Bora Bora, Tahaa and Raiatea islands in the Societies

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After Moorea we did an overnight sail to Raiatea but motored the whole way with no wind 🙁

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We picked up a mooring near the CNI yard for a haulout to address increased play in the rudder we noticed after the pacific crossing.

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They yard had an old school way of hauling out boats.. with a tractor!! But it worked really well.

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We removed the rudder and re-glued the lower bearing a little tighter.. Viola! minimal rudder play. It was also a good chance to lube the feathering prop, change the zincs, check the cutlass bearing and clean the bottom..

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While we were in the yard we got a chance to seeing traditional dancing in Uturoa the town in Raiatea, part of the month long Heiva celebrations. This is the women dancing..

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Then the men come and start dancing..

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Then the men dance with the women..

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Which results in cute kids dancing..   the story of life 😉

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Tahaa is only island in the societies where you can sail all the way around.. so we left Raiatea to circumnavigate Tahaa.

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It was wonderful sailing in flat water with a decent breeze surrounded by beautiful palm studded motus and turquoise water..

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We anchored in Haamene Bay to check out the Hibiscus Turtle sanctuary..

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Glenda enjoying the turtles..

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Our favorite turtle.. In Darwin’s day they ate these on their passage back to England..

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After circumnavigating Tahaa, we provisioned at the big supermarket in Uturoa.. I won’t go hungry in my bunk that’s for sure..

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Finally we set sail for Bora Bora, supposedly one of the most beautiful islands in the south pacific..  Bora Bora is in the distance as we exit the Pai Pai pass in Tahaa.

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Glenda enjoying the sailing, she missed the bumpy ocean swells.. Raiatea in the background..

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Approaching majestic Bora Bora..

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Through the pass and inside the Bora Bora lagoon..

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We took a mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht Club to be with our friends on Merkava, Songline, Savannah and Rutea. Sudden Stops in the middle.

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They were renovating the yacht club under new management.. We enjoyed many sunsets on the club house deck..

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Glenda modeling a pareus at a party on S/V Songline.

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Vaitape the main town in Bora Bora was charming..

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We saw more Heiva dancing and celebrations in Bora Bora…

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After a week at the yacht club we anchored in a beautiful spot next to Motu Toopua..

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And snorkeled in turquoise water near Motu Tapu, an uninhabited island owned by the Hilton resort.

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I hereby name this motu.. “Chet Island”..

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We next anchored on south side of Bora Bora on a sand shelf in turquoise water..

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The fish in Bora Bora loved eating stale baguettes out of our hands..

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However the most interesting creatures we saw while snorkeling were tourists in these weird submersibles!!

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Our final stop in Bora Bora was the famous Bloody Mary’s restaurant.. We picked up a mooring next to the restaurant pier.

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Bloody Mary’s from the top of our mast..

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Glenda posing as Bloody Mary!

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Ah.. relaxing after finally getting the boat ready for the next adventure.. Bye Bye French Polynesia.. 

Next Destination: 700 miles west, the famous Suvarrow atoll in the Cooks islands.

Tahiti and Moorea

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Tahiti and Moorea of the Society islands. The Tuamotus were so amazing, but after more than 6 weeks in the boonies, we were looking forward to getting to Tahiti. We hadn’t been to a city since leaving Puerto Vallarta in Mexico..

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Arriving at the Tahiti Yacht Club in Arue. All the anchorages in Tahiti were getting packed to the gills due to he upcoming Tahiti Moorea Rendervous, and were lucky to find a space at the Tahiti Yacht Club with the help of S/V Songline..

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Even better.. all their moorings were taken up so they put us in the Marina for the price of the mooring bouy (about $10)! Sweet!!!!! Finally my luck was changing.. hopefully..

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Our time in Tahiti was busy busy busy because we had to leave for the Tahiti Moorea Rendervous in 6 days.. We ran around like headless chickens provisioning and shopping getting it all done in the nick of time.. We were so tired in the evenings that we eat at the roulettes (not so cheap mobile eateries) nearly every night.

