After a whirlwind week of flying and yacht buying, we were of course then faced with sailing our new purchase.
Things had to stall for a few days while the moneys transfered and our insurance was finalised. But during that time we were lucky enough to get an incredibly thorough handover of all the boat's systems by former owner Eric. This all took place of course in French, so Nick conversed freely while I just nodded and tried to soak up as much information as I could. Eric's main catch cry whenever we seemed uncertain about something was 'no problem!'.
Once the transfers and insurance processed and it was officially OUR yacht, we took it for our first sail - again with Eric there to literally show us the ropes. Everything seemed to be 'no problem!'. Although I think at this stage it was starting to become clear that we perhaps weren't as experienced at sailing as Eric!
The giveaway moment definitely came however the next day when it was time to leave Marina Taina on the main island of Papeete and set sail (without Eric)...
The yacht was squeezed into a small berth between expensive boats on one side and the dock along the other. The only way out was to reverse a short way (before hitting the boat behind) and then turn hard to get the nose around (without hitting the boats alongside and in front). Nick stepped up (or was forced to) and took the honours here. First time behind the helm (Eric had manouvered it out of the marina and I had steered under sail during our sea trail), with many onlookers, and the most tight and awkward spot in the marina! Nick did a great job getting us out without hitting anything, and although there were a few white knuckles... no problem, no problem!
We were lucky enough to also enlist the help of Nick's good friend Brenden - far more experienced at sailing than us with a few Sydney to Hobarts under his belt and a yacht of his own in Cairns. On hearing of our recent purchase, he didn't need much convicing to jump straight on a plane to help us get under sail during our first week on water. No hard sell needed.
So equiped with Eric's handovers, and now with more than capable crew onboard, we set sail into the beautiful blue waters of French Polynesia.
As the wet season was just about to start, our plan was to sail from Tahiti to Raiatea where the haul out and dry storage facility was located. Here we would leave the yacht on the hard for a few months during wet/cyclone season, before returning at the end of March in time for the start of cruising season.
Our first sail from Tahiti to Moorea was an easy start. Light winds, calm seas (man the water is blue!!!), and easy sight navigation (for the most part). And Moorea is STUNNING!!! Jagged peaks, sheltered anchorages, beautiful snorkelling, and even a fun few small waves. We couldn't have picked a better spot for our first few days of getting used to our new life onboard.
Our next destination was Huahine - home to some of French Polynesia's most well regarded surf spots. As sailing time was around 16 hours, an overnight sail was needed for this passage so that we would arrive in mid/late morning when the sun is high enough to safely see the passes into the lagoon between the outer coral reef.
Our preparation for this passage was perhaps a little less than ideal however. After following Nick for a 'quick' explore up one of Moorea's valleys, that ended up being around 4 hours of hiking, in the hot middle-of-the-day sun, in thongs, with 2L of water between the 3 of us (not much for the hot humid conditions!). This was then followed up by eating (driven by dehidrated hangry brains) what can be best described as 'dirty BBQ chicken' (instantly regretable) from a vendor on the side of the road once we'd found our way out of the valley. Our tender then ran out of fuel (woops), so Nick chose to make a little ironman out of the situation by running the few kms, then swimming out to the yacht, before SUPping back with a full jerry can of fuel to Brenden's and my rescue (we had done it tough during all of this by sitting under the shade of a coconut palm with our ankles lapping in the cool of the water).
Dehydrated, sun stroked, hot, and a little bit bothered we made it back to the boat around 4pm (when we were supposed to be sailing away). I raised slight concern that perhaps we should wait an extra day, but the boys assured me they were ok, so off we went. We had around 3L of drinking water left, but figured we would just use the water maker en route to make more. No problem!
We sailed out of stunning Cook's Bay into a beautiful sunset with around 15-20kt winds and light seas. All was glorious for the first few hours. Life couldn't be better.
Then after finishing the last of our drinking water, we came to the thirsty realisation that the watermaker (although it made water efficiently) was contaminated with bacteria and produced clear looking but foul smelling undrinkable water. 2 cans of coke and a few Hinano beers was all the drinkable fluid we had left for the remaining 10 hours.
And then I was the first to slide into feeling a little less than perfect. Not the usual sea sick kind of 'off', but just 'off'. Most likely a result our day's sunstroke, poor food choices, and now persisting dehydration! Soon enough I'd offloaded my 'dirty chicken'. Nick lasted another few hours before getting rid of his too. And sturdy Brenden, although wishing he could get it out of his system, managed to keep it down and keep things in order on the boat - Thanks Brendo!!!
But aside from feeling a little poorly, the night was beautiful. Clear skies, sparkling stars, and moonlit silvery seas. Huahine was in view as the sun rose, and after anchoring safely next to the island's best left and right surf breaks, we settled in for a few days of relaxing and rehydrating.
The last passage was an easy 5 hours away to Raiatea, our final destination for this trip. This ended up taking a little longer due to a lack of wind and subsequent need to motor the majority of the way. And also from a few 'jump off the back' stops along the way - did I already mention how blue the water is?!!!
Raiatea's lagoon, being the second largest island after Papeete, was a little busier than Moorea or Huahine. But once we'd got a few local tips of where to go from Melodie (our yacht broker - Raiatea Yacht) we found some of the best snorkelling for the trip - a fun shallow drift snorkel between two motus, through an aquarium of fish, coral, and eels.
Then all too quickly it was time for Brenden to leave us to return to Australia. This meant we had another few days or so to get used to sailing as the two of us (no problem!), before it was time for haul out and prepping the yacht for storage on the hard in anticipation of our return in a few short months...