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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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.

Prolific

WordPress weekly photo-challenge

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/prolific/


The Instructions

“This week show us your interpretation of prolific


Pearls, pearls, pearls.

They call them “Black Pearls” because they are produced by the black-lip pearl oyster but they come in different colours.

Papeete is the small capital city of French Polynesia. It is on the main island of Tahiti. Everywhere you look, there are shops selling black pearls. Many of them are outlets for the Pearl farmers from different islands or atolls in French Polynesia.

So many shops sell pearl jewellery .

Some displays are better than others

Easter /Spring theme

This shop’s a bit cluttered.

Market traders sell low quality pearls.

The pearls are graded for quality.

The Tuamotus are said to produce the best quality pearls. The oysters thrive in the pristine waters of the remote atolls. However, the farmers of the society islands claim that they are the ones that culture the finest pearls.

Some pearls cost a fortune.

Phew, just for one pearl.

This necklace costs well over $3000 despite the mouldy display model.

I could buy a new dinghy and outboard motor for that price.

As I wandered around the Pearl shops yesterday, I came across two lovely ladies working upstairs in the market. They sell the cheaper quality pearls and their display is crammed in amongst the cleaning stuff. But for all that, they were marvellous fun to chat with. I didn’t buy any pearls but they insisted on photographing me wearing an enormous pearl necklace.

Fun to chat to these ladies.

Machine used to make the holes through the Pearls

There are other types of pearls. Keshi pearls are small non-nucleated pearls typically formed as by-products of pearl cultivation. I love them.

Keisha pearls

Other jewellery is made from the pearly oyster shells. These fetch good prices as well.

Incidentally the Robert Wan Pearl Museum is the world’s only museum dedicated to pearls. It is located here in Papeete.

Smile


The Instructions

For this week’s photo challenge, point your camera at something or someone that puts a smile on our face (or just a smiling face)


All around Tahiti are large posters of smiling faces. What does it all mean?

Turns out that in March 2011 an artist photographer named JR decided on the Insideout project. It involved global participation. People share a portrait and make a statement.

In Tahiti the statement was smile for peace.

The photos appeared a couple of years ago around Tahiti. It’s good to look up and see a smiling face: smiling is contagious.

Rear view

Happy Chinese New year 2018 from Papeete in Tahiti.

I caught a glimpse of a dragon moving around in a shop yesterday. It wasn’t a big dragon and didn’t look too scary. Ah hang on, Chinese New Year started yesterday, Friday 16th February and carries on to Saturday 3rd March. That explains the dragon. Although, this year is the year of the dog on the ground, so perhaps they should have had a dog. I don’t know. I’m not Chinese.

There are many Chinese shops in Papeete and it would appear that the dragon visits them all. This could take a while.

Today I spotted the dragon, well two boys and accompanying teenage drummers. The lads seemed quite deft at donning their dragon outfit.

The back end of the dragon.

The stockier lad was the rear guard, whilst the little lad climbed into the front face.

Back end of the dragon sorted. Just the head and front legs to go.
Little lad climbes into the front of the dragon costume.

With a ricochet of fire crackers and a fuzz of smoke they were off. I didn’t hear coughing.

The rather sweet dragon is off to visit a Chinese shop.
Ah bless. In my day, they sent them up chimneys.

I’m wondering if they will be back at school in their separate classrooms on Monday. If so, what will they be wearing?

Jitters

Folks in the sailing community around Tahiti and Moorea have the jitters. Huddled groups with serious faces discuss the weather and only a token few are British. It’s the cyclone season. Meaning our little bit of paradise called home, could be at risk.

A couple of weeks ago, a number of Papeete Marina pontoons were badly damaged and some boat fenders burst when the swell came in.

The recent grim weather forecast for lashings of wind, rain and swell have driven folks out of the marina. Preferring to seek refuge in known boltholes in the lagoons around Tahiti and Moorea. The marina was eerily quiet over the weekend.

Empty berths in the Papeete marina

Just one yacht here

Predicting the effects of the weather, particularly with a convergence zone, is notoriously difficult. It follows no pattern; a bit like me and my map reading skills. We then have to decide what effect the conditions will have in the marina. With John’s skilled knowledge, hunched over the computer deciphering the weather, we opted to stay in the marina.

Most yachts are tied securely to the pontoons.

It has poured with rain for days. I’ve checked on the welfare of the solitary Muscovy Duck who also opted to stay in the marina. Poor thing has been so wet, bedraggled and miserable, plucking out feathers in despair. I don’t like the idea of a wild animal becoming dependant on humans but in time of need… Some rustic whole meal bread, seeds and grain have been gratefully swooped on, with an appreciative little tail waggle. From the duck not me, I hasten to add. I ignored the raised eyebrow from John, as he compared his bland subsidised baguette to the duck’s wholesome delicacy.

The poor Muscovy Duck

Last night the wind was due to peak and head straight into the cockpit. Lucky for us, in the evening, the cruise ship “Marina” appeared. It was 12 hours earlier than scheduled and formed the perfect windshield for us all.

Early arrival of the “Marina” cruise ship. Happy days.

By morning the wind had dropped off and changed direction. The rain had eased a little. The smell of kippers for breakfast wafted across from the cruise ship. The Polynesian dancers, were braving the elements to greet the guests. The place was noisy and vibrant once more.

We are not complacent. It’s the swell that wrecks the pontoons and brings along with it tree trunks and debrey. We have yet to have that event. Our fingers are crossed.