Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cost to Cruise - French Polynesia

We did it! Our least expensive month of cruising yet. I'll admit that it helps to be sailing in places where it's almost near impossible to spend money. Like the Sea of Cortez, cruising the Tuamotus doesn't offer too many places to throw you're cash around. Preparation was key to not spending money..also to not starving. Load up on months worth of food before crossing the Pacific.

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HEIVA in Huahine

July 7- 26, 2017

Allow me to apologize in advance. After a few years on a boat, my camera has crapped the bed and my pictures stink. It's been an amazing 90 days sailing through this small portion of the world, unfortunately however today we are leaving French Polynesia. The Polynesian people have been extremely friendly, always eager to share their culture, food and have been quick to invite us into their everyday lives. We gave up learning to speak French when most of the Polynesian's were keen on teaching us Polynesian words. 

We came to Huahine to enjoy the Heiva festivities and expected to stay about a few days, it's been almost 3 weeks. Huahine is perfect for exploring a small, friendly, non touristy island. Sure, there's amenities available with tourists in mind, but this isn't Tahiti or Bora Bora, which is why we love it here. If you get the chance, come here during the month of July for Heiva. Heiva is when all the villages from the island compete the entire month in different events. Daily, villagers compete in everything from canoeing, soccer matches, fishing tournaments, rock lifting competitions, flower arrangement competitions, bike races...just about anything you can think of. The most entertaining as a visitor are the dance competitions. For just $5 a person, you can sit as one of the only non-locals and enjoy authentic Heiva dance competitions. The costumes, live music and traditional dancing make for amazing memories. 
Tonight we point into the sunset and sail west off to the Cook Islands. So long French Polynesia, we'll miss you!

Sunset over Raiatea, only 20 miles west of Huahine

You can rent this off AirBnB

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cost to Cruise - French Polynesia

A HUGE thank you to those who have used our "buy us a beer" button!

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Our first few months in French Polynesia aren't "as bad" as we were anticipating. However we provisioned huge in Mexico before setting sail across the Pacific which helped.

French Polynesia requires health insurance for the duration of your stay when sailing in. We went with a Patriot plan. We opted for a $2500 USD per person deductible and for our family it runs about $108 per month. We also signed up with the Pacific Puddle Jump and used their agent which cost around $263 USD. We easily recovered the investment of using an agent with the duty free fuel certificate they provided. Diesel in Tahiti was .70¢ per liter!

Each month we post our Cost to Cruise! Interested in previous months costs? Go to our Cost to Cruise tab.

Moorea, Society Islands

Moorea, Society Islands
June 3-6

I've been good about posting a blog for each place we have visited. If you're looking for the Tahiti post, there isn't one. After sailing the better part of 40+ hours, we came upon Tahiti at dawn. Tahiti greeted us with pointed green mountains protruding out of the ocean with a smell reminiscent of a deep fryer. As we skirted around the island to make our way across Papette to our marina we couldn't help but notice the smog drifting between Tahiti and Moorea. Not exactly what we were anticipating. Smog? Out here? Gross. Sailing closer to our destination we also noticed that the water had a slick to it, dirty, oily, water. The one and only picture I took of Tahiti is below. Not exactly the honeymooners paradise we had heard about. I truly hope that anyone coming to Tahiti flies into Papette and then is quickly transported to another spot on the island, assuming there's a gorgeous palm tree lined beach somewhere. We never saw any. The best part of Tahiti was sailing away from it towards Moorea.

Tahiti's much more attractive sister, Moorea!

 Sailing into Cooks Bay, Moorea is just what we were needing. Absolutely jaw dropping. I had read somewhere that Moorea was a great place to hike and was eager to lead the family up to The Belvedere, a lookout point with spectacular views. With snacks and water packed we headed out for a quick hike up to the point. Standing adjacent to pineapple fields, which smelled delicious, we could easily make out Cooks Bay, Mount Rotui and the Opunohu Valley below.

Rather than walk back the same way we came up, we decided it might be more adventurous to walk down the other side of the slope. Near the top of Belvedere we had met "Dog." Dog saw us and immediately ran down her driveway, out on to the street and began following us with a huge smile and a tail that wagged so fast she could have taken off just like a helicopter. We love animals and thought she would make a good tour guide, so we allowed her to accompany us on our hike.

Once over the slope we headed down into Opunou Valley where at the Opunohu Ranch we spotted horses next to over grown banyan trees.

Continuing further the valley opened up to flat pasture and we passed cows and other horses, Dog leading us the entire way.

"Do you think you know where we're going?"

Maybe it's because I had started to consult my map a few too many times, that the rest of the family was starting to doubt my hiking route.

"We're good. Just keep walking, we'll come to the main road and from there we can take a bus back."

