Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora

Beer of the moment : Becks ($1.00 a can - special offer in Carrefour)

Sunday 1st August

We spent a quiet day relaxing on the boat as everything closes at lunchtime on Saturday in French Polynesia for the weekend. The squall had passed and the anchorage was incredibly flat and calm, any swell disappearing as it hit the surrounding coral reef. With the amazing view of Moorea in the distance it was simply perfect. We had dreamed of being in Tahiti for a long time and it was great to be here at last.

Tahiti is the largest and most well known island in the Society Islands. About 135,000 people live on the island - only 190,000 live throughout the whole of French Polynesia. It has an hourglass shape due to a double volcano which once formed the island. Both parts are broken into high spectacular sharp peaks, the highest being 7,340 feet. The valleys between them  are striking due to their depth and size. A strip of coastal plain surrounds the peaks and the entire island is surrounded by a coral reef. The reef breaks up the swell and gives a calm flat anchorage inside - perfect for yachts.

We were anchored off the Maeva Beach Hotel, about 15 minutes drive from Papeete, the Capital of Tahiti and the main port and administrative centre for French Polynesia. Papeete is a nice town, with lots of shops spread out along the waterfront, but its fairly touristy in a pleasant sort of way, with a pearl shop on every street corner. 

We had decided to anchor out of town as there had been a spate of thefts from boats moored along the town key. Still with the Le Truck buses running every few minutes it was really convenient. They are a really cheap form of transport, costing $1.30 each way during the daytime and $2.00 at night.

Tahiti Truck

In the afternoon we took a trip out in the dingy to look at the amazing coral along the coast and to take a look at the local hotels with their over water bungalows.

That evening we headed into town to meet up with Henri, Conor and Conor's Dad Brendan. They were tied up to the town key. It was Conor's Birthday so after a glass of champers on board  Pamina we headed into town to try out the Roulottes which are very famous in Tahiti. At night at least 20 food vans set up stall in a little square along the waterfront in Papeete, selling everything from barbequed steak, chow mein, pizza, hog roast and ice-cream waffles. The great thing is that they set up small tables and chairs outside and serve everything on proper plates etc... Its where all the local people eat and there was lots of hustle and bustle; a really great atmosphere aided by a small band playing live music. It was amazing to watch the chefs at work, working at speed over steaming woks.

We settled on 'steak frites' and had a fantastic meal for $8, followed afterwards by a great homemade ice-cream from an ice-cream stall. They don't sell alcohol at the Roulottes so we retreated to the Three Brewers for a quick beer afterwards.

Monday 2nd August

We got up early and headed back into town to check in, visit the Chandleries we had missed on Saturday and to explore the town a bit.  We managed to get a few more bits and pieces and do a bit more on the web. It was great to be able to stroll around and find things we needed but hadn't been able to buy for many months. 

That evening we bought a whole roast chicken for dinner from Carrefour. It was a long time since we had had fresh chicken and it was simply delicious.

Thursday 5th August

We took a trip into town again to get some more jobs done and dashed over to see Pamina when it started to rain. Windrose had come to Tahiti by ferry from Moorea to pay the bond that non EU citizens have to pay when they check in. The bond is the cost of a single flight ticket home - about $1000 a head. They had had a few problems getting it arranged so Pamina offered them a bed for the night so that they could sort things out the next day. 

We got chatting and ended up stopping for dinner. Henri cooked a great beef curry and vegetable dahl to go with it.

Friday 6th August

During the night a low went over and the wind howled and the sea became quite choppy. Bev needed to go into town so Allan ran her ashore whilst he stayed to mind the boat. By the time she got to shore she was drenched from head to foot as though she had been for a swim from the waves crashing over the dingy. Lovely ! 

On her way back she popped into Carrefour and bumped into Steven and Karen from Trade Secret who had arrived the night before with Eaglewing. We hadn't seen them for about 3 weeks. Steven had already found the cooked chickens and was busy tucking in. They had spent a long time on a deserted atoll in the Tuomotous so the temptation was very understandable :)

That evening everyone headed into town to visit the Roulottes and to everyone's delight Stephen and Karen announced their engagement. Stephen had proposed in the Tuomotous - very romantic. We were really thrilled and excited for them. So rather than an early night as had been planned it was then back over to the Three Brewers for a couple of drinks to toast their future happiness. As its a micro brewery the beer is great although at $8.00 for 500ml not cheap.

