Bora Bora

Bora Bora, more like horror horror! (Well at least for our first two nights here).

We had a very quick sail over from Tahaa in rising winds knowing that the weather was about to change for the worst. Our plan was to get over to the Bora Bora yacht club, which would hopefully offer us shelter, and then pick up a mooring.

We got through the pass just as the wind kicked up and rain fell hard, ok so we didn’t quite time it right but luckily the rest of our plan was solid. Once tucked in around the headland where the Bora Bora yacht club was located the winds dropped and we picked up the last mooring!

From that point on the rain fell, the wind blew, the place turned to mud. In fact it’s pretty much the worst weather we’ve seen on this trip. You couldn’t see the famous twin peaks of Bora Bora let alone explore the islands and take in the sights. We did what we could on board, and checked out a few places to eat in the evenings but after a while cabin fever started kicking in.

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One positive to come from all the rain was our new water collection system, or WCS as I’ll now refer to it. The idea was to collect the water that drains off the decks and is eventually led to the back of the boat where it pours into the sea. The design evolved quickly from a somewhat basic v1.0  (a plastic box taped on the back of the boat which leaked more than it collected) to the, dare I say it, elegant high end v2.0 (a plastic water bottle taped to the back with a hose stuck through the lid).

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Ok it might not look like much but WCS v2.0 collected over 100 litres of water in a few hours and filled our tanks back up. There are plans to market the unit worldwide, if any investors out there are interested and want to give us the $10,000,000 estimated development costs we’d be pleased to hear from you.

Just to top it all off our outboard stopped working again. After waiting all that time for the replacement part in Tahiti it just stopped working and throwing up error messages. ARGHHHHHH!!!!!

After 2-3 days the front passed through, the skies cleared, my mood improved, and we finally got to see what all the fuss was about.

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Bora Bora1Bora Bora is a small little place, stunning landscapes, nice beaches, amazing restaurants, and the most high-end hotels we’ve ever seen.

The small village was buzzing once we managed to get our walking shoes on and explore. The Heiva Festival was in full swing. This yearly event is the highlight of their calendar here. Locals from all the villages on the island fight it out in dance competitions, spear throwing, singing, dug-out canoe racing – it’s amazing to watch. It’s very competitive but as everyone knows each other here it’s all done in very good spirits.

The dancing in particular was great to watch. Hip shaking to the max! The winners go on to represent Bora Bora over in Raitea and then Tahiti. Good luck guys and gals!

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After a few more days over at Bora Bora Yacht Club we motored over the bay for a mile or so to the Bloody Mary’s moorings. Just as we approached a boat left and we picked up his mooring which was about 50m from the dock. With no outboard this was the first bit of luck we’d had in about five days. We had a meal there that night, which we later found out the locals call Bora Bora McDonald’s. Yes it’s very American but we enjoyed it there and had some wonderful food and made good use of the half-price happy hour. The location of the moorings allowed us to explore that part of the island more as well.

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We did a big walk one day over to the public beaches and had an amazing lunch at one of the snack bars just off the water.

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The public beaches are good to see as most of the island has been taken over by the vast number of hotels here and you’re not allowed anywhere on their beaches. We heard of one sailor’s dingy being let loose into the lagoon after he came ashore at the Four Seasons in search of a beer. I guess if you’re paying $3000 a night for a hotel the last thing you want to see is some scruffy sailor wandering around using your facilities. Then again maybe they should welcome us more. We learn’t five of the major hotels had closed in the past three years and the others didn’t exactly look full. When times are hard around the world $3000 per night hotels seem to struggle for some reason. Weird hey?

It does bug me that new hotels are still being built here when 4-5 year old developments are left to rot. Come on people sort it out.

We spent another night or two over at Bloody Mary’s hanging around the beaches and finding some great places to eat. It’s a really different vibe in this area- a lot more how we expected Bora Bora to be. I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with the place for the first few days but get why people love it now.

