Sunday 26 April 2015


On watch in the early morning one can truly appreciate the slow and uplifting wonder of dawn. It starts with a faint light in the eastern sky; colour seeps from the horizon, spilling into the clouds, lilac at first, then pink and gold as the kaleidoscope revolves. As the first orange crescent appears above the horizon, the colours deepen and become rich and vivid. On the island ahead the dark peaks light up first, high above they are first to see the new sun; then slowly, the light spills down the eastern slopes, long dark shadows withdrawing into the deep green ravines cut into the hillside. The sun enjoys its first glimpse and now climbs quickly, increasing in power and splendour as it rises to create the new day.

After a night sail from Fakarava we are approaching Moorea, brooding and mountainous, only ten miles northwest of Tahiti, its wooded slopes are green and lush. The smell of wood smoke drifts across the water as we enter the channel through the fringing reef and into the still green waters of the lagoon. We anchor in a sandy pool behind the reef near the little village of Papeto’ai in Opunohu Bay.  We take the dinghy ashore to the little quay; a tarmac road to the airport runs past the shops, green road signs remind us that we are in France and the general store sells freshly baked baguettes and pains au chocolat that we hungrily load into our shopping bag. Breakfast back on Juno after a night sail is a feast, followed by a glorious doze in the cockpit to recover from the night watch. 

A narrow dinghy channel runs through the reef, marked with wooden stakes, and we fly over the shallow turquoise water, our propeller spinning inches above the coral. We tie up at the dive centre dock at the Intercontinental Hotel; low thatched buildings on stilts over the lagoon, and we book a dive outside the reef.
“Is the diving good?” we ask the French dive master.
“Of course, this is Moorea” he answers with the Gallic arrogance that we have become accustomed to. “Where are you from?” 
“We are on our boat and we have been diving in Fakarava”.
He visibly drops his guard, smiles and shrugs his shoulders. “Well, its not Fakarava.  Fakarava is unique, fantastique – did you do the drift dive through the pass?”
A common bond established, Philippe is funny and knowledgeable. The water is clear and we see lemon sharks for the first time; much bigger than the black tips, maybe four or five metres in length and with a more threatening appearance. They cruise around the sea-bed, their lateral fins have evolved to be smaller than those of the sharks that roam the open ocean. Jamie is elated because finally, hiding among the waving strands of sea anemone, we find Nemo; a yellow and black Clown fish that rears its young in the safety of the coral.  And deeper, under an overhang, a turtle wakes from its sleep and paddles gently past.

We have lunch ashore at a small family run restaurant where we can tie up our dinghy and step onto the terrace. It is Sunday and the French are out in force enjoying a long lunch in the shade of the trees. The people of Polynesia are friendly and gentle and the way of life seems simple and easy. Apart from the hotels, which look like gilded cages, there is little wealth here; but from the smiles and laughter, much happiness and contentment.  Today we leave Moorea to cross the channel to Tahiti with its 260,00 inhabitants, an international airport and two marinas - the first we will have seen since we left Panama in February. It might take some adjustment. 


  1. What a glam,sun kissed team! Diving experiences sound awesome! Delighted you've had Jamie & welcome Jeannette! Much love Naylors xoxox

  2. More wonderful descriptions, more brilliant photos and facinating swimming and diving.

    Where is Jeannette - she being quiet? Love Lou

  3. Another great read, thank you. You all look very happy and relaxed. Much love the Ossies xx