Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012
Landfall at last, after so many sea-days without much to write to you about, we make landfall off Tahiti during the wee hours of the morning. Five clock changes and several social functions after leaving Easter Island, the towering volcanic peaks, shrouded in mist and cloud, covered in lush tropical greenery, greet our morning. We pass the north of the island, Papeete lies on the north-western tip, a small natural harbour, surrounded by coral reefs.
The entrance is through a gap in the reef and once through, an immediate turn to port towards the berth. The nearby airport has given us clearance to enter, strange but true, as our courses take us through the final approach, (or take-off, depending on the wind direction), path of aircraft using the runway.
We berth almost in the town, a stone’s throw away. The heat, even at 7 in the morning, is palpable, as is the humidity.
We go on a 4-wheel drive tour in the morning, up into the mountains, through ravines that have been carved by water over the eons, through the volcanic rock. It reminds me of Hawaii in many ways. Our guide tells us of the history of the Tahitian people, their seafaring skills and their religious practices. It strikes me as remarkably similar to the Egyptians of ancient times, they too worship the sun-god Ra, they used to mummify their more important statesmen, taking them into tunnels carved into the volcanic crater walls, killing the slaves that took them, so that no-one would know where the mummy lay. They believed that their ancestors passed into the heavens and that the Pleiades star group (or the Greek Seven sisters), played a significant part in their religion, quite fascinating.
A mix of sunshine and showers in the afternoon and early evening. We are here until 10 p.m., we have to take much needed fuel. Having had to use Marine Gas oil (basically diesel fuel), since we left the Falklands, this has been an expensive voyage.
We had to make sure that we had no Heavy Fuel Oil on board when we passed the 60S latitude and thus entered Antarctic Treaty waters, from that point we use MGO and as there is nowhere in Chile or Argentina where we could take Heavy fuel, we have had to come all the way to Tahiti on Marine Gas oil. MGO cost is almost double the cost of Heavy, so you can imagine how much we have spent just getting here, approximately $122 a mile, so don’t use us to go to the shopping mall!
We have a BBQ in the evening, in the lido, a Polynesian Luau, which is well attended. Some of the guests come dressed for the occasion, flowers in their hair, long colourful dresses.
Having completed our fueling, we set sail for Pago Pago, American Samoa at 10 p.m.
Captain Mercer is at the helm of Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage.