The Society Islands, French Polynesia.
03 September 2014 | It's Never As Good As The First Time
I spent the first few days at the Apooti marina using the free fresh water to wash and clean inside and out, mostly the inside cushions and cloths. They got a salt water bath when some dummy left the hatches open, and then a big wave came crashing over the boat. The hard part was trying to dry them. Sun would come out for a few hours and then a quick rain shower just when they were almost dry. Same story with trying to dry the cloths. The marina had a washing machine but no drier. Finally gave up and drop the cloths off at The Moorings base, the cost for drying the linen was just as much as they cost. It would have been cheaper to just buy some new ones if there was a place around here to do that.
I got the boat all clean up, well almost, just in time for Karlyn's arrival. Unloaded the dinghy from the foredeck install Yammy, hooked up the gas and off we go to meet her at the airport. Nice little dinghy ride over the reefs and some are so shallow you have to raise the motor not to hit 'em. The flight arrive on time and Karlyn is all smiles, me too. Back to the boat and more cleaning and putting things back in its place. Cushions almost dry, and got my laundry back just in time.
Next day we motorsailed to the main town of Raiatea, Uthora, to say hi to Phil. He's still at the dock, nursing the wounds his boat received on the way down. Some of his problems are refrigerator not cooling to specs, alternator broke, batteries not holding a charge, etc. We also need to do a little provisioning since Karlyn will need more stuff to cook and to cook with. But no cooking tonight, I take her to one of Phil's favorite restaurants, a food truck on the side of the road. In this part of the world it may not be the best French restaurant, but it's the best value for the Franc. You get twice as much food for half the price compared to the fancy places.
There is a little break in the weather, if we leave on Wednesday we can get to Bora Bora before the rain starts again. So we go for it, skipping a stop at the Coral Gardens with some excellent snorkeling on the west side of Tahaa. The wind has calmed down a little but the waves and swells are still big. A very impressive site when they crash on the reef. White water everywhere.
Wave hitting the reef
After entering the pass to Bora Bora we picked up a mooring ball at one of my favorite places, Maikai Marina If we have dinner at the restaurant we don't have to pay for the mooring. What a deal, not having to pay for something here. Of course the staff all remembered me from last year and were kinda surprise to see me, without my brother. "Where is he?"
The fastest and most informative way to see a new place is to hire a guide. After a few phone calls we decided to book a tour with Dino, he was the only one available in such a short notice. We visited a few of the Marae's but they weren't as well maintained as the ones on the other islands. I'm guessing Bora Bora doesn't need them to attract tourist. What would a tour be without a stop at the taxi driver's Pearl Store and Tattoo parlor? Karlyn found a pearl and I looked at the Tattoos with probing from her. Once back to the boat we took advantage of the no rain and loaded up the dinghy for a tour around the islands and motus by boat. We just had to stop at the world famous Bloody Mary's restaurant for a view and to get out of the rain. Next stop, a snorkel with the Eagle rays, only they weren't there, then a stop at Motu Tapu for a nice sunset and then back to the boat.
After 4 days or rain the weather man promises a break. If we leave tomorrow we can get back to Tahaa while the sun is shining. Once again the weather man was right. After an uneventful trip back to Tahaa, no rain and no fish, we enter Baie Apu and picked up a mooring ball. Last year it was recommended to leave them along since they were not maintain, but this year they all looked new, so I'm thinking we may have to pay someone for the privilege when Jeremy rows out to the boat in his kayak. He invites us to his newly open restaurant and tells us the moorings belong to the Pear Farm just down the road.
Once the boat was secured we took him up on his offer. Or at least we made use of his dinghy dock to take a walk to the Pearl Farm for a tour and to pay for the mooring - well nobody home, we'll try back another day. Next day we use his dinghy dock for a walk in the other direction. This time he invites us for the family dinner, musical, get together that evening. The food was great the music better. I just had to go back to get my video camera for that show.
family musical older generation
family musical younger generation
I made copies of the video to pass around, but the next day there was nobody around so I just left them at the bar with a small note. And we wanted to thank him for inviting us into his family for their monthly get together.
Next day time for a stop at Baie Haamene for the Vanilla and Black Pear Farm tour with old friends Teva and Linda of Terainui Tours whom we used last year. We picked up a mooring at the Hibiscus restaurant, made reservations for dinner and for a quick tour of the island in the morning. Teva and Linda remembered me from last year and wanted to know "where's Phil?" The first stop of the tour was at the Vanilla plantation. We luck out because the first flower of the season had bloom and we got to watch the pollination process. Then a ride up the mounting for a marvelous view of the bay and reefs, then a stop at the 3 limbed coconut tree, maybe the only one in the world. Then a stop at the Pear Farm to learn all about the cultured pearl process and then to the Pearl Store where Karlyn found another pearl to take home with her.