One thing we really wanted to do here was a hike of the main island and get higher up it’s peaks. We tracked down a guide to take us and set off one morning to the other side of the island. He was very chatty and very proud of what he’d accomplished on the island since moving from France about 14 years ago. Based on what he told us the locals were only living on the areas of land near the beaches so none of the interior of the island had been explored for hundreds of years. This guy had hacked his way through jungle and found the ruins of whole villages and temples that no one knew still existed. The missionaries pretty much burnt and destroyed everything opposing their religion when they showed up just after Captain Cook arrived so this was very exciting and National Geographic even came out to film his findings. He’s also been trying to get the locals to depend less on imported goods here (which are crazy expensive) and revert back to the old ways of farming the land. He showed us all the areas the ancestors of the island used to grow their food and we left with full backpacks of the best tasting fruit.

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Afterwards we hiked higher through the jungle and came out to a wonderful view looking down over the reef and lagoon. You can do a hike to the very top of the peaks but he wouldn’t take us due to all the rain. I’m kind of glad as the hike we did partake in ticked every box for us.

We moved over to the Mai Kai yacht club that afternoon and picked up a great mooring near the front so rowing the dingy once again would be easy. The yacht club here is really close to town so we can provision well and refuel for the next leg in the trip where once again we’ll be away from services for a while.

In good news after taking apart and rebuilding the outboard it started working again! No idea what fixed it but we think it was just some build up on the data pins that connect the parts together. Whatever the reason it’s working well. Woohoo!

As often happens one afternoon a boat we got to know in Tahiti came past so we radioed them to welcome their arrival in Bora Bora and to talk of our plans after leaving here. A few people must have been listening in (wouldn’t catch us doing that 😉 ) as 5mins later we had three dingy’s hanging off the back with people talking about the pros and cons of each route. The beers came out and a good time was had by all. And just like that we’d made friends with two other boats, headed out for dinner later with them and were invited to a BBQ the following night.

That’s one of the best things about this trip. Out of nowhere these links with other boats form. As we’re all heading the same way we’ll hopefully keep in touch.

Just as the weather sucked when we arrived it turned for the worse as we were ready to leave. After heading into a very muddy town to clear out of French Polynesia (a process we’d been told would take a few hours/days depending on who we talked to but actually took us 8mins) there was nothing to do but hang out on the boat (which felt worse than it does at sea) and wait for a good weather window.

We’ve head eight weeks here in French Polynesia. What a place. What wonderful people. But now it’s time to leave and head the 700 miles or so over to the Cook Islands.

Tahaa

We had a bumpy ride across to Tahaa. The 8-10 knots of wind predicted on the GRIBS were exactly 10 knots higher, which is ok as we didn’t have much sail out and were making good speed, but it made for an uncomfortable ride, and with lots of cloud around we were on our guard. We managed to dodge the majority of the clouds until about 8am when Simon woke me abruptly from my snoozing with a call of ‘Squall – get on deck!’.

Of course, no squalls while we were safely in open sea, but as soon as we were in spitting distance of an island one comes and spins us 180 degrees. So we were heading full belt towards Huahine. Did I mention our destination was Tahaa? You wouldn’t know either way without looking at the Navigation as there was a blanket of rain descending.

Anyway we pulled in our head-sail, stuck the motor on and turned back on course. We ploughed into wind, waves and rain for the next five hours until we reached Tahaa. Then the clouds cleared and we made it into a sheltered little bay where we could begin to dry off.

Our first plan was to visit the Hibiscus hotel for dinner, but there was no-one on the mooring buoys so we decided to take an exploratory tour of the head of the bay. Here was a little town-ship under construction, with cranes and machinery and other industrial buildings. Hmmm didn’t look too inviting so we headed back to the Hibiscus and radioed in for a mooring and dinner.

