Exploring Bora Bora

Sunday afternoon the weather picked up so we decided to go and have a look behind the nearest motu for an anchoring spot.  We went up and down the channel but couldn’t find a suitable spot as there were quite a few boats already there and, if we had to anchor close to the reef to find good holding in sand then we were going to be quite exposed. So we decided to return to the Bora Bora Yacht Club. It was quite choppy going across the pass which made us realise just how sheltered the bay near the yacht club was so we felt much happier about returning and picking up a mooring ball. Later on we went ashore for sundowners and enjoyed watching the sun go down surprised by the dilapidated conditions of the hotel rooms….

Monday morning we spotted a boat leaving that had a ball in an even more sheltered spot so we quickly moved. We reckon we have the best spot in the house now LOL. We got all our dried and canned food out of the cupboards to do a check of our stores and made a shopping list. We didn’t need a huge amount just some staples really….. Later on we headed into the yacht club for a late lunch and then spent some time bobbing in the little sea pool they have created behind the restaurant. After a leisurely afternoon we returned to Morphie for a quiet night on board.

Tuesday morning and the wind had died down a little although it was a cloudy and drizzly type of day. We walked along the coast road towards Vaitape and were surprised to see that how poor the local housing was. Bearing in mind the huge cost of staying in the luxury resorts that inhabit the motus fringing Bora Bora’s lagoon it was a bit shocking to see so transparently that the wealth did not filter down with many locals still relying on fishing to supplement their diet.

As the weather improved we admired the lovely views out to the bay and had a quick look at the Maikai Yacht Club. Funny how they are all called yacht clubs when they are really just restaurants with mooring balls. We were surprised at the white caps and the wind howling through and were very grateful for the shelter we had found for Morphie.

After a hot and dusty walk dodging the traffic – there are no pavements here – we arrived at the SuperU supermarket so we picked up some shopping and fresh bread – and started the walk back. We were very grateful when a young lad – who works at the Intercontinental – offered us a lift back. We returned to Morphie, did some laundry and boat jobs, before going back out to the BBYC for sundowners and an internet fix.

Wednesday morning it was blowing really hard and then suddenly the superyacht Antares turned up – with a ripped genoa. Knew it was a bit lively out there LOL. The sail was making a huge racket but clearly they felt it too dangerous to send someone up the mast so they turned around in circles and tried to wrap the shredded sail best they could – it was successful for a little while but then the wind caught it again and pulled it back out.

We went ashore and started walking towards Vaitape. It took us almost an hour to get there and we saw a cruise ship was in town so there were quite a few tourists milling around aimlessly. The motoryacht Arctic was also anchored off – not every day you see an icebreaker ship in the tropics!

There really was very little to see other than a few stalls selling jewellery and the artisan centre selling handicrafts. The cruise ship passengers seemed a bit bemused by it all but they all seemed to have found something to buy from the pearl shops and French boutiques if the number of shopping bags was any indicator of consumer spending. We went to the tourist office and got ourselves a map of the island and were then entertained by a local band on the main pier as we took shelter from the sun. After a few hours we found a taxi and returned to the yacht club.

In the afternoon we did some laundry and Richard did engine checks. We were sitting in the cockpit trying to make sure that our washing didn’t fly off in the strong wind and were amazed to see a manta ray alongside us going under dink. He wasn’t huge – about a 5 foot wingspan – but big enough and we were stunned to see him. Amazing!!!

Later on we went ashore for sundowners and another internet fix and then returned to Morphie. Sitting in the cockpit in the dark we heard a huge crunch and a scream and couldn’t work out what the noise was. It turned out that two catamarans had collided – we had commented earlier that they looked too large to swing around on the balls they had picked up – oops! Anyway the crewed Moorings charter boat moved off and ended up anchoring in deep water in the bay for the rest of the night. Bet that was fun especially as it was raining by then….

Thursday morning we returned to SuperU for our provisioning run so walked one way, got some drinking vouchers from the ATM, and then got a taxi back. It was blowing old boots when we got onboard and we recorded 27 knots in our protected spot as we watched huge whitecaps out in the channel. We were going to clean the hull in the afternoon but were put off by the huge numbers of tiny jellyfish in the water – they sting and can cause a nasty rash so we decided that job could wait for another day.

