Logbook: Raiatea

There is something very romantic about pulling up to a dock with hand laid stones in the center of a village. IMG_7006 (1280x853)We had stopped first on the West side of Raiatea to pick up some supplies from the stores by the two haul out facilities and then moved to the East side of Raiatea to the town of Uturoa.

When we arrived in Uturoa we hadn’t tied a dock for 8 months, since La Paz Mexico in February, with the exception of two hour-long tie ups to fill our water tanks. We haven’t even tied up to any fuel docks in the S Pacific. For one reason or another we always end up schlepping our jerry cans to the station.

IMG_7031 (853x1280)If you look at the tree line behind our boat, just to the right of the trees that you see in the photo is a park where people launch their kites. Raiatea had great constant, non-gusty wind when we were there. Unfortunately the launch spot is a bit too sketchy for Livia’s skills (you have to jump off a pile of rocks into the water with your board in your hand) but Carol kited until his abs screamed.

On our first afternoon there we went over the kiting area and asked questions of a local kiter about the entry. As these things seem to happen often, that conversation led to an invitation to a birthday party the next evening and our entree into the kiting gang of Raiatea. A group of really nice people that we’re looking forward to seeing again the next time we pass through. Thanks to everyone.

IMG_7056 (853x1280)Raiatea and Tahaa are two islands with a surrounding reef. The reef has joined so that the two islands are inside the same lagoon. They look somewhat like a peanut. We hiked the short but nice hike to the top of a mountain and took some photos. In this one you can see the right middle side of the peanut.

We didn’t anchor out by the lagoon which looks lovely because we were waylaid by kiting and because we spent a week pinned down by mara’amu winds. Note: mara’amu winds are the name of the strong ESE winds caused by a high pressure system (above 1026) traveling below French Polynesia. When people say a mara’amu is coming they mean that a high pressure system is going to accentuate the normal trade winds. How much they are accentuated is, of course, the important part to keep an eye on.

We were starting to get anxious. It was nearly the end of October and with Nov 1 being the official start of the hurricane season, and with an impending haulout still 300 miles from Raiatea, we were wanting to get further East. It was nice to be forced into a week in Raiatea by the winds because we really enjoyed it and we wouldn’t have stayed that long if we had the weather to move on.

We left under power for the Moorea-Tahiti area in light winds and calm seas. Blechity. Motoring.  We had entered in Passe Rautoanui on the West side which was wide and calm and exited on the East side from Passe Teavapiti which, in the light conditions we left in, was flat.

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Notes about the dock – the far South side, connected to the small boat basin, is the only place you want to be in E or ESE winds of any strength. The rest of the dock, which has better cleats and wood rather than concrete, is great in light winds but gets bad fetch when the wind comes up. We were told that if you come for a day or two, no fees are assessed but if you camp out too long they come by asking. We were there a week with no problem but a French boat that was essentially trying to live there for free was asked to pay. In high season the demand for the dock might be higher and you might try to free up space because many people come in just to buy groceries at the Champion right across the street. Great place to buy heavy things because you can roll your cart right to your boat.

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