We’ve been in Bora Bora since crossing over from Hurepiti Bay on the island of Tahaa on August 25. Approaching Bora Bora, one sees on the horizon what is perhaps the most well-known island profile in the Pacific.
We enjoyed the small island of Tahaa, as we wrote in our last post. Lest, after reading that post, you are left with the impression that Tahaa was all about rum for us, we did do more than drink rum and see more of the island than one anchorage. In fact, we circled Tahaa completely and anchored in bays on both the windward and leeward sides.On the windward side of Tahaa, we took a mooring in Baie Haamene in front of the hotel Hibiscus. Hibiscus was noted in our older cruising guide (1999) as a hospitable establishment offering good meals. Ruth was greeted by gracious owner, Leo, in the traditional way – a kiss on each cheek. Hibiscus, the hotel and restaurant, has been around for many years and is well known among many cruisers, not only for its hospitality but also for Leo’s involvement in rescuing sea turtles caught in fishnets. He was one of the founders of the Hibiscus Foundation in 1992, formed to educate the public and promote the protection of sea turtles. The interior of the main building is a real museum, full of art pieces and interesting furniture, and photos. High overhead, the ceiling above the rafters is hung with a hundred or more yacht club burgees, race burgees, and flags on display.
We enjoyed a nice dinner and, the next morning, contributed a burgee on behalf of Rose City Yacht Club.
We left Tahaa on a breezy, sunny day, motor sailing out of Paipai Pass on the leeward side before we raised the jib and staysail and turned right, putting Bora Bora in sight on the horizon ahead. We had a fabulous sail all the way on a comfortable reach, averaging 6 knots but seeing the occasional 8 on the knotmeter. A little more than five hours later we were sailing up the coral reef surrounding Bora Bora toward the only viable pass into the lagoon, on the leeward (northwest) side. The pass is well marked as all of the big cruise ships use it. We picked up a mooring near the main village, Vaitape. We needed to visit the offices of the gendarmes to complete our departure documents. We also needed to refuel, give the engine some routine care, get laundry done, and restock the boat before we leave French Polynesia for the Cook Islands. Across the lagoon are numerous larger motus, many with protected anchorages. We hope to visit one of these before we leave Bora Bora. Almost all of the larger motus have bungalow resorts on the beaches facing the island, providing guests with a view over the lagoon to Mt Otemanu.
We’ve met so many interesting and friendly people in the last year. Not only people living in the places we’ve visited, but also other people doing what we are doing: Living aboard and cruising on their yachts, some for just a few months, others for several years. We’ve met a lot of couples, but also some younger families and the occasional single-hander. And people from all over the globe: Europe, Canada, Asia, one person from South America, a lot of people from New Zealand and Australia, and – of course – many folks from the US. A couple of evenings ago, we were part of a “happy hour” gathering on board a lovely catamaran, Tactical Directions, a Crowther 42. Present were two Australian couples, including our hosts, a charming German couple, and two Americans (us). Everyone had been involved in helping to solve an engine problem on one boat and everyone had contributed experience, supplies (hose clamps, Rescue Tape, part of a bicycle tire inner tube) and labor to getting the boat underway again. MacGyvering stories were told by those having more experience with engine failures to encourage the intrepid newbies to think outside box (hence the bicycle inner tube from Velic). We don’t know where we will see any of these lovely couples again, but we will always remember them, with a smile!
Some photos of Bora Bora:
We’re currently still in Vaitape, waiting on bureaucracy. Clearing out of French Polynesia requires filling out six forms in the gendarme office of the port from which you’ll depart. In our case the office is a short walk away in Vaitape. One form (hard copy) must be mailed to Papeete; another two forms (DIY digital, take a snapshot with your camera) must be emailed to Papeete. These forms must be received and acknowledged by authorities in Papeete, and then they will send your outbound clearance document to you (also digital). Then you print out this document (also called a “zarpe”) so that you can take it with you to the next country to show the authorities there that you left French Polynesia as a person in good standing. Our next country will, we hope, be the Cook Islands. We are intending to clear in at the island of Aitutaki. This island has only one passage through the surrounding reef, so – if the weather isn’t cooperative – we may have to pass by Aitutaki and continue on to Niue. Niue is one of the smallest nations in the world, comprised of its one island. But we’ve heard that a visit is well worth the effort it takes to get there. Besides, both Aitutaki and Niue are on our route to Tonga. Ross, our son, had the following response when we informed him of our plans:
Let me get this straight: you’re going to aim your tiny boat at a tiny island that’s 5-6 DAYS away, across a GIANT ocean, and if the fickle wind happens to be fickly unfavorable, rather than wait for better wind, your plan B is to aim your tiny boat at ANOTHER tiny island that’s ANOTHER 5-6 days away across a GIANT ocean? I’m laughing at how your “normal” is comically extraordinary to me.