Day 258, Year 1: Safe Arrival in Uturoa, Raiatea
Date: Sunday, July 2, 2006
Weather: Another Beautiful Sunny Day
Location: Uturoa, Raiatea (Society Islands, French Polynesia)

We arrived at the town dock in Uturoa, Raiatea, at 1130 this morning. We had a good sail with fairly consistent 15 knot winds all night. Once in a while we would dip down to 9 knots and go as high as 18, but that was the range. Seas were fairly calm, but downwind sailing is always an adventure. Mary Ellen and I had a chance to catch up on family news while on watch together and we had a great time. Not sure what Lee and Mark did, but the good news is that no one got sea sick and we all enjoyed the overnight voyage. It was great for Mary Ellen and Lee to see what night watches are all about. We saw a fishing vessel and a couple of sailboats during the night, so Lee and ME got the practice of tracking vessels with just the lights visible.

Mary Ellen and I went on watch at 4 AM and just before sunrise, we spotted the island of Huahine. At first we saw only one light, but then all of sudden there were a dozen lights. This was not our destination, but we certainly wanted to spot the island as a waypoint on our way to Raiatea. Just after sunrise, we could see the outline of Raiatea. Sunrise here is about 0630 and sunset is around 1730, leaving us only an eleven hour day. But they are glorious days. At about 0700, Mark and Lee got up and joined us as we sailed toward Raiatea. We were using the wind vane steering since our auto pilot is not working, and the wind vane did a fantastic job. We were sailing downwind which was a little rocky and rolly, but the wind vane hung in there. Thank goodness for small miracles!

When we got into the harbor of the main town of Uturoa, we had a little difficulty figuring out where to anchor. I got on the radio and called the boat Ranger who I knew had been here just a couple of days ago. They are presently in Tahaa right across the bay. I explained that I have broken my leg and need to get to the hospital tomorrow morning for blood tests. They answered and gave us great information on anchoring possibilities. I signed off with them and then a boat named Dawn Breaker called us. I had never heard of this boat before. The person calling identified himself as Richard, a local here, and suggested that we should anchor on the town dock. He had heard my conversation with Ranger about my broken leg and need to get to the hospital tomorrow and he had great directions for us. He is also a boat repairman, doing electronic work, so I told him we might be contacting him for help with our broken auto pilot. He said he would be by the dock to meet us and shortly after we got settled in, he did drop by. We told him to come back later in the evening and that we would have the gear box removed and ready to give to him to check out. Richard, an American, has been here for about 10 years after living in Haiti for 30 years. Glad he is here now. What a stroke of luck to have someone right there to help us deal with our problem.

Once we were tied up at the town dock, Mark, Mary Ellen, and Lee were ready to explore town. Just before they were ready to leave, a gentleman walked by and noted that we were from Concord, New Hampshire. He introduced himself as Richard (another Richard), originally from Stoughton, Massachusetts-small world. He explained that he came here after the Vietnam War and married a 17 year-old vahine. They are still married and he has enjoyed his life here. He explained to Mary Ellen that he has written a trilogy about a Polynesian family going back about four generations. The books are almost ready for publication and he gave us his e-mail address to contact him in about three months. He will then have a website publicizing the books. Richard also told us that we should get to Bora Bora ASAP. The Heiva celebration has started there and he says it is fantastic-much more traditional that at other islands.. That helped us to decide to get to Bora Bora as soon as possible. After talking with Richard, the gang left to visit the hospital which is directly across the street from us. They made arrangements to pick up a wheel chair early in the morning to wheel me across the street. They also walked through town and visited the Catholic church here-unfortunately not as impressive as many we have seen.

As the day progressed, the sleepy little dock here became a haven of activity. Many locals gathered on the adjoining dock waiting for the arrival if an inter-island ferry. Other boats came in and tied up to the city dock. It is great that we are here on a dock so that I don’t have to get in and out of the dinghy. Lee and Mary Ellen will go to the early morning market tomorrow to pick up a few items that we will need in the next few days while Mark and I will head to the hospital for the blood tests. If all goes well, we will be headed to Bora Bora before noon.

As I am writing this at 9 PM, Richard, the boat electrician, has returned with the news about the auto pilot. He is going to have to order new parts-the gears-which will arrive here in about ten days. So we will return here after Lee and Mary Ellen fly out of Bora Bora to get the repaired auto pilot before taking off for Rarotonga. There are helpful people everywhere we travell and we are so very grateful for that. Life is good.

060702 Day 258 Society Islands, Raiatea–Passage and Arrival