Tuesday 30 June 2015


Tuesday June 30th 2015

Our neighbours at the anchorage in Papeete

You know that you have been away from civilization too long when passing cars and trucks startle your children as they walk on the sidewalk! 

Amelie is currently anchored just outside the Marina Taina on the West Side of Tahiti, just South of Papeeté. Being in the largest urban centre in all of French Polynesia has been a bit of a shock to the system, but the people are just as lovely, and there are definite pluses too. What’s great about this anchorage : First of all, we have the most spectacular view of Moorea, especially at sunset. Secondly, we have had the privilege of being a ‘starting line’ for an outrigger canoe race: Tahitians are an active bunch and they can handle an outrigger canoe like nobody’s business, sitting in the cockpit we can see them go right by us, all in beautifully coordinated unison, and so darn fast ! And finally, we are near one of the best (maybe even THE best) grocery store in all of French Polynesia !  All we have to do is dinghy into the marina and then walk 10 minutes to the store, and they will let you bring your cart right to the Marina, it is so nice not to have to carry all those provisions on our backs ! 

Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti (‘Large’ and ‘Small’ Tahiti) 

Day tour of Tahiti. 

We wanted to get out of the city and see Tahiti’s more natural side so we rented a car for the day on Sunday. What a relief to see that Tahiti actually does have some very scenic sites !  We saw some very large caves, surrounded by lush forrest, towering waterfalls, stopped in to Tautira village where author Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) lived for a while  and was cared for by Princess Moe (of Tahiti). 

Moorea (Background) and the Reef as seen from Amelie

We also went up to the Taravao Plateau overlooking the Isthmus (narrow strip of land) between Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti (‘Large’ and ‘Small’ Tahiti). And of course we just had to go see the world famous Teahupo’o  (pronounced ‘Chai Po’) , home of the mythical wave and world class surfing competition. The wave, which is about 1 km out from shore, is said to be: consistent, huge and  perfect  which is of course what every surfer is looking for, but only the most experienced surfers attempt to ride it !

View of the Isthmus of Tahiti from the plateau

Teahupo’o, a world famous, mythical wave to surfers 

Other than this tour, we have been mostly working on the boat, trying to get through the most important items on the never ending To-Do List. Now that school is over for this year, we were able to get a fair bit done and ,even though we know we will never get to the end of the list, it still feels so good to check items off as they get done. Quite a bit of time has also been spent re-provisioning. The biggest one we’ve had since  Panama. Since we will soon have 4 teenagers on board (yikes!), this requires some careful planning of snacks and meals, thankfully Matthew has us well trained for this already!

Even with all the work that we have done on board, we have nevertheless taken the time to go see another great dance show one night (as part of the Orange festival on the weekend). It still amazes me how much energy the dancers display  for each performance and the drummers. keeping a furiously fast pace for the dancers, with their bare hands on these very tall wooden drums all the while signing and making loud war cries, quite powerful, ensuring that no one in the audience, not even Mark- who has been known to fall asleep in more than one occasion- could EVER fall asleep during the show. It is really nice to see how proud the Tahitians (and all French Polynesians) seem to be about their culture, not only with the dancing, singing but also with their traditional way of life (the canoes, tattoos) I think it reflects well on their education of their children, to carry this pride of their identity from a young age. Like I was telling Meg the other day : Imagine if the younger generation here all listened to modern music only and did not embrace their local traditions and music. As tourist, you and I would have a very different experience visiting these far away places !  We would not have a chance to learn from them about their roots, it would be a mush less interesting world to visit !  This helped us to have a new found appreciation  for all the work done in preserving different cultures, all around the world.


The renown food trucks , called “Roulottes” can be found on any given evening, through out Tahiti. These are more than your average food vendor. They set up tables (with table cloths and all!) and even have waiters come to take your order and serve you at your table . At the Main Roulottes area in Papeete, there are dozen of these trucks offering choices such as Pizza, Chinese Food, Steak Frites, Pasta, Poisson Cru, Crepes and even Fondus !  We enjoyed eating out at these on a few nights !  Yum Yum !

