Monday, May 13, 2013

Tour of Raiatea

After Nicolas bled our engine it started right up, so we made plans to leave the paid mooring at Apooiti Marina, and move to the free anchorage a mile west near Raiatea Carenage. I wanted to find out about getting our propane bottle filled, and to see about getting the main hatch re-bedded (it leaks in heavy rains). When I went ashore, I was surprised to meet Sieg and Barbara from sv Sorceress, whom we had met in Moorea last year. Like us, they had laid their boat up for hurricane season, and were now heading west. It was fun to compare ideas, plans, and experiences. It rained quite heavily for most of the next couple of days and nights. We were easily able to fill our water tanks and do all the laundry and showering we wanted! After the rains finally ended, we decided to see if the engine was truly working, and take advantage of the light winds, by motoring toward the south end of Raiatea. We got to Nao Nao Islet by mid-day, and put the hook down in a small bay at its west end. The snorkeling was better here than in most parts of the lagoon, due to a heavy south swell and resulting influx of clear ocean water. But the visibility is still much worse than what we saw last year, due to all the rain. But the anchorage was a bit too tenuous to spend the night here, so we continued motoring in the afternoon, along the southern side of the island, and partway up the eastern side. We found a nice anchorage just north of Teavamoa Pass. We were only a mile from one of the most important historic sites in Polynesia – Taputapuatea. In the pre-colonial period, groups from all the neighboring islands would gather here. From here we followed the scenic coastline north to Faaroa Bay, home of Polynesia’s only navigable river. We dinghied up a mile or so, hoping to find a local guide to show us around some of the beautiful farms. But it was Sunday morning, and we realized that everyone was probably in church. So we dinghied back down the river and followed our ears to a large metal shed emanating harmonious sounds. We were welcomed in and shown to a pew, but the music soon ended and the sermon began – in Tahitian. Not being able to understand a word, we soon slunk back out and resumed our journey by boat. By mid-afternoon we had reached a nice looking anchorage just inside Teava Piti Pass, the main pass on this eastern side of Raiatea. After getting the anchor set and the chain buoyed up off the coral, we did a drift snorkel through the pass. Lots of fish, but the water was still pretty churned up from all of the rain. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset here, but our sleep was interrupted by a current change which floated the boat over our anchor buoys. They knocked against the hull for a couple of hours, then stopped. When I awoke the next morning, I found that the noise had stopped because the anchor buoys had become wrapped around the rudder! So I started the day with a nice bit of snorkeling to untangle our ground tackle. Next we motored the short distance to Uturoa, the second largest city in French Polynesia and home to not one but 3 markets. We were happy to find a few tinned meat selections we had not been able to find previously, such as turkey and chicken. We will rely heavily on canned foods during the long passages between here and Fiji, if the going gets too rough for cooking.

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