16:31S 151:46W Bora Bora and bye bye Society Islands

Conor & Marion Wall
Thu 25 Aug 2011 23:02
By the time I have compiled this blog we will have been in French Polynesia almost 3 months and what a three months they have been. I think that if there was a garden of Eden then it must have been here however the past few months since we arrived in French Poly has not been without incidents and already three of the fleet of boats travelling this way have been lost to the cruel sea. The first one (a catamaran) sank after leaving the Marquesas but we still have no detail as to why she sank and I believe that all on board were saved. The second boat, a young American couple whom we first met in Ua Pou ran on to a reef in the Tuamotu Archipelago and could not be re-floated, she was a steel boat and we met them again in Papeete selling off everything that they had salvaged to raise some money to get home. The third boat ‘Ri Ri’ Frank and Gail whom we have know since Panama broke their mooring a few nights ago on the Cook Island of Palmerston and were washed on to the reef in 20 knot winds. The boat broke up very quickly being glass fibre but they managed to salvage a lot of the equipment with the help of the locals and some cruising yachts and both Frank and Gail are well. Palmerston is the next but one island that we plan to visit on our way to Tonga. Might re-consider that if we hear that it was one of the moorings that failed and not human error. There is not enough room to anchor so you are obliged to pick up a mooring supplied by the locals.
You will already have read my take on the Marquises and the Tuamotos groups and now we are about to leave the Society group of Islands having visited Tahiti, Moorea, Huahini, Raiatea, Taaha and Bora Bora and I believe my last blog which seems like years ago was written on passage from the Tuamotos to the Society Islands so here’s my run down on the Society’s.
We arrived in Papeete in time for the Bastille day celebrations as we had been told that there would be lots of festivities going on. The first event we saw was the military parade with all the pomp and ceremony. There were lots of events taking place around the Papeete area and we tried to see as many of them as was possible.
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Throwing spears at a coconut raised on a long pole.
Large modern dugouts racing.
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Stone lifting and opening and removing the white stuff in large quantities of coconuts in competition.
The Winners.
More Winners
Poppy arrived on the 1st of August for a two week holiday with us and this was our cue to leave Tahiti having had over three weeks there. Next stop was the Island of Moorea which is only a short distance away. We had been looking at the island from our mooring in Papeete for the three weeks and now it was time to see it properly.
Moorea in the distance behind the floating bars/restaurants.
There we hired a car with Peter and Sandra (Bondai Tram) and did the drive around the island taking in the sights, Poppy included of course. Stayed three days there and then did the overnight passage to Huahini some 90 odd miles to the North East of Moorea. This would be Poppy's first and only night sail with us. As we arrived at Huahini and were making our way along the extensive reef towards the pass we saw the most magnificent sight. A sperm whale (almost certainly larger than our boat) and her calf were making their way in the opposite direction to us and between us and the reef. We kept our distance under the circumstances and were so excited that we forgot to take a photo. Another photo I won’t be able to show you was the finale of the dancing which took place in the big arena in Papeete. No photos were allowed but the dancing and music was fantastic with up to 300 dancers and musicians on the arena at one time.
Poppy’s first day on Toucan after the first swim.
We found a most beautiful anchorage at the far south of the western side of Huahini where there was a small hotel complex with palm roofed chalets on the water’s edge.
The lift back in the back of a pickup, safety belts included.
There were no busses on this island and we were too remote to hire a car so we hitched a lift around the southern part of the island to get a feel for the place. Three nights there before moving on to Raiatea and Taaha which are two islands that share a common reef around them.
Ancient ruins on Moorea or just another heap of rocks.
Moorea, Poppy, Marion and Sandra pretending.
There we made for the town of Uturoa and found a very nice alongside mooring right beside the small town harbour. The town is small but pretty and with three supermarkets conveniently situated no more than a couple of hundred meters from the boat. Marion got very excited the following morning when she found a Polynesian style of car boot sale right there on the quay. Some goodies were found by all three of us. Only one night spent there as we wanted to press on to get Poppy to Bora Bora in plenty of time to enjoy it before she would have to catch her flight back to Papeete and home.
Marion & Poppy examining a big hole used to cook the pig in the traditional way once a week.
Next Island was Taaha where we hoped to do a nice snorkel that one of the pilot books recommended as being excellent but it turned out to be not so good and so we moved around the corner to another anchorage and had a walk ashore. So you could say that our stopover at Raiatea and Taaha were not as fruitful as perhaps we would have liked it to have been.
The wedding ceremony on Moorea.
And so to Bora Bora arriving there on the Wednesday morning. There we found the most beautiful island that I have ever seen with crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches in abundance, beautiful anchorage settings and snorkelling to satisfy even me. Poppy left us on the Saturday having had a taste of Bora Bora, including a day at the Hilton chilling on the beach and in the restaurant and for the next few days Marion and I did some land based things. Firstly the laundry and seeing the town sights then we hired some electric bikes for a day and cycled the entire island stopping off at the sights of interest on the way. Another day we climbed to the top of one of the peeks, almost 700 meters of sheer climb, involving ropes for some of the really difficult bits. Three hours up and another three hours down, packed lunch at the top. And what views, hopefully the photos will show. We then took Toucan around to the Eastern side of the island where only shallow draught boats can go and found a most beautiful anchorage an the far south of the eastern most island (motu). There we dived with sting rays and shark and lots of colourful fish. I managed also to completely clean the undercarriage for our next big sail towards Tonga and then New Zealand.
See the next entry for more photos of our time in the Society Islands.