Tira Blog Thursday 10th June
Tira on the way to the Cook Islands 18:22.70S 158:05.32W
was Thursday the 3rd of June when we set sail for Bora Bora, a name
that conjures up a stack of exciting and romantic visions. However we’d had all
sorts of feedback both from official sources, at the Morea reception, and Hans
from Natibou, suggesting that tourism had cast a corporate net and that when
combined with the impact of the recession, it meant that big business had mostly left, leaving an
altered culture and a scruffy landscape of empty resorts and half finished
buildings. Also, in my opinion, it’s nowhere near as spectacular as its
reputation suggests and, for me, doesn’t compare with many of the other
only one entry passage through the protective reef, luckily it’s wide,
straightforward and well marked.
had been our intention to broadly follow Hans’ recommendations and head straight
for the South East lagoon, which he’d described as idyllic. However those plans
were immediately altered. A call came over the radio, from Jaime from Bionic.
Peregrina had encountered engine drive shaft problems and was nervous about
making an entry just under sail. The decision was to go out and tow him in, an
operation mostly straightforward in these benign conditions, but would be made
that much easier with a few extra experienced hands on
we decided to pick up a mooring buoy at the Bora Bora Yacht Club and spend the
Pete was off on his rescue mission, J and I set to ensuring that the boat was
secured. As we were busying ourselves about the boat we were hailed by a voice
from a passing dinghy. It came from an elderly, weather worn and quite hairy
looking Swedish guy with an acrobatic Jack Russell dog that constantly performed
impressive balancing acts on the edge of the boat as it bobbed up and down in
the swell. He’d seen our Devon flag, a black cross on a green background and
thought that we might be a boat full of his fellow countrymen (colour
blind???),. I’m sure that I detected more than just a hint of disappointment on
his face when he heard my accent, Nonetheless, he hung around for a chat. He
spoke really good English and a great little conversation followed as he told of
his sailing travels and exploits over the last three years since he and his wife
had left home.
salvage crew eventually returned escorting Peregrina, who eventually made it
under her own steam (sorry, I mean Diesel). So with crisis over I spent the
evening relaxing on board with a few beers whilst J and Pete went for a drink at
the yacht club. They said they’d had an interesting conversation with a couple
of American women who had just arrived on a very large and luxurious motor
launch .It sounded like they enjoyed themselves judging by the broad grins on
their faces, as they returned just in time for an evening meal on
following day we set off for our original destination, the South East lagoon.
There was a whole line of Motu’s (islands) to our left, and the towering
mountains in the distance to our right. It was a short trip. The journey was
straightforward to start with, but with some tricky passages at the midway
point. The way through the coral was man-made and produced with the aid of
explosives. It was at times quite nerve-racking. The extremely light turquoise
surface of the water confirmed that this was an inhospitable environment for
yachts; and when the depth reading fell to 1.9 metres, things did look a bit
questionable. However we made it through and entered the wonderful clear blue
waters of the vast lagoon dropping anchor in just 4 metres of water. Apart from
Enchantress the only other boats were two long- abandoned very second-hand
looking vessels. So there was no one to witness, or be offended by one quite
skinny (me) and one not quite so skinny (J) blokes diving into the water stark
b----ck naked. It took just a few more demonstration dives for us to realise
that an early trip home for Olympic selection might just prove a bit futile.
Meanwhile David from Enchantress had made contact, nothing to do with our
diving!!!. They’d visited some of the recommended snorkelling sites and were
disappointed over the lack of marine activity and live coral. We announced our
plans to visit the Motu Cafe to book an evening meal, whilst at the same time
seek advice on good snorkelling. Arrangements were made to
soon as we pulled the dinghy on to the beach this place felt right Hans had
described it as a shack like building with cheap food cooked on an open fire and
hosted by a charming American/Mexican family. He also went on to say that the
experience of this place, for him and Monica, had made the trip to Bora Bora
worthwhile. I think I know just what he means!!
we approached the cafe we were greeted by a very tall, large and charismatic
owner. His name was Michele and before long we were introduced to his son, two
daughters and delightful, petite dark haired wife called Martina. Beers were
drank and arrangements made for the meal. The veggi option took some sorting,
but with people so accommodating the solution wasn’t that difficult.
arrangements made, also to include Enchantress, we set off in the direction of
the recommended dive site, giving David a call on the way.
