Monday 7th June
I'm sure I've probably explained this before
but like all of the Society Islands, Bora Bora is a mountain surrounded by a
barrier reef which results in a lagoon. The coral reef has developed from the
basalt base of an extinct volcano and is rarely more than 3 to 7 metres above
sea level. And the mountain is actually an extinct volcano that has probably
been extinct for 6 million years. The height of the volcanoes encouraged the
formation of cloud masses and rainfall played an important role in it's erosion,
as it still does today. The volcano has already sunk down a long way and the
crater has completely caved in on the left allowing the lagoon to take over.
From the time the volcanoes became inactive, coral formations began to create a
crust on it's slopes. The accumulation of coral eventually reached the surface
of the ocean, thus forming the barrier reef. Millions of years from now the
islands will be the same as the Tuamotus Islands, they'll be atolls with no
mountain in the centre, just a barrier reef around the lagoon.
The reason I mention all of that is to
explain that for those reasons you can't sail around the whole of Bora Bora,
there are parts that are just too shallow. There is however a marked channel
which takes you up around the north of the island and around to the east side.
We were eager to visit the east side as it really is what you'd imagine Bora
Bora to be like, the west side has been described as "The east's backyard"!!!!
There is one problem though, the passage can be very shallow in places but other
Blue Water Rally yachts had been round and advised of the depth so we
thought we'd give it a go. We set off in a convoy, we were following Blue Magic
and Bionic, Simanderal and Peregrina were following us.
Amy started to lead us through,
you can see the other yachts following while we stayed close behind Blue
We came to a cardinal marker
which caused a lot of confusion. Blue Magic started to veer off to the left but
Paul had set a track on the chart plotter which took us to it's right as it was
a west cardinal so Amy was following that. Bionic wasn't sure who to follow
but he soon began to follow Blue Magic. Simanderal quickly came on the
radio telling Bionic to follow Jackamy and telling Blue Magic they
needed to take the cardinal on their port side not their starboard. I
think Blue Magic must have come into shallow water as they suddenly veered to
the right and got back on track.
All the boats heading different
Once past the cardinal we had to
make a sharp left turn to head around a red marker. Paul quickly took the helm
as Amy and myself were needed to stand at the bow and spot for coral heads. We
thought this was the most difficult part but little did we know that was quite
simple compared to what was coming up!
The S-bend - rounding the
cardinal then immediately turning left to then turn right around the red
There are no pictures of the next
section as it was all panic stations on board! It was a tight passage and it
wasn't really in a straight line so it was difficult to navigate and to make
things worse the markers weren't where they were supposed to be on the chart
plotter so we were almost navigating blind and hoping we were on the right path.
Blue Magic went first and made it through fine. We weren't far behind but must
have deviated slightly from their course as suddenly there was a bang as we hit
the coral. Amy was at the bow trying to spot coral heads but she was having
great difficulty as the whole of the floor was coral and you can't distinguish
how deep it all is. We draw 2.2 metres and at one point the depth guage was
reading 2.4 metres but the coral must have raised slightly where we hit.
As we hit the coral we
immediately started shouting to the three boats behind that we'd hit coral but
as we said it there was an awful crunch as Bionic hit the bottom. He was well
and truely on the coral as his rigging was rattling and the boat was
rocking, he had to reverse to get off. He then hit it a second time which was
when he decided enough was enough and turned back. We have since learnt that he
draws 2.5 metres so really it was only going to be a matter of time before he
hit the bottom, he was too deep to try and come round really. Peregrina made it
through safely but Simanderal also touched the bottom and their's was slightly
worse as it was their rudder that hit which has now affected their steering. So
all in all it was a bit of an exciting trip round! We were only planning on
staying one night but after all of that we've decided to stay for 2 nights plus
it is absolutley idyllic here. At least we can now say that we have left our
mark on Bora Bora, a bit of anti-foul streaked coral. We've inspected the
damage and the keel has a few deep scratches and even a piece of coral still
imbedded in the front but it all seems to be ok. We've still got to make it back
Once safely through the tight
passage I could get back to taking pictures. From the north east to the north
west the outer motus are covered in hotels with the over the water bungalows.
It's a bit spoilt!
Where we are now is just
wonderful though! We're anchored off the outer motu on the south east
corner of the lagoon in around 4 metres of water which is crystal clear and a
beautiful turquoise colour. This is the unspoilt part of the lagoon and it's
The outer motu to the one side
and the island in the centre of the lagoon to the other
Last night there was the most
beautiful sunset over Bora Bora