Expedition to the South Pacific
20 March 2016
Let there be no mistake, this is not a vacation, but an expedition.
After countless hours reading charts, cruising guides, weather forecasts, gear reviews, restaurant ratings, etc... we are finally approaching the departure date (3/22) for our 3 week sailing expedition to French Polynesia. We've created this blog as a repository for photos and observations, mostly for our own future reference, but also to keep friends and family somewhat updated on our whereabouts.
The venue will be the Society Islands of French Polynesia, a chain of ten volcanic islands, each encircled by fringing reefs that enclose tranquil and iconic lagoons. We'll be sailing a Leopard 444 catamaran chartered from Sunsail (stock photo attached). For our landlubber friends, think floating 4 bedroom hotel suite - definitely closer to camping than megayacht luxury, but very comfortable. We're doing what is known as a "bareboat" charter, which means we've rented the boat...and nothing else. No skipper, no crew, just the four of us left to our own devices to manage (and hopefully not wreck) a fairly large and expensive sailing yacht.
We chose Sunsail primarily because they were willing to charter the boat to us on a one-way basis, starting in Papeete, Tahiti, and ending in Bora Bora. This is pretty unusual, as most French Polynesian charters begin and end in Raiatea. We were granted special permission to do this itinerary based on our previous sailing experience, having done similar trips about a dozen times over the years. By chartering one-way, we'll be able to cover a lot more ground and, in theory, should be able to do virtually all of our sailing downwind. We'll also get to see Tahiti and Moorea, two islands not on the menu for most bareboat charterers. The trade off (and reason most charterers don't do what we're doing) is that we have to (get to?) make a 90 mile overnight passage from Moorea to Huahine. This could potentially be either the best or worst part of the trip.
Subject to potentially substantial deviation due to whims and weather, here is an approximate outline of where we expect to be and when.
3/22 - 18 hour overnight flight to Papeete, Tahiti (via Chicago and Los Angeles)
3/23 - Papeete - Marina Taina
3/24 - Papeete- Marina Taina
3/25 - Moorea
3/26 - Moorea
3/27 - Overnight sail to Huahine
3/28 - Huahine
3/29 - Huahine
3/30 - Huahine
3/31 - Raiatea
4/1 - Raiatea
4/2 - Tahaa
4/3 - Tahaa
4/4 - Tahaa
4/5 - Bora Bora
4/6 - Maupiti
4/7 - Maupiti
4/8 - Bora Bora
4/9 - Bora Bora
4/10 - Bora Bora
4/11 - Overnight flight home
With the exception of Papeete, the boat will probably not be anchored in the same place two nights in a row, though if we find a place that's just too good to leave, who knows... We will generally sail to each day's destination in the morning, then hang out and do whatever activities we plan to do the rest of the day (diving, snorkeling, hiking, cycling, kayaking, land tours, etc.).
Our intention is for at least one family member to post a blog entry every day during the trip. However, we really don't know how reliable our internet connectivity will be, so please don't freak out if we go several days without a post. It almost certainly does not mean that we sunk or were raided by pirates, merely that we don't have an internet connection (god forbid!)