Monday, 31 October 2016

12-2016 Beautiful Bora Bora

Hi from Clare,                                                         Saturday 29th October 2016

When last I wrote we were heading down the east coast of the Bora Bora lagoon. We came this way sixteen years ago and at that time there were a few expensive waterfront resorts on the east coast. Now there are numerous resorts with overwater bungalows stretching out like the branches of a tree across the azure waterway.

We anchored about half way down the island outside the St Regis Resort and met up with Austrian friends Cathy and Wolfgang on 'Plastik Plankton'. Cathy, who we found out later tries to get into all the resorts, suggested we all go into the St Regis Resort for an ice cream. We were met on the dock by the security guard and denied access as the resort is private. However Cathy wasn't taking no for an answer and so the security guard called the manager down to the dock and after some negotiation we were allowed entry. The manager escorted us to the bar area and we sat there for two very enjoyable hours. Our two banana splits and a small bottle of water cost A$48 but well worth it just for the experiencing. The resort is truly beautiful with three formal restaurants, exclusive shops, multiple swimming pools, one being for adults only, and rolling lawns down to a perfectly raked white sandy private beach front.

St Regis Resort, after they let us in
The on shore bungalows with traditional hatched roves are nestled under coconut palms in manicured gardens with winding pathways through a profusion of perfumed tropical plants and lighted walkways over lilly ponds with trickling waterfalls. It is a total attack on the senses in the nicest possible way. I'm not sure how much it cost to stay in one of these resorts but we have heard figures ranging from $850 to $1500 per night. We also heard from a cruising couple who dined at the St Regis Resort for the cost of $384.

One morning, sitting on our boat in this idyllic settling, we watched some Polynesian men standing in thigh deep sea water, shovelling sand from the sea floor onto a barge. This sand goes to the resorts to maintain the artificial beach front. It looked like really hard work and the poor guys were at it all morning. The Polynesian people also collect and dry palm fronds. These are plaited and used as roofing in the building industry, we see the locals transporting boat loads of palm fronds every day.

Hard Yakka shovelling wet sand
We are now anchored in a beautiful spot in the south east corner of the island. There is a terrific drift snorkel here as well as a few other good snorkelling areas. The sea floor is thick sand with good holding. The water is so clear we can see our anchor thirty metres away from the stern of the yacht. The sea temperature is 29 degrees and the weather is lovely and sunny in the day and with a warm breeze at night. At this time of the year there are no mosquitoes, flies or bugs and so we can leave all the hatches open and let the breeze through the boat.

We are in company with 'Plastik Plankton' 'Flying Cloud' French Curve' and 'Winsome' so we have plenty of playmates. We tend to team up for our daily snorkelling or walking expedition and sometimes we gather for coffee or an evening drink.

The snorkelling

The place is heaven and the only upset is the annoying jet skis and motorised surfboards coming out of the resorts. The motorised surfboards are new to us and although they don't make as much wake as the jet skis, they are pretty noisy. Let's hope they are short lived.

Motorised surfboards! what next
Long beach
We needed to go into the nearby small township for some fresh fruit and vege and drop off some rubbish. So we tied to the wharf of the Intercontinental Resort only to be told we couldn't leave our dinghy there and we had to go to the public beach area some 10 metres away. Once there we found the beach front houses had Tabu signs up and we had no access to the street. So although the Intercontinental Resort wouldn't let us tie to their wharf we ended up carrying a week's supply of rubbish from four boats through the resort and out through the reception area. I guess they weren't impressed, but what else could we do. I think it would be fair to say that Bora Bora are not actively catering for the yachting community. Their focus is on the Resorts where employment is generated – fair enough.

Hotel Intercontinental - they did not want us there

Out for a beach walk
We would love to stay here forever as this is a very beautiful anchorages. This morning Andrew and I went for a two hour walk along the beach. Up until now in French Polynesia we haven't found a beach long enough to walk for hours. However we will need to move back to the town soon for provisions. There is an International Outrigger Canoe race finishing here on 5th November and so we will stay in Bora Bora for that before returning to Raiatea for haulout on 23rd November.

