Bora Bora Blog

Tue 24 Jun 2008 20:18
Date: Sunday 22nd June
Location: 16:32.207S 151:44.476W, or more topographically speaking, anchored in 10 metres of crystal clear water just off the southern tip of the Island of Bora Bora, and within its sheltering lagoon.
It has been a little time since we wrote, but we have been so busy, being on holiday!! Last time we were on Rangiora. We left as soon as the weather permitted for Tahiti, but still had a very mixed bag of weather en route, and both of us, despite the 'training' that the bumpy anchorage in Rangiora provided, were a little struck by mal de mere. In addition Vicky got wet, and discovered how tropical rain can be quite chilling (she has warmed up now!). We were in Pape'ete after two nights at sea, entering the harbour at first light and finding plenty of space to moor on the Town quay. With a Mediteranean type of mooring we could step ashore as and when, straight into the centre of this Pacific metropolis. Best for me was a French cafe 50 yards away that served to die for almond croissants for breakfast. Vicky was more interested in the black pearl jewelery shops. We really enjoyed Pape'ete: there was a grass skirt dancing festival on our first night, very much an affair for the locals, and we learned to eat out at roulottes: mobile snack bars that are a Tahitian institution. At night these mobiles fill the town square, and seemingly everyone eats on plastic tables laid out around them: 'local' food plus French and Chinese, all very tasty and good value. We even started to have our lunch at a collection of roulotttes in the Comercial Port area: an area that we came to know well as we tried to track down a parcel sent here in the mail from Blighty. We were warned that we would inevitably catch Tahitian 'flu, such was the lack of hygeine. I suggested that flu was spread by coughs and sneezes, and that hepatitis 'A' was a much more likely outcome from our new eating habit, but of course doctors really do know nothing, and a week later we both went down with Tahitian flu!! just a typical viral cold, but unpleasant for a day or two.
We met several new crews in The Tuamotus and Pape'ete: Wayne on Moonduster, with an ex Irish Admirals Cup boat was quite a character, and very helpful, also John and Paula, a UK crew on 'Mr John' always had up to the minute news from the rest of the 'fleet'. However we were needing to move on, and after a visit to the huge Carrefour Supermarket, we left for Mo'orea on Sunday 15 June. Only 20 miles, but an odd trip with huge swells comming from opposite directions in the channel between the islands, and variable winds. The anchorages on the north Coast seemed likely to offer perfect shelter, but as we entered the pass there we were met with full on gale force winds coming straight down off the high mountains into a deep bay. We managed to anchor to one side, in very shallow water behind a reef, and out of the full force of the wind. Later in the night the wind moderated, and we slept at last! Next day Vicky had to return to Pape'ete on the high speed ferry to collect our parcel, which had finally been located. You don't want to know the full details of that particular saga, but even the final stage was marked by incident: there was a footpath marked between our anchorage and the ferry port on the east of the Island over a high ridge. Vicky hitched a ride to the ferry early in the morning, I planned to take the walk and meet her at the ferry port for lunch, after she had returned from Pape'ete. But I got lost, and retired, back to the boat. Vicky on arriving at the ferry dock after picking up the parcel decided to walk back in the opposite direction, hoping that it would be easier to pick up the path from that end. It wasn't: and for a while, in the late afternoon with only a short spell of daylight left, she was lost as well on a wrong turn heading deep in to the island's mountanious interior. More by luck than judgement she stumbed (VB:literally!) down into a water catchment area that I had described to her earlier as the 'end' of the trail that I had tried to follow, and so we were 'joined up', and then a local farmer gave her a lift all the way down the trail and back to the boat in his truck as dusk began to fall: another happy ending!
