Society Islands – Bora Bora

25 August 2018
Photo: Dol anchored in Bora Bora
After dropping the family off for their flight home, we motored back across to Baie Apu and picked up a mooring. Time to sort the boat out, clean up and relax. We drifted around various anchorages on Tahaa and Raiatea for the remainder of the week, including a couple of nights back at the Coral Gardens listening to the sound of Pacific Drums and singing each night.
Friday 6th July we upped anchor and sailed across to Bora Bora, dropping the anchor at Island Topua at 14:00. We timed it just right as we watched a large rain squall obliterate Bora Bora in front of us, but cleared by the time we arrived, not a single rain drop fell on the decks of Dol and the sun was shining when we dropped the anchor in sand. Bora Bora is dominated by the peaks of Mt Temanu and Mt Pahia with the slightly lower Mt Nue nearby, they make quite an impressive arrival into the lagoon. We probably anchored a little close to the channel and had the fast taxi boats from the resorts whizzing past us most of the night, apart from them it was quite peaceful.
Saturday morning we decided to do a tour of the bay and check out the other anchorages, expecting to come back to the same bay. As we neared the Bora Bora Yacht Club, BBYC, we noticed there were free mooring buoys and Mike and Kelly, Dash, were just leaving, so we picked theirs up. Time for a walk ashore to the town of Vaitape, small but has a couple of supermarkets and plenty of tourist shops selling mainly black pearls. We called into the Heiva I Bora office and purchased tickets to one of the competition nights. Heiva is the French Polynesian cultural dance festival and competition where districts from each island compete to represent their island in the grand finale against other island winners from all over French Polynesia. We have been looking forward to attending one of these nights, should be great. It was then back to the Yacht Club for lunch and to clear emails, the first time we have had internet for a while, then back to Dol for a relaxing evening.
As predicted the trade winds increased and we had a bit of rain the following day, time for some boat jobs. Monday we decided to walk up Mt Pahia, we walked into Vaitape, then took the road beside the Pearl shops and car rentals, then turned left at the white house, this was the trail. It was not well used and we wondered if we had the right path, but we persevered and came to a point where 3 trails appeared to meet, we took the right path and found the trees were marked with either white paint or cuts in the bark. The trail was slippery and wet from the rain the day before and steep in some places, one place had a rope to pull yourself up with. We reached the first lookout with the blue flag and decided not to go any further, the top of the Mt appeared to be covered in clouds so the view would not have been any better, so we made our way slowly back down.
Walking back to BBYC we passed a couple of groups of locals building what looked like floats around trucks. They are only permitted to use natural flora and fauna to build the floats, for the framework they were using coconut palm leaves and other plant vegetation to complete the decoration. It was a real community affair with everyone helping, watching or cooking the food. It turned out the floats where for the Heiva festival and would be paraded that evening at 20:00. We met Keely and Josh, Kuan Yin, from Washington State and arranged to go and see them that evening. A taxi from BBYC and after dinner at one of the Roulettes, food vans, yummy chicken Chow Mein, we walked down to the festival grounds and wandered around the floats, we thought they were impressive when we saw them being constructed, the finished truck floats were amazing, don’t know how the driver saw where he was going. Each float represented a district of Bora Bora and where judged by a team of judges and then the group did a musical presentation with ukuleles, drums and singers. It was a good evening, on our way out we saw them starting to dismantle the floats all that work for a few hours of entertainment.
Friday evening we walked down to Mai Kai for dinner. Mai Kai, like BBYC, is cruiser friendly and has moorings available. The moorings are cheaper than BBYC but not as protected when the trade winds blow, however they are closer to town which also means more water movement from the ferries and hotel water taxis using the nearby fuel dock.
After dinner we had tickets for a Heiva competition night, so we walked to the Heiva venue. It was like going to a fairground with colourful lights, music, food stalls, lots of foosball, candy floss, popcorn and “fish for the rubber duck” to get a prize stalls. During the competition part of the Heiva Festival in the main arena, each district group presents their float, which we had already seen, then performs in the Himene, singing and the Otea, dancing sections on separate nights. The first group to perform Himene, was Faanuni. The singing, drums and ukuleles were very good but somewhat static. The second group, Nunue, performed Otea and where very dynamic, changed costumes frequently and the choreography was amazing. It was a great evening, lively and very well attended.
We spent another week on the mooring at BBYC, the weather was wet and windy at times, but a minor problem with our generator saw us having to order a part from NZ and have it shipped up to Bora Bora, it means we are using the little red Honda generator until the part arrives. All part of cruising.
One morning we walked up the hill nearby to two guns built in 1907 by the Bethlehem Steel Company, overlooking the bay. The trail started when we went left out of BBYC and walked past the commercial quay, at the second power post that was marked with bright orange paint, we took the trail up. Although some of the trail was moderately steep, the rest was a gentle rise and not that challenging, a nice walk with some good views. It was pretty muddy following the rains but the guns were worth the walk, they were in good order although covered in graffiti. Once back down the hill we had to wash our feet and walking shoes in the bay, we couldn’t walk through the yacht club in them. That evening we had a lovely dinner at the Yacht Club with Josh and Keely, Kuan Yin, as they were leaving the following day to sail to Niue.