Dinner was great. It was one of those little places that here they call ‘pensions’ but back home we would probably call a B&B or boutique hotel. The gentlemanly owner greeted us in typical French style which meant that I got two kisses on the cheeks – sweet. There were no other guests but the owner sat down on the next table with a friend for dinner so at least it didn’t feel too uncomfortable. We’re getting used to the emptiness of some of these places – I’m not sure how we’ll feel when we return to Sydney/London and have to wait to be seated or fight at the bar for a drink.

There was no menu, no talk of what was to come, the food just arrived – which is ok with me. In fact it was yummy and probably exactly what I would have chosen if given a choice. Fresh tomatoes and mozzarella in a delicious olive oil for starter, fish and veggies for main and an apple tart for desert.

We made friends with the waiter and his beautiful 3-year-old daughter as well as the family dogs that sat at my feet. The dogs were very clean, well-behaved and had lovely soft ears plus they kept the local stray dogs at bay. Yep these lovely people and animals made us feel right at home.Tahaa1Tahaa2jpgThe next day we decided to head for the Coral Garden which we were pretty excited about. There’s no information in the guide-books about this place (although maybe in the French guide that we don’t have but everyone raves about). So we were reliant on hear-say, blogs and other travellers’ reports.

First up, we heard of a place you could anchor behind the Coral Garden where you could stay overnight and see the sunset over Bora Bora. We plugged in the co-ordinates and set off. Anyway we tried it and ended up with 0.80m under the keel, the anchor resting on a deep-sided, underwater cliff-face and decided it wasn’t for us. There was no-one else there either although we did see a cat there later on so maybe it’s cool for cats.Tahaa3So we decided to go for the ‘day-anchorage’ closer to the Coral Garden. There were a few others here which filled us with a bit more confidence but also limited our anchoring options. It took us more than one go… ahem. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right patch of sand amongst the coral that’s not going to drop you next to a) another boat, b) the reef or c) the underwater rock that’s not charted and is out to get you. Anyway through this process we’ve finessed some of our communication issues and hope for better luck next time.

We eventually anchored in between two charter boats and Simon jumped in (again) to check on our anchor. Ours was set in a patch of sand surrounded by coral. Ok so it could have been 10m further forward which would give us more space between us and the cat behind us but not too bad. Besides which the cat behind us had his anchor upside down and the smallest bit of chain in, so should the wind get up and drag us in his direction it would surely drag him further back – perfect!

We had lunch and tried to figure out where the Coral Garden was by watching the other dinghies coming and going. It wasn’t where we thought it was but followed the others all the same. We dinghied in to where there were buoys and tied up as it was too corally to drag the dinghy up on the beach. We arrived at ‘the Coral Garden restaurant’ which sounded promising and asked around. Seemed we needed to swim to the motu opposite, walk the length of the island and then swim back between the islands with the current and among the Coral Garden. So off we set.

A motu (if you didn’t know) is a small reef islet. Which means they’re made of coral. We’d forgotten to bring our reef feet (aka reef shoes, flip flops, thongs etc) so it made for a treacherous tip-toe, all the way along saying, ‘this is stupid, should have brought our reef feet…Owch!’ Yes we know coral can be dangerous so fingers and toes crossed that we don’t get infected!

We eventually got close to the end and were making our way into the water when the guys from the boat behind us popped up and we started chatting. Ten minutes later Simon realised we were being bombarded by a squadron of mosquitos so we made a swift exit.

The Coral Garden drift-snorkel is exciting or amazing depending on where you start. Me, I started close to the shore and took off on an exhilarating, fast ride where you have to make swift decisions about whether to go right or left to avoid the stunningly-colourful coral heads. It certainly makes you wish you hadn’t eaten so much pizza. In ten seconds flat I was relieved to find myself at the far end and tried to take in what I’d seen.

I turned around to find Simon still at the start of the coral garden… meandering. Yes in the centre of the river the water runs slower and you can take your time. This one is definitely the one for the oldies! Ha ha!

