The Dinghy Dock
Welcome to Nuie
Niue is home to the most remote yacht club in the world. It’s own independent state it houses about 1000 people and has the clearest water you will ever see. On a good day you can see up to 30 metres deep.
July and August are the busiest months of the year for Nuie in terms of visiting yachts. So naturally every year the commodore of the yacht club goes on holiday at this time. From his emails I think Keith was slowly pulling his hair out over each new boat arrival adding to the already chaotic scene.
Anchoring in Niue isn’t recommended as it’s very deep and there’s no many sandy patches. Luckily there are 15 or so mooring buoys. Unluckily all of these filled up the night before we arrived.
As we rounded the corner into Alofi harbour we were greeted by huge wales breeching just 100 metres from us. It was starting to get dark; anchoring was out of the question so we decided (with permission) to Moor up on the cargo ship bouy. This was by no means an easy task but we managed and settled in for the night chuffed that we’d managed to get into Nuie after having to abort our last two stops. Turns out the cargo ship anchors and we were actually attached to the fishing attraction device. The fisherman in Nuie were up I’m arms and poor Keith probably had some sort of breakdown back in newzealand! Luckily mermaid tiggy managed to find us a nice sandy patch to anchor the next day. Sorry Keith!
The cargo ship was arriving early so several other boats had to shuffle as it had been known in the past to take out boats on the bouys nearby to it. Luckily the staff on the dock and in the yacht club are the most friendly people and managed to rearrange us all. Peace was restored to Alofi harbour, the fisherman were happy and Keith could sleep again!
Barry the Barracuda.
I can’t say I really enjoy fishing. I’m not a fan of the meal after and I definetly don’t like seeing the blood on the teak…
That said pretty much every passage there’s an informal but big competition to see who can catch the best fish. Just about to go to sleep I heard the line go, I came on deck just in time to see tiggy and james landing a huge barracuda whilst still doing 8.5 knots boat speed. Sadly you can’t eat barracuda incase they carry sicaterra so Barry the barracuda got to swim another day. 5 minutes later the line went again and we caught yet another blue barracuda. This one had really nice blue zebra shiny patterns on him.
A few days later we were sharing photos of our frustratingly pointless catch… turns out Barry the barracuda was actually Wally the Wahu. Not liking fish the only way I can relate to the sorrow is the thought of chucking away a huge bit of meat thinking it was dog food only to find out it was actually chateau bruyant. Oops!
I don’t imagine there are many people who can say they have climbed the mountain on Maupiti.
One of the last islands in French Polynesia; it is often missed as many boats have already checked out when they pass it. After hearing how beautiful it was we decided to risk it and go. The pass is untenable in a strong southerly swell and so it is important to get the weather right. Luckily we timed it well and enjoyed our few days stuck in the lagoon before we could get out of the pass again.
There isn’t much in the way of infrastructure on Maupiti. A few shops and one restaurant that provides lunchtime snacks. We tried and tried to persuade one of the local pensions to open for our party of 13 to eat dinner but with no luck.
Just a little way to the right of the dingy dock there are steps up the hill which are the beginning of an hour and a half treck /climb up the mountain. We set off early morning but it was not long before we were cursing the sun. Luckily much of the hike was through forest which gave us some relief. There were several view points along the way and each time we got higher the view just got better and better. Once at the top it was hard to take in the stunning landscape below. Everywhere you looked there was just a rainbow of blues and greens. Not a single photo did it justice but we tried!
All the way down I was craving an ice lolly and cannot explain my excitement when we managed to find some in the pretty basic local shop. It’s the small things..
Maupiti’s other main attraction is it’s manta ray cleaning area. This is a small area where at certain times of the day the local manta rays come to get themselves cleaned by the wrasse fish. Sadly when we went for a snorkel in the afternoon we didn’t see any but the two that swam past our dingy enroute to town sort of made up for it.
If nothing else Maupiti was worth the visit just to say we’d been there! What a cool , remote place it was. It’s times like this when I have to reflect and be so thankful for this journey I am on. The world can be such a beautiful place.
