15 Sept. 1986. 0800
Overcast, windy (30 knots)
Baje de Maroe, Huahine
Hi, all you wonderful people. my friends...
Pete Hilton and I greet you from yet another island in the Polynesia. We are anchored at Huahine, a small island about 100 miles west of Tahiti. Last night (and this morning) have been 'very windy, and since I'm stuck on the boat. I've decided that I would take the time to write to you all. However, if the wind quits and the sun comes out then this letter is going to take a back-seat. We really can't complain as the weather has been warm and sunny up until last night. Hopefully this wind will blow itself out soon and we'll be back to good weather.
Let's see, how to bring you up to date.. First off the good news is that Pete Hilton, an old (not in years) and dear friend came to visit on the 30th of Aug. She has five weeks vacation; which (horrors!) is now down to three weeks. Our plans are to sail to Raiatea, about 20 miles NW. Then we'll visit Tahaa, only a short sail away. Finally we will reach what some people call the most beautiful island of all, Bora-Bora. By then we will be running out of time and will have to sail non-stop back to Papeete and Pete's plane home. After she leaves, my plans are to try and get an extension on my visa. If successful, I'll return to Moorea until near Christmas. At Christmas time, whether I'm in Moorea or Pago-Pago (American Samoa), I'll fly home to be with my family. So much for future plans.. which could, of course, change daily.
Before I get started with the (mis)adventures of ODJ and I, want to thank all of you for writing letters to me. I've gotten about 20 or so in the last month. Thanks again, and be assured that I'll respond to all of them. just give me a little time. I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me to establish (and reestablish) our friendships through these letters. It's the next best thing to being there!
The last letter brought you up to about the middle of Aug., while I was still anchored in Oponohu Bay, Moorea. If you remember, I rhapsodized about the beauty of that bay. Perhaps someday I can share that with you, thanks to the video recorder. One afternoon I hiked five miles (all uphill) to the Belvedere (look-out). The view was fantastic, both Cook's Bay and Oponohu Bay were literally at my feet. The climb had been more that a thousand feet, and the elevation made for a sweeping panorama of ocean, bays and mountains. For almost the first time on this trip, I remembered to bring the video recorder and I got some footage to share with you. On the way back down I stopped at an archaeological site. The site has five maraes (temples), a council platform and several archery platforms. These are the only reconstructed forms of over 500 ancient structures. The restoration work was done by the Bishop Museum in Honolulu in 1967. Most of the maraes were built relatively recently, in the 1700's. Typically they are rectangular; 30 by 60 feet or so. The reconstructed walls are about three and a half or 4 feet high, all out of quarried local stone. The interior is paved with stones, broken here and there with upright slabs, which mark the 'seats-of-the-gods'. One end (East?) has a raised platform; which, not knowing anything about it, I guess to be an alter area. The archery platforms are interesting. They are about 10 by 20 feet, paved, with no walls. Bows and arrows were never used for warfare, but were only for sport. They tried for distance, rather than accuracy. High chiefs and priests were the only contestants. Common man had to be content with stones and spears, I guess. These maraes are found throughout the islands and we were to see more of them on Huahine. unfortunately, the video recordings of these interesting structures did not turn out too well. But now that the 'gear' is out of it's storage area we'll do more recording.
All of you know of my love of good food and good wine. On Moorea I was able to find both at a small Italian (not French!) restaurant. The Saltinboca, seafood pasta, and lasanga were out of this world. The owner is a wonderful woman from Milan, who came to Moorea on vacation sixteen years ago and decided to stay. She has built a fine resort, hotel and restaurant. I've eaten there several times, and was becoming a 'regular' until Pete and I sailed to Huahine.
Pete flew to Papeete on saturday the 28th of Aug at 9:30 PM. We spent that night in the 'big city' as the ferry had quit for the day. Sunday morning we got up early to visit the market. The 'open air' market is a fun thing but it's extra special on sunday. On sunday it's only open from 4 to 8 AM so the shopping is both crowded and hectic. We bought fresh veggies and fruit, (an avocado cost $7.00 US !) and the best pork from the Chinese merchant. The pork was the red smoked kind that you get in Chinese restaurants. At 9 o'clock we were on the ferry heading back to Moorea. While on the ferry we met some people who were going to be there a week or so. I 'held court' telling them about 'le trucks', where to eat, shop, etc. By now, I'm an 'old hand' on Moorea! A 20 kilometer ride on 'le truck' brought us to ODJ. The next few days were just 'kickback' days for Pete to get the tempo. We made one more trip back to Papeete to officially make Pete a crew member, and to check for mail at the port captain's office. We had planned to sail to Huahine on sunday, but there was no wind and lots of rain. The winds started to blow lightly on wednesday, so we got underway about 2:OOPM. With normal trade winds the 80 mile trip to Huahine should take about 20 hours.