As he got to about half-way down he started some animated calling so I headed up against stream to find him, finding Nemo! We mooched around for a bit with the fish and found Nemo again hidden in the anemones. What amazing snorkelling. The fish are obviously used to being fed and will come right up and surround you. They’re so docile you can poke them – yuck!

We eventually found ourselves back at the bottom of the garden and debated going again but it had clouded over and we weren’t sure about walking on the coral again. It’s one place we definitely want to come back to though :)

When we got back to the boat, Simon swam on the anchor again (still set) and the anchor of the cat behind us (still up-side-down) so did the charitable thing and told them. But then once aboard Interlude the weather started to look sketchy and the worry-lines appeared. The wind had picked up earlier than predicted and the clouds looked unruly so with the light fading we sped down to Apu Bay to pick up a free mooring for the night.

Tomorrow we will try to go to Bora Bora early to ride out this rubbish weather that’s set to get worse.

Moorea

Freedom at last! With all our boat repairs complete and nothing left on our ‘to-do’ list we headed out of Papeete and away from Tahiti. Woohoo! We loved that place but felt we’d been trapped there far too long.

We were headed for Moorea, which every guidebook likes to call Tahiti’s little sister. We pulled into ‘Cook’s Bay’ which is reported to be where Cook landed all those years ago, but then conflicting reports say he landed in the next bay around, so take your pick.

We were a little worried, as Cook’s Bay was a deep anchorage, probably deeper than anywhere we’ve tried to anchor on our trip to date, but with our extra 30m of chain that we added in Tahiti we were keen to give it a go.

The anchoring went well but on closer inspection we realised we’d landed a little close to the reef.

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We weren’t sure how much we would stretch backwards with our super-long chain should the wind decide to pick up, so we decided to play it safe and re-anchor a little deeper into the bay. We quickly upped anchor, covering me and everything in the vicinity in a melted-Cadbury’s-chocolate-like mud, but the new, improved location was much better and with the ultra-sticky-mud we were confident of a good holding. So after a bucket shower for me we settled in. What a lovely spot.

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We enjoyed a cold drink on deck to cool us down after a hot crossing and took in the beautiful scenery. Then decided to test out another of the repairs – the ill-fated out-board engine. It worked a treat and we were soon whizzing to shore – nice not to be using those oars again.

We pulled up at the nearby hotel dock. We often have the half-full, half-empty debate but to say this place is half-empty would be being optimistic. It’s a shame but something that we’re slowly becoming accustomed to.

Anyway with not much happening there we decided to head further afield in search of some action. We headed left down the road and found… not really much… ending up in another empty five-star hotel having a beer – at least the view was good.

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Then as there was nothing else to do we headed to ‘Allo Pizza’ which we’ve read serves the best pizza in Polynesia. It was a low-key roulette-style place with stools bumped right up against the kitchen and pizza oven. The pizza was tasty and the friendly atmosphere was fun and welcoming.

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The next day we did something odd, something that we don’t seem to do very often which is to say we did nothing but relax onboard. Right up until about 3pm when we got cabin fever and went to shore for a walk. We wandered around the coast road. It was funny to see Polynesians playing boules and shows the cultural-integration between Polynesians and the French. It seems much closer-knit bonding than in other places we’ve been in the Pacific.

We took a little detour to visit the Rotui plant where they bottle and serve fresh local fruit juices (as well as distilled fruit liqueurs) but alas it was closed, well I suppose it was a holiday Monday.

We tried to peep around the corner to the next bay to check it out but eventually the sun started dropping behind the tall mountains and so we decided it was time to head back. And with nothing open in town we slunk home for a bowl of pasta.

The next day we shuck off our laziness and went out to conquer the Bellevue trek early. We were overtaken time after time by schools of quad-bikes, and maybe this should have hinted at something but it didn’t register until later that this really was a long climb.

Just as we had neared the end of our stamina we came across the agricultural college selling their wares. We tasted a number of local jams and then I had an amazing pineapple juice while Simon opted for a banana smoothie – yummo!

