May 20, 2020
Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia
“Moorea magically rises from the ocean like a cathedral. High, silhouetted, with green spiers, crowned with clouds. Like poetic threads the waterfalls plummet from cliffs covered with ferns. Peaceful fields lined with emerald green pinnacles will amaze you with the beauty of nature and Moorea’s brilliant blue lagoon will revive your dream idylls on the southern seas. Pastel-colored houses surrounded by gardens of hibiscus and birds of paradise, surround the island like a necklace of happy and simple villages will elevate your senses and make you think that… this is life! La vie heureuse, the happy life, as they say in Tahiti. The beauty of Moorea is unforgettable “
I like to shoot Ariel’s diaries with a passage from a common tour guide, made to attract the attention of the traveler, and often enriched with images not always suited to reality. This is not the case with Moorea. It is just as it reads. A garden without borders.
Let’s savor this little first conquest through the eyes of the child who dives into a dream for the first time. And we’ve been here since March 27th. Many days have also passed since the last diary, that of April 9, when we were still living in the lock down, but we didn’t realize. When you live by navigating for 24 days, the borders, space and time expand, change towards their raw essence, difficult to live on land, at least for us Westerners; upon arriving ashore we experienced the desert, the solitude between the docks of a marina, without realizing that we were still lucky compared to many others at home. We were in Papeete, in Tahiti, in the South Seas, but we could be anywhere. Many things have happened since March 27. Man adapts to everything, and so we, we lived well,with friends forced to live together for almost a month, but pleasant, then they left, Maurizio and Beppe, leaving a void. Then it was Margherita’s turn, in perennial doubt whether to stay or leave, to leave with one of the last flights from Tahiti to Genoa. And we remained Ceci and I, while the confinement was lightened, at least on land, to remain strangely locked in the sea; that is, you could not sail except to move the boat for shipbuilding needs.that is, you could not sail except to move the boat for shipbuilding needs.that is, you could not sail except to move the boat for shipbuilding needs.
This allowed us to organize the maintenance of the hull, and to rent a car, and to find accommodation for 4 days, to break the routine. It was the first taste of Polynesian life. It was April 27, 3 weeks ago, and since then we have timidly started to enter the Polynesian mood, although Papeete represents the most “ugly”, most European, Western part that has nothing to do with the essentiality of the life of the islanders of the seas of the South. But it was already a lot. We were lucky enough to be a group with our Tuscan friends Valerio and Lorenzo di Milanto, with Mark and Amancio, their guests and now part of a family. Then Rachel di Starling, a professional English skipper, was left alone to manage the boat transfer Southampton, and adopted until her departure by all of us.Together we were lucky enough to find a wonderful accommodation, a Polynesian house, made of wood and cane, with a roof of banana leaves, all windows overlooking an incredible garden a stone’s throw from the reef and a coral beach. Idyllic.
Although we worked on the shipyard to fix Ariel and Milanto all day, the return home added a few more ingredients of Polynesian life every day, away from the routine of the navy, but above all it gave us back the desire to leave. In fact, the danger of these forced stops, in safe harbors, hammered by chilling news we received from the world, leads us to think about them all, and you don’t always know what is right or not. Personally, I have never lost optimism and the awareness that sooner or later we would leave alone. A very different dimension from the one we had entrusted ourselves to, the famous ARC, or World Arc, which instead in a sad way and without any conviction about what it will be, has betrayed us, abandoned and I would say even a little mocked.
We worked for Ariel, now as never before our only home, which must have the attention and care to take us home; so apart from the fairing, now as new, the turbo engine, worn out by too many hours at low rpm, and the alternator belt tensioner, expertly repaired by Dominque, a Volvo mechanic, who knows the model very well, required extra care. Ariel, coincidentally the same as in many Polynesian fishing boats; one of the 4 fridges that troubled us to find a refrigerant gas leak and we converted it to air cooled from water cooled with the help of Mike, an English refrigeration engineer on a boat around the world. The Gennaker and other rigging trifles have been expertly arranged by the sailmaker from Tahiti. Incredible how capable and willing technicians meet with a little luck.The stalemate universally decreed by Covid has helped us, since without us they would have been out of work.
In the end we are really ready to start again, waiting for the borders to reopen, and so it seems to happen. The fleet has now faded and we are in 3 boats for sure that at the first signs of reopening they open their sails, first to head south east of Tahiti, exploring the beauties of the island inside and outside the reef, to sail Tahiti Iti, the small wild and unspoiled peninsula to the southeast, stopping in the “lagoon”, a hurrican Hole (super-equipped natural harbor), where one of the smallest and most evocative marinas in the world lives, and where we meet a lonely Italian, blocked by covid, waiting for better times, when his wife and children could not reach him because they were held in an Italian airport at the end of March.We learn to manage the coral reef passages that separate calm and turquoise lagoons from the rush of the ocean, allowing an almost lacustrine life to the smiling inhabitants.
IA RA NA (the greeting in Polynesian), a bit like our good morning, which invariably, smiling, with a flower in their hair, everyone pronounces when they meet you; and a little bit more of the lifestyle of the southern seas enters us, little by little, but life in the marina of Taina, albeit saving in the collective drama of the arrival, gets further and further away. The High Commissioner of Thaiti on May 18th opens to the islands of the archipelago, and we of Ariel, Milanto and Sea Lover do not let us pray and we leave the moorings to sail towards Moorea, in a bay to the north, where we arrive on May 19th , with a bad weather to make you want polenta and cappelletti, but once you have passed the easy entrance pass, the sky opens up at times, and everything lights up and comes to life.The peace of the anchorages within the coral reef has no equal compared to the Mediterranean anchorages. The price you pay is the rain, constant, daily, sometimes violent, but short, followed by the blinding light of the tropical sun that dries everything and lights up everything. The air temperature never drops below 28 degrees, as well as that of the water, so much so that we live barefoot and with two pairs of shorts that turn around, like two t-shirts.
This is the new beginning, which starts from Moorea, the green pearl of the Society Islands. Tomorrow we will ride it on an e-bike, while Ariel will rest slyly on his two anchors, given that 3 days of a violent south east are expected, which here is a bit like the mistral wind here. They call it Maramu, from which the great sailor and builder Henry Amel gave the name to his famous boat, an icon of ocean navigation, the Super Maramu. A new adventure is beginning, with no more ARCs, no more Briefings, Parties, cocktails, organized trips, but alone on the other side of the planet, to resume a slow route to the west, every day more and more inside the heart of this corner of the world . It is now night and as expected the wind has arrived, gusty, strong and cool, while the wind generator keeps the batteries charged,and the southern cross shines in an infinite sky, what accompanies the night most of all is the voice of the ocean that breaks on the reef in a motion of infinite and pure energy.
See you next time with the adventures of the new fleet.
Ariel with Paolo and Cecilia
Milanto with Valerio, Lorenzo, Mark and Amancio
Sea Lover with Daniel, David and Luca
Laura IV with Pino and Michele
Influencer, Amazing Grace, Celtic Star and Verbena, who you will remember from previous raids with the Arc, but who now, most likely, will join us for the next stops to the west.
You will find the new photos of the shooting of the trip in the Gallery .
follow us! and if the flights reopen, as expected, do not hesitate to contact us to come with us!
Paolo & Cecilia