Like every boat we’ve met traveling the Pacific we somewhat limped into Tahiti needing to get parts shipped, issues fixed, water topped up, etc, etc.

Getting into the marina was extremely easy, once we’d worked out the information we had was 18 months out of date. Honestly I wonder sometimes how stupid the owners of these places can get. You’ve invested x amount of millions in a huge new state of the art marina but then fail to tell anyone about it. Noonsite, Active Captain, no one had been notified. The best we heard was that there was a new marina, that was it. Emails to this fabled marina bounced back. We found a basic, half-finished website showing artists impressions and more conflicting information.

Added to this was the great idea not to have a VHF radio installed from the get go. So upon entering the harbour we called the port authorities and were told to give the marina a call on the phone. No one has a phone sim until after arriving. Thanks. Grrr.

So we came in, no radio contact, no staff, no clue. Luckily someone on a boat (who’d been through the same thing) pointed us to a spot and then helped us with our lines.

We headed to the marina office where the cause of the problems seems to originate from. The marina ‘manager’ was in a state of meltdown. Our introduction went as follows..

Us: ‘Hi, we just arrived…’

Him: ‘Look, I need you to fill this form in EXACTLY. You must pay in advance IN CASH, NO CARDS! Oh.. and DON’T complain about the internet here because it’s rubbish, same with the lack of hot water in the showers!’

Us: ‘Er…. Hi, we just arrived.’

It was crazy. He was running around like 50 people had just turned up all at once. The guy needed a slap, then to go on a course or two to improve his customer relations experience.

Once we’d filled in his silly paperwork, and told once again not to complain about the wifi, we headed back to the boat. The guy was an idiot but the marina was lovely. Right in the centre of town, secure, lots of space. Luckily we didn’t need to deal with Mr. Manager much after that.



The first thing that struck us was how loud everything seemed. We haven’t been in a large town for so long now that it was sensory overload for a while, then our brains just seem to filter it out.

The second thing that struck us was we had power and water again! We’ve been using the solar and watermaker for all our power/water, and between them they’ve done an amazing job! But… oh…. the joys of unlimited water! We washed Interlude off, gave her a good shampoo, washed her again. Filled the tanks up. Washed ourselves. Nice! In the space of about three hours we’d used more water than in the last three months.

We were looking forward to Tahiti for a while. We love the small islands, but also miss the towns where there’s more to do. The main reason we were here though was to get our growing todo list back down.

We found that involved walking around the marine shops asking people to help with this project or that, getting told to.. ‘Try the guy who works just round the corner, he’ll know!’, etc. A lot of cat and mouse went on but after a lot of walking we sorted out who we needed to talk to and got some jobs booked in.

Our first two days of being in Tahiti when pretty much like this. We’re learning that you need to push hard to get this stuff sorted or you’re suddenly in a place for three weeks with nothing to show for it.

We’re also learning that no matter how hard you push you can’t control everything and have to go with the flow.

Case in point were the replacement parts for our steering cables and electric outboard. We’d tried our best (with a lot of help from my lovely Mum in Sydney battling for us as well) to get everything lined up for when we arrived but in the end it still took almost ten days for the parts to get to us.

First up was a guy in Australia who, after a week, worked out he didn’t have the replacement part we needed for our outboard causing us to panic buy the part from the UK, then ship it to my Mum in Sydney. Then DHL told us they only deliver to Tahiti once per week (which we’d just missed) so it would be another week before the parts would be sent. Then to top it all off the customs person we used to clear our parts into Tahiti got our boat papers, Interlude, missed up with a boat called Winterlude, for three days before working this out.

Deep breath!

So while all this was going on we ticked off everything else on the list. We cleaned the boat from top to bottom, put a coat of wax on her, got our engine serviced, etc. After a few days of this we literally had nothing to do so had a few days really relaxing on the boat while looking out at the centre of Papeete. Perfect people watching location.

