Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora

Monday morning it was very squally, raining hard, and the wind direction was making our position less than ideal.   So we decided to run across the lagoon eight miles to tuck into Haamene Bay, Tahaa, to get better shelter from the southerlies.   We waited until one major squall and whiteout went through and then headed towards Tahaa working our way through the reef and the numerous cardinal markers.  

We had rain on and off throughout our short passage so we were extra cautious and vigilant going very slowly as it was impossible to read the colour of the water under the heavy cloud-laden sky.   Just as we entered Haamene there was another whiteout so we stooged around until the weather cleared enough for us to see the markers.  

We navigated the channel chicane and ended up quite close to the village at the top of the bay and dropped our hook in 40 feet and got a good set in the mud.    It rained and rained and rained all day…so we didn’t do anything other than keep warm and stay dry…and watch the anchorage turn brown with run off as the rain eased. 

Tuesday morning and it was a bit brighter so we headed ashore. 

First of all, though, we stopped at Sea Bear to see how he was doing.    Last time we saw Chris he had a New Zealand woman on board as crew – well, she had clearly overstated her sailing experience and it hadn’t worked out so he was going to dump her stuff on the dinghy dock.   She had headed off the day before and hadn’t returned overnight – for a backpacker she sure had a lot of stuff!   So we helped take some of her luggage over to the dock to be met by a gendarme who was looking for Chris.     He came ashore – the backpacker turned up looking like she might have slept rough – and we left them to it.  

We found a surprisingly large supermarket in this sleepy village and then sat inside the Post Office – to escape the rain – and got online using their wifi hotspot so we managed to catch up with some emails.   Heading up the street we came across a couple of cows picking through rubbish that was being burnt…..thought they would have been nervous of the flames?!? 

Later on we headed into the snack bar where we found Chris and were relieved to hear that the gendarme had been friendly and there had been no problems – he was very relieved that she had been evicted!    We had a coffee and decided to try the quiche but it was made with some sort of fish.  It was all very strange but not as weird as the chow mein baguettes that were on offer and were selling fast LOL.   We headed back to Morphie and spent the rest of the day on board.   I cooked and did a bit of cleaning as Chris came over for dinner in the evening and we had a nice time catching up.

Wednesday morning as the weather had cleared we could enjoy the sights of this beautiful anchorage.  We decided to move on leaving Chris behind as we had identified a ‘Coral Garden’ on the west side of Tahaa close to an anchorage in Tapuama Bay.    We picked up our anchor, exited the bay, and turned left to go across the top of the island.    It was surprisingly windy out there…..with a lot of chop inside the lagoon……but we enjoyed looking at the different motus, the colours of the water, and the fancy hotel sitting over the reef with Bora Bora behind.   

We looked at the shallow sandy anchorage for the Coral Gardens and decided not to drop the hook as the angle of the wind at this point meant that the reef would be a lee shore and that isn’t something we’d ever do out of choice.   So we moved on to Tapuamu Bay and were hopeful of getting a mooring ball there as the anchorage is 100+ foot deep and the bottom is solid rock.    Sadly there were only three balls which were all taken – and the supply ship was in – so we carried on exploring the coast.  

Around 2ish we finally pulled into Hurepiti Bay and picked up a mooring there which belonged to Vanilla Tours.  According to our guide we can stay on these overnight for a price or for free if we took the plantation tour.   So, being good law-abiding citizens, we radioed them once we were settled and told them we were there.   They told us straight away to move and refused us permission to stay on the ball overnight.   Damn!!!!   

We checked out the rest of the bay but the holding was poor with lots of rocks in mud so we carried on….after letting the huge motorboat Plan B with his helicopter go by first…… 

By now we were heading towards the bottom of Tahaa having virtually circumnavigated the whole island.  Not what we had planned when we set out in the morning that’s for sure.  But never mind we had enjoyed the views – including our first sight of Bora Bora – and were delighted to find a mooring ball free in Apu Bay.   We picked it up and got settled again.  We telephoned the restaurant ashore to find that they were doing a typical Polynesian dinner buffet with a show for £50 a head but sadly they weren’t open for sundowners.  We decided not to partake and had a quiet evening on board instead.

