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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Bay de Povai
08/04/2008, Bora Bora

It was another blustery day. This bay makes windy days gusty days. The wind will die, get caught up in the hills, and then come down in a torrent from various directions. It makes it hard for folks to reliably anchor here in the 75 foot bottom without a good 300 feet of rode, though the bottom does hold well.

Bora Bora has its fair share of gorgeous days in the Austral winter (June through August) but many days are mixed. It looks like it's going to rain often but rarely does outside of the high eastern slopes. You can pretty much ignore the weather unless you have a highly confident rain prediction. Even so it usually passes quickly.

The lagoon is rather large, much like some of the Tuamotus. This means that winds steady over 15 knots get the opportunity to build up quite a chop in the larger bays. Taking the dink upwind can be a rough, and sometimes wet, affair.

Shooting Star, our AB VS12, is dry in almost all conditions, though you may get some spray. Now that we are used to getting places fast the ride can be rough sometimes. The Saint Croix helm seat makes a big difference here. Sitting on the tubes can bounce you around, and sitting on the fiberglass locker lid can bruise your backside. The console seat is in the back of the boat, which moves the least and has the most inertia, and it is also padded nicely. We also have Adjust-Once Saint Croix trim tabs to help the boat get up on a plane quickly. I believe these make a material difference though I have yet to remove them to make a comparison. I plan to cut down the transom a few inches so that the prop is fully clear of the hull. Perhaps I'll do a test without the trim tabs then. The boat gets up on a plane without too much problem now but it always cavitates a bit initially as you work it over the hump.

We caught up with our friends on Rahula over the VHF today. They were preparing to leave for Tonga but we talked them into staying an extra day to go scuba diving with us. Should be fun.

French Polynesia
Saint Francis 50 for Sale
08/03/2008, Bora Bora

Dave from O'Vive came by today and we had a nice catch up. They have been having a great time on their South Pacific excursion. I hadn't realized it but Dave's plan was always to sail from his home in the Florida Keys to Australia or New Zealand and then sell the boat so that he could get his kids back in school after only one year off. Dave has done a lot of work on O'Vive to bring her up to globe trotting specifications. She has two water makers (come on Dave, water makers never break!, har), a complete cockpit enclosure, a sweet barbeque, great downwind rig setup, SSB, nice dinghy, and everything else you would expect.

You can find out more at the O'Vive web site:

Made me think of the Maltese Falcon for sale, now anchored across from us in the bay. Dave's boat is easier to dock and can get into much better anchorages.

French Polynesia
Kaina Hut
08/02/2008, Bora Bora

It was another rather windy day. Our position in the northeastern area of the bay was keeping us from being able to connect reliably to Iorana Net, even with the antenna. There is a small caf north of Bloody Mary's called Kaina Hut that we had walked by the other day which advertises free internet. We decided to take a lunch trip and get our very behind blog updated.

We took the dinghy over to shore directly across from Kaina Hut and tied to a palm tree at the water's edge. It was high tide and this made the approach fairly eventless. After navigating the shallow river in Huahine with our new dinghy I have come to have great confidence in its ability to handle shallow waters. Our old Walker Bay was great in skinny stuff too but I think the AB is even better. The Walker Bay had a keel and as you loaded it down it gained draft faster than the AB, which has 18" tubes. The AB also has a flat bottom from the mid point aft and the bow is Veed but curves up keeping the draft thin.

A big issue with squeaking through shallows is of course the prop location. The good and bad of this dinghy is that the prop does not completely extend below the hull. Yamaha suggests that the prop be completely below the lowest section of the hull to avoid cavitation. AB specifies a normal shaft outboard for this boat yet the normal shaft Yamaha leaves the prop about 15% shadowed by the hull. This does cause some cavitation when trying to get up onto a plane. On the other hand it makes the prop very hard to bottom out. If you tilt the engine up you can still trawl along with the entire prop protected by the hull. I would be surprised if the boat draws 6" with Hideko and I aboard and the engine tilted up.

Kaina Hut is a lovely little place. It is like a small Bloody Mary's from an ambiance stand point, though it is brighter and perhaps a little more refined. Unlike Bloody Mary's you order from a menu here and the menu is more balanced rather than fish weighted. It is equally as expensive however and lunch for two with a cocktail and desert can easily run well over $100 US with the current exchange rates.

We had a wonderful lunch and fantastic deserts at the Hut. One of the owners was there and the service was very good. We couldn't get on the net at first but after rebooting the hub we had no problem and the Internet access afterwards was the fastest I've had since the US. We spent so much time online that we had to race with the laptop battery to get the blog updated.

