8am. A little over 26hrs since leaving Tikehau, I was alongside the bold green landscape of Tahiti. Mountain Peaks! Deep valleys! What a sight to behold in the morning light.
This was a delight to see after the stark flatness of the atolls in the Tuamotos. Atolls are typically a ring of low-lying land with coconut trees around a large lagoon. The Society Islands, of which Tahiti is the largest island, is a very different archipelago. Here, big mountain peaks are surrounded by a narrow lagoon and a fringing barrier reef.
I remembered our first arrival to Tahiti, with a full boat of 6 of us. Aboard were Michael and Alex – veterans of Aldebaran – and newcomers Sonya and Jewels, along with Sabrina and I. The passage from Tikehau had been rough, with SE winds on our face, the boat smashing through the waves. Everyone was fatigued. Then we awoke to a rare cloudless day over Tahiti’s incredible eastern valleys. Greeting us was a school of humpbacks whales, the welcome party. They hollered at us: “Whalecome to Tahiti!”
Tahiti is undeniably the Queen of the Pacific. Despite the fact that the other islands in French Polynesia are more beautiful — their mountains are more stunning, or their lagoons and beaches are more idyllic — nevertheless Tahiti is ultimately the crossroads of the Pacific. Its name alone encompasses the dream of paradise, and heralds our most far flung sailing aspirations.
“They sailed to Tahiti” …. Not just Sabrina and I, but our whole community together made this happen. WE sailed to Tahiti. As I quietly soaked up the magnificent valleys and vistas, an exuberant feeling came upon me. It was a mixture of shared joy, pride of the accomplishment, and yet humility at being given safe passage over the 5000 miles of ocean we traversed to arrive to this point. How had this all happened? It seemed like a lifetime had passed.
Arriving in Tahiti today, after my first solo overnight aboard Aldebaran, also left me in a state of mild ecstasy. It felt like, wow!!! But it still wasn’t the same as sharing the experience, for the first time, with good friends. Below is a photo of our champagne celebration when we made our first arrival back in September. Cheers! Santé! Manuia!