venue was called Coral Garden. There was brilliantly coloured coral in abundance
and fish so plentiful it almost felt like swimming through gently drifting,
coloured clouds. Dive boats arrived, but in an area this size the impact was
trip back was choppy, our poor little outboard struggling to keep pace. A
gesture from David indicated a beer was available. We gratefully accepted and
reached his boat just in time to see Lucy Alice glide by. With their boat safely
on anchor Ian and Glenda joined us. A fun hour followed and it was then that we
decided that Motu Cafe should have two extra customers for tonight’s
great evening followed with all the earlier promise quickly
speciality is fish. I’m no expert, but judging by the reactions, the tuna met
with unanimous approval. The amounts were copious, the flavours great and the
surroundings charmingly simple, although we might have had a different view if
it had rained judging by the holes in the roof. Anyway it didn’t. Our host were
hugely hospitable and we came away after a brilliant evening with a promise to
return with boat stickers and information. We’d suggested they consider starting
a rogues’ gallery of visiting yachts similar to the Antiguan bar where almost
every surface is covered in stickers and signatures. It was an idea that went
down well and we all came away feeling pleased and a bit smug that we’d managed
to visit this unspoilt oasis in a desert of tourism.
first morning task was to re-visit Michele to drop off stickers and cards.
Jeremy and I arrived just as Michele’s son was raking the white sand in front of
the cafe that led to the waters’ edge. Carefully avoiding the now pristine
surface, we made our way to the bar. Michele greeted us. Our gallery idea was
still fresh in his mind and we discussed its merits over a cup of his
much-vaunted espresso coffee, compliments of the house, and left with a good
feeling and memories of a great little interlude.
had decided to re-locate the boat and take a look at the infamous Bloody Mary’s
restaurant and bar. It took little time to reach the bay, pick up a mooring buoy
and make for the private jetty in the dinghy. It was too late for lunch, even if
we could afford it, but the idea of a beer appealed, so in we went. What a
contrast to Motu Cafe, the roof didn’t leak for a start and either side of a
grand entrance were plaques displaying the details of all its famous clientele.
Even I recognised a couple.
were the guys from Jackamy. They were at the bar drinking, having just finished
a meal. We joined them and chewed the fat about events since our last
get-together. It was also an opportunity to take in our illustrious
surroundings. I have to say I found it difficult to see what all the fuss is
about. However its reputation for good food is renowned, but it comes at a cost.
I think you’d have to be prepared to part with an eye watering hundred quid a
head for dinner.
hung around for about an hour or so. Pete was keen to arrange a dive for the
following day (something he’ll fill you in on later). Not knowing the location
of the dive shops, he’d come prepared with his bike. So off he went while J and
I went for a stroll.
first major impact was the volume and speed of the traffic, followed closely by
the amounts of casual rubbish lying around and a general feeling of scruffiness.
It had nothing to do with the ramshackle dwellings, they’ve been on all the
islands and just added to the character of the places. It was just the general
feeling of untidiness, nothing put away, half finished building sites and
prominent scrap vehicles; not really what we’d expected!!
was a short stroll, but we did take advantage of the few viewing points across
the bay, look at the roadside land crabs and pose for photos beside a road sign
showing the distances to various worldwide capital cities.
drink at the bar and we were back on the boat. Pete arrived soon after having
booked a dive that would consume much of the day. So Jeremy and I decided, once
more, that a two wheeled excursion would be a good source of entertainment.
There was a further evening visit to Bloody Marys and we came away with their
renowned T shirts (Keep an eye on the post Arun).
start was quite early. While ours was much more civilised and relaxed, with us
eventually rolling past the bar at about 10.30 am.
were bits to buy, a new SSB isolator switch being one. Not so easy in a
religious environment where everything shuts on Sunday. As it happens we were
unsuccessful. Although the search was time consuming. The frequent stops did
have the effect of providing the opportunity to look at more than we perhaps
Sunday the churches were full; and churches often mean choirs. So no surprise
then when the sounds of haunting music provoked an abrupt application of the
brakes and we stopped outside a large church. As always the music was brilliant
and the singing enthusiastic and so distinctive. Could have stayed there for
ages, I love it and find that I just can’t get enough.
were finding it really difficult to get going now. Few shops were open, but we
did manage to buy cards, locate an ATM, visit a hardware store and eventually
have coffee and eats at a roadside takeaway. The morning had almost disappeared
and the busy roads filled with the cars of returning church goers, all white
shirts and dresses gleaming from the interiors.
picked up a couple of beers earlier, found somewhere with a view and parked
ourselves on a roadside rock amongst an array of discarded plastic bottles and
aluminium cans and opened our bottles. We sat alongside steps that lead to a
small concrete jetty just yards from the road. My attention was drawn to a
sudden movement in the shallows and there in about 6 inches depth of gently
lapping water, squirmed a four foot long moray eel that was slowly foraging its
way along the edge of the sand. This is the sort of thing you’d go diving to see
and there we were sat on a stone on the side of a busy road, drinking beer and
one puts in an appearance...... Amazing!!!!
