We had been looking for an offshore cruising sailboat for awhile when we discovered one for sale in Tahiti. It had a great layout and seemed like the perfect boat for our family. Both kids would have their own stateroom and it satisfied other technical requirements we desired including a center cockpit. So, we made an offer and hopped on a plane to go see Bella Vita, a 53′ Pearson sailboat 4115 miles away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
We previously sailed French Polynesia so it was familiar territory to us. We thought since the boat had been sailed from Seattle to Mexico then across to Tahiti, it would be set up for cruising. However, once we were there and began to spend time on the boat we started to see some odd inconsistencies. Essentially the deal fell through for technical reasons and because our fantastic surveyor said, “Don’t buy this boat.” The owners lied to our surveyor and to us about many things so we felt it was best to walk away from negative karma.
We turned the trip into an opportunity to rejuvenate and reconsider our priorities. While planning for the sea trial we needed to find a place close to the boat in Port Phaeton. The closest and cheapest place we could find was Pueu Village on Tahiti Iti. It turned out to be a hidden gem-like heaven on earth-and we began our recharge there. I highly recommend this humble and private escape if you aren’t dependent on frills and extravagance. The owners were charming and helpful when we were looking for places to eat the night we arrived when everything was closed. The owner drove us around to find a place to buy a bottle of wine and some snacks. When we arrived back at our bungalow, his wife had prepared us a delicious meal!!
There was literally nothing for miles along the road either way from the bungalows but right across the street was a beautiful church. We joined the couple at mass the following evening. Because we were visitors everyone was curious and asked why we were there. When we told them where we were from and that we were buying a boat in Tahiti, they gave us a very special blessing in front of the entire congregation. (The blessing worked and guided us to eventually find our forever boat in Seattle!)
After the sea trial and survey were over and we made our final decision to let this one go, we started to explore Tahiti. We had a car so we were able to get around the island quickly to find some cool places. Our favorite adventure was hiring a boat to go out to see the famous surf break at Teahupoo. The last time we were in Tahiti, Teahupoo was a new stop on the ASP tour and mostly unknown. Now it’s HUGE! So we had to take advantage of this opportunity to see the wave-especially since there was a swell in. We were shocked that there was no one surfing. Apparently everyone who had surfed that morning was tired and resting for the afternoon session. Hahahahaha.
I would have to say that sitting on that boat watching a huge Teahupoo rolling right toward me is by far the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. I just kept watching the driver to make sure he was paying very close attention to where we were situated in relation to the break. Heart pounding adrenaline for 45 minutes.
We did notice that Tahiti had changed a bit since we were there in 2000. There was much more graffiti along the road, more locals had surfboards and were really amazing surfers, lots of people were out running and walking to get exercise, the quay downtown is now a beautiful, modern but empty marina and many of the shops in Papeete are boarded up.
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