July 6, 2020
position 16 ° 26 ′ South 151 ° 58 ′ West
En route to Suwarrow and then move on to Fiji passing south of Samoa. This is the route studied at the table: a promontory of high pressure, leads to the north, crushed by two violent low pressures to the east of New Zealand, therefore in a direct route an f7 is expected, further north it should drop by a force, with a wave more manageable. So a few more miles but more comfort and safety, especially for Sea Lover friends, with little ocean experience.
We took the great sea again, this time for a long crossing to the Fiji Islands, about 1800 miles away, a couple of weeks going slow, which is the time of a quarantine.
Obtaining exit permits from French Polynesia together with entry permits to Fiji, all seasoned with a recent and negative covid test (swab), was not impossible, but not easy either. We relied on an agency for Fiji that guided us along the route (14 pages of requests and explanations on every detail from the boat, to the galley, to personal facts); the prime minister has decided to open to yachts in transit but a commission must evaluate case by case. Promoted.
The exit from FP proved to be simpler formally, despite our agent, and the ARC leaders insisted that only with a return to Tahiti would it be possible to formalize the exit (150 miles against wind, current and wave) . Incredible that an organization that manages ocean passes of hundreds of boats over the years has slipped very low in the management in an unusual situation like this, in fact demonstrating that it prefers personal business interests over intervening by helping us Rally members. A management that unanimously every crew still wandering around the atolls has deemed unacceptable and which will be reported to the international press at the appropriate time. In any case, despite the prohibitions imposed by the ARC, we managed to do the covid test in Raiatea, at the clinic,led by a kind French colleague (I don’t know how much being a doctor has influenced the organization), but the fact is that 9 of us performed the test, outdoors, in the shade of a Frangipane; we then managed to obtain an exit visa for boats and crews, while there was no way to complete the immigration form, usually and easily managed by the local gendarmerie (this for years), but not anymore. So we leave without, because in fact what is needed is the famous “Zarpa” or “Clearance out” that we have printed and stands out among the documents that we will present on arrival.we then managed to obtain an exit visa for boats and crews, while there was no way to complete the immigration form, usually and easily managed by the local gendarmerie (this for years), but not anymore. So we leave without, because in fact what is needed is the famous “Zarpa” or “Clearance out” that we have printed and stands out among the documents that we will present on arrival.we then managed to obtain an exit visa for boats and crews, while there was no way to complete the immigration form, usually and easily managed by the local gendarmerie (this for years), but not anymore. So we leave without, because in fact what is needed is the famous “Zarpa” or “Clearance out” that we have printed and stands out among the documents that we will present on arrival.
It is difficult to write diaries parked at anchor in the various atolls because one is taken by the desire for discovery, especially enticed by the absence of tourism. Raiateait is the second most important island after Tahiti, and it seems more civilized than the others, or so they say. There are two marinas, unfortunately inaccessible due to the fact that charter catamarans usually wandering around the atolls are abandoned on the quay, and there is no possibility for those few sailors like us. Still close to the “carenage”, a shipyard where many leave their boats for work, although in the middle of the cyclonic zone. We are comfortable with the ease of mooring at the tender pier, inside the marina, for the descent to land. Here, too, as in Huahine and as we will do in Tahaa, we go in search of bicycle and car rental, to ensure easy travel to the center of the town, home to every comfort (so to speak). Raiatea is the sacred island par excellence,in the sense that it has always welcomed in a place defined as sacred, the “taputapuatea”, which is called Marae, where volcanic stones rest in the sun to define the altars of consecration of what were to become the future leaders of the atolls of all the islands of archipelagos. Annually, or perhaps every two or three years as needed, all the tribal chiefs, from the Tuamotu, the Marquises, and Tahiti, traveled long distances with their two-masted catamarans and were welcomed at the sacred beach near the temple. In taputapuatea the sacrifices of animals or even humans at times were made, to obtain “divine authorization”; each temple (Marae) on each island is said to contain a Taputapuatea stone. However, we must recognize that the air is full of history and a very strong energy is perceived; it will be suggestion,but when we get on our e-bike to continue in the 100 km of the circumnavigation of the island we feel closer to the real Polynesians, now unfortunately reduced to heaps of fat in the pay of the French or other entrepreneurs, mostly Europeans. But let’s leave aside this very sad analysis of Polynesian current events and remain in the wave of this magical aura that Raiatea continues to exercise. The circumnavigation of the island is breathtaking especially in the south, practically uninhabited or almost. A garden that is also wild has nothing to envy to the real one, the Botanical one, one of the most famous in Polynesia, impeccably organized, which we visit first on foot and then by canoe, along the navigable river for 4 or 5 miles with a guide during another wonderful excursion in the heart of the “jungle” of Raiatea.Now I am called to maneuver. On the next page the sequel.
Paolo & Ariel Crew