- now mandatory - ice-cream stop wasn’t half so exciting this time, but very
welcome all the same
we closed on the South East side of the Island the general feel improved. We
stopped outside an attractive church with imposing but simple stained glass
windows. It was situated on the junction of a road going inland. The map
indicated a circular route in the direction of the mountain. Agreement was
unanimous (not that difficult, after all there were just two of us and quite
often we have similar motivations), so we took it. After a short period the
concrete disappeared and the dirt surface became broken and very rugged. We
abandoned our bikes in favour of foot power and made our way up the steep
incline that was the approach to the mountain trek. Although our walk was short
and a bit of a token gesture, it became obvious that this was serious hiking
countryside as the track became steeper and very rutted. Then with the imposing
mountain large in the background, we turned back and collected the
down the hill we completed the circular route. With everything closed except
pearl shops, we just kept going. The afternoon was drawing on, but we still had
enough money for just one more beer each. We saw signs and turned the bikes into
a parking area of, what turned out to be, an open all hours type of
was run by a surly couple, with looks on their faces as though every day was
Monday. The attractive bay view, rear terrace was guarded by keep out signs.
Both proprietors seemed oriental-ish and J’s astute observation had the guy down
as a onetime stand in for 007’s Odd Job. No surprise then that when instructed
that no alcohol was to be drunk on the premises, we quickly jumped on the bikes
short way down the road we pulled over under some shade and were a bit startled
by the appearance of two young puppies. They were the litter of a very timid and
scraggy looking bitch, who quickly disappeared to what she thought was a safe
distance. It was a sad sight, and I’m sure that anything that we did was having
the effect of just delaying the inevitable, but we fed them anyway before
were now running quite late. The intention had been to relocate the boat this
evening, but we just couldn’t ignore the colourful collection of roadside
carvings that marked the entrance to The Farm, a shop selling
was almost like a gallery of installation art consisting of a huge variety of
brilliantly carved, vibrantly coloured tikis all set out in an area running down
to the beach.
arrived back in late afternoon sunlight, too late to move Fai Tira. Back on the
boat it sounded as though Pete’s day was only just half good. However, he said
diving with massive lemon sharks was an experience not to be missed and made it
all worthwhile. Just read his personal account.
The diving in the Society Islands has been amazing! I never thought I
would ever get so close to massive Grey, Lemon and Black Tipped sharks. A
few days ago I dived with giant
Manta Rays but unfortunately the visibility
at the site was not brilliant so I only got a glimpse of them in the
distance. The second dive was probably one of the best dives I
have ever experienced, swimming within six feet of eight foot Lemon Sharks was
stunning. The water there was crystal clear and you could see for hundreds
of yards. We also saw massive Giant Moray Eels and the very poisonous Lion
Fish not to mention a large shoal of Barracuda.
next day it was time to say goodbye to The Polynesian Islands, a unique, largely
unspoilt and unbelievable place. We saw many memorable locations and events.
Looking back Ua Pou would take some beating and would be near the top of my list
to re-visit, but there were many others. However the reality is that it’s likely
to be the last time here for most of us.
thanks for a fantastic place!!!
Grib Files had indicated very benign sailing conditions with little wind. It’s a
prediction that caused some boats to delay their departure dates. However we’re
not that quick and also the fact that we were going somewhere different,
Aitutaki, meant that their decisions didn’t necessarily apply to us. Anyway it’s
much more fun to be individual and independent!!
we set off on our 480 mile journey. Our experiences, related to the accuracy of
the Grib forecasts, have been mixed. So having set out prepared for an engine-on
journey, we were still hoping for a bit of a sail and allowing 4 days for the
still all a little nervous about the shallow, narrow entrance through the coral.
However Hans has sent a really good and informative E mail to the fleet about
his recent visit. It’s full of detail and boosts the confidence. He also said
that it was one of the best places he’s seen.
good judge is Hans!!!
forecast has been broadly right. The first part of the passage has been almost
exclusively engine on, but with some sail assistance. Progress was slow. Later
on the wind veered and increased and we indulged in some proper sailing and even
with the boat close hauled we were tripping along at a steady 5 ½ - 6 knots but
it didn’t last. The wind died in the night and it’s been engine on ever since.
Yippee!!! only 120 miles to go.
you know what it’s like when we get there.
Bye for now, Pete,
John and Jeremy