Bye Bye Bora Bora

Good Bye to Bora Bora

Sirus shines brightly and defiantly off our stern, despite the competing silvery light from an almost full moon and the red glow from the rising sun. We are sailing rather north of our rhumb line in a light northeasterly breeze waiting for the move south as the forecasted wind veers and picks up. The calm sea looks dark and viscous in the low light and the ever present Pacific swell rolls us back and forth. It is the end of our second night at sea, headed for Tonga, possibly if the weather is calm, via a stop in Nuie.

Anyone who has taken a look at a map of the Pacific Ocean will notice that it is very blue with just a few black specks which are the islands. It was with some surprise then, when I drew the line from Bora Bora to Niue, that in all that space I discover that it goes straight through an island and an atoll. Our charts, that we are finding accurate to a few feet, make navigation easy for us. The sailing community here are in total awe of how the Polynesians ever managed to cross this vast ocean in small canoes or how Captain Cook managed to map so many of the Islands all just using the stars.

We had not planned to go to Nuie but having talked with people and read up a little and it looks to make an interesting stop. The book says it is a raised coral atoll, basically a very large lump of limestone, it is said to be full of caves, chasms and arches. We are not really prepared for a visit, we have no curtesy flag (the flag of the country whose waters you are in, flown from the spreaders) and no New Zealand dollars, the currency they use. The country is rumoured to have no ATM’s  and just one bank. Our arrival could be interesting, that is if the weather is good enough for us to arrive. There are no protected bays or coves and it is surrounded by very deep water so the main town has laid a mooring field which is only good in the prevailing winds from the east, winds from the west would make the anchorage untenable.

After nearly four months in Fench Polynesia, it was with a heavy heart that we watched the Gendarme’s stamp decend onto our exit papers. We have had the best time here. The contrasting landscapes, from dramatic peaks and ridges to picture perfect atolls, untamed jungle to coconut groves and pretty tended gardens. The stunning warm, clear, turquoise seas full of coral and fish of all sizes and the welcoming happy people we have met on all of the islands.

In fact we had a  good example of the latter on our last day. We needed a final stock up at the supermarket . We could get the dingy quite near by tying up to a wire fence next to a concrete wall tucked between a small beach and industrial buildings just across the road from the Super U Store. As we returned with our trolley full of bags, hanging out at the corner were a couple of young men, caps low over their eyes, head phones on, rolling cigarettes. The lines from thier boat stretched across the path blocking the route of our trolley, not really a problem the dingy was only ten meters away but we couldn’t quite carry all the bags in one go. In London you probably would have nodded a hello, while subconsciously keeping one hand on your purse. In the Carribean where no one will even look you the eye, we would have probably been worried to walk away from the remaining bags in the trolley or been hassled to pay them for the use of the dock. In stark contrast in Bora Bora we get the ubiquitous bright “bonjour” and the boys jump up apologising and with a smile help carry the bags for us to the dingy.

As we sail away, we reflect that this feeling of welcome and the warm politeness you find everywhere, really has enhanced the natural delights of French Polynesia. Tonga is known as the Friendly Islands so there is hope that this situation will continue.

Waiting for our window

Saturday 16th July

The phrase on everybody’s lips is “weather window”. Bora Bora is the principle place to check out of French Polynesia before sailing on towards Tonga. The winds for the passage have not been great for the past few weeks so a bit of a yacht bottle neck is building up. Obviously all the crews here are individuals with an adventurous streak or they wouldn’t be sitting in a small floating home half way across the Pacific, it is strange observation then, that they clump together so. The word will go out that the weather looks good, people stop looking at there own weather forecasts and there will be a mass exodus. It’s the same with anchoring when we arrived in this bay it was empty except for a couple of charter boats out near the reef, we anchored in deeper water and spent a couple of days in splendid isolation. Then a couple of friends arrived and we created a group of three boats, immediately every boat that entered the bay seemed to stop looking at their own charts and instead just anchored nearby us. At one point there were about ten yachts all anchored on top of each other and the rest of the large bay was empty?! 

