11 Sep Raiatea/Tahaa, Maupiti and Rarotonga – September 1 to 11, 2002
Raiatea: Sept. 3 – Our neighbors from home, Colin and Manio Radford arrive. Manio is Tahitian and we have been looking forward to spending time with her and Colin in the Society Islands. We chose Raiatea and to visit with them because Raiatea was the ancient religious center of the Polynesian triangle (Hawaii-Easter Island-New Zealand) and they had not been to Raiatea for more than 20 years; and we chose Bora Bora because Manio’s grandmother was from Bora Bora. We started our first day by exploring Utaroa, the main town of Raiatea and then cruising up to Tahaa, anchoring off of a motu and swimming and snorkeling.
Our motu of the night was close to Motu Pearl Farm, the home of Hugh Laughlin and his family. Don and I visited with Hugh when we were here the previous year and learned that Hugh was a friend of Manio’s father back in Tahiti. Hugh was out, planting faihe on the mountain so we arranged to do a tour of Tahaa with Magdelena and Silvae, who came highly recommended by the Laughlin family. We visited a vanilla farm and drove to the top of the island for a magnificent view and then around and back to Starr. Later in the early evening we go ashore again and meet with Hugh and his wife, Linda. Hugh was the president of the Fahaa Canoe Club in Tahiti for 30 years and when we met him last year we talked about wanting to get a new canoe for Ua Pou. Hugh knew that we had accomplished our goal; he had read about it in the Papeete newspaper. He is pleased to see us again and delighted to meet Manio. Hugh rented farm land from her father when he lived in Tahiti.
The next day we go back to Utaroa, check out of the Society Islands with the Gendarmerie, eat lunch in town and ponder whether to take a tour of Raiatea that we had scheduled the day before. It is pouring down rain; I mean tropical downpour. We (Don, Colin, Manio and I and the tour guide all decide to cancel).
Maupiti: Sept. 6 -Since the weather forecasts are for more torrential downpour, we decide to skip Bora Bora and head to Maupiti, a wonderful little island 100 nm West of Raiatea. We leave early in the morning and arrive by 1230 and are inside the pass by 1330. We anchor off the village and spend the afternoon paddling our canoes. Manio loves it; she grew up paddling canoes.
The next morning we go ashore and walk around the island. It is delightful, much like Bora Bora was like before tourism took its toll. Maupiti has made the conscious decision to not allow major development and it is still quiet, rural and unspoiled. And Beautiful! It takes us about 3 hours to walk around the island, stopping to refresh ourselves at a beach along the way. We aren’t able to eat lunch until we have completed our circumnavigation because Maupiti is so unspoiled that there are no restaurants except in the one small village. After lunch in the village, we move Starr closer to the pass where the water is more clear. We have a gang of sailboaters, most of whom we have met in other anchorages, over for a drinks and appetizers: Mike and Donna from Entertainer; Rick and Elke from Mithrandir; Tom and Lynn and their sons, Jackson and Tristan from Roxanne.
Sept. 8 – Sunday – We go to church and Manio runs into a relative. (No big surprise, we met relatives she didn’t know she had on Raiatea as well. Manio has relatives everywhere in the Society Islands.) Church is wonderful with the women dressed in bright floral prints, wearing hats and nice shoes. We spend the afternoon swimming and snorkeling around the boat and just being lazy.
Passage to Rarotonga: Sun., Sept. 8 – Boy do we have adventuresome friends. Manio and Colin decide to go all of the way to Rarotonga on Starr, instead of flying back to Tahiti from Maupiti as originally planned. Colin has done ocean passages before, but Manio has not and they turn out to be Great! crew. We stay a shorter time on Maupiti than we expected, leaving at 1600, because we hope to stop at Mopelia, about 100 NM west and on the way to Raro. The pass at Mopelia is supposed to be tricky, so we aren’t sure that we will want to go in, but we schedule our departure so that we will arrive in daylight to check it out.
Mon. – We arrive at Mopelia at daylight. The pass looks narrow and mean; 60′ wide, poorly marked with sharp-edged coral on each side and a strong ebbing current (is it supposed to be slack tide). We try to call the three sailboats inside to ask questions, but no one answers the VHF. Finally Manio calls in Tahitian and we get a response telling us that they will send a boat out to talk to us. A small boat come out and tells us that the current is “as good as it gets” and that there is plenty of water if we have a “strong engine”. We do, so Don goes closer to check it out and we decide to pass on Mopelia and head on to Raro. There are some disadvantage to having a bigger boat. We set up 4 hour watches from 0800-2000 and 3 hour watches from 2000 to 0800. Colin and Manio do their watch together. It is gray with 25 knt. winds from the SE, seas up to 12 feet, but not too bad.
Tues. – Blue sky, winds ESE 15-20 knts, with calmer seas. I have learned from Manio that it is good to just look at the sea; she spends hours just looking and sees so much more than I. Colin and Manio are great guests, so easy to be with and curious about everything around them and FLEXIBLE!
Wed., Sept 11 – We arrive at Rarotonga in the morning and tie off of a large 110′ yacht that we met in the Marquees. Don and Colin go ashore to check in. In the afternoon a sailboat leaves the quay, so we stern-tie and Don secures that boat further by scuba diving and tying lines to concrete anchors on the bottom. We have returned to Raro for the third time.