Love Candy xx

Sunday, 16 October 2016

11-2016 Tahaa, Raiatea and Bora Bora

Hi from Clare,                                                               Saturday 15th October 2016
We sailed from Huahine to Tahaa on 4th October and continued inside the lagoon up the west side of the island to visit the coral gardens. This is a good snorkelling spot as there are many varieties of tropical fish and as the name suggests there is some nice coral. Sadly I can’t see the coral surviving well as the garden is very shallow and it is under pressure by the number of visitors. When floating on top of the water your tummy touches the coral at times. We even saw a guide kill a sea urchin and feed it to the fish so his visitors could get some good photos. Certainly not the way we were taught in Australia to take only photos and leave only bubbles.
Coral Gardens area
Mmmm, sea urchin for lunch
Taking nothing but photos
We circumnavigated the island of Tahaa stopping off at various snorkelling spots as Patrick and Cheryl were in search of a Manta ray. One of the local operators said it wasn’t the season yet so we just had to be content with enjoying sunny days, 28 degree crystal clear water and seeing more tropical fish.
Motu at Tahaa
Unfortunately, due to Patrick and Cheryl’s pending departure we made our way over to Raiatea. We picked up a mooring ball outside the Raiatea Marina but the nice man in the office allowed us to stay on the visitors dock for the same price. This made it much easier to get on and off the boat and also much to my delight we had free water. So the next day while Patrick and Cheryl toured the township, Andrew and I took the opportunity to fresh water wash our dive gear, the boat, domestic washing and fill the front water tank. Probably doesn’t sound very exciting but believe me this is a rare opportunity and one not to be missed; we were very happy.
Apooiti Marina, Raiatea
BBQ at Marina Apooiti
I mentioned in our last email that I was reluctant to hire a motor scooter for fear of falling off. Well whilst on the visitor’s dock we meet a Norwegian couple who had flown in for their daughter’s wedding today Saturday 15th. Unfortunately the bride-to-be had a scooter accident in Bora Bora when dog ran out at her. She was in hospital with a broken nose, gravel rash and numerous stitches to her face which is all shades of purple and green. So I sit here today wondering how the poor girl is going on this her special day. I’m pretty sure I will stay off the motor scooters.
For our last night together Patrick and Cheryl shouted us dinner at the Marina restaurant. It was a very pleasant night sitting by the waterfront enjoying their company, dinner and a few farewell drinks.
The following day Andrew and I went around to Raiatea Carenage Services to confirm our booking for haul out next month. This gave us an opportunity to check out the yard which seems fairly full already. The manager said he has five more boats to come and not to worry as they will move a few boats and make room. The bathroom facilities are very basic so I am planning to spend as little time as possible on the hard. This is the smallest and the most unattractive yard we have encountered but it is one of the safest for possible cyclones.
Whilst in Raiatea we booked our flight home arriving 29th November and also did some much needed provisioning before setting off to Bora Bora.
Bora Bora
Motu picnic facilities

The waterway inside of the lagoon with the backdrop of the world famous volcanic peak of Bora Bora is stunningly beautiful. We anchored off a small island which is used by the Cruise Ships to stage beach picnics for their guests. The whole island is raked to perfection and has open buildings with thatched roofs and picnic facilities under large shady trees. The beach has thick white sand and the warmest water we have found at 29.5 degrees. It was just off this island we saw our first manta ray. I’m sure as we spend more time here we will see others.
A big Manta 9 metres down
Last night in company with American friends Meryl and Walter on ‘Flying Cloud’ we went to the famous Bloody Mary Restaurant. They have a patron’s honour board out the front displaying many film stars and famous people’s names. I guess our names will be added today. We enjoyed some cocktails at the bar followed by a very nice belated birthday dinner for Andrew. Bloody Mary’s Restaurant is the best we have found in French Polynesia.

Bloody Mary's
The birthday Party
We will be in Bora Bora for about four weeks. This afternoon we will check out the small township. We have heard that the town is a bit shabby but it has a good supermarket with fresh fruit and vege. Mangoes are now in season and yesterday by the roadside we bought fourteen mangoes for $10. Tomorrow we will head around to the south east corner of the island which is said to be very beautiful. We are looking forward to our time in Bora Bora.

Love Candy xx

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

10-2016 Huahine with friends

Hi from Clare,                                                    Monday 3rd October 2016

We left Moorea on Friday 24th September and had a very pleasant overnight beam reach sail to Maroe Bay on the east side of Huahine. This was Cheryl's first overnight sail and she stayed up 'till midnight enjoying the warm breeze, the sway of the boat and the star studded sky above. Patrick has previously sailed overnight with us in Italy but he too marvelled at the experience once again.

