16 April 2017

We’ve had an incredibly busy last 4 months since our arrival and tomorrow we start the next great adventure!

We’ll be DRIVING our Ford Everest SUV from Sydney to Perth with stops in Canberra, Melbourne (a quick flight to Tasmania!) and then on toward Adelaide and across the Great Nullarbor Plain to Esperance, Albany, through the Margaret River in into Perth.  The total distance will be around 3500 MILES (5000 KM)  and we expect to take around 3 weeks.  For our Stateside friends, think of this as driving from Washington D.C. to Miami and then on to Los Angeles!

We’ll try and post photos and blog along the way. It should be an incredible trip.

In December we moved the boat to Sydney Harbour where Skye, Sean, Hollie, Adam, Billie, Jak and Sara met us as well as sailing friend Tony Roberts and friends Bernie Hester and Rebecca from Perth as well. All joined us to watch the start of the famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and then for the Fireworks at the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.  Skye, Sean, Nikki and Scott even did the hike up the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

While here, we’ve also taken two long driving trips up to Brisbane and back, as well as a two week trip to all of New Zealand by air!

We’ll be doing a massive upgrade of the website when we arrive in Perth and will back post the missing blogs and photo galleries.We’ve moved the boat back up to Pittwater about 20 miles north of Sydney Harbour where she is indeed looking fabulous and yes, finally up for sale!  Beach House turned 13 years old today!

Hugs to all and feel free to drop us a note anytime.

Scott and Nikki – Newport, Sydney – Australia

 

August 27, 2016 (-10 on UTC)

Dear Friends and Family,

We finally got the engines installed, the boom attachment (gooseneck) fixed and the steering seals replaced and we’re off to the island of Moorea, an entire 12 miles away!

Everything seemed fine (but standby – stuff yet occurs).

We motored across the “Sea of the Moon” as the channel is known in Polynesian – the body of water between Tahiti and Moorea.

We anchored in an old familiar spot and would do an island drive, self guided tour the next day before heading the 80 miles to the island of Huahine – The island of the women in Polynesian.

Tony Roberts from s/v "Tactical Directions" had to return to Papeete and took this photo of us as we were leaving the dock.

Tony Roberts from s/v “Tactical Directions” had to return to Papeete and took this photo of us as we were leaving the dock. This was our ‘home” at Marina du Papeete for the previous 2 1/2 month while doing repairs..

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The island of Moorea in the background. A local “V6 Crew” in their canoe with Tahiti’s reef at the main harbor exit behind them.

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Canning is the national sport and a complete lifestyle for many Polynesians. This is the entrance to the harbor at Papeete with the notice to call Port Control as the airport runway is just off to our right. You need permission to pass in either direction.  The “Aranui 5”, one of the local inter island cargo and tour ships is in the back ground.

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This is one of many high speed catamaran ferries that go between Tahiti and Moorea daily. The trip can be as little as 25 minutes each way. Many locals actually commute.

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This is an important memory of my time in Tahiti in 1977. This is the very spot, right behind the navigational mark, that my 32 foot ketch, “Triad II” went aground. That’s another story for another time. Fortunately, we were towed off the reef the next morning and the conditions were extremely benign that fateful June evening in 1977.

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Moorea and the “Sea of the Moon” as seen from Tahiti. The trip to the northern anchorages is 12 miles.

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Arriving at Moorea, you can see the inter island “puddle jumper” who left Papeete 10 minutes before hand, about to land on the outer motu runway.

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Oponohu Bay – Moorea. This is m/v “Wind Spirt” –  a sort of sail-power cruise ship. You get the feel and the experience of the “days of sail”, but of course the sail is mostly for show. The landmark in the back ground is the famous “Sharks Tooth”, seen in many Hollywood films from “South Pacific” to “Mutiny on the Bounty”.  Captain Bligh as well as Captain Cook actually did enter and anchor here.
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Tiare Nikki… Nikki loved the floral lei’s and head flowers known as “Tiare’s”,worn by many of the local women and enjoyed having the fresh flowers and floral scents around the boat any time.

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Rainbow at Oponohu Bay.  This is the parallel and sister bay to “Cooks Bay” to our left.  Huge cruise ships can enter and anchor in these tow sister bays.

