Fast ferry.

For months there’s been talk and speculation of a new fast Aremiti ferry replacing the old one which shuttles between Moorea and Tahiti.
The Aremiti 5 has for the last 15 years provided transportation primarily for workers and school pupils, between Moorea and Papeete, the capital of Tahiti.

With three rotations a day, it was quite a fast service taking about 45 minutes dock to dock.
People were quite emotional at the thought of loosing their old ferry. It held memories of their school days. Some travelled daily, getting up at the crack of sparrows and getting home late, others were weekly boarders.

Complete with boom boxes the teenagers gather at the ferry dock for their trip home.
The new Aremiti 6 described as the jewel of the Degage Group was built in the Austal shipyard in the Philippines. Without much fanfare, it arrived in Papeete on the 26th August, did a few spins, then tied up longside the container dock.
There was a bit of controversy over tax duty and competition with the Terevau Vodafone ferry but once sorted, it was ready for action.
The new ferry can carry up to 550 passengers plus 5 cars or 30 two wheelers, which is the same as the Aremiti 5.
Boasting a faster and more efficient service, the Aremiti 6 is under pressure to perform.
With 7 rotations a day, it must rotate between the two islands in 25 minutes. This includes embarkation, the channel crossing and disembarkation.
I wondered how they could achieve this without breaking the Port control speed limits of 5 knots.
The sea was a bit rough for the inaugural crossing on Friday September 6th. An enthusiastic traveller noted that the first channel crossing from the Papeete pass to the Moorea pass took just 18 minutes.
On Monday 9th September the Aremiti 6 went into service leaving at 5am from Moorea, where it is now based.
The last trip of the day is at 17.30 from Tahiti.

From the start, it was pretty obvious that this new high speed service would be problematic. In the Papeete marina, we are shaken in our beds as the yachts rock and roll at 5.30 am heralding the arrival of Aremiti 6. We are rolled around by the huge wake as the ferry storms into its loading dock, breaking the Port’s 5 knot limit by as much as 10 knots. It might be a great new experience for the Aremiti 6 crew and passengers but it won’t be long before the flimsy marina pontoons fall apart. The marina staff have made a complaint to the Port authorities after just two days in service.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Meanwhile, we say a little farewell to the Aremiti 5. Her last emotional trip was on the 8th September.
Unfortunately there are no buyers, we hope she won’t be left to rot at the Papeete ferry Dock.
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Ferry trip.

Recently on a bright sunny day, we decided to have a change of scenery and visit Moorea which is Tahiti’s little sister Island.

Along with our bikes, we boarded the ‘Aremiti 2’ ferry from the Papeete ferry terminal in Tahiti. It’s a short journey, taking less than an hour.

I was pleased to have “Vertigo” my electric bike. The first challenge of getting up the steep ferry ramp was made easy, I felt quite chuffed that I didn’t have to push it up there.

John’s a fit cyclist, who speeds along on his road bike, so I was able to set a reasonable pace along the road on Vertigo.

We stopped at various places to admire the beautiful sea view. We have anchored our yacht around some of these areas.

It was lovely to join local families and bathe in the warm, clear water. Quiet and peaceful it was not. We had picked a day when the holiday kids club was organising a trip to Moorea as well. The air was filled with joyous shouts and laughter of the youngsters enjoying their day out. Wonderful to hear.
After a lovely day, we peddled back to the ferry. On the return crossing, over 200 young children were singing their hearts out. It was delightful singing. The children’s faces lit up as they were each handed a small cake by the group organisers. It’s the little things in life that make me smile. I thought it was all rather lovely.

Ferry leaving Papeete Port

Ferry going through the Papeete pass.

Ferry in the distance approaching Moorea.

Heiva o te

The Day of Autonomy or locally called ‘Heiva o te’ is an official holiday in French Polynesia, an overseas collective of France. It’s celebrated on the 29th June every year to honour Tahitian and French Polynesian self rule. This year was the 35th anniversary of independence of 1984.
Big celebrations were held all day and evening in Papeete, the capital town of Tahiti.
Many dignitaries gave speeches.
In the afternoon a huge procession involving over 11,500 people representing 150 French Polynesian organisations, paraded down the Pouvanaa’a Oopa Avenue cheerfully waving their banners.

Late afternoon there was a festive programme on the waterfront, in the beautiful gardens of the Paofi Parc. The Parc was packed with people relaxing, picnicking and having fun.

I loved the hats and floral headbands, people had made such an effort on this special occasion.

Children’s play activities.

There were acoustic parties

An open air cartoon film would start when dark at 6pm.

At 8pm there was a fireworks display over the Papeete harbour.

After such a busy programme, I expect there were some very tired families the next day.

FIFO film festival.

We have just had the annual FIFO film festival 02-10 February 2019. Venue : La Maison de la Culture in Papeete, Tahiti.