Let me describe this passage:
Wednesday 10 Sept.: passage Oponohu Bay Moorea to Fare. Huahine Nui
1430: Anchor up, underway using motor to clear Tareu Pass. Speed 3 knots, wind light 5-8 SE. clear, 80F
1500: Cleared pass, set course to 295 mag, raised all plain sail, speed 4 knots, log 2 miles. wind shifting E
1700: Winds decreasing to very light (less than 5 kts). Speed 3 knots. log 8 miles. Changed jib to new jenny.
2030: Underway 6 hours winds remain very light. Log 18 miles, 3 knot avg. going too slow for daylight arrival
2330: Wind less that 2 knots variable direction, speed less than 1 knot, log 24 miles about 1/3 of the way in 9 hours. Too slow. If winds don't pick up will have to start engine. Clear sky, warm night. Pete is asleep in the cockpit will wake her at 2400.
Thursday 11 Sept.
2400/0000: Started engine. Log 25 miles. wind nil. speed 3.5. Pete is up and has first 2 hr watch.
0200: Change of watch. No change in conditions, still motoring at 3-4 knots. Log 32 miles, E swell 2-4'
0400: Pete back on watch 'till dawn. Wind light about 3-5 knots. Motor-sailing at about 3 knots. Log 37 miles.
0600: At dawn we were able to see Tahiti and Moorea from a distance of over 40 miles. Also Huahine is in sight at 285 degrees. Changed course to 285 . Estimate distance to island at 40 miles. Increased engine speed to 4 knots.
1100: Used sextant to measure vertical angle of highest hill. Calculate approximately 13-15 miles to go. Log 60 miles
1400: Entering pass into Naroe Bay. Log 75 miles, elapse time approx. 24 hours. Avg speed about 3 knots. Turned S to look for anchorage behind Motu Taiahu (atoll island).
1630: After searching for anchorage at motu, gave up and motored to head end of bay in protected shelter. Engine off running time 16.5 hours. Anchored at 1630, log 78 miles.
So ends this passage.
I only described this passage in those terms to give you some feel for how little 'heart' that I get in the logbook. I didn't say anything about the beautiful moon that was half full, nor about the flashes of phosphorescence, nor about the schools of flying fish that sparkle in flight; and how do I even start to describe the excitement of a 'new' island lying ahead low on the horizon. Or how about the feeling of expectation and wonder while looking for a safe anchorage in a new harbor. All of these things, and lots, lots more make this lifestyle so very rewarding. I wish that there were some way to share all of this with you. At least Pete has had her first small taste of it.
I want to remind all of you that I do want company, and you are invited to share this with ODJ and I. If not Polynesia, then Fiji or Tonga or New Zealand, or somewhere.
The time that Pete has been here has been a very special time for me. We have done a lot of fun things and just having someone to share all of this means so much to me. One of the things that we did together was to rent mopeds for a day and tour Moorea. The mopeds were actually small Honda 90 trail bikes. It was fun watching Pete, who had never been on a motorbike before, testing her wings' before we started the island circumnavigation. She did very well, with only a single knee scrape for the entire day; and that was when she was off the bike and pushing it uphill. We turned off the main (paved) road onto a dirt trail to find a waterfall (le cascade) that we had heard about. I, as navigator, lost the way and we ended up on trails that the small~machines were not meant to go. We never did find the falls, but in compensation we found a beautiful 'skinny dipping' pool. The water was cool. after the hot ride, and the setting was out of a movie. Lush tree ferns, wild orchids and 80 foot high philadendruns (climbing up coco palms) made a back drop that I'll always remember. We stopped often for ice-cold Hinano beer, as the day was warm and sunny, and bike riding is hot work. We found a deserted beach and went snorkeling amid coral heads on a sandy bottom. Unfortunately the diving on Moorea is not too good as most of the fish have been hunted out. We were to get much better snorkeling later here on Hauhine. Continuing around the island we visited the maraes and belevere lookout that I described before. We also 'found' a 'native village' on a back road,and wondered what it was doing way out in the 'bush' with no one living in it. Turns out that we 'had found a movie set! We turned in the bikes at five o'clock and hitch-hiked back to the boat for a real fun packed day.
Here on Hauhine. Pete and I, along with Ross and Paula (off the Canadian boat Bear Cub) rented a car. It was a funny little Renault with open sides and a canvas canopy for a top. We 'toured' Hauhine. visiting the many maraes and other archaeological sites. Hauhine could be called 'overgrown' in these islands known for their lush growth. Much of the fruit and veggies sold in Tahiti come from here by ferry.
We met a young man named Emile, who before we even said hello, had handed us a bag of more than a dozen cantaloupes! He later added a bag of about 20 cucumbers. At Papeete prices, this was $50 worth of stuff. So Pete and I have been stuffing ourselves with bananas (all getting ripe at the same time), cantaloupes and cukes. Also Emile came by with a dozen fish and fresh bread last night. In a way it's too bad that we have to leave here tomorrow and move on to Raiatea and Tahaa. But I do want Pete to see as much of these islands as possible, and move on we must.
1' 11 finish up by again thanking all of you for your letters. With a firm promise that I'll write back, even though it may take a little time. Be good to yourself.. and remember.