Papeete 

Saturday 7th August

We got up early to drop off some laundry and met Betty and David from Sundance on the key who we hadn't seen since Galapagos. They had had a nightmare trip to Tahiti as they had lost their rudder and David had had to make a temporary replacement en route. 

They lent us some English magazines and it was great for Bev to catch up on all the gossip about the stars as we hadn't had any news for months. It's amazing how out of touch you get with world events on a boat - you really do sail round in blissful ignorance.

Matt and Mel gave us a call on the radio at lunchtime to tell us that Carrefour had put Beck's Beer on special offer at $1.00 a can so we rushed over to stock up and finish our provisioning. The rest of the day was spent cleaning in readiness for  Peter and Nicola, some friends of Lionheart who were coming to stay with us that evening. They had spent 2 weeks on holiday with Matt and Katy and had flown back from Bora Bora in readiness for their flight the next morning and needed somewhere to stay. 

Karen and Stephen came over to meet them and Bev cooked everyone a chilli for dinner. Pete and Nic had brought a bottle of rum as a thank you and as the night wore on that was soon demolished. They are both keen sailors and were therefore really interested in what we were doing, so the story swapping went on late into the night. We were up early at 5.00am the next day to dingy them ashore. 

They were a great couple and it was nice to meet them and have them to stay.

Sunday 8th August

We had a fairly lazy day and were invited over to Eaglewing with Pamina that evening for dinner. Luke and Emma had caught a tuna on their way in and made a great tuna soup followed by pancakes filled with patisserie cream. It was all delicious and the desert was all homemade - very impressive on a  yacht.

Monday 9th August

Back into town to check out (3 separate offices luckily all next to each other) and took a leisurely stroll around the shops and under cover market. The market was great - it sold a vast array of local fruit and vegetables and had huge fish for sale alongside lots of local crafts. We managed to buy a carved oyster shell set into plastic as a souvenir for our bathroom when we get a house again. Sounds odd but its very modern looking and pretty.

We also managed to replace the antibiotics from our medical kit that Bev had used for her no-no bites but couldn't believe the price - $45 for 12 tablets. Oouch !  

We got back fairly late, having stopped by the internet one last time and as everyone else had left, spent a leisurely night on Bagpuss. 

We had bought some fresh steak for only $4.60 for two on our way home and it turned out to be some of the best we had ever eaten - unbelievably tender. That night the sunset was fantastic - deep orange highlighting Moorea in the background.

Tuesday 10th August

We dived over to the Marina in our dingy first thing to collect our washing and Trade Secret's. The lady had done a fantastic job. It was nice and clean, was thoroughly dry and had a fresh clean smell - how a service wash should be but often isn't.  There are no launderette's out here unfortunately and it made a great change from all the hand washing we normally do :)

Then it was over to the fuel dock to fill up with duty free diesel and water. Thankfully David from Sundance came over to take our lines and give us a hand.

By lunchtime we were sailing through the pass whilst Bev cooked chip butties for lunch using the remainder of our oven chips from the night before. We were amazed to see people out surfing on the reef. There are some good beakers but at the bottom of the wave you are inches away from the coral. Most of the local surfers have a few scars to show.

We had a great sail across the 15 miles or so of water that separates Tahiti from Moorea. with a comfortable 15 knots of wind and a flat sea we were able to make 8 knots. It was probably the best sail we have ever had. As we reached Moorea the wind dropped so we motored the last 5 miles or so along the coast.

Moorea is rich in natural beauty with its sharp peaks, deep valleys, emerald lagoon and two splendid bays - Cooks and Opunohu. The island covers 31 square miles and has a population of 8,000.

Moorea

Just outside Cooks Bay we spotted a dingy whale watching. They were only feet from the humpback whale  and had a fantastic view but we were much happier to be slightly further away. The whale was curious and turned to look at them. An amazing sight.

We anchored in Opunohu Bay, where Cook actually landed, just inside the coral reef in 4 meters of crystal clear sky blue water. You could see the shells on the bottom and there was no need to snorkel on your anchor as you could see it so clearly. 

In the background you could see the amazing hills in the bay, the backdrop for the film South Pacific - stunning.  

Wednesday 11th - Saturday 14th August

On Wednesday afternoon Petrel, a  Norwegian couple invited all the boats in the anchorage to a beach barbeque on a pretty white beach opposite.

