Wednesday, 24 June 2015

FAKARAVA to MOOREA

It feels like its been a while since I’ve written...has it been….?   I’ve lost track of time. 

Faka Rava
I’m trying to remember all that’s gone on since I last wrote...I believe I left you off as we were in Makemo in the Tuamotus.Ok, so, after leaving Makemo, we headed off to FakaRava, where we’d heard there were more people, and possibly even a restaurant.....??!!


FAKARAVA : 
Like the other atolls we had to time our entry in through the reef and estimate the tides (there are no actual tide tables available, and so you have to guestimate the tides and currents....which means that when we get to the pass, we stop and watch.....and then we communicate with any boat that is near us to share any information we may have, then we have another look at the pass, turn the engine on, bite our lower lips and head in.....all hands on deck....its a bit unnerving , but lots of fun too , and what a relief once we are through! 

  
Matthew enjoying a quiet beach in Fakarava

Fakarava was a real treat and so worth the visit!  We did not know until we got there that the pass was a protected UNESCO HERITAGE site. The snorkeling and diving is spectacular....no wonder it is rated as one of the top in the world!  So we spent everyday in the water.....looking around....While Meghan and Mark are the divers in the family, Matthew and I like to stay at the surface, me wearing a mask and snorkel and he, preferring the more natural “ Take A Deep Breath-Stick Your Head Under Water-Open Your Eyes Wide” approach....he really IS part fish!  Anyways, the highlights from my view point at the surface was : seeing a SCHOOL of sharks (dozens of sharks swimming, slowly, just below me).. the variety of the reef fish whose colours dazzle in the crystal clear waters.. the giant emperor fish AND finally: swimming under the restaurant’s (yes there WAS a restaurant after all!) deck while negotiating with a shark on who should have the right of way in the narrow pass between the pillars!  I let him go first.  I thought it was the polite thing to do, after all it IS his ocean.....but as he brushed right past me as he swam by it gave me such a THRILL!  Meg and Mark went diving everyday and they would see the same sharks as we would, except that instead of dozens, they were swimming with HUNDREDS of them....an experience they will never forget!



One of the many sharks we swam with

It's no wonder Disney is currently filming a nature film here, and we heard that BBC was just here a few month ago doing the same.  Maybe one day we will get to see Fakarava again, on the big screen.....
The restaurant in Fakarava


We could of easily stayed much longer in the Tuamotus, but, we are only allowed to stay 90 days (in total) in French Polynesia, and there are still Tahiti, Moorea, Riatea and Bora Bora waiting for us with only 30 days left  ....AND our friends are scheduled to arrive in Tahiti soon.So, we raised the anchor on June 16th and set sail for Moorea. We wanted to arrive in  time to partake in the Tahiti Rendez-Vous celebrations which were happening on the weekend. Morea, (like Tahiti), is a beautiful mountainous island surrounded by reefs. We arrived at the entry to Cooks Bay at about midnight on the morning of the 18th. We had never come into an anchorage so late at night before, let alone gone through a reef in the dark! (Moonless night!)  But Mark had done his homework checking the accuracy of the charts we have and he knew that the pass was well marked with navigation lights including range lights to get you in and down the bay (you have to love the French for that too!) So, after heaving to outside the entrance for a bit to let a small squall blow past, with Mark at the helm armed with our charts, radar and Google Earth image overlays (on the chartplotter and computer), and with me on deck keeping watch and calling out depth ...we made it through without any issue....we then had to find a place to anchor (I had to stand on the bow and use a flashlight to make sure we didn’t hit any other boats, as it was pretty dark!). We had a good night sleep and woke up to the breathtaking scenery of Moorea....tall mountains all around...reminiscent of Fatu Hiva’s Bay of Virgins.....but with fancy resorts ! 

"RENDEZ VOUS" FUN !

Coconut Grating Demonstration

The “Moorea-Tahiti Rendez-Vous” is an annual event held  for sailors who have crossed the Pacific.The events took place at one of the resorts called the Bali Hai.  The weekend was packed full of activities such as Polynesian Dancing, Traditional Outrigger Canoe Races, Good Food and Music, Demonstrations such as Coconut Husking, Weaving (with banana leaves) Rock Lifting, Sarong ('Pareo') Wrapping and even how to make beautiful head dresses and lays with flowers. 


Team Amelie ready for the Race !


The timing was perfect, as it was Father’s Day weekend, and my birthday...how lucky for us to have so many fun activities happening on that weekend!   In short; we had a blast!  Team Amelie got in third place (out of 5) in our heat of the canoe race....mostly because of our two local team mates (there were 6 seats in the narrow (and beautifully decorated) canoe....the front and back seats were occupied by the true professionals and the 4Ms sat in the middle seats, one behind the other. With the guidance of our experienced team mates we used our wooden paddles, digging deep into the water, switching sides when we were called to do so.... and paddled our hearts out!  (Matthew got to just sit and enjoy the ride). The whole things lasted maybe 15 minutes......but it was exhilarating to go so fast thorough the water and to cross the finish line! 



