August 4, 2009 -- In April 2000, husband and wife Neville and Catherine Hockley fell head-over-heels for the sailboat Dream Time in a Long Island parking lot. In June 2007, they packed up their stationary lives in New York and set sail for an eight- to ten-year adventure on the water.
Today, Dream Time is the couple's home and office as they sail around the world, working remotely to run a New York-based design studio while blogging about their journey and documenting the people and places they discover along the way.
The plan is a complete circumnavigation that will take the Hockleys across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia, then up to southeast Asia and over to India. They intend to travel up the Red Sea to Cairo before exploring the Mediterranean, crossing the Atlantic and returning to New York City.
We're anchored in the famous Cook's Bay on the island of Moorea, which lies just 10 nautical miles off Tahiti's northwest coast. We've been exploring the island for five days, two of those days on bicycles which we hired from 'Fun Bike', one of the only two bike rental businesses on the island.
Now I'm not usually one to complain, and our journal entries are usually of a positive nature, but unless you're staying at one of the swanky resorts that boast their own private shiny inventory of new bikes, I strongly recommend, should you find yourself on Moorea one day, that you hire a scooter, car, beach buggy, ATV, hitchhike or just walk instead. You see, the name 'Fun Bike' is just a little misleading. Sure the 'bike' portion is true enough, they do in fact rent them, but with saddles like rolling pins, brakes that just barely reduce your speed, frames lathered in oil, greasy chains that refuse to stay on the gears, and one peddle that just clean snapped right off, we were sadly a little shortchanged on the 'fun' portion of our rental experience.
The Best Pizza in the South Pacific
With our friends and biking companions, Helge and Therese from Coquelicot, it became apparent after just a few painful miles of grinding gears, bruised bottoms (and in my case, a saddle that wouldn't lock properly and slowly lowered under my weight until the seat hit the frame, forcing me to either peddle standing up or ride seated extremely low down with bent legs and my knees rising up practically to head level) that our grand plans to circumnavigate the island on its 60 kilometer coastal road was just a little optimistic. We made it around the north half of the island, but by the end of our second day were in no condition to attempt the southern coast or even consider the steep interior roads. So we made plans to rent a car instead and join the convoy of happy tourists that frequently passed us comfortably while we toiled on our fun bikes.
As a reward for our two-days of effort, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at Allo Pizza. Perched tenderly on bar stools and after eating the best pie I've tasted since we left New York, we struck up a casual conversation with the chef, Sommers Moearii, a local Polynesian man, who upon hearing of our plight and plans to rent a car for a day, insisted we take his Nissan 4x4 truck instead. Now it's not often that you meet someone who, after just a few hours of casual conversation, offers complete strangers the keys to their car for the day - especially four rather disheveled looking cruisers, but such is way in French Polynesian - the generosity and kindness of the people here continues to amaze me.
So the next day we met Sommers at Allo Pizza to collect his truck, and after instructions on how to start his old diesel (by sticking any pointed object into the ignition switch that dangled loosely from electrical wires from a broken dashboard) the four of us set off in comfort to explore the rest of the island - the panoramic views from Mt Tohiea overlooking Cook's and Opunohu Bay (where the 1984 movie Mutiny on the Bounty was filmed) to the turquoise lagoon at Hauru Point where we played with a dozen extremely friendly stingrays. We ended a perfect day with another round of delicious pizzas, cooked to perfection in Sommers wood burning oven.
So, if you find yourself in Moorea one day, take the time to stop off at Allo Pizza on the eastern shore of Cook's Bay, and treat yourself to a slice or two of the best pizza in the South Pacific. Tell Sommers his new friends from Dream Time and Coquelicot say 'hi'.