Category: Jilly’s View

Moorea … The Wild Side!

While Tahiti didn’t meet our expectations and quite frankly let us down, Moorea is everything we hoped for and more. After spending so long in the chaotic and filthy city of Papeete it’s time to move to a more relaxed and beautiful spot. Moorea is just twelve miles from Papeete but it’s a complete and total world apart.

We leave the Marina Taina anchorage around 0900 and are making our approach to Cook’s Bay before noon. Just before we reach the turn we see a couple of humpback whales playing off in the distance. I don’t know about anyone else but I simply can’t get enough of watching these magnificent creatures. We dilly dally a bit watching them but it’s time to get to the anchorage. We’re hoping to get the dink in the water and head to the Bali Hai for some afternoon cocktails.

IMG_0605As we come through the pass in the reef we see just a handful of boats in the harbor. On three sides of us the magnificent, lush, green mountains rise from the shore. The bay is as flat and calm as can be and the water, while clear, is greener than we expected but still very nice.

We find a nice little spot and drop the hook. Of course if you follow us, you know what comes next. Yep, the ceremonial, anchor down beer. They’ve had just enough time in our Engel’s freeze to be frosty cold with a thin layer of ice on top. Oh yeah!

Before long we drop the dink in the water and head to shore. This turns out to be a bit of a disappointment as it turns out the Bali Hai no longer exists. It’s been taken over by another company and they only serve breakfast and lunch. Oh well, there’s another resort on the water down the way so off we go.

IMG_0601We arrive at the dock at Hotel Kaveka and the place is deserted. There’s not a soul on the large, beautiful deck but there is music playing so we walk in. A nice Polynesian woman comes out and offers to get us a drink. She tells us they only serve dinner. That’s okay, we’ll just enjoy a Mai Tai. So, we have the entire deck all to ourselves. It is atop of the ultra clear water and we watch the colorful fish swim below. The weather is beautiful and life is amazing.

Cook’s Bay is a wonderful place to spend a few days. There’s a great grocery store there with lunchmeat, a treat we actually look forward to these days, and lots of great fresh meat and veggies. We spend two days there before heading to the next bay over, Opunohu Bay. It’s just an hour trip and we decide this time to anchor out at the mouth of the pass just inside the reef. Here is where the really beautiful water is and it’s perfect.

We anchor down in about fifteen feet of water and we are the only ones in this little piece of heaven. I’m so excited as on the east side of the pass there are dozens of boats. To the west, near the Intercontinental Resort there are another half dozen. We just happened to get this little piece of paradise all to ourselves. Ahhhh!

IMG_0668Of course if you’re a cruiser you know that solitude in places like this is hard to find and just when I think it’s all perfect a large catamaran comes right at us. It’s a charter boat and it’s full of French tourists. At first they drop their anchor right over top of ours. Dan calls them on the radio and advises they are on top of us so they move. There’s plenty of room in this spot for them to leave us a little privacy but instead they anchor about 75 feet off our port side. Granted that’s not “on top of us” but why anchor so close when there’s so much room? Oh well, there goes our peace and quiet but you know, you can’t have everything.

They are in the anchorage for less than a half an hour when the men on the boat decide they will relieve themselves off their starboard side. They just stand there looking over at us like it’s perfectly fine. You know, I really don’t care except that I don’t want to see these old guys with their junk hanging out. I let the first one go by without a word. I even let the second one go but by the time the third guy goes up there I stand on the side of Dazzler and just throw my hands in the air. He looks at me kind of funny and some woman on the boat smacks him and pulls him inside. Okay, maybe she’s got some sense. But, before long here comes another one of the guys. Seriously? I’m ready to get on the radio and say something but Dan just tells me to calm down. We can’t police the world. No, I can’t police them but I sure can tell them how disrespectful they are being. I don’t though. I just go below and try to ignore it.

Fortunately for us they take off early the next morning because if I had seen it go on again I was going to go over and say something. I know I’ve said it before and I’m sorry if I seem to be labeling the French but they all seem to be completely rude down here and I just can’t take it.

Mid afternoon on the day the catamaran leaves we see a boat coming into the pass. It looks familiar so I turn on the electronics to see if they are showing up. Yep, I’m right. We know this boat. It’s our dear friends, Lutz & Gabi of SV SuAn. We are both so excited to see them headed our way. If we have to have neighbors, these are the kind we want to have here.

