Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Ahé's Old Sea Dogs!

Old Sea Dogs....
We arrived off the pass into Ahé at 15:00 as planned, and Justin helmed us into the lagoon. It felt wide and clear, and as it was,high water there was only a knot of current against us. The channel to the village crosses the lagoon for 5.5 miles and there are red and green beacons on the main coral heads making for an easy passage. The pilot book suggests anchoring off the village in 12 fathoms (24 meters) which is a bit beyond the scope of your chain, and so when e saw a Swedish yacht, Tina Princess, moored alongside we took the other side of the wharf. We were soon tied up and welcomed by an old man in a red T-shirt called Eric, who cycled over for a chat. No sign of a harbour master.

Ashore we wandered the concrete streets and found everything seemed less well cared for than in Manihi. There are apparently three shops, one of which is a snack bar. Everything seemed very deserted on Sunday night, but we came across a group of men sat by a field who each held a bundle of spears with sharpened steel points. They were out for a practice session before the inter-island competition of coconut spearing. The coconut sits atop a thirty foot pole, and the teams aim to stick spears into it. I was invited to cast a spear but the length of my throw was pathetic, and they told me I was too old! As we watched the three men launched their spears, rather like billiards cues, toward the lone coconut, behind which the moon had risen brightly. One man got two in, and the others one each.

Back at the quayside people gathered to chat, sat astride their tricycles. Wilson, an effeminately dressed ReRe, was most chatty and as Emily got supper easy to eat on deck, we became uncomfortable with the prospect of eating in company, but like all polite people they said goodnight and Bon appetit when we sat down to eat.

The next day we found the shop open, and terribly sparsely stocked, except for pumpkins and potatoes which we bought. Bread only comes occasionally from the bakery in Manihi on the inter atoll supply boat, Dory.

Justin and I took the rubbish and recycling to the public repository, and then walking back to the boat we spotted an old man in a pink thirst and camouflage sun hat hobbling across to intercept us. It turned out that this bearded, toothless old man was an American called Bill, who lived here with his adopted daughter and son in law. He had come by boat and reckoned he'd been here the years. Then it transpired that he'd met his wife in Manihi in 1975 and had been in Ahé for the Bastille Day feast that Justin had attended, when the visiting yachtsmen had been guests of honour. Bill had then sailed off with his new wife in his 32 foot yacht, Gallant, to Hawaii for 8 years where they'd lived working in boat yards and fisheries. Now back in Ahé cared for by family he was very impressed with French healthcare, which sent a special plane to take him to Papeete when he broke his leg in September. Not something he would experience in America as a poor uninsured citizen.

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