To celebtate we got the anchor up, and just got out through the pass before nightfall, thereafter enjoying an excellent overnight sail, with our twin headsail downwind rig, to the island of Huahine. An unexpected gem, few tourists, excellent achorage off a beach in clear water, with good dinghy access to the village of Fare, where a little Pension did rather good breakfasts.We rented bikes and rode round the Island. One really steep hill,otherwise easy going, interesting 'sites' -maraes- in a village called Maeva, plus ancient stone fish traps in the lagoon. Couldn't resist a free canoe ride to a pearl farm in the lagoon. Spoiled ourselves with a gourmet shrimp curry back on board (frozen raw shrimps relatively cheap by Tahitian standards). On the 19th June we set off for Raiatea: a dissapointing trip as the wind died and we had to motor all the way to get through the pass before dark. We motored between Raiatea and the Island of Tahaa (they are within a common reef and share the picturesque turquoise lagoon) and finally found somewhere to park in Pufau bay on the West coast. We didn't explore ashore as we were anxious to get on to Bora Bora, and next day enjoyed our best sail for ages: flat sea for a change, and a beam reach with full sail made for a very stable boat: we made the pass at Bora Bora by late afternoon,and found a deep anchorage off the town of Vaitape before dark. Next morning ashore for a quick shop and to visit the Genndarmarie, and then off to the outer lagoon. We have found a great and relatively uncrowded anchorage at the very southern tip of the island, in a small bay. To get in we had a rather heartstopping trip over some very obvious coral in about 2-3 metres of water, but now we are in a deep pool with over 10 metres of clear blue water over sand. Snorkeling is excellent just by the boat over the shallower sands, there are manta and sting rays and fish galore among the coral and there is even a local turtle who bobs about. To one side we have 'The' Bora Bora Hotel, and to the other the 'Intercontinental': THE places to stay if you havn't packed your yacht with you!! To quote the Lonely Planet Guide "The Bora Bora is consistently among the Worlds top hotels, Piers Brosnan is a regular, and Lilian Gregory has also stayed there". Swimming today off the boat, and maybe a cocktail with Piers later!. Last night we did go ashore for a Pizza, about the only food we can afford here, and jolly good. In a couple of days we have to make tracks for the Cook Islands and Tonga, It is a shame that we can't stay for longer, but I doubt that anyone reading will feel great sympathy for our plight!!
French Polynesia has been a great place, and all the Island groups have a different feel. The further west we go the more developed everything is, and the more dependant the locals seem to be on tourism: culminating indeed with this island, with its many many 'resort' hotels. Even so a family drifted past 'Fleck' early this morning pulling up the long seine net that they had laid overnight on the reef. Mum and Dad pulled up the net, the oldest child manned the oars of their small rowing boat, and two little ones played about and got in everyone else's way, as is the way of the world.
The Americans that we meet make great play of the antagonism that the Polynesians feel towards the French. We don't detect this, and I would be amazed if they would be so foolish as to bite the hand that so obviously feeds them: but we learn nothing from history, and so no one knows what will happen here in twenty years time: revolution, or will a lot of the low islands, the atolls, just continue to sink gently beneath the rising sea.
Sorry to 'bora' you all with this account of our trip through the 'Society Islands', but as I've said before if it's not in the blog, it didn't happen, and it would be aweful if I were to forget this detail and have to do it all again.........
PS Tuesday 24 th June. Off today, and we have continued to enjoy the Island, though the weather has not been so good, and our idylic anchorage a bit choppy. To pacify ourselves cocktails have been a necessity rather than a ludicrous extravagence. Bora Bora hotel best for ambience, but no umberellas or swizzel sticks to decorate the drinks, and no nibbles either: you kind of expect these things for the price of a three course meal anywhere else!! Back on board, where life is more basic, We have collected a lot of rain water for our tanks, and had some left over to wash our clothes. Today has dawned fair and fine however, and this is necessary if we are to spot the shallow bits of coral as we head back round the Bora Bora hotel reef. We are hoping to stop in one of the Cook Islands in 600 miles time: 5 to 7 days or so depending on the weather which is very variable just now. We shall be sending the occasional blog as we go along: whenever we have to dial up a weather forecast! Hope to send this by Wi Fi as we motor past the Islands 'hot spot' later on.
Best wishes to you all
Richard and Vicky