Clark & Vincent Visit….Part 1
April 27 – May 3, 2010
In 2003-2004 we enjoyed visiting friends Clark & Vincent in Paris during our
trips to France while our boat was under construction. After “Beach House”
splashed, they came to Southern French City of Sete for her maiden sail &
helped us unpack & stow the container of stuff we’d sent from Los Angeles..
We started talking then about where they should join us for a tropical
vacation. French Polynesia was decided as the perfect place to have them
Every visitor to “Beach House” acts as our import agent. Our usual “ship to”
angel, Mike Lonnes in Redondo Beach, received some stuff. Then Clark &
Vincent’s friend Ken in Westwood kindly collected the last minute orders
plus everything that Mike had. My sister Alberta sent a welcome bag of
books, DVDs & notes of encouragement.
Their flight from Paris to L.A. was delayed due to the ash from Iceland’s
volcano shutting down Europe’s airports. Thankfully none of us were on a
tight schedule. By trimming their L.A. visit from three days to one and
skipping Moorea, they were able to still package together a combination one
week boat plus four days resort excursion. I had warned Clark that the time
would fly by, and it did.
Scott & I arrived in Huahine two days ahead of our guests. We really love
the beauty of Huahine & were happy for the opportunity to revisit the
islands we had seen briefly in November during the Hawaki Nui Va’a Outrigger
April 27th they took the island hopper plane from Tahiti to Huahine. At
first told that there was no taxi, they got a ride from the airport to the
dinghy dock at the expected rendezvous time. They brought only 2 large & 1
small suitcases, which included snorkeling gear & all our stuff. It was so
great to see their smiling faces at last! They got into the swing of
tropical feelings (including the heat) right away.
I gave them the live aboard orientation because everything from opening a
window, cupboard or the refrigerator requires special care & is different
from a house. Using & flushing the toilet is very “special” these days, as
our primary vacuflush unit is only managing liquid. We all pooped on port.
No paper down the toilet, use the trash can. We had a good chuckle about the
double meaning of “poo bell”: a poubelle is the French word for trash can.
Scott launched in right away installing the new charge controller they
brought. The gizmo that transfers our solar power into battery power. Alas,
the new unit had the same trouble as the old! He had to Skype & the
technician who helped him troubleshoot. Turns out it was a corroded fuse! We
didn\’t need the new unit…but now we have a spare – c\’est la vie. Why they
didn\’t have us go through this step before, who knows. We realize it is hard
to give thorough technical support over the phone.
Our guests wasted no time getting in the water. They jumped in at every
opportunity & were good examples of how to have fun aboard “Beach House”.
There is always some repair or maintenance to do & we can become slaves of
our life instead of enjoying it, if we don’t make sure to take time to have
Walking around the small town, they oohed & aahed at everything: tropical
flowers, lush green foliage; beautiful native people weaving palm fronds. It
is a joy to be with them with their fresh & genuine enjoyment of this
experience. We reserved a car for the next day. Scott needs some time to
catch up on some projects, so the 3 of us will take the delightful drive
around the island.
At the market we made a good haul. The fridge is maintaining & we will get
it checked Friday or Saturday in Raiatea. After we got the dinghy unloaded,
I stowed the groceries, Clark napped and Vincent read one of the many books
he brought. Their first night dinner was a hit: Szechuan eggplant & shrimp
over brown rice. Nicely enhanced by two bottles of Blanc de Blanc.
Scott showed Clark geography on our chart plotter – where we are, where we
plan to go. Clark showed us a star program on his I-Phone, very cool. We all
stretched out on the top of the bimini & enjoyed the moon & stars. We turned
on the underwater lights, but no fish came to eat my shrimp shells. Vincent
took a moonlight swim. Scott joined C&V in their nightly routine of a cup of
chamomile tea. We all share a fondness for really good dark chocolate. A
good first day.
April 28th – Wednesday Drive Around Huahine
We got lucky to see visit the black pearl farm that was closed when Scott &
I had visited previously. A driver took us a short ride in his small power
boat to the work space & boutique built on stilts over the water. The owner
explained the process of seeding the cultured pearls and Clark used the
opportunity to buy a pair of earrings & pendant that his friend had
requested he purchase. Mostly I think they look like ball bearings, but
these were especially lovely and I am sure she’ll be happy.
