The Polynesian beauty can be found everywhere. In the smile of a local, in the fresh scent of the tiere bloom, in the sparkle of a pearl, and in the setting of the sun. It just seems to abound from every nook and cranny in this country.
Over the last two years we have accumulated several “imperfect pearls.” Birthdays, trade, thank you gifts, etc… An imperfect pearl can be one that is not particularly colorful or full of luster. Or maybe it is marked or odd shaped. Either way, there are loads of them around. Technically, they cannot be sold.
One day I decided to see if I could put together a unique design using small pearls from my little collection. I was super pleased to find 28 pearls of the same size. I approached a local jeweler and asked her to drill them, and create a stunning necklace. In the states this would most likely cost well over $2k, but here it cost me about $90. I am super happy with this striking, one-of-a-kind necklace.
Polynesian Pearl Necklace
Sunrise and Sunsets
We are usually blessed with either a gorgeous sunrise or sunset. We try to stop what we are doing to enjoy these magnificent opportunities. Sometimes we sleep through the sunrise, but most times we get lucky.
This is a sunrise over Aukena. We captured it from the Rikitea main village anchorage.
Sunset behind Aukena
Matt has such a good eye when it comes to photos. He captured the same sunrise from the bow with our sail bag and solar panels.
Sunrise over Aukena
At anchor in Puaumau, we have an unobstructed view of the sunset. One night we captured a big storm cloud on the horizon just as the sun was setting.
Storm cloud on the horizon
The full moon rose to its glory of the motu of Puaumu.
Moonrise over Puaumu
Puaumu is a gorgeous anchorage that many cruisers don’t visit (for whatever reason). However, it is one of our favorite anchorages with crystal clear turquoise waters, great snorkeling, fun exploring, and privacy.
INSERT 2 COLLAG OF PUAUMU
We had a break in the rain on a particular stormy day. It was the “calm after the storm.” Which created this beautiful Polynesian scenery with calm seas and fluffy clouds.
Polynesian Beauty: Taravai Anchorage
Lots of pretty tide pools around low tide that reflect the puffy clouds and showcase the young sea life.
Beautiful friends, new and old.
Me, Ruby, Eve
Our beautiful Polynesian friend Valerie, her new puppy PoPo and Roxy. Roxy wanted in because Valerie was showering Popo with love.
Events from this blog post occurred during the last few weeks of February 2021. Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind our adventures.
We celebrate the New Year Polynesian style on Sugar Shack.Little did we know what we were in for when we agreed to host our friends for New Year’s Eve.Our friend’s Stephan and Manu took care of everything and I mean everything from food, drinks, décor, music, cooking, and cleaning.
Stephan and Manu came over around 1700 to drop off the food, chafing dishes, grills, coolers, drinks, folding table, and décor.It took Matt and Stephan three trips in the dinghy to get it all on board.We were expecting 11-12 people including one other cruiser, Eve from “Auntie” and 9 Polynesians.
Manu came prepared with flowers, palm fronds, and décor.She is so sweet! She showed me how to decorate with the plants/flowers, brought batteries for all the décor and we had fun creating an oasis on the boat.Bottom right corner is Stephan and Manu during pre-party prep.
New Year Celebration
Two large chafing dishes were filled to the brim.One was dedicated to rice (they love their rice) and the other had fried bananas, fried oranges, potatoes, grilled bananas, and green beans.
They rented three portable grills powered by a type of propane and 12 dishes of food.Basically, the three grills were placed in the cockpit on our table and the folding table.When it was time for dinner, we brought out several boxes of food and Stephan grilled the meats which included shrimp, beef, chicken, pork, and fish.Guests loaded their plates with rice and vegetables and then the cooked meats were passed around.
The bottom right photo was just a funny photo of some of the shoes…most were left in the dinghy.