So we quickly set off to the local shop to purchase some burgers and rolls and then headed over to the beach to set up our barbeque. There were probably a dozen boats there - all our friends plus Mell's sister Alice who had come out to visit, Windrose,  Emma, Sudama and Horizon. Kyler from Windrose built a proper wooden fire using local wood and coconut husks which added hugely to the ambience as night fell.

It really was a fun evening, sort of a bring your own event, with lots of stories being swapped. However just as most of the food had been eaten it started to rain and absolutely poured down. We took shelter under a local tree and most people took the opportunity to make a run for it back to their boats. We stayed as our barbeque was still hot and cooking Stephen and Karen's chicken. 

When we were all soaked the rain stopped and we covered up the fire and headed back to Trade Secret for a quick drink and to dry out.

The next day we took a trip around part of the island on our bikes, visiting the pretty Cooks Bay where the main town is, en route. We were really impressed by how pretty the island is. There are high volcanic peaks everywhere, deep coves, lagoons fringed by white sand and lots of coconut trees and pretty tropical flowers everywhere. It is all very well kept as well - no sign of any rubbish or junk and tourism is still extremely minimal and not concentrated in any one area. We were really impressed. On the way back we stopped at the local fruit juice factory as had been recommended to us, expecting to have a nice glass of chilled juice. Instead they make the juice into liqueur's and the lady behind the counter seemed determined that we try everyone - pineapple, coconut, mango, banana....... As it was all free it seemed rude to refuse and made the ride back home interesting !

The following day we took the dingy along the coast inside the reef to visit an area renowned for sting rays - locally called Sting Ray World.  There was tons of coral en route and in the clear water you could see it all so clearly. We threaded our way through, our hearts stopping a few times as the coral seemed only inches beneath us. We passed one or two hotel complexes which looked fantastic. All the hotels here seem to be exclusive over water bungalows built with thatch roofs and with steps down to the clear blue water. They really fit into the local environment rather than being the huge high rise monstrosities you find elsewhere.   

We reached a shallow sandy patch and dropped our dingy anchor. No sooner had we got our snorkelling gear on and got into the water than we saw loads of large stingrays swimming around us. They were beautiful and really large. What an awesome sight and so amazing to be swimming with them in their natural habitat. We must have seen at least 20+. You had to be careful not to stand on them as they like to bury themselves in the sand. There were lots of pretty fish to see near the coral reef as well. They were very friendly as the local tour boats that visit the area bring food to feed the rays and they were waiting for the hand out.

We then dingied further to the end of the island, visiting one of the little motu's ( small sandy island with palm trees) before heading back. 

That evening we were all invited over to  Windrose for sundowners. Kyler and Antigue are a really nice American couple and still only in their early twenties. They are probably the youngest couple on the 2004 circuit. 

The following day started quietly. We went ashore to purchase a pack of chicken from a local store. For $5 you got 6 enormous pieces. Shortly after Stephen and Karen came over to bring back our bikes which they had borrowed and to bring us a bottle of rum as a thank you. They had bought some steak and oven chips for their dinner so Bev shoved them into our fridge to keep them cold whilst we mixed up some rum and cokes. Next Pamina came over to borrow our laptop and a DVD. As we sat chatting someone mentioned a barbeque and before we knew it we were barbequing the chicken and steak. I whipped up some coleslaw to accompany it all and popped the oven chips into the oven. It all cooked to perfection and tasted fantastic. The chicken fell off the bone and the steak was amazingly tender. Halfway through Allan managed to drop his dinner all down himself mind you so Bev had to scoop it off his lap back onto his plate.!

As the evening wore on Elvis, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran made an appearance and we ended the night with the obligatory sing song followed by Stephen taking a refreshing dive off the front of our boat in all his clothes :). 

We really loved Moorea but the next day we decided we really had to press on. It had probably been one of the nicest spots we had ever been anchored in so we were sad to leave.

We set sail for Huahine at about 3.30 on Saturday afternoon. It was an 80 mile sail so best done overnight.  Trade Secret left at the same time so we sailed through the night with them.  We managed to sail for about 50% of the night but the wind was a bit fluky and there were one or two big squalls around. One actually passed just to the side of us and managed to change the wind direction temporarily the opposite way. Having no wind instrument it was really hard to see what was happening and re-set the sails in the dark. It passed directly over Trade Secret and got them very wet. We saw the lights of several other yachts during the night and a couple of big ships so it was a pretty hectic night watch. 