Papeete had some great restaurants, bars, and lots of live music going on, as we were entering their festival season. Three for three in our book! One night we did stay a little late and got back to the marina well after Midnight totally forgetting that we needed to extend our stay and therefore got locked out as our card passes wouldn’t open the gates. Oops! Cut to me climbing around the back of the security wall hanging on over the water by my fingertips then somehow getting Helen round the same way. Just as we were patting ourselves on the back for a successful break-in a security guard ran towards us out of the dark and it took us 15mins, lots of pointing at our boat, the showing of every bit of ID we had and two phone calls to convince him we weren’t robbing the joint. Hopefully the calls were to ‘Mr. Manager’ waking him up.

It was also nice to make some new friends on the docks who were all busy with their own tasks. All the boats now seem to be going in a three way split. A third heading to Oz, a third heading to New Zealand, and the last lot heading back to the US.

It’s going to be very interesting as we keep pushing West as I can see the number of boats reducing from here once again.

It feels like we’ve finally caught up with everyone after our extended time in the Caribbean. A good feeling as we’ve always felt like we’re behind and needing to push. Hopefully we’ll have a little more time to spend in the remaining places now and ease our way back to Sydney.

While we were waiting for DHL we hired a car and explored the island. Tahiti isn’t exactly as we imagined. I think we both had images of Hawaii in our mind for some reason?! Once outside of the town though the island really is quite stunning. We drove around it in about seven hours stopping at huge caves, waterfalls, and then for lunch half way around at a lovely restaurant for some great seafood. On the way back we found a dirt road others had mentioned so hammered the poor hire car getting up that for about five miles – sorry Avis. At the end was an amazing valley which we hiked down for a while before heading back due to the light fading.

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They take their food here seriously, and we’ve been very impressed with everything we’ve tried from the amazing Roulette vans, which serve pretty much any food you can imagine at prices somewhat affordable, to high-end affairs offering some of the best food we’ve tasted since being in Europe.

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Talking of prices though we have to mention it once again. French Polynesia is SO expensive. We’re burning through money here quicker than anywhere else on our trip. Everyone’s feeling the pinch.

One upside of this is that a lot more boat parties were happening around the docks where people all gather, bring a plate of something and a few cold beers and hang out. We had some great nights like this chatting to other sailors, getting invited for meals on their boats, us having people onboard, etc.

There was quite a good atmosphere around the docks due to the Puddle Jump party which was happening the weekend after we arrived. We were a little gutted to have missed this but decided to stay until all repairs were done.

The worlds biggest sloop, M5, was in town as well. What a monster of a boat this is. In this photo she must be 100m behind where we are and their size still dwarfs us. The thing has it’s own seaplane on the back, swimming pool, tough life hey?


After a few more DHL/customs setbacks we finally got our package delivered!


Getting the steering cables back on and fixing the outboard took a while but we got there and now have a totally empty todo list again! Woohoo! Time to get out of the town and visit the islands!

Tuamotus – Rangiroa

Getting into the atoll of Rangiroa was a crazy ride! An atoll is a ring of reef, Rangiroa being the second biggest in the world. The whole area was once a huge volcano which has now sunk back into the sea leaving the reef behind. On Rangiroa there are two breaks in this ring allowing boats to get in and out. The challenge is timing it correctly!

Before we left the Marquesas we did our research to get the tidal information, although none of it is exactly conclusive. The idea is to time the tide so you hit it at slack, hopefully with a slight current in your favour to push you through the pass. The currents in these passes can reach 7-8 knots- faster than our engine can drive us. Get it wrong… Oops, boat on the reef!

After confirming via radio that we had the correct times we headed into the pass. Washing machine time! Interlude got thrown all over the place, we got caught in rips left, right, and centre and at one point at full revs were making just one knot of boat speed.

Five mins of this and then suddenly calm. Once inside the reef protects you from the ocean and everything became flat. What a five mins though. Was pretty scary and we thought we’d timed everything correctly! I wouldn’t want to try it at the wrong time. After talking to some of the local dive shop owners it turns out the weather conditions have a huge effect, more than we’d read about. As we’d had a few days of 20+ knot winds the timings you’re meant to use go out of the window. Even the local guys have real problems at times and need to check conditions before heading out.

