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.
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.
Tahiti also has black sand beaches.
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.
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.
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. https://sites.google.com/site/windsongfire
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.
2 thoughts on “In the footsteps of Capt. Cook & Bligh.”
Hi Geoff – interesting reading, this is one place I missed out on during my sea days, crossed the Pacific a few times – but missed out on the places you mention. Not sure if you remember from Conway days – David Warden-Owen, he managed to get ashore on Pitcairn when he was master on the cruise ship Saga Rose a few years back, now retired 🙄
Mike Andrews. Fxl 60 / 63
Sent from my iPad
Afternoon Mike, thanks for reading the blog, next stop will be W. Samoa & Pago Pago (if you like fish),
David Warden-Owen doesn’t ring a bell, did he have a nick name? or was he known as just David Owen, what top?
I never managed to get to Pitcairn, the one place I could not justify as a courier ‘stop’ :- 0)