Noonsite on French Polynesia

Noonsite has published an article about the current situation in French Polynesia. It just shows how different two people can experience the same situation. We were in Polynesia for 17 months and, with five exceptions, only met friendly people who made us feel welcome. I summarized our fantastic experiences in a recent blog.

In the Noonsite article it says

I can’t speak to the situation in the Australes, other than to mention second hand reports of overcrowding at the most often-visited island. Last season there were up to 15 boats in the lagoon, compared to a previous average of 5 or so and some in the community were reported to be unhappy about this number of boats.

We were one of the 15 boats mentioned in this article. We were in the lagoon of Raivavae over Christmas 2020 and New Year 20/21. If anyone believes that the lagoon was overcrowded they should try anchoring in the British Solent at the weekend or off an Australian beach around Christmas.

Sunrise over Raivave Island

The first person we met in Raivavae was the deputy mayor who welcomed us with a present of fruit and opened the craft center specially for us. The duty Gendarme cleared us in to his island and provided advice on sailing routes, anchoring spots and biking routes.

The owners of the reef where we were anchored welcomed us, let us use their “swimming pool”, allowed us to party on their beach, gave us fruit and let us use their va’a (outrigger canoe). Before we left they also prepared a beautiful traditional meal for us.

On the island we were invited to play boules on a Sunday afternoon and given beer (to improve our playing) faster than we could drink it. One gentleman gave us bananas, papaya and a root vegetable called manuk. When we asked at a farm if we could buy vegetables they apologized that they had none but gave us so many lychees that we could supply the neighboring boats as well. We received so much produce while on the island that we had to make chutney again.

Boules and beer

On the summit of the islands highest mountain we were given bananas by locals who had “carried too many” to the top.

When a bracket on the engine broke we found a welder working on a gate. He stopped what he was doing to weld and paint our bracket and then refused payment because “you are sailors!”.

Raivave Welding team

And yes, one day three local men went from boat to boat saying we should leave but unable to explain why or what we had done wrong. The French boats explained that we would be gone once the wind turned from the south and they left less unhappy. Later we were told that this small group had heard horror stories of abandoned boats in Tahiti via Facebook.

Factually it is true “some in the community were reported to be unhappy” but when three people are unhappy and over 800 are so friendly, it would be better to write about the 99%.

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