Tehou Bay

The weather looks quite good to leave in a couple of days but this window of opportunity has caught us napping and it would mean rushing around for two days and we don’t really fancy competing with every one else for a spot at the fuel dock or that last tomato at the supermarket. So we may well stay a bit longer, hardly a hardship.

We are anchored in Tehou Bay, in the lea of Toopua Island in the SW corner of the Bora Bora lagoon. We are again in clear turquoise water, with green hills to shore and a dramatic white line of surf out to sea. When we arrived on Tuesday, having dropped the anchor carefully to ensure we weren’t going to snag on any coral heads, we jumped into the water and a school of twelve spotted eagle rays glided slowly past our feet. I love them, they are so graceful and have friendly faces a bit like a dogs. Out on the reef the tourist boats come to feed sting rays and black tips and to the south of us is a line of luxury, over the water, Hilton villas. 

Our only real issue is again lack of Internet, the only place we are finding anything is in the restaurants and with the eleven hour time difference back to the UK it is making communication quite difficult. In Tehou bay we don’t even have much of a phone signal.

Luckily Bora Bora is quite small so we can easily run back in to town. Wednesday night we decided to go back for Happy Hour at the yacht club as the guitarist from last week was to be there again. It was only about 2nm if we cut the corner off the main channel, so we took the iPad and recorded our track winding through the coral heads while it was still light and then followed the track back later that evening in the dark. It was quite exciting whizzing blindly through the night, Rick driving, me directing – right a bit, left a bit, LEFT A BIT MORE!

Thursday night Lili and Steve from Liward and Steve, Linda, Karen and Peter from Nina came onboard armed with meat, salad and beer and we had a BBQ. As the sun went down Steve broke out his guitar and we all, loudly, sang the night away, more enthusiasm than talent on the vocals, maybe that will teach people not to anchor quite so close to us. 

The next morning all a little worse for wear we took the dingies around the south of the island to a snorkelling spot. The day was calm, the water so clear and so blue we could see the coral ten meters down as if it was at the surface. There was quite a strong current running over the buoyed bank of coral, the trick was to swim hard against the flow to one side and then drift back over all the fish and repeat until you are exhausted. It amazes me that having been here for over three months, that we are still seeing new types of fish each time we snorkel, the star today was a roundish fish, about the size of a large serving platter, brown with green stripes and a large green stubby nose? Linda had bought the remains of last nights pasta salad, this was very popular with the smaller reef fish and caused a mini feeding frenzy all around us.

Small reef fish enjoying the pasta salad

Perhaps because of the night before or the strength of the current, we all tired quite quickly and we returned to our dingies and went over for lunch at Bloody Mary’s Restaurant. It is famous on Bora Bora, built in Polynesian style with thatched roof and sand floors, it’s been wowing its customers for over forty years. At the entrance they have two boards listing all their famous visitors, it seems everyone has been from Rod Stewart, to Diana Ross, to Cameron Diaz to Buzz Aldrin. The Bloody Mary’s were spicy, the burgers good and the wash basin in the ladies a waterfall, but no famous faces we could recognise.

Lunch at Bloody Mary’s

Between the fun there are still the routine jobs to do. Today one of our least favourite – cleaning the hull. After the fast growth rate in the Galápagos and Marquesas, the hull in the Tuomotu kept surprisingly clean so we have had a bit of a reprieve but it has been gradually getting worse again as we have sailed west. Close up we saw it had grown a whole eco system over the last couple of weeks.  So I cleaned the thick green slime from the waterline, while Rick put on his scuba gear and tackled the fuzz of weed and barnacles that were making our keel and rudder thier home.

With the hull pristine we should fairly fly to Tonga. Until then, here we sit awaiting the next weather window with our name on it.

