Thursday, April 28, 2011

return to Hiva Oa

After 4 very nice days at Hana Moe Noa, Evergreen returned to Atuona, in order to resupply and to disembark its extra crew. Can you imagine having houseguests for more than a month? Me neither! So although originally it had been agreed that we could continue aboard Evergreen for a month, or even two, after arrival in French Polynesia, it came as no real surprise when we realized that the time had come to sign off the crew list and embark on our own adventures. We had heard a lot of stories of crew relationships that had not turned out as originally expected, and sadly we had become part of yet another example. Enough said.

We wanted to continue traveling by sailboat if possible, but we couldn’t turn up any vacancies among the boats we had encountered in Tahuata and Hiva Oa. Clearly we were going to have to spend a lot more money at this point, traveling by air and staying in hotels or guest houses. However, beyond purely financial considerations, we had already invested a lot of time and effort to reach this part of the world, and we wanted to see the northern Marquesas and at least one of the atolls in the Tuamotus before flying home from Papeete. Were there any other options?

Turns out there was at least one – a combination cruise ship and interisland freighter called the Aranui. Judging from their website, you could only book a 2-week passage beginning and ending in Tahiti. However, our guidebook said that they would carry interisland passengers, space available. The Aranui pulled into Hiva Oa the night after we returned, so early the next morning I paddled the kayak to the boat ramp and walked over to the Aranui’s gangplank.

Once aboard, it was a short walk to the reception desk, where I was told that there was indeed space available, and that at least several other sailors had also been asking. I hurried back to Evergreen and brought Vicki along for a more serious look. Although the Aranui would no longer carry tourists on deck class (only locals qualified for this discounted passage), they would let us rent a vacant cabin. The handsome young man on duty was incredibly friendly and helpful. Manaarii (Tahitian for royal power) turned out to be one of our best friends on the staff and he certainly played an important role in our decision. After seeing the cabin and getting a rough estimate of the cost (final pricing approval needed to be obtained from the head office in Papeete), we agreed to sign up.

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