One of the reasons we wanted to be in Tahiti by mid-June was to attend a special sailing event. Before we left the Caribbean through the Panama canal, we had joined an organization called the Pacific Puddle Jump (PPJ) – an organization started to help sailors headed to French Polynesia each year (for the last five years). The PPJ is backed in large part by the excellent sailing publication Latitude38. The PPJ is not technically a rally (where sailors travel together) – because boats come from various starting points and travel their own routes to get to the main destination, which is Tahiti. However, the boaters organize themselves to communicate over radio and keep track of one another. And, organize their own events sometimes to get together at various stopping points and celebrate. The PPJ also hosts an online forum and documentation to help guide people on their preparations and passage planning. And, finally, the PPJ has helped those boats flagged in countries, who are normally required to pay an expensive bond in French Polynesia when entering the country, avoid having to pay the bond.
Since there was no cost to enter the PPJ, and the cost savings for not having to pay the bond was substantial, we thought that reason alone was worth joining. As did many other boats (about 70 boats participated this year). Not only that, but the Tahiti government organizes a special social event each year called the 2010 Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendezvous. In mid-June they hold a three day event which starts in Tahiti, has a sailing rally over to Moorea, and continues celebrations over there. We are treated to local music, dancing, food, drinks, and many other local customs during the event.
Last night, we attended the kick-off event and it was very nicely done. We started by moving to the Papeete quay in downtown. We actually are parked side-to next to a very nice park. We spent the afternoon meeting up with other boaters, and in the evening we walked as a group to the city hall. There we were treated to drinks and food, a real Tahiti dancing event (complete with the grass skirts and native tatooed dancers), and speeches by representatives of the tourism office, the mayor, and the Tahiti port authority. It was a lot of fun!
Today we will sail over to Moorea. Any time there are two or more sailboats, there is automatically a race. But, they are not calling this a race. All the serious sailors have been examinging the wind and wave forecasts closely and getting their gear prepared. It is supposed to be a blustery day and there is some large swell coming from the south. But, it is only a 16 mile trip, so we hope to have a fun ride. And Tahina should handle those conditions just fine.