Crossing toward Tahiti

We took the sea knowing that the forecast was a gamble and we will just say we have so far a very enjoyable sail. We are wing on wing with the spinnaker up! One of those days. Winds are topping 5 knots and we are achieving 3.5 knots over the ground.

So we can read, nobody is seasick, the boat doesn’t make any noise. Valerie made some bread, and because we are in the midst of winter here we decided on baked potatoes for dinner. Life is good we are relaxing and getting used to the idea that a big city is waiting truly we haven’t seen one in nine months… How long will it take to get there we have no clue, so let’s enjoy the moment.

Day two with the giant manta ray

As we always say we are rich in terms of time, hence we stayed another day to offer the ray another look at us, she was so curious and coming back around us which makes you wonder after a while who is watching who?













We have been using our hookah airline system which enabled us to dive all three together.


Nearly forgot to show you what it looks like out of the water.


Our third dive in the afternoon didn’t yield much sighting of the ray but had some good deep diving nevertheless.

Encounter of a different kind…

There is nothing much to say, except sharing with you how we have just spent our days, we are feeling very grateful for crossing our path with a different world… Here is the position you need to get google’s direction toward: LATITUDE: 15-04.87S LONGITUDE: 148-13.43W. Enjoy!!!!

 

















Tikehau Coco oil making.

The last post mentioned having to wait for the photo but plan change and  we are back in the village, not wanting to bash the way up. Enjoy the next three posts.

 

On our way to do our last shopping and trash chore, we started talking with two gentlemen. During our conversation the topic of pure coco oil was mentioned, and was actually made right here, in the warehouse behind us! Within just two minutes we walked behind to follow the lead and discovered the first “refinery” of coco oil in the Tuamotus. Edouard in Ahe had mentioned about the possibility and potential to transform the raw product into an added value one, and there it was.

The result of a rather simple process is pure coconut oil; it is rarely produced at that level for economic reason. You see 55 coconuts render only 5 liters daily, in total every week they produce 50 liter sold at 2000 XPF. As an entrepreneur point of view, it only takes 3 hours of work to achieve this output and a rather small investment. The oil can be used for cosmetic purpose or cooking application as it burns at 300 degrees, it has a very smooth smell and very transparent color.

milk

The cocos are shredded and milk is processed in the tradition way. The product is centrifuged once and refrigerated overnight. Next day a hole is pushed in the top and water pour out, lightly warmed up it is centrifuged once more another 15 minutes.


The oil is filtered once more through coffee filter, ready to be bottled.

One pharmacy buys 25 liters a month and the rest is sold quickly locally.



Another produce made out of the oil is soap.



Pearl lodge resort, further away along the atoll




Here is Benjamin working out in the most beautiful sport complex of all.


The local fauna loved our chocolate pudding which had turned overnight. Seconds after 8 sharks came out of nowhere along with a bird…

Tikehau

A simple post via our now famous radio to let you know that we have been in the middle of the atoll for the last three days after spending a day anchored out near the “Pearl lodge resort”, hence there have been no new posts. Why you may wonder? Because the manta rays are known to come on a regular basis near a motu in the middle of it all, which enabled us to swim close them with the wind cooperating with us.

You will have to wait another few days before you can see any pictures, as we will be leaving East to the birds’ island and some other sectors inside the atoll of Tikehau. Be patient and trust that it really is worth it, we dove four times and were lucky to spend time with those majestic gliding fishes that are the Giant Mantas. An experience truly unique, specially when you have the place to yourselves once all the tours show up for 15 minutes at the same time and then disappear as quickly as they came.

Nothing much else to add or maybe just to thank Letitgo for being fully functioning and leaving us enjoying the moment.

What is your favorite place? Where would you recommend going?

Those are some of the questions coming to us on a regular basis. However, the more we travel and the harder it becomes to answer, and let us assure you it is not because our memory is fading… Truthfully in our opinion it is the vibe and the people who make a place not the beauty or the exceptional monuments although it certainly enhances it all, thus the experience and the connection with others are what transform an average place/island into an extraordinary site which you will reminisce for years to come.

