Astra Blog: Bora Bora (Part 1) 24.08.08 - 30.08.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Sat 20 Sep 2008 10:50

Astra Blog: Bora Bora (Part 1) 24.08.08 – 30.08.08



Sunday 24.08.08


Leaving Ile Tautau, Tahaa behind, we set a course for Bora Bora. Comfortable downwind sailing with the sails goose-winged enabled us to do 9 knots so we were in Bora Bora for lunchtime. After briefly mooring at the main town of Vaitape to collect some water-maker parts we headed round the lagoon to Bloody Mary’s where we anchored next to Maltese Falcon which, conspicuous at the best of times, was particularly eye-catching as she was flying an enormous pennant from one of her mastheads. In response to this absurd streamer, Sally decided that we should hoist one of our own. Not having a 100ft pennant on board, we had to make do with a roll of kitchen towel which was promptly raised to the top of the backstay. About 10 minutes later two crew members from Maltese Falcon were in their tender and on their way over to Astra and we suspected that we might get a telling-off. As it happened they were highly complimentary of our pennant and oblivious to the fact that it was a kitchen roll!


Monday 25.08.08


Before we could get stuck into the delights of Bora Bora there were a few jobs to get out of the way. With this in mind George woke Ash up at 0630 for a hull cleaning session. Everybody was in the water before 0800 to help out, so Astra was sparkling in record time. After polishing the stainless we went for a well earned lunch at Bloody Mary’s. Restored by a decent lunch, Sally, Oli and Ash went for a dive in “Manta Pass” where they were disappointed to find no manta rays.


We returned to Bloody Mary’s in the evening where Sally and Jeremy got some dinner and the boys hung out in the bar chatting to some of the crew off the monstrous superyacht Arctic P.


Tuesday 26.08.08


Apparently all the action was to be had at the Bora Bora Yacht Club (BBYC), just a mile or so around the corner back towards the one pass into Bora Bora’s lagoon, so we motored round and were pleased to see several friends including Adventure and Ino, with Ogopogo following close behind.


In the afternoon Ash, Oli and George dived at Tupa, just outside the pass. It was a fantastic dive with beautiful coral and, definitely the star attraction, some enormous lemon sharks. Unlike the many reef sharks that we have seen, these things look decidedly like man-eaters; fortunately they kept a reasonable distance (about 5ft) and we managed to complete the dive without anyone being munched!


In the evening all went ashore to use the facilities at BBYC. As well as starting some laundry we were able to sup the odd beer (over £5 per pint!) whilst enjoying a barbeque and some petanque with the many friends that we have picked up along the way.


Wednesday 27.08.08


Wednesday was another diving day: Jeremy set off early with Bruce and Claire from Ino to go to the lemon shark-infested Tupa. Later on in the day, whilst chatting with the lads on Ino, the lads decided that it would be a good idea to attempt a night dive. Jeremy was all in favour of the idea as he thought we would have Hannah (a dive-master) from Ino to guide us through our first night dive. Hannah had other plans: not being keen on diving in the pitch black she said that she would give the dive a miss.


Undeterred, Ash, Oli, George, Bruce and Marnix headed out through the pass at 2100 on T/T Astra and T/T Ino. As we had only three underwater torches it was decided that we would go in two groups, Astra going down first and Ino second. Bruce and Marnix were happy with this as they fancied doing some fishing first and as the rest kitted-up Marnix and Bruce disappeared off to the deep armed with mask, snorkel, torches and a spear gun and returned a few moments later with a fish to use as bait.


As if the experience wasn’t spooky enough as it was, while we rolled back into the inky, sharky waters, Bruce and Marnix sat there trying to lure in the predators! It was an exhilarating dive and all returned safe, if a little cold.


Thursday 28.08.08


Yet more diving on Thursday: Ino’s Hannah, over her fit of diving heebie-jeebies, took Sally, Jeremy and Emma (Ino) on a dive back to the same dive site, Tupa, for more close encounters with large, menacing lemon sharks.


While Sally and Jeremy were scaring themselves witless, Oli, Ash and George decided to jump on some bikes and cycle around Bora Bora. They had a whale of a time, stopping at every opportunity to buy a beer or photograph an amusing place name, and still getting around in under 4 hours – lungs almost as tired from shouting hearty “bonjours” as legs were for pedalling (only one gear on the bikes).


All recovered with another fantastic BBQ at BBYC – this one in aid of Emma’s 21st Birthday. The actual day was a couple of weeks away but she decided that it would be a good idea to have a Bora Bora birthday as she was unlikely to be with us on her real birthday. Any excuse for a few bottles of rum and a bit of a knees-up!