Lionheart had told us about a great anchorage at the Southern tip of the island so once we were through the pass we headed there. Unfortunately the wind had dropped totally by this stage so we had to motor the whole way and it was at least a two hour trip as we had current against us.  Although the channel is marked inside the reef you have to pick your way through all the coral heads to get down to the bay. We were all a bit tired having just done a night sail and were very relieved to get in although a bit disappointed to discover about 15 Italian charter boats in the bay. They all knew each other and were filled to maximum capacity. No sooner had the sun started to set than they all started re-anchoring in rafts for their evening's socialising. It was quite amazing to watch although a pretty dicey operation.

Huahine beach  

To get off the boat and stretch our legs we went ashore for a sun downer to a local hotel with Trade Secret. The restaurant had a trio band playing local Polynesian music which was nice. Then it was back to our boats for a quick supper and an early night. Luckily the Italians were really quiet and had gone by the time we woke the next morning.

Sunday 15th - Wednesday 18th August

We awoke to the sight of the beautiful bay. It really was pretty - white sand beach, clear sky blue water, palm trees everywhere and only a hand full of boats, most of whom we knew. There were two small and very discreet hotels with bungalows on the beach. We spotted a turtle swimming in the bay, sticking its head as far out of the water as it could to see where it was going. 

We had a lazy day enjoying the view and swimming off the back of the boat. 

The following day we took a walk ashore to find a local Marae - a ceremonial stone platform made out of coral. We were very impressed by how pretty and manicured the island was - like Moorea but possibly even nicer. We passed some beautiful properties on the way all in their own sizeable plot of land. The place had a quality but untouched feel about it - there are only 3,200 people on the island. A great place to buy a tropical hideaway. We met a group of young kids playing on the beach, one skilfully using a machete to cut a coconut and asked for directions in our phrasebook French. Luckily they showed us the way to the Marae - just a few yards to the left as I think we would have missed it all together. It was just tucked out of view along the shore. It was pretty large - about 40 meters by 10 and still reasonably in tact.

Huahine Marae

That evening Eaglewing and Trade Secret came aboard for a few drinks and a concoction  of nibbles. We were amazed to see the Italians re-appearing as darkness fell and repeating their rafting display.

The next day Allan decided to fix the wind instrument with Stephen's help. Stephen had checked our wind vane and unit already on his boat and we knew that they both worked OK so the problem had to be with the wiring. Allan had already been up our mast the day before and wasn't looking forward to going back up so Stephen offered to go up ours for us to remove the wire. Allan then did a repair to the wire where it had been chaffed through and Stephen went back up to reconnect everything. A couple of hours later Allan had it all re-wired at the base of the mast as well and it all worked perfectly. It was fantastic to have wind speed and direction information again rather than relying on instinct. Stephen was a GREAT help and it was a huge relief to have this job out of the way.

Up the Mast 

Eaglewing and Trade Secret set sail that afternoon to another anchorage but we were too late to move by the time we had everything back in place. You have to have the sun overhead to be able to spot the coral.  

We were up early on Friday morning and motored the length of the island back to the main town. It was a pretty journey and nice to see the gorgeous coastline one more time. Bev was up at the front of the boat looking out for coral and was stunned to see a huge coral head just below the surface a foot of so away from the side of the boat. We were inside the channel but if we had been a foot further to the left we would have had a lot of damage to our hull. By 9.30 we were anchored just off the pass in a few meters of water and took a trip ashore to see the town of Fare. 

We met two lovely Belgium people there - a father and his daughter who were touring the islands. They were fascinated by what we were doing. Being amongst yachties most of the time you tend to think what you are doing is normal and forget how adventurous it really is - its good to remember sometimes :). Huahine is considered the most unspoilt of all the Society Islands and it was certainly one of our favourite places.

By 11.30 we were on our way to Raiatea, the second largest of the islands, some 20 miles away. We had to motor all the way unfortunately but used the opportunity to make some water.  We would have loved to stop longer in Huahine but had arranged to meet Lionheart who we hadn't seen since Galapagos as they went to the Gambier Islands rather than the Marquises. Matt and Katie had also got engaged and a big celebration was planned that evening. 

We had a great journey with flat seas and stunning views of the islands. As we got close to Raiatea we could see Bora Bora in the background - magical. 