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You really get the feel with this classic Swiss yacht of the olden days of life at sea under sail.

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A Byrd on a Wire!…. This classic sailing vessel was gaff rigged and had “ratlines” to go aloft. These allow the crew to inspect and repair gear as well as have a longer distance view of low lying reefs and atolls.

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Captain Scott, on tour with First Mate Nikki in Oponohu Bay, Moorea.

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The floral “Tiare” with many of the local flowers including the gardenias and frangipani. The smell was fabulous and would waft everywhere through the boat.

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“Wind Spirit” under full sail. Actually, I think the sails can add only about 1 knot of boat speed and quite a bit of stability to these hybrid cruise ships. They would be in Huahine after an over night passage.

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Sunset at Moorea. Nuff’ said.
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We rented a car for the day island tour and were lucky enough to come upon this small boutique “pension” who allowed us to use their dinghy dock for the day.

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This is the classic “Belvedere” photo that everyone was lining up to take. I took many with Cindy here in 2009 and 2010…..Life’s memories.
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Oponohu Bay on the left (west) and Cooks Bay on the right (east). Despite the fact that “Cook’s Bay” is on the right, it was actually Oponohu Bay that Captain Cook anchored in. Both are easy entry and offer incredible protection for an anchored boat. We’re anchored to the left of the peak and behind it, inside the reef.

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At the foot of the “Belvedere” we got a close up look at some of the incredible geology of Moorea.

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There are experimental farms on Moorea and in the last 10 years or so, they’ve started growing pineapples.

 

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The islands of Tahiti, Moorea and especially the “Sous les Vents” (leewards) are renowned for their vanilla plantations.

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The Vanilla plants are completely enclosed in netted pens to keep certain pests away which would otherwise decimate the vines. We caught this dragonfly resting on the inside of one of the vanilla pens.

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This is a a gardenia which is the primary flower used in the “Tiare Tahiti’ floral crowns.

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This is the northwest side of the top of the island as seen from the top of “Magic Mountain”. Magic Mountain is a local view hike that takes about 45 minutes and is quite steep. We were pretty tired and of course, it’s hot!

The second largest town is below us and the Intercontinental Hotel is on the far left. The hotel is home to the stingray feeding (yes you can and it’s safe) and the boats anchored below are at the “underwater tiki garden”. This is an attraction only, not a true piece of archeology.  There are about 5-6 statures underwater that you can snorkel or dive around.

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Between the Bays.  Oponohu is below us and the entrance to Cooks Bay is in the distance. “Beach House” is third from the left.

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“Beach House” is the bottom right boat in this photo. We’re anchored in 8 feet of crystal clear water. One of the famous “overwater bungalow” style hotels is at the top. These are the most popular style hotels in the Tropical World. Many include a private entry into the ocean right in the middle of your room. Many have swim steps right off the patio. You choose.

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Kiteboarding inside the reef. This expert went over 5 miles back and forth inside the reef with a spectacular view both above and below the water. The water is quite flat where he is and is protected by the outer reef above.

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He’s kiteboarding in less than 6 feet of water for the most part. Pretty cool, exciting and beautiful.

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This is one of the big inter island ferries heading back to Tahiti from the eastern bay. Pretty nice digs and a great anchoring spot.

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All good things must end and we’re very behind our sort of schedule to reach Australia by mid December. Yeah, it sounds like it’s a long time and a long way off, but with 4500 miles to cover and lots of other places to visit, it was time for our boot heels to be wanderin’….Sunrise over Moorea en route to Huahine.

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Good Bye Moorea. We left at 05:45, first light to exit the reef. The trip was 80 miles and we wanted to be in Huahine before dark.

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En route to Huahine, this private jet (we assume?) took a liking to us and made several passes.

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You get a feel for how low he was with our radio antenna in the foreground.

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Whale HO!  We saw a lone whale as we were half way down the island’s west side and right when we got to the widest part of the island, we saw this group of three humpback whales.  This was Nikki’s FIRST OFFICIAL Whale sighting.

