Hi Dreamers,                                                            September 2009

What is it about Tahiti? I had not been there for over 30 years and heard it was
badly changed, but the approach to Pt Venus is probably the most thrilling in the
world. The harbor was improved at sea level, still much the same behind Pomare
avenue. The prices are high as before, there are more homes in the heights. I
found the Customs and Immigration people much nicer to deal with than on my
earlier visit. I had a few repair needs including a new mizzen backstay,
refrigeration work and some pump parts. The prices were steep, but the service
was good and cheerful. The Moorea view from the moorings off Marina Tiare of
Moorea still sweep me away. I think the girls were prettier, or maybe I am older. We
did two Moorea visits and I found it surprisingly unchanged. We climbed the, now
busier, road to Bellvedere with Glen and Pam Maddox and kids Linzi and Meling. It
may be a little steeper than 30 years ago, but still visually breathtaking. On a
timetable we passed Huahini to enter the Riatea- Tahaa lagoon  at Baie Faaroa.
The town Aratua is much changed. It seemed the harbor is built to exclude other
than cruise ships. The west side now had a large haulout yard. The rest ov the
island seemed unchanged. Tahaa deserved a circumnavigation to look for the
homes of old friends who we knew had moved back to Europe. Hurricanes had
moved buildings around or away on the NW motus. The Girarde home where we
had been entertaind is now  the Taravana Yacht Club with nice deep water
moorings. Just a short and lively day sail took us to the Bora Bora Yacht Club
moorings. Now, here is change. Bora Bora has gone for high class tourism. A
number of the motus are now high end resorts. The funky yacht club now is fine
dining, but pricey. The town of Vaite is still dusty, but it has a cement small boat
harbor. Most of the hotels were sparsely occupied when we were there but full
probably would mean crowded. We found some nice snorkeling and great grub.
My current French Polynesia impression is a strong desire to come back.

May 11 we set off for the Vavau Group of Tonga, planning to skip the Cooks and
Niwe to same some time and we got a windy fast 9 day trip, requiring windward
motoring the last day into big westerly chop. The next day we checked into Neafu
harbor and picked up a mooring in front of the Mermaid as 4 ½ years before. The
town seems on a growth spurt. There were 4 new restaurants and a big extension
on the Royal Families Hotel that wasn’t doing very well 4 ½ years back. We got to
know the young and fun crew on Nordkapen, a topsail yawl built in 1907 who we
joined in a “Tongan Fiest” which has gotten to be a bit of a tourist rip, but still a
good time. We dove the main sites and finished up at Hunga, a lot in a week, before
sailing for Fiji and a plane for JT,

It was a lively 370 mile sail to Fiji via Nanuka Passage, Duff Reef, Somo Somo Strait
and to anchor in Viani Bay. This is one of my favorite stops. We checked in on
some of the Fisher family as well as JJ and Jermine Jones, did some swimming
and resting up before clearing in at Savu Savu. Fiji seems to be growing
paperwork, a little to the embarrassment of the local people administering the
mess. The big complaint seems to be that yachts are tp check in to the senior port
in each area of Fiji they pass through, even if they don’t stop, and even if that port
might be upwind. This is unlikely to continue as it seem without purpose and
Fijians are pretty accommodating, but for now some ports (Latoka at the worst) are
overdoing enforcement and aggravation.
Savu Savu is a pretty good spot to do maintainance. I got a new alternator and had
another rewound. The clutch for the watermaker pump also got a rewind. The
Nordkapen bunch showed up and we did some snookering off the Custeau
Resort. JT headed to Texas and the girl friend. Loafing seemed in order so I
worked on it and contemplated my next moves.

Love, Denny

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