Music in Bora Bora

“Mayday Mayday”, not what we were quite a expecting to hear five minutes after turning on the radio to listen out for friends to make tonight’s dinner arrangements. “We see two people in the water calling for help, we are approaching the southern end of Bora Bora, we will attemp to sail back to them”. It turned out to be three divers, their dive boat had dragged its anchor and they surfaced from their dive to find it being blown by today’s brisk breeze inexorably out to sea. The yacht on the radio, Kiora, managed to get back to them and get them onboard, lucky guys, the sea is not friendly outside of the reef.

It was nice on arriving in Bora Bora last Tuesday, to find three or four boats we know moored in the bay just south of us. That night everyone was going in to the centre of Vaitape, the capital of Bora Bora, to see the Polynesian dancing. The fortnight leading up to 14th July, Bastille day, is a big celebration here, called the Heiva it is a competitive celebration of French Polynesian culture. Each day there are competitions, canoe racing, tapas fabric exhibitions, palm weaving demonstrations as well as  sports such as volleyball and beach soccer, most important are the inter-island traditional song and dance competitions. Ever since our arrival  in the Marquesas the importance of music here has been obvious, the unforgetable noise of the traditional drums has been the backing track for our stay. It seems every commune (equivalent of our boroughs) throughout French Polynesia is involved and from the evidence of the drumming, we have heard every where, they have been getting together to practice for months. Each island sends their best choir and dance troop, accompanied with thier drummers to the final in Tahiti. 

Here on Tuesday night we watched the final village performing for the judges in the hope of being selected to represent Bora Bora. The dancing in particular was spectacular, performed by over thirty female and male dancers from the commune of Nunue. Dressed in dramatic costumes and wonderful headdresses they twirled, jumped and vibrated, to the frantic rhythm created by an exotic mixture of drums. One of the main moves involves the girls shaking their bums at a phenomenal rate, we sit transfixed. We all walk back to the anchorage trying to work out exactly how it’s possible to move ones hips like that, our skinny Caucasian bums are just not fit for purpose. It struck us just how much effort had gone into the performance, the actual dancing was only half of it. The communes here are small with populations in tens rather than thousands, just making the outfits that were changed for each of the five performances must have taken weeks of sewing, the stage backdrop represented an underwater scene and was at least twenty meters long and the band comprised of about twenty players, what a great way to create community spirit.

A couple of nights later and we are again enjoying a musical performance, a local guitarist was playing in the Mai Kai Yatch Club bar. He was very good, apparently not keen on playing Polynesian music he sticks instead to the Eagles, Pink Floydd, Dire Staits……… He played with just his father backing him on base but had the knack of it sounding like there was a whole band inside the bar.

Besides the sampling of the local musical offerings and the odd meal out its been a quiet week. Again the wind has been blowing enthusiastically, swinging the boat in all directions and making dingy trips rather bouncy. We did have one calm day, Saturday, so we, with a couple of other boats, followed Steve and Lili to a snorkelling site a couple of miles dingy ride away. Steve and Lili from the yacht Liward have been cruising French Polynesia for three years, they love it so much they have just renewed their visa to stay for another three. As a result they know all the good places to go and took us all to a channel between two motu in the NW corner of the outer reef. On one of the islands was the charming small resort Blue Haven which kindly allowed us to tie up to their dock. The snorkel wasn’t quiet as amazing as the channel off Tautau but being bigger, had bigger fish including a six foot black tip shark that glided nonchalantly past about ten meters away.

And I managed to get a photo of my new favourite fish. We have discovered its official name is white striped trigger fish, but for obvious reasons we had nicknamed him abstract art fish, we have just learnt the locals call him the Picaso fish.

Nine hundred thousand and one Oysters

Tuesday 5th July 2016

We are eating lunch in the Bora Bora Yacht Club and I am drinking wine from a delicate tall stemmed wine glass. We seem to have found civilisation. Bora Bora is packed full of luxury hotels, the tourist is king. The road that runs around the island and right next to our anchorage is busy, jet ski treks, full of honeymooning couples, whiz by and tourist boats rock us with their wake but for now we don’t mind, it’s just nice to sip our cold Savignon Blanc from a fancy glass.