In Mexico when we anchored in remote villages, if we heard the dogs bark in a frightening manner it was our first sign of trouble. In the Tuamotus for today’s example, it would be the communal ice machine and freezer if it works and is kept clean you know the village has some leadership; if it is the other way around then it is a tell ‘tale sign of a mismanaged and dysfunctional village. The Tuamotus are a good point of reference since they all look geologically the same: An atoll with coconut trees all around a lagoon in the middle and a village with the same roads and infrastructure. Yet all the motus are different in the end because it is the people and general ambiance that make the plus and how you interact with them or not. Therefore with the eight atolls visited this year and other places in the Marquesas or South America for that matter we can confirm our point.

This is why when you ask for advice as you follow a blog, it is important to know what your interlocutor looks for or needs when visiting a county. For example: Night life maybe important to you but solitude is what other individuals are looking for, you may need broadband internet for 3 hours a day, others are happy writing or reading; you love to travel with an entourage who speaks your language and follow your food habit while some are happy to eat whatever come their way and communication in any language is never a problem for long.

A classic example for us, Raroia where we met Amandine and her family on their pearl farm, when we first met Amandine she was casually smoking on the terrace of the magazin and told us “I work with nacre, if you want come by to visit I would be happy to show you.” Well, it turns out; we were shown the entire process of grafting on her pearl farm and were offered lunch with no ulterior motif as they have nothing for sale. Other places are Toau, Ahe, Katiu, Tikehau where we met hospitable and genuine people, this is hardly predictable or reproducible. Last night we met in the most casual way a group of young men, who were celebrating the passage of the boat. In plain English read: sold some coprah and bought a few liters of wine. One of them mentioned that his sister in law is from Tahuata and is the chef at the local fancy resort, now you know where we are going next to say hello. Where will it bring us? Who knows?

This is why when we answer those questions we now preface by: “you may feel the same or disagree about the place because people/weather maybe largely different and affect the whole outcome of your visit!!!”


William showing his skill after last night party while the wind is blowing nicely.


Ella is from Ahe we met her while beaching our dinghy in her backyard, sat on her bench for a while and learnt millions of fun facts from her history and the Tuamotus.

This was priceless for us


And finally there is the Barsinas family whom you may recognize from Vaitahu.

They are at this time spending time with our family in Paris which is exactly what we love most about travelling:

Exchange, learn and keep an opened mind.

 

 

What to do to survive the Tuamotus?

On the forecast this week there are three to four days predicted of wind gusting in the range of 20 to 30 knots, this has been happening every two weeks which is normal this time of the year and there are two ways to enjoy it. One way, you travel toward the side of the atoll where the wind comes from and hope that a motu protects you and that there are not too many coral heads crowding your anchoring technique… Truly the disadvantage to this option is that you are isolated and with that kind of wind dinghy rides or snorkeling can be somewhat “hairy”. The other way is to go to the city hall or the municipal police and ask with a smile for permission to dock on the public pier and exactly where in order to not be in the way when the ship arrives. And the disadvantage to that is: Suddenly you become the center of attraction for the kids (which is not a bad thing in itself except when they start invading the boat…) so arm yourself with a bit of discipline some clear limit and it’s not too bad; until the fish pool decides to establish residency under your boat and then you have the fishermen really upset at night who now want you back at anchor (this happened to us in Ahe). Once these are sorted out, you can go to town explore the village and walk along the atoll in a safe and fun manner. Again make sure that you pick a place on the pier away from the regular supply ship docking location, which is normally where the big black rubber fenders are.

And on the supply topics, this archipelago is very well served with weekly if not more ships. So for the vegetables and fruits, find the local store or the snack who organize the village’s orders, you then piggy back on it and you are all set. Some of these ships are even set up with a tent and you buy straight from there while they deliver, just ask around once you get there to find how their organization work and don’t worry if the schedule seems to be all over the place… After all this is island life no-one ever knows when the delivery arrives! Now if you need boat parts really badly to continue your trip, know that there are planes coming frequently as well therefore check with your supplier if shipping is possible providing it is light and non-restricted. If not, get the name of the weekly boat and plan accordingly, usually orders can be placed before Monday noon and you get it somewhere during the week.

Fuel or Diesel is normally sold by the 208 liter drum or the liter in some rarer case, there are no fuel stations handy but it is not a problem if you get friends to share the drum with.

