REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD

July 22, 2020 ; 8:54 PM
16°73’S, 151°48’W – Raiatea

Our Maupiti exit was a little more… dramatic than we like. Influencer and Cathryn Estelle pulled the weather again the day before our scheduled departure and decided we must leave ASAP. We like to sail with other boats (for safety and pleasure), so we prepared Gracie Girl to leave as quickly as possible. That left the bottom half scrubbed and the laundry half dry- but the crew full-excited to be sailing again.

The motor sail to Raiatea was actually extremely nice (for a motor sail). The seas were relatively calm and it was a beautiful day. We made it out through the gorgeous pass and waved goodbye to the mantasea land of Maupiti.

The other end was a little more stressful, as we came through Aputi Pass and anchored in the dark. Luckily the pass is “so wide you could drive the Titanic through it drunk” (Influencer’s words, not mine), and there was plenty of space to drop the hook.

The next couple days were busy. We fueled up, provisioned, and made our way to the marina to make some repairs. We fixed a burned out fuse, the AIS, a nav light, and a saltwater pump in just 48 hours. I was happy to be on the docks for a bit, able to go for a couple runs and take a real shower. LUXURY. I’m literally not sure when the last time was that I got to stand in a shower and leave the water running the whole time, but I think it was Panama (which means February). Of course, we shower daily on the boat and it is no big deal, but it often involves saltwater rinses before a final rinse with fresh. Hot water that isn’t being carefully conserved is rare, and those showers were glorious.

But after a couple days of work, it was time for some fun.

We met up with Maximillian and spent hours trading tales and catching up with old friends. We were reunited and it felt so good. Although we only had a short 24 hours together, that was plenty of time to take the dinghies up the river. A different view of the island included a man commuting via va’aa, kids playing on a rope swing (because some things are the same in every country), and beautiful gardens- both botanical and fruit/veggie. The trip was stunning and so different from our usual island outings.

Unfortunately, Max had to leave shortly after because Maupiti was calling their name. I said YEAH, SAME say hi to my mantas for me 😊.

The next day we rented a car and did the 3 Waterfalls Hike, which was hands down one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. It was a rainy day, so we slid through the woods as we hiked up the sides of the river.

There’s something magical about the woods on a rainy day. Like you’re in a story book, the trees and the moss come alive. Everything is just a little bit greener, and water droplets shimmer as they hang from the ends of the leaves. I just love it.

My woods nostalgia was made even better by the beauty of the water. As we walked along, each waterfall get a little bigger. And each waterfall was complete with a swimming hole. Admiral Anne and I couldn’t pass up a single one.

We climbed ropes and rocks and crawled up the river. We weaved in and out of branches and finally peered through the leaves to a 40m waterfall. Admiral Anne and I promptly waded in. The pressure of the falls was so much that I couldn’t keep my head up for more than a few seconds. Talk about magical.

Afterwards, we drove all the way around the island. With all this extra time in French Polynesia, we’ve become accustomed to not leaving a place until we’ve seen every inch. Captain Dave’s skepticism about the drive dissipated quickly as we watched over 20 waterfalls cascade down from the hills. The perfect waterfall end to a perfect waterfall day.

And then we headed to Tahaa to reunite with more Lost ARC friends!

When we left Celtic Star and Amari in Fakarava, we thought we would see them again in just a couple short weeks. But the weather never quite cooperated and we up being separated from our Papeete family for six weeks. I can honestly say it felt much longer, and it was SO good to see them again.

If you ask Admiral Anne, the most important thing is the people- and we have met some of the most wonderful, kind, generous, and interesting people along the seanic route of sailing.
If you ask me, the most important thing is the manta rays… but the people are a close second 😉.

Like any good sailors, the very first thing we did together was drink rum. Captain Jack Sparrow would have been proud. Pari Pari was the recommended rum distillery on the island. We taste tested their (new and only sort of aged) rum, and even bought a bottle. Captain Dave and I were surprised how much we loved the 1.5-year rum- but not even a little surprised we didn’t care for the flavored rums.

And what’s a reunion without sundowners? We roared with laughter as we recounted our tales of adventure until late in the night. These are our people.

At the Tahaa coral gardens I found Nemo AGAIN. Good news, he has now reunited with his dad.

We ate lunch at a gorgeous resort and began to feel the influx of tourists. French Polynesia opened for flights on July 15th. That, of course, means we’re back to wearing masks in an area of the world that has been COVID free for months. It feels strange, and the anxiety about interaction is back, although we’ve still only seen a handful of tourists (and at a distance). We are constantly reminded how incredibly lucky we are to be in a safe area of the world. Prayers for French Polynesia as they open up. Prayers for you all back home as you continue life in a COVID-19 world.

Although Captain Dave said he would rather watch grass grow than go to a pearl farm, he let us drag him there for a free tour. It was much more interesting than any of us expected.

Did you know that the only place in the world where you can find the shell used to implant the nucleus of a pearl (black or otherwise) is in the Mississippi River?
Did you know pearls don’t happen without that nucleus implant? I guess I’ll stop searching for them in the oysters I find on the ocean floor…

After a few nights of galivanting around Tahaa, Amari and Celtic Star said they were ready to go to Bora Bora. I said no, you HAVE to hike the 3 waterfalls in Raiatea, and I’ll happily be your guide. I got to see the hike in the sunshine, and they got to swim in a 40m waterfall for the first time. Plus, I added my rock to the pile, so now I’m chief of the waterfall :).

Unfortunately, our last night in Raiatea included being woken up by the skipper anchored next to us. It was extremely windy, and our anchor had started slipping, so our boats were too close for comfort. The skipper of Flip Flop was incredibly gracious and kind. He actually APOLOGIZED for waking us up! We were, of course, horrified that our boat had slipped after holding all day in the wind, and quickly jumped up to re-anchor. It took 3 tries, but we finally got it down somewhere that it held. Nobody got much sleep that night, but nobody’s boat was harmed, either.

After one last dinner at RaiaGate (our favorite pizza joint) with Influencer and the gang, we feel like we’ve seen what there is to see on Raiatea and Tahaa. We’re ready to get back to that Bora Bora blue water! But first, we’ll need to sneak in a dive 😊.

-Kristen Pankratz
First mate, Amazing Grace

TLDR: ARCs are lost, plans change, and these are the things that bond us together forever.

4 thoughts on “REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD

    1. A few!! 3 were able to sail west toward Fiji and are now able to explore there after negative covid tests and quarantine! Many other have left their boats and flown home. We are hoping to leave for Fiji within the week with 2 other boats!
      And then there are the powerful EU passport holders who are able to stay here as long as they like. They will continue to explore French Polynesia!

      Like

  1. As always, Kristen, thank you for blogging on behalf of all of us. I love the way you weave all of our impressions in your writing. And, yes, I also did the waterfall hike twice…two of my favorite days on the trip. Thanks for your leadership and care!

    Liked by 1 person

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