By 4.00 we had found a spot on the town key - Meander, Pamina and Lionheart were already there and helped us with our ropes.  Space was tight and it was a bit of a squeeze to get in but Allan did a perfect manoeuvre - how far we have come since those first few weeks of sailing.  We hadn't been tied to a dock since Antigua and were delighted to be - it would be great not having to worry about the anchor and being able to step ashore easily for a few nights and it was free as well. Soon afterwards Trade Secret and  Eaglewing appeared and also managed to squeeze in.

Riatea quay 

At the same time an older American sailor with a young female crew member arrived in his large Amel boat. We have never seen a worst attempt at docking a boat ever. He tried to manoeuvre with just his bow thruster and had us all straining on his ropes trying to pull him in. It could have been a comedy sketch. At one stage he changed from being side on to the dock and we thought he was going to ram the wall with his bow.  The best thing was that he left the dock every day and would reappear at night to repeat the whole shenanigan again.

That evening Meander hosted a party for everyone and it was great to hear all about Matt and Katy's Wedding plans. They plan to get married in New Zealand in Feb on the beach and have a huge beach party, complete with spit roasts etc.. afterwards.

Meander had unfortunately decided in Tahiti that they want to take a break from sailing for a while and spend some time ashore in an apartment in New Zealand. They will be leaving their boat in Tahiti at the end of September and will return for it next year.  So as a result they had a lot of Clos - the cheap red wine in plastic containers that everyone had bought in Panama left and were on a mission to see it all drunk.

Part way through the evening we visited the local Roulotte's that had set themselves up along the keyside for steak and chips in Pepper Sauce. Delicious.  

It was a late night - we left at 3.00 and it was still going !

Thursday 19th - Tuesday 24th August

It was great being on the quay side and being able to step on and off the boat as needed without getting in the dingy. The main town Utoroa had some good shops and things to see as well. We also took the opportunity to do a few jobs whilst it was easy. Bev did a ton of hand washing everyday as did all the other boats. Washing festooned the harbour. People stopped by each others boats for a chat and cups of tea throughout the day. Evening's were spent chatting over a cold beer. 

We visited the Roulotte's again one evening - the perfect thing to do in a large group when there are too many people to cook for.

One evening we met a friend of Matt and Katie's - Sean who was the Navigator on the Wind Star cruise ship. It takes about 140 passengers around the islands. It was great to meet him and hear stories of the ship and the islands. Although he is British he lives in New Zealand so we all had tons of questions to ask him.

On the Sunday most people had left so we got our bikes out and cycled about 17km to see a bit more of the island. It was interesting to see but less pretty and manicured than Moorea and Huahine. What did amaze us though was the amount of coconut crabs that we saw. They scuttled back into their holes as we passed. Coconut crabs have a huge claw which they use to break open the coconut shell. A fisherman had shown some friends how dangerous they are by putting a piece of wood next to its claw - it snapped it cleanly in two. Luckily they are more frightened of us than we are of them and rush back to their holes as soon as you approach. We had a quiet night in that evening. Bev cooked another great steak and chips with Heinz Baked Beans. 

We were up early on Monday morning to fill up our diesel cans which we managed to get filled duty free and then we headed off to Raiatea Marine - a boat yard some 5 miles round the island. We had booked the boat in to have the VHF antenna re-wired.  Allan was capable of doing the job on land but didn't have the strength to solder the connectors at the top of the mast. Its a tricky job trying to hang on, not drop the tools and still complete the job some 60 feet in the air. 

We were told we would side tie to a pier but coming in to the tight marina were told to tie the bows to the shore and the stern to two boys. Bev rushed around re-arranging ropes at great speed whilst Allan tried to control the boat in a tight space. Luckily they had a guy in the water to take our stern ropes which made it so much easier to tie up. 

Allan had had a new bracket made for the antenna by Scott on Whatever when were in Fatu Hiva. He managed to weld it together using an alternator that he had modified himself and a lightbulb !

George from the yard did an amazing job for us. He was from France and had built his own catamaran which he had just sold. He managed to climb the mast at great speed with just a safety line  - no winching at all. We couldn't believe it. He needed two trips up and three hours later the work was done. At last we had our VHF radio working again. It was great to have it fixed. 

As it was fairly late in the day we decided to stay in the Marina overnight. Total cost for the work and the marina - $165, about £90. Not bad at all.