Friday morning we were up bright and early and headed over to the yacht club. At 9.15 our little boat turned up – full of honeymooners from Greece, Italy and the US. Many of them were talking about the cost of the food in their hotels slightly shocked at the £40 (equivalent) cost of a salad lunch!!! So the trip – which included lunch – at only £60 a head for the whole day seemed like a real bargain.

We were introduced to all the family members of the tour company and they proceeded to entertain us with some great ukulele playing and drumming…. They sang an eclectic mix of songs from local Polynesian through to some popular (and annoying!) international tunes that everyone sang along to.

First stop was to the Conrad Hotel to collect a couple more guests and then we went through the channel out onto the reef. We got our snorkelling gear on and did a back roll off the side much to the surprise of the rest of the boat LOL. We immediately swam into loads of trigger fish and black tip sharks. Noho was in the water and started feeding the sharks and then he swam down about 30 feet to the bottom to encourage the much larger lemon sharks to come up to the surface – well he was like the pied piper – they followed him up and then were rewarded with a bit of fish and a pat. There were lots of sharks around and we thoroughly enjoyed being in the water with them although a few came a bit closer than I would have preferred LOL.

Oh yes and Noho could hold his breath for ever….here he is 30 feet down blowing bubbles!!!!

Back on board and the frigate birds came down to see whether there was any food left for them.

Shark feeding over we headed back inside the lagoon and worked our way through the very shallow water around the Matira Point….so shallow that the engine had to be partially raised to clear the bottom less than two feet below us. We admired the beautiful colours of the water out to the reef….not to mention the stunning island of Bora Bora itself.

We then moved on and loved the beautiful hotel rooms set over the stunning water. There didn’t seem to be that many people around though despite the sizes of some of these resorts.

We then went to another spot inside the lagoon to feed the stingrays.  Well…there were lots of them….and they are obviously used to being handled in return for food. The favourite of Noho was called Juliette and he spent most of his time cuddling her. So, of course, we had a go too and even gave her a kiss. But at least there were no tongues involved unlike Noho!

There were loads of rays in the water circling plus the odd shark or two and some of the girls in the group were quite freaked out when the rays brushed up too close looking for a cuddle – so lots of shrieking going on. And of course the new husbands were determined to show they weren’t scared but you could tell there were some nerves there too LOL.

After the ray feeding it was time to move on to the coral garden where we went snorkelling. The coral was actually a bit disappointing but there were some fantastic clams there and some fish just lazing around on the bottom. To make it a bit more interesting there were a few bits of art created by the tour guides.

Then we spotted an octopus. What happened afterwards I wasn’t happy with – the guides dug the octopus out of his hiding place using their snorkels, presumably to avoid his sharp beak. Then they swam away with him while he inked like crazy…. Finally he seemed calmer – or just frightened to death not sure which – and Noho put him on his back and walked around with him. Hmmmm…… I know this is about entertaining his guests but I felt really sorry for the treatment of this beautiful creature although at least they put him back in a hole with a fish for his troubles! If he has any sense he’ll find another place to call home…

Moving on we arrived at a lovely beach surrounded by the shallowest water ever….so shallow that the guys had to walk the boat as the engine could not be deployed. We went ashore – met more family members including Noho’s mum – and had a nice lunch.

After lunch we had a coconut shucking competition which I’m pleased to say that both Richard and I were victorious in our heats before moving onto coconut shell cracking and making milk. Was quite competitive between the Italians and the Greeks LOL.

After a really fun day it was time to speed back to the yacht club.  We quickly went aboard Morphie, got cleaned up, and then returned to the club for sundowners and caught up with Chris who we hadn’t seen for a few days.

While we were sitting there chatting over a beer a guy was rushed in by his friend to the dock asking for urgent medical assistance as he had sliced an artery!!! We paid our bills and left the staff to deal with it. Hopefully he’s alright although I guess that’s his sailing holiday ruined….

Today, Saturday, and I blogged while Richard was in the water cleaning Morphie’s hull and then we came ashore to get internet access. The wind has reduced significantly so we have booked a manta ray dive for tomorrow afternoon – but first we have to move Morphie around the lagoon to the windward side of the island near to the Intercontinental Hotel where the dive centre is located as they will not come and collect us from here. Fingers crossed the mantas will be in residence and we’ll get to see these beautiful creatures up close so we are really looking forward to that.

Bye for now