Swingin' on a Star

Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".

01 April 2010 | Palau
13 July 2009 | Palau
05 July 2009 | Yacht Harbor
03 July 2009 | Peleliu
02 July 2009 | Palau
01 July 2009 | Two Dog Beach
30 June 2009 | Mecharchar
29 June 2009 | Mecharchar
28 June 2009 | Ulong
27 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
17 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
16 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
15 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
14 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
13 June 2009 | Ngerutable
25 May 2009 | Yacht Harbor
30 April 2009 | Malakal
29 April 2009 | Koror
28 April 2009 | Malakal
27 April 2009 | Malakal

Motu Toopua

27 July 2008 | Bora Bora
We put a bridle on the dink this morning and made our way over to the little bay between Motu Toopua and Toopua Iti to the southwest of Bora Bora. This bay is spectacular and runs about 35 to 40 feet deep all around. There are coral heads here and there some as shallow as 15 feet though I found none any closer to the surface. You can find spots of perfect sand large enough to allow 360 swinging but most are smaller, fine for 90 degrees but requiring a re-anchor (or a reef unwrapping) if the wind moved more.

Another option is to head out toward the barrier reef where there is a huge expanse of perfectly pure white sand in about seven feet of perfectly clear water. There is an isolated floating dock out on the bank that is fun to snorkel to and dive off of.

We anchored in 40 feet just off of the Bora Bora Nui Hotel, where we and our wedding guests stayed three years ago. It is an incredibly picturesque hotel. As the lights came up in the evening illuminating the stone precipices of Motu Toopua we were carried back to the very day.

We had an agenda however. Nobu was leaving for Japan tomorrow! We were really going to miss him. It was as if he was part of the family, a long lost little brother or something. Nobu started his Advanced Open Water certification in the Galapagos and we wanted to finish it up before he went home. He had done a deep dive at Kicker Rock off of San Cristobal and a Peak Performance Buoyancy dive in Wreck Bay. His Navigation dive was in Moorea and we now had to check off the Videography dive and the night dive here in Bora Bora. Rough line up of dive sites, huh?

As soon as we jumped into the clear blue water we spotted rays swimming along the bottom and a turtle up by our anchor. We snorkeled around for a bit first to ensure the anchor was well set and make sure that the various coral rocks and larger heads in the area were outside of our swinging radius. Everything looked good however we noticed that a fair amount of power boats motored through here during the day and early evening. Some taking guests to and from the hotel, others just making a nice island circuit.

We took the dive flag with us as a precaution but the flag came off as we snorkeled about. Nobu and I found the flag in 40 feet of water. I tried a few times to free dive down and grab it but my left ear wasn't clearing. I could clear it by stopping my descent but after two stops to clear I didn't quite have the range to grab the flag. We made a mental note of the location and decided to grab it with scuba rather than spend more time. We were burning daylight.

Back at the boat we broke out the video rig. I realized, with remiss, that I hadn't used it since the last time we were in French Polynesia. We had shot some footage with the camera above water but hadn't used the housing in almost three years. It was all nicely put away in its Pelican case with one exception. The camera is just a basic Sony Handycam. The housing is the Sony Marine Pack housing for that series of cameras, which is pretty nice. The housing has a tray for the camera (screws into the tripod mount) and the tray just snaps into the front of the housing. The back has a small LCD that you use for viewing and you plug this into the camera. There is also an underwater mic, which is fun even though you pretty much just hear regulator sounds unless there are dolphins or whales around.

The mistake I made was leaving the 4 double AA batteries that power the LCD in the camera! After three years they had of course corroded and munged the little wire contacts they sit on. Nobu's Videography dive was at stake so we got out the soldering iron, electrical tape, small bits of wire and hot wired the rig. It was tricky reaching all of the little wires without damaging anything but we got it up and running.

There's a big scary looking coral head in 40 feet of water that gets up to about 15 feet below the surface just past the south channel entrance to the bay. Nobu and I picked this as the dive site. Nobu navigated us out on 110 magnetic and back on the reciprocal. The marine kit comes with a great wide angle lens and a red filter all of which Nobu tried out. If was a nice dive and we ran across the biggest moray eel I have ever seen in my life!

Once back on the boat we broke down the video gear and gave it a good rinse, changed over tanks and got ready for the night dive. We had a good hour and a half surface interval and Hideko helped us get everything set up so that we could hit the water just after the sunset. We zip tied a chemical light onto the anchor chain at 15 feet and set off for the same coral head to see who might come out at night. It was a totally different dive. In particular it was very dark as there was no moon and even some clouds on the horizon. The compass played a very important role in the conditions.

Nobu's primary light died five minutes into the dive. He switched to his back up and after confirming that he was ok going on with only my backup between us as a spare we proceeded. Once at the coral head we discovered a host of new denizens, including three inch long white snake like eels, droves of scurrying cleaner shrimp, soldier fish and many others. We did a lights out drill to see the bioluminescent critters flitting about. It was a fun dive.

The vis was no better than our lights on the way back and we passed the boat up by a bit. We put out our lights to look for the marker light but couldn't see it. Fortunately Hideko could see our location (it is very easy to see dive lights underwater at night from even a pretty good distance) and shined the ships spot light down in the water. This thing is as bright as the sun and hard to miss. We quickly navigated back to the boat and did our safety stop at the marker light. I cut it away and stowed it in my BC as we surfaced to avoid an incident when weighing anchor.

Back at the boat we rinsed the gear off and cleaned up for dinner. We had decided to eat at the Nui. They have a beach restaurant and a nicer restaurant upstairs. I love the beach restaurant for it's lack of walls and sand floors. You just can't be up tight in this place and it oozes Polynesian flair. We had a wonderful last dinner with Nobu looking out over the beautiful lagoon of Bora Bora.

Vessel Name: Swingin on a Star
Vessel Make/Model: Saint Francis 50
Hailing Port: Las Vegas, NV
Crew: Randy & Hideko Abernethy
About: Randy, Hideko and Roq
Home Page: http://swinginonastar.com
Swingin on a Star's Photos - Swingin on a Star (Main)
Selected photos of Swingin' on a Star at anchor.
7 Photos
Created 18 September 2007
31 Photos
Created 15 September 2007
copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Randy & Hideko Abernethy, all rights reserved