Trade Secret stopped by that evening and fancied trying the bar at the Moorings Marina, apparently the only happening place on the island according to the Lonely Planet guide book.  They took us there in their dingy but unfortunately it was closed. A local told us to try a restaurant just round the corner where you could watch the sun setting over Bora Bora from the beach. When we arrived the restaurant was empty but the owner was having dinner with his family on the patio. It smelled fantastic. He served us our drinks and before we knew it we had ordered dinner as well. The food was amazing, probably one of the nicest meals we have had for a very long time. Bev had ordered tuna steak in a coconut cream curry sauce and asked for it to be very well cooked. The owner looked at her questioningly as tuna is normally served just cooked but he served it as requested and it was amazingly tender with a crisp outer shell - just the way Bev likes it. Allan and Stephen had lamb chops and declared it the lambiest lamb they had ever tasted. The bones were all sucked clean ! Karen had poisson cru (raw marinated fish) which she said tasted divine - its a local speciality in Polynesia. All served with gratin potatoes and an amazing view. It was so good we couldn't resist desert. Karen and Bev had a wonderful homemade lemon tarte and Stephen and Allan had creme brulee served in half a coconut shell. They enjoyed it so much that they ate all the coconut inside the shell as well, much to the amusement of the owner.  

As we clamoured back onto the boat we heard a cat meowing extremely loudly on the dockside. Bev went to talk to it and then went inside to open a tin of tuna. In the interim the cat managed to jump a great distance from the shore to the boat and was soon tucking in. It was a beautiful friendly cat and was certainly not under fed. It stayed the night on the boat leaving a trail of muddy footprints everywhere. The next morning we spotted it again waiting at the dingy dock. Soon after another cruiser appeared with her bag of dried cat food to feed the cat. It had definitely got things sorted :)

We spent the morning cleaning the boat - the first time she had seen a hosepipe since Antigua some six months ago. Allan went to get our gas bottle refilled but the yard refused to refill it as it would be too expensive - $91 versus $4 in Panama ! Instead they took him to a local garage where he was able to buy a brand new rust free cylinder full of Butane for $50.

That afternoon we sailed over to Tahaa, an island lying within the same coral reef as Raiatea with Pamina.  Its possible to sail around both islands inside the shared barrier reef. We headed for an anchorage off one of the motu's recommended by our friends. It really was a beautiful spot. Clear blue shallow water with a sandy bottom, lots of coral and great snorkelling. Unfortunately just as we arrived we were hit by a squall and the water turned very choppy and the wind gusted strongly. As the anchorage was so exposed we decided to sail further around the island with Trade Secret to try to get more protection from the wind and chop. We set off at about 4.00 which gave us just over 2 hours of daylight to find a new spot to anchor. 

On our way round the top of the island, which was very green, pretty and relatively uninhabited, we tested out several bays as potential anchoring spots but they were all incredibly deep and shelved very quickly at the shore. Eventually as we had nearly done a 360 degree tour of the island and the light was fading fast we managed to drop anchor in 22 meters in Baie Tapuamau. There were only 2 other boats in the bay plus ourselves and Trade Secret.  It had been a hectic day and after a quick meal we were soon asleep. Allan got up during the night to check that we hadn't moved as we prefer not to anchor in such deep water - we had all our chain out (60 meters) and some rope. When we brought the anchor up the next morning it was encased in thick mud so he needn't have worried - we hadn't moved an inch.  

Wednesday 25th August

We awoke early the next day to set sail for Bora Bora, some 25 miles away. The pass through the reef was relatively easy to navigate with just a meter and a half's swell and a bit of counter current to contend with.   

It was a beautiful day and we reached all the way getting ever closer to the dream island of Bora Bora. We had a bit of a rolly ride due to the direction of the swell  but the sight of Bora Bora's high sculptured, twin-peaked central mountain getting closer only heightened our levels of excitement. 

By 2.00 we were through the Teavanui pass - the only entrance into Bora Bora.  We could see the turquoise water of the lagoon and barrier reef as we entered. We headed straight over to the Bora-Bora Yacht Club, opposite the pass entrance to pick up one of their mooring buoys. 

We had dreamt of being in Bora Bora for a long time and were so excited to be here. The spectacular volcanic peaks surrounded by an extensive lagoon of varied hues of blue make this one of the world's most beautiful islands.

