Sailing away from Raiatea – April 22, 2009

The ship carves a watery arc as we sail away from Raiatea
The ship carves a watery arc as we sail away from Raiatea

Captain Sullivan called it one of the most perfect sailaways he had ever experienced. As hundreds of us lined the decks to watch, a sinking sun painted Raitea’s mountainous, tree-covered slopes a rich gold. The wake of our ship carved curves on the turquoise water.

Couple sits on the bank on the island of Tahaa and watches the ship sail by
Couple sits on the bank on the island of Tahaa and watches the ship sail by

A sense of peace, shot through with longing, seemed to affect us all. Peace as we looked out on an idyllic setting. Longing as we contemplated a return to cities where “progress” and “commerce” are synonymous with “noise” and “busyness”.

Passengers lined the deck to bask in the sunset as we sailed past Tahaa
Passengers lined the deck to bask in the sunset as we sailed past Tahaa

With only a short stretch to navigate from Raiatea to Bora Bora, the ship cruised slowly past the vanilla island of Tahaa (where the savoury spice is grown) and past quiet lagoons and motus (tiny islands, some of them with a few inhabitants, others pristine).

Quiet bay on the island of Tahaa
Quiet bay on the island of Tahaa
The distinctive shape of Bora Bora, outlined by the setting sun
The distinctive shape of Bora Bora, outlined by the setting sun

As we turned out of the lagoon where the ship had dropped anchor, the distinctive silhouette of Bora Bora appeared in the distance.

Gold-edged clouds of a brilliant sunset
Gold-edged clouds of a brilliant sunset

Gold edged the clouds as the sun sank below the horizon.

The only jarring note was the Caribbean music coming from the pool deck, where passengers immune to the magic of the moment swam or read or talked with friends. All around us were the sounds of birds returning to their nests, of sea breezes through palm trees, of waves lapping the shore.

I wanted to turn off the machinery, the sound system piping music to our ears, even the conversation around us and just absorb the harmony of this tropical paradise.

Not everyone was captivated by the scene we were passing
Not everyone was captivated by the scene we were passing
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