Raiatea is a lovely island and it is the spiritual cultural and epi-centre of Polynesia in fact it is often referred to as the 'cradle of Polynesia'. Historically the peoples of Polynesia travelled from here up to Hawaii, down to New Zealand and everywhere in between. It is purported to have the largest maerae in all of Polynesia - Taputapuatea - a sacred spiritual place that is now mostly grown over with jungle vines although the remnants of the huge boulders which make up the platforms peek out from under the foliage throughout the jungle just waiting to be discovered... Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the centre of this island... our time was filled with the very important activity of 'doing laundry'...priorities you know...
... when one has a boatload of damp, salt encrusted (some clothing starting to stand up on their own!) often smelly laundry we have discovered why many cruisers rate the various marinas and towns they visit according to the finer points of being able to 'do laundry'. I suppose if one were inclined to do so, one could score them on a 'laundry service spectrum':
High score -The Ultimate Polynesian Laundry Services-
This level of doing laundry requires a very inexpensive laundry service (most charge around 800 fcp -equivalent to $8.00- per kilo of clothes) where one lugs ones laundry in old sailbags to the dinghy dock where the local laundry come yacht service lady or man is happily waiting to take the smelly damp stuff- and wishes you a happy "Na Na - which is the Tahitian bye bye" as you head off to explore their piece of tropical paradise. By the end of the day the same happy launderer meets you back at the same dinghy dock with said sail bags filled with freshly laundered albeit slightly wrinkled (as they are rarely folded) laundry and with a cheerful "Maru'ru - thank you in Tahitian" - you trundle it all in your dinghy and head back to the mother ship (trying to keep it protected from the spray off the bow of the dinghy).
Mid-score - Pretty Darned Good Laundry Experience-
Then we have the inexpensive washer and drier situated in a very nice, clean marina 'Lavaderier' where one pops soiled clothing and other sundry items into as many bright shiny washers as one requires,pop in the liquid laundry soap et voila... washing is done as one waits on a comfy chair and reads through a vast array of literature left by other happy cruisers. Driers are available and have multiple settings so that each load is nicely matched to it's drying needs. The happy cruiser heads back to the boat with a nicely folded, clean smelling load of laundry and a pocket full of change.
Doesn't Derserve to be Included in the Spectrum Score- Consider Yourself Lucky to Find'em Washing Facilities-
In this category you are lucky to find a washing machine (note - singular)and driers are non- existent... with 3 large loads of washing staring one in the face and only one very small washing machine (with a secret hidden knob requiredto turn it on) this facility is found very low on our laundry services spectrum.
Unfortunately this was what we found at the marina on Raiatea and unaware of the waiting complexities of this laundry establishment (one tiny closet-sized unventilated room where one must close the door of the room before one can open the door of the washing machine)...Co-cap Billy confidently assured Co-Cap Cath that he would do the laundry as she took the crew to scope out the town 5 km down the road. Three hours later when happy co-cap and crew return from trip to town and back in an air-conditioned shuttle taxi, Co- Cap Billy is still sitting outside the laundry room waiting for his FIRST load to finish!! Needless to say when co-cap Cath took over co-cap Billy bolted for the nearest bar (air-conditioned).
Of course, one must consider oneself lucky when one finds any type of laundry facility as the alternative is that of "salt-water wash with fresh water rinse bucket wash day"... however, that is another story...