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.

American dream in Tahiti.

There was a thunderous noise outside the marina yesterday. So much for the local churches asking for silence on a Sunday. Police vehicles with blue flashing lights closed off the road.It turned out to be an event for the owners of American motorbikes and American Jeeps. Both of which made a huge amount of noise when in action.

Once the vehicles were parked on display outside the marina, there was a blissful silence. It lasted all afternoon.

Unlike the vast USA, Tahiti is a tiny island. Papeete the main town, is already struggling to cope with traffic congestion. Although fun for some, and they definitely drew a lot of attention at the event, I wonder if these gas guzzling, noise polluting modes of transport have a place here on the island.

An excellent band belted out classic American hits from the seventies whilst children and youths practiced bicycle stunts.

Others watched the experienced trick bike team fly up a ramp, spin their BMX bikes and land on a huge inflated airbag.

I discovered that BMX means bicycle motocross, it’s an off road sports bicycle used for racing and stunt riding. BMX started in the early 1970s when children began racing their bicycles on dirt tracks in Southern California inspired by the motocross stars.

So the good old Stars and Stripes won over the locals for the afternoon.
With screeching tyres and roaring exhausts the jeeps and motorcycles disappeared as quickly as they arrived.

A short time later the police reopened the road to the normal traffic.

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.

Invasion

Whilst enjoying a live gig in the Place To’ata Stadium in Tahiti, John nudged me.

Not only did we have an excellent view of the stage from our seats but we also had a commanding view of the Papeete Port. A large cruise ship was docking on the Paqu Dock next to the marina.

This year, there have been more cruise ships visiting French Polynesia than ever before. The “tick box” locations are Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti.
Over the Easter holiday between Sunday April 21st and Monday April 29th, five “Grand capacity” cruise ships with more than 2000 passengers on board, arrived in the Port of Papeete. These large cruise ships are floating cities. There were also a number of smaller cruise ships visiting the port, some of which are based in Tahiti.

Prior to the Easter splurge of cruise ship passengers, the Minister of Tourism headed a meeting with representatives from all the organisations involved with the cruise ship industry to ensure that the hosting was successful. There were a lot of people at the meeting. It seemed like every top official from Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea was there as well as representatives from all the town organisations. It was a gathering to behold.

So, before the passengers purchase their pearls and souvenirs.

Or are entertained by musicians and dancers.

Or take an excursion around the island

Think of all the people who made their visit possible.
The Port authority employees whose tugs and pilot boat bring the ships into port, with line handlers to take the lines.

Customs and immigration clearance before anyone can step ashore.

Reprovisioning of supplies and refuelling.

Waste removal and cleaning .

Security, traffic policing.

The coaches and taxis.

There are the floral decorators who make the town look bright and welcoming.

Then of course there’s all the administration that goes on behind the scenes.

I’m sure the cruise ship passengers enjoy their experience. No doubt the tourist industry profits from their visit and help to boost the economy.

Cross

We’ve had a lot of rain so far this February in Tahiti . When the weather improves, I like to get out and about for exercise.
One sunny clear day, I headed in land on my electric bike called Vertigo. I wanted to find a landmark large cross high up on the hill side. This area is said to have a great view of the port of Papeete and the distant Island of Moorea.
I checked my Google map and set off. The road narrowed with a steep incline, there were only a handful of private properties by now. Turning a corner, I met a set of teeth belonging an alsatian dog who had his barking brother along for support. At the same time the lace on my left trainer wrapped around the bike pedal. Cursing my stupidity, I shouted a few pleasantries in dulcet tones to the dogs. Dropping my right foot to the ground to support the weight of me and the electric bike, I was able to wriggle my left foot out of the trainer. I propped the bike up on it’s stand and disentangled the lace from the pedal. Once I had composed myself, I remembered the dogs. One was sitting down facing the other way, whilst the barker sniffed a shrub and wandered off.
I backtracked and realised that I was on the wrong road and should have been on the road running parallel to this one.
Now on the correct tarmac road, it terminated at a bridge over a small river. A rough concrete road continued but my Google map told me that once over the bridge, I had to turn off to the left. Hmm it looked like a rough track.

I asked a gentleman who was gardening on the other side of the bridge for directions.
He enthusiastically pointed to the rough track which was clearly unsuitable for my type of bike. He generously suggested that I locked my bike behind his property whilst I hiked up the track.

I was surprised to see many depictions of Christ on his crucifixion route as I followed the trail.

I’m somewhat ignorant when it comes to religious matters but I did learn more about it from John who attended Redrice Catholic school even though he’s not a clan member.
Known as “The stations of the Cross” there are 14 images.

There was lush vegetation in the valley and hillside. Eventually I reached the area where the cross was erected.

There was indeed a wonderful panoramic view of Papeete and the distant Island of Moorea. I spent some time there.

A few joggers arrived from another direction, so presumably there are a number of routes to this look out place.

I however took the same route back to retrieve my bike. The gentleman was evidently looking out for me. I declined the offer of refreshments but thanked him profusely for letting me leave the bike in his garden.
As I cycled back to the marina, I thought to myself, what a pleasant little adventure I’d had.