Now this is what it’s all about! Sitting on the bimini roof overlooking the sunset with a plastic glass of wine, all alone (which is totally rare and only because the kids have earned iPad time) – truly stunning looking at the pink hues over Tahaa island. Today we started with school at 0800, Jake was not into doing NAPLAN maths, and suggested drawing a map of the Society Islands, which he enthusiastically did. He is into creating maps and fish school but seems to have a block, an attitude block when it comes to maths as he is quite capable of doing it. The kids all ran around doing jobs and Jake even did snack dinner (mum knows all about this when she was with us), as they love their (limited) iPad time. I am really tired and take out dinner isn’t an option on a boat unless we go ashore, so I’m stoked not to cook tonight.
Alex and Sienna did a lesson on All About Reading (AAR) which we are almost half way through level 4 (the last one, yay), Sienna went over the times tables and Alex did his diary. Alex read most of the story to me aloud today (part of the lesson) and as we have not done AAR for a while and he has been reading his kindle all the time, I was really happy to hear how great his reading has progressed – yay J. Always a stress trying to keep the kids on track or at least not too far behind their class mates at home! We also went over some geography to do with the story we read, which was great as they were asking questions and engaged.
Poor Sienna has another temperature! She seems to have temps about once a month or so. No snotty nose or other symptoms except complaining of aching legs, though she was enthusiastic to hit the water this am, which is her usual style, little miss excitement, so she’s thankfully not too unwell.
Sienna is very excited about her upcoming birthday in 29 days (we have made up a count down calender). She has instructed me to do whatever she wants, no jobs for her on her birthday, and she keeps asking where we will be and what we can do there. I think we will be on Mauapiti island.
We had a SUP/ swim in the morning and a snorkel in the pass this pm. It rained quite heavy for a while after lunch. We decided yesterday morning to sail from Tahaa to Huahine so Stu can get a wave here as he’s busting for a surf. It took all day, and we were very happy to drop anchor in 3m of clear water. Hit the water with SUP boards and windsurfer board that the kids paddled. There was an interesting house boat French Polynesian style a little way from us, so off we SUPped to check it out. Moored off the house boat was large Va’a (Polynesian boat with an outrigger), this one had 3 sails and 2 masts in it. I got chatting to a French guy and he said he and his mates (2 others) were going to sail this to Moorea! That’s about 200nm away, an overnight sail. At first I thought they were joking, but no. It was around 10m long like a canoe with the 2 masts attached, a 30 HP motor with 100L of fuel for the trip, no shade, no navigation or any equipment that I could see as it was an open canoe! It was interesting to chat with them. I certainly would not like to do that sail in that boat, but what an adventure. On our passage over we dodged lightening squalls that were really close, and a 30 knot squall hit us with a tonne of rain for hours. I certainly hope they will make it ok. I Hope they have an EPIRB and navigation iPad with GPS.
Our Aussie friends on S/V Sempre Due arrived yesterday and we had sundowners with them, then told us of this Va’a (canoe with outrigger and 2 masts), that arrived in the middle of the night without lights and proceeded to anchor too close to them twice! So they made it to Moorea, which is great. BTW they didn’t have any night time navigation lights, these are the type of vessels Stu and I worry about hitting in the middle of the night.
Stu went for a surf, only one as he had subsequently hurt his back. He had an interesting experience out there. Beside the waves being pretty good at this famous surf spot, there was a memorable incident or 5 with an angry surfer lady out there. Stu said, when he first paddled out, there were 3 of them surfing with no stress. Then a boat load of 5 extra groms came, which changed the mood a little but everyone was still chilled and happy. Then 3 ladies paddled out. One of them accidentally got in the way or dropped onto Stu’s wave, by going straight down the wave on her belly. The other local surfers were watching and chuckling when this happened. He just fobbed it off thinking she was a learner. She pulled into another wave that was rightly his, but he just fobbed it off. The third time she snaked him, by paddling right in front of him so he couldn’t stop or swerve and of course he ran her over. She went ape-o calling him names and yelling at him, as her legs were ran over. He said “if you deliberately paddle in front of me you’re going to get run over, I’m not a magician!”. The fourth time she again tried to get the same wave but fell off the back of the wave, so she grabbed and pulled his leg rope so he would fall off. That’s when Stu challenged her, “how old are you?”. “You need to grow up, that’s how children behave”. Then she flipped and her head spun around and turned into a fire breathing dragon while yelling at him to “go back to your boat”, in screams of anger. He inquired “why are you dropping in on me all the time?”. Her retaliation was “I wanted them”. “You need to chill out, there’s plenty of waves for everyone here” was his calm reply. Needless to say, the whole mood had changed from super friendly and welcoming and woooo hoooooing others on a wave, to wide eyed and tense. Stu was the only white tourist out there. This wave has a reputation for being some locals being aggressive, I wonder if the aggro is only from this one lady as everyone else out there this day was great!