Her fellow crew members and the girls from Adventure put together a dance routine especially for the occasion and wowed the on-looking yachties with their confident choreography and performance. It was a close call for Ash, George and Oli – they were very nearly press-ganged into having to give a birthday performance of their own but instead managed to avert the pressure by organising a Treasure Hunt which had normally well behaved yachties tearing their way around the BBYC.


After this the younger crew members went back to Ino to toast Emma’s birthday, the success of the dancing and the Treasure Hunt, and about anything else we could think of, the merriment lasting well into the small hours.


Friday 29.08.08


Over the week, aside from diving, eating lots of BBQs, playing petanque (the girls from Adventure are now fiendishly good) and enjoying expensive liquid refreshement, we also spent a fair amount of time chatting to BBYC’s charming proprietor, Teiva (forgive spelling). Somehow he managed to convince us that it would be a good idea to enter a fishing competition, entrance a snip at $500!


We decided that the entrance fee would be more attractive if it were split 10 ways and with this in mind, Astra and Ino joined forces. Ash and Marnix spent the day converting Astra into a fishing vessel, bringing outriggers and more rods and reels from Ino. Meanwhile George and Oli set about the important task of gathering bait and tactics. Having found the former in the supermarket (frozen sardines) they were in the process of acquiring the latter in a local bar when they ran into Fred and Peg (Ogopogo) thus delaying their progress for several hours. 


They just about made it back in time for the BBQ and to pay the entrance fee and come midnight Astra was rigged with 6 fishing lines, stocked with frozen sardines, and about to be the first ever sailing vessel to enter French Polynesia’s largest fishing competition!


Saturday 30.08.08


We did not realise what a deal the fishing competition was when we signed up. Jeremy was not going to take any chances: while most of the boats waited until just before first light, we went out at the official start time of midnight. By 0010 we motored out of Passe Teavanui, the first of the 70 or so vessels in the fishing contest.


Oli was insistent that before attempting to land any record breaking fish we should first secure a “safety fish” lest all the other competitors failed to catch. We did not have to wait long: at 0020 a flying fish landed in the cockpit. At least we had our safety fish – it might not win any prizes but surely this was a good omen for things to come?


As it happened, despite Marnix and Bruce’s best efforts, we did not hook anything for the next 11 hours. It gave plenty of time for Astra’s less skilled and experienced fishermen to soak up stories and wisdom from Ino’s cognoscenti, and for Ino’s girls to enjoy the delights of hot showers, iced drinks and movies.


At 1115 our luck changed: we hooked a large striped marlin estimated at 250-300lbs. After an hour’s fight with a rod that was almost bent double Marnix got the marlin alongside.  As is the way with marlin (so we are told) the beast plummeted to the depths taking hundreds of metres of line with it. Painstakingly, a very sweaty Marnix fought the fish back to the surface where everybody else oohed-and-aahed at its beauty and size before the gaff-bearers closed in to bring the creature on board. These final moments went on for some time: Jeremy helming expertly to get the fish in position; Marnix assuring us that we had won the fight but not to count our chickens before we had it on board.


Somehow, with the fight won, only a smidgen more than a gaff’s length away, the beautiful beast managed to slip the hook and get away. It was soul destroying but we consoled ourselves that someone else would have a bigger marlin and at least our one would live to fight another day.


We fished right until the last but as the 1600 deadline approached we made our way back towards the pass and reported our position over the radio to the tournament organiser, joining the hordes of vessels declaring “zero poisson.” (Our flying fish having been used as bait!)


Once back at BBYC we made our way swiftly to the centre of town for the official weigh-in. Initial relief: someone had landed a bigger marlin than the one we had lost; even if we had landed it we would not have won the competition and the $15000 prize.  Then the bad news: excepting the winners, no-one else had brought back a marlin – if we got ours in then we would have won notoriety and a handsome second prize. Oh well, there’s always next year!


Almost lost in the excitement of the fishing competition was the fact that we had to say farewell to Oli as he was returning to the UK. Squeezing every last minute of enjoyment out of his time in Bora Bora, he made the weigh in before scampering over to the ferry to take him to the airport. The ferry pulled out of the dock incredibly slowly, allowing time for him to be waved out by all members of Astra and Ino. Ino’s crew even performed another rendition of Emma’s birthday dance, much to the amusement of the other ferry passengers. In return Oli managed to keep his arm aloft and waving for what seemed like an eternity as the ferry eventually disappeared into the distance.  


Back at BBYC no excuses of fishing competition related tiredness were to be accepted to get out of the festivities of this Saturday night: Mystere had arrived, sufficient cause for a party in itself, but also it was Teiva’s and Joost’s Birthday. After loosening up at the BBYC, members of Mystere, Astra, Ino, and Ogopogo popped round the corner to dance the night away at the Recife Night Club.