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The Anchorage near Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Whenever we are sitting in a city harbor, we don’t really feel like we are cruising.  We feel like we are living in a small space where getting most things done is generally inconvenienced by that fact that we live on a small boat out at anchor. 

We met the families on SV Alondra and SV Panacea in just such an environment, the anchorage in Papeete, Tahiti.  We were all in Papeete sucking down the Wifi or catching flights or getting work done or dealing with official paperwork.  But then, we broke free!

Banyan was the first to break out and arrive in Moorea, an island just west of Tahiti.  It was a short 4-5 hour sail from Tahiti.  We dropped the hook in Upunuhu bay where the whales like to frequent, turtles roam around and there are plenty of overland hikes.   We were very soon joined by Alondra and Panacea and we let the fun begin!  

Upunuhu Bay, Moorea

While mornings were packed with schooling, afternoons were filled with fun.  SV Alondra has dive gear and a compressor on board so Cameron went for several dives with the dads where they encountered whales, turtles, and lots of great fish.  We went for a hike straight up a ridge just to get a view of the boats.  The kids played in the water tons.  We headed over to “Stingray Village” where the rays and reef sharks hang out.   The kids took the rowing dingy to shore ALL BY THEMSELVES lots of times and played on the beach.  

SV Banyan, SV Alondra and SV Panecea crew – only missing Ricca, boat Mamma off Panecea
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Adelaide getting to know a Tahitian Stingray
Black-tipped Reef Shark.  We got comfortable swimming around with these guys
Pineapple Plantation
Swinging from the trees… the BANYAN trees :).
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One of Cameron’s Dives had lots of Hawkbill Turtles

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There was lots more to see in Moorea, but Banyan needs to be on the move, so we made the jump to Huahine.  Huahine is by far my favorite island in the Society Islands so far.  Tourism is more low key and life just seems to be running along at a very chill pace. We anchored just off the village of Fare (not much room, but bettor holding than the anchoring near the southern pass) and were in the water snorkeling in no time.  We decided to explore the land a bit and rented bikes.  What was supposed to be a two hour bike trip around the island was an epic 6 hour rain drenched adventure including a pearl farm tour, an archeological museum, eel feeding and a picnic lunch.   The girls loved it at times and hated it at others.  

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Very soon we were joined by SV Alondra who brought more diving fun, hiking and water skiing on surfboards (skurfing).  Alondra has two girls the exact age of Adelaide and Isa and they get along beautifully which has been super fun for all.  

After some fun in the little town of Fare for a few days we headed south inside the lagoon to the anchorage of Avea.  Some days the kids would paddle off to the beach and would be gone for hours exploring, making forts and creating imaginary lands, taking in stray dogs and generally exploring this amazing world.

We have been rocking boat school with Alondra around.  Art class was with a local woman who taught them how to make the traditional Hae ti Poo (crown for your head).  Cameron hooked that up.  Both the parents on Alondra are marine biologists as well as gifted and passionate teachers.  They have been EXTREMELY generous with their time and knowledge, doing upwards of 5 science classes with the girls.  Echinoderms, classification, taxonomy, crustaceans, arthropods, nudibranks, and plankton have been just some of the topics covered.  We have all learned a TON about the sea beneath us.  


Isa looking at plankton
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Biology Class



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Our hitch on the way home from our epic hike on Huahine

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The girls did group field research projects together at an archeological site and presented their findings to all of us.  I organized a music concert where we had no less than two acts with a poetic interlude.  Each girl presented two musical pieces and my girls recited their poetry as well.  We had a stand up harp, a violin and two pianos!  We capped it off with a group song “I LAVA You” from Pixar’s short.  Thankfully I was joined on ukulele by Kate on SV Adaggio who fleshed out the band.  To round out the group projects, the girls got together and did a baking competition.  It was Top Cheff time on Banyan with ratings, comments and recommendations on their respective dishes.  It was a near thing, but Adelaide and Zoe’s Ginger Lemon Cheesecake took second, with Isa and Naomi’s Chocolate Mouse Cake coming in first.  


Today we are on Taha’a, one of the more beautiful islands in the Societies.  Alondra has just pulled onto the mooring ball next to us after a few days apart.  The girls are chomping at the bit to get together with the Alondra girls and I’m thinking there will be sundowners in order very soon.  Now THIS is cruising.  