Bora Bora  

Unfortunately the Yacht Club, once a famous mecca for yachties on the 'Coconut Milk Run' was up for sale and closed 2 days after we arrived. Luckily we only had to pay for the first 2 nights mooring ($15 a night), after that it was free - always the best price :)

That evening we took the dingy ashore and walked 2 miles or so into town. The town itself is fairly small and spread out along a half mile stretch of road.  Whilst there were a few tourist shops there weren't as many as we had expected. We stopped at the Pirates Bar on the way back for a Sundowner on their decked terrace. They specialised in Belgium Beer so Allan was very happy. Afterwards we treated ourselves to a Chinese meal - the first proper Chinese Restaurant we had seen for a very long time. Food was OK but not as great as a UK Chinese - no crispy duck in sight :(

Thursday 26th August

We woke early and cycled to the South end of the island to meet Stephen, Karen and Emma who would be cycling around the island with us. They were anchored further South so we had covered a third of the island's 20 miles circumference by the time we had reached them.  

The coastal road around the island is thankfully pretty flat - only one hill to navigate :) We saw some amazing beaches en route - white sand and turquoise water. Whilst there are more hotel complex's here than on other islands, the over water bungalows are pretty unobtrusive and much of the island has no hotel development on it at all. A lot of the hotels have been built on the motu's surrounding the reef.

Bora Bora bike run

We stopped at the Yacht Club for a cold beer and were amazed to be charged $5 for a cold can, no glasses or chairs to sit on. We tried to negotiate on the price as  it was very expensive versus one of the top bars on the island and was probably the last beers they sold, but got no joy. 

We then cycled back down to the South end of the island. Bev was very proud of the fact that she must have cycled 27 miles or so by this stage. We stopped at a beautiful bar overlooking the beach for a sundowner and the guys were very disappointed to discover it sold only fruit juice :) We hadn't eaten all day so indulged in a cheeseburger and chips. Boy was it good after all that cycling. 

Then it was onto Bloody Mary's, a very famous restaurant/ bar, for that sundowner. The bar has been frequented by many famous people over the years including Pierce Brosnan (who was on the island at the same time as us), Sting, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Idol, Pamela Anderson..... ; they have a list of at least 100 famous celebrities outside. The amazing thing about the place is that the floor inside is made of white sand and you can leave your shoes at the door. We didn't eat but sat at the bar (on large varnished tree trunks) watching all the nicely groomed holiday makers and newly wed's come and go; we chatted to many of them as they had their pre-dinner cocktail's. It was a fun place and the drinks fairly reasonable. $4.00 for a large beer and $3.50 for a great glass of chilled white wine. We enjoyed it so much that we were still there at closing time - which was only 9.30 ! After everyone had left, the staff sat down for a drink and the bar tender offered us a free drink. While he filled up Stephen, Allan and Karen's beer glasses Stephen managed to polish off Bev's full glass of wine in one gulp which was promptly re-filled :)

Bora Bora Hotel

We chatted to the locals about the availability of a bus to take us home as by then it was too late to cycle as we had no lights. They said that the only option was a taxi for $30. Just as we were leaving one of them offered to give us and our bikes a lift home. They must have gone out of their way and would take no payment. Thee Polynesian people are so kind and hospitable.    

Friday 27th August

The next morning we took a trip down to the Southern anchorage off the Hotel Bora Bora in our dingy some 3 miles away. We had decided to take the dingy rather than the yacht as the anchorage was a bit choppy although the snorkelling and beaches down there were much better. On the way a ferry went past sending a tidal wave over the dingy and soaking us to the skin. It was a choppy and wet ride and we were glad to get to the beach to dry out. A few of our friends had gathered with Lionheart who had a kite surfer and wake board. Stephen took Allan out for a spin and just as Allan was nearly up on the wakeboard, Stephen whacked his outboard on a bit of coral bringing the days activities to an early close. 

It was amazing to watch the kite surfers in action. They went at such speed jumping out of the water and doing amazing twists and turns. We later learnt that these were some of the best Kite Surfers in the world on a photo shoot. You need steady winds and flat calm water to kite surf well and Bora Bora seems to have the perfect conditions for it. 

A small group of us then headed for the motu behind the anchorage and snorkelled on the spectacular coral reef there. We saw a multitude of brightly coloured fish and some spectacular coral - probably some of the best snorkelling we have done. After a quick hot chocolate aboard Trade Secret we headed back to our boat before darkness fell.