Coming up, our friends Sonia, Alexis and Olivia are on their way to us  from Canada as we speak, we look forward to sharing the nearby islands with them over the next 14 days ! Much love, 4Ms sailing

This two headed tiki has a tree growing out of it 

The market in Papeete

Eating out at the popular "Roulottes" in Tahiti

Beach, Tahiti


Meghan on Amelie (Written on July 6th 2015)

Io Orana from Tahiti!  In the past month, we have made it to the two other archipelagos in French Polynesia: the Tuamotus and the Society Islands (this last one being where the island of Tahiti is).  We have only been here and Moorea in the Society Islands but are looking forward to seeing the rest of them in a few weeks.  But first, let’s start at the departure from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus. 

The trip over to the Tuamotus was not really that fun.  No wait, let me rephrase that: the trip over to the Tuamotus was THE worst crossing I have ever done!  We were going almost straight upwind (which is uncomfortable all by itself) and there were big waves that kept crashing over the railings (and the railings are still about seven feet above the waterline!) and caused a lot of rolling.  It’s funny how I went 20 days without seasickness at all (which I am VERY grateful for) but then I had 3 days of constant uncomfortableness!  It was the first time we couldn’t do school on a crossing.  At night, there was no chance we could bring the computer up top to watch a movie because it would get splashed and we would get too seasick by doing anything but talking anyways. In the end, it was surely worth it though!  In fact, I would have crossed a 10 day crossing like that if it meant I would get to see the Tuamotus!

Raroia (pronounced ra-roya)

Our first stop in the Tuamotus, which we had to extend our stay in because it was pretty hard to leave a place like that!  The motu (island) we were anchored in front of was completely natural and uninhabited except for a small pearl farm factory which maybe meant about five people stayed on the islands on monthly cycles. The best part was we and two of our other friends were the only boats in the anchorage for at least 3 days! There was a small town of about 100 people or less on the main motu in Raroia but from our anchorage, you could still just barely see it on the horizon. 

It was a wide open bay so we thought it would be a really great place to play with all our water sports.  We took out our wakeboard, our Australian friends had two optimist sailboats and our other American friends had a windsurfer.  It just so happened that the father on one of our Australian friends’ boats used to be a kids windsurfing instructor so one day, we all went to the beach and he gave us all a lesson.  I definitely don’t have the hang of it yet but for the ten seconds I was up and sailing, I found windsurfing really, really fun! 

While we were snorkeling in Raroia, we caught sight of some clams which looked like they would have some meat in them so we collected a few.  It turns out that there wasn’t just meat in those clams, there were pearls too!  Now, don’t go crazy or anything because these aren’t round and so it’s not like they’re worth $1000 or anything but they’re still quite pretty and it was super fun to make a discovery like that all on our own!

At night, it was just like being out at sea again except we weren’t moving so it was a more comfortable place to star gaze. One night, we had a little potluck among us and our friends. Both of our friends brought the fish they had caught on the crossing over from the Marquesas (wahoo and mahi mahi) and we went on shore and caught some land crabs which we mixed into a salad type meal and we all ate together then played and watched a movie under the stars. 

Makemo (pronounced ma-ka-moh)

The town in Makemo was a bit larger than the main one in Raroia but I would only say by a several hundred people.  It was actually one of the cleanest, most beautiful towns I have seen on this trip.  It is the first village I have been to where even right at the dinghy dock, the water is clear as day like a swimming pool!

Fakarava (pronounced fa-kah-ray-vah)

Fakarava was quite a bit more crowded and more touristic than the other Tuamotus islands we had visited but still a lot of things to do and see! 

Because of the shallow reefs in the Tuamotus, we have to find a way to get into the bay without hitting the reefs. Now that the Tuamotus are on the charts, French Polynesia has set up markers  forming a channel (which we call passes) so we can safely enter into the bay.  We snorkeled a few of the passes in the other Tuamotus islands but the southern Fakarava pass was something very special.  

We found out that the Fakarava southern pass was actually a UNESCO Heritage Site! In fact, there was at least one film team collecting underwater footage for a new Disney Nature movie there!  There was also a charter catamaran that was filming footage for a  documentary about kite surfing and we saw a kite surfer who was probably going to be in that movie!

Actually, it was after we snorkeled and dove the pass that I found out it was a UNESCO Heritage Site.  I was also glad to hear that fishing was prohibited in that channel because we got the chance to see lots more fish and sharks that way!

