Downey DuckTahiti  

Onboard the Tahiti Agressor, Dec 2002

Reviewed by John Corcoran

All aboard Tahiti Aggressor! - Your 13 hour flight from a snowy December morning in Pittsburgh has transported you a world away to an amazingly different night sky. Enter the South Pacific. Tahiti is part of a group of small islands known as French Polynesia, where French and English are the spoken languages.

Welcome to Papeete, the largest city in Tahiti! We had a full day to tour the city, enjoy the warm weather, great espresso coffee, the local market and casual shopping. Our overnight stay was at the beautiful Sheraton, not far from town.

Our next morning's flight took us to Rangiroa. One can only imagine the adrenaline level one experiences when standing alongside your 'home away from home' for the next 7 days and nights. Shining, white, magnificent in her stance on the water, the Tahiti Aggressor floated in all of her magical grandeur before us.

Fully staffed with all needed amenities, we set sail that evening for our first destination, 150 miles south to Fakarava, the southernmost atoll that we would dive. We had arrived! The 'urge to submerge' has engulfed us.

The next morning, our Tahiti dive adventure began. The diving in the Tuamotu islands is really about two different environments. "Corners", where there is a gentle sloping wall and little currant, and "Passes", most likely different than any you have done anywhere else, and truly defines the best of Tahiti. The clear and sparkling water lent favorably to the visibility ranging from 100' to 150'+. The pass dives are truly unique, if only for the mass quantities of sharks and the skills needed to get close to them. Not only are you outfitted with your regular diving gear - you have added a safety sausage, Dive alerts, signal mirrors, reef hooks, and a satellite signaling device. Can we say 'stiff currants' boys and girls?

Our first dive was launched from a sturdy 35' twin outboard aluminum skiff, needed to pick you up when you blow through the pass. These dives were timed to occur with the incoming tide for optimal visibility, safety and probable marine life encounters. In the passes and channels of French Polynesia's Rangiroa Lagoon, the second largest atoll in the Pacific, the current action is controlled by the rise and fall of the tides. Massive amounts of water squeeze through the channels. This ebb and flow draws in huge numbers of gray reef sharks which are usually accompanied by elegant manta rays, all present to gorge on a constantly replenished food supply.

How to describe a 7-day week of paradise, of tropical weather, expert service, guides, food and camaraderie? The once-in-a-lifetime chance to 'dance with dolphins' in the clearest of blue waters? To witness their effortless agility to spin circles around us and share their space with us 'visitors'? To watch them rocket to the surface to grasp new air, only to return to amuse and impress us again and again? One tends to forget the cameras in hand, not wanting to miss a moment of their magical dance. The atolls of French Polynesia under water are overwhelming and unforgettable, but it would be a shame to miss the terrestrial beauty of beaches and palm trees while visiting.

Why Tahiti? Why not? Diving continues to enthrall all who engage in it, to go where few men or women have gone before. It remains the new frontier, the most unique experience that we mere humans can experience on earth.