Like every place we've found on Bora Bora except for the large hotel bars (some of these serve a more or less room service menu between meals) Kaina Hut is only open for lunch and dinner in specific time windows. The bar is open in between but if you want to get food at odd hours the little Caf at the north end of Viatape is the only spot I know of.

The tide was out when we returned to the dink and it was looking really thin on the way back. The location we had tied up is a little grassy park like spot used as a look out and complete with a picnic table. The key is to make it out to where the local boats are stowed up on their lifts, from there on you're in deep water. We motored most of the way out with the engine tilted up and then ground to a stop. The wind was so strong that with no keel and a tilted up motor we had to crab along and there wasn't always room to go through the rocks sideways. So we broke out the paddles.

Hideko and I have not developed a team operation when it comes to paddling just yet. It is actually more like the keystone cops. Fortunately we didn't have far to go before I could get the prop back in the water. We passed by a local guy on one of the boat platforms rigging hooks with bait. He seemed well entertained by our antics. As soon as we passed him we dropped the motor and acted as if everything had gone to plan as we made our way back to the big boat.

French Polynesia
The west Toopua dive site
08/01/2008, Bora Bora

The wind was cracking this morning averaging about 20 knots. There was a good little chop running in the bay and out on the sand bar, where some boats were still anchored it was a good one to two feet running.

We checked in with Dave on O'Vive and he indicated that the water was still clear out there and it looked like a good day for a dive. Don't have to mention that to us twice. We piled the gear into the dink and ran out to O'Vive to pick Dave up. His crew was ashore enjoying the beach so it was just the three of us.

It was a good day to be wearing a wet suit in the dink. We splashed along the reef edge between the cardinal marks until we reached the eastern most buoys just outside the channel around the west end of Toopua motu. This is a big snorkel drop off for the hotels in the area but if you head toward the bay you get to a nice wall with a 50-60 foot bottom.

We all rolled off the dink and swam out to the wall. There was no real current to speak of and the water was surprisingly clear given the disturbance top side. It was a lovely dive and the reef formations here are really interesting. We saw tremendous amounts of the local variety of giant clam. The colors of their mantels are so vibrant and varied. We saw electric blues and greens, vivid browns and purples among others. We ended the dive in the snorkel territory which is wonderful because it is still great diving and you get you safety stop in at the same time.

Back on board we bashed through the chop to O'Vive, putting a few gallons of salt water into the dink on the way. It was nice to catch up with Dave again. Back at Swingin' on a Star we took the rest of the blustery day off and enjoyed some Deep Space 9.

French Polynesia
08/10/2008 | stian
Lkjn,vbghy7kg.ljrpppo-.omnbvcxzlkjhgfdsapoiuytrewq++0987654321 j m,,.,mnjkgghffkhkhkjgjy

Says Agnes when she saw the video of the wales!
Have fun.
08/19/2008 | Randy
Hey Stian!!! We miss you guys. Bring Agnes and August out for a visit! The Whales are waiting.
07/31/2008, Bora Bora

We were anchored in Bay De Povai, lying to about 300 feet of chain in 75 feet of water. Deep anchorages have several draw backs. First you need to have a lot of rode to put out to get any decent kind of scope. We're lying barely 4:1 and we are sitting on 300 feet or chain. Second the bottom is way down there and if there is any problem with the ground tackle it is going to be a big chore to sort out (SCUBA required). Third you need lots of room. This setting put us in a 600 foot diameter swinging circle.

We were well set and not concerned about dragging but when you drop the hook and then put out 300 feet of chain it is harder to be precise as to you final resting point. At present we were between a nice Super Maramu and a pretty Naiad. You never know what kind of scope other folks have out and if the wind is shifting you often don't know where their anchor is either. Depending on the wind we ranged from "fine", to "closer than I would like but ok" to the Naiad.

Hideko and I decided to take a trip in for lunch around 3:30. This is not wise as it turns out. We went to a lovely little Polynesian style caf just up from Bloody Mary's but they were closed. Bloody Mary's was selling booze but no food until 6PM. After asking around we decided to try the main town of Viatape.

We tied the dink up in the back corner of the main Quai. We didn't lock it but thought about it. I have not heard of any dinghy thefts in FP buy I was dismayed and surprised to hear that O'Vive had a gas tank stolen in Raiatea and another cruiser reported electronics stolen out of the big boat.