After breakfast we went snorkelling behind Motu Topati where the fish congregate away from the current. This Motu is written up in the Lonely Planet as “a magnificent place to snorkel” in Huahine. We saw many varieties of colourful fish but the coral is mostly dead, I couldn't help but think that the pretty fish deserved a nicer place to live. Since then we have snorkelled a few more times in various locations around Huahine and found the coral to be very disappointing.
Calm behind the Motu

That evening we had a BBQ on the beach as Aussie friends Sasha and Roger on 'Ednbal' and American friends Meryl and Walter on 'Flying Cloud' had arrived in the bay. Cheryl and Patrick opted to stay on the boat. I think the draw card was that I had introduced Patrick to the Jack Reacher series of novels by Lee Child and Patrick was deep in his own adventure. We had a great BBQ, a few drinks and a chance to catch up by the light of Roger's roaring camp fire. The following day we caught up with American friends Cheryl and Mark on 'French Curve'. The four boats travelled together for a few days and so we had plenty of company.

Roger, Sasha, Clare, Andrew and Walter at the BBQ

We took the dinghies a few miles up a channel to lake Maeva to the township of Maeva. On the way we passed ancient fish traps (see photo) which date back to the sixteen hundreds. These are V shaped rock walls in the water and herd the fish into the narrowest point where they are easily caught. In Maeva we went to the Museum which is a replica of an open traditional house (see photo) and read about ancient customs and traditions and archaeological digs a few miles away in the hills. On the way back to the yacht, which was anchored in Faie Bay, we called into the village and saw the blue eyed eels.
These generate some interest as their blue eyes are quite unusual. They live in the creek in the town and some are six foot long.

Old stone fish traps
Traditional building at Maeva
Blue eyed eels
We sailed around to the main township of Fare on the western side of the island. This is where the old meets the new. A large supermarket with everything in it and a main street dotted with open stalls selling fresh produce. We bought a lovely tuna fish for A$15 but passed on the lobsters due to lack of room in the fridge. With extra people holidaying on board the fridge is half full with the more important things like alcohol and chocolate.

Patrick, Cheryl, Andrew and I dived the pass with Mahana Dive. I am very pleased to say that after the very expensive and disappointing experience in Moorea, this dive was not only half the price but also more than twice as good. We saw sharks, schools of barracuda, eels, eagle rays and many schools of tropical fish. The coral wasn't great but it is the best we have seen in French Polynesia so far.

A&C at the safety stop
That evening the ten of us from the yachts previously mentioned enjoyed a happy hour at the Huahine Yacht Club. So much so that we all returned the following evening for dinner. Both Andrew and I had steak in pepper sauce with vegetables which was very good. Everyone enjoyed their meals and once again the company was terrific. I think Patrick has been surprised at how good the camaraderie is within the cruising community. Something we are used to but never take for granted. Here we parted company with Ednbal as they are travelling east, but we will see them again next season and take up exactly where we left off.

At dinner at the Huahine Yacht Club
Clare (curly) & Andrew

The good thing about Huahine is that you can travel down the west side of the island without leaving the flat water inside the reef. There are many very calm anchorages to enjoy and one could spend many months here exploring the bays. It is only six miles from the township of Fare to the southern tip of the island. We travelled half way and took up a mooring ball at Hana Iti Beach. Patrick, Cheryl, Andrew and I went for a bush walk up into the hills. It was lovely to be in amongst the greenery and the scenery from the top of the hill was worth the climb. There was also a lovely little beach there where tripper boats would bring small parties daily to enjoy a BBQ on the beach. Each morning before the anyone arrived a local man would rake the beach and burn any debris laying around. By the time the tripper boat arrived the area is picture perfect.

Views from our walk
We continued on to the southern point of the island to Avea Bay which is where we are now. Last night eight of us had drinks on Flying Cloud. It had a good night with lively conversation. Today Patrick and Cheryl hired a car and toured the island. They had booked motor bikes but as the company ran out of bikes they were given a Eurocar for the same price. Andrew and I opted to stay on the boat and have a quiet day. This is probably a good thing as I managed to get this newsletter done.

Views ashore at Avea Bay
Tomorrow we will sail twenty odd miles to Raiatea/Tahaa lagoon to continue the adventure. So until next time stay safe and have fun.

Love Candy xx