The Finding Nemo ride of Ta’ha
Taha shares a lagoon with Raiatea. It also shares its beauty. Possibly the best snorkelling I have ever encountered was in the coral gardens here.
First you dingy over to some sandy spits. In between these small deserted islands is a patch of water full of corals. You have to anchor your dingy at one end and then walk up the beach alongside the pass. Once at the other end of the pass you swap your shoes for fins and let the current drift you through the corals.
The garden looks very pretty from above but it is only when you put your head under the water and let the flow take you that you can appreciate it’s true beauty.
The large rocky corals are like bushes; the se are covered in multi-coloured smaller corals that look like flowers. Some of the coral have clams on them in all different colours that look like large petals opening and closing. All around the corals are hundreds of little fish swimming around. All different colours and patterns, some swam away but others were quite inquisitive and most were undisturbed by our presence. It was just like being in a tropical aquarium. Truly amazing.
The best part about the whole attraction was that it was just accidental that it happened to be there with the current so perfectly pulling you through it. It’s an experience I won’t forget in a hurry!
In our first bay near the main town I was not too Impressed by Raiatea. However once we moved south down the east side we were pleasantly surprised and rewarded with a beautiful ancourage next to a sandy spit for the night. As we arrived there was a huge rainbow over it which made up for all the rain!
For an hour we were the only boat there. Unconditional arrived and invited us over for drinks which was lovely. However jet lag kicked in again and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I had a nap ( planning to wake up in time for tea later) and didn’t wake up until the next day. 12 hours of sleep were obviously needed!
It is only when you have been away a long time that you can really appreciate home. After a 4 day treck back it was so lovely to be reunited with everyone. Now sat in a blustery bay in Raiatea home feels a million miles away but I have my oyster family and will be returning home in September 🙂
The thing that I will take home the most from French Polynesia is just how friendly the people are here. Always wanting to share fruit from their gardens, share their culture , give you lifts to the pharmacy or just wave and smile hello. We have met many lovely people here but my favourite is Taxi Tina.
6 weeks ago she drove a tired and emotional girl around tahiti. I really felt that for the 24 hours I was in Tahiti I had someone looking out for me. Not only did she take me to restaurants and to town she showed me how to get the bus back, where to eat and where to be wary of. My phone doesn’t work in FP so she lent me hers while I shopped so we could stay in contact if I needed. All the while I was in town she looked after my bags and even offered me over for tea and a shower bwfore my flight. ” I don’t like driving ” she tells me. ” but I love the people”.
6 weeks later and I looked forward to being reunited with her on my way back to the boat in Raiatea. Again she looked after my stuff and drove me around, never once letting me tip her!
To have met her once was a privalege , but to meet her twice was just lovely. I will always remember how kind Taxi Tina was and so much fun 🙂
Race to the Tuamotos
The tuamotos are an archipelago of 73 coral atolls in the middle of the pacific. Entrance into the atolls is through narrow passes with currents of up to 8 knots and coral reefs. Because of this timing your crossing through the pass is essential. Slack water is best but as we found it doesn’t always garentee a smooth entrance. When there have been strong winds, water gets pushed over the surrounding reefs and into the atolls. This water then must exit through the pass and can over-rule the tidal currents. Careful navigation and patience is therfore needed but once through the passes the atolls are stunning.
Our local guide promised us a lovely downwind sail to the tuamotos. We spent 3 days cursing her as we smashed into the wind and waves all the way to Makemo. We were running a little late due to Raymarine issues… our newly installed vhf had messed with the chart plotters. Luckily all that was required (after a few calls to Paul and Gav) was to pull out the sea talk cable. Unfortunately we then had to go all guns blazing to get to the pass into Makemo on time. Pulling more sail out is not something I would normally do at night but we managed to average 8 knots and get there just in time for high water.
Once in the pass I went up the spreaders as we made our way to the anchourage. With the sun behind me I could easily see the coral heads and they were quite pretty from above; turquoise blue and sparkly 🙂 Our ancourage was literally a sandy beach with some palm trees. Sadly because of my now infected toe I couldn’t enjoy the beach bbqs or the beautiful clear blue waters but after seeing everyone’s bug bites and some baby sharks in the water I didn’t mind so much.