In recent weeks, roughly 200 Pacific Puddle Jumpers made landfall in the archipelagos of French Polynesia, having completed nonstop passages of 3,000 to 4,000 miles from jumping-off points in Mexico, Panama, and elsewhere along the West Coast of the Americas.
We caught up with many of them this past weekend during the annual Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendez-vous, co-hosted by Archipelgoes and Latitude 38, with support from a variety of South Pacific organizations. This well-known three-day celebration was designed with the dual purpose of celebrating the fleet’s arrival and showcasing highly revered Polynesian cultural traditions in music, dance, sport and cuisine.
Fifty-six boats participated this year, and as is typical, the fleet was made up of cruisers from a wide range of backgrounds, sailing on an equally diverse fleet of boats. A dozen countries were represented, including boats from the US, Canada, many countries in Europe and a first-ever entry from China.
The fun kicked off Friday night at Papeete’s three-year-old Papeete Marina, where participants compared crossing stories, gathered advance cruising info from representatives of New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, and attended a chart briefing on interisland cruising. Several local dignitaries joined the Rendez-vous staff in welcoming the fleet to their islands, before an ornately costumed dance troupe took the stage and gave the wide-eyed sailors an up-close sampling of ultra-high-energy Polynesian dance.
Saturday, fleet members made the 15-mile crossing from Papeete Harbor to Cook’s Bay, Moorea, in a just-for-fun rally/race in light to moderate breeze. After several months of sailing alone, it was big fun to be part of this cruiser armada. That evening’s highlight was another brilliant dance show featuring highly acrobatic fire dancers.
Sundays at the Rendez-vous are always focused on traditional sports, with the six-person outrigger canoe races being the ultimate highlight. For most who participated, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Look for our full report on the Rendez-vous in the August edition of Latitude 38, and our Pacific Puddle Jump crossing recap in September. (See also: www.tahiti-moorea-sailing-rdv.com and www.pacificpuddlejump.com.)