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Old 23-11-2012, 07:45   #1
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South Seas Sewage Smells

I read somewhere that in Papeete, Tahiti, there is a pervasive raw sewage smell in the air. I suspect this makes sense if there are no govt waste systems in place. Doesn't look like I'll make it there to check this out so am asking you more wide-ranging cruisers for the real poop from beyond the armchair.

Are there other paradisical ports of call that don't live up to romantized reputations? I know I was sure dissapointed when I discovered that Hawaii had mosquitos.
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Old 23-11-2012, 08:04   #2
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

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Are there other paradisical ports of call that don't live up to romantized reputations? I know I was sure dissapointed when I discovered that Hawaii had mosquitos.
It's funny, but I usually find the opposite. The cruisers' grapevine is always full of all the nasty problems to be encountered at the next port of call, and yet we usually find we have a great time. Unfortunately, "local knowledge" seems to often consist of the negatives and not the positives.
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Old 23-11-2012, 08:21   #3
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

In paradisaical Kandahar, the poo pond is the tourist attraction!
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Old 23-11-2012, 08:25   #4
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

A dab of Cruiser's Cologne behind the ears, and no nasty off-grid stinkies will bother you again. Must get around to marketing it...
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Old 23-11-2012, 08:45   #5
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

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In paradisaical Kandahar, the poo pond is the tourist attraction!
And when the winds shift in the evening, you know you're not really that far away. (and not far enough)
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Old 23-11-2012, 08:49   #6
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

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Originally Posted by Blue Crab View Post
I read somewhere that in Papeete, Tahiti, there is a pervasive raw sewage smell in the air. I suspect this makes sense if there are no govt waste systems in place. Doesn't look like I'll make it there to check this out so am asking you more wide-ranging cruisers for the real poop from beyond the armchair.

Are there other paradisical ports of call that don't live up to romantized reputations? I know I was sure dissapointed when I discovered that Hawaii had mosquitos.
Blue Crab:

It's been a number of years since I was in Papeete. I don't recall any strong sewage smell in the few days I was there. Though I do recall it having somewhat of an industrial smell being the major cargo port of the area. But, I do remember snorkeling off the beach in Moorea and distinctly thinking this is not the paradise the postcards and travel posters implied would be here. Definitely had a strong sewage smell that curtailed that swim. In fact I was not impressed with the area as far as snorkeling goes compared with some spots of the Carribbean and Indian Ocean I've been in. The exception was Rangiroa were a scuba dive on the outside of the atoll had us swimming with some real BIG fish. I was not cruising in the area but, from what I saw I did not have a desire to head back there with my boat anytime soon. I guess there might be some anchorages and places around the area that might have changed my mind but, the areas I saw did not exactly have me planning a return trip.
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Old 23-11-2012, 08:57   #7
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

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Originally Posted by Blue Crab View Post
I read somewhere that in Papeete, Tahiti, there is a pervasive raw sewage smell in the air. I suspect this makes sense if there are no govt waste systems in place. Doesn't look like I'll make it there to check this out so am asking you more wide-ranging cruisers for the real poop from beyond the armchair.

Are there other paradisical ports of call that don't live up to romantized reputations? I know I was sure dissapointed when I discovered that Hawaii had mosquitos.
Never been to Tahiti myself ,but I have been to a lot of islands that had a powerful smell in the air,most of the time it was due to copra production...Now that is one stinky business...
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Old 23-11-2012, 10:05   #8
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

People poop, as do any other critters. Pack them together,densely and in large aggregates, and you overwhelm the capacity of the environment to process the poop into food for other critters. Popular places often stink, because the folks that live there all the time want to spend their tourist-derived bucks on things other than waste control, public health and similar yucky issues. Everywhere in the world, with the notable exception of Scandinavia, I've smelled poop-inspired perfume, whenever there are lots of hotels, restaurants and bars, in "quaint and colorful" settings. Eventually, someone bright figures out that tourists (and their bucks) go elsewhere, and then reforms set in, such as sewage treatment programs, public information and training ("Don't poop in your front porch"). Until then, though, things have to get a bit stinky for people to change their behavior.
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Old 23-11-2012, 10:13   #9
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