Last weeks anchorage in Vaiorea Bay, Tahaa turned out to have more than just incredible sunsets, it was full of oysters. The  pearl farm whose bouys filled most of the bay had a jetty, thankful to the owner for his help in anchoring, we dingied over to see their pearl farming demonstration. It turned out to be very interesting. A spherical bead of shell, just smaller than the pearl required is seeded in the gonad of an Oyster with a piece of its mantle tissue. The mantle is the outer piece of flesh of the Oyster that creates the mother of pearl coating on the inside of the oyster shell or if enclosed in a small space with a piece of sand as in nature, or a piece of shell as when farmed, coats the irritant to create a pearl. The Pinctada Margaritifera Oysters that thrive in the warm, clear waters of French Polynesia have a black mantle that produces the dark colours of the local pearls. Once seeded the Oysters are left to create there magic in the cages on the other side of the lagoon. They are harvested after eighteen months, each oyster and pearl can go through this procedure three times producing a diversity of shapes, sizes and qualities of pearls. The farm managed an incredible 900,000 mature oysters with another million in its nursery.

Of course at the end of the demonstration is the shop, we perused the selection of jewellery, they are lovely but so expensive, we splashed out on just one, small, but top classed blue, black pearl.

View out from Bay Vaiorea

We returned to the boat, the sun now high in the sky, we grabbed our snorkel gear and drove the dingy the nautical mile back to Motu Tautau for the promised spectacular snorkel on the coral garden. We left the dingy anchored in the shallows off the northern shore and walked through the palm trees to the far end facing the outer reef. We then jumped into the channel between the islands. It was amazing, the gentle current pushed us back towards the dingy through a mass of mixed corals, it was great fun weaving though the bommies seeking out a route deep and wide enough to float through. 

Spectacular coral garden at Tautau

However the real wow factor came from the fish, there were millions of them and with no depth to escape, they just swim all around you. They were every shape and size from a few centimetres to a couple of feet long, in every colour and pattern imaginable, it was as if a teacher had given a group of six year olds a bunch of felt tip pens and asked them to design fish.We loved it so much we returned the next day to do it all over again.

Rick at the end of the Tautau channel

Back at the bay a Hallberg Rassy – Blue Raven had anchored next to us and they joined us for sundowners. As I think I have mentioned before, meeting new people is one of the highlights of the trip, when in real life do you invite people over just because they have turned up next to you for the night. We meet such a diverse bunch, from toddlers to eighty year olds, from New Zealanders to Swedes, from luxury Super Yachts to 30ft home builds and everyone has thier own stories to tell of how they came to be in this particulr tiny bay in the middle of the Paciffic.

The next morning we went a few miles up the lagoon to Tahaa’s main town Patio, again the water was deep but there were mooring balls to hook up to. We normally avoid mooring balls, we are bigger and much heavier than most of the sailing boats here but these looked robust and the breeze was gentle. We were keen to get rid of our rubbish and to the store, so we tied up and after an interesting ‘bilingual’ conversation between Rick and the Gendarme as to the bouys yacht size rating, decided to risk staying night.

The mooring held fast and early the next morning we headed off. The sea outside the reef had built to a three metre swell overnight and either side of the pass the surf was huge, a wonderful, if rathe daunting sight. Amazingly the pass itself was relatively calm and full of Dolphins, our exit was straight forward. Our twenty mile crossing, however, with the swell on our side, was very rolly and the entrance through the pass into Bora Bora quite hairy with cross currents, traffic and a three knot out flow against us. Still we made it and here we are sipping white wine, enjoying the view and discussing how we will spend the next couple of weeks on the island before the next big passage, 1200nm to Tonga.

