07/30/2011, Motu Piti Aau, Bora Bora
We're now at day three anchored off Motu Piti Aau(16 31.964S 151 42.296W) along the eastern side of Bora Bora still hunkered down in the nice blow that had been forecast. For once, the forecasters got it right. I'm glad we left Raiatea on the 27th because the storm got here early and closed in around Bora Bora and there was no way we would have gotten to where we are with the weather we had on the 28th. We woke to total overcast and a growing wind that continued through the day hitting into the mid 20 knot range. It stirred up the water around us making it almost impossible to see the coral below and be able to tell where it was safe to go and where it was not. It rained off and on all through the day with a few of the more brave souls heading out from the anchorage. All were charter boats that only have so many days to see what they want to see. Several monohulls came in after us and lined up beside us in a straight line heading out west in the bay. Catamarans are anchored farther in the bay in shallower water as they do not need as much water under their keels. We have ten boats in the bay at this time. Only two American boats, one Canadian and the rest are all French. As we talk during the morning net on the VHF radio, there are still lots of boats on the other side of the island either at anchor or attached to the mooring balls that are available. Over the last two days, I dove on the anchor several times to check it out and find it digging in deeper each time I look at it. We don't want it coming loose.
So for our first full day in Bora Bora, we sat in the cockpit with the side panels installed and watched the rain fall. It was so heavy at times that you couldn't see the mountains on the island at all. They were gone in the downpour.
We had noticed during our recent trips that our wind gauge had been acting up. It would give us the direction the wind was coming from but sometimes the speed of the wind would be no where near what it should be for what we were out in. Yesterday, I went up the mast to take a look at the masthead unit to see if I could find any problems. Of course, it was still blowing in the mid teens but with us so close to shore, there was little rocking to make the trip up scary. It wasn't like I was the ball in a tether ball game. I've had that in the past and really didn't like it. I ended up disconnecting the unit and bringing it down to take apart what I could take apart to see if there was a loose wire in it. We cleared the table in the main salon and with screw driver in hand, I took the plug apart. Yep, at least one wire is corroded but all appears to be connected. I tried to scrape off what corrosion I could find, added some silicone sealant to reseal the plug and went back up the mast to reattach it. What I did had no effect so we are stuck with a not knowing how fast the wind is going but at least we know where it is coming from which is more important for a sailor. Having been out for the last three years, we pretty much know how much wind is around us by how the seas act and feel. A nice lunch of ham and cheese on a baguette and we launched Puff with Dragon(our outboard) and headed out for one of the snorkeling sights southwest of here. It was still blowing but being in our swim suits, we really didn't care as we were going to get soaked anyway.
We dropped anchor in about 7 feet of water at a small motu called Piti uu Uta a little over a mile from Zephyr and jumped in. We'd anchored downwind(and down current) of the main coral field so we had to swim into the current to get to the field. It makes getting to the coral harder but the swim back to Puff much easier when you are tired from all the snorkeling. Much of the coral was dead but there were some outcroppings of live coral with lots of fish to see. We were joined late in our snorkeling by some people off a tour boat. I know they paid a pretty penny for their trip. We climbed back into Puff and headed back for Zephyr late in the afternoon. We only hit a few outcroppings of coral as we went. We just got into to shallow water. We watched another bigger boat go through the same area(much faster than us) with no problems so we just copied his route and got right through the coral field. Back at Zephyr, the winds kept right on blowing(as they still are) and we we each took showers and settled in for the rest of the day.
We have discussed our future plans as to where we will be going and "think" that we will head for Suwarrow Atoll and then on the the island of Nuie and on then to Tonga. There is a festival in Tonga starting on September 7 that we would like to attend. Lots of our friends will be there too so it will be a nice get together. Google the Tonga Festival and you can read all about it.
So here we sit for another day, clouds and wind and intermittent clear skies waiting for it to pass so we can return to the western side of the island and get more fuel and water as well as the last supplies we will need for the next part of our voyage.
