Papeete Marina 2018

2018 was a busy year in the Papeete marina in Tahiti. It’s interesting hearing people’s stories. A flow of boats, which were mainly yachts, arrived from North America, South America and from the Caribbean via the Panama canal. Many passed through Tahiti continuing a western route to places like New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. Some travel in the opposite direction, having pounded against the wind and current. More yachties than ever have taken advantage of the fact that a foreign registered boat can remain in French Polynesian waters for three years as a yacht in transit. This allows ample opportunities, to explore the vast area that makes up French Polynesia.

It hasn’t always been a happy time. For some people, ill health has shattered dreams, forcing the sale of yachts. Yachts have returned to the marina dismasted.

Others have hit coral reefs causing damage below the water line. A yacht based in the marina hit a container and sank, so never made it back. The owner was airlifted to safety.
One man sailed back to the marina from the Tuamotus where his wife had drowned.
Yachts have been towed into the marina and out of the marina with broken engines or steering problems.

It certainly focuses the mind. There is no room for complacency as a sailor.

Being in the heart of the city, the Papeete marina has become the obvious place to touch base on arrival or to return to for reprovisioning and repairs.

After a time at sea, hot showers, washing machines and the use of the Wi-Fi in the air conditioned marina sitting room, are greatly appreciated. Most boats are plugged into the electrics and potable water on their pontoon berth. The marina staff are happy to collect the marina fees.

It’s pretty normal to see someone high up on their mast or deep down in the bowels of their boat trying to fix a problem.

Washing, cleaning and provisioning are on going chores.

Many yachties zip around town on fold up bikes. Dinghies are usually redundant in the marina but often require attention.

Unfortunately, over the course of the year, there have been a spate of burglaries from a number of boats in the Papeete marina. Large boats and small have been targeted. No one has been caught.

The last group of five yachts left the marina on the 3rd of January this year. The boats were loaded onto a yacht transporter, an increasingly popular option for long haul sailing, if you can afford it!

This year, 2019, the marina building complex is being expanded. The area has been fenced off and construction work is underway. It will be interesting to see the results.

Merry Christmas.

It’s that time of the year again. The Christmas holiday season is in full swing.

I think the shops and market have done well this year.

The military personnel on board “He Ping Fang Zhoo” a Chinese registered hospital ship, enjoyed a few days R&R in Papeete. Talk about “shop till they drop”. As it left the port of Papeete on the morning of the 24th December, I think the ship’s plimsoll line was almost awash due to the weight of Christmas presents.

Prior to their arrival two Navy ships from South Korea had decorated their vessels with lights and bunting, as had a number of cruise ships.

Super yachts arrived and departed all adorned with helicopters.

The Paofai Park decorations looked pretty.

Many holiday events have taken place in the grounds of the park including Children’s activities, Music and train rides.

The park itself looked beautiful with many trees in full bloom.

Elsewhere, people relaxed on the beaches, played boules and enjoyed ice cream.

Tonight is Christmas eve and families will be celebrating with a feast, the European way.

Tomorrow, we will enjoy our Christmas. We hope the weather will allow us to go for a cycle ride and swim. My new electric bike is pretty awesome.

Fortunately, it arrived before Christmas, so I won’t have to worry if Santa gets stuck in a traffic jam.

Under water wonders.

Moorea. French Polynesia.

Last week off the beautiful island of Moorea, wearing mask and snorkels, we swam with Whales. After a briefing from the professional duo, we quietly entered the ocean to watch the females interacting with their young. They would come up to the surface to breath, then go down to about ten meters to rest. When we departed on the boat, one mother waggled her tail in the air to say farewell. Beautiful mammals.
We then went inside the reef to see the rays and sharks. As I entered the water, I was enveloped by a ray the size of a dustbin lid. It felt like a soft, rubbery, velvet embrace.

We had an amazing day with these people. Check out their website

We have scuba dived for years and been in awe of the wonders of nature underwater. One of our pleasures is hunting for Nudibranchs and, OK, looking for slugs isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but these sea slugs are exotic and beautiful. We’ve been dissapointed to have only spotted a few minute, plain white nudibranchs whilst diving in French Polynesia.

Thinking nothing could compare to our thrilling experience watching the enormous whales, I was stunned to notice a tiny rare treasure on the pontoon pilon where our yacht Shiraz is berthed in the Papeete marina in Tahiti.

