As Thomas has said to me we’ve been on our honeymoon for the last two years anyway, this past week hasn’t been much different to our usual amazing lifestyle. Except I now have a cute husband. Since leaving Mo’orea we have visited four stunning French Polynesian islands. The first was Huahine, then Raiatea, Tahaa and we are currently revelling in amongst the stunning environs of Bora Bora. After swimming with a manta ray and dwelling in a giant clear swimming pool we’re kind of sold on this part of French Polynesia.
We had a smooth over night passage from Mo’orea to Huahine to cover the 84 nautical miles. It was Jin’s first over nighter and she decided to sleep in the cockpit to avoid sea sickness. It was a beautiful starry night and we had calm seas. We had set off a bit early because we were expecting low winds and we arrived at the pass for Huihine at 6am after Thomas had slowed us down a bit. We were greeted at the entrance by some whales. One breached in front of Qi but Thomas was the only one to witness that one. Cara and Jacob arrived soon after us and Claudia and Matt had arrived the day before.
The following day Cara and Jacob joined us for a bike tour of Huahine Nui – the big island. All the others got mountain bikes with gears and I got an old clanker with a basket and a baby seat. The baby seat was perfect for carrying the baguettes for lunch. It worked out well but Thomas had to push the clanker up the hill because it was so heavy. We had a great view at the top of the hill where we could see the lower island. Just over the hill we visited a small village where there were blue-eyed eels – considered very sacred, in a small shallow fresh water stream. We rode on further and visited important Marae archaeological sites and observed ancient, but still operational, fish traps. There was quite an extensive archaeological excavation on the side of a hill where 32 Maraes were identified. It was quite very impressive. It was a bit hot and we were pretty full from eating a delicious picnic lunch on the side of the road next to a lake so didn’t really feel like the two hour hike up the hill. Our legs were already feeling like jelly after the 15km we’d already travelled. It was a nice island but we’d seen enough so the next day we headed off to the next island, Raiatea.
Many of the anchorages are quite deep and we have managed to avoid these as we’re not wanting to stress out our old anchor winch so we were pleased when Claudia contacted us and called us over to the free town dock. We felt a bit vulnerable close to the street and with good cause as Jin had a guy stick his head into her hatch a couple of times. She locked up from then on. He must have leaned over the front of the boat as we don’t think he was on the deck. Just curious I guess. Scott, a single-hander from Texas, Matt and Claudia joined us for a hike up Raiatea Hill. It was a good climb and the reward was magnificent views of colourful water and the reefs. We could see Bora Bora in the distance. Jacob and Cara arrived and we had pretty well taken over the whole dock. At one stage we walked past Scott’s boat and Jin politely didn’t mention the smell oozing from it but then Thomas noticed what looked to be a dead pig, bloated and washed up next to it. Upon Scott’s return to the boat we mentioned his visitor and after studying the situation for awhile, he hooked a line to it and towed it out of the dock area with his dinghy. After a couple of hours it returned. He had to repeat the procedure but he took it further away this time. Scott had told us he was going off to get a bacon roll after our walk up the hill so we told him this was the pig gods coming to haunt him. It was the topic of jokes for a while. We had a pamplemousse wash in near Qi – the vegetarian boat.
We had a couple of evenings entertaining on Qi with an Indian feast one night and a pasta night the next. I was pretty impressed with Scott and Matt getting stuck into the dishes both nights. Cara made a great pasta, salad and garlic bread for everyone and I added a creamy mushroom sauce. Being a French island, mushrooms aren’t usually hard to find although they’re flown in from the U.S. of A. Scott announced that he was pleased that vegetarians knew how to eat. After plenty of socialising we were ready for a quiet anchorage and headed to the Coral Gardens of Tahaa, the island within a stones throw.
As the dock had us pinned up against it with the trade winds blowing, we had to try different manoeuvres to escape. Many other sailors were full of advice and offering a helping hand and it was Thomas’ first idea that ended up being the one that was successful. He set up different lines and fenders and we powered into them using our port-prop walk to bring the stern out into the wind. Then we reversed out. He knows his boat and he did really well. Scott stood by in his dinghy to act as a big fender if we needed one – which we didn’t. The manoeuvre was calmly executed and received applause from other yachties, observing in a hope to work out how they would also get away.
The coral gardens turned out to be a real treat. It was in a small pass between two motu, (islands), and had a swift current. It was very shallow but we got to see all kinds of creatures as we dodged high bits of coral. Thomas and I drifted the pass three times. At one stage my camera lance was attacked by an aggressive little black fish protecting his territory. We had a lovely calm night at the anchorage with Bora Bora visible between two motu.
The next morning, after a quick drift snorkel, we headed off to Bora Bora. We had a relaxed sail but it took a while because there is only one pass to get into the lagoon behind the reef and that is on the western side. We arrived to find friends from ‘Byamee’ who we hadn’t seen since Colombia and the crew off Ulani, who we hadn’t seen since Panama. We managed to catch up for sundowners at the Mai Kai marina that evening and headed off around to the east side of the lagoon the following day.
The lagoon on the eastern side of Bora Bora is a real treat. The colours are spectacular. We had several very shallow avenues to navigate through and we took them nice and slowly with me on the front as lookout
although estimating the depths of any obstacles was almost impossible in this crystal clear water. We went for a drift snorkel and saw one huge female manta ray. A very alien experience. Then we enjoyed lounging around this tropical oasis spellbound by our surroundings. What a truly beautiful part of the world. more pics…