If you want to haul your boat out in French Polynesia you have to choose between hauling out in Raiatea, Tahiti or Apataki. The first two are in the Society Islands and Apataki is in the Tuamotus.
We chose Apataki Carenage for three main reasons:
- Apataki is less humid than the other two which reduces the mildew problems of a shut up boat.
- Because the motu is private land, in a remote area, theft is not an issue. I’m sure boater-on-boater theft is a possibility as usual but otherwise there is no worries on that front.
- Apataki is the furthest East and thus a generally lower risk for cyclones (although yes the Tuamotus have been hit).
- We felt like we were still cruising/on an adventure.
- Daily swims in Tuamotu water.
- Green coconuts for drinking.
- Fish BBQs with the family and other cruisers.
- The grocery store in the village (across the atoll) takes credit cards.
We had arrived with a few concerns primarily related to the remoteness. People warned us about hauling out there because they said we wouldn’t be able to get supplies. I think as long as you aren’t planning a 3 day in-and-out haul out with no time to spare, supplies are not any more difficult than most other places. In fact, for English speakers I think Apataki is a good place to be because the family will use their cell phone and make calls for you to track down parts that you need. As for receiving supplies, there are 3 flights a week into Apataki that carry freight and every 2 weeks an interisland freighter arrives (MV Cobia III) which can carry heavy or non-airplane-suitable items such as batteries. Whatever is in Tahiti is accessible in a relatively short time frame from Apataki. In addition, the haul out facility has its own small store with commonly used supplies like grinding disks, paint brushes, bottom paint, epoxy, etc.
One bummer is the lack of internet at the haul out facility. We didn’t care about being out of touch but we didn’t realize the extent to which we have relied on the internet in previous haul outs to solve problems that come up in repairs. The carenage has satellite internet which works, slowly, and not always. In the village they have normal internet and you can arrange to take the boat to the family’s home in the village and use the internet there (while shopping) which is what we did.
Tuamotus Compendium Addition and Correction: The compendium gives a second hand report of a dispute about the bill between a boat and the carenage. Our experience was that the bill was the same as quoted in advance and the family was exquisitely careful to apprise us of any additional costs for things we requested after the initial quote (which was almost identical to the prices on their website). Also, the compendium reports a $30/day liveaboard fee which would have been a deal breaker for us. This is not currently correct and perhaps a language issue. On the bill the carenage lists a daily fee for “vie abord” which means living aboard. However this amount includes the fee for the boat to be on the hard for that day (lay day) and so you must subtract their normal lay day fee from this fee to see the actual living aboard premium. Living aboard increased our lay day fee by 1000 CPF or about $12USD per day.
In sum: If we were leaving our boat in French Polynesia again we would definitely return to Apataki Carenage. If we were hauling out for a short trip we would haul out there as well. If we needed work done on our boat by someone else, we would probably try to avoid hauling out in French Polynesia at all.