We spent nine days in the new marina in downtown Papeete. Hallie and I spent three of those nights in a B&B a short walk from the boat. It was interesting to see the apartment and speak with the owners, but I think we were happier when we moved aboard.
Papeete was very convenient. Shops and restaurants and banks (everything is expensive, except baguettes), and the BPO reps Luc and Jackie helping with rides and phone calls and translation. We got our foresail patched and a zipper replaced on an awning. (And we ordered a new sail to be picked up in Australia.) We changed the oil in both engines and were able to dispose of the old oil. (We had been carrying old oil across the Pacific, waiting for a place to dispose it.) We had an electrician check our batteries and tell us they were okay. We rented a car so we could drive around the island, plus carry many hundreds of dollars worth of groceries to the boat. Last good place to shop until Australia, they say.
But the most important activity was the long-awaited meeting with Jimmy Cornell. My expectation coming into it was that the eight (?) remaining BPO boats would have eight different and strongly-held ideas about the route and schedule after Australia. I expected Jimmy to announce his grand plan, and then everyone would grumble that this wasn’t what they signed up for, and the BPO would unravel completely. That’s not what happened…
There were several surprises in store for me in Tahiti. The first was that Jimmy did not declare the new/revised BPO route. He asked the participants what they wanted to do, and made suggestions. My second surprise was that the participants went out of their way to come up with a consensus plan. Everyone was flexible. And indeed, with Jimmy’s coaching about what routes/schedules work and what doesn’t, a consensus plan emerged. The BPO still has life after all.
However, while many participants think the plan is ‘fast,’ I see it as ‘slow.’ I would like to sail more and visit places less, and return home sooner. The options are limited by the weather — particularly the cyclone season in the Indian Ocean. Either we have to sail aggressively to Australia and then to South Africa, which could get us home in one year, or else we follow the BPO plan (which now also goes to South Africa; the Red Sea is out), and see some marvelous places along the way, and get home in two years. There isn’t any middle ground. I’m on the fence about this. Since I expected the BPO to unravel, I was thinking of going fast on our own. With the BPO still alive, and the camaraderie of the participants, I’m now leaning toward the BPO plan (which, time-wise, is what I originally had planned).
But wait! There’s another surprise! Bill and I got word from Tim (who flew home from Rangiroa and planned to rejoin in Bora Bora) that his return is delayed, IF he returns at all!!!! This news requires some adjustments on the part of Bill and me. I don’t just mean having adequate crew aboard, but what is the nature of our partnership…the bond of trust…what the future of the voyage looks like…what happens after Bill leaves in Australia…
I probably haven’t written about all the crew in the BPO who have switched from one boat to another. There have been many shifts between boats. And in Papeete we learned that Bob Shanks, who had been crew on Maggie, was looking for a new berth. He asked Bill and me if we needed crew. At the time, the answer was, “Perhaps, after Australia.” It was later the same day that we got word that in fact we did need crew! (In retrospect it appears that Bob, and perhaps others, knew we would be wanting crew before Tim informed us; but Bob gave no hint of whatever knowledge he held in confidence.) In any case, by the next day we had signed Bob on through Australia. Bob is interested in continuing on after that, but we need a getting-to-know-each-other period, and we need to determine whether Tim will be rejoining or not.
More to be said about these changes, and what the post-Australia plan will be…in another post. For my own blogging purposes, I’m considering this the start of Part 3 of the BPO.
Yesterday we (Bill, Hallie and I) left Tahiti and sailed/motored the 10 miles or so to Mo’orea, where we could anchor out behind the reef, and get away from the city. That was a relief, but this anchorage leaves a lot to be desired, so we’ll get underway shortly to explore another part of the island.