Wet and windy weekend.

We battened down the hatches on Shiraz ready to brave out the lousy weather which was forecast for the weekend.

Many boats left the Papeete marina with the knowledge that a North westerly swell can reek havoc here. John spent hours on the computer reviewing the weather forecast information. We decided, with a handful of other boats, to stay.

Saturday night saw squalls with winds of up to 39 knots and it hammered down with rain. But, as John had predicted, the swell wasn’t too bad.

Sunday morning I went out on the bike to look around. At the mouth of the river, muddy water flowed into the sea carrying with it tree trunks and a semi submerged fridge.

The pass to the Papeete port remained open so the ferry service to Moorea remained on schedule. The locals are used to rolling around on the ferries but I expect there were a few green looking, sea sick tourists because it was very rough.

A few hardy va’a people had been out in the brown sea.

Despite the amount of rain on the ground, the burly Tahitian man was doing his daily leaf blowing job. I think the leaves were stuck firmly to the ground but he was jovial and gave me the chakkers.

Today the weather is hot and sunny. The yachts have returned to the marina.

I’ve done the washing. We’ve fished out tree branches, plastic bottles, flip-flops and even a computer from the water.

As the water cleared, I was so pleased to see that the little juvenile bat fish had survived.

More rain is forecast but today’s weather has been gorgeous. We felt quite relaxed after a somewhat stressful weekend.

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.

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.

Awakening


The Instructions.

Weekly photo-challenge. This week, show us an image of an awakening.


It’s official, the cyclone season is over…. well according to the Muscovy Duck. He must have had some form of awakening.

The Muscovy Duck; as featured in several previous blogs, spent his cyclone season by choice out of the water on the marina pontoons.

He suffered in the heavy rain and looked bedraggled at times, so against my better judgement I fed him.

He responded to my help with a waggle of his tail and a gift of a feather.

Gift

Unfortunately, he had a roucous appetite and what went in, came out quickly. It wasn’t difficult to follow his messy trail along the pontoon.

Gradually as the weather improved, so did his plumage. He flexed his wings and took a few short flights and swimming trips.

My husband and I sailed off to another island over Easter. On our return, much to my delight, we discovered the Muscovy Duck back in the water.

Fending for himself he swims around eating the marine life under the pontoons. His plumage is now magnificent.

When he spots me, he swims over and I have a little chat. He’s mute, which is just as well as he wouldn’t get a word in edgeways.

He’s such a poser. It’s hard to resist taking photos.

So is my Muscovy Duck right? Has he had a ‘spring awakening’? Is the cyclone season really over? I do hope so.

“I’d rather be….”

Posted in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge. “I’d rather be…”


The Instructions.

If given the choice, what would you rather be doing, right now?


My husband would rather be out cycling. Not fixing a puncture.

Typical to get a puncture just as you think you’ve spotted a dry weather window for the two hour cycle.

With a dreadful weather forecast for thunderstorms and rain, the odds are against him.

Thunderstorm warning.
Success. A dry cycle there and back.

I would rather be washing out my husbands cycle kit in the sunshine, than worrying that he’s still out there.

I can hear a distant rumble. I convince myself that it’s a container ship being loaded up on the dock close by. I know that’s not true, as the port authority staff are still on strike.

I hate lightening and would rather hide away inside the boat doing my yoga.

Such is life in paradise.

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.