The Pacific Puddle Jump fleet met up this year (as it has for the past seven years) at Papeete. On Friday June 22 we headed downtown with Karen from 'Chapter Two'. Mike stayed on the boat as he was tired out from a day of trying without success to locate a fuel line fitting for their diesel. The old fitting broke the day before, so they will not be able to take part in the sail tomorrow to Moorea.
The Friday event consisted of a welcome party hosted by the tourism folks and Latitude 38 - a sailing magazine out of San Francisco that is the driving force behind the event. There were traditional dances and the cruisers were 'taught' to do some of these, with mixed and, at times, embarrassing results. There was a blessing of the skippers that required us to shout in Tahitian and jump around as a group in a graceless imitation of our Polynesian teachers. This was followed by a tasting of wines made from grapes grown on the atoll of Rangiroa. A tropical atoll is a very unlikely place for a vineyard winery. The wines - whites and one rose were quite acidic - even the 'late harvest'. With coral soil, no true period of dormancy for the vines (no winter), and with two harvests a year, this is not a traditional region for growing white wines! However, good wines come out of unlikely places, so perhaps there is a future for Rangiroan wines.
On Saturday we sailed with the fleet of about 30 boats to Moorea. The wind was 15 to 20 knots mostly from behind, so we sailed under jib alone, finishing near the back of the pack. Honours went to the big boats and multihulls, with a 50 foot+ catamaran finishing almost an hour before us over the 18 mile course! We motored through the now very crowded anchorage (picture 60 boats in an area about two football fields long) and anchored near the far end in shallow waters. Next was cocktails on the beach made from local fruit juices and rum and signing up for the canoe races that were to take place on Sunday.
Yesterday (Sunday) was the most fun day, with races and craft demos. Rani and I wove coconut palm baskets and we both took part in banana carrying relay races, a tug of war, and 6 person outrigger canoe races. My team won the banana carrying race (my parents will be proud) and the New Zealand canoe team, which recruited me when a team member failed to show, also won one of their heats and made it to the semi finals.
The only dampener on the event was a 40+ knot squall that swept through the anchorage at 10 pm causing boats to drag and collide with each other and ending the Pacific Puddle Jump with a 'Puddle Bump'. No doubt the details will appear in 'Latitude 38', but it seems that about half a dozen boats broke free and there were a few collisions. People from several boats that had not dragged headed out in their dinghies in the driving rain to help disentangle boats and get them re-anchored. Hopefully no-one was injured and the damage limited to a few scrapes.