Tahuata

I found a new boat to continue my journey through French Polynesia. We’d met the week before at Sandra’s cruiser party at the hut on the hill in the Atuona anchorage. After meeting again at the same party the following week the Teresia crew asked if I was still looking for a boat? Yes, indeed I was. After another lovely night of singing together with guitar players and drummers, eating potluck style from a grill over coals on the ground, they invited me to see the boat, Teresia the next morning.

I hopped on board and checked out their boat, she looked strong and cared for in the functional ways. Her wooden interior was clean and organized. Martin (68), the captain from Austria, his crew, Alex(24) from Germany and Lucio(46) from Brazil, are all easy going, generous souls. After a chat they said yes, I could join them.

We provisioned the boat with fresh fruits and vegetables bought from the tailgates of trucks in town: long beans, pamplemousse, bok choy, eggs, cucumbers, eggplant, spring onions. Coconut and banana turnovers for snacks. Roti chicken with rice for lunch while we waited for the gendarme to open. My old captain signed me off to the new captain in the presence of French authorities, very official, like a wedding.

I packed up my luggage on Rapture, waved goodbye and jumped on Teresia, a 40 foot Bavaria, former charter boat that Martin sailed from the Mediterranean to French Polynesia. It is a simpler boat, no water maker, no AIS, no iridium go, no satellite phone. But it is very comfortable, with large interior space and a straight galley.

We woke with a start the next morning because a sailboat was slowly on a collision course with our stern as they picked up their anchor. We all took turns pushing it away and in the end decided to pull up our anchor and head over to nearby Tahuata island.

I felt free, sailing on a new boat with new faces. We anchored in the same Stevens bay that I’d visited a few days before, white sand beach with coconut palm trees, turquoise water and coral. Nine other boats were enjoying the idyllic scene too. It was the perfect easy way to get to know a new boat and crew. Alex does most of the cooking, vegetarian, hearty and tasty. Lucio is the navigator and all around helping hand. Martin is the captain and helps keep things ship shape.

We went on a bush whacking hike so Alex could try out his new machete. Well, we were supposed to be hiking to the next bay to look for pamplemousse. But it ended up being a rock scramble goat trail “catastrophe” as Martin said. We survived.

Each day I spent a few hours scrubbing the last few months of algae from Teresia’s hull. I felt energized, thinking as I scrubbed of Teresia’s namesake, a queen who advocated for education for all. This sea queen would be glossy and proud soon enough. On the last day of scrubbing a jolly manta ray swam up towards me and surprised the bejeesus out of me. The graceful creature did backflips, over and over, smiling, beckoning us to do the same.

Today we anchored in civilization, a thirty minute sail around the corner to Vaitahu. A proper village with a gorgeous church and Chez Jimmy where you can order fresh picked fruit from Jimmy’s family for pickup the next day. I walked at sunset up the residential streets, kids and grandmas waved hello/bounjour/kaoha, the sun sank light golden yellow over the calm turquoise jet black blue indigo rose sea. Glossy bread fruit leaves, pendant mangoes, limes, hibiscus lined the perfectly kempt and unkempt gardens. Charming and lived in and loved on. Plumeria perfume drifted on the evening warm cool breeze. The shadowy light is friendly, the volcanic cliffs hug you, the laughter from afar assures you there is community, you are safe, this is a sweet sweet land.

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