We made a plan for the following day to hopefully hire bikes (which the kids were fully stoked about) to ride to a Shell museum. Stu wasn’t going to come and stay home and rest his back instead, he ended up walking the whole way in the hot sun with us as we couldn’t hire enough bikes. I thought this was a great opportunity to explain the motto we have hijacked from another cruising boat (the name escapes me) – we endure, we accept, we adapt! Whether Sienna and Jake took it in or not I’m not sure as they weren’t really in a listening mood, but I tried. Alex had his ‘I’m not going to help get ready’ thing earlier in the day and was going to be left behind, but he stepped up and was allowed to come and was now on fire, asking Dad about seeds and trees, which Stu enthusiastically took as a teaching opportunity.
We were walking along, with Sienna and Jake whingeing the whole way as they were disappointed we couldn’t hire bikes and really didn’t want to walk, it was hot. I was just having a conversation with Stu about the different vibe of this island, not as friendly as Tahaa and Raitea, when a man stopped his car and offered us a ride – super friendly and welcoming, which we accepted gladly. Yes, we are great parents accepting rides from strangers, something we would never do at home. The museum was great, this guy has a private collection of over 500 shell types and it is clearly his passion.
The Triton Trumpet shell has been collected and eaten by so many people that it is now on no. 3 on the endangered, meaning no one is supposed to have them in their homes or take them from the water (everyone has at least one in their home on this island he said). The problem is, the only natural predator to the crown of thorns sea star is the Triton Trumpet shell, so guess what, the crown of thorns was starting to kill off the reefs here. Until they introduced the Great Green Turban Shell, which are very common here and now have taken over eating the crown of thorns, which they certainly have as we have not seen one!
The conch shell that was everywhere in the Caribbean (with loads on the floor dead and empty, eaten by people which was obvious as they all had a hole in the top of the shell to extract the snail) is now no. 1 on the list on endangered species, very sad as these shells are magnificent and large. He showed us the different ages and stages of one type of cowrie shell. The Nautilus is fascinating, going down to depths of 400m and it has its own ballast system and water jet propulsion! Did you know that all shells spin to the right? With the exception of one species. There is one in 20,000 shells in any species that will spin to the left, a bit like left handers in people…… well kind of. We were pleasantly surprised again as we were offered a ride home from a lady with 3 children (which we accepted) after we all pigged out on bananas from a fruit stall on the walk home.
We organized to meet up with a French family we met who have 3 boys – Adam (8 yrs), Timeo (10 yrs) and Lilian (13yrs). We messaged them as we went over to the dinghy dock to snorkel around it. The snorkelling was ordinary, but what was super cool was an alive fully grown oyster filter feeding, it had its mouth open with the lips showing allowing us to see right inside, it was super cool. Stu took the drone which stressed Jake out for a while, as it started raining. The boys got some good practice in, as there was a nice flat grassy area, which can be rare to find. Some local boys were fascinated by it, Stu let them look inside the ‘FPV goggles’ which they thought was pretty cool.
The French boys joined us, all the kids had a ball jumping off the dock, so did the big kids. We met up with Dennis and Suzy there too. Dennis and Suzy have Nadia and Andy aboard as crew, they have all been together for almost a week! They connected on a crewing website and the crew flew from NZ where they were backpacking, I think they will all get on great, the Swiss couple are free and scuba divers and seem like great fun. We all ended up having sundowners and dinner at the yacht club, such a treat not to cook and hang out with friends. The French family are travelling for a year on land and by air, and have some truly interesting stories to tell.
S/V Sempre Due and us motored in the lagoon to another anchorage at Baie D’Avea. We made it with some careful navigation around reef and our friends following. We found a sandy spot in 10m and dropped anchor. Sienna, Stu and I went to check the anchor was set. It was strange to dive down and feel how cool the water was deeper down, while warm at 30 degrees on top. As the sun went down a little and it cooled down a bit, we went for a beach walk calling past Dennis and Suzies boat to drop off their eggs we bought for them. They seemed to be resting as there was no movement aboard.
