Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mora Bora Bora

After our guests departed, we had to start thinking about doing the unthinkable. Leaving! It constantly amazes me that we have been out here sailing and exploring for almost two years. French Polynesia was always so far in the future and now it is time to say goodbye. During our last week in Bora Bora we took time to have a jam session with friends, spend the last of our francs at the supermarche (you can never have enough french fromage on hand) and visit the stingrays whilst they were being fed. This is a phenomena that takes place a few times a days and is not to be missed. The tour boats take snorkelers and fish bits out to a certain part of the lagoon once a day. The stingrays (there can be up to 100) are used to being fed and so they congregate in this spot waiting. They are the most amazing creatures and gentle but not shy about looking for the food they know is coming. I spent 30 minutes or so petting these guys and being a little bit freaked out as they grazed my ankles looking for goodies. The guides literally were crawling with rays. At one point a guide had one on his back and one in the front. They feel like velvet except for their sandpapery tails. This was a highlight for me. The ocean never ceases to blow me away. On the 21st of August (after waiting for wind which never came) we set off for Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. I think it's time to get out the atlas. A bientot for now!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Visitors in the Society Islands

After departing Moorea we did a short over-nighter to the island of Huahine. Huahine is a large but not overly populated island west of Tahiti. We met up with friends and spent a week in a calm anchorage waiting for the winds to die down a bit before we headed across to Raiatea. As I said in my last blog we were on our way to meet my Mom and her friend who were flying in all the way from Wisconsin just to see us. Oh and I have a suspicion they wanted to see French Polynesia too.
We arrived on a Monday and got settled on a mooring at the Apooiti Marina. We rode our bikes in to town and past the airport which was surprisingly close to Scholarship. What we really got excited about was the airport had a dinghy dock. When was the last time you went to the airport on a boat? After buying more french cheese and fresh red tuna for dinner we set out in the dinghy to pick up our guests. After a some tearful hellos we escorted our guests to the dingy and took them home via a little canal that went close to the marina. My Mom and Sharon were exhausted from traveling but managed to stay up late anyway to enjoy our welcome dinner. The next day we set off for a little more shopping and sightseeing in the town of Utoroa before we got back on board and cast off our mooring. That afternoon we set sail for the small island of Tahaa just a few miles to the north. On the way to Haamene Bay we stopped and did a bit of snorkeling off the reef before we tucked Scholarship in for the night. That night, on the recommendation of a friend we giggled and smiled and had the most sumptuous French meal at the Tahaa Maitai. The best one I have had in months? Years? After creme brulee and the girls kissing the cook we were back home and off to dreamland. The next day we finished our circumnavigation of Tahaa and anchored on the southwest side poised to pull anchor the next morning and set sail for Bora Bora. The girls were as excited as we were to reach this dream destination. After a few hours motor sail we reached the entrance to the lagoon and the allure of the dramatic mountain and lush greenery captivated us at once. We passed the little village of Vaitape and anchored in front of the famed Bloody Mary's. Mark jumped in the dingy at once to ensure reservations at this party spot and in a few hours we were inside with our feet in the sand looking for celebrities. This night was another fantastic meal, new t-shirts and lots of people watching ( no celebrities but plenty of honeymooners). The girls were moving out the next day. Sad for me but happy for them as they were checking into their first Polynesian over-water bungalow. They had endured the bunk beds and pump toilets with a brave face but I knew they were ready. Located on it's own motu, their room was fabulous. Complete with a huge patio and even a glass panel in the floor for fish watching at night. What a treat it was. I took a 45 minute shower and we had all the ice we could dream of. Funny what luxuries for me have become. After one more excellent dinner (are you sensing a pattern here) my Mom and Sharon we already on their way. It sounds quick I know. It was, but I was so grateful to have them here for five days, even if I wished for more. So thank you both for coming and for all the stuff you hauled thousands of miles and for all those yummy dinners. The pictures will speak for themselves. Lots of happy faces!