It amazes us how many young people with kids we have seen out here on boats. I'd guess the average age of cruisers is the early 40's with many quite young yet on big expensive boats. The boats with kids tend to all travel together so they have friends to play with at the anchorages. There is lots of conversations between the boats with kids on the VHF radio when ever they are anchored. While these kids may be young, they are some of the most polite and knowledgable kids we have ever run into. We expected to find far more people our age out here yet we are some of the older ones. More power to them for having the guts to set out on a voyage like this with their kids. Many have been out for several years. One we ran into in Papeete has live aboard all her life and she is now 11!! She has never lived on land.
It's still blowing as the Sun rises so we will see what today brings. Probably more snorkeling in a different spot and maybe we will invite one of the other boats over for drinks this evening. Guess we will see.
07/28/2011, Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
We upped the anchor in Baie Hurepiti after Dream Away and Soggy Paws had left and headed out of the bay making for Passe Papai to get outside the reef so we could head for Bora Bora. The wind was pretty much non existent so we were forced to motor the entire way. With the engine going, I fired up the water maker and let her rip for the entire trip across. It's about 20 miles across so not a big trip. Everyone is rushing to Bora Bora as a big front is headed into the area that will produce winds in the high 20 to 30 knot range so we are all getting prepared to hunker down for a few days. Bora Bora has several places that moorings are available. Some for free and some for 5,000($62.50US) francs for week. There is a new Yacht Club about to open and they are trying to attract people to it so they are offering theirs for free. Of course all of those were taken but if you were patient, you might get lucky if someone took off. Most of us are staying for the blow but there are those that want to take advantage of the winds to speed them along. The Bora Bora Yacht Club was the one charging for the buoys. We opted for heading around the north side of the island and dropping our anchor on the far southeast side. The thing about Bora Bora is that there is only one pass into the lagoon that surrounds the island. It's on the northwest side. We had motored right past the place where we wanted to anchor. We entered Passe Avamoa just about 1300 and headed north around the top of the island. If you have been following our post, you might remember where I talked about getting our hands on charts of the island that are used by Sunsail Charters. We have used these charts a lot to show us where lots of things are located and the best way to get around the islands. The chart we had for Bora Bora was a life saver as it showed exactly where we needed to go, turn by turn. It took us into water there was no way we would have entered if we had not had the chart. We traveled through water that only allowed 2.5 feet under the keel with coral all around us. We motored VERY slowly making sure to pay attention to the depth sounder as well as the Garmin chart plotter and the Sunsail charts. For once, I was at the wheel instead of Tracy. She normally takes control as we head into the islands. Today was "role reversal day". She stood outside giving directions as we went. Several times we just stopped and discussed what the charts said and how we felt about being in such shallow water. Coral can take a nice chunk out of a keel real fast. We came to one very tricky part of the trip on the north side and put our trust in the charts and slowly headed around the makers. Eventually(seemed like forever) we came free of the really shallow spots and headed along the east side of the island. While most of the coral was gone, there were times we were still in only 2.5 feet of water with sand under us. Scary!!! We finally pulled into the inlet we wanted to drop the anchor in at 1430. We dropped the hook at 16 31.964S 151 42.296W(for you Google Earth fans), put the engine in reverse and let the anchor dig in. I changed into my swim trunks and put on my mask and fins and headed down to check it out. It's a good sandy bottom so the anchor dug in but we still only have about 2.5 feet under us. There is a coral head behind Zephyr but far enough away that it shouldn't cause us any problems. I'll be diving on the anchor shortly after lunch to make sure it is set well. We may pull it up and more forward to get farther away from the coral"bommie" that is behind us. If we should happen to drag, we don't want to hit it. The bay deepens nicely once past the bommie.
We wanted to be over here for several reasons. One--it will give us good protection from the up coming blow that is set to start today. Two---It's far from the rest of the crowd. We have 6 other boats around us in this big bay. Most are from France. We were the only US boat here till this morning when a second showed up just as one was leaving. Third---There is good internet here. Some of the fastest on the island as there are few boats here to hog the band width. If we have to be stuck here, I'd rather have the internet to keep us entertained. One of our friends(Pereclees) gave us the codes to use the minutes they had left on their internet account when they took off a few days ago for Suwarrow Island.