Once inside we headed over the the anchorage and played our favourite game of, lets try and drop the anchor in a perfect patch of sand without hitting any coral nearby which could snag the chain. After an hour of this game we were well over it but managed to get the anchor dug into a good area of pure sand, even if the chain did instantly wrap itself around a patch of coral, we’ll deal with that when we leave, ugh.

There really isn’t anywhere that great to anchor here. One of the dive shop owners is planning on installing mooring balls- good idea mate! I think most people would chose that over getting their anchor stuck (apparently he has to dive to free chains all the time), plus the poor coral wouldn’t keep getting hammered by boats all the time.

We crashed after our taxing passage staying on board and resting. Next morning we headed over to the fancy Kia Ora hotel right in front of our boat and asked what we could do here, booked a few things via them, had a nice lunch and some beers and chilled out for free while hotel guests gave us slightly funny looks.

Turo18That night we had an amazing meal at the hotel while they put on a traditional dance show. A load of the locals took part and of course poor Helen and I got dragged up to join in with the festivities with some of the hotel guests. All the guests had the same bit of music to dance to with one of the locals leading the way so I thought I knew the drill but come our time the music slowed to a single drum beat and the local guy dancing with us basically performed some kind of mating dance from what I could tell. I was a 3rd wheel while he was getting his grind on with Helen, all a bit embarrassing really but done in good spirits (we were glad when it was over though!).

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Day after we hired some bikes from the Kia Ora and explored the island. There’s not a huge amount going on here but we really love the vibe of the place and everyone is so friendly.

On the way back to the Hotel we stopped by the Pearl farm and got a tour from the owner. We never knew how much work goes into growing pearls, operations, grafting bits of shell in, incisions into the membrane at precisely the right time, etc. I just thought they, you know, grew inside and that was that.

Rangiroa is known all over the world for the quality of their black pearls and I have to say they are stunning to look at. After the tour Helen spent some time picking out her perfect pearl which the owner quickly turned into a pendent, a great reminder of this part of the trip, and Helen’s birthday present is sorted two months ahead of time- result!


Turo10 Turo13Riding bikes in the heat here almost killed us so we retreated back to the Hotel bar for some cold beers to recover. Doctors orders!

Day 3 we headed out on a tour to the area about 20miles from the main settlement called the Blue Lagoon. Reminded us loads of the San Blas islands, the whole area was stunning with colours to vivid they almost look photoshopped on photos.

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The day was spent chilling out on the little islands, swimming in the crystal clear waters, snorkelling with sharks (which was a bit full on at times as they wanted feeding!), and enjoying the great tour guides who kept us entertained.

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We don’t normally go for the whole tour thing but really enjoyed chatting to everyone. We did start getting a little freaked out though when it turned out the husband of one lady we got talking was very close friends with my boss in Sydney! And then a young couple on honeymoon here freaked us out even more…

Them: “So where are you from?”.

Us: “We live in Sydney.”.

Them: “Us too! Whereabouts?”.

Us: “Used to live in Coogee but before that lived in Bondi Junction”.

Them: “Bondi Junction is where we live!!! What street?”

Us: “Corner of Bronte Road and Ebley Street.”

Them (now looking a little freaked out): “Er, what? Really? Us too.”

Us (also getting very freaked out): “What?!?!”

Things got even more weird when it turned out we all lived in the EXACT SAME BUILDING! Here we are in the middle of nowhere half way across the Pacific ocean and you meet people who lived a few doors down from you. We lived there a few years before them but still! What are the odds? Meeting someone who knows your boss, and others who lived in the same building on the same tour?! Maybe it was a glitch in the matrix or something.

After the Blue Lagoon we motored back to the other pass on the island and did some drift snorkelling. The current was racing along at 7 knots and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.  You just float in the water and the current drags you along. If you want to go faster you just dive down and whooosh you’re zipping along looking up at others above you as you pass quickly under them. The coral and fish were amazing to look at. We immediately booked in some more drift snorkels as soon as we got back to the Hotel as it really blew us away.

We randomly met up with the lovely couple off King’s Legend, one of the boats we went through the Panama Canal with, and arranged to meet for a meal the next evening then headed back to the boat- what a day!

