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Getting into the marina was extremely easy, once we’d worked out the information we had was 18 months out of date.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.
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.
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.
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!