Sunday, October 14, 2007

Friday 12th October – Moorea

I woke up with what felt like an earthquake shaking the bed. It took me a few moments to realize that I was on board a ship & probably not really likely to feel an earthquake. It was just the boat going through some sea that was obviously a bit rougher than before. It was 5:30 in the morning but I was excited to get up & moving. We were due to arrive at Moorea at 8am. Moorea was shrouded in low cloud & mist & other than the palms it looks a lot like the lush green Fiordland area of NZ. The temperature was decidedly warmer than in Fiordland though, about 26C. We went up & had a buffet breakfast & shared a table with the Canadians we saw at Auckland airport. They come from Vancouver & had had a long flight just to get on this cruise.

The Tahitian Princess is too big to actually dock at a wharf at most of the islands so today was our first day of seeing how the tender process worked. Along our side of the ship (starboard) there are two tenders (each holds 120 people unless it is to be used as a life raft & then it holds 150 people) & 2 motorised life boats. The crew unhooked & the winched down both of the tenders on our side of the ship. I think they must have lowered one on the other side too because during the day there was 3 tenders making constant trips from the ship to the wharf. We were supposed to have been having a full on day but we found out that the whale & dolphin watching had been cancelled (never mind we can do that at Kaikoura, NZ anyway). We were still able to have a dolphin encounter in the morning though.

We had to make our own way to the Beachcomber Intercontinental Hotel, so we caught a taxi that sped past roadside fruit & vege sellers & dogs that looked very unloved & possibly disease ridden. We arrived very early for our encounter so we spent time drinking coffee in the bar. It really is a lovely setup there. They have a section of the lagoon roped off & there are lots of colourful fish right near the water edge. They had little boats to hire as well as running whale watching, diving & snorkeling tours. We were really there to see the dolphins so after we checked in we walked to a totally separate area where they have a dolphin area. These dolphins have been given to them by the US Navy. There are 4 dolphins, one female who rules the roost & 3 males. We watched them for a while & then we got into our swim gear & were given water shoes so that we could start our encounter. Just as we started our encounter it started pouring with rain. We were standing hearing about the dolphins & getting soaking wet before we even got into the water with the dolphin. Eventually we got to go in the water. Our dolphin was Aito, which translates from Tahitian into Warrior. He was given the name because he got lost for 48 days out in the islands. While he was out there he lost 80kgs of weight because he didn't know how to live in the wild. This dolphin came from captivity to the centre so he had never had to live in the wild. When he came home they found marks across his back where a tiger shark & tried to maul him. The markings of the teeth are still there on him as are the ones from the sharks that kind of grab hold & twist a little piece out of his body. He lived through all that so he got called Aito. We were allowed to touch Aito everywhere except his face although we did get a photo taken with me giving him a kiss on his nose. It really was fantastic getting to be in the water with him & being allowed to stroke him. All through this time the rain was pouring down. We got out of the water & of course the rain stopped. We dried off, got dressed & watched the dolphins for a while & then went to pick up the photos they had taken of us & Aito.

We caught our taxi back to the wharf to find it bucketing down with rain there so we boarded our tender & headed back to the ship. Apparently the people who did the island tour saw the whole island in the rain, so in some ways we were lucky as we got to see some sunshine. We then stayed on board ship & did a tour of the ship with the entertainment officer, partook in a cocktail & headed to dinner. It was about then that we headed out into the open sea & Scott started to go pale. The boat was not quite broadside on to a lot of the waves, with us taking a NE direction & the wind blowing in an E direction. It has made for a very rocky journey for the rest of the evening & even now we are still rocking about a lot. We have been allocated our table now, & our fellow table mates are from Maloolaba & Auckland. We have a wonderful little Italian man called Roberto as our waiter. He looks & seems to act a lot like Manual off Fawlty Towers. We have not worked out if that is because he is like that naturally or because he knows that we think that & plays up to it. His helper is a man from Portugal. The meal itself was a lot better. Scott didn't eat anything but I had a prawn cocktail, that actually had 5 prawns in it. I followed that up with a seafood turnover that was just beautiful. We left as soon as it was polite & went back to the room. Scott went straight to sleep but I tossed & turned all night. Just as I was getting used to the motion of the ship going one way it would change & rock another & then there were always the funny earthquake like shakes of the bed as well. We woke up at 6:30 to find that the weather is awful, 43mile per hour winds from the East, rain or drizzle & clouds all the time. The temperature is a balmy 26C but with no sun out & the rain it does make enjoying things a bit hard. We have found a chart of our route that we will be taking & on it a weather map, with a satellite picture of the weather patterns in our area. We have found out that we are actually on the outer edge of some kind of depression, cyclone, anticyclone thing so that must be why the sailing is quite rough.

We are at sea until Monday our time when we will be in the Marquesa Island of Niku Hiva. Now I will see if I can get an internet connection to post these to my blog.

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend & Brent if you are reading this I hope that your cricket game went well.

Here's a link to the photos of Moorea


scrapgeek said...

I am only *slightly* jealous. :)

Hannah said...

It's great to read about your vacation, it sounds like you're having a good time!