Monday, August 14, 2006


It's been a while since our last update and much has happened; we've celebrated both the anniversary of our departure and Ellen's birthday, we've sampled the delights of Tahiti and Moorea, narrowly avoided exhaust-fume induced asphyxiation, sent our first emails via Australia and we're currently enjoying nearly perfect sailing in the sheltered lagoon around Raiatea and Tahaa.We used Tahiti as a bit of a pit stop, restocking Kika with food, water, diesel, fishing gear and miscellaneous boat bits, while gorging ourselves on the readily available delicious French & Chinese food. We finally saw some Polynesian dancing, exhausted ourselves climbing up to a local view-point and generally enjoyed our rapid re-introduction to civilisation. However it's possible to have too much of a good thing and it was great to escape from the bustle of Papeete to the beauty and tranquillity of Cook's Bay in Moorea.From there we set off with Walter and Rita from Noa for the first of our fruit gathering expeditions, returning with a good selection of papaya. We've learnt from Noa that unripe papaya, when cooked, works well in savoury dishes and our papaya now rarely make it to the ripe fruit stage.

While anchored in Cook's Bay, we dug out our "Mutiny on the Bounty" DVD. It's shot against the tropical back-drop of the mountains of Moorea and it was thrilling to realise that the scenery in the film was identical to the mountains visible from our anchorage. Sadly, reality and fiction have yet to meet when comparing the greeting the Bounty received and Kika's arrival; where the film shows the boat being overrun by goddess-like semi-naked Tahitians, all we received were a few friendly waves from passing fishermen and racing pirogue crews. Next stop was Opunohu Bay, where our anchor disturbed and narrowly missed a ray resting on the bottom. It was a great anchorage in clear water with good snorkelling, fresh baguettes from a nearby shop, a short walk to a mango tree and Zeferin to our starboard.After a couple of days we were ready to head off but were delayed by a temporary fix I'd made to the exhaust in Tahiti turning out to be more temporary than intended. I'd given it a month's guarantee; the fix lasted a few hours. I'd bought parts in Papeete for a more permanent fix, so I took advantage of an unusually wet day to rip out the old pipe. Ellen has been primed, in future, to start a Gestapo-like interrogation if she ever hears me utter "I'm going to do a proper job". If I don't relent during the two weeks of bright lights, dripping water and thumb screws I'll be permitted to continue.
My "proper job" on the exhaust resulted in a single leak, being transformed into two leaks, then four leaks. The new pipe I'd purchased turned out to have a 40mm rather than 38mm diameter and the best exhaust sealant compounds in Papeete couldn't bridge the gap. Over the next few days I became all-too familiar with the Moorea-Papeete ferry timetable as I traipsed between chandleries, marine engineers, exhaust fitters and automotive suppliers. French Polynesia has a lot to offer, but it doesn't stretch to 38mm flexible exhaust hose. We were saved from wearing breathing apparatus for the rest of the trip by an exhaust fitter who fabricated some 38-40mm pipe adapters. I've optimistically guaranteed the repair until New Zealand, when I'll do another "proper job". Peter and Sheila, the previous owners of Kika, deserve a mention here; throughout the trip they've patiently responded to my email queries with helpful advice and in this instance provided valuable information about the installation of the exhaust.

We'd originally planned to be in Bora Bora for 10th August, Ellen's birthday, but my enthusiasm to fix the exhaust "properly" delayed us so that we only just made our revised rendezvous with Noa in Raiatea for the celebration. Once we'd recovered from the overnight passage, we enjoyed more snorkeling, birthday cake provided by Ragtime and a dangerous combination of the best Panamian and Tahitian wine.
Raiatea gets our vote for our favourite Society island to-date. It's two islands; Tahaa to the north and the larger Raiatea to the south. They share an almost completely navigable protective reef, in which we've been enjoying fantastic sailing between stunning anchorages with great views over clear water to Huahine and Bora Bora. Also, our fruit gathering expeditions have been the most successful so far, yielding a stem of bananas, papaya, avocados, an orange, breadfruit, coconuts and vanilla pods.
Moorea pineapple field
Moorea pineapple field

We're currently anchored off a motu (small sandy coral islet within the lagoon) in the south of Raiatea with fantastic snorkeling, the opportunity for some spear-fishing (we've checked for ciguatera with a local fisherman), plenty of driftwood for a beach fire and no shortage of hermit crabs for racing. It's going to be hard to drag ourselves away from Raiatea, but eventually we'll head off north to Bora Bora to locate a waiting parcel and sample (according to our pilot guide), "the most beautiful of the Society islands and possibly the Pacific". We'll let you know if we agree.

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