Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fare, Hauhine

We arrived here Saturday morning after an overnight passage.

The main harbor here is at the small town of Fare, with a big, wide, easy pass to come in. There is a town dock for the dinghies and other small boats, with a big welcome sign and a map of the island. There is also a small 'freighter dock' where the inter-island freighters pull in to load/unload. Steps from the dinghy dock is the main street of Fare, where one can find a reasonably well-stocked grocery store, fresh baguettes, and the morning fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish market.

To put it in perspective for my Florida friends, the town reminds me a little of Green Turtle in the Bahamas.

Like the other French Society Islands, Huahine is an old volcano with an encircling barrier reef. So it seems to combine the best of the Marquesas Islands (the beauty of the mountains, more rainfall, some arable land, cooler temps) with the Tuamotus (better harbors, snorkeling, surf).

The challenge in the Societies is finding anchorages shallower than 80-100' and deeper than 2'. But Huahine has a number of spots where there is a good sand shelf in 10-30' of water. We are anchored in what's known among the cruisers as the 'town anchorage'. Off a nice beach, in 30' of nice sand. We can see the best surf spot in Huahine from our boat, and hear the pounding of the surf on the reef. But our anchor spot is very tranquil.

Huahine is nice, we think, because tourists rarely come here. There is an airport, and of course, the freighters. But it is well off the beaten path. It IS within reach of the charter boats who operate out of Raiatea (Moorings, Sunsail, Dream Yacht), but few boats have the time or motivation to get over to Huahine. So, the inhabitants are less 'touristed', and therefore more friendly and welcoming of strangers.

On Saturday night, we heard there was a 'Heiva' dance festival at the arena outside of town, and a bunch of cruisers said they were going. We missed one group who left before us, and another group was still eating dinner. So Dave and I walked out on our own. We had asked directions in my limited French, and so we knew what road to take, and that it was about a 15 minute walk. But it was after dark and it seemed we were heading down a dark road to nowhere. After 10 minutes of walking, we heard drums and music, and I said "See, we made it." But it turned out to be someone's loud music in their house. So we kept walking. Fortunately, not many dogs here. Another 10 minutes walking and we could hear music again. We came around the bend and saw cars pulling into a big area, and knew we were there.

We paid 500 CFP (about $5.50) each to get in. A dance group was already in the middle of a number, so we found our friends in the bleachers and sat down to watch. This was, I think, a regional competition for the island, with each group of 20 or 30 people performing native song and dance, with judges. The winning group goes to Papeete for the 'finals' next weekend. A local told us that last year, there were 8 groups performing, admittance was free, and the stands were packed. This year, we saw only 2 groups, and the stands were very sparse. Many of the locals were hanging around outside, complaining about the entry fee. French Polynesia, like everyone else, is really suffering in the economic downturn.

The singing, dancing, and music (drums, ukelele's, etc) was entertaining, but not as good as what we saw on the beach at the Puddle Jump Rendezvous. And all of us had just been on an overnight passage. I saw more than one head nodding as the second group was finishing up. So we were not much dismayed when it was over.

As we were walking back as a group, someone with a larger car stopped and asked if we'd like a ride back into town. "All 7 of us?". Oui, I have a friend. So he got on his cell phone and got a friend to stop, and we all piled into two cars for the short ride back to town. THAT's how friendly the locals are.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day--a beautiful sunny day, not too hot, not too windy. We should have been out exploring the island in the boat. But it was Sunday, and I insisted on a 'day of rest'. We have good internet here, and no schedule pressures until we have to be in Bora Bora on 1 August to meet my cousin and his wife. Bora Bora is only 50 miles downwind, so we have time to relax a little and explore here, and be in Bora Bora a few days before they get there.

So we spent the day hanging out on the computers and watching the boats come and go (cruisers, charterboats, and locals). A church just off the beach had a nice church service with lots of music that we could hear onboard. We made a big breakfast and enjoyed a day of leisure. Late in the afternoon we hopped in the dinghy and went exploring. We were primed to take advantage of the half-priced happy hour at the bar by the dinghy dock, but they were closed on Sunday, so we had some friends over for Sundowners. All in all, a nice Sunday.

Today we plan to head out of town for the SW corner--Avea Bay, which is supposed to be the nicest anchorage on the island. We are looking forward to some snorkeling, hiking, and bicycling down there.

At 7/9/2011 8:05 PM (utc) our position was 16°42.77'S 151°02.38'W

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