By the time we hit the main road, 5 miles later, people were starting to get tired. Not Dog, she was still ready to go. Sitting on the bus stop bench waiting for the bus on a narrow road, "what are we going to do about this dog who followed us here? We can't just get on the bus and leave her here. She'll get hit by a car."  Phil offered to walk the dog back to the path we had just left in hopes that she would head back home, about 3 miles in the opposite direction. I watched as he walked her back, pointed his finger at her and was undoubtedly telling her to "stay."  Thirty seconds after he turned around and headed back to the bus stop, Dog followed. Now what?

Looking at the map again, I could see that it would be another 5 miles walk if we decided to forgo the bus and walk back to Cooks Bay. "Maybe we should just walk back and take her with us, there doesn't seem to be a bus coming anyways. It's only a couple miles."  With a reluctant family following, we started back on the thin winding road, with Dog still following. An hour later we spotted a place to grab an ice cream. Knowing how much farther we had to go, I quickly offered to buy the girls a treat. "I thought you said we only had a couple miles to go?"   I decided to fess up and admit we still had 3 miles to go. If looks could kill, I would have been murdered a thousand times over.

The last mile was spent exchanging complaints and watching Dog dart in front of oncoming traffic. Every time the stupid dog would run out from the street, I would close my eyes. There was no way I could watch this hound get hit by a car and she seemed oblivious to any danger. Poor Phil has a bum ankle from a rock climbing incident that left him with pins holding his ankle together after two different surgeries. His pimp limp (which he gets when his ankle starts to hurt) had turned into a full blown hobble. The type of hobble that would make anyone believe he has the peg leg of a pirate, only thing missing from his ensemble was a squawking parrot on his shoulder.

I had kept a pretty good poker face up until this point, although I was secretly dying. I finally admitted, "I swear, in the past 2 hours, both ostioperosis and arthritis have taken over my body. I'm numb from the waist down. There's about 2 pounds of f*#@ing gravel in each of my shoes, tearing up my feet."  Phil felt zero sympathy. "You and your damn hikes. This sucks! I'll need a wheelchair!"

The only positive aspect to our now 10 mile, four and a half hour hike was that the grocery store would be open (they close down every day between noon and 2pm). The four of us each limped into the grocery store, Emma grabbing fresh out of the oven baguettes, Jessica snatching up sodas, I grabbed chocolate stuffed croissants and Phil went for the large cans of local beer. We sat at a shaded picnic table devouring our snacks, Dog passed out, laying next to us.

" I can't believe we walked an extra 5 miles today, because of this damn dog."

Actually, we would have had to walk home anyways. Per usual, it was some sort of holiday and the buses were not running. The joke on the islands is that the French have holidays 5 days a week.

We attempted to make a get away since Dog was in a deep sleep. No such luck. As soon as we made an attempted escape, she woke up, and followed us to the dinghy dock. Last we saw Dog, she was still smiling and wagging her tail as we dinghied away from her, hoping she would somehow make it home. With only 20 days left on our visas, we are leaving today for Huahine.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Apataki, Tuamotus

Apataki, Tuamotus
June 18 - 26

The last and final atoll on the Terrapin Tuamotus tour was Apataki. For the sail from Toau to Apataki we did a kid swap with Cape D and unfortunately with no wind, it was nothing more than a 4 hour motor ride. With Julian on our bow we attempted the hairiest atoll pass yet. The pass into Apataki makes a quick dogleg right and gets shallow (11 feet deep) with various bommies sprinkled about for an added butt puckering experience.

Coming into the pass we swept past  a group of kids jumping off a balcony who were extremely excited to see us. They returned our waves and shouts with a few dance moves, (even threw in a dab) hoots and hollers before plunging into the ocean.

Our first stop was at the SE corner behind our very own palm covered motu. The water under our boats was clear enough to easily see 45 feet down and was one of the better places to snorkel in all of the Tuamotus.

Apataki is the only atoll (that we've heard of) with a haul out yard and provides a great option for those who want to go home for a few months and come back later. Seems weird that in the middle of nowhere there's a haul out yard, but we met several people who were headed home while leaving their boats in the Tuamotus.

An unexpected treat was anchoring in front of the Carenage (haul out facility). We had moved in front of the Carenage when the wind decide to blow from the NW then whip around to the SE. Seemed like the wind was having an identity crisis and couldn't make up its mind. The people who run the Carenage were very friendly and were quick to show us around. They even  introduced us to Pou the pig. Pou was bought to eventually eat, but after a few weeks, the locals became smitten with her winning personality and she's now the local pet pig.

Whistle, and Pou will come running out of the bushes to help escort you to the beach, help eat leftovers of fresh coconuts or rollover for belly scratchings.

Another great animal encounter were the tame nurse sharks. At about 4pm, nurse sharks make their way to shore and aren't the least afraid to come right up and all but beg to be pet. We're not entirely sure, but we think they're accustomed to being fed from the beach at the same time every afternoon. We had a great time discovering Apataki which made it that much harder to sail away from the Tuamotus towards the Society Islands.

 It's true, what everyone told us. Sailing through the Tuamotus will make anyone who didn't get the long stay visa want to kick themselves. We could easily have stayed a full year just in the Tuatmotus.