 

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A Whale of a Tail……and you wouldn’t have believed it if you didn’t see it for yourself!  The main town of Fare is in the distance where we would anchor for two nights.  We UNFORTUNATELY discovered that one of our alternators “power take off” had broken off the starboard engine and we would end up short circuiting our time on Huahine which was a disappointment. We briefly made a few new friends including Steve and Leilee on s/v Leeward. He’s sort of a “Jimmy Buffet” gone wild kind a guy.

We covered the 25 miles to Raiatea two days later where we were for eight days, touring and yet again….getting our engines “fixed”.  We also repaired a small annoyance on our boom (which made Capt. Scott happy) and met up with old friends Pete and Sue Wolcott (s/v Kiapa Nui) and Eric and Leslie from (s/v Kandu).

We are currently in Bora Bora about to depart for the island of Suwarow in the Cook Islands tomorrow!  Suwarrow (pronounced ‘Suvorov” was made famous by self imposed castaway, Tom Neale who lived there alone from the mid 1950’s to 1976 when he passed away. He wrote a book about his adventures, “An Island to Oneself” which we will read on our projected 4 day sail to this very remote island.

We most likely will have to finish up our next main blog with photos from our time in Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora when we next get internet in American Samoa within the next month!  After Suwarrow, we may try to enter the very remote and infrequently visited “Rose Atoll” en route to American Samoa.

We’ll keep you all up to date on the “Ship’s Mini Blogs and Position Reports” as we go on our way.

Feel free to drop us a note, love to hear from you all!

Scott and Nikki – Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Dear Friends and Family, (Posted August 27th, 2016)

These photos were from our experiences in Tahiti (besides the boat projects!).  We’ll be off for Moorea and the Leeward Islands of the Societies tomorrow.  After Moorea, we’ll do a long day sail to Huahine, then Raiatea, Tahaa and finally Bora Bora before heading off to the very remote Suwarrow Atoll in the Northern Cook Islands.

Enjoy!

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Shark’s Tooth peak – Cooks Bay, Moorea.  This is one of the most notable geographic features of the island where Captain Cook stopped in the calm anchorage which takes his name.

Soon after our arrival in Tahiti, the annual Pacific Puddle Jump Party was going to start the last weekend of June. This event is held annually for all the participants who sailed from the West Coast of the America’s. As we did this year, many via the Panama Canal with lots of boats from the US East Coast and Europe as well.  As “Beach House” was suffering from engine malaise, we went over to Moorea (only a 10 mile trip) on s/v “Enchanter” with Lisa and Rijnhard Keet out of Australia.  We roughed it in the Club Bali Hai hotel!

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This is the view from The Club Bali Hai. There were expected to be up to 70 boats, but the final count was around 40. Still, an impressive turnout. This bay is parallel to Oponohu Bay and is large enough to hold any size Cruise Ship. They come here frequently. Oponohu Bay is reputed to be the bay that Jimmy Buffet wrote his song, “One Particular Harbor” about.

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Cooks Bay, Moorea. The fleet arrives!  “Shark’s Tooth” peak is in the far left background, shrouded in the clouds.

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These two bays are typically very calm and despite their depth, very good anchorages.

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The main activity for the cruisers would be the 6 person canoe races. There were at least 8 heats to get into two semi finals and then the finals.  Kyle Bengar of s/v “Blowin’ Bubbles” was our Master of Ceremonies. Here we see the local talent teaching the “gringos” how to paddle a canoe!

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All together now!

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Here’s the start of one of the heats featuring the winner – Team ENCHANTER –  SWIFTSURE with Rijnhard, Lisa, Lanny and Ginger.

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Here comes Team Enchantrer-Swiftsure with a handy lead in the first heat!

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Here’s the TEAM after their first heat victory preparing for the next heat. They made the finals, but there were “ringers” about who stole their victory!!!!

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Latitude 38 Magazine is the co-sponsor of the event and here is Major Domo Andy Turpin with the crew from s/v “Starry Horizons”, David and Amy out of Texas.  They transited the Panama Canal about 2 weeks ahead of us.

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This was the “kids race”. You wanna talk close! Look at this photo finish.  Actually, Team “Kandu” was winning easy but the pro paddlers slacked off to make it close. Almost cost em’ too!

