Yes, yes, I know it has been a while. I have been sailing in Tupaia territory, including the island of his birth, Raiatea (pictured), where a breathtaking 4WD adventure took us across hills and through craters to his alma mater, the great marae Taputapuatea, on the southern coast at Opoa. This -- with Tahiti (and Samoa and Tonga) -- was an amazingly inspiring experience.
It was accomplished by cruise ship, which might seem bizarre. I have to admit that my spirit quailed before we boarded, as it seemed a crazy way of doing it (though very cheap, particularly considering prices in French Polynesia). However, it worked well, because I found that the cabin of a cruise ship is the Ideal Writing Environment. No phone, no internet, no meals to cook, no house to clean, nothing to do but write, save for the rushes up the deck to watch for island profiles. It was the closest I could get to Tupaia's voyaging in his home island network, without the prohibitive expense of a yacht. And there were other writers on board, after that Ideal Writing Environment. Joy Cowley was spied. And Graeme Lay was there, too, promoting his beautiful new book In Search of Paradise (Random House). Great fun.