This needed further investigation.

The tiny animal was a few feet under the surface, it could have been a sea sponge but I was sure I could see gills on it’s upper body suggesting that it was a Nudibranch. This would be such a rare discovery. It required an underwater shot.

It was indeed a Nudibranch.
Next morning the animal was grazing on the pilon water line. We couldn’t believe our eyes.
With clear water, I snapped away with my phone camera.

I’m still trying to identify the species. John thinks there are others on the pilon. Truly amazing.

Yachtlings

With the sun lowering in the sky, it took a few moments to see the three little yachtlings emerge from the super yacht.

They fluttered their sails and after a few tense moments were ripping over the water.

And racing.

Competition was fierce, egged on by the yacht crew whose laughter filled the air.

As light was fading, they really had the hang of sailing.

I hope they made it back to the safety of their mother ship.

Back to school in Tahiti.

You can build robots as an after school hobby. How awesome is that.

On Saturday, more than 70 stands were set up in the alleyways surrounding the Cathedral of Papeete.

In this one area, parents could meet the associations offering a wide range of extra curricular school activities. Spoilt by choice, it must have been exciting yet difficult making enrolment decisions.

In my day, there wasn’t a lot on offer. I was a Girl Guide and a member of the swimming club.

Curious to find out more, I went along for a peek.

Dancing

Theatre

Music

I thought this was something to do with vampires! But it was for drum and percussion lessons.

Martial arts proved very popular.

Sports on land, not just football and golf.

Watersports

Scouts

Foreign languages

Japanese and Chinese classes.

Arts and crafts. I think the parents had as much fun as the kids.

Help if needed.

And of course sticky buns.

Having been a brownie, I had to buy some chocolate brownies of course. Delicious.

Gardening the Tahitian way.

Papeete, on the island of Tahiti, is the small capital city of French Polynesia.

Five years ago when we first arrived in Tahiti on board our yacht Shiraz, our first port of call was to the Papeete harbour. We took one look at the rickety pontoons, noted the road noise, general scruffiness and lack of greenery and moved on. We sailed out of town to the Marina Taina.

Since then the Papeete seafront named “Boulevard Pomare” has under gone a transformation.

The smart Papeete marina with a landscaped promenade was built three years ago.

However, the shopping area across the road from the marina was still a dusty, noisy and unpleasant place to be. This was mainly due to the heavy volume of traffic using the Boulevard Pomare, the main road into Papeete.
The inside lane was used for busses, taxis and as a general drop off area for cars.

In January 2018 a long stretch of the bus lane was fenced off. Then the diggers and construction workers arrived and started to rip up the road.

Slowly areas were developed into an urban garden.

Palm trees were erected and held in place with ropes.

Decorative paving was laid down.

Thatched rest huts were built.

Areas were landscaped using plants rocks and wood features.

The construction work continues but a large stretch of the walkway was unveiled at the weekend, eight months from the start.

It might not have reduced the traffic flow but I think creating this garden boulevard has made a huge improvement. It’s attractive, green and absorbs much of the traffic noise.

Many more projects are proposed at the port and Marina area. I look forward to seeing them materialise.

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.

Traditional power sports. Javelin throwing. Tahiti.

On the 13th July we went to Watch another Heiva Tu’aro Maohi :ancestral sports event. The competitions involved lifting heavy boulders, javelin throwing and shinning up coconut trees.

The event took place in the grounds of the Museum Of Tahiti and the Islands. As we arrived, some traditional dancing was taking place by the museum building.

We went to watch the Vahines (Ladies ) taking part in the boulder lifting competition. The aim of the event, was for the competitor to lift a boulder onto their shoulders. The boulder size increased in the following rounds, until there was a winner.

We cringed as one lady narrowly missed dropping a boulder on her foot.

The javelin competition was incredible. The javelins were homemade and individually marked.

The competitors had to throw their javelins to impale a coconut that had been hoisted high into the air on a long pole.

So many Tanes (men) were successful. Such was the case, that groans went up as an earlier hit was dislodged by another javelin and then crashed to the ground.

After the allotted time period, the coconut was lowered to the ground and inspected. Amazingly, at least 20 javelins were stuck in the coconut. The winning javelin was presented to the judges.

The participants retrieved their javelins ready for another round.

Later on was the coconut tree climbing race. Unfortunately we left before the event, in order to catch the bus home.