First Crossing and Return to Hibiscus
01 July 2017 | Tapuamu and Ha'amene
Blog 29-30 June 2017
On Thursday, 29 June, we dropped the mooring at Bora Bora Yacht Club at 9:50AM and arrived on a mooring in Tapuamu at 5PM. Since I've been discussing lure choice and trolling issues with my friend, Andrew, as we motored out of the Bora Bora pass, I immediately dropped the pink squid lure and proceeded troll as we sailed. The pink squid is a surface popper and seemed a good choice.
We had prepared the boat for the crossing and had raised the main, so as soon as we cleared the sea buoy, we deployed the jib and began our windward sail back to Taha'a against the usual ESE winds.
The wind was a brisk 15 kts and we were making in the high six and low seven knot boat speeds. We had just settled for a fast trip when the reel began to sing. I jumped for the rod and Conni began to depower the boat. Luckily, I got a good set on the fish and was able to reel it aboard even before the boat stopped. It turned out to be a small tuna of some sort: there are so many fish unknown to me I can easily identify only a few. Conni and I feared that it was a skipjack tuna, with which we had become familiar in the Sea of Cortez, and that we thought tasted too strong for consumption.
I filleted it and stored it in the fridge within five minutes to give us the best chance of a good meal, and we returned to sailing. We sailed to within a few miles of our chosen entrance to Taha'a and we turned on the engine and tacked to a usable course for the pass. Conni took us through the pass and the seas immediately dropped as we entered the lagoon.
Conni and I were worried about fuel, not having any spare aboard. We've decided that we'd prefer to have the tanks empty rather than have to deal with contaminated fuel, so web
Be been sparing in adding fuel, and had no spare five gallon jug. We had motored longer than planned and knew that we were close to the end of the fuel, but fortune smiled and we were able to reach our old friend, Tapuamu Bay. Surprisingly, we found it absent any other boats. Having ridden out a week's storms last year, we knew that bay and surrounding areas. We grabbed a mooring, shut the engine and enjoyed the remaining evening.
The fish was good but not great, but sufficed for dinner, along with a white burgundy that Philippe had bought for us. I took some photos of the fish while it was still a fish, and would have used my extensive fish photo files if my laptop worked. Grrr.
The engine had heated the saloon enough that I spent the first part of the night in the cockpit, then moved below when things had cooled a bit. Usually, the boat cools and dew glass or it rains, and I am driven back to the cabin.
During morning coffee, we saw that we had been joined by a 75-foot catamaran from Texas. This huge vessel’s name is Wild Berry, so presumably the family name is Berry. A dinghy trip to Tapuamu allowed us to stop and talk to the captain, a Scot named Anthony. The boat was built and complain Poland and the family joined the boat as it passed Texas on it's way through the
Panama Canal. A generator was constantly ejecting cooling water from her hull, so we guess the boat and crew enjoy the air conditioning. I'll bet that it's magnificent below.
Our plan was to grab some fuel and a baguette and motor to our next destination along the lagoon. It was not to be. We were able to grab five gallons of water, but the gas station was closed for some holiday and the minimal store had no baguette.
We enjoyed the remainder of the day by walking around town. At some point, we passed a small fruit stand and I negotiated the purchase of bananas and some papayas. The vendor, in the Polynesian way, also gave us some breadfruit that we're unsure how to prepare, and the entire batch of fruit came to us in a truly lovely handmade palm frond basket. In retrospect, we now think that a large spider, a cane spider, was along for the ride.
As we were enjoying cocktail hour in the cockpit, Val, a stalwart woman, emitted a screech and said that she saw a huge spider! How could there be a spider of that size aboard and be unknown to us? Conni convinced her that she had seen one of the large but docile wasps common here. Sleep came.
The next morning, Conni and I jumped in the dinghy and headed to Tapuamu for fuel and water. Water, no problem, but they did not accept credit cards, now. Damn! We were able to buy only 1.5 gallons, although we had actually looked in the port fuel tank the previous evening and knew that we had at least ten gallons. At low RPM, we use only a hall gallon per hour!
Conni and I had wanted Nate and Val to join Noah Plantier on hiding vanilla tour, but if they were unable, they would miss the vanilla-growing information and a visit to Pari-Pari, the rum distillery. After the abortive fuel run, Nate and Val joined me in the dinghy and I motored them to Pari-Pari, just across the bay from the town of Tapuamu.
The Pari-Pari staff gave their usual spectacular presentation and gave a good idea how the vanilla is grown, harvested, and cured, then their unique rum-production process. Like us, they purchased some rum. On return to Wings, we removed the outboard from the dinghy in preparation for towing, slipped the mooring, and motored north in the lagoon.
Weather deteriorated as we traveled, with squalls slicing across us frequently. We passed Patio, the administrative center of the island, the on to the Love Here pearl farm, where we used their mooring. A correction to our understanding: “Here” in their name is Tahitian for “heart”, and works well with the English word, “love”. We think that it's a clever double entendres with the two languages. The Love Here staff also provided an excellent presentation of the pearl farming process and both couples bought a few trinkets as gifts. Prices, since the grow the pearls and make the jewelry, are very good. We motored on.
We finally reached Ha’amene Bay and took the remaining Hibiscus Hotel moorings. We motored to the hotel and reunited with wonderful Leo, the colorful owner. As I think that I mentioned, Leo is only six months past open heart surgery, so is weak, but he still oversees the operation and set us up with cold Hinano and Wifi. We arranged for a 7:00PM dinner.
We were joined at dinner with 7 people from a Moorings catamaran and a couple on a Dream Yacht Charters mono-hull. Served buffet-style, the menu included a squash soup, served hot with granted coconut; salad; gratin of taro; couscous with lamb; and an entire grilled Parrot fish each. Dessert, if one could hold it, was pamplemousse and a yellow-fleshed melon. We had consumed a bottle of White wine, in keeping with the fish main course. After dinner and light conversation, we staggered to the dinghy for the ride home.
Then the spider reappeared. Both women had reboarded when Nate and I heard screeches and oaths. We climbed into a cockpit empty of our shipmates, both of whom were on the foredeck by now, but the sparser, admittedly the largest I've seen outside a zoo, perched on the binnacle cover. A mad death squad search ensued, with the inevitable result of oohs and ahhs about the size of the dead spider held in a paper towel. There was a less than reverential burial at sea. Val was vindicated.
We motor to Uturoa for fuel and BAGUETTE! today, then on to see Taputapuamu, the Holy of Holies on Raiatea.