There is one place to eat in Bora Bora outside of the hotels that is open off hours that we have found. It is a little caf on the left side of the road just north of the passenger docks across from the Chin Lee grocery. We had crepes and a sandwich and a yummy tiramisu. The Internet prices here were crazy. The 10 minute rate was about $5.50 US.

After picking up some things at Chin Lee (no fresh milk today ?) we made a fast trip back to the big boat. The wind was finally coming around to the forecast and picking up. Unfortunately the way the Naiad was sailing on its anchor and the way we were swinging were not complementary. As we motored up to Swingin' on a Star I could see that we were just going to be too close with the new wind.

We were facing 180 degrees away from where we had originally anchored. We were the last ones in so we were the ones who would have to move. We tied up the dink and quickly up anchored, reset to the new wind. Unfortunately we ended up close to where we started. The sun was setting and it was a new moon but there was nothing for it, we just could not stay in this spot with 300 feet of chain out. We tried to find a hole closer to land to get some shelter but in the end we had to go outside of the other boats. The good thing was we could anchor well off of everyone out there even if we would have more wind and chop. It was very dark and some boats had no lights on, which made things more challenging, but we ended up in a great spot well set with all of our chain out.

French Polynesia
Down Day
07/30/2008, Bora Bora

The wind was coming around to the east southeast today but had not built up too strong just yet. Georgie and Hans from Arbuthnot stopped by for a visit. They had just arrived in Bora Bora after helping some friends on another yacht search for their lost prop in Tahaa. The first person to invent a prop that never comes off will make a lot of money.

It was one of those, we're not leaving the boat days. Very enjoyable.

French Polynesia
Relaxing at the Nui
07/29/2008, Bora Bora

As always there's some cleaning up to do after guests depart. Our guests are generally wonderful and leave nothing out of order but you still need to wash sheets, wipe down heads and all of that.

After a slow morning of relaxing and cleaning we decided to snorkel out to the floating dock on the sand bar. It was a good long invigorating swim. We saw sting rays and eagle rays on our swim along with many little fish hanging about the various isolated coral heads. Once there we climbed up on the dock, which is some work as it is a good two or three feet above the water with no ladder. We took some great pictures and jumped off a few times before heading back.

You need to be careful out this way when swimming because many jet skis and power boats use this route. In all the hustle over the pas few days I had not managed to recover our dive flag, which would have been a useful safety precaution. On the way back we located it, almost vanished beneath the sand. I was surprised it was so well concealed after just a couple of days. I made one concerted effort to pick it up and had no problem clearing today as I swam straight down to the flag. I grabbed it and made a necessarily quick ascent from the 40 foot bottom. My free diving is not what it used to be, I need to practice. I feel lame being able to only barely recover items at 40 feet. We were recently chatting with friends on Arbuthnot (sp?) who were hunting at 60 feet in Fatu Hiva (and bringing back some big fish!).

We surveyed all of the coral heads between us and the exit around the west end of Toopua as we dinghied over to the NUI in the late afternoon for lunch/dinner. The weather is supposed to get fresh over the next few days and come around to the east southeast. Tonight into tomorrow would still be from the southwest though and getting up into the 20 knot range. This is fine for us even in an unsheltered anchorage but depending on how the reef breaks down the seas in this area the chop may make things no fun, killing the snorkeling and making dinghy rides wet.

We had another idyllic meal at the NUI. As at most resort here, the food was good (sometimes, but rarely, great) and very expensive. The dollar is so beat up and prices were so high to start with that a nice lunch for two runs about $100.

We had met a friendly pair of Japanese tourists at the Roulottes in Tahiti and after a short discussion we discovered their daughter worked at the NUI. As we walked back to the boat we ran across her and found out it was her last day working at the NUI. It was nice to chat with her after meeting her wonderful parents. We also discovered why the parents were out, she had just gotten married and was moving to France! Omedetou Naoko San!!

We were also trying to look up Elenore the guest relations manager who did such a wonderful job with our wedding. She had unfortunately relocated to the Saint Regis. We would have to try to visit her there.

We had a choppy ride back in the dingy. After considering conditions and the forecast we decided to move back to the bay by Bloody Mary's. It is a deep anchorage but it puts the island between you and the wind, and though it can be gusty because you can' get up close to the shore due to depth and reef at least the water is pretty flat. It also allows you to huge the coast in the dink and make reasonable trips to town or various other spots ashore. So we raised the hook and slowly motored through the windy channel around into the main bay. It struck me that this was the first time Hideko and I had been underway alone since Margarita Venezuela.

French Polynesia

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