Moorea and Bora-Bora
Moorea was lovely. We anchored in a very pretty spot near a sandy beach backed with coconut palms and with the famous jagged topped mountain in the background. Very south Pacific; very South Pacific. We chilled out for a couple of days, cleaned most of the accumulated weed and grime from close to the water-line, swam, took a walk on shore and generally enjoyed ourselves.
On Sunday morning we left for Bora-Bora, tying up to a buoy at the Bora-Bora Yacht Club (really a restaurant in picturesqe surroundings) after a satisfying sail of a little under twenty-four hours. (The restaurant serves excellent food at Geneva prices).
We did not have long to rest on our laurels. For weeks (months?) we have been keen followers of the adventures of Timella and her intrepid crew. Attentive blog readers will recognize Timella as the boat that left the Galapagos two days before us bound for Fiji directly but then sailed ever so slowly west. Fellow Australian Ross on Y-Not maintained a friendly radio sked to check on progress and offer encouragement with us, among others, avid listeners in and sometime contributors. Eventually Timella was persuaded to take a break in the Marquesas and she reached Hiva-Oa after fifty days at sea. Skipper and crew enjoyed excellent r. and r. on the island, carried out much needed maintenance and set off again with revised plans heading for Rarotonga via Bora-Bora. We were delighted to find that we were to meet up again after sharing their adventures vicariously for so long. We felt that we knew them well although in reality our only meeting had been in a water taxi in Santa Cruz.
Timella was due on Monday but did not make it. On Tuesday morning the crew radioed that they were thirteen miles off with a seized engine and flat batteries. By the middle of the afternoon they were seven miles away but reported that after a long and dramatic family conference had concluded they were not going to make Bora-Bora against wind and current and, with great reluctance, were going to carry on to Rarotonga five hundred miles distant. It was immediately clear that a rescue was a practical proposition; Ross joined us on JJ Moon and we dropped our buoy and set off.
We laid out our fifty metre kedge warp on deck secured to a bridle attached to the stern cleats, the other end tied to a light line. With the aid of modern technology we found Timella easily, Ross threw the line across her foredeck and the crew soon had the warp attached to a strong point. We turned and headed for home. The tow was straightforward but rather slow and dusk was well advanced by the time we motored through the pass against a strong current. It was pitch black and raining when we started searching for a free buoy while being assailed by high-speed local ferries armed with powerful spotlights threatening to charge between us and our tow. With our hearts in our mouths by a stroke of good fortune we found a buoy and secured Timella to it with the tow rope. A little earlier we had been frustrated to see in the distance "our own" buoy being taken by another yacht. It took some time but by diligent searching we eventually found the last free mooring. A quick tidy up and rescuers and rescued went over to Y-Not for one of Sue's tremendous meals; prawn cocktail, large beef casserole, a pavlova and plentiful libations to the gods which encouraged tales of brave deeds and adventures all over the world. We slept very well.
It turns out that Timella's skipper Cameron is a rigger by trade having been trained by the Australian government to erect and maintain telecommunications masts up to three hundred metres high. He has no fear of heights but is somewhat daunted at the beginning of a job by the thought of the hour's hard climb to the top. He has developed his skills in recent years to include yacht rigging and, very appreciative of our towing efforts, offered to give our set-up a close inspection. This was an offer we couldn't refuse and Cameron spent much of Wednesday morning making some useful observations, offering advice and attending to some corrosion round the fixings of the radar scanner. We offered lunch, which turned out to be a very convivial meal. In the evening JJ Moons and Y-Nots met for a curry on Timella and the poms were entertained by some fascinating tales of the teenage Cameron working on the very rough, very tough cattle stations in the outback. Seventy-five thousand head of cattle on one station! It might have been the beer but what with the Aussie slang and cattle men's jargon we effete Brits found it difficult to follow at times. I reckon I was getting about one word in three. Another great evening.
Today, Thursday, Ross is over on Timella helping to sort out the engine. He has a friend, a sort of Aussie Bill, who is very knowledgeable and helpful. He has sent an e-mail from which it seems likely that they have a blown head gasket and water in the cylinders.
We think we may leave on Saturday. It is easy for us but not so straightforward for those who are not members of the EU. On entering French Polynesia they must each post a bond at a local bank equivalent to the cost of an air fair to their home country. This is a great nuisance even for those with plenty of funds readily available. The money must be paid in French Polynesian Francs and is returned just before leaving in the same currency. Arrangements have to be made with designated banks and additional paperwork has to be completed within a strict timetable. One might wonder why anyone bothers to come here but of course this is the raison d'etre of most people's Pacific cruise. It is an expensive and tiresome burden from which we are very relieved to be free.
P.S. Sorry for the delay in publication. On Thursay morning the wi-fi server at the Bora-Bora Yacht Club went down. On Friday morning the whole island lost its telephone service and at mid-day the electricity supply failed. Ross and Sue were in the bank struggling to get their bond back. There was yet another “little problem” and the teller was about to make a phone call to Tahiti when the lights went out and the screens went blank. By the middle of the afternoon the helpful teller was struggling to maintain her composure, but it all ended happily.
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