Calling in Tahiti

James Cook,  in 1769, explores the islands surrounding Tahiti and named the set  " Archipelago of Society islands" after the Royal Society in London which financed the expedition. 

Seen by Quirós in 1606, the island is really visited by Samuel Wallis who calls there on 19 June 1767, and named it “Island of King George”. 

Bougainville approaches it a few months later, first of all gives it the name of “Nouvelle-Cythère” (New Kythira). The admiral Abel Aubert Dupetit-Thouars will oblige the queen Pomaré IV to sign a protectorate  treaty with France in 1842. 

In 1595, the Spanishs Álvaro de Mendaña and  Pedro Fernández de Quirós discover the Marquesas Islands. On 4 February 1606, Quirós discovers the Acteon group, then the Hao on 10 February 1606

On 24 January 1521, the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan discovers Puka Puka in Tuamotu. In 1616, Dutch Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten are in Takaroa, Takapoto, Ahe and Rangiroa. Then no more contact with Europeans during one century.

On 2 June 1722, Jakob Roggeveen discovers Makatea and, on 6 June 1722, Bora Bora. Charles de Brosses names Polynésia Austral Land islands in 1756. On 5 June 1606, John Byron is at Napuka and Tepoto.

James Cook in 1769 explores the archipelago of Society islands then discovers Rurutu. He comes back in 1773, 1774 et 1777. Tuamotu : the last atoll discovered is Ahe, on 6 September 1839 by Charles Wilkes.
Raevski islands, at the centre of Tuamotu, were discovered on 15 July 1820 by Bellingshausen, German explorer serving Russia, who give them this name of Raevski in memory of Russian general Nicolaï Raevski
The British sailor James Wilson discovers Gambier Islands. Navigating with his crew and some missionaries of LMS en route to Tahiti, she gives to the archipelago the name  of admiral Gambier supporting the mission activities. He names also the culminating  point of islands as his ship: DUFF.
Rapa is found by George Vancouver on 22 December 1791, the island being named at this moment Oparo. 

A call in Tahiti on 26 October 1788 will become famous: BLIGH comes to take away seedlings of breadfruit tree, dedicated to nourish the slaves in Caribbean plantations. Bounty arrives at the bad season to collect breadfruit trees and Bligh must patient six months to load his precious cargo.

TROPIC BIRD, a 368-ton three masted schooner, operated in 1893 a regularly service between San Francisco and Tahiti via Taiohae in the Marquesas Islands. The voyage lasted 28-34 days and involved a 10-day stopover at each port of call. The schooner PAPEETE built in 1892 is used by the French Navy until 1901, when she is sold to local ship-owners. She comes back in the Navy in 1931, named  ZÉLÉE.

In 1947, the raft " KON TIKI " stranded on the Raroia coral reef after drifting along 9000 kilometres through the Pacific ocean. The intention of Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian designer of the trip, was to prove that, contrary to all the allowed theories, the settlement of the Polynesian islands had been carried out also, at least partly, starting from South America.

Alain Gerbault buys in England in 1921 an old sailing ship, Firecrest, built in 1892. From 1923, after a long crossing of the Atlantic, he rounds the world tour rejoining Le Havre in 1929 after several stopovers of which Tahiti. He returns there in 1932 and is buried in Bora-Bora.

Team-member of Eric Tabarly who disputes the Sydney-Hobart race, Alain Colas embarks on board Pen Duick III then Pen Duick IV at the time of the 1968-1969 races. His base camp is Tahiti. Winner of the single-handed English Transatlantic race in 72 with Pen Duick IV. With this trimaran renamed “Manureva” (the bird of the voyage in Tahitian), he beats of 32 days the record of the single-handed round the world tour held by sir Francis Chichester, on a monohull. In 1978, Alain Colas disappears at sea on board Manureva, during the first Route du Rhum.

TAHITI is the name of a 1904 liner built at Glasgow as PORT DIXON for Elder, Dempster & Co. Bought by Union S.S. Co of New Zealand, she changes of continent going from Western India to Pacific (Sydney, Wellington, Tahiti, San Francisco) Used as troopship between 1914 and 1919, she is refurbished to go back on the line. On 17 August 1930, she sinks 480 miles south-west of Rarotonga. She is replaced by MONOWAI, ex-RAZMAK of London-Bombay line, bought to P&O. 2 years later, MONOWAI is transferred on inter-colonial service  Wellington/Auckland/Sydney. Mobilised during the war, MONOWAI comes back to Sydney and serves Tasmania until 1960.

SAGITTAIRE is a Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (WASHINGTON) passenger- cargo swapped by Messageries Maritimes in 1938/39. Laid up October 1942, then requisitioned by the Free French Government, she goes back in service in March 46 to Nouméa. On 6 May 46, her arrival at Papeete marks the return of Pacific Battalion of the Free French Forces, including 300 Tahitian volunteers.

OISEAU DES ILES II, takes Papeete as home port, in 1956. Built at La Pallice for the Compagnie Française des Phosphates de L'Océanie, this motor vessel of 500 tons, will be later used in links to Mururoa nuclear test site.

The shooner OROHENA (on the slip-way) allows to French Oceanic Settlements to link Tahiti and the islands from 47 to 53. MOANA of Commerciale de L'Oceanie was used as a inter island trader for the Tuamotu group.

In 1972, during her round the world cruise, FRANCE calls in Tahiti

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Among the frequent visitors, a former Russian liner, ALEXANDR PUSHKIN, built in East Germany in 1964. Transformed in 74 in single class liner for 750 passengers, transferred from Baltic Shipping Co to Far East Shipping Co, she will change of name, beginning ALEXANDR then MARCO POLO

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ISLAND PRINCESS is a cruise ship launched in 71 with 767 passengers and 317 crew, used between New York and Hamilton, Bermuda then chartered by PRINCESS CRUISES

In 1968, Windjammer Barefoot Cruises transforms in cruise sail ship OISEAU DES ILES issued in 1927 of Dubigeon yards in Nantes and used by Compagnie Française des Phosphates de l'Océanie from Papeete. Became FLYING CLOUD, this beautiful bird 48.98 m long is finally scrapped in 2009.
End 1986, Le Havre yards launch WIND STAR, a motor sail yacht for 148 passengers, followed by Wind Song in 1987 then Wind Spirit in 1988 ; a new type of vessel with Computer Assisted sails.

WIND SONG, victim of a fire off Tahaa island (Leeward Islands; French îles Sous-le-Vent) on 3 December 2002. Finally, Polynesian authorities order the scuttling off Tahiti at 4:30 pm on 24 January 2003, the ship being a danger for the port traffic .

In 1998, PAUL GAUGUIN, operating for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, enters in Papeete roadstead inaugurating  a new ere of the cruises in Tahiti. During ten years in Polynesia, Paul Gauguin performed  400 cruises, with more than 120 000 passengers.
Refurbished in 2005, best cruise ship in 2004 for a US magazine, her small draft allows Paul Gauguin to sail near the coasts and to anchor in the most beautiful Polynesian lagoons.



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