Next day time for the next anchorage and the next mooring ball. This time to the Baie Faaroa on the east side of Raiatea for a river and garden tour. But first on the list was a visit to Marae Taputapuatea since I didn't get to go there last year and visiting old artifacts and historical sites is high on Karlyn's list. Late morning we motored over to the next bay to the south looking for a place to drop the anchor. But everything was either a reef, or too shallow, or too deep, so we past as close to the Marae as we could and zoom in with the cameras for some photos. We'll have to come back by car because it's too far for a dinghy ride. So back to the mooring and a trip up the river where we met the local tour guide "Django". But last year his name was James. I think he was just pulling our legs because he had just seen the movie. At first he didn't recognized me but finally when I mention I was here last year with my brother then he remembered. "Where is your brother?" This time the river tour was a little different. Lots of RAIN. That made it all the better if you don't mind getting soaked.
River by Dinghy
Well somebody have to go home, so off to Uthora we go for some last minute shopping and dining. Cooks day off. Met Jeremy at the dock, so we did get to thank him for the show and dinner and told him about the CD's. He was wondering where they came from and what was on them. Then we motorsailed down to the village Uturaerae where Phil is waiting on a haul out to get some more things fixed on his boat. We picked up another mooring. As you can tell by now it's a lot easier to pick up a mooring ball then it is to pick up the anchor after dropping it in 30 to 40 meters of water. Besides my anchor roller is a little bent from snagging those coral heads in Penrhyn and I don't want to break it. Next morning another scenic dinghy ride to the airport to drop my friend KD off for her flight to Tahiti and then after a few days there back to California. Gonna miss that girl.
Now it's time to start working on the boat with all those parts she brought with her and to watch a few new movies. First on the list is to replace the belt on the generator's water pump. Not only the belt is broken I found out that the bracket that holds the pump is cracked which is why I can't get the belt tight which is why it keeps breaking. I came up with a jury rig that I hope will work. A miracle product call "JB weld" - it's an epoxy used for joining metal and especially for fixing cracks, like a liquid welding rod. Mixed up a batch and applied to the crack and to the bolt. End results - I was able to tighten the belt and now the generator is generating electricity again. But I don't trust it to last forever so I ordered a new bracket, except it's a new design and I'll have to order new pulleys, new mounting bolts, new this and new that. And then I'll have to pay a fortune to get it ship to me and wait forever to get it. Oh well that's cruising, getting to work on your boat in exotic places and paying dearly for the privilege.
Other things needing replacing or adding, BC inflator hose, holding tank vent thru-hull, refrigerator hour meter, engine alternator temperature sensor, latches for the companionway doors, a recording Barometer, chafe protectors for the shrouds, jib roller furling line, replacing all windvane mounting bolts and a bunch of other stuff I can't think of and didn't write down.
While busy doing nothing I look up and see this dinghy go by with another Black guy onboard. Just to make sure I wasn't dreaming, I hurried up and got my dinghy in the water and go chase him down. That 15hp motor is fast. Met Will Holmes another solo sailor, from California on the s/v SoulJourner a '74 Dreadnaught 32. And I thought I had an old boat. His definitely has some classic lines.
Well it's July and the Heiva Festival and Bastille Day celebrations has already started in Bora Bora and Phil is still working on his boat and I'm fed up with eating at the same little house restaurant everyday. That's about all it is to do on this side of Raiatea, heck the nearest bar is miles away, unless you count drinking a beer doing lunch a bar. So we say our good-byes and I leave him to have fun working on his boat while I go have fun partying every day and night with the other Cruisers.
I have lost count of how many times I've sailed between Raiatea and Bora Bora and again this time I catch no fish, just waves, and the wind seems to always be blowing from the direction I want to go. With all the festivities going on I'm prepared to drop anchor in 35-40 meters of water because the anchorage is full of boats, but lucky me one of the charter yachts leave and now there is a mooring available at the Maikai marina. Not too far from Souljourner. And just as I get settle in another boat leaves from a mooring real close to the marina, I can pick up free wifi from there, so I hurried up and moved before another late arrival beats me to it. Now I won't have far to go to the bar either.