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Back in Marina du Papeete, Nikki uses her “Whole Foods” (don’t we miss that out here!) cart to walk to “Champion” Supermarche. She is THE most fantastic chef. I won’t even say cook!  At first we were docked right off the highway behind her in this photo, but the dirt and noise from the traffic got to be too much so we moved to the outer dock which is MUCH nicer.

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The “Heiva” is the annual “Fete” or festival. It’s about a month long and coincides with Bastille Day.  There are canoe racing competitions, dancing, fire walking and literally several thousand participants.

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The opening parade of the “Fete” for the “Heiva”.

 

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This is the locals Market. Nikki really enjoyed this place and sometimes would come over at 5 a.m. when they opened to get special goodies.

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This is the main Catholic Church in Papeete and we got to hear Leslie from s/v “Kandu” sing with the choir. She even had several solo’s.

 

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And just when I was starting to get into really good shape with my weight routine…………(see next photo)…..

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Some people say drinking is dangerous. You never knew how dangerous until you open a bottle of wine with a wine key and it breaks in your hand. This “V” shape fracture became a very efficient knife and cut the tendon completely through on my left index finger. I guess it was ironic as we would have to wait so long for repairs that I had more time to heal.

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In some ways, I was very fortunate. The local Clinic Cardella was still open at 4:45 p.m on this Friday night and when I arrived an orthopedic surgeon was on duty. The next day, I had a general anesthetic and the tendon was re-attached.  The big damage was at the middle knuckle and I had to wear this splint for the better part of a month.

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I’d like to tell you it looks worse than it is. Unfortunately, now, 6 weeks after the injury I still only have about 1/2 function in the main knuckle and virtually no use (I can’t bend) the distal (end) knuckle. It does however LOOK much better and the scar was minimized by my daughter Skye’s suggestion to use Vitamin E oil topically. I keloid badly and it really smoothed out the skin. I expect it to take the better part of a year to get most of the function back. It may never fully recover but the good news is – I’m right handed!  Needless to say, I’m very careful about opening wine bottles these days. The funny colors are from the betadine antiseptic that I washed it daily with.

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Rijnhard and Lisa of s/v “Enchanter” – dinghy-ed in from Marina Taina, almost 5 mile away. Lisa had a little dermatological spot removed so we could commiserate together.

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Nikki loves the local colorful clothes and outfits. The hats for her are just wonderful. So very 1950’s. She is a “1950’s” kinda gal.

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This is the office of the “Haut Commisere” (The High Commissioner). Nikki and I had to get a 6 week visa extension due to waiting for our new engines to arrive from Australia. They were very helpful.

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Nikki couldn’t resist these floral arrangements and several appeared weekly aboard “Beach House”.

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This IS the national sport of French Polynesia. There are racks and racks of these canoes in every size and variety. This group is right next to us at the Marina. Everyday we see crews out practicing in the harbor.

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I’d spent over a YEAR of my life on this island (Yes it’s true – 17 months actually) and I’d never been “up mountain”.  Nikki and I did a very long arduous off road vehicle tour to see the interior. Tahiti is shaped very much like Maui in Hawaii and similar to Catalina Island in California – however much higher – up to 8000 feet.

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Ther are hundreds of these waterfalls all over Tahiti. This one is associated with a hydro electric plant which supplies a significant portion of the islands power.  The rest is diesel generation.

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The tallest peaks of the caldera are just under 3000 meters (8000 feet or so). The valley is very rugged and has stunning views.

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This is view down the valley where the now extinct volcano crater is. There is an “Eco Tourist’ lodge here. Lots of hikes, etc. It’s “Eco” because it doesn’t have much in the way of facilities, but it’s very pricey.

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“Hole in the Wall”. There are no natural cuts through the center of the island and this tunnel is about 100 meters (yards) long.

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Here we are looking west after exiting the “Hole in the Wall”.  These very scary cliff side roads are passable, but haven’t been used past here in 10 years. Why? Because one of the villages wanted more money for the tourist vehicles to use it. Note the natural reservoir here at about 5000 feet.

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Tahiti is quite a mix. Sometimes we forget it’s a busy commercial harbor. When we take the boat for fuel to the other Marina, we have to ask the Port Control permission to pass the airport both ways due to the height of our mast!  It was a ship just like this that brought us our new engines from Sydney, Australia after they were trucked there from Melbourne, Australia.

