Pointe Venus is a remarkable promontory with shady tree lined areas, soft black sand beach and an impressive lighthouse built in 1867. There are memorials commemorating Captain James Cook arriving in 1769 and the landing of the first London Missionary Society Protestants in 1797. The “park” today, is a social place with all generations turning up with their massive cooler boxes, business people grabbing a quick lunch, teenagers hanging out together and young children thrashing about in the sea. Many times during the day Va’a (different types of pirogues) pass by, apparently training for various race events, together with the kite surfing schools at Plage de Hitimahana giving lessons to exhausted, bruised clients.
Resting for a few days before moving down the coast was necessary but the pull to see friends that we hadn't seen for nearly five months was like a drug. We celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary in a wonderful restaurant in Papeete after catching up with Kim, David and Paul. Stephen was able to buy some Cuban cigars as a treat and he organised a surprise trip to his favourite jewellers in town. A rare shaped blue pearl was purchased to commemorate our eighteen years in total, together.
We continued to socialise with new and “old” friends, visiting Place Valete Roulottes (mobile food vans), entertaining on one another's boats, going for walks and of course, ticking off the various chores to be completed on Amelie. Paul from El Mundo, an Oyster 56 introduced us to a family friend, Jasna Tuta, a beautiful young woman who had spent three years in Polynesia and wrote a fabulous book about her time in the islands. Her photographic skills capture the essence of the various places we have visited, together with a few characters that we have met along the way. We would highly recommend her book “All the colours of Polynesia. Sailing adventures in the South Pacific”.
Jaye and Irwin joined us on Amelie for a few days and we enjoyed a lively sail to Moorea, anchoring off Maharepa village. Jaye introduced us to Stevenson, a young Tahitian man who tries to live a simple life with the odd modern convenience. During our time in Moorea we had the honour of visiting his homestead in the mountains, listening to him describe his beliefs and preferred lifestyle on his remote organic farm. We found out that he loved coffee so Stephen took several bags of coffee to him. He was thrilled and returned the gesture with pineapples from his terrace. The highlight for Debbie was tea made from a lemon scented plant in his garden, so refreshing.
We re-hiked the “Three Pines” with Barb, JB, David and Candice from Ziezo, introducing them to the wonders of this magical island. We hired a car with them a few days later touring the island, discovering more stunning locations and arriving in “Tiki Village”. This is a living museum depicting Moorea from Captain Cook’s time to a photographic extravaganza of the 1960s. Travelling slowly around the island we made a major find - an ice cream parlour selling artisan concoctions. The ambience was lacking but the ice cream was delicious.
We continued to enjoy our visit to Moorea (and our last of this adventure) until it was time to “park” Amelie in Marina Taina, Tahiti for our annual visit back to the UK. We were positioned on the super yacht pontoon and most days the crews from these monsters graciously gave us lots of “bilge treasures” ie magazines, suntan lotion and in date flares!
The month away from our floating home was full of fun, catching up with the entire family and many friends, celebrating various birthdays, including Debbie’s mother’s 80th.
Returning to Amelie meant that the next month or so would be spent in Fakarava, working tirelessly on her. The sail to this beautiful atoll was horrible, plenty of wind on the nose, with confused large seas……the Pacific isn't always as calm, as its name implies. Several human errors which we have learned from, allowed seawater to get into the boat, swishing around under the floorboards and when we took a wave in the cockpit, the lack of a spray-hood, allowed water to cascade down the stairs onto the galley floor. Consequently Stephen slipped over on his watch and possibly cracked a rib. For a few weeks he was in agony but for once, he listened to the in house nurse, performing his deep breathing and coughing exercises religiously. He is better than new now!
We had a busy few weeks having lithium ion batteries installed and what a life changer it has been. Mathieu who runs Pakokota Yacht Services is an amazing engineer, calmly teaching us during and after the installation. He is meticulous, tidy and with a great sense of humour. Cooking and using the washing machine without switching the generator on is a wonderful silent affair. The generator sometimes isn't fired up for over a day and the retrofit is unnoticed.
We managed to get five dives in whilst we were there, not for fun but to locate and retrieve the arm of one of the dinghy davits. During a storm, the screw had loosened and unbeknown to us, had dropped in the lagoon. Our Belgian neighbours, Frank and Sophie on Anastasia were up for the search challenge and several times over coffee and latterly stiffer drinks, plans of action were developed. On the fifth dive, guided by Sophie and Frank on his last gasp of air, Debbie witnessed Frank holding the appendage aloft. Debbie performed a peculiar celebratory dance at 15 metres under the water and Stephen’s face was a picture when we surfaced. Both davit arms are now secured with dyneema.
Christmas and New Year were spent with Frank and Sophie and we were joined by Jaye and Irwin, flying to the atoll for a week’s break from their boat projects. Unfortunately the weather was unkind and on Christmas Eve we were forced to move our boats to a safer anchorage. This didn't deter the fun and frolics together with feasting, playing games, wearing silly glasses, hair adornments and bibs and the odd alcohol beverage.
Time to move on again, saying a sad goodbye to Frank and Sophie, who returned to Tahiti, we made the brave decision to sail up wind to the Marquesas, to seek out better weather for a couple of months.