We invite them over for dinner. Dan makes spicy sausages and red beans & rice. Of course it is accompanied by his delicious Mai Tais. We all have a wonderful time catching up and enjoying each other’s company. That’s one of the great things about cruising. You can be walking down the road or anchored in an anchorage in some foreign country and all of the sudden you see a wonderful friend.

We decide that we’ll go snorkeling tomorrow where you can swim with the stingrays. There’s a spot out on the north end of Moorea out in front of the Intercontinental Hotel that they call “Stingray City”. Tour operators bring people out to swim with and feed the rays. Of course we don’t need to go with a tour. We’ll just hop in our dinghies and head over.

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Lutz & Gabi of SV SuAn

The next morning we arise bright and early and head out to the coveted spot. Halfway there Lutz & Gabi have an issue with the motor on their dink. He was playing in our wake and accidentally swamped it. Ooops! So, we tow them back to their boat and wait while he fixes it. Less than a half hour later we are on the way again.

 

We make it to stingray city before it starts to get crowded with tourists. From the dink you can see the rays and a few black tip shark swimming about. We’re all eager to get in the water. It’s about chest deep so I’m standing next to the dink as Dan opens up a can of sardines. Of course these rays are trained to know food is coming and all of the sudden one comes swimming up behind me and literally comes out of the water and slides over my right shoulder. I wasn’t ready for that so I jumped a bit. Dan starts laughing at me. Then he puts some sardines in his hand and two rays come up and slide over top of it to eat the yummy treat.

These rays are like puppies. All they want is attention and food. Their wings feel a bit like sandpaper on the top but on the bottom they feel soft as silk. Of course there’s sand on their tops so I’m assuming that has something to do with it. They are so cool though with the way the wrap their wings around you as if to give you a hug.

The four of us are having a ball feeding them. When they come up to take the food out of your palm you feel a sucking motion. Of course we wear gloves because we’ve heard of some people who get pricked by their tiny teeth. Before you start asking why we would do this if there is a chance of being bitten, let me explain. Their teeth are set back inside their mouths and if you hold your hand out flat they will just suck the food off of it. Those whom I’ve read about that who got pricked were ones whose fingers got inside the mouth. As for us, none of us had this happen. That’s good too because the black tip sharks are swimming all around us and we all know that blood and sharks don’t mix.

Sharks & Ray

Speaking of the sharks I find it interesting that they keep a pretty good distance from us even though we are feeding the rays. Being the scavengers that they are you’d think they would get closer but they don’t. They swim in a circle around all of us.

As time goes on we spend almost and hour swimming and playing with these beautiful creatures. Finally Dan points toward a couple of the black tips and says they are closing in their circle around us. And, there are more than just the two or three we initially saw when entering the water. For safety sake he decides it’s time to move on so we all finish the feeding and get back in our dinks. Ironically at this time the local tour operators are out in full force. The water is so clear you can see all the rays and sharks clearly from above. There must be fifty or sixty people in the water by now. There are adults, children and even babies in water wings floating above the sharks. Now as an adult I know the risk I’m taking and can think logically to mitigate that risk but I’m not so sure I’d have put my baby in the water with sharks all around. Just saying.

~Underwater TikiWith our ray adventure over we head back toward the boats to find the spot where we can snorkel the underwater tikis. Lutz & Gabi had already done that when they came to Moorea for the PPJ party in June. It is pretty cool to see tikis underwater but none of us know their origin. So, after we snorkeled here a bit we hop in our dinks and get ready to go back to the boats when we see a tour boat dropping some tourists off. We stop and ask them about the tikis.

It turns out they aren’t ancient or anything like that. A local carved them some fifteen years or so ago. They were on the hillside and the church elders were unhappy with it because they said you can’t serve two Gods. So the carver took them out and dumped them in the bay. Now they are a tourist attraction and they help to generate income for the local tour operators. Now you have the rest of the story.

Yes, our day with the rays, sharks and tikis was a really awesome day. It might be one of my favorite days since we left Mexico. If you ever get a chance to swim with stingrays I highly recommend it. It was a wonderful experience and one we’ll never forget.

And, we made a short video of our day so if you’re interested, go to our YouTube page and watch it. CLICK HERE TO WATCH OUR VIDEO!

Until Next Time,

Jilly & Dan

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Tahiti … No Paradise!

My watch is nearing it’s end. It’s almost 0400 and off in the distance I can see the pale grey lights of Papeete, Tahiti illuminating the dark purple sky. I hear Dan start to stir in the cabin so I head below to make coffee for us. I won’t be going back to sleep now. We’ve only got a couple more hours until we arrive and I always enjoy watching the sun come up as we enter a harbor.

