June 9, 2002
Papeete, Tahiti, the Society Islands
Tale of Two Markets Part 1
By Lois Joy                            

Stories in this section... Tahiti
Tale of Two Markets Part 1
Tale of Two Markets Part II


I awakened to the blood-red glow of the rising sun outside my starboard window. I hadn't seen such a sunrise since we had med-moored on the quay in Papeete. (In fact, last nights' orange-red sunset was also the best we had seen here so far.) I reached for a one-piece island dress and my camera and was soon out on deck, shooting away.

Sunrise at the quay in Papeete.
Sunset, Papeete

Gunter and I sipped our coffee as we watched the sky over the harbor change to orange-gold, casting a golden glow onto the two defunct Renaissance cruise ships and the still-solvent Paul Gauguin cruise ship moored behind. Then, wide awake before 0700, we decided to preview the 'Sunday market' that reportedly runs from 0530 to 0730. Next week, we would provision there prior to departing with friends to Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea (again), Tahaa, and Bora Bora.

Cruise ships from the bankrupt Renaissance line.

We found the market bustling with activity: vendors were refilling their produce stands from their trucks, the market spilling over from the inside to the sidewalks and onto the street. We purchased a few onions, papaya, limes, carrots, and white radishes. The produce had been carefully packaged in plastic. What a change from what I had called the "Bloody Market" (see that story) in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas! There we had dinghied over to the quay in the 0500 darkness and struggled up the slippery stones only to slide in the pools of blood and water left by the fishermen who were just then cutting the heads off their catch. We groped at the fresh vegetables in the pre-dawn along with other frantic customers, knowing that if we didn't buy our vegetables there, they would not be found later in the stores. Here, life is easy…and very civilized.

We strolled inside, purchased a chocolate croissant and took the two cups of chocolate the vendor mistakenly made for us as well. Then we examined the additional fruit and vegetables inside and went on to the meat section. Freshly caught fish from the Tuomotus had been kept alive, then displayed in long, wooden trays filled with ice. Tuna steaks could be sliced to our liking for our stern barbecue. Fresh pork, veal, and lamb can be cut to order. I envisioned our freezer being filled again before we depart for the outer islands. Life is good here! It takes some deprivation to appreciate the good.


Fresh fish on ice

But even here, the cruising life is not perfect. The soot from the heavy traffic along the road, less than a block from our stern, deposits on our white hull each day. The drone of the crane across the street, building the foundation of a new Supermarche, begins each morning and continues until 2000 (except for Sunday). And, while we do have an extra dock line system in place to pull the dinghy the short distance from the quay to Pacific Bliss, Gunter managed to fall into the filthy harbor water. Even he was glad that we now have a washer on board, as I loaded his soaked T-shirt and shorts directly into the washer while he loaded himself into the shower!

A strong mid-morning wind came up during the last two days. After returning from the rain-soaked Easter Islands, I had three loads of muddy clothes to wash, so I didn't mind, that is, until a gust of wind whipped one of the sheets off the line, clothespins and all, and blew it into the lazy jack. At the same time, the gust caused Pacific Bliss to veer dangerously close to the quay. I rushed to the sail locker, pulled out a fender to protect the boat, and shoved it between the cement and the swim ladder just in time, all the while hoping the sheet would not fly into the harbor! Eventually, I was able to retrieve the sheet from on top of solar panels.

Gunter and Armin returned from purchasing two new batteries for Pacific Bliss and--focused as they were on installations and repairs--did not seem too interested in my story, or the fact that one of the two anchors we had set in our med-moor set-up could possibly be dragging. That is, until the ferocious gust reappeared the next morning at the worst possible time. The guys were in the process of filling the dinghy gas tank and changing all the filters and oil. I had a garlic-filled lamb roast in the oven, couscous cooking on the top of the stove, and was setting the table for a special lunch-including a bottle of Merlot from Napa Valley. After all the chores, we were planning to have our main meal, followed by a long siesta. The best laid plans…

This time, the gust caused Pacific Bliss to veer so that the other stern hull was close to the quay. I dashed for the fender and held it there, squeezed against the quay. "Stay there," Gunter called out. I had visions of burned roast and couscous, but of course, did as I was told. The boat always comes first. The guys were trying to winch in the line to the anchor to distance Pacific Bliss from the quay. "Use your engine," the captain of motoryacht Wild Wind IV, dangerously on our port, called out. Why didn't we think of that? But this captain was on his second circumnavigation and his fourth yacht. We have less than 15,000 nautical miles under our belt. It takes a while to get smart.

Gunter now realized that, indeed, our main anchor was dragging, while our secondary bow anchor line remained taut. The dinghy wasn't even ready to deploy. He and Armin continued to winch the line to the secondary anchor while I revved the engine. Away from danger, they wrapped up their chores and I returned to save what I could of our lunch. Then we spent the afternoon (or so it seemed) trying to reset the primary anchor. We had never done that before. At one time, three dinghies were in the harbor out by our anchor, one from each of our neighbors, who, of course, being next to us, have a stake in the outcome. To make a long story short, the anchor that dragged caught again and now cannot be pulled up. When we finally have to leave here, we'll know the rest of the story.

And that bottle of merlot? It is still here, unopened.

A Tale of Two Markets part 2





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