mackerel.  It was obvious that the children had done
this many times before and were, despite the eels’ menacing teeth, totally
unafraid of them.  Anne couldn’t help but get involved in the action and
joined-in, even petty one of the eels as it fought for her mackerel.  She
remarked “eeww…they’re slimy!”

Days at Huahine were spent snorkeling the nearby reef and evenings ashore
socializing with many familiar and newly-made cruising friends at a
waterside restaurant that offered a splendid view and great happy hour
specials.  After drinks, we would often eat at one of the nearby
“Roulottes” (food trucks) where we found the best poisson cru we’ve ever
had served by a jolly and chatty local named Albert and prepared by his
hard-working wife.

The high point of our Huahine stay was watching the town’s young men and
women rehearse for and perform at the annual Heiva celebration.  This
celebration of life festival goes on throughout the islands of French
Polynesia every July and participants spend months perfecting their
dancing, and drumming.  While attending one of the rehearsals at a school,
were greeted warmly by the group’s instructor who made a special point of
making us feel welcome and explaining the history and significance of the
dance moves.  We enjoyed it so much that we attended another rehearsal and
stayed at the island an extra day to watch the final presentation with the
group in full costume.  While we were aware that bigger, more elaborate
productions took place on the Island of Tahiti, we felt that our
experience was so wonderful due to our being well off the tourist beaten

With more islands to see and time on our 90 day visa ticking off, we left
Huahine and sailed next to beautiful Raiatea where we would spend just two
days anchored inside its lagoon swimming, snorkeling and exploring the
most significant Marae (archeological site) in Polynesia.  There we saw
elaborate stone construction made of huge slabs of coral harvested from
the reefs by building fires at low tide and using the heat to fracture the
coral.  We can hardly imagine the effort required but it certainly makes
us appreciate the importance of these ceremonial areas to the people that
built them.

A second night was spent anchored by ourselves off a palm-covered motu
where we snorkeled in crystal-clear water and returned to “Blue Rodeo” for
a quiet, relaxing evening enjoying the sunset and each other’s company.
Our perfect evening was, however, made less so when Mark dropped one of
his contact lenses down our head’s sink drain.  Instead of lounging in our
cockpit and cuddling with his lovely bride, he spent the next several
hours on hands and knees, struggling in a confined space, disassembling
enough of the drain plumbing to successfully retrieve his contact lens.
Oh well, there will surely by more opportunities ahead for sunsets and
romantic evenings as we continue our travels.

1 comment:

  1. So happy for you both, sounds and looks like you're having an awesome time!! Miss you guys.....xo, Karen\La Cruz