Sailing in French Polynesia –
How to Wreck a $500,000 Yacht
Up and at ’em first thing in the morning. Mom, Roger and Suzanna want to go back to the pearl farm to buy presents before we go back to Raiatea.
A very pretty Spanish girl, Paula, met us at the pearl farm dock. We took a narrow path at the end of the dock past an idyllic 25′ private beach, and strolled passed the treehouse in the rubber tree and up to the cottage. The dogs recognized us, and hardly lifted an eyebrow as we approached. Again, we purchased several items. Locals assured us we were dealing with the most reputable source for pearls on the island. The proprietress made us good deals especially on items not set in gold and gifted us several items as well.
We finished quickly, and motored the dingy back to the cat. We headed back to the marina base. Deb took us into the channel, and I took us to the marina.
The chart plotter was upsidedown compared to our actual direction which caused me some confusion. I was much better off once I used my own knowledge of the area to navigate.
I also had some trouble seeing the shallow water between channel markers. I should have put my polarized sunglasses on. I did get some experience navigating with the depth finder, though.
Another source of confusion was that the charts showed one marina ahead of us, but, I could clearly see two. To add to the confusion, the one closest io the airport didn’t look like our marina. The other one did. The problem: the charts clearly indicated that we should head close to the airport, while avoiding the restricted waters. I opted to follow the chart instead of my own eyes, and that decision turned out to be correct.
The final lesson in my lagoon navigation clinic: double check your depth sounder against the channel markers and always have a spotter in shallow, unfamiliar waters. I caught a coral head that was beyond the hazard markers at the entrance to the marina, and the rain didn’t help visibility. The boat was fine, but it was scary for a second. We motored in circles just outside the marina for a while. Finally, the pilot came out and backed us into a narrow space on the dock between two other yachts…no finger slips. Impressive.
Back at the base, we packed, showered, ate the remaining food and did the boat check.
Corine, from the charter company, gave use shell necklaces as we departed. Nela came and picked us up, and took us to the airport next door. We flew to Pape’ete, Tahiti and arrived in time to hit the roulottes…food trucks…again. Most ordered veal. I had an island staple: steak frites….delicious!
We made our good nights and goodbyes. Everyone was departing. But, my mom and I were staying for one more day in Tahiti. Then, on to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Back at the airport hotel, in bed by ten…exhausted!
It’s not everyday that you get to navigate a $500,000 yacht through a shallow underwater obstacle course.