Now on a more serious and important topic for us: the baguette. Locate the boulangerie and place your order for the next day; remember that on Sunday they don’t produce any so double up your order! Finally only the larger atolls take credit cards or have ATM machine hence a little planning is needed to ensure a great time.

As for us? Well we are waiting for the wind to die down, the waves to recede so we can dive with the rays if we get lucky!


Our friend the Dory does the round of the 5 northern atolls.


We have a new surname now, with an “x”…


Final day for the Heiva festival on Tikehau

From what was written on the program the festival’s last day was yesterday, but to our pleasure and surprise and in complete island style way of life a final day was added! And what an evening that was, we were treated to a repeat of every dance winner in every category, the traditional stone carrying competition and finally the coprah final competition men of the year title with a surprise victory.

Thank you Tikehau for such a wonderful event, you are a vibrant and dynamic community.


Green grass almost golf green, it is definitely not a sight you see often in the Tuamotus.


You can’t do justice to the hip movement with a still photo, one day a video will appear.



One more line for Benjamin resume, he was picked to be the timing judge for the stone carrying competition.


A 70 kg stone need to be lifted then stabilized on the shoulder with only one hand, two trials, the best combo time wins. Hence a quick the shutter doesn’t even get it, 1.47 second for record.



And finally the winner is Panire from the picture above because the young “punk” below didn’t wear the required costume.

For the duo though he managed to find quickly a pareo, and found compromise between the modern American surfer look and traditional!

And fortunately for them they won.

Needless to say the lady in red was keeping a close eye on him!



Now that’s the look he was supposed to sport.

Tikehau une belle surprise!!!

After a relaxed day sail and a perfect timing for the pass, we anchored at the village with an hour to spare before sunset. We hurried and arrived in town to be advised that by 7.30pm on the other side of the motu the show was on. We walked through the streets lightly lid but couldn’t help notice the charms of the brightly coloured houses, we enjoyed a very nice dinner out a classic steak frites for Ben and a delicious grilled Thazar (fish) served with a vanilla sauce. They had organized snacks and tents selling the local arts around the stage; tonight the men showed their power or was it testosterone? At first it was pure raw power, lifting 150 kg on the bench press; thus the winner is the man on the atoll… But then it was time to return to the root and find the other real man, he who was to mess up with 30 cocos in no time. Three categories were defined: over 60 veterans-over 40 senior- and under junior in single and then in duo, those were the final for each category. Tomorrow the overall “coprahculteur” of the year will be awarded, a title that seems to bring respect around here.

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Now let us walk through the process, just in case you find yourselves having to prove one day at your local mall that you know how to do it.

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 Then assemble your gears in this case a stool and two mesh bags for the coconut then you rest and wait for your turn.


Assess the quality of your coco and number.


Warm up with simple exercises so you don’t compromise your healthy body.


With your axe you will split in two the mature cocos. One blow is enough; please don’t try this at home on your new wooden floor.


Next pull all your mighty to get the two halves separated


Then with your personal and highly designed tool scoop the meat out.


Only a few more come on you can do it!


Now in duo one work the spoon, the other does the rest.


We have a winner.

Rangiroa

It is often said in our world that the encounters and their richness are what makes voyaging extraordinary, and this certainly has true meanings for us sadly Rangiroa will not hold anything special in our hearts. Indeed we felt that there were too many attractions for not enough tourists, there was absolutely no leadership to organize a Heiva festival and to make it special, instead it looked like just a few tents put together and some sketchy food, no program. Overall Rangiroa’s village lacked personality and charms. This reminded us of the good saying, “the grass is always greener in the field next door” but it is not, why did we not stay in Ahe a few more days to enjoy more activities?

The village in itself has no life; it is spread far along the atoll and the people are completely jaded by the 3-4 daily flights bringing white tourists to the resort and even private jets flying overhead for the richest; amex is the card of choice… Truthfully we left that world far behind and we do not wish to be thrown back in it. With that said our “escape button” was pushed, and Saturday morning with little air blowing we decided to head to Tikehau hopefully less travelled.

Benjamin knew of a luxury resort, his kayak brought him to it with the escort shown below. (Quite the hike for him, as we were far from it…)



His oar is on the right of the picture.


Every pass has some fish trapping devices, you pay the territory for the privilege by the square footage then every day you have something to eat or sell.


Our son found his ideal boat, it just needs a little TLC.