Trip Reports

French Polynesia for Gentlemen (29-May-2001-19-01):
7:00 PM local time Tuesday May 29th. (0500 May 30th UTC) 16 36 S 151 32 W. Baie Vaiorea, Tahaa, Iles de la Societe, French Polynesia. Temp. 86, Humidity 71%, cloud cover 35%.

Since departing Raiatea for Tahaa, the Moorings weather girl on the radio has been predicting "pretty skies," an aesthetic judgment we never get from NOAA, and indeed the weather has been very nice with light wind. The boys have been enjoying the sybaritic pleasures of normal cruising and are getting quite fat and listless. A man comes alongside in the morning with fresh croissants, fruit, baguettes, and a roasted chicken we can heat up for lunch. Much of the time we have fresh food and cold beer. The reader will recognize to his dismay that this is not really the Maverick way, and indeed, the boys are a little out of sorts. Our long delay here is dictated by the fact that we expect our repaired prop to be shipped to Bora Bora, where we will sail tomorrow, and so, alas, are for the nonce captive in French Polynesia. The Captain will leave it to you, our friends in this time of need, to conjure an image of our despair.

The Captain is quite aware that nothing one can imagine could possibly be less interesting to our readers at home than descriptions of snorkeling at coral reefs, relaxing on the beaches of small islands the locals call "motus" for who knows what reason, and having a sundowner before the beautiful tropical sunsets. What is wanted, we all feel, is adventure, and that won't be had sitting here in a nice anchorage with balmy weather. Soon, we will be puking over the side and eating out of cans, and when I mentioned this to Ship's Enthusiast Terry Shrode the other day, his eyes lit up like a Nintendo game.

In the meantime the Captain will do what he can to entertain those of you following along at home with the results of his various ongoing scientific researches, and hopes this will serve as a yoyo where a bungee jump is wanted.

First we have a report on the sociology of the Society Islands. The Captain has wondered about the tone of the relationship between the native islanders and their French governors. Can it be described as cordial? We approached cruisers with extensive experience in the area, and asked them if they would be so kind as to give us the benefit of their wisdom on this question. One of them reported that there was much hostility towards the French on the part of the Tahitians. The other reported there was very little hostility. The Captain and Mr. Shrode feel this about covers it, and have, therefore, closed their inquiry into the matter.

Now on the the flora and fauna.

There is the issue of island dogs. No, not us, and that isn't even funny. We speak rather of Canis lupus familiaris. The dogs of French Polynesia we have observed since Hiva Oa are quite depressed, by normal dog standards. Do they wag their tails when you approach, and sniff and lick before asking? They do not. They regard your passing woefully, with a disinterest that verges on disdain. Nor do they chase the many chickens running about free, but rather regard them also with a barely veiled contempt. They seem to be all of the same breed, and never move quickly. Uncharacteristically, the Captain has no explanation for this.

We have found some very serious ivy, if one may use that botanically imprecise term, on the island of Tahaa. On yesterday's hike (which by the way ran to about eighteen miles instead of six because of the Maverick crew's overestimation of the delight the locals might find in offering them a ride, with the resultant failure of their thumbs), ivy was observed in the act of devouring large coconut palm trees. The vine, as we saw in various stages on different trees, climbs the trunk, puts out tendrils on the fronds, covers first one palm and then the others until only one terrified frond waves vainly, seemingly in a desperate plea, barely above the mass of growth, and thenůsilence. If Harvard and Yale had ivy like this, the professors would have such a job fighting it off they'd hardly have time to strut around in their smarty-pants.

At long last the final item, the Tupa, or as we poetic Americans say, land crabs. We thought there were lots of gophers in French Polynesia until we saw crabs dash into their holes when we approached, which, by the way, gives one an immense feeling of power. The crabs live in these holes and, the Captain speculates, do a crab version of what gophers do, and here the imaginative mind boggles.

The Captain owes you, our readers, some responses to your letters, which he will get to soon; meanwhile make them brief and keep sending them to We appreciate them greatly, as there is little to do, just as the Captain has always suspected, in Paradise.

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