July 2014 - Tahiti to Cooks

1 July 2014  Taina Bay, Tahiti
I worked on the generator water leak and found that the leak is in the stainless steel end of the water trap.  In order to remove the large component, I would have to lift the generator up by at least a foot, which would be a marathon job.  So, after a lot of agonising, I decided to bodge it by slapping on some marine epoxy to plug the hole.

It wasn’t easy.  I was hanging upside down across our engine and could only just squeeze my hand into two small gaps under the generator, so I had to work with a mirror and keep taking photographs to check what I was doing. 

It took over an hour to clear up the small area of stainless steel with a wire brush and some emery cloth.  I then daubed the marine epoxy on with a long kebab stick which was a mission with my upside-down, mirrored view of the job.  To make double sure, I put on another coat of epoxy in the afternoon and I’ll have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to let it cure before I can test it.

Trundling trollies along the road

Glenys wandered off to the shops to get some more food and we had a quiet night in.  Even though there are over a hundred boats in the anchorage, we don’t feel like socialising.  It’s expensive to buy food and drink in the marina bars and we’d have a long wet ride from where we are.  So far, I don’t have a good impression of Tahiti, but we’re able to get things done.  I hope that our sail will be ready tomorrow.

2 July 2014  Taina Bay, Tahiti
Ho hum, we did even more jobs to pass the time.   I tested our batteries, which have been low for the past few days.  I’ve had to run the engine and generator to maintain the voltage, so I was worried that I might have one or more dud batteries.  They all checked out okay, so it must be that we’re simply using more power than our solar panel and wind generator can provide - we’ve had quite a few windless, overcast days recently.

Hurrah! We picked up sail.  Michele has put patches on five seams on the tailing edge and then added a six inch piece of sail cloth down the leech to strengthen the weakened sail material.  He then put a double row of zigzag stitches down every seam.  A new leech tape was then sewn on the leech with a new 4mm diameter leech line.  Finally a new webbing loop was sewn on the tack of the sail to hook onto the roller furling.  It all looks good and he says that it’s bulletproof now - we’ll see.

We put the sail on the mast and it seems to roll away easier than it did with our bulky patching, which is great.  I tested the generator and it’s not leaking any more - more good news.   We went to supermarket for a final shop and we’re all set to leave tomorrow.

Michael and Charlotte from “Salamander” invited us over for dinner to thank us for giving them our old Carib dinghy.  Michael is a vegetarian and cooked up a fabulous starter and vegetable curry.  

3 July 2014  Taina Bay to Cooks Bay,  Moorea
We were up early and onto the fuel dock before anyone else.  It felt good to top up the tanks without the faff of lugging diesel around in jerry cans.  The last time that we were on a proper fuel dock was in Costa Rica, 7 months ago.  To make things even better, we got it duty free and only paid $1 US per litre, which is really cheap.  I don’t understand why they give duty free fuel because all the cruising boats would pay a lot more, but I’m not complaining.

Surfing wave right next to the entrance channel, Tahiti

We motored out of the Taapuna pass, where there were some impressive waves with surfers right next to the channel - scary stuff.  There was no wind at all for the 15 mile crossing to Moorea, but it was pleasant enough and the silhouette of the island was stunning.  I put up the main sail to stop us rolling in the swell and it was banging from side to side a little bit.  The snatching on the main sheet caused one of the pulley blocks to explode with a tremendous bang which scared us both to death - another little job to do…

We anchored in Cook's Bay just off the Bali Hai hotel.  It’s a very deep anchorage (around 20 metres) and there was no wind, which was causing the boats to swirl about, so it took us four attempts to anchor without being too close to another boat.  Once we were settled, we had a chance to gaze at the anchorage, which is very spectacular with pointed mountain peaks rising steeply up from the bay. 

The afternoon was airless and very hot, so we chilled out reading and napping.  Later in the afternoon, we’d swirled around again and ended up close to “Jean Marie”, so we upped anchor and moved closer to the shore - that’s five attempts to anchor - it’s a record for us.

4 July 2014  Cooks Bay,  Moorea
We were awoken at four o’clock in the morning by a tremendous crash as a very strong katabatic gust came shrieking down from the hills and tore our big sun awning loose.  It pulled out some grommets and put a rip in the front.  The worst damage was to a long boat hook that we have been using to keep the back end of the awning tight - it was bent 90 degrees and snapped in half when I tried to straighten it - more jobs.

