Bora-Bora to Rarotonga

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Tue 25 Sep 2007 21:18

Before leaving Bora-Bora we had a trip round the island in Jaques' taxi.  Jaques is a very big man with huge hands.  He has a beautiful singing voice and considerable skill with a small guitar, which he strums behind the wheel when the driving gets a bit boring.  He laughs a great deal on meeting many of his cousins beside the road who own interesting plots of land, about to be developed.

Jacques, taxi driver and musician

Without doubt the island is very beautiful with shallow but navigable water most of the way round within the reef which consists partly of coral that is awash and partly motus (small islands).  The twin mountain peaks dominate.  All the large hotel groups seem to be represented, generally by tastefully designed individual thatched rooms built on stilts on the motus.  There must be many tourists at the height of the season but we didn't see too many visitors around our anchorage.

Hotel rooms, Bora BoraBora-Bora mountain peaks

The passage to Rarotonga threw up a bit of a surprise.  We left on the same day, Sunday, as Timella and Y-Not in glorious sailing conditions which we hoped would prevail for four days.  No such luck. Un-forecast, the wind gradually built until we were experiencing thirty to thirty-five knots, occasionally a bit more, which persisted for thirty-six hours.  With the wind abaft the beam force seven is fine but the seas which build up in that wind strength can be very tiresome.  It is OK on deck if one can accept a splash now and again but down below one is thrown about and doing anything is difficult.  It is awkward just to prepare the simplest meal, sit at the chart table or use the heads.  Everything is tiring and it is hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in.  Small things wear out and break and one is constantly aware of the need to avoid an accident.  None of this adds up to much of a yachtsman's tale of derring-do but so much of the life out here in Paradise is lived in idyllic conditions that a spot of bad weather serves as a sharp reminder that it can all change in the shake of a lamb's tail.

And now another Timella tale which I am a bit loath to dwell on as it is not really about us, but it is interesting.  During the bad weather Timella shipped a wave which knocked out part of the radio; somehow they realised they could transmit but not receive. At the time of the regular sked Cameron broke in with:

This is a transmission from Timella-: We have taken some water on board and I have no volume on receive; no volume on receive.  We have a small tear in the mains'l which we'll repair once the weather moderates.  My position (the main point of the sked) is (latitude), (longitude) (repeated twice). Everything is A OK on board; everything A OK on board; everything A OK on board.  End of transmission from Timella.”

Timella is a ketch with two masts and usually sets three sails so we noted their position and thought little more about it.  Over the next twenty-four hours we learnt that they had repaired the mains'l and everything was still “A OK on board.”  However, just before dawn on the morning following the original transmission we all overheard mysterious messages on VHF which we later learnt were from a French Search and Rescue plane announcing that he was taking off on his way to find Timella.  It turned out that Cameron had been in touch with a helpful radio ham in Hawaii who had been giving him weather forecasts and forwarding messages by e-mail.  This man had concluded, entirely without foundation, that they were in serious trouble and had instigated a full scale search.  The French authorities put up two planes, sent out a pilot boat and alerted two freighters to look for the stricken boat.  They searched all day but never found them!  At the end of the day another boat listening to our sked back in Bora-Bora notified the authorities that all was well and the search was called off.   When Timella finally found out they were mortified and not at all pleased with their Hawiian friend, although that relationship was further complicated for reasons that need not concern this blog.   On Friday evening I overheard a conversation between two more friends of Timella saying how awful it was that the crew had been obliged to put out a Mayday but that it was good to know they had been rescued and taken on a freighter to Rarotonga.  The men were clearly terribly concerned so I broke in to bring them up to date and allay their worries.  I was later able to ask one of these friends how he had heard the story of the freighter rescue.  He said it was broadcast on the “Southern Cross'' net, a daily radio link mainly for Aussies and Kiwis.

We have suffered two major frustrations during the voyage.  Firstly, we still have not seen a whale whilst everybody else has.  These animals are big and we keep as good a look-out as most so we feel a bit fed up.

Secondly, the mate has not yet been crowned with success in her fishing.  Over the months we have received advice from numerous experienced fishermen, all of whom catch plenty of fish and have often shared their catch with us most generously.  We started off with the wrong gear but we have gradually put together the proper kit and are now using exactly the same stuff as the experts.  No fish, except the two big ones that got away having chewed through stainless steel wire traces (these are big guys we are after).  Mags is far from despondent but it is a bit hard putting her line out every morning and having to admit on the sked each evening that once again we had “failed to trouble the scorers”.   Here is a picture showing part of the latest gear and our best effort so far.

Big hook, very small fish

- - - - - - -

Monday morning and all is well.  Timella has arrived safely to general rejoicing and expressions of satisfaction all round.

I apologise for the continuing problem with captions.  They work fine on our computers but more than one friend has said that they cannot get them to come up by letting the cursor hover.  Mags is bending her mind to it but in the meantime any suggestions, on a postcard please, to JJMoon..........