leaving for Tahiti

We are leaving for Tahiti at dawn tomorrow (July 4). The winds are currently quite strong but the weather forecast shows less strong winds tomorrow and then they rapidly diminish to essentially nothing over the next two days, and then continue that way for at least the next five days. No wind makes for great snorkeling on the reef, but then we would have to remain here in Toau at least a week more and who knows what the weather might bring then. So it is time to savor the delights of the Society Islands (Tahiti, Huahine, Moorea, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Bora-Bora). We leave French Polynesia from Bora-Bora, and have only 5 weeks left on our visas.

On departure from Toau, we pass between Niau and Kaukura, and then our course takes us southwest from the Tuamotus on a heading of 231 degrees magnetic all the way to Passe de Papeete, across the harbor, and then down the Chenal de Faaa to the Marina Taina, we were may be able tom get a berth, or anchor nearby in the lagoon or across from the Maeva Beach Hotel. There is a large Carrefours supermarket (our favorite from La Rochelle, Martinique, and Guadeloupe) only 1/4 mile away, and internet access.  as about 120,000 residents, more than half the population of all of French Polynesia. We are told (by Rishu Maru) that you can see a McDonalds from the anchorage (they have an 7 year old, so they look for those things).

After a very rainy and gusty few days, Sunday morning saw high barometric pressure, clear blue skies, and a return to tradewinds from the ESE. We took the opportunity to snorkel the reefs extensively. The coral is beautiful as is the diversity of sea life. Early on we spotted a lemon yellow fish with black stripes that we had not seen before. The fish was smallish and pretty but certainly not the prettiest fish in the reef. Five minutes later we saw another just like it. As I followed Laura through gaps in the reef, I realized that
this fish was following Laura where ever she went — the first fish we saw was probably this same fish. For the next 30 minutes, this fish never moved more than 6 inches from Laura’s or my thighs. We would occasionally bump fish head and thigh. He would always follow one of us very closely. Finally, we returned to the anchored dinghy. Laura got in first and the fish immediately returned to nuzzle my thighs. Then I got into the dinghy and we motored 1/4 mile away to another part of the reef. As we got in the water, he was there again — he was right up to our thighs and began to follow us again. Later, we
took the dinghy again to another part of the reef, and we got in the water, and there he was. We are quite certain it was the same fish. He had followed the dinghy in order to stay close to us. We had now developed a real affection for our little fish friend. The return to the boat took us 3/4 of a mile across an open and deep channel where  predators could lurk, but we hoped that he would follow. I motored at the slowest possible speed, but to our disappointment, he was gone. Someone told us that he is a Sargeant Major” fish. These fish fixate on something, like a snorkel mask, and faithfully follow.

Sunday evening we hosted a “Pride and Prejudice” party with “Vera” and “Roxi” as guests. The weather changed and squalls brought heavy rain. Even though the winds were strong Monday (yesterday), we spend the day cleaning the boat hull. First we cleaned the seaweed and little critters off of and just below the waterline. Then, using the “electric hookah” and a scuba regulator, I dove under the boat the cleaned the prop, rudder, and keel. I kept bumping into the remora fish who attach their heads to the hull bottom in order to eat the crud that grows on it. If they would do their eating faster, I would not have to work so hard.

Last night we had a pot luck on shore. Laura made her famous Indonesian beef (rendang), using the last of our Panamanian beef in the freezer. Valentine and Gaston, our hosts, contributed bread and chicken they prepared over an open fire. Also present were the boats Vera, Roxi, Betsy, Serenade (an Amel), Esperanza, and Ironie. Today is dedicated to preparations for our sail tomorrow and to thanking Valentine and Gaston for their generosity.

We will send an update while enroute.