Sunday, December 31, 2017

Kitty and Joe Visit CINNABAR

Four Islands in Eighteen Days - Tahiti to Moorea to Huahine to Bora Bora

Our friends Kitty and Joe came to visit us in September/October and we made some epic memories during their visit. Here are some of the highlights:

They started off with a few days in Tahiti enjoying a cool bungalow with views of the sunset and whales off their reef. We did an excellent island tour and drove all the way around the island. 

We hiked up to the Cascades de Faarumai...

...and Kitty discovered soursops at the fruit smoothie stand.

After they checked out of their bungalow and they moved onto CINNABAR, where they deposited the requisite booze and boat parts that they'd brought for us, we readied the boat for the 4-hour sail to Mo'orea.

After sailing to Mo'orea from Tahiti, (and practically sailing right over a mother humpback whale and her calf!) we had a marathon snorkeling day and took Kitty and Joe to all our favorite snorkeling spots. Unfortunately, once back at the boat Kitty came down with a crazy case of hypothermia. We thought. She had a bad case of the shakes and shivers and we warmed her up with some blankets and hot tea. 

Hot shower, hot towel, hot tea, warm Polynesia??

But that night and the next day, which was our scheduled scooter island tour, she still was not herself. Hmmm...

Quintessential OWB shot. Kitty's trying to rally.

Kitty said she was up for the scooter adventure so off we scooted to tour the island, but try as she might, it was obvious she wasn't her usual peppy self, so when we drove by a pharmacy and I saw a doctor's name I recognized we pulled in for a (hopefully) quick check. In French Polynesia there is almost always a doctor's office associated with a pharmacy, in this case I had actually spoken with this particular doctor over the phone about another matter. Long story short, after examining her, Doctor Bouchet announced Kitty had SEPSIS (which is an internal bacterial infection) and he put her on antibiotics. Yikes! Thank goodness we stopped to see him. 

(May I rant for a moment? We stopped at the doctor's office, no appointment, no "pre-approval", just as he was locking up for lunch. He went back into his office to examine kitty, check her vitals, etc. We were there about 30 minutes while he gave Kitty his full attention, made his diagnosis and wrote out the prescriptions. Cost of visit - equal to $36.00. Compare that to a doctor's visit in the USA. Just sayin'.)

After the examination Kitty felt well enough to continue the scooter tour. 

She felt well enough to schmooze with this young hunk and get him to carve out some fresh coconut meat for her. Way to go Kitty!

However, it would be total rest for Kitty for the next few days. 

Unfortunately she would miss one of the epic highlights of their visit. The day after Kitty's diagnosis a group of cruisers in our anchorage had booked a tour on a highly recommended whale-watching boat. The local guide was very in tune with the behavior of the humpbacks and he put us close to a mother and her calf. Even though the day was overcast with big wind chop we all slid quietly into the water and then kicked like crazy, following our guide who led us to the whales. While Mom was taking a nap about 50 feet below us, Baby frolicked on the surface, practicing its turns and dives and trying to engage us in playing with it. It was, and I don't use the "A" words lightly, Amazing and Awesome. 

Joe filming a baby humpback in Mo'orea. 

A very big baby.

We were able to have several encounters with these whales and it was quite an afternoon. We got a lot of exercise with all that kicking in choppy water and I even blew out the purge valve of my snorkel. (Or maybe I just stepped on it.)

The next morning we could see some activity on the nearby beach. People were erecting tents, bringing in armfuls of palm fronds and flowers, and setting up booths for vendors and musicians. We decided to dinghy into the beach to investigate. Turns out it was International Tourist Day in French Polynesia and the Mo'orea tourist bureau was having its festival right on our beach! 

Music all day long

We spent the day sampling food, smelling flowers, listening to a variety of local musical groups, watching studly young men in loincloths climb trees to pick coconuts and learning about the art of making jewelry and flower leis. We even got to paddle with the #1 Mo'orean paddling team. What a fun day!!

