Watermelon Pip

IMG_3367I find myself, again, getting into in that place I always get when I get too comfortable in one spot for too long. Like a watermelon pip clenched between the thumb of boredom and the forefinger of laziness, just a little more pressure and, zip, out I shoot somewhere into the back yard, leaving the barbecue to go on without me.

Baie d’Arue is certainly a conveniently vagrant neighborhood for we low budget barbecuers. It’s within a short, if roundabout dinghy ride from Yacht Club Arue’s dinghy dock where Club Coconut will sell you beers and plats du jour and internet for not too many francs. The big Carrefour market is a ten minute walk away in one direction and a Mobil station with an ATM is two minutes in the other. I haven’t tried the Chinese restaurant just up from the athletic field. The chandleries and other money-sucking attractions of Papeete itself are a moderate bike ride, a small trek, or an extravagant taxi ride away. The Coconut even has a small gas dock with a few marine supplies, but I’m scared to try to maneuver Mabrouka in there, as there’s no room to turn around and backing either in or out around the coral outcroppings would leave my butt cheeks in a cramp.

What moniker was hung on this anchorage during the Polynesian Magellan Cruisers’ Radio Net the other day? I can’t remember, but it was implied that this anchorage was the American and Canadian cruisers’ ghetto. I think it was a Brit that told me that. Could betrue, but I’ve chatted with Brits and Swiss and Bretons and French, not to mention hung out with an Aussie couple enough here to call them friends.

IMG_3366This spot is certainly well protected from southerly winds, but anything with any easterly strength still wraps around Point Venus and catches our attention here, …and it’s been pretty darned breezy this past week. Day before yesterday I saw gusts upwards of thirty knots. Though the bay looks wide open, bounded from the ocean as it is by only the low silhouette of waves breaking on Tahiti’s northern barrier reef, the sharp drop off into depths of over forty feet make the anchorage smaller than it looks and we’ve felt pretty tightly packed in here with everyone swinging around their anchors in the fickle gusts.

If there’s much of a negative to the spot, it’s the fishermen who power through us at all times of day. At first I complained to my neighbors about this rudeness, …no matter what, it just seems unnecessary. It was pointed out to me, though, and I can see that it’s true from the red piling inshore of us, that Baie d’Arue is not really an anchorage. We’ve actually commandeered a portion of the navigation channel around the island. Admittedly it’s a bit superfluous as far as circum-Tahiti boat traffic goes, …we’ve only appropriated a bit of bay out of the way off one side and there’s a whole other channel outside the inner reef, but we ARE anchored between the red and green channel markers. Anyway, there seems to be an agreement that if we squatters don’t complain about the fishermen, they won’t complain about us.

An attraction for me here, I expect for all of us, is the constant sailing and paddling activity generated by the yacht club, the sailing school, and the canoe club. This past week especially has had the waters teeming with young sailors in their Opti sailing skiffs. Kids have been stroking by in long va’as calling out the pace in youthful chorus, and there always a steady stream of men and women pumping past in one man va’as, not to mention the frequent paddle-boarder or SUP. Though the idea of such aerobic exercise has never interested me that much, I find the efforts of others invigorating.

I have even sailed my little Portland Pudgy around the anchorage a few times. I have to say that in over twenty knots of breeze I’ve found myself a little out of my element in her. She’s seaworthy enough, but I haven’t really figured out how to handle that much wind. It has something to do, I think, with where exactly to perch my 250 pound self in an 8 foot sailing dinghy. Believe me, it matters. Anyway, that sort of heroics has been banished to the back burner until I replace the tiller which, to my embarrassment, broke off in my hand day before yesterday and obliged me to ask for a tow to the dinghy dock and then back to Mabrouka. Oh, ignominy!

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