We stopped many times to enjoy the views and take photos. Three guys on
bicycles nearly kept up with us. We had a leisurely lunch at Chez Tara,
savoring the mahi mahi with vanilla sauce. We happily got in our air
conditioned rental car & were grateful not to be sweating it out on
When we reached the vanilla farm, we were nearing the hour the car was due
to be returned. Having taken this interesting tour with Scott before, I did
not want them to miss out. The proprietor was limping and more eager to sell
us vanilla beans than lead a tour. As we wandered a bit toward the
net-covered plants, one of the workers asked if he could help us. We decided
the opportunity to gain local knowledge was more important than a late
return fee. Francois was a colorful character. He described the importance
of hand pollinating each flower which then produced one vanilla bean. He
pointed out the other crops: grapefruit, oranges, avocados & gave us some
fresh picked limes.
Poor Scott had not had a moment to do any of the things he’s hoped. He
discovered a leaky oil hose on the generator. We emailed friend Jerry Woods
& got a quick reply that there is a good mechanic in Raiatea. We did not
have a firm schedule, but it now seemed prudent to scurry to Raiatea before
April 29th – Thursday Raiatea
There was not enough wind to sail, so we motored the 4 hours from Huahine to
Raiatea. Vincent is a better crew than me – able to read underway! That is
one thing that tilts me toward seasickness in even mild conditions. It was
hot and although I was under the shade of the bimini the whole trip, I got
sunburned in my bikini top. Drats! I need to remember the strength of the
reflection of the sun off the white boat & ocean.
We have to hand it to Raiatean efficiency. We tied up to the fuel dock and
took on some diesel. Shockingly quick arrival of both the generator &
refrigerator mechanics had us and our capable translators scurrying. The
refrigerator technician did not want to mess with or really have the right
equipment, so we are hoping it is functioning well enough for now. Mostly
praying it hangs in there.
The generator mechanic had the leaking section of oil hose cut out and refit
in an hour. Fantastic. C,V & I walked to the market where I got some fresh
produce, more wine & chocolate: the basic food groups. I also scored a
cooked chicken which is always a welcome find.
April 30th -May 1st Scuba Diving Raiatea & Tahaa
We anchored at a sweet spot between two motus. It was a recommended dive
site in the guide books. Clark had not been diving in five years but was
like a fish riding a bicycle. He did great, not at all an A.S.P. (Air
Sucking Pig – disparaging term for an inexperienced or nervous diver that
quickly breathes down their tank, making for a short dive.)
The current was fairly strong and the visibility was only mediocre. But
there was a lot to see. Grey reef & black tip sharks, eels, the usual array
of tropical fish and the not so common pipe fish. Vincent enjoyed swimming &
snorkeling. He discovered that fish prefer to eat chicken scraps over
vegetables – so much for the food chain!
May 2nd Sunday – Drive Around Raiatea
All four of us went on the excursion to drive around Raiatea. It was
similar, but different to Huahine. There is a Japanese word for this: madoki
(similar, but different). Plenty of lush tropical scenery, lovely views of
the lagoon. Not as many interesting places to stop. About 1:00 p.m. we were
getting hungry and seeking a nice lunch spot. Many places on Sunday are
closed. We stopped at a Chinese run “greasy spoon” which did not pass
Vincent’s or Scott’s sniff test, so moved on.
The Raiatea Lodge shined as a mirage of comfort & luxury. A small hotel
owned by an Australian couple. Now after 1:30 pm, we were initially turned
away due to the late hour. Clark threw himself on the mercy of the waitress
and chef, who succumbed to his charm. We were told to order quickly if we
wanted to eat. While pondering the menu, Scott observed that the only other
party at the open air restaurant included Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn. What a
hoot! A lovely setting, plus bonus celebrity citing. Small world story:
Scott had taken flight ground school with Kurt 20+ years ago & was curious
if he ever got his pilot’s license (Scott opted out after soloing). That
was excuse enough to go say hello & yes, Kurt did become a pilot. And no,
Goldie still looks fabulous out of makeup. They were friendly but we did not
fawn over them, each enjoyed our meal.
I asked the owner, who had warmed up to us by now, if we could go for a
swim. We had brought our suits in hopes of finding a nice beach along the
road. He kindly suggested we enjoy our dessert in the pool. When dining with
Vincent one is certain to have ice cream for dessert and he and Scott urged
me to spring for the crème brulee even though I was much too full from the
already ample meal. We were really living the high life now.
Cheeky Moment: We will never again listen to the Simon & Garfunkle song “The
Boxer” as it is written. Vincent strolls up with a stack of towels singing:
“I am just a “pool” boy, but my story’s seldom told”. We burst out in
giggles and haven’t stopped singing it that way ever since.
We got to see a room. It is a lovely inn that we would recommend to anyone
traveling to Raiatea. Goldie & Kurt said they used to vacation in Bora Bora
3x/year, but now prefer this island.
Cindy & Scott