The Happenings 27-31 August
31 August 2021 | Apu Bay
William Ennis | Some rain, wind, much sun
Traveling in the time of CoVid has posed many difficulties. We're here, we're vaccinated, we rarely go ashore: Cruisers aren't spreading the virus. The newest rules in the French Polynesian lockdown are that we can go ashore only for food and we aren't supposed to travel around. We're frustrated and disappointed about things and for our guest.
27 August we were not able to take Ian to Bloody Mary's. The lockdown prohibits even going ashore and it's an hour dinghy trip to get there so we decided to obey the rules. We're in a precarious position since we can't afford to anger the local authorities. Earning a place on a black list and be unable to return to the islands is an unacceptable risk for us.
Rather than the dinghy ride to Bloody Mary's, I took Ian via dinghy to a small reef system closer to shore near the boat. We have seen multiple snorkelers in that area so decided to see for ourselves.
Wow! It was spectacular! There is a band of coral growing from 20 feet from shore to about 300 feet out. Certainly some is dead but much more is living coral, more than one normally sees. We had paddled the last 100 feet through the coral since we were concerned with propeller damage, then tied the dinghy to a palm stump ashore. Off we went.
Ian opted for the deep end of the coral garden and enjoyed looking down as the coral plunged into 70-feet of sapphire-blue water. He's not a water guy, normally, so he was captivated by the entire experience. We were especially careful not to touch any coral since even that can damage it.
After returning to the boat, we prepared to depart the next morning.
28 August Departing a mooring is such a non-event. We prepare the boat for travel, this time an offshore trip so we're all in our lifejackets and everything is carefully stowed against the inevitable shaking it receives offshore. When the instruments are on, the engine is on, and we've double-checked the boat and crew, I stroll forward, pull our line through the mooring loop, and we're free to move.
The trip out of Bora Bora's lagoon was smooth. I hated to say goodbye to the island since it's a favorite, but we needed to move and truly, there was little to keep us there this year. We had planned a few bicycle trips and a car rental to take Ian around the island, but none of that was possible.
I got us past the truly nasty coral on the northwest side of the island and gave the helm to Ian. As we turned that corner and headed south, a French Navy frigate churned past us. As usual, they don't advertise their presence with an AIS signal but there's no mistaking a warship from commercial or pleasure craft. We've only seen that kind of vessel in Papeete's French naval station, so it was a first.
We always operate our radar when offshore, just as a precaution, and Ian's become quite proficient in understanding it. Until his scopolamine patch sent him to dreamland, he had the helm. After he went below, enough good wind appeared for us to sail a bit, which Conni and I enjoy. I finished the trip by taking us through Heuripiti Pass and into Taha'a lagoon. From there , we motored to Tapuamu where we stayed the night. As an interesting point, Tapuamu was completely deserted when we arrived. In all of our years in the bay, we've never been alone. Our analysis was that CoVid restrictions were responsible.
29 August We decided to motor around the top of Taha'a, since we've not done that in several years and we want to keep moving to entertain Ian. We passed Patio, the administrative center for the island, passed through the complex reef system just east of Patio (pronounced "Pa-tee-oh", by the way), and then, Ian took us into Ha'amene Bay.
Ha'amene cuts deeper into Taha'a than any other bay and there's a beautiful village at its head, as well as the Hibiscus Restaurant nearer the mouth. The Hibiscus was closed, of course, but we saluted as we passed by. Again, we found no other vessels in the bay's head: 16°38.158'S, 151°29.27'W. We found a single mooring and grabbed that. We settled in for the night. Ian is learning to deal with his discomfort with deep water, so swam around the boat many times. He seems to enjoy pushing his boundaries. Good for him.
30 August Our big thrill of the day was taking Ian and Conni to shore for groceries. In order to go ashore for groceries, one needs to complete an on-line form and have it available on one's phone. Internet via our phones has been abysmally slow or non-existent, so simply completing the forms took some time.
To reduce the number of us ashore, I volunteered to stay aboard and ferry Ian and Conni to and from shore. We arranged for them to carry a handheld VHF radio and I listened for their call for a return trip on our main radio. They called soon since the store closed about 5 minutes after their arrival and didn't open until 1400 hours! At 1500 hours, I returned them to shore and they were able to complete their dual missions of buying groceries and dumping several days of garbage.
We'll motor to Apu Bay today 31 August, and use that vantage point to learn about how hard the lockdown is on Raiatea, our home island. If there's no boat traffic, we'll know that we need to find a place near the airport for Ian's departure and stay put. If people are out and about, we'll continue on to Fa'aroa and spend a day or so there before returning to drop off Ian. We plan to have Wings pulled on 7 September.
Our other concern is whether we can stay at the Pension during our decommissioning. The lockdown officially ends on 5 September, but we fear that they'll extend it. That means that we must stay at the Pension and not travel to and from the yard for boat work, or live on the boat during decommissioning. We've done it, but it's not our first choice since we'll be working and living in the same space. It's hot and dirty, but we'll do what we must. We have hot showers and air conditioning in our bungalows, and we know them well: we depend on the bungalows to ease us into and out of boat life, and we'll both hate missing our stay there. The Carenage is dirty and hot, the showers are cold, and it's a walk to the toilet, but we'll manage if we must.
Note: we are in Apu Bay, tied to a mooring. We're fine but still unsure of what our best plan is.