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With the sugar-hit we made it to the top of the mountain to take in the view of the two bays.

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On the way down we decided to take the route to the next bay and then catch the bus back. So after a long downward spiral we ended up in Opunuhu bay. It’s a sleepy little village, in fact so tiny there wasn’t even a shop selling a drink and no bus stop… so we started walking back along the coast road hoping to find one on the way. We didn’t find a bus stop or a shop but we did find a van selling pizza on the beach, and with nothing else available and our stomachs rumbling we indulged again! Now it may sound like we’re pizza-holics but really this is sometimes all there is to eat or at least all we can afford to eat in French Polynesia.

We finally stumbled back into Cook’s bay and back to the boat to collapse! Turns out we’d walked half a marathon (around 21km) which definitely gives me a new-found respect for marathon runners.

The next day we were going to anchor on the reef to do a spot of snorkelling but we woke to a cloudy day and decided to walk into the village instead. Of course as soon as we set off the sun came out!

On the way we found the Yacht Club selling a ‘menu du jour’  at a good price so couldn’t resit. This was an amazing place on the water with a stunning view of the yachts near the reef. It was a pretty crowded anchorage so maybe it’s for the best that we didn’t try to squeeze Interlude in there.

Moorea9After that we wandered into town. Other than a few banks, boutiques and restaurants there’s really not much here either. So we took a slow walk back to the boat and prepared for a night sail to… Tahaa.

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Like every boat we’ve met traveling the Pacific we somewhat limped into Tahiti needing to get parts shipped, issues fixed, water topped up, etc, etc.

Getting into the marina was extremely easy, once we’d worked out the information we had was 18 months out of date. Honestly I wonder sometimes how stupid the owners of these places can get. You’ve invested x amount of millions in a huge new state of the art marina but then fail to tell anyone about it. Noonsite, Active Captain, no one had been notified. The best we heard was that there was a new marina, that was it. Emails to this fabled marina bounced back. We found a basic, half-finished website showing artists impressions and more conflicting information.

Added to this was the great idea not to have a VHF radio installed from the get go. So upon entering the harbour we called the port authorities and were told to give the marina a call on the phone. No one has a phone sim until after arriving. Thanks. Grrr.

So we came in, no radio contact, no staff, no clue. Luckily someone on a boat (who’d been through the same thing) pointed us to a spot and then helped us with our lines.

We headed to the marina office where the cause of the problems seems to originate from. The marina ‘manager’ was in a state of meltdown. Our introduction went as follows..

Us: ‘Hi, we just arrived…’

Him: ‘Look, I need you to fill this form in EXACTLY. You must pay in advance IN CASH, NO CARDS! Oh.. and DON’T complain about the internet here because it’s rubbish, same with the lack of hot water in the showers!’

Us: ‘Er…. Hi, we just arrived.’

It was crazy. He was running around like 50 people had just turned up all at once. The guy needed a slap, then to go on a course or two to improve his customer relations experience.

Once we’d filled in his silly paperwork, and told once again not to complain about the wifi, we headed back to the boat. The guy was an idiot but the marina was lovely. Right in the centre of town, secure, lots of space. Luckily we didn’t need to deal with Mr. Manager much after that.

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The first thing that struck us was how loud everything seemed. We haven’t been in a large town for so long now that it was sensory overload for a while, then our brains just seem to filter it out.

The second thing that struck us was we had power and water again! We’ve been using the solar and watermaker for all our power/water, and between them they’ve done an amazing job! But… oh…. the joys of unlimited water! We washed Interlude off, gave her a good shampoo, washed her again. Filled the tanks up. Washed ourselves. Nice! In the space of about three hours we’d used more water than in the last three months.

We were looking forward to Tahiti for a while. We love the small islands, but also miss the towns where there’s more to do. The main reason we were here though was to get our growing todo list back down.

