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Blue Planet Odyssey in Tahiti: Trash and Tourism

Not to be outdone by the Marquesas stopover, an exciting program of events was organised for the Blue Planet Odyssey sailors in Tahiti.

As part of the Blue Planet Odyssey’s ongoing environmental program, sailors were invited to contribute to the work of the Te Mana O Te Moana organisation by sending in their marine wildlife observations. Te Mana O Te Moana is a non-profit group which studies Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles through all of French Polynesia.

Sailors also visited the local recycling plant, part of environmental organisation Fenua Ma, the Société Environnement Polynésien, which aims to maximise recycling throughout French Polynesia as well as protecting the natural environment.

Visiting the Fenua Ma recyling plant

As part of the Blue Planet Odyssey Community Program, a training session was held with some of the sailors by ophthalmologist Dr. Kaupke as part of his “Best Sight for Children” Initiative.

Training on the Sight for Children project sailors will be carrying out in remote communities

 The eye testing training was provided by an eye clinic in Germany. They have been providing this service to underdeveloped locations for 20 years now. Four people flew here to bring equipment and expertise. As well as the normal eye charts we are familiar with, there are two expensive ($7000) machines that can measure the dimensions of the eyeball, particularly in children. The information is sent to the clinic and glasses are made and sent free to any children that need them.

The goal is to help children with compromised sight get a better start in life and in their learning. It isn’t perfect as follow up is difficult but it is something to get started and then the parents may seek additional help later.

Sailors can play a unique role in making contacts in isolated spots.

— Carol, MAGGIE

 To conduct the screenings we will be using materials housed in water tight suitcases. We will carry the cases ashore and conduct the tests sitting on a beach or in a village when access is granted.

What an exciting opportunity! When I signed onto Blue Planet Odyssesy, I knew we were just a few people trying to make a difference while raising awareness for the rising tide levels and declining state of the ocean. But, to add to the opportunity to provide a service for children who need glasses and would otherwise never be diagnosed, is another reason I’m glad we agreed to take this journey. If I can touch just one life in the process it will be such a humbling experience.

Several other boats signed on to either carry a case and conduct screenings or assist with the children. I will carry a case until we leave the South Pacific and then I will hand it off to another cruiser who will remain in the area. The Hamburg Institute will handle the coordination of this effort.

— Janet, CHAPTER TWO

Sailors had their leisure time as well, with river hiking and swimming, a guided island tour and a welcome party hosted by the town of Papeete with a show of Tahitian tamure dancing.

Tahiti Island tour

 

Tahiti Island tour

 

Tahiti Welcome Party- the port captain offers a souvenir shell to BPO participants

Jimmy Cornell gave a detailed briefing on the route ahead through remoter areas of the South Pacific and on to Australia and SE Asia at the end of the year.

Sailors get a briefing on the next part of the BPO from Jimmy Cornell

The fleet are currently cruising the Society Islands before their next leg, leaving Bora Bora on 27 May bound for the northern Cook Islands and the Vava’u archipelago in Tonga. 
In consultation with the Blue Planet Odyssey participants, the 2015-16 route has been amended in order to allow longer time in Vanuatu, Australia and Indonesia. 

Sadly, the fleet has had to say goodbye to Jinny and Gerry on HERON REACH who have had to leave the Blue Planet Odyssey for personal reasons. They will be missed.

Good news, however, is that Pacific Odyssey yacht TAHAWUS, with Norm and Klaudia and their two sons Miro (11) and Martin (9), will be staying with the Blue Planet Odyssey, as they have made such good friends they would like to remain a part of the event.

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