The following day was boat project time. The pesky steering cable issue was once again looked at and we’ve now got another temp solution to get us to Tahiti. There was one funny moment when we both had our rumps in the air out the back of the boat trying to feed a cable through an impossible pathway of wheels. We kept losing the cable and at one very frustrating moment I lost it and let rip some very colourful words only to turn to find two young local kids in dugout canoes right behind the boat checking out what we were doing. I think those kind of words translate quite easily as they paddled off quick smart.

It’s hard being in the middle of nowhere with these issues. We’ve got a few things we need to fix once we get to Tahiti now, nothing really show-stopping but we are limping along a little at the moment and like having Interlude in tip-top shape. It’s funny as when you talk to anyone on a boat they have the same problem. There’s really nowhere to get anything fixed between North/South America and Tahiti. A dead zone of about 3500 miles or so. I’m no businessman but to me that screams of what I believe is called an untapped, captured market. Sort it out someone and open a good repair facility! You’ll make a mint! (I want 20% of all profits for the idea though).

We met up that night with King’s Legend and had an amazing meal at a very French inspired restaurant looking out over the water. One the menu was part of the oysters the pearl farm have spare once their gems are removed. Was much better tasting than we expected and the tuna steaks from from the local fishermen that followed were top notch as well. Top all that off with a home made French tart and, well, who cares about boat issues?!

We did more drift snorkelling the next day mixed in with a healthy amount of lazing around the boat. We did pick up some supplies so we had a few things to eat on the way to Tahiti but the prices again are really making our eyes water. Nothing here is cheap. We love the place but honestly the cost of everything is making us, and a lot of others we know here, second guess a lot of what we do.

We felt like we’d experienced a lot of the atoll by this point so decided to get a move on to Tahiti. It’s going to be weird being in a large city after a place as remote as this. A contrast we’re looking forward to.

Marquesas Islands to Tuamotus

Ferdinand Magellan named the Pacific Ocean back in the 16th Century. Pacific meaning peaceful. He obviously didn’t experience his cornflakes being blown off his spoon in a 36 knot gust at breakfast did he!

The four day passage from Nuku Hiva over to Rangiroa wasn’t one of our favs to put it mildly. Coming out of the anchorage late in the day we had to run from huge squally clouds right off the bat, and even though we managed to miss the main part of it we still got smacked with 28 knots of wind and sheets of rain. It might look pretty in this photo but it wasn’t fun.Nuku2TuroThis pretty much set the scene for the rest of the trip.

The first night was a horror! Squalls everywhere, we managed to miss most but one or two got us and boy they had some bite! I clocked the wind at 38 knots with so much rain I couldn’t see the front of the boat.

Of course we had our sails trimmed for this and Interlude managed the feisty conditions very well. The only thorn in our side was our steering cable fix we rigged in Hiva Oa which gave up the ghost so it was back to relying on our trusty autopilot again. Not perfect, but then again we’re only a few days away from Tahiti now where we can get the correct cables and repairs done.

The remaining 500 miles were pretty much carbon copies of the first night. Strong winds, squalls that were stronger, and a big swell that was hitting us beam on. That all added up to slightly miserable conditions on board.

Exactly four days later we spotted land. A very welcome sight.

Not four days we’ll look back on with happy memories but we arrived safe and sound and that’s the main thing. It’s funny though, if Ferdinand Magellan had the same run we did the Pacific might well be called Satan’s Sea or something now. Sailing the South Satan’s Sea doesn’t quite have the same romantic feel about it as sailing the South Pacific so maybe everything worked out for the best?

Fata Hiva, no… wait… Tahuta again.

We woke and were going to head to Fata Hiva. That was the plan. The reality was that upon rounding the island then heading South we were spanked hard by 25 knots of wind right on the nose and flung around by a pretty unruly sea that was causing the boat to slam this way and that. After an hour of so of this torture we decided to call it a day, turned back, and hid behind the shelter of the island with our tails between our legs. Everything instantly calmed down.

Part of the frustration of sailing is that you can’t sometimes get to where you wish to go. Well that’s not exactly true I guess. We could have battled away for 30 hours making painfully slow progress, causing some damage to the boat possibally as she ran into the waves, but where’s the fun in that? I’m sure Fata Hiva would have been amazing, it’s known as one of the worlds best anchorages, but we’ve been some pretty amazing places already so it was out.