In the morning, we ran the water maker and Glenys repaired the awning.  After lunch, we jumped in the dinghy and motored 1½ miles out to the reef by the pass into the bay, but it wasn't very interesting and there was a lot of surge.  However, this was the first opportunity that I've had to use my new underwater camera and, despite the poor conditions, I managed to get a reasonable picture of a Striped Surgeonfish.

On way back to Alba, we noticed that an American boat called “Wing Cutter” had dragged its anchor for hundreds of metres and was almost on top of "Ruby Slippers".  We went over to give a hand and found John from "Ruby Slippers" in his dinghy desperately trying to push “Wing Cutter” away.  It turned out that John was just a crew-hand and his skipper had gone out for the day, so he was unsure what to do.

Cooks Bay, Moorea

I hopped on board “Wing Cutter”, but the owner had taken the ignition key with him and locked all the hatches, so I couldn't start the engine.  I dropped a second anchor, which eventually held, meanwhile John paid out anchor rode to keep away.  We then pulled up "Ruby Slippers" anchor and re- anchored upwind of the “Wing Cutter” - John was very relieved.   

In the evening, we went to the Bali Hai hotel for happy hour (small beers $4US instead of $5US, so it wasn’t too happy).  However, they put on a dancing show for their guests and we were able to watch the show.  Six energetic dancers and a good band - these Polynesian girls can’t half wiggle their hips.

5 July 2014  Cooks Bay to Opunohu Bay,  Moorea
Craig from “Wing Cutter” came over and gave me a bottle of rum for stopping his boat from dragging, which was nice.   After breakfast, we sailed around to Opunohu Bay, which is only five miles.

We anchored amongst twenty other boats clustered between a public beach and the fringing reef.  It's quite noisy with locals enjoying the weekend and there's a constant parade of kayaks, jet skis and tourist boats from the nearby hotels.  However, the colour of the water is stunning and the mountainous peaks down the deep bay are impressive.

In the afternoon, we went snorkelling, but the nearby reef is very disappointing, with hardly any coral and the fish are terrified of people, which made taking photos very challenging.  I saw a few new species of fish, but the photographs that I took were very poor.

In the evening, Robert and Heidi from “Nuwam” invited us over for a few beers and a glass or two of Kir, which we’ve not had for years.

6 July 2014  Opunohu Bay,  Moorea
It was a lovely day, so we got up early to go for a hike.  We took the dinghy to the head of Opunohu Bay and left it chained to a tree on a small beach.  A road opposite the beach took us inland through farmland which looked very French with the neat fields and trees lining the side of the road.

The road meanders its way up hill, past a couple of archaeological sites and after 4 kilometres reaches the "Belvedere" (which means lookout in French).  There's a great view of the North side of the island looking down on Cooks Bay and Opunohu Bay.  The mountainous ridges around the valley are very impressive.  

One of the more interesting Marae

We went for a walk along some narrow paths that lead away from the Belvedere, which weave through the sub-tropical forest past giant tree ferns and lush vegetation.  Most of the paths seem to eventually lead down the valley, but we were unsure where they would come out.  We wanted to see the archaeological sites that we passed on the way up, so we retraced our steps and walked back down the road.  

The ruins are well maintained, but as with all Polynesian sites, they’re not too exciting being mostly low stone platforms called Marae.  These are built on sacred places where priests and chiefs used to perform religious ceremonies.  Here’s a quote from a notice board at one of the sites:

Ahu-o-Mahine is a marae typical of the coast and is said to date back to the 17th century.  It has a trapezoidal shape with a three stepped ahu (altar).  A great part of the structure is made from worked round stones or naturally round stones.  In the paved courtyard are two ofa’i turu’i (backrests) and ten ofa’i ti’a (upright stones).  They are typical for structures related to the worship of Oro, god of fertility and war, whose rituals demanded human sacrifice.  

We were back at the boat by lunchtime.   While I chilled out for the afternoon, Glenys went for long walk around to Cooks Bay, to convince herself that there was nothing else to see ashore and found … that there was nothing else to see ashore.