Tom gettin' it done.

We had been looking at the weather and felt that an evening departure the following day would be the last chance to do an overnight sail to Huahine before some big winds and swells would hit the islands. 

We left on schedule on a Thursday evening just after sunset in the peaceful lee of Mo'orea (i.e. the island protected us from the wind and waves), but as soon as CINNABAR poked her nose out of Mo'orea's lee we knew we were in for a night of wind and waves. 
Looks so calm. About 10 minutes later it was jackets, harnesses and tethers to keep us attached to the boat.

CINNABAR was was going so fast, even with her mainsail reefed down (sail area reduced by lowering and securing), that we eventually completely stowed the mainsail away and sailed through the night using only the jib (smaller sail in front). 

We took turns being on watch with two up at a time. Tom and Kitty were in charge for a couple of hours and then it was Joe and Sylvia, and so on throughout the night. It was a tiring but fun night when we decided to give the autopilot a break and hand-steer down the big swells. Joe and Kitty did a great job and as we sailed into the calm, familiar anchorage of Fare, Huahine the next morning we all agreed we'd gotten our money's worth with the previous night's E-Ticket ride. 

A rejuvenating lunch at the Mai Tai Lapita Village resort in Huahine

Every island in The Societies has its own personality. While Tahiti and Mo'orea are heavily visited by tourists, Huahine has a more laid-back surf-town type vibe. It does have resorts, just not as many. We saw only one resort with OWBs (Over Water Bungalows) and it was tucked discretely into a private bay. 

A land-tour company had been highly recommended to us. In fact it was the company that had conducted a tour for the Obamas (and group of Oprah, Springsteen, Tom Hanks, etc.) in April of 2017.

Manava feeds the sacred blue-eyed eels.

Manava, our guide, gave us an extensive and personal tour of the island, concentrating on Polynesian culture, history and anthropology. 

Recently a large tree fell over and it exposed a previously unknown ancestral tomb. These skulls are well-hidden from hikers.

After spending a couple of days enjoying the town of Fare we sailed down to Avea Bay on the SW side of the island. We grabbed a mooring next to a resort and enjoyed their free wi-fi and facilities for a few days. Tom even had a chance to get some kiting in. 

Tom teaches Joe how to help him launch the kite.

Kitty and Joe were keen to add Bora Bora to their repertoire. It is only a half-day sail from Huahine and CINNABAR managed to zip over there in only three hours! 

Our friends Katie and Mike on PANGAEA, (last seen in Papeete) were waiting for us in the mooring field anchorage just off the famous Bloody Mary's Tiki Bar so it was fun to see them again and introduce them to Joe and Kitty.

They brought us some croissants and baguettes even though it was pouring rain. (Mike, your baguette's a little limp. Just sayin'.)

PANGAEA had been in Bora Bora for a couple of weeks and had discovered the best snorkeling and kiting spots so it was great to have our own personal adventure guides. Joe and Kitty only had a few days in Bora Bora so we packed as much into those days as we could.

All trips must come to an end, and our friends finished theirs up by treating us to a fantastic farewell dinner at the famous Bloody Mary's Tiki Bar.

Throwin' the shaka at Bloody Mary's. Hey look, even the barender's toasting us.

The next day they caught a taxi into town where they would catch the free ferry to the Bora Bora airport for their short flight back to Papeete to catch their long flight back to Los Angeles.

NOTE: Cruisers have a motto that we can tell visitors WHERE, or WHEN we will be, but rarely can we tell them both where AND when we will be somewhere, so be prepared to island hop one or both ways.

Looking back on this past cruising season we can honestly say we were very blessed with all our visitors. They were incredible guests who actively participated in making our own fun.  

Joe and Kitty, Mike and Linda, Merci Beaucoup for helping to make 2017 a memorable cruising season for CINNABAR.

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