Bon Voyage French Polynesia!
Our visa for French Polynesia (90 days) expired; we’ve checked out of the country and are currently in Mauptiti – about 30NM west of Bora Bora. It’s bittersweet. We’re excited to see new islands, people and places, but not thrilled about leaving such a beautiful, friendly place – and sailing to the ‘Dangerous Middle’.
The Dangerous Middle is the stretch of ocean roughly between the Cook Islands and Tonga. It is here that strong weather systems from the south can move north, bringing heavy wind, rain and waves. Boats that have left before us have been bashed and battered with 50kts of wind, torn mainsails and one dismasting last week. This sounds more like the roaring 40’s than the tropical pacific. No doubt, it’s been a weird season with weather, as we are on the edge of an El Nino. This is even more reason for us to be cautious as we sail west.
The good news is we’re not going to leave until it’s calm. We’d rather sail slow in 10kts than fast in 30kts+. The key decision we have is ‘which’ direction – NW to Suwarrow or W to Palmerston? The difference could be significant if we don’t jump the right weather. Our preference is west so we can see the unique atoll Palmerston (everyone is related, flat line family tree type stuff), Beveridge reef (an anchorage on a small reef in the middle of the ocean - amazing diving!) and Niue (some of the clearest water in the south pacific, excellent diving).
We’re not in a rush and will take our time. We will also be in good company. We have four kid boats – Dafne, Remi De, Elena and Field Trip – meeting in Maupihaa over the next couple of days. From here we will be on a similar path west. It will be great!
Big picture, we will be in Tonga for probably six weeks before heading to Fiji. We plan on departing early November from Fiji to New Zealand. I’m excited for this segment since it will be a ‘guys trip’. Sarah and the kids are flying to New Zealand. Neil Sullivan (s/v Escapade), his fraternity brother Warren McInteer, my previous business partner Bryan Suthard and I will sail the more challenging route south.
Our second favorite spot in the Society Islands of French Polynesia is Maupiti. It is what Bora Bora used to be 40 years ago (or so they say). It’s drop dead gorgeous, the people are friendly and there are generally very few boats here.
|Our Anchorage, Field Trip on left|
|Maupiti view to north|
|Panoramic view with Laurie and Sonia from Moana Roa|
|Scaling up rock cliff with Elizabeth!|
|Daddy Daughter Date - on top of Maupiti!!|
|Kids hiking as we circumnavigate Maupiti|
Here are some pictures of the beautiful flowers Sarah and I saw this morning on our treck to the village for fresh bread.
|Sarah with fresh flowers! Happy Birthday!|
|Kara and Elizabeth in whale skull|
|Birthday girl on s/v Moana Roa opening gifts!|
|Beautiful present from Moana Roa - the flowers were picked from our hike to the top of the mountain.|