03 July 2006

Baie De Opunohu

  • 03-Jul-2006
  • 17°29.2000"N/149°51.0000"E
  • Baie De Opunohu
  • Moorea, Society Islands
  • French Polynesia
As I write this, the sun is setting into the crystal clear waters of Moorea. I kid you not, but I can hear someone playing a ukulele over at the beach.

Last time we wrote, we had just arrived at the Tahiti Yacht Club. After hunting all over town for boat parts (electric fuel pump, sea strainer, snorkel gear), doing 8 loads of laundry, provisioning at a real supermarket, updating photos on the blog, and checking in with family using Skype, we headed out of the Yacht Club and into downtown Papeete.

Tom says the Papeete Quay is something all sailors dream about getting to see one day. So that was our next stop. It used to be a lot different down at the quay... crowded, with lots of rough looking boats, and a bit of a sketchy neighborhood. Well, it's all cleaned up now. There is a new pier with power and water.

It is not like a regular marina were you side tie to the dock. You "Med-moor" here. That is when you drop anchor about one boat's length away from the pier, back in, and tie off lines from the boat to the pier. This was our first time med-mooring. With a little help from our German neighbors, we were tied up in no time. Being tied at the pier you are right downtown. There is traffic zooming by, tourists walking the pier, and great access to lots of restaurants and bars.

We ended up really enjoying our stay on the quay. We stayed for 3 nights. On our last day on the island we did a half day tour, went to the Botanical Gardens & Gauguin Museum, and checked out some black sand beaches. This was a great way to see the island in one quick swoop. Papeete turned out to be not so bad after all.

Friday morning we said goodbye to Papeete and McDonald's and headed to Moorea, 17 nautical miles away. Moorea is our new favorite spot! When you think of paradise, this is it! The island is 37 miles round, with the highest point being 3500 feet or so. White sand beaches, beautiful turquoise water, flowers everywhere, and perfectly placed protruding mountains. It has everything you think paradise could have.

The sail over was uneventful, and actually not very comfortable. But Tom did see a local island girl pass us on a speed boat, topless, flashing the hang-loose sign at him. So that made up for the ride.

There are two bays here, Cook's bay and Upanoho Bay. Cook's bay named for Captain Cook, who cruised this area in the 1800's. He never even dropped anchor in Cook's bay. But he did in Upanoho Bay.

We set our anchor just inside the pass at Upanohu Bay in 15 feet of clear blue water. We tested out the waters for a short snorkel and then the winds came. That night was a little restless sleeping, as the winds really picked up, and boats got pretty close to one another. The next morning we had gusts up to 35 knots. We wouldn't have felt comfortable leaving the boat, so we just picked up anchor and moved inside the bay to Robinson's Cove, all the way at the end of the bay.

We went into town, met up with some cruiser friends, and checked out the local Mexican restaurant. There we met a honeymooning couple from Indy. It turns out we graduated the same year, and she knew half my class! Six degrees of separation.

We enjoyed a band that played Dead tunes, and even got a ride home from one of the guitar players. People here are great!

The winds died the next day. So back to anchoring in paradise for one more day of snorkeling the day away. Since the winds were going to stay calm the next few days, we headed over to the west side of the bay and anchored right in front of a construction site for a new small-boat basin. It was not the prettiest of scenery. But it is close to a town and some really swanky hotels.

The International Beachcomber Hotel is nearby. It features bungalows over the water for a mere $1100 a night. They have dolphins you can swim with, a turtle rehab area, pool, spa, all the goods. We actually crashed the pool today, but felt real uncomfortable, so we opted for more snorkeling.

While in search of the best tattooist in all of French Polynesia, we stopped for a fruit smoothie. This place was great. His house was his old boat. He was a sailor from France who came here 15 years ago. He started a charter company, then got in a motorcycle accident and had to move to land. So he just moved his boat too. His boat/house/restaurant is a double-hulled native canoe with a cabin and thatched roof. What a character. Great guy to just sit and talk to. He is really eager to get back out on the water again someday. We said we would take over his business.

We really like it here in Moorea and would like to spend forever here. But we are going to try to do two weeks. The visa expires on July 26, so we are getting close. This week we will keep ourselves busy with a tour of Tom's favorite juice factory, rent go-carts to tour the island, swim with rays, move the boat to Cook's bay, check out a $5 Polynesian show, and we found our tattoo guy. Tattoo appointments are set for Wednesday.

A big thanks to everyone that sent us care packages and mail. It was great to hear from some of you. We look forward to watching our new movies, reading our new books, and we are almost caught up on all of the latest tabloid trash. Thanks again.

Ok... one last story. So when we arrived at the Yacht Club I found a 4-inch flying cockroach living in the aft cabin. I wasn't happy about this. He would only come out at night, and he moved really fast. Needless to say, I didn't want to sleep in the aft cabin. Tom had no problem. The fourth night came around, and after chasing him with several shoes, we finally got him. We made sure this roach wasn't coming back on Sandpiper again. We squashed him in a paper towel, then rubber-banded a rock around him, and threw him in the water as far as we could. I'm happy to report we are bug free.

Notes from Ron:
  • Mont Tohiea is the highest pike on Moorea. It is 3,959 feet above sea level.
  • Mediterranean Mooring is a type of docking that maximizes the number of boats which can be docked to a pier. Each boat is docked with its stern to the pier with a rode and anchor going forward, away from the pier. Boats are then docked next to each other. Go to the bottom of this page so see an animated illustration of this technique.

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