09 Sep Faaroa Bay, Raiatea, Illes de la Societe – Friday, 07 September to Saturday, 09 September 2001
Friday morning Illusion and another sailboat move into Haapa Bay. We wondered why no one else moved yesterday afternoon and the sailboats that stayed in Avea Bay probably had a second sloppy night. We are restless and decide to stick our nose out and see how this windy period is affecting the sea beyond the reef. It’s not bad and we make the 20 NM passage to Raiatea with the wind on our port beam and 6-9 foot seas. By 1700, we go drop anchor in Faaroa Bay which is well protected from the still fierce winds. The winds continued to blow ten to twenty knotts through the night and During the night and we dragged our anchor.
It is exciting to be here in Raiatea, “The Sacred Island”. Don and I have learned a lot about Polynesian culture as we traveled through the Marquesas and Tuamotus Island groups. Raiatea is known as “The Sacred Island”, because it is at the center of the Polynesian triangle which stretches from Tonga in the West, to Hawaii in the North and to Rapanui (Easter Island) in the East. Marae Taputapunatea is located here in Raiatea, the most sacred of all of the ancient Polynesian religious and cultural site. In ancient times called Havai’i, Raiatea was considered by many to be the center of Polynesian religion and learning. On this island, in the district of Opua, houses of learning were established where scholars could study religion, genealogies, heraldry and oratory, as well as astronomy, geography, and navigation. From this island, ancient Polynesian culture was carried abroad on voyaging canoes, West to the Cook Islands and Aoteoa (New Zealand); South to the Austral Islands and Rapa; East to the Tuamotus, the Marquesas, and Rapanui (Easter Island); and North to Hawaii. Canoes from all of these distant islands would come here to Taputapunatea for religions observances and political deliberations.
Our guests Geoff and Candace Daigle arrived on Monday morning and all woke up to the terrible news of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC. It is odd how circumstances bring people together. Don and I went ashore on Saturday and introduced ourselves to Bill Kolans, an American who sailed here 22 years ago and whose home is in Faaroa Bay. Bill is 78 years old and has a Ph.D. in anthropology. His thesis was on ancient means of navigation by stars and waves. Needless to say he is both a scholar and a “local expert” and we introduced ourselves and arranged for him to take us and the Daigles on a tour of Taputapunatea on Tuesday. We decided to go ahead with the tour; we could barely get information about the horrors in the United States and hoped that we might get more information on shore. It turns out that Bill was an ex-navy intelligence officer and had been awakened by his old boss, a retired General, to let him know what had happened. Bill had more information than most news reporters back home. We thought that it was pretty amazing that we would park our boat right next door to a man who was able to keep us informed as to developments back home. We did the tour, but spent most of the day in a state of suspended disbelief.