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The famous market in Papette, the capital city of French Polynesia..

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Leaving Tahiti Yacht Club in the morning with S/V Merkava and the Japanese to head to the start line for the Tahiti Moorea Rendezvous race..

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Moorea in the distance.. The finish line was at the entrance bouys at Opunohu bay and the start line was a committee boat and red entrance bouy at Papette.

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Just after the start of the race..It was supposed to be a fun race, but I hadn’t raced in more than 3 years and was eager to see how we could do.. We won the start but that wasn’t saying much. We were the only starboard tack boat close to the line.. and the gun went off 60 seconds later than it was supposed to.. I realized that I was probably taking it a little too seriously 😉

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The race started off in really light winds with a big swell running, making it very difficult to fill the sails.. Then at around noon the usual south easterly winds filled in.. Then it was zoom zoom zoooooommm at 8.5 knots with the G2 asymmetric.. Only 7 boats out of the 40 or so boats in the race actually sailed the whole way.. We came in 4th place out of the 7, and all the boats ahead of us were bigger than us, so we felt we did ok.. It was fun to get some of our racing juices going again..

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Arriving at beautiful Opunohu Bay in Moorea

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The anchorage was jam packed with all the boats from the Rendezvous.. We were lucky to find a spot in the sardine can.. The upside was that we were able to reconnect with boats we haven't seen in a while as well as make new friends..

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They had a lot of fun activities for all the boats the next day after the race.. The best was outrigger race..

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We finished in 2nd place, but alas not good enough to get to the semi finals :-(.. Cyrille was leaving the boat after the Rendezvous and it was a great opportunity to have one last party with him before he left.

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So.. I learnt Tahitian dancing.. well not sure how much I actually learnt given I have two left feet..

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..and Glenda learnt how to make hats the traditional way.. Traditional hats, traditional coconut bread.. Glenda will have to take on a Tahitian name soon!

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Sporting our new permanent “Pacific Puddle Jump Survivor” tattoos

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The view of Opunohu pass from the tropical botanical gardens we visited after the Rendezvous celebrations died down..

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The snorkeling on the other side of the pass was amazing.. Someone had left these fake polynesian stone sculptures in the water for us to marvel at..

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Anyone know what type of fish this is?

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I got up close and personal with some rays.. They got very close and even rubbed themselves on us.. Let’s hope those were the females ones 😉

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Glenda hovering over a whole bunch of them.. We also fed them by literally putting bits of fish into their mouths.. I almost lost two fingers!

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They were also plenty of black tip sharks that came to see what the action was about..

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We had a chillaxed motor sail to nearby Cooks Bay..

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Stops Anchored in beautiful Cooks Bay.. Cooks bay is named after the famous explorer who arrived in 1769..

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Amazing panoramic view of the two bays in Moorea from the high up at the Belvedere.. thanks to Cyrille’s new super duper camera..

Next stop the leewards islands of the Societies..

Cruising The Tuamotus Atolls: Fakarava and Toau

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After Tahanea Atoll we did an overnight sail to Fakarava Atoll, some 50 miles west. We had heard a lot of amazing things from other cruisers about Fakarava, we were looking forward to exploring it.

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Glenda at the helm driving the boat through the south pass which ended up being a piece of cake.. Glenda relieved!

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We went straight to the Hirifa anchorage to pick up Cyrille who was staying with a local Jean for a few days. At Jean’s place we enjoyed fresh fish and coconut bread for lunch cooked in the traditional way on a bonfire.

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Saying goodbye to Jean..  We had to leave for the south anchorage in Fakarava to get protection from a Mara’mu (frontal system) expected the next day.

100_1138 South Fakarava was amazing.. Tetamanu the town on the south pass was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!

100_1274 The picturesque restaurant on the water, where we were invited to have lunch..