I have never seen sharks like I have in the Tuamotus.  Since Galapagos, we have seen more sharks snorkeling than we had before but that still only meant at the most one shark a snorkel. In the Tuamotus, there were at least five each snorkel! They were only black tip or white tip reef sharks that were 4-6 feet so still “adrenaline rush” big but not dangerous. The Tuamotus sharks though, were extra curious about humans. You would see them in the distance and then you’d see them coming closer and closer and they would just stay close to you for about five seconds and then, they’d swim away. I’m telling you, even though some were smaller than me and I knew I’d win in a battle between them and me, my heart was pounding and I was holding my breath for those five seconds. I wasn’t really scared of them though (I actually found them really cool), I just had a few moments where I wondered if I may be under estimating their intentions! I guess it is just the knowledge that bigger sharks can and have killed people is a little bit of a scary thought. 

When we were diving, there were so many more sharks.  I am talking about dozens and dozens of them!  Because they were just in front of us and swimming with each other not us, it was less nerve racking.  There were baby sharks swimming with their parents, pregnant sharks, big sharks, little sharks galore!  There were even silver tip sharks which have the white dorsal fin, as well as the side fins too. 

School of sharks, photo taken by Meghan in Faka Rava

For those of you who were wondering, I will be making a video on diving and snorkeling all of that, probably as one video of all the South Pacific (or maybe I will do separate videos?) but due to sketchy internet here, I will have to post it in New Zealand most probably.  

Pacific Puddle Jump Party!

There is this organization called the Pacific Puddle Jump and it is for any boat leaving North America who is going to the South Pacific who would like any extra, helpful information.  We joined the organization and I’m glad we did because we also ended up being able to make it to this really great party they had organized just for the Pacific Puddle Jump members!

Moorea was our next stop after Fakarava and our first stop in the Society Islands and it’s where the party happened.  On the Saturday night, we had a nice dinner and then there was a special surprise at the end.  Some professional French Polynesian dancers (men and women) performed traditional French Polynesian dancing for us! 

I was very excited because I had seen some of the dances in the Marquesas and they were breath taking so I really wanted to see some more.  These dances were actually a lot better than the ones we saw in the Marquesas though.  The ones we saw in the Marquesas were vibrant but they weren’t as powerful and strong as this one. The women’s dances were always elegant and beautiful but don’t be fooled by that because they could move fast and energetically when they needed to!  Especially, their hips! I have no idea how much practice it would take to be able to move your hips that fast for so long without throwing up!  The men’s dances were spectacular too but very different from the women’s.  Their main focus of the dance was to get it out there that they were strong, powerful warriors that will cut you to pieces if you say the wrong thing!  No seriously, there were some dances with machete throwing!  The dances were incredible because it was so amazing to see that even hundreds of years later, people still do the traditional dancing of their culture and they are still so proud of it!

The next day, it was sports day!  The main sport was canoe racing where each team had a six person traditional Polynesian canoe (each canoe had two locals) with an outrigger. Plus the canoes were so prettily decorated with flowers and everything!  Team Amelie came in third out of fifth place in our heat!  Later, there was a kids canoeing race where I teamed up with the kids from two other boats made we made it fourth out of fifth place! Later that day, there were more activities like obstacle course racing and a sarong styling demonstration. All in all, it was an awesome party!

Now, we are here in Papeete (pronounced pa-pay-tay), the main city of Tahiti and we are enjoying the spoils of the city again: buses, malls, big grocery stores and all that. We also rented a car to tour the island and so here are a few glimpses of the nature part of Tahiti to end it off.  After this, we will be making our way through the Society Islands but that is next month so nana (bye bye) for now!

The old tower in Papeete

Another breathtaking waterfall.


1 comment:

  1. Robert Louis Stevenson territory!!!!!! Phenomenal!

    I never thought even ONCE in my lifetime, until you mentioned it, how coming to Canada as a tourist is a "multicultural" event but not in the root sense. What would a day be like in Canada as a tourist if our music and dress were all base cultural and not modern? A children's short novel in the making for Meg to write ;-)

    Enjoy your company! Thinking of you from way up North xoxoxo