Day 246, Year 1: Papeete, Tahiti
Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Weather: Tahiti Supreme
Location: Anchored Near Marina Taina, Papeete, Tahiti

Talk about clueless. First we had no idea Father’s Day was on Sunday. Then late this afternoon I told Mark that I thought he should call his sister before she leaves in the AM headed for Tahiti. We thought she was arriving Friday evening, but we learned in the phone call that she is arriving Thursday evening. She has sent two e-mails just this week listing her complete flight schedule, but we have been so busy that we hadn’t carefully read these. We actually reserved a car today for Friday evening, but that will be easy to change. Mary Ellen had sent an e-mail early on listing Friday as the arrival date and that is what got recorded on our calendar. Sure glad we called!

We got up early today. I did the laundry (on Windbird, not in the expensive laundromat) while Mark went into the marina to meet Laurent, our PYS (Polynesian Yacht Services) agent, to get us officially checked into French Polynesia. All of the other check-ins in the Marquesas were just a formality. What really counts is the check-in here. We have felt that there are many more cruisers out here then we expected, and Laurent confirmed that this morning. He said the official count of boats checking into Tahiti is twice the number that came through last year. He says there are more cruisers this year than he can ever remember.

I think I mentioned before the reason we hired the agent, but just in case, I’ll go over that again. In order to be in French Polynesia, you either have to have a plane ticket out of the country or pay the $1100 per person bond. We, along with many others, found it impossible to get the money in the Marquesas, so we went with the agent. We will pay Laurent about $340 dollars, but he takes care of all checking in and out formalities, takes our propane tank to get it filled, gives us a 20 per cent discount at a local chandlery, plus we get duty free fuel anywhere in French Polynesia which saves us about half the cost of diesel here. We pay about $2.50 instead of $5.00 per gallon. If we had been able to pay the bond, we would have gotten it back, but we would have lost money on the exchange. It is a toss up as to which is really cheaper. Laurent seems very nice and is very helpful, so we are fine that we have gone this path.

We hopped on Le Truck this morning and headed into centre Papeete. We thought we had to transfer, but we didn’t. The traffic here is horrendous, so the three mile trek takes about 20 minutes. Papeete is a modern city with a mixture of architecture. There is nothing tremendously appealing about it, but it is okay for a city and people are very friendly. Most speak enough English to get us through. We walked the waterfront, found the Tourist Bureau and got brochures, walked to the far end of town where the chandleries are found, and then wandered back through town stopping at the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was built in 1875 and is very nice, but after seeing the beautiful churches in the outback in the Marquesas, it was diminished in grandeur. We knew better than try to eat lunch in any restaurant in Papeete. The cheapest thing on any menu is $18.00, but there are sub shops where you can buy a piece of pizza for $3.50 or a sub for $3.00. We bought one sub and one bottle of water and split them between us. There are McDonald’s everywhere here, but we opted to skip that one!

We walked back to the waterfront and headed in the direction of the marina. The main street runs along the waterfront, but there is room for a park between the road and the bay. We think this was Bougainville Park. We continued walking past an area where there is tremendous mount of construction. We finally realized that this construction is all in preparation of Heiva Nui, the celebration of independence here. The preparations are massive. When we passed this area we come to the Cultural Center. It was here that we found out about the schedule for Heiva Nui. It really doesn’t start until July1 and we will be gone from here by then. We are hoping that Mary Ellen and Lee will get to attend some of the competitions when they fly back here from Bora Bora. We might get to attend some preliminary shows, but that is still to be determined. No schedules are being issued until Monday, July 26, so we will find out then.

Tomorrow we will pull up anchor and head into the marina to fill up with fuel and water. Our watermaker has not been working since our passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas, so we have been filling up one jerry jug at a time when we have been in ports with drinkable water. Our new watermaker will arrive with Mark’s sister Mary Ellen, but we are very proud that we were able to make it until today without running out of water. We had water last night, but this morning when I turned on the faucet to brush my teeth, I heard the sound of an empty tank. Lucky it didn’t happen until now, although we have enough drinking water aboard in gallon jugs to get us through. It is just not as convenient as turning on the tap. When we move to get water and fuel, we will also try to find a better location closer to the reef and in range of wireless internet. That would be fantastic. Being able to swim right off the boat and to browse the internet from the boat is all it takes to make us happy!

060620 Day 246 Society Islands, Tahiti–Papeete