So here we sit doing some odd jobs and reading. So far, we have covered 1310 miles since we left Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas and 4546 since we left La Cruz, Mexico back on April 9th. Add that to the trip up to Alaska from Port Townsend, WA and we've covered about 13,000 miles since we set off on April 4th 2009. Not bad for two greenhorns that had only sailed on the lakes of New Mexico and Colorado. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Update: FLASH!!--Bill dives on the anchor again! The winds have picked up(1200 hours, July 28th), now in the mid teens. The swimsuit was donned and over I went. With the wind blowing and a bit of rain, the water wasn't that cool for a change. My body temp had cooled enough being out in the breeze that it was ok when I hit the water. We'd decided to add a second line to our anchor chain. After we set our anchor, we attached a length of line called a "snubber" that typically has a heavy piece of rubber entwined in the line to give it more spring action to take the strain off the bow. We had set our anchor with one on the starboard side and thought we should add a second on the port side to balance out the strain. We pulled the extra snubber we carry(actually have three extras onboard) and while Tracy set it up at the bow, I jumped in the water and swam forward to attach it to the chain. Once attached, I swam to the anchor--a whole 8 feet under the water--and checked it out. During the night and with the additional pull on the chain due to the increase in wind, it had driven itself nicely into the sand. We're not going anywhere. As I was going in the water, the people to our right were looking into the water behind their boat. Then have a coral bommie(big chunk of coral) right off the stern of their boat. About 6 feet behind their boat. Now that is close. At least ours is a good 20 feet away and we would have to swing a good bit plus drop back to even come close.
07/28/2011, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
It's time to get caught up. We're now anchored at Bora Bora after crossing from Tahaa yesterday so we can wait out the up coming blow that is scheduled for later today. But before I get into the crossing, here is what we have been doing for the last few days.
We upped the anchor a few days ago at Baie Faafau on Raiatea and took off for the island of Tahaa just a few miles north of here. Since we were inside the reef, we started the engine and decided to just motor as there isn't a tremendous area for sailing. It gets close in some areas between the reef and the shore. We headed north making good times heading for Motu TauTau(16 36.164S 151 33.428W) where there is a "coral garden" that is supposed to be great for snorkeling on. We had some way points in our chart plotter so we knew where to drop the hook. We arrived about noon and I dropped the hook while Tracy put the engine in reverse to set it in the sandy bottom. No good. All it did was drag across the bottom. Up it came and we moved to a better spot a few meters away. There were lots of coral heads(big chunks of coral that stick up from the bottom)that we were trying to avoid. We didn't want to hook into one of them and damage the coral. At the second spot, down went the anchor again. It bit in--sort of. I put on my swim suit and jumped in to check it out. Well, it was partially buried in the sand but not as well as I would have liked. We had a quick lunch and we decided to leave the "garden" for a better anchorage. It was blowing and Zephyr was rocking all over the place as waves made their way across the channel. Not comfortable for either of us. The big ship Lady B showed up and tried to drop their anchor also with no success. You can bet that their anchor weighs a lot more than ours and they couldn't get a good bite with it either.
We headed over to the island and made our way up the coast looking at our charts trying to find a good place for the night. No to the first--too deep. Second one had a pearl farm and they "encouraged" us to leave. The third was even deeper at 90 feet. We retreated back south to the small bay across from TauTau. Lady B had headed there after their anchorage failure. There was a second sailboat tucked in the same bay but it had been abandoned there many years ago as most of the things on deck had been stripped by vandals. Again, the bay was 70 to 90 feet deep so we passed on it allowing Lady B to have it all to themselves. Farther south along the coast was a long bay called Baie Hurepiti. We'd read a report in Soggy Paws compendium about it so in we went. At the head of the bay, the water shallowed out to about 50 feet so we dropped our anchor. The bottom was covered in mud so our anchor dug in great(16 38.556S 151 30.913W). We were set and all alone. At least for about an hour. In came more boats looking for an anchorage for the night. Brave Heart(65 foot McGreger)came in and went past us in the bay. It shallows out quickly ahead of us so they reversed course and dropped their anchor quite a ways behind us. In came Soggy Paws and they slipped past us and anchored ahead of us in the anchorage. Nice couple(Dave and Sherry) with tons of experience. With their anchor down, they invited us over for drinks that evening. We were later joined in the anchorage by Dream Away with a VERY experienced couple from Great Britain. They have been sailing for years and already made one circumnavigation. We had a great time talking in Soggy Paws cockpit that evening. That was how Monday ended.
