July 3 – 17, 2014
The overnight sail from Tahiti to Huahine was a good sail and completely uneventful. As the sun rose, so did the view of Huahine on the horizon. Due to our expiring visas the year before, we had to skip a visit to Huahine, and we were making up for it this year. Little did we know that during the 5 weeks we would spend there, Huahine and its people would come to hold a very special place in our hearts.
[Huahine means woman, pregnant woman, or woman sex ~ the mountains are a profile image of a woman giving birth. Her head is far right, her breasts in the middle, and her pregnant tummy and outie belly button are far left. If this could be a panoramic shot, then one would be able to see her thighs spread, as though she were delivering her baby.]
Our first intention was to go directly to the southwestern anchorage in Baie d’Avea. However, after a chat with Steve (s/v Liward) on the morning SSB net, we learned that Liward was anchored in Fare. Once again, our destination changed. We dropped our sails, entered Passe Avapehi, and motored up to the village of Fare. As we approached the anchorage, a familiar voice over the VHF declared, “There goes the neighborhood!” It was Wayne from s/v Dances with Dragons who we’d just recently met in Tahiti. Such a funny guy!
Again, it was great to reunite with Liward. They immediately gave us all of the inside scoop for the area, especially about all of the upcoming Heiva festivities. They also informed us of a Fourth of July cookout that was being hosted by a local couple for the American boats in the anchorage. Lovina and Jean-Louis, who live on Huahine for about 6 months of the year, were so kind and generous to open their home to us, and throughout our stay in Huahine, they made us feel as though we were part of the community.
We also got to know Frederique who runs the Pacific Art gallery and boutique at the waterfront. Frederique was another person who made us feel at home in Huahine. A kind and generous woman, she doesn’t hesitate to help anyone in need. We enjoyed visiting with her in her store, she gave us a ride to Heiva dance competitions, and she also took Wil on a search for eggs.
Before ever leaving New Zealand, we were put in touch via email with another family also returning to French Polynesia. s/v Zingaya was in South Island and they were returning home to Raiatea. They departed New Zealand about a week after us, and after suffering through FIVE strong low pressure systems and a knockdown, they ended up sailing directly for Raiatea. (During the knockdown, the mom, who was tethered, had gone over the side, and their 13-year old daughter managed to stop the boat while her dad pulled mom back onboard! Then, they spent 2 days hove to while they cleaned up the boat.) We stayed in touch with them throughout the entire passage, as well as afterwards. We finally got to meet them in person when they stopped to visit us in Huahine on their way to the Tuamotus for a family vacation. They too have become friends for life!
Heiva in Huahine was one experience that will remain in our memories for a lifetime. Fare is the main village where most of the competitions are held. Villages from across the island compete against each other in various sports and crafts. The activities include va’a races, a fishing tournament, kite construction and flying, javelin throwing, fruit basket making, hut building, fruit carrying races, dancing, singing, a street parade, and the list goes on. There was more than enough to see and do.
The following photos are only a small representation of our Heiva experience. There are many, many photos, and it was extremely difficult to narrow them down. These are only thumbnails, so you’ll have to click on each photo to view its entirety.
Dancing & Singing:
Fruit Carrying Races:
Bastille Day Parade & Festivities:
For us, the best part about the whole Heiva experience was the fact that we were witnessing something very special taking place among the residents of Huahine. All of the festivities and celebrations were for themselves. We were a minority among the crowd, and we felt privileged to be there. Again, we felt very much a part of the community, especially when we’d attend the various events and run into people we knew. Huahine and her people will live within our hearts for the rest of our lives.