It goes against the very nature of cruising to have to be someplace on a particular date. But well over 100 South Pacific cruisers made special efforts to attend this year’s Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous, held last weekend (June 22-24). Because we’re sitting in a thatch-roofed bungalow with sketchy wi-fi and our laptop is about to die, we’ll just give you some highlights here and save the full-blown report for the August 1 edition of Latitude 38 magazine.
When we arrived in Papeete last Thursday there was good news and bad from local weather prognosticators: Plenty of wind was predicted for Saturday’s sailing rally from Tahiti to Moorea (roughly 16 miles), but rain was expected throughout the weekend. Luckily, the forecast was only half right. We had booming 22- to 25-knot winds for the crossing with rowdy seas which made for spirited sailing, but the rain gods held their water until after dark each day.
The annual Rendezvous has a dual purpose: to celebrate the fleet’s successful crossing from various points along the West Coast of the Americas, and to introduce the arriving sailors to highly revered traditions of Polynesian culture in music, dance, sport and cuisine. Thus, it becomes a memorable benchmark in the travels of all who attend.
In addition to our full report in next month’s magazine, we’ll have a recap on the crossings of the entire Pacific Puddle Jump fleet in September. Online sign-ups for the 2013 Puddle Jump will begin in December, and next year’s Rendezvous will be held again in late June (dates TBA soon).
Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were kidnapped by Somali pirates near the Seychelles in October ’09 and were released a little over a year later, are ready to head out again on their repaired Rival 38 Lynn Rival. The Chandlers were held for 388 days before their captors accepted about $700,000 in ransom, and they say they still owe friends and family a lot of money. While those same people are supportive of their decision to continue cruising, Rachel says, "some of our friends don’t understand our passion for sailing, for cruising, for traveling." But from their perspective, if they’d stopped cruising, the pirates would have won. "If we weren’t to go back to doing that we’d have a huge hole in our lives," says Paul. "We would have been defeated."
Incidentally, we’ve received a review copy of the Chandlers account of their ordeal, Hostage: A Year at Gunpoint with Somali Pirates, and what we’ve read has been gripping. Did you know, for example, that Lynn Rival was recovered quickly after the attack and was stored in a yard in England for the year the Chandlers were captive? The book will be released this September by Chicago Review Press and can be pre-ordered from Amazon. (There also appears to be British release of the book, so if you don’t want to wait for the ‘Americanized’ edition, you can pick it up used now.)
In other Somali pirate news, South Africans Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were released last Thursday after 20 months in captivity. The couple were sailing toward Mozambique in October 2010 on a yacht delivery when they were taken hostage (a third crewmember managed to escape). It’s estimated that the pirates were paid $700,000 for their release.