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Tahitian Fire Tribute

As we descended into Raiatea, Ruth II appeared in the atoll from the plane window and the long trip from Ireland was quickly forgotten. Ben & Liam welcomed us airside and we had a catch up in the local airport coffee shop as a tropical rain shower passed over. Pick up was by dinghy from the airport pontoon (of course!), so when the warm rain stopped, Liam and Ben whisked us across the bay to Ruth II. She was gleaming on the horizon. Wasting no time, we got straight into our togs and with snorkels in hand
headed for the coral reef. We saw our first coral bommies, amazing clownfish and had our first experience of the warm tropical waters. Back to the boat for our Easter Sunday lunch and then our first sail to the neighbouring Taha'a Island. It was a short, but highly technical sail, navigating the inner shared atoll of Raiatea and Taha'a. We picked up a visitor mooring in Apu Bay. After completing some load testing making sure all 40 tonnes were adequately fixed, we tied off. The mooring was owned by a local pearl farm so we called and arranged a trip the following day. Ben went for a run in the evening. Liam a long swim. Suzi and I explored how we would navigate to the local restaurant which Liam had booked in advance for dinner.

Ben's evening run was in very warm heat so on return he jumped straight into the sea from the pearl farm pontoon to cool down. Just as we overheard a bystander commenting on the blacktip shark hunting in the shoals nearby. Ben quickly confirmed the sighting and very calmly exited the water! We watched
the shark as we made our way back to Ruth II in the dinghy. The speed and agility of a shark in the wild is quite something. Liam explained that sharks only attack when provoked. So we were resoundingly reassured (completely and utterly) and didn't have to think about it or mention it again for the rest of the trip.

Dinnertime. Liam had booked Ficus restaurant on the shoreside which was run by a local family. We navigated to the restaurant's dock (quite shallow!). What was in store for us was a Polynesian treat from a wonderful local family. We were one of two tables in the outdoor restaurant, so shared our evening with the crew of a French yacht. An amazing buffet of traditional delicacies was laid before u. Beef, pork, fish, rice, salads and ceviche washed down with local wine. Mango rum aperitif was served to start and
pizza (interestingly) was served for dessert. The entertainment was traditional Tahitian music played by the host's children and husband (singing, drumming, guitar, ukulele). Maria, our hostess and chef, and her
young daughter performed a synchronised water dance as a tribute to the water gods. Then the main event - spectacular Tahitian fire dancing. A tribute to the fire gods. Maria's eldest son (twice assisted by our very own Suzi in the fire lighting) performed an amazing fire dance - lighting most of himself on fire at various moments of the show! Some conversation continued after the show in French regarding an Irish
woman's placenta being planted under a tree in the restaurant's garden for good health. My French isn't great.....

And so we retired back to the boat in the dinghy!