Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a thing about journeys and I do get caught up into the history of these routes.
This has happened again in a way I did not expect. When I was planning this trip I was reluctant to say how I was going to the UK. I felt uncomfortable about the self indulgent 7 weeks. The first few days I wondered what I had done, 7 weeks but now that has changed.
After 2 weeks I feel part of a community, like any small village and I will write about this later.
The other thing that has caught me unawares is the magic of the Pacific Ocean. As an Australian and one brought up in Tasmania, James Cook, William Bligh and the French explorers were all part of the story of white settlement and a history we share with New Zealand.
While crossing the Tasman Sea I heard 2 very interesting lectures on William Blight whose 3618 nautical mile journey ( 6701 km) in a small boat from near Tahiti to Timor is the stuff of legends. The retired Naval Officer spoke of Bligh’s early life and how he had sailed with James Cook on Cook’s final voyage. I did not know that after the mutiny Bligh was made a captain and sent back to Tahiti to pot breadfruit seedlings to take to the West Indies as a cheaper food for the slaves on the sugar plantations. This was a successful expedition, the plants flourished but the slaves refused to eat the breadfruit.
Having tasted breadfruit I can understand their reluctance.
There was a breadfruit festival at Point Venus in Papeete when we visited. However the dish being prepared by the students of a hospitality school with onion and bacon was extremely palatable. Breadfruit chips were also sold, which unfortunately I was not able to taste.
The the light at Point Venus was built by Robert Louis Stevenson, of Treasurer Island fame, father.
James Cook anchored here when he came to record the Transit of Venus. Later William Bligh anchored here in his quest for breadfruit.
We saw lines of school children, aged about seven, on a school excursion complete with clip board and sheet on which to answer questions.
After a day in Papeete we sailed overnight to the most beautiful island of Bora Bora, described by James Michener as ‘so stunning there are really no adequate words to describe it.
This island is reallly the stuff of dreams.
The Queen Victoria left Bora Bora in the late afternoon and sailing through the small break in the reef was absolutely magic. As Australians we know about reefs, the early seafarers who came to grief as did Captain Cook off Cooktown north Queensland. But I really had no idea of what a reef really means until now. My admiration for these 18th and 19th century seamen has increased hugely.
William Bligh navigated the small boat they were cast out in, with only an old sextant and was able to find the break in the Great Barrier Reef.