Day 649: Big boys and their toys

Not all cruisers you encounter on your travels are from the same ilk, as the crew of Egret discover to their dismay

S17 30.79 W149 51.10 Opunohu Bay, Moorea, French Polynesia

Scott (YT) and Mary Flanders (MS) left Gibraltar on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete list of all the couple’s blog entries click here 

Not all cruisers you encounter on your travels are from the same ilk, as the crew ofEgretdiscover to their dismay

Monday 30 June

It is early Tuesday morning and there is misty rain. Our water toy boat is gone and has been replaced by a big and more sophisticated water toy boat.

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Yesterday afternoon a very large ocean-going tug conversion pulled into the bay. It must have been over 200ft and it was loaded with tenders, some for young guests and a couple of tough long-range exploring tenders.

WithEgret’sshallower draught we can tuck into small places that larger boats can’t get close to, however, if they have fast long-range tenders they can anchor elsewhere and visit the same places.

Also yesterday afternoon a small 30ish foot Japanese sailboat pulled into the bay and anchored. We see very few Japanese sailboats out cruising, we would have liked to talk to them but they were gone by this morning.

The guests from the ocean tug have been using their tenders. There are seven personal watercrafts, one yellow tow-behind banana, one 15ft jet boat and a second with ski racks overhead. Looking at the remaining tenders there was a 30ft go-fast boat with triple monster outboards, and on the opposite side was the same but with outdrives.

Mary and I were sat in the dink washingEgretwhen two of the personal watercrafts came racing by with small children in front of the adults. It was wake city. I gave one a shout and Gaelic shrug and they behaved themselves but soon a third came out ripping around. After terrorising the anchorage he came up all smiley-faced and wanted to talk. Before he began I asked if he was teaching his son to be disrespectful to others and did he know how dangerous his actions were? Head down, he retreated. I’m sure he wasn’t used to a mere mortal giving him a talk down to. The ocean tug is a beautiful go-anywhere, anytime, ice-rated conversion. What a shame she has sold her soul to childish toys. A sheep in wolf’s clothing. I couldn’t imagine spending a fortune chartering such a boat only to race around an anchorage on a toy instead of seeing one of the prettiest islands in the world. Geesh.

Tuesday 1 July

The ocean tug is gone and not one person has set foot ashore in two days. Amazing.

Monday was a special, special day. Finally we got to see the real Polynesia we all envision as paradise found. To us Papeete, Tahiti is a busy transfer port whose time for paradise is over. Inland Tahiti, away from the coast is still beautiful and mostly unspoiled but Moorea is the Real Deal. Moorea is shaped like a triangle with rounded corners surrounded by a barrier reef. The point of the triangle faces south. The northern flat side has two deep bays cut into the interior, separated by 899m Mount Rotui in the centre. The two bays are, Opunohu Bay whereEgretis anchored and Cook Bay to the east.

The outside rim is the southern half of a long extinct volcano. The semi-circular less steep inland valley slopes are rich with fruit and vegetable farms.

At the head of Opunohu Bay is a road that leads inland up to an overlook from where you can see both bays. We anchored the dink just off the beach using a stern anchor and tied the painter to a coconut tree. Hidden in the brush was a dugout canoe with a small curved tree for its outrigger. Another was close by.

Both were in working condition but not used for the tourist industry. Simply old-time local transportation. What a treasure. Along the valley road leading inland were a number of French government agency buildings all dealing with environmental and land use. The crown jewel was a farm used in vocational training for islanders.

Lured by a sign in French and English announcing ‘free farm tours’ in we went. At the juice bar we were given a folding ‘trip tik’ for a self-guided tour. Off we went on a long walk through the valley farm. The largest section was dedicated to pineapples growing in large silver patches up and down the hills. The pineapple plantings were at different stages of growth to the other fruit, which included avocado trees, mango, papaya, lime, passion fruit, grapefruit and bananas. There were small sections for livestock with goats, cows and pigs scattered along the farm road. There was also a large nursery section with open growth and shade houses. This has to be one of the prettiest farms in the world set inside the spectacular, heavily weathered volcano outer rim of Moorea. You could almost see fruit growing in the dark brown/orange soil.

After walking up, down and around the farm we were parched by the time we got back to the juice bar so we bellied up to the bar for ice cream, fruit drinks and a bottle of water. They also had whole bean coffee grown on the farm so we bought a bag of that as well and a jar of papaya jelly. After leaving the fruit bar we understand that capitalism is alive and well in Moorea.

The road leading up to the overlook is 1 1/2 lanes wide and is a natural garden of exotic trees and flowers. It’s even more impressive than Mangareva in the Gambier Islands. As we neared the top we met our New Zealand friends on their way down. We told them not to miss the farm and they in turn told us that the road ended not far up the hill. The overlook was just as advertised but we found a trail that lead higher that gave even better views and away from the few other tourists. Like other places we have visited we sat for a while drinking it all in and trying not to forget what we were seeing. Between us we took over 250 pictures.

Wednesday 2 July

Yesterday afternoon there were a few showers but after these settled we took a dinghy ride out of the bay. Just around the corner is a city of boats anchored in the shallow clear water. The sandy beach across the way is one of the few sandy beaches in the Society Islands. This beach was a location in the film ‘The Bounty’ with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in 1983. We stopped by several boats we knew and discovered a large group of American boats had gathered next door in Cooks Bay for a 4th of July celebration. So this morning we too will pull anchor, anchor for a bit in the shallow water and dive on the bottom to see what’s happening before joining the other Americans in Cooks Bay.

On Friday we’ll move back to Papeete and do a final stock up on provisions before our friends arrive on Monday.

Another memorable few days in The Life.

Picture 1. Pineapple flower from the vocational farm.
Picture 2. Rose de Porcelaine (Porcelain Rose) from the open nursery



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