Bora Bora, At Last!
08 June 2015 | Bora Bora Yacht Club mooring field
Whew! We slide into the mooring field and snatched the pendant for the mooring at 1945 last night and were sitting in the cockpit enjoying a bit of rest before retiring at 2000. i was exhausted so the revelry didn't last long for me. The lagoon was a pond, a bath tub, so we all got a full night's sleep, for a change.
For the past several days, we had been beating to weather or motoring, depending on the wind speeds. I dislike motoring but when there's no wind, one must do what one must do. Conni, my amazing weather advisor, had provided information that indicated some Southerly flow, meaning that our Northeast course would be much easier. Nope. We continued with Northerlies for the rest of our trip to Bora Bora.
We were faced with 14 kt winds on our bow for the last 30 miles, and as we tacked back and forth, we realized that we'd not reach Bora Bora before the predicted bad weather overtook us: we elected to motor. With the main providing a bit of help, we pushed 4-4.5 kts directly toward the passage in Bora Bora's surrounding reef. We arrived offshore of the channel at 1900, dark as the inside of a sack. Man, I HATE entering a narrow passage in coral while it's dark. Sigh.
With Darden on the bow with our spotlight, and Phil stationed to pass word, we approached the channel in the dark. Thankfully, all of our electronics were functions: chart plotter with a good image of the channel, the radar, the foward-looking sonar, and other instruments, so we began the passage.
It's bit convoluted: deep but narrow and winding. US Navy SeaBees cleared the channel during WW2, so it's deep enough for large ships and barely wide enough for something like the WW2 Liberty ships to pass. We made it through in about 45 minutes, creeping along in the darkness and entering by "IFR". We were very lucky to have no problems. After a short motor, we entered the Bora Bora Yacht Club mooring field, found a mooring after a short search, made it fast, and we were done. The crew was spectacular.
We had to douse the main before entering. I always go forward to handle the sails, and Darden and Phil handle the details in the cockpit. Darden as assigned the line handling and Phil kept the boat into the wind for lowering the main. It went like clockwork.
This morning, we arose early and prepared the dinghy for motoring to the Gendarmerie in Bora Bora. We were unsure of the proper protocol, whether we needed to await aboard while a health guy came aboard, but after a request on the VHF, we learned that we simply strolled ashore and checked in.
The Gendarmes could not have been nicer or more helpful. English, no, but they did all that they could to smooth the entire transaction. I was very impressed.
We had run out of water (my fault, as well as a leaking foot pump) so we quenched our thirst, then enjoyed a coffee and rolls on our first morning in French Polynesia. The desalinator was not immediately available so we just bought water at the yacht club.
I'll buy dinner for the crew tonight, and we'll have another lovely night's sleep. Darden will fly from here to Papeete, Tahiti rather than our leaving tomorrow morning and motoring all the way to Tahiti. Conni arrives the next day and she'll also arrive here in Bora Bora, where I'll meet her with flowers and a big hug.
It's been a very trying trip. All of my experienced sailing friends were appalled that I was going to travel so far upwind, and I knew that it would be slog, but I was not prepared for the crew wear and tear that we received. We've endured weeks on a heeled boat, on which every step requires a new handhold and good balance. Using the toilet is an adventure, since it jogs in all three dimensions, seemingly simultaneously. Cooking while balancing on a heeling boat requires a good bit of talent and not a small amount of daring-do. Even though the stove is gimbaled (hinged in mounts that allow it to keep level in moving seas), it's still stressful to have a potful of water on a boil when everything is so unstable. We eat a lot of "one pot" meals, commonly of pasta or rice, so a pot of boiling water is a common problem. We each sleep curled up against a downhill wall so we don't roll around. Days melt into days when conditions are like that. You're either on your watch or trying desperately to sleep. Wind in the rigging is loud, but the engine, when we're motoring, takes some creative sleeping and good ear plugs.
It'll require quite a few days to re-arrange the boat back into its pre-upwind condition, but we'll get there. Darden wants to maximize his Bora Bora time so has decided to fly out. I'm not sure what Phil will do.
I'll post some photos tonight when the yacht club Wifi is back on. I've been not-so-gently chided for the lack of photos, but I can't upload photos on the SSB. It's been too raucous to do much, even with the blogs. I'll do better.
Phil and Darden took a taxi into town to find out about flights to Tahiti, while I returned to the boat to work: Well, catch up on blogs and such, anyway!