Stephan also brought a cooler full of beer, rhum, lychee rum, raspberry cider, whiskey, and tequila.Each group that came brought their own cooler full of liquor as well.Nobody touched our liquor because they all brought their own. We thought hosting included us doing something…but nope! They would not impose or consume any of our food or drinks. Nor would they allow us to cook or clean.
The New Year Party
After we fed everyone the first dinner (yes, there will be a 2nd dinner before the night is over) we headed to the bow.Manu had brought these super cool balls that lit up and changed colors.It was the hit of the party for sure.We hung out at the bow until midnight. After all it would not be a new year celebration without glow, right?
At midnight there were fireworks on the dock.Totally surprised us all as nobody expected them.It was super short, maybe 2 minutes worth, but really cool! An excellent way to ring in the New Year.
The obligatory post next to our sail bag :0
The ladies all had beautiful floral crowns. I was very envious.Bottom left: Manu and I, bottom middle: Manu and Stephan, bottom right: full moon as it rose above the clouds.
A few of our guests took turns playing Polynesian music.Several truly magical moments happened when they all sung along with the music in true Polynesian fashion.What a blessing it was to ring in the Near Year on such a beautiful night, with a full moon, lots of food and drinks and good friends.
The funny thing is timing.Cruisers refer to 2100 (9:00pm) as sailor’s midnight.Why?Because we are usually in bed by that time.We are also up at sunrise.Eve, Matt, and I were wondering how we were going to manage to stay up until midnight.Lots of laughter and good company helped us solve that problem.Eve left around 12:30am and the party was still going.Matt passed out around 0300 and it was still going.
Right around 0300, the food came back out.Which is a good thing as we had enough to feed over 40 people!There was so much food!Stephan cooked up a second meal for everyone.
Somewhere around 4:00am, as the sun was rising, I had to tap out.I asked Stephan if they could move the party to the dock as I was going to fall flat on my face!We got everyone off the boat and I did some basic cleaning (put the food away, cleaned up some of the mess that might attract bugs/ants) and crashed hard around 4:45am.
Somehow, I remembered to turn off all the electronics, battery operated lights and décor, bring in the underwater light, closed the hatches, turned off the VHF, and shut the shades.I was hoping to sleep at least until noon!Ha!Didn’t happen. I woke up 4 hours later and started the massive cleaning project.
The First Day of the New Year
Everyone offered to come back over to clean but I tackled the project as Matt recovered.We still had the folding table, grills, chafing dishes and tons and tons of food and liquor.Stephan and Manu came over with 4 other people and we enjoyed a New Year’s Day dinner.
Believe it or not, there were still lots of left-over food and drinks.We luckily piled it all back into the coolers and loaded it in the dinghy to bring it back to Stephan’s house.
We found out that they took the party to the dock and then the beach.They never went to bed!Yep, can you believe that?Of course, they are all in their 30’s.
An absolutely excellent way to start the New Year of 2021!
New Year’s celebration in this blog post occurred on NYE 2020.Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.
Our passage leaving Hao toward Tahanea was not ideal. We left knowing it would not be good weather conditions as we were hoping to beat the maramu scheduled to pommel us. The first day we had light winds and super confused seas. The swell was only between 1-1.5 meters but they were coming from every direction.
We were able to fly the main and jib for most of the day, then motored for a few hours. The trade winds and following seas arrived around 2000 at night. Usually, I like following seas as the boat surfs down the waves. But when you still have confused seas that are now 3 meters coming from multiple directions it is no fun. One wave would hit our stern before the previous wave left our bow which created a serious rolling action of the boat. I was not a happy camper.
Despite the bad weather and my infirmities, we had a gorgeous sunset the first night.
Day two brought strong winds coming from the SE a perfect direction. However, we had to drop the main and reef the jib because we were going too fast. If we kept up that pace we would arrive at midnight. So, we slowed the boat down to arrive at 0400. Not much better. The slack tide was 0430, but it was too dark to enter so we drifted for a few hours before entering at day break.