We reach the western tip of the island and finally the large rollers start to settle down a bit. The sun is coming up over the mountainous island and we’re both ready to get into port. We are going to stay at the Tahiti Yacht Club. We will be moored out but it will be nice to have a place with hot showers and laundry facilities.

There’s a reef that surrounds the island so I head to the bow pulpit to stand watch. We talk back and forth on our headsets as we watch the island grow larger. We are about a quarter mile out when we begin to hear the noises of the city. It’s immediately obvious we are going to be experiencing a bit of culture shock. The sound alone is much louder than we’re used to these days. After all, the places we’ve been over the past few months have had sometimes as few and 50 or 60 residents and Papeete alone has over 137 thousand. Yes, this will take some getting used to for us.

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We arrive at a mooring ball and once we are all tied off it’s time for our anchor down beers. There won’t be much time to settle in, however, as we’ve a long list of parts and supplies we hope to acquire here. This is the first place we’ve seen since México that has a large offering of provisions and boat supplies.

We waste no time in getting to shore. One thing we’ve been warned about is theft here in Papeete so for the first time since I’ve been on board Dazzler we actually take a cable and lock to secure Sparkle to the dinghy dock.

On shore we spend a few minutes trying to find out who we pay for the mooring. No one speaks very good English and as I’ve said before, our French leaves a lot to be desired. After about fifteen minutes we find the man in charge. He tells us not to worry about paying since we’ll only be there a night or two. He provides us with keys to the shower and is nice enough to phone a taxi for us to get to downtown.

The taxi driver is much like those in México and the rest of the world. He’s hurried and changing lanes frequently. There’s tons of traffic and noise and chaos everywhere. I can feel myself becoming overwhelmed by it all. I sense Dan is feeling the same.

The first stop is to drop off our propane tank. We ran out of propane while I was making coffee this morning. The driver drops us at a gas station but it’s not what we’ve read in the compendiums so we are feeling ill at ease. The guy inside assures Dan everything is fine and so we leave our tank hoping we will see it again in a few days. The good news for me is I can’t cook so we’ll have to try some of the restaurants here until it comes back.

Now it’s time to head into the commercial district to locate marine supply stores and such. As we walk the streets I’m feeling more uncomfortable by the moment. It’s very loud and crowded and nothing at all like the peaceful places we’ve enjoyed along our journey. It’s also very dirty. There’s trash everywhere with large piles of it on almost every street corner. Some is in bags but much isn’t so it’s left to the whim of the wind. México is not the cleanest country but I’m feeling like Papeete is the worst we’ve seen.

We walk from part store to part store and are not having much luck. It’s frustrating. We’re hot and both of us are exhausted. We did manage to find a couple of items but not nearly as much as we hoped. Finally we leave one store and decide it’s time to head back to the waterfront to get a bite to eat before going back to the boat to crash.

We have a tourist map that we picked up so we leave the last store and see what appears to be a shortcut back to the waterfront. As we start walking down this street it becomes immediately apparent we have taken a bad turn. All of the sudden we see lots of less than savory characters milling about. One look down beside a building and I see tents and mothers with babies sitting on the ground. It’s pure squaller. Everyone is looking at the two of us knowing we certainly don’t belong here. On the walls there are signs of gang activity in the form of tagging. I’ve got my cell phone in my hand so I ever so slightly slide it into my backpack which I hold onto tightly with both hands. Dan’s head is on a swivel. He’s watching everyone and everything and sticking very close to me. It is the longest five minute walk of my life. As we reach the end of the road we head right toward the water. We walk about a hundred or so yards and then stop so Dan can look at the map. He’s got his back to a wall and I’m standing guard. Then from the street we had just walked down, a young man in his twenties comes out as if he’s looking for us. When he sees me staring straight at him he quickly turns back and leaves. Phew! I’m ready to get the hell out of Dodge and soon!!!

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We make our way back to the waterfront and stop at a little bar called the Bora Bora Lounge. It’s all open air and they have fans with misters to keep us cool. We sit down and order a picture of beer and some lunch. We both discuss the fact that we do not want to stay in this place any longer than necessary. It’s obvious there is a lot of crime here. Yes, it looks beautiful from the water and even the first couple of blocks off the water are nice and fairly clean but if you get more than three blocks from there it’s dangerous territory. Dan even tells me I’m not allowed to wear my jewelry to town again. I never wear much but he’s afraid any of it will attract the criminal element.