We found that involved walking around the marine shops asking people to help with this project or that, getting told to.. ‘Try the guy who works just round the corner, he’ll know!’, etc. A lot of cat and mouse went on but after a lot of walking we sorted out who we needed to talk to and got some jobs booked in.

Our first two days of being in Tahiti when pretty much like this. We’re learning that you need to push hard to get this stuff sorted or you’re suddenly in a place for three weeks with nothing to show for it.

We’re also learning that no matter how hard you push you can’t control everything and have to go with the flow.

Case in point were the replacement parts for our steering cables and electric outboard. We’d tried our best (with a lot of help from my lovely Mum in Sydney battling for us as well) to get everything lined up for when we arrived but in the end it still took almost ten days for the parts to get to us.

First up was a guy in Australia who, after a week, worked out he didn’t have the replacement part we needed for our outboard causing us to panic buy the part from the UK, then ship it to my Mum in Sydney. Then DHL told us they only deliver to Tahiti once per week (which we’d just missed) so it would be another week before the parts would be sent. Then to top it all off the customs person we used to clear our parts into Tahiti got our boat papers, Interlude, missed up with a boat called Winterlude, for three days before working this out.

Deep breath!

So while all this was going on we ticked off everything else on the list. We cleaned the boat from top to bottom, put a coat of wax on her, got our engine serviced, etc. After a few days of this we literally had nothing to do so had a few days really relaxing on the boat while looking out at the centre of Papeete. Perfect people watching location.

Papeete had some great restaurants, bars, and lots of live music going on, as we were entering their festival season. Three for three in our book! One night we did stay a little late and got back to the marina well after Midnight totally forgetting that we needed to extend our stay and therefore got locked out as our card passes wouldn’t open the gates. Oops! Cut to me climbing around the back of the security wall hanging on over the water by my fingertips then somehow getting Helen round the same way. Just as we were patting ourselves on the back for a successful break-in a security guard ran towards us out of the dark and it took us 15mins, lots of pointing at our boat, the showing of every bit of ID we had and two phone calls to convince him we weren’t robbing the joint. Hopefully the calls were to ‘Mr. Manager’ waking him up.

It was also nice to make some new friends on the docks who were all busy with their own tasks. All the boats now seem to be going in a three way split. A third heading to Oz, a third heading to New Zealand, and the last lot heading back to the US.

It’s going to be very interesting as we keep pushing West as I can see the number of boats reducing from here once again.

It feels like we’ve finally caught up with everyone after our extended time in the Caribbean. A good feeling as we’ve always felt like we’re behind and needing to push. Hopefully we’ll have a little more time to spend in the remaining places now and ease our way back to Sydney.

While we were waiting for DHL we hired a car and explored the island. Tahiti isn’t exactly as we imagined. I think we both had images of Hawaii in our mind for some reason?! Once outside of the town though the island really is quite stunning. We drove around it in about seven hours stopping at huge caves, waterfalls, and then for lunch half way around at a lovely restaurant for some great seafood. On the way back we found a dirt road others had mentioned so hammered the poor hire car getting up that for about five miles – sorry Avis. At the end was an amazing valley which we hiked down for a while before heading back due to the light fading.

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They take their food here seriously, and we’ve been very impressed with everything we’ve tried from the amazing Roulette vans, which serve pretty much any food you can imagine at prices somewhat affordable, to high-end affairs offering some of the best food we’ve tasted since being in Europe.

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Talking of prices though we have to mention it once again. French Polynesia is SO expensive. We’re burning through money here quicker than anywhere else on our trip. Everyone’s feeling the pinch.

One upside of this is that a lot more boat parties were happening around the docks where people all gather, bring a plate of something and a few cold beers and hang out. We had some great nights like this chatting to other sailors, getting invited for meals on their boats, us having people onboard, etc.

There was quite a good atmosphere around the docks due to the Puddle Jump party which was happening the weekend after we arrived. We were a little gutted to have missed this but decided to stay until all repairs were done.

