Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 12, Papeete

July 12, Papeete
We left Raiatea on June 28. This was a swift change of plans to take advantage of favorable winds at the end of a storm system that had dumped huge quantities of rain the previous several days. Turns out the system had about another week to run its course with relatively strong winds, rain, and at times, endless rainbows. Our short easy overnight passage to the island of Tahiti turned out to be demanding and uncomfortable and we cut it short at Moorea when we realized the anchorage at Tahiti would be untenable in these conditions. That meant we had the picture postcard bays of Moorea virtually to ourselves for 5 days. (The sailors were hunkered down elsewhere and the honeymooners were honeymooning.) We were able to take a great hike into the mountains and go snorkeling out by the reef during a couple of weather windows. Moorea is lovely.
Thinking the weather system was over we pulled anchor for the 10 mile trip to Papeete. Outside the reef was something else again, pretty much the same conditions we bailed on the previous week (heading into 30 knots of wind, for the sailors out there). Not insane but not pleasant. This is not the South Pacific sailing of my dreams but it should improve dramatically once we start heading in the right direction, which is west, more or less.
We have been in Papeete for a week now, anchored along with 100 other international boats and a very full marina. There are a lot of facilities right here, including, allegedly, wireless internet service (at $5 per hour), an internet café which is where you go when you get totally frustrated with the wireless (a relative bargain at $10 per hour because it is reliable), a huge megastore down the street, a McDonalds (just over $20 for the advertised special, a full meal deal for 2 ).
We are keeping very occupied working on the boat, shopping for the boat, shopping for dinner, engaging with the internet. What would take 45 minutes at home ( a quick trip to Home Depot for example) takes more like 4.5 hours here. Which supplier will have what we need? Where is it? How to get there? How to communicate in French what specific piece of hardware you need? Not here? Where do I get it? Woops, I forgot to take that measurement. Back on the bus, back to the marina, back to the dinghy, back to the boat. Back to the supplier. Woops, closed for lunch…For the most part one weathers it in good humor because that is what a life in port is for voyagers like us. It is also an educational way to engage in the culture, master the metric system, and jumpstart my rusty French.

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