Not all of the exploration has been entirely successful, mind you. We went by dinghy along the coast (but remaining inside the reef) on Sunday morning to see if the Bastille Day Tahitian Events advertised at the Hilton Resort lived up to their advertising. They didn't - the staff clearly hadn't been briefed that the event was open to non-inmates so we got a rather icy reception at the beach-side cafe and a security guide ostentatiously followed us as we left the dinghies on the beach and told us we'd have to move them (all beaches in Moorea are public so he had no legal right to ask us to do so). We voted with out outboard motors and left but got soaked as we headed back into a choppy inter-reef channel so all in all it wasn't a great success. Anyway if you're thinking of booking a holiday at the Hilton Moorea Resort, don't.
Stormvogel headed back to Paeete on Monday morning for the last chapter in their SSB radio installation so we had a day aboard doing boat jobs and collecting water from a tap near the landing stage. We'd chatted to the crews of two neighbouring boats, Portal and Alliance, so invited them aboard for 'Sundowner' drinks. At our request, Charlie and Lilly on Portal brought along Pixel, their 14-month old cat (a gorgeous Maine Coon cross) who enjoyed exploring Maunie.
They have been sailing with Duncan and Jess on Alliance for a few weeks and have had their share of adventures - they are mad keen cyclists who between them have more of less cycled around the globe so they manage to somehow cram two full-size bikes onto their 30ft boat. Duncan and Jess come from Devon and Cornwall but bought their 40ft boat in the States. We had a very enjoyable evening and Pixel took some persuading to return to her own vessel.
Talk of cycling made us decide to hire bikes to explore the island this morning. The heavy Korean-built mountain bikes promised an interesting experience:
Certainly after 30 miles of wishing we'd brought our padded cycling shorts, Graham was certainly experiencing a surrealistic feeling but couldn't detect any tidal current effects.
We toiled up into the hills to get to the Belvedere viewpoint which looks over our bay, only to find that you need to be there before 10.00am to get decent photos of the view before the sun moves round to shine into the lens . Still there were great walking trails in the forest and some ancient monuments and settlements that were the subject of a big archaeological expedition in the 1960's.
We returned via Opinohu Bay, just to the north of Cook's Bay, and saw the megayacht 'A' anchored there - this is the one with, according to Wikipedia, a $20 million annual running cost budget so it was good see they were economising for a few nights of free anchorage.
Before dropping our bikes off, we treated ourselves at the famous* Allo Pizzeria (*made famous on the excellent Soggy Paws website - Soggy Paws is a circumnavigating yacht whose crew have pulled together a brilliant compendium of information for other boats to refer to). And like all the other recommendations on that site, ranging from anchorages through eateries to walks and views, we certainly weren't disappointed.
We'll stay here another day or two and so are beginning to focus on the long-term weather forecasts - a big low pressure is heading our way in about 6 days' time so we need to ensure that we're in a safe anchorage when it comes through.