We carefully weaved through the reef as it was shallow, with Jake pointing the path in the dinghy. The sea floor was absolutely covered in sea cucumbers, which we learnt at the shell museum that the white sticky stringy stuff they excrete sometimes is poisionous, oooops we were throwing them at the kids a few days ago in Tahaa! He he. Though I think the smaller ones don’t have this white sticky stringy poison in them. Jake spotted a money cowrie shell that was alive and hunting and moving with its covering around it, very cool. Alex found a sea leach it was around 2 foot according to Jake. Then we amused ourselves by picking up seeds on the ground and hitting them with drift wood, at each other at first then a competition into the sea. We had Sempre Due crew aboard for sundowners, it was fun. I am still spinning out after hearing Suzies ‘woman overboard’ story!
We had a blast today at Chez Tara having lunch consisting of an Ahima’a (traditional underground oven) with the Aussies on S/V Sempre Due (Dennis, Suzy, Nadia and Andy) and our new French friends David and Kler with their 3 boys Lilian, Timeo and Adam. The adults all chatted and enjoyed each others company while the kids started getting restless after lunch and decided to hit the water. So I helped them collect the SUP/windsurf boards and they had a blast playing in the water. Later on I went with David and Kler to a place where they hand paint sarongs while the kids all stayed back with Stu and had an absolute ball jumping off the little jetty, clowning around pretending to kick the cats (each other) into the water, not literally kick.
Dennis and Suzy called past our boat on their way back from shore shortly after we arrived home. They were stoked as they had been waved down whilst in the dinghy by a local on the beach who was worried about a boat that recently anchored too close to the bombies, it wasn’t them. But this lead to them being invited for drinks at his house on the beach and dinner was offered too, from their own Ahima’a they had prepared. Unknown to them till later, they ate turtle! Den who is a fussy eater (bit like me), felt ill after discovering this. They were shown all around the yard including the hydroponics in the shed, if you know what I mean. No, they don’t work, the crop is their income according to them.
When you learn something about someone’s history that blows you away, it’s these moments sharing the good and bad of each others lives, the deep stuff buried inside of us that is sometimes at the surface and sometimes stuffed down deep, that makes this adventure and the adventure of life, so great. Those rare close connections. Den and Suzy shared something with us and we feel fully blessed and privileged that they chose to open up to us. We think you guys are super awesome.
After staying at Baii Anea for a few nights we were off to moor near passe Tiare, a cute little beach by a motu. We took the last mooring ball, so with Sempre Due following we quickly got in the dinghy to try and help them find a place to anchor, as it was deep with loads of coral heads. They had dropped anchor by the time we got to them, Stu snorkelled it and the anchor was on a bombie head, so they tried to pull the anchor up but the windlass decided it didn’t want to pull it up! So there they were drifting/motoring as they were now off the bombie with their anchor half way up, along the bay. By this stage we had found a sandy spot and luckily we brought the chart plotter on the iPad and marked the anchor spot so we could find it again, and we went off to try and help. We tied up to the drifting Sempre Due and jumped aboard, after trying the trip switch and other things, the boys pulled up the anchor by hand! Stu looked after his back, which was still on the mend and didn’t hurt himself further. Great timing, as just then a catamaran left its mooring ball, ready for Den and Suzy to pick it up! No anchoring required. They figured out they had flat batteries and this was the cause of the dead windlass. It’s certainly an adjustment for their crew living on a boat, with limited water and power use.
The nearby snorkelling was pretty good, Nadia spotted 2 pairs of Nudibranch tailing each other, an octopus and loads of fish and coral. Sienna was excited snorkelling with Nadia and Andy.
The day before we went on a long dinghy drive with Sempre Due on a mission to find the sacred eels, we dinghied to the other side of the island and in the next bay. Walked down to the river where the eels really enjoyed the bait fish. They feel soft, smooth and slimy. The poor local dogs there were in terrible condition, one in particular, we couldn’t find her again to give her our lunch tuna. On the way out of the bay numerous Va’a (canoe boats with outriggers) we’re racing us! Suddenly out of nowhere there were 4 boats paddling their hearts out, with grins on their faces trying to keep up with our dinghies, it was fun.
Thanks for reading our Neverland adventures 🙂