P.S. I was able to get our August One Moment a Day video up onto YouTube!  Go check it out.

Our track is hard to see but follow the dotted line. This has been our track since leaving the Marquesas.
A closer look at our Society Island track
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Isa showing off her mad skills against the local kids.
We were delighted to meet our family friends the Bensons while in Papeete!  What a treat it was to see them and to be treated to a lovely meal together.


  1. Myka Suhr says:

    SWIMMING WITH SHARKS????!!! You guys are so brave!! How big were they??!! Were you nervous? I love that pic of the sea turtle!!! Are you liking your trip? I really miss you. Hope you are having a fun time. It’s so cool how far you’ve gotten!!

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hi Myka,
      YES! Swimming with sharks… but they are the reef sharks and they are very uninterested in people. In fact we don’t really taste very good to a shark and they don’t actually eat that much meat daily, so they look for smaller juicier nibbles. We were nervous at first, but then we got used to them and would be disappointed if we didn’t see any. Isn’t the sea turtle pic amazing! I love it too. That was a hawksbill turtle; mainly we have seen that kind of turtle. We loved having a skype with you the other day! I can’t believe we had such a clear video call… that was amazing! We love you and can’t wait to see you … soon:)

  2. Ruth Esther Vawter says:

    Fantastic pictures of your exciting adventures. You are making wonderful memories. Praise God for the friends you are making along the journey with children the same age as your girls. Total blessings.

  3. Marianne McGriff says:

    Anne, Cameron, Adelaide and Isa,
    I LOVED all the adventures and pics. Your experience is 10x’s better than any school-hands down!!!!!!! One thing amazes me is HOW TALL the girls are…oh, my goodness, I won’t know you next May in France!!!! Love to ALL, Marianne

    • Joyce Miles says:

      Oh, how I love your photos and narrative. Such wonderful experiences for everyone. We will be in France in May of 2019! Would love it if we could see you there. Our schedule is probably more stable than yours. Will check in with your Mom and Dad, Cameron, and see if they have your schedule. We fly to Paris May 16, spend a few days, go to Normandy, then head to Lyon to board a Rhône River Cruise to Arles. Then we are spending 4-5 days on the French Mediterranean Coast— still looking for the perfect place.

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hi Josie,
      Thank you! We are straggling behind you but can’t wait to meet up again. I hope we will catch up and be able to spend some time together before the NZ crossing.

  4. Rachel Wheeler says:

    We’ve just moved our family to Ajijic Mexico and starting homeschool. NOTHING like yours. ; ) hahaha you’re making the absolute most of this experience and you’ll all have this to treasure forever. Thank you so much for sharing this all with us.

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hi Rachel,
      CONGRATULATIONS! What an awesome adventure for your family. I often wish we had a bit more of a home base as there are so many wonderful advantages to really getting to know a place. You guys will have an amazing time! Homeschool is probably the most challenging and also the most rewarding part of what we do. I wish you all the best and don’t hesitate to email if you want any info from me.

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hey Tom,
      It is great to hear from you. Yes, I already have a few things in the barn in Napa that are being wonderfully looked after for me by Jen Rue. I love how mild the weather seems to have been at the beginning of harvest. Great for our whites. Happy Harvesting!

      • Tom A Rinaldi says:

        Merlot (26.2 Brix) kicked off my Napa Valley harvest last week. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon was the first for my Washington harvest…getting Chardonnay from Petaluma Gap (Sonoma Co.) on Monday…looks to be a remarkable vintage: quantity and quality…Happy Cheers!

  5. Joanie Schumann says:

    Your travels keep getting better and better..all the sea life and islands
    not to mention all the new friends you have made…
    An adventure of a lifetime to treasure and capture wonderful memories..
    Safe sailing,
    Joanie Schumann

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Thanks Joanie!
      We are having a blast these days. It’s been great to really get to enjoy our life on the boat. It seems strange, but so much of our time we are working on the boat or passaging or fixing stuff. It is awesome when we can enjoy it!

  6. Becky Baker says:

    Oh my goodness, the adventures you are having are simply out of this world!!! I absolutely love the beach concert! Sending our love from Indiana!!

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hi Becky,
      You were an inspiration for the concert. I knew that if Adelaide was still taking lessons with you, we would have concerts SO! Off I went to organize a concert, cruiser style:).

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