Meg (3rd from front) in the Kids Canoe race



The dance shows on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon were just FANTASTIC!  The dancers were so darn good  ( I had no idea a woman’s hips could move like that!) There was so much energy!  My favourite were the men....when they did their warrior dance (like the New Zealand ‘Haka”)....they really put their heart and soul (and muscles!) into it!  I could easily see how this would intimidate any rival....especially at the end of the dance when the men threw themselves into the audience with a loud war cry (and flying sweat) they would land mere inches away from a spectator’s face, freezing into a cold, angry stare....for 10...20 seconds of silence....really intense! 
I should know because I was the recipient of one of those stares....I shall  never forget those angry dark brown eyes looking into mine for what seemed like an eternity,  Of course after the spell is broken,  the same men relax and break into their signature friendly smiles....the act is done, and you can breath again but ....just.....wa-a-wow!
I wish I could of captured THAT on film! 


Birthday Girl Gets a Lift





Meg had a great time with the demonstrations and even took part in a relay race where she had to run carrying two stocks of bananas (one stock on each end of a bamboo pole) around a course. Matthew loved the music (loud drums!) and swimming in the Bali Hai Pool!  Mark had a great time catching up with all the cruisers we had met from Panama to Moorea....so many familiar faces and names....so many stories to swap!






After the party wrapped up, we sailed to Tahiti (Monday) and have been enjoying the hussle and bustle of the “Big City”....The last two days have been spent shopping, crossing items off of our boat list.....and of course we had to stop in to McDonalds.....to have  ice cream sundaes!  


Coming up : 

We have a few projects to work on before our guests arrive....tomorrow is the last day of school and so we will have more time to get all those things done !
Well, we hope you are enjoying your summer....here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are entering winter......but happily no winter boots or toques will be needed ! 


Loads of love
4Ms at sea
Society Islands

A "Sea Biscuit", like a "Fat" sand dollar, found intact !



Meg and Tristan ...the youngest and cutest crew member of SV Kazaio


This is one of the beauties that got away….a  5-6 foot sailfish we hooked between Tuamotus and the Society islands……





3 comments:

  1. On pense bien à vous, on vous embrasse.
    C'est bon de vous lire ;)

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  2. We're not incredible restaurant fans here in the North. There are some exquisite places to eat, we just prefer our own cooking. However I can only imagine how delicious of a treat it was to experience a restaurant after so long without!

    From the time that Matthew was born, I have found something so exquisitely peaceful about photos of him on the beach. Perhaps it's because that's where his heart has always belonged, so near the water : ) xoxoxo I laughed SO hard at your description of his "Take A Deep Breath - Stick Your Head Underr Water - Open Your Eyes Wide" technique ; ) Hey mon, if it works for him ... ; )

    I pray that Mark had the GoPro at some points while him and Meg were diving. I would love to see video footage of diving/swimming with HUNDREDS of sharks! Again, it all evokes such a peaceful feeling to imagine that the sharks must have innately trusted you as much as you they!!!!! Phenomenal! Oh my wow we love living vicariously through your descriptions!!!!!!

    Reading of Mark's entry into the bay at night makes me smile. I fall more and more in love with Lorne every day simply for the peaceful confidence I have in him to handle any situation regardless the task. If he doesn't know it already, he'll learn it ... and he's never wrong. (Don't tell him I said that) So here you are heading into a moonless night and into a pass ... but you had the best Captain you could, of that I am sure! And he the best co-pilots! You make an outstanding family of sailors!!! I love it!!!

    To fall asleep in the dark some place new and wake to look around you and discover all that God meant the earth to be ... just ... wow! Absolutely wow! Ahhhhh MC, you paint such GLORIOUS word pictures!!!!

    The image of the man for the "Coconut Grating Demonstration" also makes me smile. He looks like he could have stolen a few islander's hearts in his day with that smile. It comes straight from his heart, doesn't it? ; ) And oh the tattoos!!!! I love it!!!!

    Let it be known not ALL women's hips move like that. Mine are more of a creek creek grind grind motion akin to that of a broken belt trying to move across a rusty gear ; )

    As ever, your blog was a delight to read! I can't imagine trying to capture all of these stories on your return home, missing so many things that may have seemed small at the moment but were of critical importance in the whole of things. We are so blessed that you decided to start and maintain a blog. You are so very busy and yet you take this time to record your memories and keep us up to date. We are eternally grateful! Bless your heart!

    Our love in abundance!
    xoxoxo
    Lorne, Crystal & Tay

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  3. You will all have an incredible book ready to publish when you return home!! As I said before I hope your family is contiplating a new career in public speaking (motivational of course). Each of your stories over the months have been so amazing. I am simply in awe of you all!! Thanks for allowing us all on your trip if only in our imaginations.

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