May 2013 – French Polynesia – Birthday’s, Sailing Regatta’s, Parties, Beautiful Coral Atols

French Polynesia is a beautiful place where we celebrated some birthdays, visited a black pearl farm, swam with sharks, competed in the Tahiti pearl sailing regatta, meet up with our friends from Laisez Fair, lost Nick C overboard again and went scootering. The time flew by, we were there for one month and as I write this I just cant understand how quickly time goes. The closer I get to Australia the faster the time seems to go. I wonder what settling in will be like? Will I cope, ah who knows that’s still a few months off.

We spent the first 5 nights in Hiva Oa in the Marquises, it was nice to be on land after 18 days at sea, we wanted to be there by Nick C’s birthday and we made it. We had bought 12 bottles of rum to trade for black pearls throughout the Tuamotus but to be true to Nick Cowdrill style we got stuck into a bottle for his birthday celebrations. As the sun was going down we started on the rums and soon enough we all had a happy glow exchanging stories that we’ve probably heard 100’s of times before but none the less laughed as if it was the first. Then something dawned on us, we were forgetting something, what was it? We all thought about it for a while then as if the gears just ticked over in each of our heads at the same time we remembered we were meant to be rescuing the yacht Kaun Yin by helping them get into port this very night. Their oil sump was full of salt water, yes a pretty serious problem. The excitement kicked in and we finished our drinks, decided safety was the best option so put on our life jackets then Damien and I hoped in the dinghy and headed out into the South Pacific Ocean. Our conversation consisted of wondering if we would get commemorated for this work and how we would be named heroes. I don’t know if it was the alcohol talking or just our vivid imaginations but what we were saying was completely ridiculous. Having said that the seas were rough this day my friend, and Damien and I got a little wet on the way out. We saved Kaun Yin by strapping the Charm O dinghy to the side of the yacht and we motored them safely in at 2.5kts.

Our next stop was Manihi one of the many Tuamotu coral atols. We left at night with no moon on our 500nm journey towards the infamous Tuamotus. After 3 days at sea we arrived once again at night with no moon. As the entry to Manihi was a small coral entrance with only 90cms below the keel and a viscous current we decided to wait for a high slack tide which was the next morning. We sailed back and fourth till morning broke and then entered the coral atol. The water was amazing, crystal clear, with schools of fish everywhere, this place is a real paradise. The next day was spent exploring the coral atol, we went snorkelling, took a tour of a black pearl farm and looked through an abandoned hotel. The abandoned hotel was fun, we found the gym room and Nick C decided to pump iron, after a few minutes and probably due to the electric winches, he was buggered so we left to return to the boat for a sunset beer. A nice day was had by all.

We were moving quickly as we wanted to make the Tahiti Pearl regatta to get our competitive alpha male racing out of our system. Before that we sailed to Rangiroa which is another amazing coral atoll in the Tuamotus. Nick C decided the blue lagoon was the place to go so we ventured 16nm miles across the atolls lagoon to one of the most pristine brackish water lagoons I have ever seen. We hopped in the dinghy and went exploring, at first I noticed a shark then another till we were surrounded by black tip reef sharks. We anchored the dinghy in about 6 inches of water and walked ashore as little baby sharks swam around our feet. We then decided we would head back to the dinghy and venture out in the deeper water and snorkel with the bigger sharks. Let me tell you, we were no longer Alpha macho men when we saw these sharks, the fear hit us and in the end we just looked at the sharks from the comfort of the dinghy. We left that night for Tahiti before heading to Raitea.

After not being able to trade a single bottle of Rum for any pearls we arrived in Raitea the day before my thirtieth birthday to be reunited with our New Zealand friends from Laisez Fair the Beneteua 58 with air con, ice maker, pop up bar, pop up tv and 3 fridges.That day we had the first race for the Tahiti Pearl Regatta. Mack, Tom and Margot from Laisez fair jumped aboard and Mack was tactician. We were well ahead of the fleet and our only contender was the oyster 82 “Pandemonium”. We were ahead of them as well and the excitement on board was ecstatic. Pandemonium was on our tail about 0.5m off our back quarter trying to get inside of us, I pushed higher and higher till the dirty air on our comparatively minute sail slowed their speed and they fell further behind. Sadly this did not hold as we went into a reach, their waterline and massive sails pushed them slightly ahead. Then the race within a very tight reef was on, we had some very close and exciting encounters but in the end they just beat us over the line. That night Mack, Anne, Tom, Margot and Ruth put on an amazing thirtieth for me. It included a magnum of champagne and the most succulent beef roast we had ever eaten. Thanks team Laisez Fair.

The Tahiti pearl regatta was great fun with excellent racing and amazing parties. We came up with the nickname smoked oysters as the oyster yachts had their own division and started 10 minutes before ours. Even with that handicap we still managed to beat most of there fleet over the line. We were pretty chuffed with ourselves considering the smallest oyster was 54ft. We smoked them! Our line results were also very pleasing coming second to third on line honours for most races. Sadly we didn’t have a proper race certificate so our handicap pushed us back. The last night and after some very successful racing, Nick C decided to get stuck into the last remaining bottle of rum. We motored down the coral atoll next to a trimaran with a Frenchman holding his baby up in the air and dancing to the music coming from Charm O. Then the night started to get out of hand or more precisely Nick C started to get out of hand. Laisez Fair invited us over to have a pre drink and take there dinghy ashore. As we all got in the dinghy Nick C hoped in, walked to the other side, sat down and feel backwards into the water, fully dressed with wallet in pocket. Laughter erupted as we helped this drunken sailor on-board before heading ashore.

We spent the last few days in Raitea repairing a few parts and hired scooters to ride around the island. It was great fun and we circumnavigated the island seeing some amazing rain forests, old tiki ruins and beautiful villages. Our next stop was Bora Bora our last French Polynesian island.

Bora Bora was good fun, we went to the Oyster World Regatta yacht party at a famous bar called bloody Mary’s, we made some friends to quickly loose them at the end of the night when Nick C and Tom decided it would be funny to acquire an oyster flag but instead Nick C untied the ropes holding the flag pole up which came down with an enormous thud. They then decided it would be best to get rid of the evidence and sank the flag, you can see where the saying thicker than thieves comes from. The next day they spent apologising and purchasing a new flag for the oyster regatta. We then hiked the highest mountain in Bora Bora which gave us an amazing view from 800m above sea level.

Tom joined Charm Offensive in Bora Bora and his parents kindly took us all out to dinner on our last night to Bloody Mary’s. The next day we left for Samoa approx 1200nm west of Bora Bora to meet up with Michelle from Australia. French Polynesia was amazing, we had a great time and that is reflected with how quickly the month went.


“French Polynesia – Just Beautiful”

“French Polynesia – Just Beautiful”

From French Polynesia – Marquises, Tuomotos, Society Islands. Posted by Nick Black on 5/13/2013 (82 items)

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