THE LAURA DEKKER REPORT: New Zealand to Tahiti Aboard Gizmo the Cat!…

Mont Aori trail


Well I suppose it really is time to write something again. Last month we where going for a day sail to Opua on Gizmo, a 60ft Catamaran that we had sailed on before. While already underway we got to talk about their next voyage, New Zealand – Tahiti. I started dreaming away about Tahiti and the Islands again I got to love so much, the people, warm clear water and perfect breeze. Paul, the captain saw this and said that we should just come along. Everybody agreed but laughed as they would leave the next day and nobody thought we could actually come along. But my brain was working at full speed, thinking off all the reasons why not to come along. I didn’t find one that was good enough so I looked at Daniel with puppy eyes and 10 minutes later we sat in the dinghy on our way back to Guppy. In half a day we packed our stuff, said goodbye to most of our friends in Whangarei and prepared Guppy for a long silence. For such little notice I am surprised about how little we forgot to think about. The next day we where at sea again, in my element. A little sad to leave Guppy and New Zealand behind but looking forward to show Daniel around French Polynesia. The trip to Tahiti wasn’t the smoothest, lot’s of squalls, headwinds and little wind laid on our path. But therefore we had some amazing sunsets. We did the 2200 miles in about 11 days so even though we did less than the average speed of Gizmo it was still a lot faster than we would do on Guppy. After a quick fuel stop in Rarotonga, we where surrounded by lightnings for 2 entire days. The wind meters didn’t survive and it seemed to be a bit much for the autopilot as well. I am so glad I don’t have any of those fancy meters and electronics on Guppy. Means then they can not break down or give trouble. The more you have on a boat the more can break. But I suppose if you have enough money it’s nice for the time that it works.. Onces we got to the beautiful islands of French Polynesia we stayed onboard Gizmo for a little longer as they would do the Tahiti Pearl regatta and we wanted to take part. It’s a 3 day race run between Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora, which meant that we anchored at another place every night. With a heavy tender, a generator, an anchor and lots of spares, Gizmo had no chance of winning that race – so we sailed in the cruising division, in which we did actually win the first price overall. For one night we stayed in Bora Bora and I had the chance to catch up with the family Duval who took care of me and Guppy when I arrived in these islands the first time with Guppy. It was amazing to see them again. Sadly I only had the time to have a drink with them and to chat about what had happened since we saw each other last. I will never forgot their hospitality.I am still sadly surprised by the many changes happening in these islands, every time I get back here the islands and its people are more destroyed then I knew it from before. By now there are four Mac Donald’s on Tahiti!! These islands have been blessed with the best fruits, fresh water and fish in the world, but instead the people go to Mac Donalds!! With every bit that comes into their culture from the outside world like, computers, tv’s , fast-food, plastic toys they lose a bit of their own amazing culture.. The people of Tahiti see America as an example, while in American people see Tahiti as Paradise.. when will people learn to love and value their own culture? ..and see that with all these electronics and manipulated foods the world is not getting any happier.. It hurts me so much to see these islands slowly change to what in my eyes will be the end of this beautiful world.. I know that there is a lot to say about this topic, and I would love to write a lot more about it but I think I will leave that to another blog as this one is already getting a bit long and I still want to tell a little more.

Even though the people here are changing they still are more hospitable then I have experienced anywhere else in the world. Currently Daniel and I are staying with a Tahitian family in Papenoo. We where hitchhiking around the island and ended up in this little town for the night. The beach looked good for camping and so we went to the store to buy some baguette and juice for diner. That’s where we met Bety, who works there as a cashier. We got to talk a little and after she found out that we where planning to camp on the beach, she immediately invited us to come and stay with her. We thank her a lot but tried to explain her in our best french ( which is very bad..) that we are used to camping and it was alright, and so we went to the beach. We enjoyed our diner and gazed at the ocean for a while when it started to pour down with rain. There was a roof of a party tent on the beach which gave us perfect shelter so that we didn’t worry to much, but just as we wanted to crawl under, someone tapped on our shoulder and wildly waved and pointed to a car. It was Bety! She wouldn’t let us stay here and so we grabbed our backpacks and ran through the streaming rain to her car. Bety’s english is about as bad as our French and so talking happens mostly by feet and hands, but we are surely learning a lot of french quickly now. Bety lives just up the hill with her husband and 3 children. The next morning she took us to town and introduced us to a cousin who has lived in America for 18 years and therefor speaks perfect american. They took us along for a local lunch on the beach and taught us to prepare and cook Uru ( breadfruit ), we made plates out of leaves and learned about the things you can do with coconuts. Uru looks like a big green ball-like fruit that grows in big trees. They are best when they turn yellow and old. We cooked them in a fire until they where pitch-black and then peeled the skin off. What is left is a soft potato like thing, but bigger, sweeter and much better!

Just before we met this amazing family in Papenoo, Daniel and I did a 2 day hike up Mount Aorai, which is the second highest mountain at a hight of 2066m. The walk is right on the ridge and very steep. A very dangerous path to walk if it rains, but we where fortunate and had amazing weather. There are two huts on the way in which we slept and so slowly made our way up to enjoy the view at the most. It really was an amazing hike, clear in the mornings and at night, cloudy in the afternoons.

For now we are staying with the Family and enjoy learning about their local traditions, a truly beautiful experience. What an amazing love these people have got in their hearts. It makes me want to share it with the world and somehow show them how wonderful it is to just do something for somebody and not want anything back. I wish I could tell people how much happier it makes one to do that.. It’s great to see how these people do that and I very much hope to be able to give this hospitality and love to other people as well, so that maybe they will want to pass it on further.