Monday, July 4, 2011

Tahiti Moorea Rendezvous - Day 3

Sunday, June 26

Day 3 of the Rendezvous was set aside for 'Fun and Games on the Beach'. We were on the beach promptly at 9am, when the canoe races were supposed to start. Since we'd been the first team to sign up, we knew we were in the first heat. Of course, after hustling my team off Soggy Paws and onto the beach at 9am, we didn't really get started with the canoe races until about 10am.

We had high hopes of winning our heat, but even though we paddled our guts out, we only came in 'not last' (3rd) in our heat of 4 boats. Dave blamed it on our boat, after someone pointed out to us that our boat looked a little wider and heavier than the others (a slightly tourist-ized version of the traditional outrigger canoes). But in a later heat, our boat won with a different team, so maybe it was just our tired old bodies.

25 4-person teams ended up signing up. The local team canoes hold a total of 6 people, so they put 4 cruisers to a team, with a big strong Tahitian in the bow to set the pace and another in the stern to steer. The Tahitians stayed with the boat in race after race. Except--after awhile two of the canoes' bowmen just disappeared during a crew changeover, so it ended up 5 cruisers and the guy steering. With 7 heats planned, I would imagine the Tahitians just got a little tired. There were enough 'Kid Boats' in the anchorage that they did one heat of just kids, which everyone thought was pretty cool.

The original race plan was to race from the beach out around a bouy and back. But then as we started asking questions about making the turn, etc, they decided that it would be better to make it a shorter, straight line race from the buoy, along the beach, and finishing right off the beach where everyone was gathered. It was fun--both participating and watching.

Since the last heat only had one boat, they asked if anyone who performed poorly in an earlier heat wanted to go again. Our team volunteered, but when we went to get in the boats, a kid team materialized out of nowhere and commandeered our boat--they were faster than us to climb in, and we were only half-interested in going again. But Dave ended up going as their bowman. Unfortunately, these were the smallest and skinniest of the kids, also on their second try, and they ended up in last place in that heat.

In addition to the canoe races, (which went on almost all day, with 7 heats and semifinals and finals), they had lots of other things organized. There were ladies doing more craft demonstrations--making lei's, making elaborate flowered hats, making tie-dye and batik pareus, and even a black pearl jewelry stand. For the men, there was a Tahitian rock carrying demonstration, and the 'fruit carry race'. One team member from each team got to compete in the fruit carry--2 heavy bunches of bananas on opposite ends of a pole--pick it up and race around the grounds. The 20-something guys inevitably won each heat of the fruit carry. Jim represented our team and did an outstanding job (but didn't win). A tug of war was listed on the events, but I guess they ended up scrapping that, and nobody missed it.

They also organized an impromptu swim race. They were talking about having us swim from the beach and out around a buoy, and back. Dave suggested instead, a straight line race in to the beach starting in the water from the nearest boat. This avoided the 'around the buoy' which could involve contact, and made the race shorter. But the organizer misunderstood and made it from the beach, out to the boat, and back. That was about 200 yards. Dave can easily smoke me in a short race, but I can beat him in a longer race. So I did beat him. But another guy--who looked like just another overweight cruiser when we were getting ready for the swim on the beach--smoked both of us. A ringer! 3 or 4 other people participated, and all barely made it back to the beach (no one but the winner was ready for 200 yards of hard swimming!)

We had paid an extra $25 for a 'Traditional pig roast meal' for lunch, but that was kind of a bust. They may have roasted a pig, but not where we could see/watch/participate. The meal came in a truck in large vats and was served cafeteria style into styrofoam plates. Hardly what we'd envisioned when we forked over $25 each. It was convenient having a meal ashore without having to make it on board, but at $25 wasn't a good value, to me. Much of the meal was 'traditional' starchy Polynesia stuff like taro, which tastes yucky to me.

They had drinks available after lunch, and I was being lazy and let Jim and Dave bring me refills. It was several hours later that I went for a refill myself and realized that the drink stand had both 'Juice' and 'Punch'--where the Punch had rum in it. My guys, non-party animals that they are, had been supplying me with straight juice, not punch.

The days festivities ended with an informal awards ceremony officiated by Stephanie, the Tahitian Tourist Board representative, and Andy Turpin from Latitude 38. They had a bunch of giveaway prizes, and a nice carved pearl shell memento for each boat. And everyone who didn't already have a lei on got lei'd.

A great time was had by all! Hopefully, pics coming soon!
Sherry & Dave
In French Polynesia til August, then west toward Tonga

At 7/1/2011 10:54 PM (utc) our position was 17°34.42'S 149°52.13'W

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