Fare, and Away

Friday 1st July 2016

With the forecast finally predicting a few calm days, Wednesday morning we headed North from Avea Bay towards the small town of Fare to restock. This meant sailing back up the narrow lagoon that encircles Huahini, this takes quite a bit of concentration, we have one eye on the chart, one eye on the channel markers and one eye on the colour of the sea to identify the shallows. Luckily we have four eyes between us and we snaked our way through the deep areas up to our next anchorage without incident. We click away on the camera but it is impossible to really catch the narrowness of the channel, the glorious colours of the sea or the grandeur of the hills.

Motoring up the Lagoon , Huahini

Fare is the capital of Huahini but it is tiny, like all the islands here there is basically one road around the island that follows the twists and turns of the coast. Everything is stretched along it, housing, shops, churches, industrial units …. A town constitutes just a more concentrated area of buildings on one part of this road. So Fare, like everywhere else, has just one street, we walk past the gendamarie, a supermarket, a ceremonial area, the dock and a bank but it is 2pm and every where is deserted – still lunchtime. The next morning is another story , every foot of pavement is taken over with food stalls. Cars, bikes and people jostle for space on the road. Everybody knows everybody else, it must take all morning to walk from one end of the road to the other as everyone stops to greet and chat to each other. We fill our bags at the supermarket and buy fruit and eggs from the stalls before returning to Raya.

We were anchored on shallow sand just off the outer reef. The water and nearby coral looked inviting but when we jump in armed with brooms to clean the hull we soon discover there is quite a current running, I swim hard against it to check the anchor but decide cleaning and snorkelling can wait for kinder waters.We rock occasionally, the harbour area is busy with cruise ship ferries, small fishing boats and dingies but it felt great, to finally, not be taking a battering from the wind. The tradition of canoeing is alive and well throughout French Polynesia, in all our ports of call there have been crews or individuals training for the frequent regattas. In the Society Islands they use a modern version of outrigger canoes, we sit at the yacht club restaurant watching a crew of five sprint back and forth paddles in exact harmony with each other.

Thursday we get an email from our friends onboard their catamaran Yollata, the Raymarine instruments onboard have failed, they still have the GPS but no wind, speed or depth information and most disasterously no autopilot. When there are just two of you sailing the boat, the autopilot acts as an important third crew member, a crew member that never sleeps, never needs feeding, never loses concentration. They are 400nm into the 1200nm passage to Tonga and are appealing to the cruising community for any expertise or ideas of what might have gone wrong and things to check. Everybody does their best to help but it is difficult to diagnose from afar. We feel for them, it’s going to be a long tiring week ahead, especially with two young children onboard.

The next two islands on our continuing route west our Raiatea and Tahaa, they are contained within a single outer reef. We have been told of a beautiful coral garden that fills a shallow channel between two motu on the west coat of Tahaa. With the weather still set fair for the weekend we decide we should take advantage of it to make sure we can snorkel and appreciate the experience in good conditions. So Friday we head out of the Port of Fare, through the Avamoa pass, with a pod of dolphins swimming and leaping all around us. There is a steady 15kt wind from the ESE, it is only 20nm across the channel, so although it doesn’t take us quite in the right direction we shake out the sails and enjoy the ride.

We are welcomed to Raiatea by a flock of Red Footed Boobies, no great flying displays today, they just sit bobbing about on the waves, reluctantly taking to the air as we motor past, exposing their bright red feet and blue beaks, making identification easy. The pass into the lagoon is flanked on both sides by picture perfect dessert islands but the bay we had planned for our first stop looked less lovely, the water was brown and the shore lined with small scruffy warehouses.

It was still only 1pm, so we sail on through the central channel to Tahaa. There are a few sailing charter companies here and the next bay is full of charter boats, the next bay the bottom is too deep to anchor. We motor on, pass a striking church on the banks and dodge a surprisingly large container ship for inside the lagoon. We are now north enough to spot the Motu we expected to visit tomorrow and decide to try the sandy anchorage nearby. It is very steep dropping from 2m to 25m in just a couple of boat lengths we don’t feel happy enough to stay the night. It is now 3.30 and the sun is beginning to get too low to safely navigate the coral, we need to decide where to anchor. On the chart we spot a potential bay a mile across the lagoon but when we arrive half the bay is full of fishing buoys the other half is 25m deep. However, the pressure is on and  we put our nose a little further in to investigate, we hear shouts, arms wave frantically, the bouys hold oyster cages, this is a pearl farm. The kindly owner motors out and shows us where it is safe to drop our anchor, it is deep but too late to move on, so we are in 24m of water with most of 100m of chain out.