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It would become a daily affair for us to wave goodbye to new friends. Everyone else was heading west as to not have to rush across the Pacific for cyclone season which starts in November. Here, Johnnie and Debs of s/v “Laros”  are headed west. We hope to catch up with them by Oz.

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You can see the huge cargo ship on the back left and the weekly Cruise Ship on the right.  Several of these vessels were on “round the world cruises” starting out of Sydney.

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Nikki loved watching the floral arrangements being made.

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We often had these lovely arrangements, worn like a crown adorn our interior. Just smell the Frangipani – imagine it!

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No trip to Tahiti would be complete without a visit to James Norman Hall’s home. James Norman Hall wrote in collaboration with Charles Nordhoff, “Mutiny on the Bounty”. The original film starred Marlon Brando and took quite a lot of historic license (as did Hall) with the facts of the story. Fletcher Christian wasn’t the so much the protector of the oppressed sailor as the film would suggest and Bly wasn’t the beast he was played out to be. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. James Norman Hall’s son was a three time Oscar winning cinematographer and married briefly to Kathrine Ross who starred in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”.

 

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Original Film poster of Marlon Brando in “Mutiny on the Bounty” at the James Norman Hall residence.

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This is Matai Bay where both the “Bounty” and James Cooks, “Endeavour” were anchored.  We are standing at “One Tree Point” which Cook described in his log book. Point Venus is just to your right. Papeete is in the background with it’s classic barrier reef. The island of Moorea is under the clouds in the distance.

 

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Nikki at the obelisk denoting Captain James Cook’s sighting the transit of Venus in 1769.

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As we had the car this day, we invited friends Pete and Sue Wolcott to join us for a very special dinner at “Le Belvedere”.  This restaurant is up a 4 mile long, one lane road very high up above Papeete. Built in the 1960’s, it has recently changed hands and has had a major renovation. It is a spectacular spot, an amazing drive and a wonderful meal.  Papeete Harbor in the back ground. Get there for drinks at sunset!

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260 foot Super Yacht “Dragonfly” – rumored to be owned by one of the founders of Google.  She charters for more per week than most people make in a year.

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Party Boat Local Style. These are floating bar and swim hangouts. Some of them stay out for weeks and the guests are brought out in small boats. Note the reef behind the boat and the ocean outside is a bit bumpy.

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Nikki and I took French Lessons since we were here long enough. This is Odile who was one of our teachers. She went for a boat ride with us to Marina Taina to fuel up.

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It’s a small world after all!  The last time I saw this boat was right here at this very fuel dock. It has been to NZ, Europe and back with new owners and I’ve been around the world.  If Claire and Jason are out there, here is their former ride which used to be s/v “Elvis the Gecko”!

It’s a long story – just ask if you really want to know. The current owners of this Oyster 62 are from Ireland.

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Nikki has her Mum’s journal from when she and her Step Dad did a world cruise back in the 1980’s. This is “Sea Princess” which is the name sake of the vessel that Iris and Steve went round the world on.

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I include this shot of the Marina which shows the 260 foot ‘Dragonfly” with  s/v “Vertigo” at 240 feet right behind her. It’s rumored to be owned by Rupert Murdoch. These boats are enormous – until you look at them next to “Sea Princess”.

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Local Artists: Nikki found some of these exquisite paintings and tapestries. Price – Very! Stunning nonetheless.

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This painting looks like a tapestry, many of which are done on coconut fiber cloth and the traditional tree barks.

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Yet another Goodbye! This time it’s s/v “Tactical Direction” with Tony and Justin aboard. They too were headed for Oz.

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We won’t be the last lonely eagles. s/v “Bantu” in the middle and s/v “Ocean Star” in the foreground are still both waiting for final repairs on their transmissions.  We hope to see them all downwind from here.

Tahiti WEB PHOTOS-152Our last goodbye! (We hope). Here has been our home for the last 10 weeks at Marina du Papeete. We thank Manager Ken and Matai for their hospitality and assistance.

We’ll be off in the morning for Moorea and our next reports will be “Ship’s Mini Blogs and Position Reports” as we head to the “Isles sous les vents” (The Islands under the wind).

KIT (keep in touch!),
Scott and Nikki