First time I sailed to Nassau I could navigate by the smokey/tarry smell on the wind. Not unpleasant, but distinctive. Still not sure what that comes from, but whenever I have been back it is there. The worst smelling harbor I've ever been in was Fernandina Beach when the wind was blowing from the pulp mill. It was so bad one night that my wife and I upped anchor at 2 am and proceeded down the ICW in the dark to get out of there. The worst sewage smell problem I've encountered is when the boat next to mine, hauled out in the boatyard and up on jackstands, pumped out his holding tank onto the ground between our two boats!
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Old 23-11-2012, 10:21   #10
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

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Originally Posted by micah719 View Post
A dab of Cruiser's Cologne behind the ears, and no nasty off-grid stinkies will bother you again. Must get around to marketing it...
Hmm, I vonder if zee name of zees Cologne starts with a D?
You just reach into the tank and get a drop. Sometimes clothing is already aromatic with same. Good idea, but its such a good repellent that your social life could suffer.
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Old 23-11-2012, 11:13   #11
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

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(...) Are there other paradisical ports of call that don't live up to romantized reputations? I know I was sure dissapointed when I discovered that Hawaii had mosquitos.
Most of them.

Noumea and Las Palmas may seem to be world apart but they both share one thing: city sewage is dumped right into their marina basins.

Actually, it is way easier to name the few clean spots: Simons Town, RSA and Auckland, NZ (these two also world apart ...).

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Old 23-11-2012, 17:14   #12
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

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Originally Posted by SVTatia View Post
Hmm, I vonder if zee name of zees Cologne starts with a D?
I'd bet Zee smells like diesel more often than she likes.


Thanks for the input, Gents. Truly a bummer to smell raw sewage anywhere but esp in a SoPac paradise like I've imagined Moorea to be. No question a bunch of that smell is industrial, like the copra processing etc. Plus maybe just all the flora aroma that hits you. I've been in a couple of rainforests, and they didn't smell like good ol' exhaust fumes we used to all be used to.

Kettlewell's Poop Soup:

"The worst sewage smell problem I've encountered is when the boat next to mine, hauled out in the boatyard and up on jackstands, pumped out his holding tank onto the ground between our two boats! "

Damn. Hard to imagine a reasonable explanation.
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Old 24-11-2012, 10:20   #13
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

Twice I've sailed to Papeete and I do not remember ever smelling anything bad. Europe and that includes France have the best wastewater plants in the world and I'm sure Papeete has a French built and maintained wastewater plant.

I know a lot of cruisers don't like Papeete and that is because it is a big expensive city and not tropical paradise. But being in the middle of the S. Pacific it is an amazing city to hang out in for a while.

If you want dirty Pago Pago is your place. Lay down your anchor chain for a couple of weeks and most likely it will need to be re- galvanized in New Zealand. I hear they are trying to clean up the entire island of American Samoa. But until they educate the people not to dump their trash in the creeks and have it flushed out onto the reefs the place will remain dirty. The tuna factories no longer dump untreated waste into the Harbor. Still I have seen the biggest Tiger sharks swimming around the anchored cruising boats in Pago Pago, some up to maybe 17 feet. A lot of work to be done there.
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Old 24-11-2012, 10:41   #14
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

In Olangapo City we had the Siht River, which actually was a sewage canal that ran threw the city and out into Subic bay. In the cool mornings of December (60º F) there was a fog that hung over the bay with a distink odor.

To top it off, the local kids would dive for coins under the bridge.
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Old 24-11-2012, 10:53   #15
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Re: South Seas Sewage Smells

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Twice I've sailed to Papeete and I do not remember ever smelling anything bad. Europe and that includes France have the best wastewater plants in the world and I'm sure Papeete has a French built and maintained wastewater plant. (...)
I am not sure. When we visited (2004) Papeete smelled very bad as did plenty of lagoons in French Polynesia - basically anywhere close enough to a village or town. I bet they have NO sewage treatment facilities at all.

I think mother France may be clean but their DOMs and TOMs are the most smelly places around.

I must admit though that some places improved - Martinique (e.g. Le Marin was a sewage back in 2003 but then on our return in 2007 it was way happier and cleaner there. So not all hope is lost and some places may recover over time.

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