L O G B O O K - by John Philp



ON A MISSION, Raiatea


MON 10th JULY - After saying goodbye to Xavier and handing him the keys for the car he’d lent me for a week we board the high speed ferry for Moorea. Alain is there to pick us up. When we look over at his 4WD we see a rasta dude in the cab. “Ah it must be someone else's truck”. Just then an old lady drives by and says, “Are you waiting for Alain? He’s right over there”. She’s a school teacher at the school Alain teaches at. Alain is sitting in the 4WD wearing false dread locks, his head swaying from side to side to the booming music. Imagine having someone like this as your teacher.

We are scheduled to leave tonight but Tony is ill with dengue and we are forced to delay for a couple of days.

TUE 11th - A wet morning. We take care of the housekeeping, buy outboard fuel and medicine for Tony, laundry, phone calls. Alain drives us partway around Moorea, including a pit-stop at the fruit juice factory for juice tasting (just a bit), rum tasting (lots of this), and liqueurs (yum) - careful Monifa, remember what happened when you drank rum punch in Antigua!

WED 12th - Tony is up and about so we leave tonight for Huahine motoring the entire way as the breeze is so light. Our friend, the crazy Alain is hitching a ride with us.

THUR 13th - Just after daybreak we motor around the northern reef line of Huahine and through the pass into the port of Fare, dropping anchor just off the Bali Hai Resort which sits on a golden sand beach over translucent emerald coloured water. Green hills of pine and coconut rise behind - your typical South Seas dream setting.

Fare is a sleepy one street town deriving it’s weekly excitement from the arrivals of the ferries, when produce comes down from the hills to be loaded onto the boat and the locals and tourists mingle as one. Normally the locals peer at you if you’re a visitor - checking you out suspiciously. There are some extraordinary rustic cars here, many with doors or windscreens missing, even one with it’s top cut clean off.

FRI 14th - It’s Bastille Day today, or Quatorze Juillet as the French know it. In Huahine this means a speech and Tahitian tamure, free wine, and Tahitian food at 8.30am at the Mayors office. They raise the flags of France and French Polynesia, singing both anthems, the French colonial officials looking decidedly odd in their starched white uniforms and tall French Foreign legion hats. I’m talking to some friends and having a jolly time getting to know Miss Huahine a little better when Monifa leans in telling me we have to go. As our cruising permit for French Polynesia runs out in a few days we have to head for Raiatea today.

When we arrive off the main town of Uturoa we set about on a mission finding a Canal Plus satellite TV hookup to watch live tonight's 10.30pm Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney. After a wander around town we come up with nothing. So after dinner I set off on a mission. After walking and hitching 8km and asking at numerous places I finally come upon a snack (small restaurant) called Chez Mimosa where I met a lovely Polynesian lady that listens to my story, then rings her son at work to ask his permission to use his Canal Plus decoder. He says ok, and then I tell her there are two more on the yacht that would like to watch the game and she says fine, we’ll set up some extra chairs in my living room for you. When I leave to hike back to the boat and she finds out it is so far away she insists that her son Pimo drops me there, and he waits while Tony and Alain get organised and we ride back to the snack to wait for the game to start. Sadly, after two Hinanos we discover that the match is to be delayed until tomorrow morning so amidst apologies from Pimo’s mum, and ‘No, that’s ok you’ve done so much’, we hurry back to Tau (she dropped us off this time) to listen to the match on HF radio, the reception so scratchy we have to lean in close, and we lose half of what the announcer says anyway, except for the scores.

SAT 15th - We wave goodbye to Crazy Alain this morning as he sets off to catch a flight back to Huahine. It’s Kristy’s birthday today and Lydia has a turkey in the oven. As we motor around the island of Tahaa, the aroma of turkey cooking wafts out of the galley and out of the portholes. We anchor off a pretty camp ground on the south west side of Tahaa, then set off ashore to get coconuts. We approach a little house to ask permission but there is no one there. We figure they’ve gone away to Papeete for the Heiva festival. So Sefo begins to husk coconuts at a rapid rate in case the owners come back, while I throw him coconuts to husk and clear the husks away hiding them under coconut fronds. We’re laughing hard as we sneak out of there with a dozen husked coconuts.

Monifa has made a beautiful floral head piece for Kristy so she looks like a Tahitian princess at dinner. With turkey and French wine, and candles and chocolate cake we feel like royalty tonight.

SUN 16th - A wet morning and squally. Tony elects to stay put as the visibility is so poor. Sefo and I spear-fish in the pass, staying on the inner side as the swell is so large outside. There’s little to catch though except for an octopus which we enjoy for dinner with Mahi Mahi and chili and lolo - eating like royalty again; and later - on deck drinking coffee, we listen to the kids ashore in the camp thumping on drums and chorusing lustily as kids do, the full moon rising yellow above the camp, the air cool and clear after the rain, and the lights of Raiatea twinkling across the lagoon. To the north west Bora Bora is a shadowy outline. We fall asleep to the roar of the southern ocean swell pounding the outer reef.

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