In the footsteps of Capt. Cook & Bligh.


1960 reconstruction of HMS Bounty

Being in charge of the our Pacific agent network, I had to visit Tahiti of course . . well, someone had to do this difficult task!

Tahiti was originally called Otaheite, and once again it is thought the Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the islands in 1606, but others consider it was the Spanish.
In 1767 the British arrived and in 1768 it was the turn of the French.
In 1769 Captain Cook arrived to observe the transit of Venus, and in 1788 Captain Bligh arrived in the Bounty.
Capt. Bligh’s orders were to take breadfruit from Tahiti to be transplanted in the West Indies to feed the plantation slaves.


Painting by Thomas Gosse of Captain Bligh transplanting breadfruit.



Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward Groupe of islands of the Society Islands and now the citizens of the islands are considered French citizens.

Soc Is

Our agent booked me in to a hotel near the capital, which is called Pape’ete (Papeete ). It was a very nice hotel, and the views were spectacular.



Two views depending on whether you looked right or left or just right ahead. I took the above two from the hotel.

As you see the sand was a different colour than the normal yellow sand, because the island was formed by a volcano. The dark sand had the same consistency as yellow sand, and you did not get any dirtier than you do on a ‘yellow’ beach. 

black sand Tahiti also has black sand beaches.

Woodland SF

View from my room area.


The following morning, I was picked up from my hotel and taken to our agent’s office.
He was also the agent for Blue Star, Nedlloyd Shipping, China Nav. Co, Mitsue OSK Shipping, Nippon Yusen, Holland America Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Crystal Cruises, BHP, American Bureau of Shipping and a few that I cannot make out on the list on the left side of the main door. At least the company that I represented stood out on the right side of the main door.


Downtown Papeete in 1991

Our agent was the perfect host, as soon as business was over, he took me to Le Retro in the heart of Papeete for coffee and a chat about life away from the office. I checked on the restaurant and it is still going strong thirty years later.

Our agent is the gentleman in the centre, near the pillar.

There are experiences that stick in one’s mind for ever. During my stay in Tahiti, I was taken to a restaurant a short drive from Papeete . It was a fish restaurant called Restaurant Bar du Musee Gauguin – the restaurant is right on the water and outside one can see fish swimming in pens – all raw fish scraps are fed to these fish and they grow quite large before being added to the menu. The restaurant has been in business since 1968.

restaurant The above is the restaurant and you can just see the pens for the live fish – the food was excellent and ambiance just right with a cool breeze flowing through the restaurant creating a perfect tropical lunch. 

On my return to my hotel, I received an invitation from the hotel to attend a beachside evening dinner …. the hotel gave its guests the choice of dinner in the hotel or on the beach with a show.


Three guesses which one I picked . . 


I was impressed with the way the dancers moved, it was if they had ball bearings for Hips . .click for an example of what I mean. The beat of the drums and the warm evening was a real pleasure to watch the skill of the dancers.


Unlike Captain Bligh (Trever Howard) I was not asked to join the dancers. 


The show was not all dancing, they had a fire ‘eater’ as well.


Daylight after the beach show – you can see the stage and the foot lights. 

The following day would be my last day in Tahiti so our agent took me for a sightseeing tour of the island and later asked if I would like to have a look around the Wind Song, because he was the agent for Windstar Cruises and the Wind Song was in port. 

WindSong I jumped at the idea of having a look around MSY Wind Song 
MSY = Motor Sailing Yacht.


She was larger than I expected.


and the controls on the bridge were very impressive. The sails were all computer controlled for hauling and changing the angle to catch the best of the wind.


Perhaps the climbing of a mast would no longer be required.

The Wind Song was launched in 1987, but in 2002 she had a fire in the engine room, which required the passengers to take to the lifeboats at 3.15 one morning.
At 5.00 am they heard an explosion from the forward area of the ship and the captain order all of the crew to the lifeboats.


If you wish to read an eyewitness account of the evacuation (with pictures) click on this link.

The French navy towed the Wind Song to Papeete, but the damage to the ship was so bad that they realised that repairing the ship was greater than the ship’s value, plus the cost of towing her overseas to be scrapped was also too expensive.

In January 2003 on the orders of the President of the Territorial Government of French Polynesia the Wind Song was towed to a spot between Tahiti and the island of Moorea and scuttled, and she is still there today at a depth of 9,843 feet (3,000 mtrs or 1640 fathoms).

The ship was owned by Holland America Cruise Line, which in turn is owned by Carnival Corporation.

The following day I flew back to Sydney with a promise to myself to return one day with Maureen. After all she likes fish restaurants.


