Mutiny on the Bounty
Fletcher Christian and the Bounty crew were so fired up about Tahiti, it sparked a mutiny. After all, the island is famous for its beauty – and not just that of the land.
Such was the allure of the Tahitian women that some of the Bounty crew married the locals. And, understandably, they were reluctant to trade their new life for the old one. Carrying a cargo of breadfruit with some sweaty old sailors on a former coal ship to the West Indies, isn’t anywhere near as appealing.
We have been reluctant to leave for a very different reason. For the last two weeks, we have been parked up in Papeete Marina enjoying plentiful supplies of water and electricity right next to our boat. And we don’t need to plop ourselves into the dinghy to get to shore; we can simply step off the boat onto the pontoon and walk straight out into the city. This is luxury to the crew of Lady Jane, and we have been making the most of it. Especially the daily, and sometimes twice-daily, showers. We are impressed by Papeete Marina. The staff are friendly, the marina is well-constructed, the services are high quality – and the fees are relatively reasonable.
Getting here was fuss-free. No squalls, no drama, and the port authority let us proceed straight into the pass when we arrived. Fast ferries and many cargo ships operate in this area, so it’s important to call the port 10 minutes before arriving. It’s also important to call the port authority before heading towards Taina marina. That route passes close to the runway and I think they would rather not have a yacht mast impale an aircraft.
Of the many ships regularly entering the harbour, the Aranui IV is one of the most unusual. This ship is a dual cargo and cruise ship that roams the waters of French Polynesia, delivering supplies and passengers from the Societies to the Marquesas. It might be odd looking, but it’s certainly functional.
The JaJapami people are also here in the marina, and because we had missed Michel’s 5th birthday, Maria wrapped a present up for him in special eco-friendly gift-wrap, looking suspiciously like kitchen roll.
Ideas for a fortnight in Tahiti
I appreciate this isn’t most people’s ideal of what they would do if gifted a fortnight in Tahiti, but this has been great for the motley crew. Here’s a list of what we have been up to:
- Had a sailmaker replace the UV protection cloth on our genoa (we are hoping this will last longer than 3-years)
- Cleaned the engine heat exchanger and changed the engine coolant (asking for anti-freeze / coolant here results in some very blank looks, by the way)
- Changed the engine fuel filters
- Re-sewed our ensign and OCC burgee, after they received a battering in the wind (lesson learned)
- Revarnished some of the woodwork
- Dismantled and cleaned the cooker
- Repaired the gelcoat in the cockpit
- Polished all the stainless steel
- Cleaned and protected the dinghy with UV resistant spray
- Reorganised the storage
- Cleaned and oiled the teak
- Cleaned the sprayhood and bimini
- Washed all our clothes and bedding
- Replaced the broken spokes on my bike
- Replaced the switch for the shower drain
- Sorted out the medical supplies
- Re-glued some of the headlining
- Replaced the cabinet hinges in the forward heads
- Fixed the bow thruster control
I’m thinking of writing to the Tahiti tourist board suggesting they include the above in a suggested itinerary.
Because we have t’internet to the boat, we have been able to handle some more complex matters, such as securing a place in a boatyard in the Marquesas for Lady Jane in the cyclone season. And we’ve booked flights to various places that I won’t bang on about now.
All work and no play
It hasn’t been all work and no play in Papeete. We have found three chandlers, a petrol station and a Carrefour. So, we have bought oil for the next oil change, anti-foul for the haul-out, and plenty of supplies for the crew. We have also obtained our duty-free certificate for diesel from the Douane office in the port, for reuse multiple times, thank you very much. It did, however, take us two sweaty treks to the office to get it. Someone (and I can’t remember who) told us that we only need to take the two pieces of paper we obtained when we first entered French Polynesia. I should have known better. The customs folks want passports and boat registration.
We also spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon at the local park, where Maria got active – and a little anxious on this over-large wobbly thing:
We did manage to release ourselves from boat-related duties to find time to walk around the city. And, although the streets of Papeete wouldn’t win any beauty awards – the street art might. There are incredible paintings dotted all over the city. But to get to see it, its necessary to cross a busy road seperating the promensade from the city. In most other cities we have visted, an unautomated crossing would result in some very large roadkill. Here, however, the drivers here are exceptionally curteous and will stop even before you get near to the crossing. UK drivers: shame on you.
We have also had the occasional outing to a restaurant. Our JaJapami friends were in the same marina for most of our stay here, so we have been out with them a few times. And we have tracked down the happy hour locations and a couple of good coffee shops.
Unfortunately, because of the strong winds in the Tuamotus holding us back, we missed the Hiva festival which is held in Tahiti each year at a stadium close to this marina. But, by way of compensation, the JaJapami’s booked tickets for us to see a later event on 3rd August: Âià, performed by the dance troupe Ori i Tahiti, at the Marae Arahurahu Temple in Paea.
The theme of the show was homeland and the connection between the earth and man. The narrative was exclusively in Tahitian – except the bit where he said ‘no video or photographs’ – so we were reliant on the dancers to tell the story. I would love to say that we had a handle on the meaning of all it, but we didn’t. What we did have, though, was a feeling that this was something extraordinary. The dancers didn’t put a foot, hand, or hip wrong. All of them were perfectly coordinated, and the way the women move their hips gives the impression that their upper bodies are disconnected from their lowers. It’s an incredible thing. And an astonishing act of choreography given that there are 52 dancers (80 people in the troupe).
Unfortunately, because of the rigidly enforced no filming or photos rule, I have no images of the dancers. But I have, thanks to the power of t’internet on the boat, found a YouTube video of their Heiva performance: Swinging hips and dancing thighs. And we did manage to get some rainy photographs before the performance started:
Today (Saturday 10th August) is our last trip to Carrefour to stock up, so we have reserved a (free) minibus to take us there and back. It’s a bit like Supermarket Sweep in that you have less than 2 hours from the time the driver drops you off until the time they pick you up. But it focusses the mind. There’s also a very good market in the centre of the city, selling a selection of local, and imported, produce. The prices in Tahiti, though, are eye-watering. I’m sure it’s possible to shop at Fortnum and Mason for less.
The route to the Tourist Office, where the minibus to the supermarket collects its human cargo, passes the docks for the large ships. We have seen Wind Spirit there a couple of times on our excursions but this time we were more than a little surprised to see a pair of Japanese warships tied up there. It’s a long way to come for a visit to the supermarket. But, later that afternoon, I saw two of the ship’s officers in the bread section of Carrefour. To be fair, the bakery is pretty good.
The weather is looking reasonable over this weekend and early next week, so we are planning to head over to Moorea. There, we plan to return to more leisurely pursuits, and sand, sea and palm trees. But we might just get our duty free diesel over there too.