Thursday morning and the wind was still blowing at 25+ knots so we decided not to head to Bora Bora – we could see the huge waves breaking over the reef and the disturbed conditions in the passes.   We were nodding a bit in the fetch so picked up another mooring ball closer to shore which gave us more protection.   It wasn’t a totally lazy day on board as we did manage to do the laundry and Richard patched dink yet again….

Later on in the afternoon a skiff came by….and it was the owner of the mooring ball which belonged to a local pearl farm.  We asked him how much we owed him and he was happy for us to stay for free but asked that we vacate by the morning as he had guests coming.  No worries…..thank you.   We had a quiet night on board and were disappointed by the next weather download as the expected lull was moving further away.  Chris had also joined us by now as the anchorage in Haamene had turned nasty…….

Friday morning and the wind was blowing old boots again and had swung more easterly so we needed to find another spot with more protection.  So we dropped the mooring ball and had a feisty sail in 25 knots of breeze across the lagoon and returned to Apooiti Bay, Raiatea.   This got us out of the fetch and put us in close proximity to another pass through the reef.  

The difference in the day was stunning!  

We decided to go ashore and walked towards the airport – trying to hitch a ride but no-one stopped for us.  We arrived at the airport and found a taxi which then took us into the main town of Utora.   We wandered around this small town and admired the colonial-style properties and the waterfront area.   We found a bar / restaurant called Cubana and enjoyed a few hours having lunch and listening to the great live music 

We then went shopping in the large Champion supermarket as it was across the way, hopped into another taxi, and returned to Morphie.   Chris told us, on our return, that the harbour master had been looking for us to pay for the mooring but, of course, he had now gone home for the evening.  Oh well….    We had a nice evening in the cockpit and an early night.

We got up really early on Saturday morning, delighted that the conditions had calmed down, and prepared ourselves to leave for Bora Bora.   Richard decided to go ashore to pay for the mooring ball so slipped the cash in an envelope under the harbour master’s door….  We could easily have left without paying but the gendarmes don’t have much to do here and the last thing we needed was someone waiting to give us grief in Bora Bora for the sake of £14! 

By 8 am we had dropped the mooring ball and motored out towards the pass….we got through easily although were amazed by the size of the rollers coming in despite the eased conditions.   Can’t imagine what it would have been like earlier in the week! 

The 29 mile passage to Bora Bora was disappointing….very rolly and swelly….with very light airs and really not enough wind to get us sailing properly.  We decided to motorsail under a full genoa and make water at the same time.   By now we could see Sea Bear ahead of us and we were gaining ground on him – he had three full sails up and was going along quite nicely considering the wind speeds.   Took a while to get this photo though as he kept disappearing into the swell LOL.

We passed Chris and headed towards Bora Bora and, at one point, we took the sail down and then suddenly we got 15 knots so we pulled it back out and sped away.    We followed the contour of the reef to the outer marker and turned towards the entrance.   We edged in gently aided by the sun high in the sky so we could see the shallows and cleared into the lagoon.    

The Bora Bora Yacht Club was just to our left so we made our way there and picked up a mooring ball.  It is too deep to anchor here in over 150 feet of water just off the shore line…..   We got dink down from the davits and reinstalled his motor and watched Chris arriving through the pass being chased down by a huge catamaran – so Richard went to the last mooring ball and held onto it – the catamaran thankfully took off in the other direction and Richard helped Chris tie up.   Great all secure…..and despite some wake from fast ferries and fishing boats….the water is lovely and flat. 

Later on we headed into the Bora Bora Yacht Club and had a look around.    Chris joined us and we had a few beers.  We were going to eat dinner ashore but the restaurant over the waterfront was more of a fine dining experience than we had anticipated and, although we will eat there at some point, we really wanted something simple to soak up the beer.  So we returned to Morphie and ate on board. 

This morning, Sunday, and we are having a lazy start.    The weather forecast is depressing reading so, after a nice night here, it looks like we’ll be moving on behind a motu today to try and get some protection from the high winds expected tomorrow for about a week.   Looking forward to exploring Bora Bora properly once the weather calms down – I particularly want to see the manta rays.   So feel quite excited to be here.


Bye for now