So we ended up staying 5 weeks in French Polynesia. 5 weeks here is like rushing through Heaven! We could’ve spent a lifetime here, and still had incomprehensably much to explore. 118 inhabited islands and many many more small, uninhabited or deserted ones. Some volcanic, some simply made up of corals and sand. Only 3.500 sq.km of solid ground sprinkled out as islands across the SW Pacific across an area of 2,5 million sq km.
To simplify it a bit, the islands can be grouped into the following: The Marquesas Islands (of which we visited two: Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva), the Tuamoto Atolls (of which we visited two: Tahanea and Fakarava), Tahiti and the Society Islands (of which we visited Tahiti, Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Taha’a and Bora Bora), The Australs and the Gambier Archipelago (none of which we even came close to). We loved all the places we visited. We want more time here. But at the same time sense tells ut that we’ll never be «finished» here anyway. Instead we hope to return one day.
Some favorites from the last 5 weeks:
The Polynesian People. The hospitality and giving nature of the Polynesian people that surprised us, warmed our hearts and inspired us time and time again.
The beauty of the Polynesian islands. Exploring uninhabited atolls, coral beaches, picking coconuts right off the tree, snorkeling among corals full of countless colorful small and big fish and even some pretty big (though harmless) sharks, feeding large sting rays from our bare hands, swimming with dolphins, whales and turtles.
The ancient culture, and the old and newer history of French Polynesia. Awe-inspiring, dramatic, proud (eg. The history of Polynesian voyaging at sea, parallell but still different from our own history of the Viking era in Norway), and unfortunately also at some points sad and repulsive (eg. France’s nuclear test bombing in the Tuamotos that went on in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s).
The art and culture of Polynesian tattoos. So different than the European style. And so dense in symbolism and meaning. This was a topic for many a talk both among Vilja’s crew and with Polynesian tattoo artists and locals we met who were «covered in art». The Slungaard Myklebust Family takes their personal piece of this art with them in their lives forever (just wait and see!).
Meeting the other long-distance sailors – both young and old – that tend to gather here at this time of year. Some will sail on like us to New Zealand or Australia for the tropical storm season, but most of those we met plan to spend the coming half year exploring the most northern or southern islands of this country, safely outside the tropical storm belt.
Our visiting crew:
Brynhild – our friend from Trondheim who crossed the Pacific with us and whom we got to share the joy of accomplishment after three weeks of continuous sail across the Pacific and the first taste of (to us) «new land» during a week together in the Marquesas.
- Audun – also our friend from Trondheim who arrived in Tahiti and is joining us all the way to New Zealand. Since he arrived the boat has been transformed into a mix of giggles, philosophy, play, live music and much more.
Sophie – a very special young woman whom we briefly met in Galapagos and by the unexpected turn of events ended up sailing with us for 2,5 weeks from the Marquesas to Mo’orea. She made an imprint in our hearts – and on Ingrid’s skin(!) – forever.
And last, but not least: the time and precious moments the three of us – the «core crew members» of Vilja – share on our voyage.
And now what?!
We are currently 4 crew members on board: Jon Petter, Ingrid & Karen Marie (of course), and also Audun Sødal our friend from Trondheim. Audun arrived in Pape’ete on Tahiti on September 21st, and will sail with us all the way to New Zealand. Our boat is filled with lots of laughter, play, everyday philosophy, live music (piano and guitar) and mere curiosity and appreciation of both the little and big things in life.
So here we go! Next planned stops are two of the Cook Islands; first the island of Aitutaki (360 nm westwards) and then Palmerston Island (another 200 nm northwest). We’ve been granted special permission to stop at the latter, and we hope that weather allows us to drop our anchor there. Time will tell. Now we look forward to the sail that will take us there.