We sailed back to the coast slightly deflated and anchored off the main village on Tahuta.


We got the dingy back in the water and headed ashore. We hiked around the small town for hours. Helen even made friends with some goats- it’s going to make eating the famed local goat curry a little harder.


The way of life here is really simple. Most houses have no windows or doors, there’s a small shop where you can get fresh bread, goat meat (oops), a few fruits and not a lot else. The church was stunning though, and clearly the centre of life there.


We love just wondering around places, and everyone we met was really welcoming.



So back on the boat later that afternoon we started chatting about what’s next.

Part of the beauty of sailing is you can just head off in a new direction. That’s what we did, on a whim (plus the wind in the anchorage was getting up) we set a new course for the Northern Islands, a few days ahead of when we were going to go, got the boat ready, and sailed off as the sun set for a 140 mile overnight crossing.

Take that weather! If we can’t beat you we’ll join you.

Marquesas Islands – Tahuata

It was only a 15 mile hop over to Tahuata, made memorable by our dingy line snapping mid way and a fight in a rolly swell to rescue it. There’s always something! Well at least it tested our temp fix on the steering cable! We managed to get the dink back and carried on. Once safely around the corner of the island the swell dropped and we approached one of the most amazing bays we’ve ever seen. Total paradise!

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The water was so clear that you could see the bottom where huge rays were snoozing away. The beach was pure white sand with quintessential palm trees lined up neatly just beyond. Postcard perfect. People seem to think that’s what sailing part way around the world is all about, and in many ways I know we’re totally lucky to be out here but instead of lounging around on the beach we both went straight to work on cleaning 3 weeks of crud off the boat.

I went in the water and starting trying to clean the hull. So much life had attached itself to our hull. These weird little plant like looking things that pulsed slowly and were absolute monsters to get off. The stern above the anti-foul paint was covered in them. It baffles me how in the middle of the ocean, going at 7 knots, a small little guy can float past and think… ‘Well lookie here! A bit of something solid to cling to! I’ll have me a bit of that!’

Two hours, and many a cut from scraping small barnicles off the top of the rudder and prop who’d also decided to come over for the ride, I was done. Helen had the inside of the boat looking amazing so we spent a few hours in the cockpit just chilling out and looking at the amazing views.

Just then our friends Matelot turned up and got to work cleaning their hull as well. We arranged to head to the beach for sunset.

As the light faded we got some wine and nibbles to eat in the dingy and rowed to shore. I thought there was a small break in near the beach but decided it was fine for us to land there. Just as we came in a large group of waves decided to smash into us sending me flying into the water. I kept the dingy heading the right way and got us to shore protecting our food and wine, Helen by this point had jumped in to help also. We must have looked like a right pair of muppets I’m sure.

As soon as we I was ashore for some reason I checked for my wallet, which was gone.

ARGH!!!!!!!! I ran back to the waters edge hoping it had washed up. Nothing. I asked Helen to check the dingy just in case it had fallen out in there. Nothing. What an idiot! After a very potty mouthed ten mins on the beach Richard, who must have seen the panic from his boat came racing over in his dingy with a snorkel. I spent 10 mins in the area where we’d fallen out to no avail.


At this point a local guy, who it turns out owns the beach along with his brother, came over with his snorkel to help. Then his brother joined us. The light was really fading by this point so after 20 more mins of frantic searching we gave it up. By this point Richard and Pippy had joined us and we had a lovely time on the beach watching an amazing sunset joined by the two brothers who explained about the island. We gave them some beer and snacks which they seemed to be happy with and they later came back with a huge bag of fruit as a trade (trading here is the way these smaller islands seem to operate).



We headed back to the boat. I was still quite mad at myself for such a silly error, it’s not easy trying to cancel cards out here where there’s no phones, internet, etc.

I got back on board, and there was my wallet on the Nav table. (Insert stronger potty mouth screams here) and sorry to the two brothers who helped look, and probably are still looking, for the non-existent wallet. Oops.

Tomorrow we’ll try and head South back down the 30 miles to Fata Hiva.