On Thursday, July 27, Johno, Trevor and I motored from Moorea over to Tahiti in light air. We couldn’t get a slip in Marina Papeete and the free anchorage near Marina Taina was crowded, so we anchored in a good spot in the airport anchorage. Friday was a rainy day and we took the dinghy over to the dock at Marina Taina and caught a bus to the airport, where we picked up a rental car. We drove back to Marina Taina, where I dropped off paperwork to renew my Carte de Jour at Tahiti Crew. We also dropped off used motor oil, recycling and trash.
Our next stop was the Tahiti Museum. I try to take everyone to this place. It’s newly reopened and offers a myriad of displays about the migration of people to Polynesia as well as the cultural history of each of the island groups. Afterwards, we had lunch at Casa Bianca at Marina Taina and then walked over to Carrefour to buy groceries, a luxury after so many weeks in the Tuamotus.
Saturday was super windy and we didn’t leave the boat. On Sunday, Ludo Martinez, a welder, came out to the boat to talk about rewelding a cross-piece for my davits.
Davits with broken weld
Then we went back to get the car and drove to Marina Papeete to talk to John Blair on Ballyhoo. He was offering to give us his slip as he departed from the marina. Because the marina is first come, first served, the way to get a slip when it’s really crowded is to coordinate with someone who is leaving. John also told us about a couple of airplane wrecks out near the airport anchorage and we resolved to check them out. We had lunch at the brewery restaurant not too far from the marina and then went back to Taina and parked the car before heading back to the boat.
On Monday, we snorkeled on the smaller of the wrecks. As we were looking for the larger one, the wind and seas came up and we bailed on that one.
Wreck of small plane near the airport anchorage
Johno in the wreck
Trevor in the wreck
Someone built a desk at the wreck
Trevor at the desk
Back at the boat, the wind kept building, gusting to 35 knots. We stayed on the boat for the rest of the day, asking John Blair to postpone his departure from the marina, which he did.
Finally, on Tuesday morning, August 1, we pulled up the anchor and headed to Marina Papeete, arriving shortly after 6:00 a.m. John was out of the slip but idling in the marina so that no one could get past him to take the slip. We headed on in and one of our new dock mates helped us with lines. It was a tight fit. Due to a slight lack of communication, the bow sprit bumped into a rubber bollard, with no damage to either boat or bollard. We finally settled in and got the lines tied off. We were in our new home, the main attractions being real showers and water to wash the boat. It was the first marina Aldabra had been in since leaving San Diego. Because of the marina’s proximity to downtown Papeete, it also offered an easy way for any of us to go exploring.
After taking real showers, we walked around the downtown market and went to the fabric store where Johno found fabric he liked and Trevor eyed some he might buy later. Afterwards, we walked toward Marina Taina and then caught a cab so we could retrieve the rental car from Marina Taina. As soon as we got the car, we toured around the island.
View from the beach on the far side of Tahiti Iti
Hanging out at the beach in Tahiti Iti
Later, back at the boat, which was quite visible to anyone walking along the waterfront, we had a surprise visit from Jeff from Infinite Grace, whom we had met back in Aratika. He had flown from Rangiroa for an urgent dentist appointment. It was nice to catch up with him.
On Wednesday, August 2, we used the car again to tour around the island. After dropping our mainsail off to be repaired at the Tahiti Sails loft, we drove to Tahiti Iti and went up to the lookout there.
On Thursday, August 3, we drove Johno to the airport at a very early hour. Then Trevor and I went to Marina Taina and did laundry. It was so early that we had no competition for the machines. Afterwards, we went back to the boat in Marina Papeete. Trevor then walked around town and I joined him later for a second walk. We had dinner at a restaurant near the marina with Don and Gloria from Windswept, also from the Santa Cruz area.
Aldabra at Marina Papeete
The view from Aldabra at Marina Papeete
Friday, August 4, was my birthday. Trevor and I snorkeled on the larger plane wreck. While we were there, Alex and Yvette from Blue Beryl stopped by in their dinghy. Later, when we were back on the boat, they stopped by and we made plans for dinner. Trevor and I washed most of the boat exterior before taking a few down hours before dinner. At around 5:00 p.m., Alex and Yvette joined us and we walked to the brewery restaurant. We had a very nice dinner and some beers, and they gave me the gift of a blue beryl stone. I was very honored.
On Saturday, we all went out to the big plane wreck again. The plan was for Trevor to use my dive gear, but when he got into the water, the regulator had a leak. He dove with just his snorkel gear while Alex and Yvette used their scuba gear. Afterwards, Trevor and I worked on washing the bottom of the dinghy. That night, the restaurant in front of the boat played really, really loud music all night.
On Sunday, August 6, Trevor and I made final preparations for our new crew, helped Blue Beryl with their dock lines as they came into the marina to get water, and met up with some new friends from California, Doug and Michelle on a catamaran in the marina.
On Monday, August 7, Trevor and I took the car early (4:30 a.m.) to pick up Linda, his mother, and Tom, my friend from Mexico and San Diego. I’ve grown close to Tom and his partner Helen over the last few years and was excited that he and Linda were going to be on the boat for the next leg of the journey. We took them back to the boat to get settled and then we went with Alex and Yvette and Doug in the car to see about getting my regulator fixed and to get our cooking gas tanks filled. My only choice was to buy a new regulator, which I did. Then we had to drop off the cooking gas tanks at a different location from what we had planned. Afterwards, Trevor, Alex and Yvette took the car to tour the island while I hung out on the boat with Tom and Linda. We all had dinner that night at the brewery.
The next day, Trevor and Tom worked on installing the Starlink system that Linda had brought in her luggage. Trevor swapped out two refrigeration modules that Linda had brought and he installed new fans for the watermaker feed pumps.
On Wednesday, August 9, we left Marina Papeete around 7:00 a.m. and headed over to Marina Taina.
The waterfront view at we went from one marina to the next
Our welder had arranged for us to have dock space so he could work on the davits. It was a tight squeeze to get in, but with his help along with a couple of other guys, we got the boat turned around and situated so he could work. We were right at the entrance to the docks, in front of the Casa Bianca restaurant. Ludo thought that the work would take two days, but he was finished by noon. Linda and Trevor took the bus back to Papeete to get the rental car and then did some touring while Tom and I worked on the boat.
The next day, Tom and Linda went to the Tahiti Museum while Trevor and I shopped at Carrefour and brought two cartloads of groceries back to the boat. It’s not a long walk between the store and the marina. Later, we all went downtown to look around and picked up the cooking gas tank. Back at the marina, we put the mainsail back on the boat and had dinner at Casa Bianca.
On Friday, August 11, we checked out of the country, with the help of Tahiti Crew. We also took delivery of some duty-free wine and liquor and checked out of the marina. We took a final run to Carrefour and then took the boat over to the gas dock. Unfortunately, they closed for lunch after filling up the boat in front of us, so we had to wait until after 1:00 p.m. to get diesel fuel. Finally fueled up, we were out of the pass and headed toward Huahine by 2:30 p.m.
It felt funny to say goodbye to Tahiti, knowing that I would not be returning. It isn’t my favorite place in the world, but I had spent considerable time there over the last year, and was growing quite used to it.