July 30 - Departure plans

Position: S16deg30.64min/W151deg46.08min We anchored on the west side of Motu Toopua to escape the strong SE winds that came thru. We had some gusts in the 20's but the anchorage was secure, and we got sketchy internet (very slow) as well. Yesterday the weather had moderated enough for us to dinghy the 1.5 miles to Bloody Mary's with Slip Away. Bloody Mary's is a Bora Bora iconic restaurant/bar. We had a wonderful lunch there, served, of course, with bloody mary's, and met up with friends who got out of their taxi at the exact moment we had walked up the dock. Talk about timing! We're making plans to depart Monday for Suwarrow Atoll, an isolated island about 700 nm from here where the Kiwi hermit Tom Neale used to live. Much more about that later. Many other boats are either underway, or are in active departure mode, so I expect a crowd there. We've cleaned the bottom, gone over systems, and S is cooking up a bunch of stuff for passage. We'll be off the internet until Tonga (at least we expect to find it there!). All's well aboard; we're having fun, and as our 90 day visa for French Polynesia is coming to a close, it's time to head west. Hope all's well with all of you reading this; we'd love to hear from you via SailMail. Cheers!

July 25 - Piti Aau Motu - Bora Bora

Position: S16deg31.93min/W151deg42.35min. We've really enjoyed our anchorage here in the 'swimming pool' - 10' of crystal clear water, but will slowly start to move back toward town, as our time in French Polynesia is coming to a close. Today we enjoyed the clarity of the water when snorkeling nearby. Many rays were sleeping under a thin layer of sand, and others were slowly circling the coral heads. We've cleaned the boat bottom and prop, lubricated a few winches, got a hair cut (M, in the dinghy this time!), and as usual have been doing a lot of reading. We've also enjoyed our friends company on Yolo (You Only Live Once), and Slip Away, both anchored nearby. Overhead, the stars are amazing; the Southern Cross is visible and there's no moon. We've found faster internet connection here than in town, and Sue's uploaded some new picture albums - enjoy!

July 23 - Bora Bora anchoring and mooring information

Mooring buoys here are like gold. At the old Bora Bora Yacht Club, the new Mai Kai Yacht Club and at Bloody Mary's they're traded, reserved, paid for, and coveted by some, and many cruisers stay on them for a week or two at a time. Some are free; others are 2000 cfp's a night (figure about 80 cfp per one USD). We, on the other hand, don't particularly like to be on a buoy, as one never knows the quality of the materials used to construct the mooring buoy or the maintenance history of it. Unfortunately, anchoring around here is frequently in water 60'-80' deep; you pray you don't wrap a coral head or, in some cases, catch a submarine mooring cable! Infini is like a boat magnet; when other boats see us anchored, they come on over and anchor (it seems) right on top of us! We used to think leaving 100 meters between boats was a courtesy, but don't you believe it; we feel fortunate when a newcomer leaves a boat length between us. Last night was a good example. We had gone into town to see the final Heiva dance performance in the town square. Upon returning to the boat at 10:30pm (yes, I really can, on occasion, stay up past 8pm!), we discovered a 115' megayacht schooner anchored about 25 meters away from us! I called the boat on VHF 16 (he showed up on our AIS unit) and he didn't answer! Hmmm…needless to say I didn't sleep well and had visions of imminent collision, although the winds were calm and there were no problems. This morning we pulled anchor and moved to Taurere Motu on the southeastern side of Bora Bora and are anchored in 10' of sand with several miles of sandy beach in front of us. What a change from being in town for a few days!
Just a reminder, when you check our position, change it to satellite view to see the beautiful lagoon and motus around the island.

July 20 - Bora Bora

We sailed the 25 miles to Bora Bora in 16-20 knots of NE wind, going 6-7 knots (highest speed was 7.5 kn surfing down the face of a wave). The wind headed us coming into Teavanui Pass, which is the only pass into Bora Bora, and is located on the west side. Current coming against us in the pass was about 2 knots and reminded me, once again, that I had better clean the prop. We at first took a mooring at the MaiKai Yacht Club, but moved over to 80' of mud and dropped the anchor; the moorings had been placed way too close together, and the noise from construction of the new YC was something we didn't care to put up with. So, as a consequence of the squirrelly winds here, we're doing circles every few minutes, and I can't imagine how many twists our chain has! We'll go exploring tomorrow.

July 18 - Taha'a activities

We anchored in Hurepiti Bay and met Alain & Christine of Vanilla Tours. They provide 4 hour botanical tours of the island and were kind enough to allow us to use their dock to park our dinghies. Knowing we were hikers, they volunteered to drive the four of us (Rich, Jan, Sue & myself) to the town of Haamene, as we were off on a long excursion yesterday. We walked to the entrance of Haamene Bay, and met Tamahere and Virginie of the Tiare Breeze, a private residence and guest house. These folks were so gracious, showing us their unique home and suggesting we walk up a steep incline to their guest quarters on the hill, which provided stunning vistas of the barrier reef and bay entrance. What a grand place; we really didn't want to leave! Their daughter, Tiheni, was our delightful tour guide, spoke excellent English, and answered our many questions. The weather cooperated, and we had sunshine all day, quite a change from the rainy day before. On the way back we stopped at the MaiTai restaurant and had an expresso and profiterolles. This morning we motored to Tapuamau Bay, anchored in 78' (that's not a misprint) of mud, and declared it a boat project day. I changed the engine oil and filter, added battery water, and did a few odds and ends. Tomorrow we're planning on going snorkeling between two motus by the barrier reef, then it's off to Bora Bora the day after.
Pic- Tiheni with us up at the guest quarters...what a view!