In had turned into a long day and as we sit down for our well deserved ‘got here beer’ we look around for the first time at our surroundings. We can hardly believe our eyes, beyond the lagoon ten miles away sits the dramatic outline of Bora Bora and we have a grandstand view of the sun setting perfectly behind its craggy  silhouette.

Sun setting behind Bora Bora

P.S. We have just heard from Yollata, after four tiring days, they have managed to cobble together a fix and have their autopilot functioning again.

Rain Stops Play

Tuesday 28th June 2016

The wind howls around us in the dark, the rain starts to beat down on our backs as we, as fast as we can, hoist the dingy on to the davits, it looks like we could be in for another lively night. The wind has turned around to SE and our protected bay is becoming bouncy. We are still being held hostage by the weather, high winds restrict where we can anchor, the cloud restricts the visability and the rain restricts trips ashore and keeps us below decks. We have done a long list of chores, read a selection of books and watched our limited video stock all the way though for the third time. Now it is time for the squalls to stop, the sun to come out and the wind to drop so we can enjoy our fabulous surroundings, unfortunately the forecast is doubtful.

We left Fare last Friday after just one night to hide from yet another forecast for high winds. We motored inside the lagoon, bordered on one side by the hills and bays of the island of Huahini and on the other the outer reef with huge perfectly formed surf crashing over it. The cloud subdued the colours and the current kept us focussed on the route, the fantastic scenery passed by mostly unnoticed. About four miles south we found a large bay, with just a small entrance, that was calm and to a degree protected from the wind. Bourayne Bay felt like a large lake, we were encircled by densely wooded hills a few hundred feet high, the water was deep, until a shelf, that stretched completely around the shore, rapidly shallowed the water to a reef that almost broke the surface. A few houses sat around its perimeter but we saw very few people, just a couple of locals fishing once in a while, when there is a lull in the wind it was beautifully tranquil.

With time on our hands we enjoyed watching the weather. The wind that sweeps across the surface of the water, the ripples identifying its path. The rain a wall of water bearing down on us, reducing the visability to a few metres and then the short breaks in the cloud, allowing the sun in to light up and to transform the landscape. We turn on the instruments to monitor the gusts, we see 20, 24 even 27kts, we track our path around our anchor, uncomprehending at the effects of the wind and currents on the pattern that is formed.

After three days the wind drops a little and we carry on down the lagoon to Avea Bay. A bigger contrast you couldn’t get, Avea Bay is fringed by a long sandy beach, buildings regularly puntuate the shore, a small hotel sits opposite us. The sandy bottom produces bright blue water that as you look out to sea turns to a turquoise strip in front of the reef. Outside the reef is the ever present line of white, the surf continuing to pound in from the ocean. 

Conditions are still squally but there are periods of sunshine to take advantage of, we take the dingy in to the pretty hotel Le Relais Mahana, for lunch. The Mai Tais were expensive, rather sweet and wishywashy, the food was good however and the view gorgeous. 

Table on the beach at Le Relais Mahana

The next day we go to explore the point at the end of the bay. We beach the dingy and walk along the sand, marvellous craggy trees lie low over the water. As we round the corner we are surprised to find large break waters built of giant boulders stretching out into the sea, more of the same have been used to create a wall. It is a major feat of construction, some one is trying hard to hold back the encroaching ocean. Set into the wall are two entrances from the sea each flanked by two proud Moai (traditional Polynesian staues), steps lead up to the community pavilions that are common here and the grounds are well tended but the buildings look abandoned and in disrepair. Nobody is around, a large sign says Private, we return to the dingy questions unanswered.

