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Papeete – Day 1

By Kate “Bob” Addison

Everyone tells you that you should have been to Tahiti years ago, before it was spoiled and full of tourists, but it seems to me that if we had all been there then, then it would have been just as full of tourists back then as it is now!

Captain says last time he was here the waterfront was all yachts moored Med-style or stern to. Now there are hardly any yachts, just cruise ships, and the occasional charter boat. Further along the dock there is the beautiful Tahitian Vaka, but more about these lovely Polynesian craft later. It feels like yachties would only come here to get things done – fix an engine maybe, or get medical care for a crew member. The real island paradises are the smaller Society islands – Huahine, Moorea, Bora Bora or the Marquesas. The Marquesas, incidentally, were the island setting for most of Gauguin’s famous Polynesian paintings, which I always thought were of Tahiti. Tahiti is a bit like that – it’s not the innocent tropical paradise garden that the name conjures up, but it is charming and delightful in it’s own right, with a very good covered indoor market, and shops selling black pearls and colourful pareaus on every corner.

I am very much enjoying the marriage of Polynesia and Europe – it’s so easy and pleasant to get things done here, even with my school girl French. The market, the bank, the post office are right there within a short stroll of the dock, where Picton Castle is doing much to beautify the waterfront.

Yesterday we had three big cruise ships for neighbours, and so Picton Castle with her sails all set to dry in the hot sun (and no wind at all) became a major tourist attraction, with plenty of the people from the cruise ships coming over to speak to our crew and find out about the ship and our voyage. Lots of them thought we were a Greenpeace hippy ship until the Mate explained about training and voyaging under sail and they thought that was very cool, though some of the non-English speakers struggled with the idea that the ship was originally built in England, was rebuilt in Nova Scotia, Canada, her home port is in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, and the crew are a motley lot from all over the world. It’s good fun explaining all of that when you have no language in common!

drying sails alongside Papeete

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