Thursday, May 18, 2017


We saw a few of these posters around town and took it upon ourselves to find the display. Being the ol' schoonerwoman that I am, I was very interested in checking out the old photos. I dreamed I lived a life once, sailing the beautiful schooners (Goelettes) throughout the South Pacific. Must be why I have been so drawn to come here most this life.

The display was part of a gal's thesis for her PhD, studying the history of schooners in Polynesia. It was all in French of course, but we still enjoyed it tremendously and were surprised how much we actually understood! She had some good stuff here to, including this dugout canoe, a fish trap, several wood carved tikis and traditional garb and matting.

The display was held in one of the salon rooms at the City Hall building. Here they have also a very old traditional carved canoe.

Notice the detail of the carving and the coconut husk lashings (like the ones used in the Hokulea).

She even had Maui's hook on display!

This shows the many types of rowing and sailing pirogues discovered throughout the South Pacific.

Of course today's pirogue is made out of fiberglass or carbon fiber! Faster and lighter than the old wood ones!

When white man first arrived, there was a serious communication gap and death and destruction was common.

But the lure of gold calls every ancient schoonerman!

As white man took hold of the local seas, charts were drawn and others could follow in their path. (including us!) This is a 1845 chart of the North side of Papeete all the way to Matava Bay (where we watched the Hokulea land).

Back in the days of inter island schooner trading, one needed permission from the French Navy to transport goods. This one is for “Benicia” to transport provisions.

She had many artifacts on display too. These include the costumes worn by the sailors, compasses, a highly varnished helm wheel, and is that Captain Hook's hand by the sword?!?

This painting is pretty much what you DON'T want the deck of your schooner to look like. Big waves and big seas are common on the trip down here, but once you make it to Tahiti, you know you have made it to paradise.

The schooner “Papeete” was the pride of the French Navy. She made the passage here from San Francisco, arriving on the 19th of March 1892.

Papeete” was damaged in a hurricane on the 25th of September 1894 and hauled for repairs in the village of Mataura. She also was part of the operations that went to the Leeward Islands to control the “rebels” who did not want to be part of France.

The “Tereora” hauled out in Papeete in 1922.

Schooner “Ruahatu” overloaded with bags of copra (dried coconut used for making oil).

Inter island schooners were not only used for trade goods, but they also brought the mail (real letters!). Postage stamps are huge here and they often have pictures of boats on them. This hand stamp is from the first day of schooner mail (bateaux means mailed by boat) 30th of August 1966 (or maybe 1866!)

This stamp features the mail boat service to Christmas Island (far to the North of here).

These posts cards and stamps celebrate the Tahitian Sailing Pirogue, from 1978.

Since Captain Cook first came here, Tahiti has become a center for sailing in the South Pacific. This is the schooner Marechal Foch under full sail.

Schooner Tiara Tahiti looking lovely as the flower!

Schooner Zelee with the trade winds in her sails!

There were a lot of photos of the port of Papeete. Not sure they are in order by year or not, but it is fascinating to see how the port has changed. This is the commercial dock in 1941 unloading lots of bags of copra, with three big schooners tied to the city quay, “Tamara”, “Maeva”, and the ex “Seaward”.

Do not know the year of this photo, but there are many rowing dories tied to the pier and a big schooner on the quay. Note the cathedral in the background.

Many schooners side tied to the quay, unloading their trade goods.

Now all the schooners are med moor tied to the quay, but still unloading goods.

Port of Papeete, year unknown, showing inter island trading schooners.

A view through the palm trees of the Port of Papeete, now only one schooner and a big steam ship taking up a lot of space. The verbiage is talking about how they exported phosphate which came from the island of Makatea in the Tuamotus.

It must be a big day as all the ships are dressed (with flags). The schooners are the “Vahinie Tahiti” and the “Moana” (which means ocean in Polynesian, not just the name of a little girl in a movie).

The Russian Navy sail training vessel, “Le Sedov”.

Eroll Flynn's yacht “La Zaca” under full sail.

La Zaca” tied to the quay in Papeete.

Yacht Noddesk Allen tied to the quay.

Schooner “Moana” home from the sea.

This photo of the city quay could be from as little ago as 5 years. The new downtown marina is now only 2.5 yrs old.

This is my photo of the port of Papeete, just so you can see how much it has changed in the last 200 years!! The marina is tucked in behind the buildings on the close side of the harbor.

The one thing that has not changed, is a full moon setting on the South Pacific horizon.

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