Yachts we had met since coming through the Panama started arriving as everyone’s time to clear out of French Polynesia was getting closer. We caught up with Johan and Lisa, Rubicon, Chris and Elissa, Barefeet and David, Tracey, Hailey and Megan, Raftkin.
Friday 20th July we finally dropped the mooring and motored carefully through the coral to the SE anchorage behind Motu Piti Aau passing the hotels with the bungalows over the water. Looks a lovely spot and with the wind predicted to ease we should enjoy it. Over the next couple of days we had several snorkels with Barefeet, Raftkin and Adagio, Mike and Katie. The snorkel on the outer reef we saw black tip sharks and stingrays while the snorkel behind Piti uu Uta and Piti, uu Tai was lots of fish, clams and coral and a couple of moray eels, one of which was very large.
After 3 lovely days we slowly made our way up to anchor behind Motu Tape and Motu Tupe. It was not long before we were in the water snorkeling with manta rays in the pass. The manta rays were deep, so it required some diving down to see them but they are very graceful creatures and worth the effort. Later we watched as a barge anchored in the shallows nearby had a group of workers loading sand by hand and later taking the sand to replenish one of the resorts beaches. They were back the following day as with the labour intensive method of getting sand they could only do one load in a day.
After seeing 3 small manta rays while we picked up the anchor we motored around to BBYC to be met by Peter, Pelizeno, and picked up a mooring. Time to go ashore and see where the generator part is up to. Oh the frustrations of getting parts sent to a boat in transit. When we checked the tracking number it stated the package was in Papeete awaiting clearance. Brian then went around to Mai Kai to talk to the lady who was dealing with us, Brian phoned DHL to be told they needed the boat registration, our inward clearance papers into French Polynesia and a copy of Brian’s passport. Back to the boat, scan the documents and email them. Several phone calls later we get confirmation the documents have been received but DHL Papeete is closed for the day, call back tomorrow. It was dinner ashore that night with Lisa, Peter and Zenon, Pelizeno, David, Tracey, Hayley and Megan, Raftkin, Mike and Katie, Adagio and Emily, Tom, William and Sam, Bonaire. A very nice evening catching up with everyone’s adventures.
The next morning we phoned DHL to be informed the package had been cleared but there was a fee to pay, phone back in half an hour for the amount. An hour later we finally had the clearance cost, it was more than the item was worth, and the package would be taken to the airport the next day and sent to Bora Bora where we could pick it up. However, Bora Bora airport is on a motu and not easily accessible, which is why we had addressed the parcel to Mai Kai marina. Off we went to Mai Kai and the lady told us it would be delivered to Air Tahiti offices in Vaitape, off to their office we went. The guys there were very helpful and hopefully we can pick the package up tomorrow. Trusting our information and with a good weather window opening for the passage to Suwarrow, we went to the Gendarmerie and completed the forms for clearing out at the weekend.
Back to Dol for lunch and then we dropped the mooring and motored around to Isla Topua and dropped the anchor in clear turquoise water. That evening, Thursday 26th July, we all met on Raftkin for a wonderful pot luck dinner.
Friday morning Brian went into Vaitape to collect the generator part only to be told that because they had miscalculated the duty and tax so the part had not been sent until it could be sorted out. Brian then had to catch the water taxi out to the airport, to hopefully pick up the package. As almost expected the package was not at the airport but having spoken to the guys there Brian was semi confident it would arrive on the last flight Friday night and he could collect it from Air Tahiti office in Vaitape on Saturday morning. The only good news was that our clearance papers were ready at the gendarmerie to be collected. Gail hitched a ride in with Peter and Lisa, Pelizeno and met Brian then went and cleared out. Next stop was the supermarket for last minute provisions and Brian took the dinghy back into the fuel wharf to fill the jerry cans with duty free diesel and petrol, for which we needed our clearance papers. Back at the Dol, fueled and provisioned we had a quiet evening in anticipation of the package being there 08:00 Saturday morning and once the part had been fitted in the generator, we could leave for Suwarrow, 700nm away.
Saturday morning Brian again took the dinghy into Vaitape and finally collected the package with the replacement sensor for the generator. Back to the Dol to fit the new part, if it solves the problem, fantastic, if not we continue with the petrol Honda generator till we get home. Either way we are off to Suwarrow.
Vessel Name: Dol'Selene
Vessel Make/Model: Warwick 47 cutter, built in three skins of New Zealand heart kauri timber, glassed over.
Hailing Port: Auckland, New Zealand
Crew: Brian & Gail Jolliffe
About: Brian and Gail have retired, at least for now, to enjoy the opportunity to cruise further afield than has been possible in recent years.
Current cruising plans are not too well advanced but we are inspired by Mark Twain’s quote “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your [...]
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Dol'Selene's Photos -