Tuesday, we were invited on a hike with Soggy Paws and the couple off Dream Away. Let me tell you, those two couples can hike. We thought it was going to be a nice hike just to the next town Haamene--a couple of miles max. Oh no, we were going up into the mountains to hike to a town called Patio on the north side of the island miles away. About 5 miles in and up in the mountains, Tracy and I threw in the towel and turned back letting them continue on their merry way. As we came back down the mountain, we experienced rain storms several times. We hid under the dense brush but still managed to get quite wet. At least it was fresh water. We got back to the town of Haamene in time for lunch(1300 hours) only to find the local "Snack Mac China(just about every restaurant is called a Snack here) was closed for remodeling. OK, on the local Magasin(grocery store). They closed at 1130 and reopen at 1400 for a nice long lunch break. It's that way all over French Polynesia. Every one closes for at least two hours at lunch. We waited outside(again more rain)under their canopy so we could get the makings for a picnic. They opened promptly at 1400. We grabbed three of the last 8 loaves of French bread as well as some cheese and ham for sandwiches. Add a couple of soft drinks and a tube of Pringles and the total came to almost $25.00US. Nice picnic! We ate and started the long walk over the mountain that separates the two harbors. As we headed up the first hill, we stuck out our thumbs trying to get a ride. The first car passed us by but the second(a tour truck) stopped and gave us a ride telling us all about the island. A fun trip back over the mountain. We got back to where we had docked Puff stopping off at Sophie's Boutique to buy some vanilla pods. Vanilla is the primary export of Tahaa. They grow most of the world supply here. Each pod must be hand pollenated and there are thousands of plants all over the island. Back to Puff and out to Zephyr. It was still raining so we arrived quite drenched about 1530. The rest of the gang finally showed up about 1730 having hiked a good 13 miles that day. More power to them. We settled in for a nice quiet evening making plans to head to Bora Bora in the morning.
07/25/2011, Baie Faafau
Since we have good internet here, I' ve added another gallery of photos. "Huahine and beyond". Click on them to see then larger on your screen.
07/22/2011, NaoNao cove, Raiatea
We upped our anchor yesterday about 0900 to set off for Raiatea, an island about 19 miles west of Huahine. We'd anchored at Fare, a village on the west side of the island several days ago after coming north from Avea Bay on the south side of the island. During our short time here, one of our friends on Yaringa(an Australian boat) and come in and where they ended up was just about where we had dropped our anchor. We'd discussed it with them and told them we would call them on the VHF when we were ready to leave. As luck would have it, a small shift in the winds had shifted their boat just to the north of where it normally set so we got our anchor up with no problems. We passed within about 50 feet of them.
Off we set out of the pass and off for Raiatea supposed to be on a heading of 235. As luck would have it, the winds were also blowing at just about 235 so we couldn't make that heading. Most boats don't sail straight downwind. It's too much stress on the sails as well as the rigging as the sails want to shift from side to side. A wildly swinging boom is a terror. So we headed off at about 250 and took off. With winds in the high teens, we were doing about 7 knots with just the Genoa rolled out at the bow. Being only 19 miles away, we pulled up to Pass Teavamoa just after noon. There were breaking waves on either side of the pass. It reminded us of going into Topolobampo on Mexico's mainland coast well over a year ago.