July 15 - Uturoa activities

We returned to town in the early morning and went to the Bastille Day parade. It was a two hour affair, with floats, dancing, the judges booth, sports teams (with soccer, rugby, volleyball, basketball, tennis, and even step aerobics (!) ), a Chinese dragon doing its dance down the street, and then an odd ending - a series of off road Jeep vehicles with souped up engines, all sporting American flags! It seemed like most of the town participated in the parade and everybody was having a grand old time. After the parade we did a bit of provisioning and then went to Happy Hour aboard sv Lardo. The next morning we hiked up to Mount Tapioi with Rich & Jan (Slip Away) and Jason (Yolo). In the evening we went to a Heiva dance and drum competition, where solo male and female dancers from 4 different villages performed, and 10-12 member percussion groups performed all the background music. The audience got involved with cheering and clapping, and Sue took (as usual) many photos of the event. At 0500 a squall with 35 knot gusts rolled thru and we dragged anchor. We were awake, but I hadn't had my cup of coffee yet. Not good. We jigged around about 45 min in the dark, reanchored off the reef in the dawn, and departed for Hurepiti Bay in Tahaa about 0730. We had a wonderful sail over, squalls (again, 35 knots) not withstanding. We're anchored in 35-40' of mud, and the wind is howling. Gusts are 25, but we're holding fine, so we're planning a walking hike later, after lunch.

July 12 - Taha'a

I don't really know why Tahaa was calling me over there so strongly. There's plenty to do and see in Raiatea, but the smaller island of Tahaa, encircled by the same fringing reef as its larger sister, beckoned me as surely as getting an email invitation. We had a delightful sail over there in about 18 knots of SE breeze and took a mooring at the Taravana Yacht Club in Apu Bay. Unfortunately, the YC is closed indefinitely, but the moorings are maintained by an American expat named Richard, who also collects the daily charges to stay there. We actually ended up on a brand new mooring (purely by happenstance) and invited Richard aboard when he came out to the boat. He's quite the raconteur, and we enjoyed hearing about the way things were in the old days; he'd been in Bora Bora over 30 years and at Tahaa for the last 6 years, so knows the local stuff going on, the people, and speaks Tahitian, French, English and Spanish. He finally had to get going and we settled down to a quiet evening of perfect temperature and no worries. In the morning we slipped the mooring for the Hibiscus Hotel and YC to see the turtle sanctuary there. The building is amazing; colorful flags from yachts of many countries hang from the ceiling beams, and the furniture reminded me of an old European inn. Meals and happy hours daily are served there but we took pictures and departed for the motor sail back to Utoroa. We filled up with duty-free diesel at the Total station (96 cfp/liter, or about $4.56/G at present exchange rates) and then anchored at the reef just across from town where our friends Dennis & MaryLee of sv Lardo were. We took two dinghies into town to provision at the Champion supermarket, and had an ice cream as well. Never shop on an empty stomach, right? The last few days have been busy, and tomorrow is the Bastille Day parade here in Utoroa. Lots of places to go, things to do, and never enough time!

July 11 - Raiatea

We've had great fun seeing some of the sights here along with our friends Rich & Jan of sv Slip Away. Saturday evening we went into town for the Heiva celebration and enjoyed the dancing and costumes. Sunday morning we departed early to motor down to the south end of the island and anchored in 10' of sand at Naonao Island. The water was crystal clear, and we snorkeled an area called "The Aquarium" to see the coral and fish life. I found the shells interesting too: we saw many conch and augers. Today, we left early and motored to Faaroa Bay to take a dinghy ride up the Apomau River. Afterwards, we motored the five miles or so to Taoru Island, a small motu just off Teavapiti Pass. With all the motoring we're doing we'll need to refill with diesel soon; at least we can purchase it duty free.

