Tahiti to Maupiti: Sue & Laurie aboard “Lamitsu” Lagoon 39

Sailing on Lamitsu   

A monumental change to my lifestyle! From boat hire and charter fishing to retirement on a yacht!

Earlier this year wife, Sue, and I purchased a 39-foot sailing catamaran that was berthed in Tahiti. A long way from home it was, but the price was all we could afford, and it was fitted out for bluewater sailing. That means that it has a fresh water maker, solar panels, wind generator and a good GPS navigation system. What more could you want. Well I guess knowing how to sail would help, so we had a week’s sail lessens down in Busselton before we left for Tahiti after selling as much stuff as we could, packing up our house, and readying ourselves for being away from Australia for a long time.

Arriving in French Polynesia around midnight, with 6 bags of luggage weighing 23kg each which included a massive arsenal of fishing gear and a rod tube with 7 rods and long stay visas, we found our boat in the marina and boarded.

After catching up on some much-needed sleep we set about unpacking and arranging the yacht to suit our needs. Hio, our skipper, who was the skipper for the previous owner had been living on the yacht, looking after it for us before we arrived, helped us ready the yacht for our first trip around the Society Islands and was to teach us all we needed to know about the yacht, how to sail her and use the equipment, before going it alone. We gave ourselves a couple of weeks to learn the ropes. Our first sail from Tahiti was to the nearby island of Moorea, then on to Huahini, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Maupiti and then finally Maupihaa where Hio’s family lives.

We are eating a lot of strange fruit and vegies and other strange things but all taste OK so far.

Moorea is a pretty island not far from Tahiti, the lagoons are deep with easy access to the shore. We spent a couple of days there waiting for the wind to pick up and more sorting the gear on the yacht.

Coconut trees are everywhere, and I am learning to stand up in the 3.1m inflatable with 9.9hp 2-stroke Mercury like everyone else does.

All the islands are volcanic mountains with a fringing coral reef and fairly deep lagoons inside covered with coconuts trees, sometimes mangroves in the sheltered areas. Just offshore at the back of the reef it drops down very quickly to 2500m or more. Some of the lagoons are a mile or so wide so plenty of space to play around in.

Along the way we visited a rum distillery in Tahaa, a small island not far from Huahini and bought some of their rum and also some vanilla beans produce.

Visited a pearl farm and were lucky to be there when the Japanese guy was seeding the pearls. We actually got to see him working, and taking the black pearl out and putting a slightly bigger seed back in. Then to the sales room where they try to sell you a string of them! When we were last in Tahiti Sue bought a pair of black pearl earrings which at the size of 2 small peas and middle of the range quality cost as much as a Stella 10,000. I manage to steer her away from buying one this time!

We then heard that there was a night of Tahitian dancing and drumming. We went along, no charge, had a couple of beers and enjoyed the night.

Next was Bora Bora, I guess everyone has to go there! Not as pretty as I expected, but not bad to say the least. I got my drone up, which has been giving me problems as all these small islands have airstrips and the no-fly zone is quite large so not able to get it to fly everywhere. We did take the dinghy to look at the resorts that are built over the water. These resorts seem to be everywhere on Bora Bora, but I know where I would rather be!

At night while on anchor or mooring there are often big splashes from fish. Our skipper gets excited and rushes out with his lumo squid and tries a bit of jigging. The other night he used my flick rod with a lumo squid and caught a respectable big-eye trevally. I have been trying as well without luck, but moored right in front of the Bora Bora Yacht Club, I cast a 120 Halco popper in the moonlight and came up with this big-eye trevally. The skipper cooked them up in the oven with his special sauce – for a trevally it was quite good I have to admit!

Prettier than Bora Bora is this little island of Maupiti, not visited much on the tourist circuit as there are only a few people here and not very well developed. This is probably due to the entry through the reef that we came in this afternoon.  It’s narrow, long and winding and there was also a current of about 6 knots flowing out. This yacht does a max of 9 knots, so difficult to control in those conditions. I am going to have to master it!

We anchored in the lagoon and went exploring on the island. Not a big island about 10 km around the road that encircles the island. Population of about 1500 people, so services are limited and sparse. There is a rough track to the top of one of the peaks so we climbed it that morning.  It was quite tough going on our bodies that have generally been sitting around doing very little! The views from the top were superb. Unfortunately, Sue was not able to make it all the way up, nearly got there but stopped at a lower lookout while Hio and myself got to the top.

A sandspit on one of the smaller islets that surround the lagoon. The beaches are shallow and abound with broken coral, rocks and sea slugs.

We spent about a week at Maupiti, such a cool place. One of the attractions is the manta rays that come into the lagoon every day. It is just a matter of cruising the lagoon in the dinghy on the edge of the deep water and looking for a big black moving shape. On with the fins and mask and swim down.

They don’t seem to notice that you are there and you can almost touch them if you can keep up with them, they swim quite fast!

There are also large sting rays everywhere in the shallow parts and they start throwing their tails around when you get too close.

This is how the locals store their boats. Seems that there is about 200mm tide! They just raise the boat by turning the wheels that wind up a rope, like a wishing well! They don’t have a seagull problem either so the boat stays clean and it is only knee deep in this shallow part.

We have arrived at the atoll of Maupihaa, I say atoll as there is no central island only a fringing reef and a bit of fringing land that 16 people live on. Hio, our skipper’s, family is one of the few families that live here. Hio grew up here but went to school on the nearby (100 miles away) island of Maupiti. He has been working on boats and in Tahiti so it was a bit of a home coming for him, and his family welcomed him and us with open arms. This place is a true paradise! All the details and pics in my next blog.

Laurie & Sue.

I have made a couple of videos of the above trip and they are on my YouTube Channel:


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