The first order of business is to go join all the cruisers for Happy Hour and find out where the party or what's the schedule for all the Heiva Activities. There are posters and flyers that tell everything, but it's in French. We found out that the dancing contest was yesterday and tonight is a spear chunking contest. We all stayed at the bar and will wait for something more exciting. At the bar are Igor and Louise with the new addition to the cruising family Ingrid or Mataki Ho. When we were in Nuka Hiva last year we met them because he had a sewing machine to do a few repairs to my sail cover and she was about a week away from delivery. Now a year later we meet again just in time to celebrate the kid's first birthday party, where else except on a boat.
Seems like every new anchorage consist of different groups of boats that become instant friends and always hanging out together. I get drafted into the group consisting of Will on SoulJoyner and Igor and Lisa on __________, and Chris and his family on Iona whom I briefly met in Raiatea, and Patrick and Rachel on Namaste who I also briefly met in Raiatea. And then there were Vanessa and Sandra who lives there who help us out with the interpretations of the flyer. Take a look at this video for some of the dancing in Bora Bora.
Bora Bora Heiva Dancing
Someone came up with the idea of a poker game for our group. These games lasted until the wee hours of the morning. The first couple of games I either lost or broke even, but the last game I wipe everybody out. Don't play Texas Hold'em with a Texan on his lucky day. Everybody is heading west soon for Tonga and a rematch is planned. Heck I need to add to my cruising kitty anyway.
Well all good parties must end and Iona and Namaste head SW for Rarotonga and Souljourner head NW for American Samoa and Igor and family head to Raiatea to store the boat for the season and fly to Australia to raise a family and get a job, what a bummer - the job that is. Well with nothing else to do I go and get a Tattoo.
Next week I head back to Raiatea to visit Phil. He's still working on his boat so for something new I sail to Huahine. Seems like everywhere I go that sailing cruise ship Wind Song is there, but this time she was sailing away. Didn't do much in Huahine except get a haircut. I vowed to go a year without one. Seem like all my life someone was telling me to get a haircut. So since I'm now free as the wind I decided not to cut it. The last few months were the worst. Had to dry it after swimming or a shower, had to comb it several times a day, if I didn't feel like that I platted it up, just to see what it look like if I made some dread locks. But in the end a military style haircut is what I needed. If it's long enough to comb it, cut it. One day I had a dream that I cut all my hair off. Woke up the next morning and cut it all off.
Huahine is a very lead back island, and if you don't have someone to hang out with it can become lonely or boring. So since I didn't meet any new or old friends, I pulled up anchor after 4 days and headed back for Raiatea. My visa is over with so time to check out and become an illegal alien and hope the officials don't catch me. I can't leave until that fricking package with all those generator parts gets here. It didn't take long for it to make it to Tahiti from Houston, but it has been in Tahiti's customs office for 3 weeks now. I'm sure glad I shipped it to Phil since he has an extension on his visa due to all the work he's doing on his boat. And if that wasn't enough - One day I fired up the old generator with the new water pump belt just to use the microwave. Damn my food didn't get hot, what's up with that? No AC power but the generator is running. What the ____! Open up the hatch and smelled smoke. Shit the magic smoke that make it work has escaped. I give up - that POS generator is now headed for the dump even if and when all those new parts show up. Money foolishly spent?????
Been there and done that in Raiatea and to hide from the officials I go back to Bora Bora to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones. Met this young lady from Chile that had gotten left ashore without a place to stay or any money. She was on an 80' from the Caribbean who was planning on doing some trading between the Samoa and Tonga. Hate to say it but the owner was from Texas and the stories I heard not a very likeable guy. A local gave her a place to stay and I offered a ride to Tonga, but she needed to leave soon so she hitches a ride with another single handler from Canada. Also met Tyler the crew from a motor yacht named Argo. Nice guy and a nice job, gets paid to motor around the world in a brand new boat with very nice owners. But they only in Bora Bora waiting on boat parts and repairs before they take off for New Zealand and all the places in between. So I'm left here all by myself and then my package shows up in Raiatea, sailed back there picked it up and then sailed back to Bora Bora. How many times have I done that?
Now I can get the boat ready for my next leg. Have decided to go to American Samoa via Suwarrow. Decided the fastest, cheapest way to replace the piece of shit generator is to buy a portable one from Honda. But to get it ship to French Polynesia will take another 2 months and the shipping would cost as much as the generator. But I can ship it to American Samoa for a little more than a $100 and don't have to pay any duty and with good timing and good luck it'll be there in a week.