Described as :

“A Festival with a thousand faces, the FIFO once more offers a remarkable program: 14 films in competition, 26 non competing films, projections, meetings, workshops and other surprises await you in the FIFO village. With its debut in 2018, this year the Fenêtre-sur-courts films selection proposes 11 short documentaries that offer an alternative view of Oceanian lives..”

This popular international festival has captivated a large public audience all week. For 1000 xpf (10$) you can spend a whole day and evening watching cultural films and documentaries contributed by many Pacific Islands from vast Australia to tiny Kiribati .

I went on the final day to see the winning films and documentaries.

In the morning I was in the Grand Theatre and afternoon in the Little theatre. There were some excellent films but the experience is quite exhausting.

I spent 90 minutes on the edge of my seat, watching a documentary about a group of research scientists diving at night with hundreds of sharks in the Fakarava South Pass in the Tuamotus French Polynesia. The filming was fantastic but graphic. We have dived with those sharks in the daytime in the Fakarava pass. Had I realised how they feed at night there’s no way I would have done that. As the film ended, I had broken out into a sweat despite the freezing cold air conditioning. I decided to miss the last film and headed back to the marina. All in all it had been a brilliant day at the FIFO film festival.

Heiva fever

We’ve just had the Heiva – Tahiti 2018 competition. The highlight of the year as far as Polynesian dancing goes.

The competition was held in the Place To’ata in Papeete, Tahiti.

Hundreds of people were involved. Groups from around French Polynesia had been training to perfect their dance movements for months.

Rehearsal time in the Place To’ata

It was not just the dancing that was awesome.

The music, choreography and the costume designs were wonderful too.

So many hours had been dedicated by each team member and their families, to produce a mesmerising and enthralling spectacle.

Competition was fierce, I would hate to have been one of the judges.

The heats were held on eight separate evenings over several weeks. Each event started in the dark at 6pm and finished at 11pm.

I went to two of the evening events, the latter being the lauréats or first prize winners.

Heiva is for the Polynesian people but tourists are welcomed . Tourists will always be the quiet observers and should feel honoured, to embrace the flamboyant fever of Heiva.

Rapa Nui


We recently spent a week on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). I would say that “It’s a small island with lots of big stuff.”


 

As lover of flowers, I got a real wow factor from the size of the hibiscus and poinsettias. The flower heads were truly huge.

Even our Lei garlands, presented as a welcome at the airport, were rather grand.

On route to the famous Rano Kau crater

We hiked through a meadow of flowers creating the impression of stepping through an enormous deep pile yellow carpet.

The trees created a striking canopy of orange flowers.

All in all the flora was rather lovely.

Many large dogs roam around the island. The’re wild but friendly. They chase cattle, horses and cars,. Consequently, many of them have broken limbs. On a 23km coastal hike from Anakena to the town of Hanga Roa, we had our personal pack of five stray dogs to keep us company all the way.

We spotted many birds of prey on our coastal hike.

The coast line was rugged with waves crashing over the rocks.

I was pleased that we arrived by air not sea. The few visiting yachts seemed to be having a rough time, seeking a safe anchorage.

Of course Rapa Nui is famous for its cultural, archaeological and historical legacy.

Ahu and Moai
Great expressions

Pukao. The hats, sombreros and top knots.
The petroglyphs
Observation tower, Tupa. Houses, Oronga Village.

I can’t include enough photos to do the place justice. You will have to go and visit.

The most unexpected discovery of the holiday was the elaborate bells played loudly on the Catholic Church clock. The church was just up the road from our accommodation in Hanga Roa. It probably drives the locals mad but I was fascinated.

Despite the fact that we arrived from Tahiti where the Polynesians love their traditional dancing, we enjoyed an evenings entertainment watching a dance show in the town.

We had a brilliant week. Rapa Nui offered us far more than just the famous Moai.

Fenua

Opening events with pomp and ceremony are part of the role you play as the President of French Polynesia.

You arrive as the President: the Country’s major VIP. You and your entourage are welcomed. The traditional greetings continue as you are escorted along the route to the stage, where you will say a few words. No one wants long speeches.

A bit like the shock of the unknown in a ghost train, serious women in bright clothing spring out in front of you. They chant and sing. A man throws baby powder into the air.


It’s all too much. You try to suppress your amusement. Your shoulders start to shake. You give up and burst into laughter, singing along with the women.

You recompose yourself in time to cut the tape of tiare flowers.

This is a happy occasion and everyone is relaxed.

The event from the 3rd to 6th May in the Place To’ata, Papeete, Tahiti is the:

Salon made in Fenua

Fenua means land. There are over 90 stalls set up with people selling locally made French Polynesian products.

Coconut products from Tikehau in the Tuamotus

There’s a 4 day programme of Music, dance, comedy and song all performed on the small stage.

Dance and drumming.
The cow on route to the stage. Mascot for Tip Top ice cream.

With glorious weather, the event is popular keeping the traders busy.

The temporary stalls took a week to erect by strong Tahitian men.

This time next week, the venue will be ready to host a different event.