The worlds biggest sloop, M5, was in town as well. What a monster of a boat this is. In this photo she must be 100m behind where we are and their size still dwarfs us. The thing has it’s own seaplane on the back, swimming pool, tough life hey?

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After a few more DHL/customs setbacks we finally got our package delivered!

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Getting the steering cables back on and fixing the outboard took a while but we got there and now have a totally empty todo list again! Woohoo! Time to get out of the town and visit the islands!

Tuamotus – Rangiroa

Getting into the atoll of Rangiroa was a crazy ride! An atoll is a ring of reef, Rangiroa being the second biggest in the world. The whole area was once a huge volcano which has now sunk back into the sea leaving the reef behind. On Rangiroa there are two breaks in this ring allowing boats to get in and out. The challenge is timing it correctly!

Before we left the Marquesas we did our research to get the tidal information, although none of it is exactly conclusive. The idea is to time the tide so you hit it at slack, hopefully with a slight current in your favour to push you through the pass. The currents in these passes can reach 7-8 knots- faster than our engine can drive us. Get it wrong… Oops, boat on the reef!

After confirming via radio that we had the correct times we headed into the pass. Washing machine time! Interlude got thrown all over the place, we got caught in rips left, right, and centre and at one point at full revs were making just one knot of boat speed.

Five mins of this and then suddenly calm. Once inside the reef protects you from the ocean and everything became flat. What a five mins though. Was pretty scary and we thought we’d timed everything correctly! I wouldn’t want to try it at the wrong time. After talking to some of the local dive shop owners it turns out the weather conditions have a huge effect, more than we’d read about. As we’d had a few days of 20+ knot winds the timings you’re meant to use go out of the window. Even the local guys have real problems at times and need to check conditions before heading out.

Once inside we headed over the the anchorage and played our favourite game of, lets try and drop the anchor in a perfect patch of sand without hitting any coral nearby which could snag the chain. After an hour of this game we were well over it but managed to get the anchor dug into a good area of pure sand, even if the chain did instantly wrap itself around a patch of coral, we’ll deal with that when we leave, ugh.

There really isn’t anywhere that great to anchor here. One of the dive shop owners is planning on installing mooring balls- good idea mate! I think most people would chose that over getting their anchor stuck (apparently he has to dive to free chains all the time), plus the poor coral wouldn’t keep getting hammered by boats all the time.

We crashed after our taxing passage staying on board and resting. Next morning we headed over to the fancy Kia Ora hotel right in front of our boat and asked what we could do here, booked a few things via them, had a nice lunch and some beers and chilled out for free while hotel guests gave us slightly funny looks.

Turo18That night we had an amazing meal at the hotel while they put on a traditional dance show. A load of the locals took part and of course poor Helen and I got dragged up to join in with the festivities with some of the hotel guests. All the guests had the same bit of music to dance to with one of the locals leading the way so I thought I knew the drill but come our time the music slowed to a single drum beat and the local guy dancing with us basically performed some kind of mating dance from what I could tell. I was a 3rd wheel while he was getting his grind on with Helen, all a bit embarrassing really but done in good spirits (we were glad when it was over though!).

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Day after we hired some bikes from the Kia Ora and explored the island. There’s not a huge amount going on here but we really love the vibe of the place and everyone is so friendly.

On the way back to the Hotel we stopped by the Pearl farm and got a tour from the owner. We never knew how much work goes into growing pearls, operations, grafting bits of shell in, incisions into the membrane at precisely the right time, etc. I just thought they, you know, grew inside and that was that.

Rangiroa is known all over the world for the quality of their black pearls and I have to say they are stunning to look at. After the tour Helen spent some time picking out her perfect pearl which the owner quickly turned into a pendent, a great reminder of this part of the trip, and Helen’s birthday present is sorted two months ahead of time- result!