The good news is we fell in love with the BBL. Isabella who is currently the manager but is working to buy the place is a complete sweetheart. And the food there is off the charts good. Oh yes, super fast free wifi as well. That’s something after months of sluggish connections. During our stay here we visit there almost daily for lunch or happy hour.

After one night we decide to move the boat to the Downtown Papeete Marina. A taxi ride from the TYC was 30 PFC one way to downtown. As much as we don’t want to deal with the noise, we do like the idea of being walking distance to stores and such. Also, many other cruisers that we know from México are there so it will be nice to catch up.

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My new hairdo, necklace and pareo and I’m ready to hit the town for a special dinner with my honey and our friends, Ed & Linda of SV One Fine Day!

We end up spending about twelve days in Papeete. Unfortunately it took us that long to get the supplies we need and make a few repairs to Dazzler and we did have some great things go on.  For me, I got the best haircut I’ve ever had there. The second is that my amazing man bought me a beautiful black pearl necklace. He saw it in the store and told the lady to put it on me. Once it was on he said it was perfect and I needed to have it! I love this man!

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So, what are the good things about Papeete? Well, in addition to the BBL and Isabella, we did find a few other redeeming qualities. Obviously provisioning was good. We finally were able to find real iceberg lettuce so we got to have some really good salads. They have great meats and lots of amazing cheeses to choose from. Liquor was a little less expensive than in the Marquesas and Tuomotos but I’m still drinking rum because I refuse to pay $60 USD for a small bottle of vodka. In one store we saw the small bottle of Grey Goose for…wait for it… $92 USD!

 

Blog 5It was nice to have a variety of different, quality restaurants to choose from as well. And, being near our dear friends, Ed & Linda was awesome too!  We spent quite a bit of time together and shared many a meal while we were there. One night we had them over to Dazzler for some of Dan’s famous Arracharra Tacos and Ed even treated several of us to a delicious meal of Orange Beef! Oh yeah!

There’s a wonderful fresh fish and vegetable market called the Marché de Papeete. It’s a huge, two story building where you can find the freshest fish and veggies at really good prices. You can pick up other touristy things as well like t-shirts, hats, bags, jewelry etc… It’s open Monday to Saturday and turned out to be a great spot for us. We had fresh tuna several times while we were here. It was $5 USD/kilo. Can’t beat that!

Blog 3In the evenings starting around 1800 at the Place Vai’ete along the waterfront the roulottes start to open up. These are food trucks and they set up tables and chairs and serve everything from Chinese to hamburgers, to ice cream to steak and frites (fries). We tried them three times. My first experience wasn’t all that great. I ordered fried shrimp. They batter them, then deep fry them with the heads & shells on. By the time you get the heads and shells off the coating is gone. And, they were so hot I literally scorched the tips of my fingers. But, I didn’t let this keep me from trying again. That’s when I found the beef satay and OMG was it awesome! I was immediately hooked. In fact, we’d have come back several more times but we only got one more chance before we left.

If you’re coming by boat I’d recommend staying that the downtown marina. The location is perfect because you can walk to just about everything. And the shower facilities were nice and water was hot, unlike at the TYC which not only had no hot water but the water and lights are on a timer. There’s nothing like the lights going off while you’re in the shower. No, not a good thing.

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As far as we’re concerned, Tahiti is not paradise! There’s too much chaos, noise and crime. I actually did some reading on the crime there and it’s pretty bad. One elderly man was recently robbed and beaten with a rock near the ferry terminal. Some good samaritans stopped and ran the bad guys off. They called the police and an ambulance. The ambulance came but the police never did. And that’s not a one time thing. Basically they say the local police do virtually nothing.  There is definitely a drug problem and no doubt there are gangs. Ask a local business owner and they will say there is little crime but anyone with eyes can see that’s not true. They just don’t want to run off the tourists. No, Tahiti didn’t do much for us. In fact we said we’d only stop back there if we were on a path that led us nearby and we needed to provision and even then we would do it much more expeditiously and move on.

One final note that I feel must be included to be fair is that we only stayed in Papeete. We did not move around the island to the less congested areas where there are more resorts etc… It may be a lot different there but we’re guessing there is still going to be significant crime as the criminals prey on tourists. There’s no doubt that Tahiti is putting on a show for the tourists and they depend upon them. It was honestly a bit disappointing for us as we’ve both always dreamed of going to Tahiti. You know the image…palm trees swaying as they lean out over a white sand beach that is being kissed by gin colored waters??? Unfortunately that was not our experience but we know there are many more beautiful and amazing places in our future and we’re glad we did visit even if it didn’t live up to our expectations.

Until next time…

Jilly & Dan