July 9 - Raiatea

We motor sailed in very light wind and sloppy seas the 22 nm to Raiatea. It's another beautiful island with well marked, easy passes to enter (we used Teavapiti Pass), and motored down the channel inside the reef to anchor near our friends Rich & Jan (sv Slip Away) who we hadn't seen for a while. Dennis & Mary Lee (sv Lardo) had also come over from Huahine, and Slip Away hosted happy hour aboard, inviting our old friends Roger and Marion (the latter warding off a cold so she stayed away) from sv Marionette IV, and new acquaintences Larry and Kim of sv Magenta. The place we're anchored is right in front of Raiatea Carenage boat yard, and we managed to anchor in 25', a minor coup since it's so deep around here that anchoring in 60-70' is not uncommon. The next morning we walked down to the Moorings charter base just to check it out. In the afternoon we upped anchor and motored (directly into the wind, of course…) the few miles to Uturoa (the second biggest town in French Polynesia!), as we wanted to be nearer the town for Saturday evening's Heiva celebrations. Finding an anchoring spot was a bit challenging in the late afternoon, but we snagged a coral head and managed to anchor in 25', although we dropped in 15' of sand! Good thing those coral heads were there, as there's a deep drop off to 100' right behind us! Of course, we'll see how easy it is to extricate our anchor in a few days… We usually set our anchor alarm on the GPS, and last night was one of those that I was waiting for it to go off, but holding was fine in the 15-16 knots of ESE wind. In the morning, Jan, Sue and myself went into town (by dinghy) to do some provisioning. The many stores here are very well stocked, so it's nice to be able to keep the larders full aboard. We're also getting internet which, in case I haven't mentioned it, is very expensive, but at least it's available. Having laundry done is also very expensive, so this afternoon Sue did a load aboard while I ran the water maker. There's been intermittent rain but no heavy wind, so overall this anchorage spot is quite pleasant. Since Raiatea is a charter base as well as popular cruising destination with a fringing reef all around it, there's lots of boats moving around. We'll be exploring more during the next few days.

July 6 - Touring Huahine and "doing nothing

It's been rainy and quite windy here for the last few days. Fortunately, the holding here in front of the town of Fare has been good, so the "cannonballs" of high winds that barrel down the mountains at the yachts anchored here haven't adversely affected us other than slewing everyone around a bit. Hiking the mountains in the heavy mist and squalls didn't sound too appealing, so we ended up renting a car along with Dennis and Mary Lee of sv Lardo. A road mostly encircles the islands of Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti, and we slowly drove around the island taking in the lush scenery and noting how windy it was at most of the other anchorages; whitecaps were constantly visible everywhere. We visited a few beaches and marae, and stopped for lunch at a snack place where we unexpectedly ran into a bunch of other cruisers from boats anchored at Avea Bay. They were all commenting how rough a night they had had in the high winds, and then asked us if we had seen the blue eyed eels. It turns out we had driven right past the small gulley where these unique eels were, so after lunch we backtracked about 10 minutes and found a bunch of kids in the water trying to play with these 3-4' eels. The eels, indeed, had small blue, beady eyes, and the books said they are unique in all the world…where's Joseph Banks (the botanist/naturalist who accompanied Charles Darwin) when you need him? At any rate, after about 10 minutes of taking pictures and looking at the eels we drove away, ending up back in town for an ice cream, and inquiring where we could find the vanilla farm. You wouldn't think you could get lost on a small island like this, but it took us driving around about 45 minutes and taking a back road to eventually stumble across the vanilla farm we were looking for, and that quite by chance when Mary Lee looked up and happened to notice it. We bought some fresh vanilla beans, and now will look forward to recipes which use them. Unbelievably, we returned the car 7 hours and 45 minutes after we left the rental office; all of us shaking our heads wondering where those hours had gone. There's really not that much to do or see here, which is one of the allures of Huahine, but we managed to spend 8 hours "doing nothing", enjoying the raw, lush, natural beauty of this special place. Kind of sounds like a Seinfeld script.

July 3 - Huahine

Position: S16deg42min/W151deg02min. We departed Cook's Bay at noon and encountered very light SW winds for the first few hours. At dusk the expected SE winds finally filled in, and we had mostly 10-15 knots all evening, with the occasional gust. We sighted Huahine at dawn, and entered the main pass around 0900. We're anchored just inside Avamoa Pass, which is a nice, wide pass with easy entry. The surf is breaking on the reef a few hundred yards away, and as the wx is changing, the surfers are enjoying 10' waves. Swells outside are expected to reach 12-15' before the wx moderates a bit. All's well here.
"Huahine is made up of two mountainous islands, Huahine Nui (big) and Huahine Iti (little), with a bridge connecting them at the isthmus. A common fringing reef circles them, and there are 5 passes through the reef. (Bora Bora has only one.) It is the most laid back, mellow, and rural of the Societies, with untouched coves, wonderful lagoons, killer reef breaks--and the most extensive complex of pre-European marae in French Polynesia. It is approximately nine miles from north to south, and six miles from east to west. There are many places to anchor which entice the cruiser to explore underwater and there are hikes along the ridges and peaks." We've been told there are unique blue eye eels found here that are not found anywhere else in the world.

July 1 - Moorea

This morning, we walked from the Bali Hai Hotel to the small town of Maharepa, stopping in many of the shops and at the post office. We went into one small shop and met the American owner, who, it turns out, knows a friend of ours back in Florida...it's indeed a small world. We returned to the boat and later went into the Blue Pineapple Bar/Restaurant at the Bali Hai to have a beer and use their wifi and ended up having a nice long talk with one of the original owners, Jay Carlisle, who gave us a bit of insight as to the beginning of the Bali Hai Hotel. For more details look at http://www.bookrags.com/news/a-small-hotel-on-moorea-is-all-that-moc/. With the better internet here, Sue's managed to upload a few more picture albums - enjoy!