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Turo10 Turo13Riding bikes in the heat here almost killed us so we retreated back to the Hotel bar for some cold beers to recover. Doctors orders!

Day 3 we headed out on a tour to the area about 20miles from the main settlement called the Blue Lagoon. Reminded us loads of the San Blas islands, the whole area was stunning with colours to vivid they almost look photoshopped on photos.

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The day was spent chilling out on the little islands, swimming in the crystal clear waters, snorkelling with sharks (which was a bit full on at times as they wanted feeding!), and enjoying the great tour guides who kept us entertained.

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We don’t normally go for the whole tour thing but really enjoyed chatting to everyone. We did start getting a little freaked out though when it turned out the husband of one lady we got talking was very close friends with my boss in Sydney! And then a young couple on honeymoon here freaked us out even more…

Them: “So where are you from?”.

Us: “We live in Sydney.”.

Them: “Us too! Whereabouts?”.

Us: “Used to live in Coogee but before that lived in Bondi Junction”.

Them: “Bondi Junction is where we live!!! What street?”

Us: “Corner of Bronte Road and Ebley Street.”

Them (now looking a little freaked out): “Er, what? Really? Us too.”

Us (also getting very freaked out): “What?!?!”

Things got even more weird when it turned out we all lived in the EXACT SAME BUILDING! Here we are in the middle of nowhere half way across the Pacific ocean and you meet people who lived a few doors down from you. We lived there a few years before them but still! What are the odds? Meeting someone who knows your boss, and others who lived in the same building on the same tour?! Maybe it was a glitch in the matrix or something.

After the Blue Lagoon we motored back to the other pass on the island and did some drift snorkelling. The current was racing along at 7 knots and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.  You just float in the water and the current drags you along. If you want to go faster you just dive down and whooosh you’re zipping along looking up at others above you as you pass quickly under them. The coral and fish were amazing to look at. We immediately booked in some more drift snorkels as soon as we got back to the Hotel as it really blew us away.

We randomly met up with the lovely couple off King’s Legend, one of the boats we went through the Panama Canal with, and arranged to meet for a meal the next evening then headed back to the boat- what a day!

The following day was boat project time. The pesky steering cable issue was once again looked at and we’ve now got another temp solution to get us to Tahiti. There was one funny moment when we both had our rumps in the air out the back of the boat trying to feed a cable through an impossible pathway of wheels. We kept losing the cable and at one very frustrating moment I lost it and let rip some very colourful words only to turn to find two young local kids in dugout canoes right behind the boat checking out what we were doing. I think those kind of words translate quite easily as they paddled off quick smart.

It’s hard being in the middle of nowhere with these issues. We’ve got a few things we need to fix once we get to Tahiti now, nothing really show-stopping but we are limping along a little at the moment and like having Interlude in tip-top shape. It’s funny as when you talk to anyone on a boat they have the same problem. There’s really nowhere to get anything fixed between North/South America and Tahiti. A dead zone of about 3500 miles or so. I’m no businessman but to me that screams of what I believe is called an untapped, captured market. Sort it out someone and open a good repair facility! You’ll make a mint! (I want 20% of all profits for the idea though).

We met up that night with King’s Legend and had an amazing meal at a very French inspired restaurant looking out over the water. One the menu was part of the oysters the pearl farm have spare once their gems are removed. Was much better tasting than we expected and the tuna steaks from from the local fishermen that followed were top notch as well. Top all that off with a home made French tart and, well, who cares about boat issues?!

We did more drift snorkelling the next day mixed in with a healthy amount of lazing around the boat. We did pick up some supplies so we had a few things to eat on the way to Tahiti but the prices again are really making our eyes water. Nothing here is cheap. We love the place but honestly the cost of everything is making us, and a lot of others we know here, second guess a lot of what we do.

We felt like we’d experienced a lot of the atoll by this point so decided to get a move on to Tahiti. It’s going to be weird being in a large city after a place as remote as this. A contrast we’re looking forward to.