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Reality check in Paradise

We arrived in Huahine to the sight of a boat that had crashed on the reef just 4 days prior, then news that our friend on Restless had a crack in the hull and was in a mayday situation mid-pacific crossing, taking in water. We were shocked. These were not just distant news articles, but a boat in our sight and a friend. It really brought home the realities of how easily things can go wrong out here.

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Catamaran on the reef

The catamaran on the reef had misread the charts and attempted to come into the anchorage at night. This mean they were unable to see the waves crashing on the reef surrounding the island until it was too late and they were stranded. Although the boat was not savageable, the family onboard were safe and short of some minor injuries and pysological trama, unharmed. In the 4 days pior to our arrival, both the local and cruising community had rallied around to help them as best as they could. Together they stripped the boat of absolutely everything reusable (hatches, stantions etc) whilst accommodating the family and their belongings between two other cruising boats in the anchorage. A very sad and sobering situation, yet it was amazing to see how helpful and supportive both the local and cruising community can be in an emergency. Although the risks are very real, it is comforting to know that there are wonderful people, whereever you are in the world and you are very rarely alone, should you ask for/accept help.

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The island’s surrounding reef

Our friend Jorgen managed to reduce the water intake from the crack in his hull and successfully complete the remainder of the crossing (around 2000 miles). Thanks to his satellite phone and the search and rescue services he was in contact with a few yachts, a couple of days away, who slowed down/altered course in case they needed to be of assistance. They also had some additional epoxy and food supplies dropped to them via a ship. He is now in French Polynesia with the challenge of hauling out the boat and repairing the damage. Luckily he is both a very capable and determined guy so it won’t be long before he is back on the water.

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The Southern anchorage in Huahine

Huahine

Although the landscape of Huahine is not dramatic as Tahiti or Moorea, it had a lovely laid back vibe. It was easy to content ourselves by cycling around the island’s one paved road and swiming in the beautiful lagoon. Tourism is not very prevalent on the island and the local welcome seemed more genuine as a result.

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Ra’iatea & Taha’a

Friends further ahead in the islands, told us of a waterfall hike to rival those in the Marquesas so we set of at dawn to make the day sail to Ra’iatea. The following morning we set off through the jungle in search of the 3 waterfalls. Hiking through the hot, sticky, jungle is hard work as you work your way through mud, over fallen trees and slippery rock, batting away mosquitos, yet somehow we always find it enjoyable. The discomfort and struggle seems to make the reward of the view or waterfall, emerging from the dense foliage, all the sweeter.

Having scrambled up a further cliff from the third waterfall to get a view of the top/elusive forth waterfall we were satisfied and headed back to the boat. The anchorage we had chosen, although convient for the hike was the least pictureque we had stayed in for months so we happily moved on, further north to Ra’iatea’s sister island Taha’a and the coral gardens.

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Sunset over Bora Bora
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The ancorage in Taha’a

With beautiful small islands to explore and views of the sun setting over Bora Bora in the distance, the anchorage was well worth moving for. The nearby coral gardens of Taha’a are reputed to host some of the best snorkelling of the Society islands. The current from the nearby reef allows you to drift through the shallow corals, full of a huge variety of small reef fish.

 

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Inquisitive fish

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