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Date: 31 Jul 2012 00:26:24
Title: Bora Bora - pretty close to paradise

Lat 16:31.94S
Lon 151:45.02W

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We're here!

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Phew! Bora Bora has lived up to expectations. Yes, there's cars and a road and lots of 5 star hotels, but there's no denying how beautifully scenic this island is. The lagoon and the mountains are breathtaking and being on a yacht, we haven't actually seen many tourists at all. They are all safely cooped up in their overwater bungalows with all the other honeymooners, away from the yachties! Our sail here was a quick one - lots of wind and a fair amount of swell, all push us in the right direction. The waves breaking on the reef when we arrived were quite spectacular. It was overcast until we sailed through the pass and the sun came out just in time for our arrival at Bora Bora Yacht Club. The club has moved in the last year and it is not so much a yacht club anymore as a bar and restaurant with a good number of moorings out the front. We enjoyed a welcome lunch here, but didn't feel the need to spend any more time here - we wanted to head south to the famous shallow lagoon!

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There are a couple of places in the lagoon that are super shallow but apparently still capable of getting a yacht through, contrary to what the charts say. There was an anchorage on the SE corner marked in a cruising guide we have, and we could see at least 10 boats round there, but after initial checking in the dinghy I couldn't see a way through the rocks under the surface. A local man, clearly anticipating our conundrum waved me ashore and assured me it was safe and 10 meters all the way round. We decided to give it a go, very slowly, amidst lots of shouting and a minor tantrum from me about risking the yacht for the sake of a decent kiting location! We got round fine, of course, and our lowest reading on the depth sounder was 3m - we draw 1.8m so "plenty" under the keel around those bommies! Tantrum over, we headed for a drink at the famous Bloody Mary's restaurant, but we were a bit early and there was no one there and they seemed to be setting up for dinner so we went back to the boat and got the dive tanks filled.

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Early the next morning, the boys kited off Matira Point, in the shallow, turquoise lagoon. I took the dinghy over to a nearby Motu (island) where I'd read there was some great snorkelling. It was fantastic. I've never seen so many fish in such a confined area. I think the hotels feed them which would explain their boldness in swimming right up to my mask. The highlight was seeing an octopus swimming out in the open. I haven't seen one before and I have been hoping to see one for ages. Such bizarre creatures - I saw it chase a fish and then change colour as it turned to match the colour of the rock it took refuge under. The site is definitely deserving of it's Aquarium name. I also saw a couple who had got married on Monday in the water in their wedding attire having photos taken!

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Meanwhile, Archie had had a great kiting session, but Harry had disappeared downwind and not been able to get back. I mean really disappeared! David had watched him for as far as he could see him, and now we had no idea where he was! With visions of Harry drifting miles down the lagoon and finally into the reef, we went back to the yacht, and took off back through the narrow gap and into the next bay in search of a flailing black kite. Nothing. 3 hours later, still nothing! Where was he? Satisfied that he wasn't stuck on the reef we anchored the yacht near where we'd started and headed back on bikes to where they'd launched from. The lady in the kite school told us a man matching Harry's description had turned up an hour ago asking for a radio, which she didn't have and had directed him to the Intercontinental. We asked there and they hadn't seen him. Eventually Harry rang his own phone and we tracked him down. He'd been picked up by a dive boat but had to wait while they completed their clients dives, and then been dropped off near our anchorage and then spent 90 minutes trying to find a phone or radio to contact us! Just another Massey adventure!

Where are you Harry?!

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Pretty nice spot to anchor tonight

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Water bungalow's everywhere

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Pretty happy to be here!

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Drama over, Archie and I continued on our bikes to do a lap of the island. Bora Bora is actually just like every other Polynesian island we've visited. Lots of stray dogs, lots of chickens, most people farming coconuts, living in houses with tin roofs and burnt out cars. I thought that all the wealth visiting this island might have meant higher living standards for the locals but it's not so. Still, everyone was very friendly, waving and saying hello as we cycled past. It's only 32km around the island so only took us a couple of hours. There aren't really any beaches on the main island any not many points where we wanted to stop and look around. All the luxury is in the hotels, most of which are located on the motu scattered around the reef on the other side of the lagoon.

Archie cycling up the one hill on the road around Bora Bora

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