Maupiti and the tedious paperwork, 16:26.7S 152:14.6W

SV Jenny
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Thu 30 Jul 2015 04:09
Dear Family and Friends,

28th July 2015

We finally managed escape velocity from Bora Bora having been held up for over a day by clearance papers. The strange thing is you can clear into French Polynesia at the first designated Gendarmerie, in our case Hiva Oa back in late April, no problems, but if you visit Papeete you have to have a special clearance to leave it. We sent this form 4 times with no reply. However when you come to clear out of French Polynesia you cant, unless you have this wretched piece of paper, it’s not even the final clearance!!! So yesterday we attended the gendarmerie in the morning, had to fill out the Papeete clearance form again and have it faxed over to the port authorities, came back at 2pm, the internet was down, 5pm still no reply. It finally came this morning about 8am. And you have to be all sweetness and patience.

It gave me a chance to seek some medical advice for my finger, injured some 5 weeks ago and still swollen and difficult to use with any pressure. The doctor confirmed it had probably been fractured or broken, to take anti inflamataries and keep using it. All very well but when the security cord for the dingy gets jammed under a mooring warp, the dingy engine wont start and rowing back you have to make 4 attempts to catch hold of the boat due to the current, it’s not great. Still at least the rowing improved slightly.

Just before we left, we popped over to the reef in the dingy to feed and swim with the Sting Rays. They come right up to you, flapping their ‘wings’ up your body. Apparently they have a hole beside their eyes where they can suck food in, but not knowing this initially I assumed their mouth was underneath, which it is but they have no sense of where the prawn ends and the finger begins! They have hard rasping gums but it wasn’t a bad experience being nibbled by a Sting Ray! There were also black tipped sharks there, I am somewhat apprehensive being so close to them but they just swam around us. We have some great photos when I next find wifi.

We are in Maupiti the last of the main Society Islands and like Bora Bora it is a sinking volcano in its later stages. There is more lagoon and Motu than the small island in the middle. We made a late start from Vaitape bay, Bora Bora, with strong winds and good speeds it was still touch and go whether we made the 25 miles to the Onoiau pass, Maupiti before darkness. We did just but the pass is narrow, marked with both lit and unlit markers and prone to swell. The outflowing currents were 3-4 knots and as our guide advises us, they can be 8-10 knots. With the gathering dusk and a list of cautions in the navigation books, we were doubtful we would get in but friends Anne and Jonathan, already there, advised us it was probably ok and it was. We made slow headway against the current in the pass and time seemed to crawl by as we edged our way through the swell. Finding the channel to an unknown mooring spot in the dark, with slightly inaccurate charts, unlit posts and plenty of coral heads and sandbanks was challenging. Thank goodness for Anne and Jonathan who got in their dingy to guide us in and the indispensable forward looking echo sounder.

We hope to leave on Thursday for the next leg of our journey. We have decided to make for New Zealand a great deal earlier, but the weather down there is grim so we will make some westerly miles for now and look for a weather window to head south.

All our best,
Lynne and Alan