Our Ever-Changing Backyard--Sailing with Scoots

25 November 2019 | On passage from Fiji to New Zealand
21 November 2019 | On passage from Fiji to New Zealand
19 November 2019 | On passage from Fiji to New Zealand
14 October 2019 | Savusavu, Fiji
27 July 2019 | Tavoro Waterfalls, Taveuni Island, Fiji
15 July 2019 | Viani Bay
23 June 2019 | En route to Savusavu, Fiji, from N. Minerva Reef
20 June 2019 | North Minerva Reef
17 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
14 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
13 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
12 June 2019 | Marsden Cove Marina, Ruakaka, NZ
06 May 2019 | Paradise Taveuni Resort
04 March 2019 | Koro Island

A Polynesian white-out, a wayward mooring, a bit of a disappointment, some lovely anchorages, colorful clams, and a whole bunch of pictures

12 August 2016 | South Pacific
Vandy
We also visited Bora Bora, whose lovely lagoon lives up to - or possibly even surpasses - its reputation. We entered the pass after a fun three-hour sail from Tahaa, just in time for a Polynesian white-out. (That's what I call those squalls where it rains so hard that you can't see anything.) We were right in the middle of the pass, navigating through the channel markers, when it hit. Fortunately, we were able to safely complete our transit using radar to visualize boats and other things we might hit, our chartplotter to visualize where we were in relation to things on the chart, and my eyeballs to look at the real world (though I might've been able to see more, had I worn a mask and snorkel). Five minutes later, the rain was behind us, the sky was blue above us, and the moorings of the Bora Bora Yacht Club appeared ahead of us. That's the tropics!



Here is a picture of Bora Bora, showing the 4 places we stayed during our visit.

We took a mooring ($20 US per day, including showers and wifi), and went ashore. We'd read about the BBYC in many of the books written by cruisers, way back when we were still living on land and hatching this crazy cruising idea of our own, and I was excited to see the place. Sadly, unlike Bora Bora's lagoon, its yacht club didn't live up to my expectations: instead of being the funky, cruiser-friendly hangout that I'd imagined, it was actually a pricey restaurant (they don't even have a happy hour) with $80 t-shirts for sale, that catered to the island's more well-heeled visitors. Oh well.


The BBYC

Also, cruisers beware if you take a mooring here: at least one of the moorings wasn't attached to anything on the ground! One afternoon, Eric and I noticed that the charter catamaran on the mooring next to us had drifted away, still attached to the mooring line and float. We hopped in our dinghy and buzzed out to the boat, where the occupants - a mom and two kids (the dad and one kid having taken their dinghy to shore earlier) - emerged from the cabin, unaware that they were no longer in the yacht club anchorage. When the mom pulled on the mooring line, she eventually pulled in about one hundred feet of rope with just a metal shackle on the end! Though they spoke only French, we were able to convey that we would help them tie up to another mooring. The teenage son did a great job of driving the boat back into the crowded mooring field, and lining up with the new mooring so we could hand them the line and they could tie up. That's why we always use our anchor alarm, even when we're tied up to a mooring.

We enjoyed a fabulous waterside dinner at the yacht club one night, with our friends Jeff and Tatiana from s/v Maja, whom we had last seen at Nuku Hiva's airport anchorage. The next day, we took our boats around to the east side of the island, where we spent time in some absolutely stunning anchorages. The lagoon on this side has extensive coral reefs and some very shallow water, but as long as your boat doesn't draw more than 9.8 feet (that's the shallowest spot we saw), and you stay within the marked channel, following it through some tight zigzags at times, you can end up in some fantastic anchoring spots by the outer motus.




Here is a sketch of SCOOTS' path along the eastern side of the lagoon. Note the zigzags required.

Two of the fancy hotels on this side of the island - the Four Seasons resort and the Sofitel Private Island resort - provide their guests with free wifi, which SCOOTS' wifi booster antenna picked up while anchored nearby. It was pretty slick, to be able to use the Internet while anchored in those remote spots!


Van testing the depth of the water near where we were anchored

During our stay on the east side, we dinghied to the main island and hiked to the top of a ridge, from which we could see both sides of the island.


The west side


The views from the top.

Another day, we went snorkeling in a beautiful coral garden called The Aquarium, where tour boat operators regularly feed the reef fish. As a result, the fish are plentiful and quite friendly.



Feeding the fish in the Aquarium

I'm charmed by the colorful giant (Tridacna) clams that live here. Though I wouldn't classify the ones I've seen as "giant," at 8 inches long, they were still pretty big. What I like about them is the dazzling array of colors they come in. Embedded in the sand or coral, with their shells open and their mantles exposed, they add large swatches of bright colors - blue, green, turquoise, indigo, purple, and occasionally tan or black and white - to the scene.

I've included some photos that I took, but to really see the colors I'm trying to describe, you should Google some images of Tridacna clams.





Sometimes, the clams in a group would have widely different colors; other times, they would be similar. I wondered what gave the clams their different colors...was it what they were eating? Was it encoded in their genetics? Was it a result of the environment in which they were embedded?



Through the luxury of wifi, I was able to research this question a bit. The answer, it seems, turns out to be quite complicated....

...The colors we see in the mantle are due to pigments produced by the clam AND due to pigments produced by the photosynthetic zooxanthellae, single-celled algae that are embedded within the mantle, and which have a symbiotic relationship with the clam. The clam benefits from the excess carbohydrates that the zooxanthellae produce through photosynthesis, and the zooxanthellae benefit from the nitrogenous waste products of the clam.

...The clam also produces small reflective cells called iridophores, which act as a sunscreen, and contribute to the mantle's iridescence.

...Genetics have been suggested, but not conclusively proven, to play a role in the colors and patterns of clams. Experiments investigating the effects of lighting intensity, seeding with particular zooxanthellae populations, and added nutrients on color production in the clams also proved inconclusive.

While I never succeeded in finding a definitive answer to my original question, I certainly learned a lot of interesting facts about clams. If you want more information, you can read the article here: Your text to link...

Here's a Fun Fact about clams that I discovered along the way:

Fun Fact: Giant clams are providing clues to help researchers improve color displays and solar cells. It's recently been discovered that Tridacna clams create white colors in their mantles in the same way that a color TV produces a white color, by combining red, green, and blue light. While electronics must produce the colored light using LEDs and other sources of light, the clams produce the colored light using highly-reflective iridophore cells, and ambient lighting. Researchers are planning to construct solar cells with structures similar to those used by the clams, in the hopes of making them more efficient.

Here's a link to the report that gives all the details....Your text to link...

Life wasn't all sunsets and umbrella drinks while we were anchored in those lovely places. We took advantage of the warm water to scrub off the grass skirt that SCOOTS had been sporting since Papeete,



and Eric did a whole slew of jobs, including rebuilding one of our alternators.



Eric at work

Because Bora Bora is such a lovely place, I've included a bunch of photos without a bunch of words. Enjoy!


A bird at sunset




A bit of a gap at the Maikai


Nesting noddies


A Bora Bora sunrise
Comments
Vessel Name: SCOOTS
Vessel Make/Model: Able Apogee 50
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed to Mexico with the 2014 Baja Haha and had fun exploring Mexico until April 2016, when we turned SCOOTS west and headed to the South Pacific. As of late Nov. 2016, SCOOTS and her crew are exploring New Zealand.
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