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The edge of the restaurant was like an aquarium.. Glenda saying hello to jaws1 and jaws2

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The pensions (hotels) were amazing as well.. This one was on a small island that you reached by crossing the bridge..

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We drift snorkeled in the pass towing the dinghy with the current coming in at 4 knots.. The coral was pristine and it was amazing to glide over it and the sea life at 4 knots.. it was like flying..

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Glenda free diving to get up close and personal..

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We did a couple of spectacular dives with the local dive shop (Tetamanu diving).. We dove to a depth of 90 feet to reach the sea floor and then drifted along with the current until we saw hundreds and hundreds and sharks soaring above us in about 60-70 feet of water.. Amazing sight. Definitely one of the most amazing dives I have ever done!! Pity my camera doesn’t go that deep 🙁

P6110899 We found out the hard way that the Butane we filled our tanks with in Marquesas lasts shorter than propane, so we decided to bake coconut bread on a bonfire on the beach for dinner..

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Glenda putting the coconut bread dough in between leaves..

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Viola! Delicious coconut bread made the traditional Polynesian way!!

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Approaching Fakarava north anchorage.. After a week in south Fakarava we headed to north Fakarava to provision after nearly 4 weeks!. We had a glorious 30 mile flat water sail inside the lagoon..

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Stops enjoying the sunset at anchor in south Fakarava..

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We visited the Havaiki pearl farm and pension.. Another beautiful place..

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The pension’s quiet contemplation area was pretty cool…

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We had dinner at the pension where they had a traditional Polynesian dance show.. Glenda was pulled by one of the boys..

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Still sleepy, we left early for the next atoll Toau, a day sail some 50 miles to the west..

Toau Atoll We went to Anse Amyot which is a false pass on the west side of the atoll..

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We picked up a mooring.. a welcome relief from anchoring in coral..

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The reef was only 30 feet from the boat, so we didn’t have to go far to snorkel.. We saw some rays

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A couple of sharks were also caught in the fish trap.

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We got up close and person to this black tip shark.. it wasn’t scared of us..

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Goodbyes from Valentine and Gaston. After a couple of wonderful days in Anse Amyot we set sail at sunset for Tahiti, some 200 miles to west..

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Tahiti ahoy!! Sighted land after 2 days at sea..

Cruising The Tuamotus Atolls: Kauehi and Tahanea

I had heard so many wonderful things about the Tuamotos atolls and their turquoise water lagoons, but they also had a fearsome reputation as the Dangerous Archipelago. The passes to enter the lagoons could be treacherous and once inside the lagoons one had to avoid hitting coral heads and reefs! Dangerous indeed.

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Seeing our first Atoll. The atolls are only visible about 8 miles from the reef..

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Approaching the big wide pass of Kauehi atoll at High slack.. This was the first time we were entering an atoll pass, we were definitely a little apprehensive!

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Cheated death again! Made it inside the lagoon, with the pass in the background. We had a glorious flat water sail in 12 knots of breeze across the lagoon to the village 5 miles north.

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Aerial view of Kauehi atoll. The village is on the north east side..

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Stops (center) at anchor at Kauehi Village. For the first couple of days we kept saying “Wow” every few minutes. These atolls are so beautiful with the turquoise water, sandy beaches, palm trees, pristine reefs, lots of fish and sun sun sun.. makes a change from the Marquesas!

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We had a blast exploring the village with Fred and Cinda from S/V Songline.

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As we were walking past his home, a local called Ririfatu invited to have coconuts! The hospitality and generosity of the people here is amazing and they don’t expect anything in return.

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Glenda and Cinda enjoying the favourite local drink..

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Boat storage Tuoamoto style..

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A local boy Mariano befriended us and showed us his homemade toy boats.. They kids were really friendly and we ended up playing with them a lot.

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We also hung out with Dennis and MaryLee on S/V Lardo who picked up some baguettes for us hot off the plane from Tahiti.

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Beautiful sunset in Kauehi Village..