Once through the pass, we turned to port and headed south with the reef on the left and the shoreline on the right. The channel is well marked with post painted green(water side)and red(land side) all the way down the channel. Our charts on the Garmin chartplotter were spot on also which is a big help. We pulled up to NaoNao about 1320 and rounded the west end of the motu (island) for a sandy patch we had been told about by Soggy Paws. They are another cruising boat that was in this spot earlier this morning. Check them out on the internet at soggypaws.com. They have put together a great compendium about all the islands here in French Polynesia that is a free down load. As other cruisers stop at an island, they report back to Soggy Paws as to what they found so other that come later will have a better idea what they will face when they get there. We use it constantly as we cruise. When Soggy Paws left, they let the only other boat in the anchorage(Chakira) know that we were coming as we had spoken with Soggy Paws earlier that morning. As we rounded the west side of the island, Chakira told us where the safest place was to drop the hook. Tracy got concerned when we showed only ONE FOOT under Zephyrs keel. Chakira told us it was fine as Soggy Paws(which draws more) had been in the same spot for over a week with no problems. Down went the anchor and with Zephyr in reverse, it dug in just fine on the sandy bottom. After a great lunch of Tuna Salad on French bread, we dove on the anchor just to make sure. Well, we now know that our depth sounder is accurate. We had just about a foot under Zephyr's keel. Luckily, there is no real tidal influence in this area so we should be just fine.
Now that we were set at anchor, we started in on the next chore. Scrub the water line. We had a growth of about 6 inch long grass like stuff attached at our water line and more of the green stuff on the prop. In we both went with scrapers as a 3M green scratchy pad as well as suction cups with handles to keep us attached to Zephyr and we started scrubbing. That stuff was put on with Super Glue!! It took a while to get it all off. Once the green stuff was off, there were black dots along the hull that took extra elbow grease to get off. about 90 minutes later, Zephyrs hull looked much better. I dove on Zephyrs prop and held myself under water so I could scrape all the stuff off the prop. It wasn't bad but did need some attention. Holding yourself under water tends to get a bit tiring so once that job was done, I climbed back up the ladder while Tracy took off for the coral heads to see how they were. Some alive and some dead was the report when she returned. I meanwhile had gone below and taken a nice shower to get all the saltwater off. Sure feels good to be clean. Having run the engine to get over here(in the pass) we had plenty of hot water to spare.
For dinner, I fired up the barbecue grill to do our last bratworsts that we had left from Mexico. Got to ration that with no one carries out here. They sure were great on French bread with dijon mustard. Oh, just a side bar. The locals out here must love dijon mustard. There is tons of it in the stores. Including Gallon tubs of it in the store. We have a good bit of it ourselves but these people must love it. We settled in for a nice movie night on deck in the cockpit .with only two boats in the anchorage. With little wind(yes, I know, I asked for it), down below as a bit stuffy. A nice way to spend an evening.
Today, Chakira was leaving and we had laundry to do. So I fired up the water maker to replace what we were about to use and after Chakira took off, we upped the anchor and moved over to the spot they had been in. We now have about 3 feet under our keel. Much better. We'll dive on the anchor when the laundry is done and the Sun comes back out. It's much easier to see under water when you have bright sunshine to help.
So here we sit--16 55.157S 151 25.897W safely at anchor all alone for once. There is the occasional fishing boat with locals that comes by but other than that, we have the place to ourselves now. When we pulled in yesterday, we found signs all along the beach telling us that coming shore was "taboo" . Not sure what that is about but all the beaches in French Poly are available to everyone. Maybe as long as I don't come inland on the island we will be alright. We'd thought the island was deserted but we saw several shacks along the beaches as we came around the north side yesterday. We will just have to do some more exploring today. We found several beautiful shells yesterday as we dove around Zephyr but they all had critters in residence so we just left them alone. It's "house" after all. The beach is yet to come.
It's a bit cloudy today so Tracy is a tad concerned about doing more laundry. Heck, out here, rain is just a second rinse for the clothes. It can't hurt though we might have to put everything through our wringer again if it pours. Guess we will see as the day progresses.
I'll let you know how the afternoon comes out.
07/21/2011, Fare, Huahine
We should be pulling up the anchor in a few minutes and heading out for Raiatea on the South end of the island near Motu NoaNoa. Should be great. At least that is what we have heard. We'll let you know either later today or tomorrow on our next post. It will have to be by SSB radio so no more pictures for a while.