Friday, August 03, 2007


After two weeks in Tahiti our "schedule", which is only regulated by our 90 day visas, was telling us we needed to move on. We slipped our mooring at the Tahiti Yacht Club and sailed a quick nineteen mile passage to Cooks Bay in Moorea. After navigating the reef we found ourselves anchored in another lush Polynesian valley. After resurrecting my bike with a new chain (mine had died of neglect on the passage from Ecuador) we went ashore and were delighted at the minimal traffic and flat roads. We took a sunset ride through the main village of PaoPao and wound up at a small pavilion where tourists were enjoying music, fresh island fruit, juices and desserts. We joined in and ate some of the most succulent pineapple before we went home where I seared up some Thon Rouge (Red Tuna) that had been caught that very morning. Ah life here is good. After a day or two inside the bay we moved to the outside of the island and anchored just inside the reef. This place was ideal anchoring and beautiful. Ten feet of crystal clear water and snorkeling right off the boat. It literally looked like we were all anchored in a huge swimming pool. Daily we would swim among the boats and spot everything from Tahitian Stingrays to flounders trying to blend into the sand. After a few days in this anchorage we decided to move yet again to other side of the reef. This time our motivation was wireless internet. A good signal is hard to find and we had heard this was a good one.

Something that is worth mentioning is the new navigational hazards that we are dealing with. Reefs are everywhere and baring icebergs can be the scariest thing to navigate through. One example is the night we decided to take the dinghy ashore and get some pizza. We set out around 6pm which was just after dark. It took us about thirty minutes of crunching on the coral with still no path in that we decided we were better off eating at home that night. That is a small scale example, but on a large scale the same goes for Scholarship. We do not move the boat at night and even in the daylight with well marked channels I climb aloft while Mark steers to double check that we are on the right track. Mark always says "you can't get in trouble if you go slow" so that is what we do. It's worth the effort though as the area around the reefs is actually quite scenic. The changes in the water color look like a work of art.

Oponohu Bay afforded us a whole new opportunity for exploring ashore. One morning I took off for a long walk with our friends on Chica Bonita up to the Belvedere (the highest point on the island) and along the way we found a fruit farm and enjoyed the most amazing sorbet and ice cream. Chunky Monkey had nothing on the banana ice cream I had that morning. Not to mention chunky coconut, passion fruit, soursop, pineapple, gardenia and vanilla which was picked off the vine right next door. Yes we had them all. The next day we took our respective dingys a few mile up the coast and found ourselves a lovely lunch spot at a resort right on the water. That afternoon our friends from Chica Bonita moved on to Huahine and we awaited the arrival of our long lost friends on Creola. We hadn't seen Bill and Linda since Panama (about 5 months or so) so it was treat to meet up with them again. We went biking one day and all giggled as we got soaking wet and muddy in the tropical downpour. We also biked back to the fruit farm so our friends could sample the ice cream too. The day before Creola met some guests of the nearby Sheraton who invited us to come visit their over water bungalow. The couple, who were from Atlanta were very fun and it was a lovely room. Almost as good as living on a boat!!

Last but not least in my island narrative was remodeling the forward cabin. When we were in the Marquesses I decided it was time for a new look in our forward guest cabin. After many hours of tearing out 30 year old wallpaper, scrapping off the goo and then sanding we have a whole new look. I choose the fabric for the sheets. Mark is usually adverse to a lot of color everywhere but told me to choose something bright. Well pink and orange it is, and I deemed it the new Tahitian Suite. Kinda makes you want to come visit huh?
After a fantastic visit, it was time to move on to our next destination. We have a bit of a schedule this time as my Mom and her friend Sharon are flying in from Wisconsin next week. After an overnight 90 mile passage we arrived safely in Huahine (Who-A-Hine). Here we will hang out and get ready for our guests.
Hope you are all having a wonderful summer. Keep in touch and remember if you leave a comment and you want a response make sure we have your email.
xo L & M