My final photograph as I left for the airport.

18,953 flying hours . .


Eventually I was back at Funafuti airport waiting for the plane to Suva, which is the capital of Fiji.
Large international airlines use Nadi, but as my aircraft would be a propeller aircraft our destination would be Suva.

The airline that was supposed to fly us (fourteen passengers) failed to arrive, so a substitute had to be found –

A couple of things went through my mind when I saw the aircraft, such as Biggles & Indiana Jones.


The aircraft was built in 1956, 31 years before I was asked to board for a long flight over water to Fiji.
In 1957 this aircraft was flying for the Luftwaffe of West Germany, supposedly flying Chancellor Conrad Adenauer within West Germany.  


The above photograph is thanks to Robin Walker 

In 1963 it was returned to the UK, and in 1964 was sold to Portugal to operate in Portuguese Guinea as part of their national airline. 


From Portuguese Guinea it was sold in 1970 to Connellan Airways of Alice Springs in Australia. It was registered to Connair after a company name change.


In 1976 the aircrafts went to Kendell Airlines of Australia . . .


In 1980 it was leased to Executive Air Services of Australia


and in 1981 it was sold to Air Tungaru of Kiribati


and later, in 1984, sold to Sunflower Airlines of Fiji – the aircraft was named Belo Vula (White Heron) by Sunflower Airlines.
By this time the aircraft had flown for 18,953 hours and I was wondering if it was perhaps just a little too tired for the next leg of the journey.


My chariot to Fiji.

The passengers seating was seven down the port side and seven down the starboard side with a small aisle in the middle. The crew consisted of a pilot and a co-pilot.
Forget the idea of any cabin crew, and the rear toilet was out of bounds due to access to the cubical being blocked by cargo and passenger bags.
The above picture shows the aircraft at Suva airport in Fiji, not the grass strip in Funafuti.

Once all on board we taxied out to the end of the grass runway. The door between the two pilots on the ‘flight deck’ and the passengers would not close and banged and banged as we trundled along the runway in the hope of gaining enough speed to lift off the ground. At last I felt the plane rise in to the clear blue sky.

The distance to Suva was 915 miles and our top speed was around 183 mph according to the manufacturer in 1956 . . . so we had five hours in hope that nothing would go wrong.

The noise of the engines killed all hope of conversation across the aisle, so I watched the pilots manhandling the joystick to keep the aircraft level in a slow climb. We never did get too high, and I found it fascinating to watch the ocean waves break the surface of the ocean not all that far below.
I believe the maximum height for this aircraft to fly at was 9000 feet when it was new- a normal jet flies at 36,000 feet, and I doubt that we reached our maximum 9000 feet on the way to Fiji.
The view below was something one did not normally see unless you were coming into land over water. The breaking waves accompanied us all the way to Fiji.

Two hours in to the flight the co-pilot came out of the flight deck and shouted that it is lunch time, and bends down to pull a cardboard box from under the seat of the first passenger. He then walks slowly down the aisle and hands to each passenger either a coca cola or a lemonade. None of the passengers were offered a choice.
I was handed a lemonade and was about to open it when the passenger across the aisle spoke to the co-pilot stating that he didn’t like coca cola. Immediately my lemonade was whisked from my grasp and replaced with a coca cola – the guy across aisle received my lemonade.

The co-pilot returned to the front of the plane and brought out another box from under the first seat on the other side of the aircraft. This was our lunch – plastic wrapped sandwiches – and he was not going to get into a conversation about likes or dislikes, because the sandwiches came through the air and the passenger who he was aiming at was expected to catch his lunch.

It was fortunate that we were only given one small drink because there was no way we could have climbed over the cargo to get to the lavatory.

In 1995 Sunflower Airlines became Sun Air & then Pacific Sun Airlines, and in the same year the aircraft was sold to Heron Airlines of Australia.


Once in Australia it never flew again, and I found the above photograph of Belo Vula (White Heron) at Bankstown Airport not too far from where I live.
Later it was donated to the Australian Aviation Museum of Bankstown who later donated it to the Central Australian Aviation Museum in Alice Spring. The aircraft did not fly there but went on the back of a truck.
The above picture was taken in 2004.


After two years of restoration the aircraft is a now a museum piece in the hanger from where she flew when owned by Connellan Airways of Alice Springs.
She is in the colours of Connair of the 1970’s.

The above photograph is from the web site of the Central Australian Aviation Museum in Alice Spring.

I wonder if Harrison Ford picked up a few ideas from a certain airline . . . fortunately we did not require a life raft.

Indiana . . . .

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