Curious buildings and wall at far southern tip of the island.

Back at the beach I swim out to the coral to assess it for snorkelling, the tide has changed and the water is racing from the ocean back into the bay. Rick drives the dingy while I fly along the shore travelling too fast to really see the small fish clustered around the bommies but the feeling of speed is so exhilarating I don’t mind. Approaching the bay the current and the coral stop and I swim to the dingy, it is shallow I could easily walk but the sea bed is covered with thousands of sea cucumbers (large slug shaped creatures about a foot long and belonging to the same family as star fish), I prefer not to put my feet down. 

We race back to Raya the sky is turning black and the wind is whipping up the sea. We tie up and dodge below, clean the galley, change the engine filters or watch Ground Hogday for the 650th time?

Tied up in Tahiti

1st June 2016

Raya appears to have shrunk, we are on the outer wall of Taina Marina, Tahiti and are sandwiched between two superyachts. Both 130ft long, with 180ft masts they dwarf us and with two crews constantly cleaning we feel obliged to keep everything onboard shipshape. Needless to say I think the chances of Rick letting me hang the laundry out are zero. Further along the dock things get even bigger with the three masted, 180ft classic schooner, Atlantic, stealing the show.

Raya dwafted by the superyachts at Taina matina

In contrast, on the inner pontoons it is hard to find a boat over 45ft. We have noticed, beside the collection of Superyachts here, that most of the boats crossing the Pacific are really quite small, we normally feel huge. In fact some boats are really small, generally skippered by lone Frenchmen, they have little in the way of electronic navigation, no autopilot, no refrigeration, no watermaker, I can’t imagine how different thier experience is to ours.
We were pleased to find the guys from Toothless waiting to catch our lines as we pulled in to the dock and then to discover half a dozen boats we know tied up in the Marina, including two boats from the ARC that we hadn’t seen since we left St Lucia in December. Even more bizarrely the crew on one of these boats, Nina, turned out to be from Sissinghurst, had, a few years after we had moved, lived a couple of hundred yards from Ceylon House and whose children had both gone to Cranbrook, their youngest in Matts year. Certainly made plenty to chat about over a happy hour beer.

Although sitting in the Marina is not so lovely as anchoring in a beautiful bay we are enjoying a brief return to civilisation. Much to everyone’s excitement there is a large Carrefour supermarket a mere 200m away. Kids in a sweet shop comes to mind, as cruisers peruse a full fruit and veg counter for the first time in four months. The Internet is mostly good and there are a couple of decent restaurants onsite. Being on the lea of the island we are a bit short of a cooling breeze but the Superyachts protect us from the swell from passing craft and there is very little in the way of tide to worry about. Tahiti sits on an Amphidronic point, a point in the ocean where the tides are small, the tidal range increases as you move outward from these nodes.  It is caused by the the rotation of the earth and in turn the Corolius effect and local land masses, too technical for this blog, so for more information see –

Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, was in contrast to the Marina area a bit of a disappointment. Busy, noisy, full of traffic with very few decent shops. There was a pretty little church – the cathedral, a large traditional market and a long boat filled waterfront but the long awaited chandlery was under stocked and tired and the black pearl shops, I’d been looking forward to, were expensive and commercialised. In fact we are finding Tahiti generally underwhelming . Yesterday we hired a car and drove around the island. It struck us as one long string of surburbia, small towns stretching the whole way along the road that circles the island. Of course, had we not just come from the Marquesas and Tuamotu, the high wooded mountains that form the interior of the island would have awed us, the lush colourful gardens of the houses would have enchanted us and the coastline of turquoise sea would have dazzled us – we have been spoilt.

West coast of Tahiti

Tomorrow a rigger is coming to help with the inmast furling system and to have a look at the vang which appears to have seized. We need a few more trips to the supermarket to restock and a couple of maintainance jobs are still outstanding. Then we will be off. The island of Moorea, the next stop on our visit to this final part of French Polynesia, The Society Islands, stands tantalisingly just a sort distance away.