We left Tahaa on Tuesday morning, August 6th, as it looked like a good day to sail to Bora-Bora. Our friends on Rishu Maru were also leaving that day so we ended up following them out. It is only a 27 mile sail, which takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on the winds, so we left Tahaa mid-morning. It was a beautiful sail, with the famous peaks of Bora-Bora in front of us, and the more subdued peaks of Tahaa and Raiatea behind us. The sail from Tahaa to Bora-Bora is mostly in a west north-westerly direction and we were pushed along nicely by the swells as well as the wind. When we pulled into the harbor in Bora-Bora we still were not sure which anchorage we would stay in, but Rishu Maru called us on the radio and said that they were at the Bora-Bora Yacht Club (famous among sailers), and had a mooring, and would reserve one for us if we were interested. So we decided to stay there for the night. Our wonderful friend Peter, from Rishu Maru, tied up his boat to one mooring ball quickly and before we had even entered the anchorage was sitting in his dinghy by the free mooring ball waiting to tie us up. Peter and his wife Alex are really some of the nicest people we have ever met. Just after we got tied up we noticed that our Danish friends on the boat Margarita were also in the anchorage. Within a few minutes Anders from Margarita dinghied over to us and invited us to their boat for cake and coffee later in the evening.
We ended up having a very international evening. At 5:30 we met Rishu Maru on shore for a sundowner and met their French friends from another boat. This couple had done a circumnavigation 25 years ago and were now doing their second. Interesting. Then we went over to Margarita for our Danish cake and coffee (forget about dinner that night), where we were joined by some very interesting young men from Norway who were also doing a circumnavigation, but in their 22 foot sloop. I think that is the smallest boat we have seen yet. They were very entertaining, and we hope to see them again.
Bora-Bora is different than all the other places we have been as the harbors are filled with jet-skis and small boats that are constantly shuttling people back and forth from the many luxery resorts- making for a lot of unwanted wakes in the water and a different atmosphere than the quiet islands we have been in up to this point. Even Tahiti did not have as much boat traffic.
In the morning we went to check out the main town of Vaitape. It is not a very nice town – but there are a lot of service there that we need to use – primarily the grocery stores, fuel dock, gendarmerie (to check out of French Polynesia), and the bank (to reclaim the bond we paid when we first arrived in French Polynesia in late April). There are also cheap phone cards and lots of telephones so we used the opportunity to call the kids and other family members.
We left the yacht club at mid-day and motored over to a beautiful anchorage on the eastern side of a fairly large motu(island), Motu Toopua. It is a funny moto, shaped incredibly on our charts like Bart Simpson! The anchorage has beautiful white sand to anchor in, and is pretty close to the fringing reef where there is good snorkeling. Our friends Christian and Pockie, from the sailboat Irie, were in the anchorage with us and came over to watch the sunset and chat. They were the couple who literally threw us several pounds of fresh fish last time we met them nearly two months ago in Nuka Hiva. They are a very young couple who love sailing and have worked for the last 10 years to save enough money to buy and completely overhaul their boat. He bought it for almost nothing, but had to spend hundreds of hours fixing it up. I think he is the kind of guy who could and has fixed practically anything.
Yesterday afternoon we took the dinghy out to a shallow area near the reef as we saw several tourist boats anchored there in the morning and we figured there must be something interesting to see. Much to our delight we found that the sandy bottom there is full of large stingrays – all hanging out waiting to be fed by the tour boats. Even though the boats had left the area when we arrived, the rays were still there and we spent more than an hour swimming with them, and Mark took some great photos and even made a movie with our underwater camera. We hope to post the movie on our web site in the next few days. Rishu Maru joined us for our snorkeling and then came over later to watch the sunset. Their 7 year old son Finn made all of the women adorable little ankle bracelets from shells he had collected.
Today we had some boat work to do including taking Mark up the mast to the perpetually broken light we have for the foredeck. Mark had to go up to repair the light fixture and replace a broken bulb, that unfortunately does not just snap or screw back into place. He had to go up with crimping tools and had to spend some time dangling 30 feet in the air in the bosun’s chair trying to put the light back in the poorly designed fixture. Taking Mark up the mast is something I used to have nightmares about, but we have done it a few times now and we are both quite comfortable with it ( well, maybe not quite comfortable, but we can do it when we have to). Then we went for another snorkeling expedition with Rishu Maru. It was a very calm day with almost no surf breaking on the reef, and we had heard that there was great place to dive or snorkel outside the reef. It was absolutely fantastic. We tied the dinghies up to mooring balls placed outside the reef and all jumped in – including Rishu Maru’s 7 year old son Finn, and 65 year old mom Ricky. The water was at least 40 feet deep and crystal clear. Two large black tipped sharks were swimming in the water below us (quite far below us), and the sea-floor was covered in beautiful coral. We swam towards the shallower part of the reef, watching the incredible sea life below us. Peter had his spear-gun with him, but there were no fish big enough to spear – and he wouldn’t dare try to spear a shark. It was a lot of fun. We ended up spending 2 hours in the water and were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to the boat. I am sure bedtime will be early tonight.