Since we missed “slack tide” we entered with 3.5kts of outgoing current – pushing against us. Almost like the atoll did not want us to come in. But, we prevailed and arrived with no issues.
Passage Miles: 220nm
Total Miles Travelled: 249nm
Max Speed: 10.7kt
Average Speed: 5.1kt
Moving Time: 48.56
We anchored in the SE corner of Tahanea with 6 other boats in turquoise, calm waters. Life is good.
Hiding in Paradise
We ended up spending 11 days in the southeast corner of Tahanea hiding from the maramu (storms). Most had a strong southeasterly wind so being behind a motu protected us from most of the winds and waves. We still managed to see gusts up to 30-35kts.
Each motu received a 360-degree exploration. Some even had us traipsing through the middle part of the island which was thick with foliage, palm fronts, coconuts, and critters.
Most days were rainy and cloudy, but we tried to get off the boat once a day to stretch our legs. Despite the gloomy clouds and rainy weather, this atoll does not disappoint – it is still gorgeous.
Our friends, Josh and Rachel onboard Agape were quarantined here in Tahanea for 4 months. Our friends had to find lots of ways to entertain themselves and keep their bellies full. They harvested coconuts and used every possible part of the coconut (meat, milk, water, husk) along with fishing and spear fishing to keep everyone fed. They also built this amazing raft. When we first encountered it, the raft was buried in the sand.
But several days later the tide and cleared the sand away and the boys had a little fun.
We left the raft on the beach, where we found it. However, we must not have pulled it up far enough as it was gone the next morning. We are in a full moon cycle which means the tides are higher and they must have claimed the raft back to the sea.
SE Corner Activities
It was great fun exploring all of the motus within the Tahanea atoll. We must have walked around each of them 3 times and some more. We walked all the way around and through most of them. They are mostly broken pieces of coral and rock on the leeward side and larger boulders, lava rock, and coral chunks on the windward side. The interior is full of coconut trees, and palms that have mean, pointy stickers that like to attach to your skin.
We found one motu that had a “sandy corner” sandwiched between the broken coral shores. It was a gloomy day and we ended up exploring under the rain, but still an adventure. Matt and I trying to determine if we should head back before the big storm.
It is really cool to see the pools of water between the spits of sand as you look across Tahanea’s lagoon.
View of Sugar Shack from one of the motus.
The winds were strong in the SE corner of Tahanea. Several people took advantage of the weather and enjoyed kite surfing and kite boarding, which was fabulous to watch.
All the cruisers gathered for several bonfires on shore. We would cook the fish or conch we caught earlier that day.
Several of the motus have splotches of areas covered in coconut crab grounds. The coconut crabs don’t like sun or rain so they mostly come out at night or early in the morning. One day we decided to go hunting.
Armed with buckets, string and machetes, we headed to the motu. It was a rather large group which was not conducive for good hunting (too much chatter and foot stomping), but we managed to catch a dozen.
First, you walk into the interior of the island, under the shadow of the coconut trees and in a patch of sand. You stumble across their large holes first. You have to be careful because their underground tunnels make the ground weak and you end up sinking to your shins!
Mike, from “Easy” and Helen from “Wow” showed us how to catch them. Using a string or very thin piece of line you make a lasso or noose. As the crab comes out, you slip the noose around its big claw and quickly close it around its claw so it cannot get away down the hole.
Once he is caught, you can either put him in a bucket or kill him (which is more humane).
Once we got our fill, we went to the water’s edge to clean the crabs before taking them to the boat. We boiled them, then grilled them and had them for a tasty dinner.
A FEW PHOTOS THAT ARE EASY ON THE EYES
The sun rose and set over the motus providing stunning photos.
Sugar Shack at anchor with a spit of land behind her. It looks like a sandy beach, but it really is covered in broken coral and rocks. Still a pretty photo.
This post was written in June 2020. Our blog posts are usually 8 to 10 weeks behind are true adventures.