Saturday 28th August

As the Southern anchorage was still choppy our friends moved up to the Bora Bora Yacht Club throughout the day. Not long after Trade Secret had taken a buoy, Bev spotted something strange in the water near their boat. She couldn't tell whether it was two people swimming or two dogs. They were quite a way from the shore. Next we spotted a tail and called Stephen and Karen on the radio to take a look. From a distance we could see the two dogs tiring and dropping under from exhaustion. They must have gone for a swim, got swept out by the current and then couldn't find their way back. Stephen and Karen called them over and then struggled to drag two large rottweillers into their dingy. The dogs were so excited to be rescued they showered them with licks and wagged their tails. They took them back to the shore which now had a number of grateful locals on it waiting for the dogs to be returned.

Dog Rescue 

Half and hour later Trade Secret and Lionheart were on our boat when we saw the dogs again, out searching for Stephen and Karen. It was so funny to watch them swim, just their little heads poking out of the water but again they were exhausted so we pulled them onto our boat. They ran round in excitement licking everyone and shaking their wet coats all over Bev's washing :) Half an hour later they took them back again.  This time the dogs had their paws confidently over the side of the dingy, their noses in the air to catch the breeze.  

That afternoon, Trade Secret,  Lionheart, Emma from Eaglewing and us took our dinghies through the pass to the other side of the reef to a place that was good for diving. Stephen, Katie and Matt went for a dive and the rest of us got kitted up for snorkelling. Karen and Emma were first in, but before long Karen had frantically jumped back into her dingy, swiftly followed by Emma. They had spotted some huge sharks. We then all proceeded to dingy snorkel. Basically hanging off the edge of the dingy, our faces under water. We saw some great fish including a huge Napoleon fish - larger than a sheep and also quite rare. There were a lot of reef sharks and some huge lemon sharks probably 6-8 feet in length. Allan got into the water for a better look round and was soon back out.    

As we got back to the anchorage, Stephen took Allan out for another try at wake boarding. Allan had lent Stephen our tiller extension so that he could sit further back in his dingy and increase the speed. Unfortunately as he bumped over a wave, Stephen flew out of the dingy and the dingy started to circle Stephen and Allan at speed. Stephen was in its direct path and had to dive beneath the surface to avoid being hit by the prop several times. He had his wet suit on which gives extra buoyancy and made this really hard. He said that he could see the prop circling inches above his head as he frantically tried to dive below. Karen got in our dingy and managed to get Stephen and Allan out of the water whilst Lionheart rescued Stephen's dingy. It was all quite frightening and really shook Stephen and Allan up. Ever since everyone has taking to wearing their engine kill cords which cut the engine's automatically if you fall overboard.

After the day's excitement, 10 of us all decided to head into town for a Roulotte. The Roulotte was set in someone's garden - it had tables nestled amongst the trees and tropical flowers - a very pretty setting. Then it was into the Pirates Bar for a quick drink before heading back to the boats. We had a taste of a few exotic beers, including a 9% little number called Delirium.

Sunday 29th August

Ever since Guadeloupe we had talked about having a proper Sunday roast with Trade Secret when we got to Bora Bora. Bev and Karen had nipped into town the day before to buy everything we needed and the feast started at 3.00 with nibbles and a nice bottle of Sancerre which Trade Secret had saved for a special occasion. Karen cooked a joint of pork which she served with apple sauce, mounds of roast potatoes, fresh carrots, broccoli and frozen peas (after tinned they tasted divine).  Crème Caramel for desert. It was all cooked to perfection and tasted amazing. The meat was so tender - like nothing you can buy at home. We opened the last bottle of red wine that we had saved from our Wedding to accompany it plus a bottle of port that we had saved from Portugal. We had a great afternoon/evening that truly lived up to the months of waiting :)

Monday 30th - Tuesday 31st August

The weather reports aren't great at the moment so we are sitting tight. A predicted low is passing over an area to the west of us bringing strong winds gusting 60 knots. We have taken the opportunity to get a few jobs done, such as engine oil changes, visiting the internet cafe, paying bills etc... to leave ourselves a day or so free to enjoy Bora Bora before we set off on our next sail to Tonga 1000 miles away. We plan to stop halfway but where exactly will depend upon the weather.  Whenever we set off it will be in the company of many other boats who are also waiting here for a good weather window. What a place to be stuck :)

 

© Copyright Allan & Bev Dornan 2016