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After Kauehi village we went south to S/V Lardo to explore the beautiful and untouched motus (mini coral islands) on the south side of the Kauehi atoll..

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The south side motus were magical… I was finally in the south pacific paradise I had been dreaming of all these years. We had a bonfire on this motu with S/V Lardo and a couple of the other world cruising boats from England and Austria.

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Most of the time we were anchoring in sand peppered with coral heads called Bommies. We had to use fenders to lift the chain above the coral heads to prevent wraps. Hard work!

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After Kauehi we did a 60 mile overnight passage to Tahanea (aerial view above), a national park atoll that is uninhabited and protected.

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Even the sign was rustic!

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Stops (center) at anchor in the lagoon near the middle pass. The ocean side can be see in the right. The motus are not very wide!

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We did a lot of snorkeling at the amazing reef at the pass

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Lots and lots of sealife.. 

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..and many sharks.. 

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..Moray Eels

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.. and beautiful clams that contract as soon as you get close. We ate some of the clams raw right off the reef in Kauehi.

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We had a great time snorkeling with Mark and Yuka from S/V Merkava. Yuka was chasing the sharks! Image00022
Mark with Glenda. We had a bonfire with them and Andy, Monica and Jake from S/V Savannah. 

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Next we dodged coral pinnacles to get to the south side of the lagoon.. It was amazingly beautiful.

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Pristine and untouched sand beaches..

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Sunny days in the Tuatomus allowed us to practice our celestial navigation..

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Glenda slightly happy after starting a bonfire at sunset on the nearby motu. Stops is in the background.

Next stop Fakarava and Toau Atolls.. Can’t wait !!

Exploring the Marquesas

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Only a few hours after landfall in the Marquesas and Glenda was already polynesian! Wearing a flower like all the local women do..

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We explored the small town of Taiohae in Nuku Hiva which is the official capital of the Marquesas. Lots of interesting tikis..

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Up early at 5:30am getting french subsidised baguettes from the bakery.. the bakery was only open from 5am to 7am, the saturday vegetable market from 4am-7am.. Church on sunday is at 7:30am.. Haven't these guys heard of sleeping-in !@#$%@#$!  oh and check out the phone booth in the background that is installed in the middle of the field..

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 We went hiking up to the top of the hill to Muake to see the waterfalls..

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 ..and to see a sweeping view of Taiohae Bay where we were anchored..

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A bull on the side of the road.. we also saw many horses just tied to the side of the road.. very peculiar…

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We got drenched coming back down on our hike. It's rained so much that week we started calling Taiohae Bay, Rainy bay..

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Dinner with Gary from S/V Dash, Raul from S/V Gracie as well as RB and friend from S/V Lardo.. The restaurants were not cheap like Mexico..

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Fish curry dinner on Stops with new friends (Geordie & Rachel) who were delivering a 47ft cat to Australia. We also had S/V Songline and S/V Lardo for dinner on Stops, which was a lot of fun.

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 Cyrille wearing high-tech sailing headgear as we approach Anaho bay on the other side of Nuku Hiva.

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Amazingly beautiful Anaho bay, unfortunately these pictures don't do it justice. It is one of the most beautiful anchorages I have ever been too..

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The pristine beach at Anaho..

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We hiked up to the top of the ridge to see a sweeping view of Anaho bay (Stops is one of the boats anchored)..

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There were so many mango trees on the hike. Here I am knocking some of the mangoes out of the trees with a stick.. We ate so many it almost made us ill..

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 Tikis at the Hikoku'a Tohua ruins near Anaho..

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 Try and guess what's happening in this tiki.. here is a clue, it's a fertility statue..

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 A partially restored dwelling..

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 Te I'ipoka Me'ae where many human sacrifices were made to the goddess Te Vana'uau'a.

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The victims were kept in this pit beneath the banyan tree until their turn arrived to be consumed at cannibal feasts.. we cheated death again!

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Stops from the top of the mast! No swell in Anaho bay so we fixed the windicator that the birds attacked on the pacific crossing.