Never leave port on a Friday …

We were all ready to go on Wednesday (checked out, provisions done) and happily went to happy hour drinks that evening knowing that all we had left to do the next day was to fuel up… But by the time happy hour drinks were over, the weather had changed completely and the floating dinghy dock had turned into a hellishly jumpy platform. We were soaking wet getting back to the boat and had a restless night’s sleep as Rehua was bouncing around its mooring alongside with all the other yachts in the anchorage. On Thursday morning the weather didn’t look any better and there was no chance of getting tied on to the diesel dock in those conditions. Toucan kindly lent us their jerry cans and we filled our tanks slowly with a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in very lumpy conditions. It took Seathan and Tyrii (who was a great little helper) the best part of the morning to get the job done. Toucan left after lunch but we decided to wait for the weather to calm down. I also had food poisoning a few days ago after eating a chicken salad in a local snack bar. Although I recovered, my energy levels were still low. One more decent night’s sleep would surely do the trick. And as if our minds weren’t made up already: two other kid boats arrived after lunch. The kids haven’t had much opportunity to socialise lately so we felt it would be good to give them a chance to play and hang out with other kids. And they did! All afternoon and all evening!

And today it is Friday. The weather has calmed down and the swell has reduced. But it’s Friday. You know that saying “Never leave port of a Friday”… We’re not superstitious but we are sailors after all. And the weather is predicted to calm down even more today. We just got a report back from Toucan who are on their way to the Cook Islands and the conditions out there are pretty rough, but getting better by the minute.

Seathan also had one more job to do this morning. We had some bad luck at the dinghy dock last night (still the bouncy platform from hell). Our dinghy got entangled with a dive boat that ripped a big hole in one of the tubes. It was a very sad looking dinghy and luckily there were enough other cruisers around to help and tow it back to the boat. The dinghy is all patched up again thanks to our neighbours from Windance who gave us some glue (we ran out recently) that worked with our patches. I still think we’ll be going shopping in New Zealand though ☺

Kids having fun at the MaiKai Yacht Club last night

Kids having fun at the MaiKai Yacht Club last night

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Checked out and ready to go!

It’s time to say goodbye to Bora Bora and French Polynesia. We love it here and don’t really want to go but El Niño is keeping us (and all other yachties) on our toes and we need to get to New Zealand before hurricane season starts.

This morning we went to the Gendarmerie to check out and then to the supermarket for provisions. Everything is neatly stowed away and all that’s left to do is to go for happy hour drinks at the MaiKai Yacht Club tonight and tomorrow we set sail to Tonga via Aitutaki and Nuie and perhaps with a stopover in Palmerston. We’re not sure yet about Palmerston as we hear they want us to bring all sorts of expensive supplies (whisky, chain, line…) that cost an arm and a leg in this part of the world (and almost everything is expensive in French Polynesia as they don’t have income tax and all the monies are levied trough import duties).

Anyway… We’ll see where the wind takes us!

A few more pics from the last couple of days:

can't get enough of this view ...

can’t get enough of this view …

nosy fish

nosy fish

can i touch them?

can i touch them?

tyrii snorkeling

tyrii snorkeling

fun on the SUP

fun on the SUP

SUP surfing

SUP surfing

SUP surfing with Rehua in the background

SUP surfing with Rehua in the background

Rehua in Bora Bora with buddy boats Toucan and Bema

Rehua in Bora Bora with buddy boats Toucan and Bema

Bora Bora

It’s still blowing hard! Quite a few boats have set sail for Tonga in the last couple of days but we choose to spend a bit more time in Bora Bora. We have been rushing so much in the last year that we feel we deserve a little break. We also have a couple of longer crossings coming up to get to New Zealand before hurricane season. So there we go: that’s enough justification for a little holiday on Bora Bora!

We go for an off-road 4×4 sight seeing tour around the island and discover some of the history, culture, fauna and flora. There are several World War 2 sites the Americans built in 1942. Some of the lookout points offer breath-taking views and it’s great to see our anchorage from a different vantage point!

We love Bora Bora!

We love Bora Bora!

the clearest water you've ever seen!

the clearest water you’ve ever seen!

no need to dive to check the anchor, you can see it from the boat

no need to dive to check the anchor, you can see it from the boat

looking west, northwest with the pass in the distance

looking west-northwest with the pass in the distance

The 4x4 was needed to get up some very steep hills!

The 4×4 was needed to get up some very steep hills!

steep ride

steep ride

surf's up!

surf’s up!

this is what we had to navigate through! We had to stay very close to the green pylon and then turn right to avoid the reef straight ahead from the pylon

this is what we had to navigate through! We had to stay very close to the green pylon and then turn right to avoid the reef straight ahead from the pylon

rehua in turquoise water

rehua in turquoise water

family shot

family shot

our anchorage

our anchorage

panoramic view over our anchorage

panoramic view over our anchorage

more amazing views

more amazing views

and more

and more

beautiful flowers everywhere

beautiful flowers everywhere

canons brought here by the americans in 1942

canons brought here by the americans in 1942

canon with a view

canon with a view

American canon holder from World War 2

American canon holder from World War 2

roadside view ...

roadside view …

the most famous restaurant on Bora Bora! We stopped by but then decided to go for lunch somewhere else as it was full of american cruiseboat tourists!

the most famous restaurant on Bora Bora! We stopped by but then decided to go for lunch somewhere else as it was full of american cruiseboat tourists!

romantic dinner for two at the intercontinental (not for us unfortunately!)

romantic dinner for two at the intercontinental (not for us unfortunately!)

Stuck in paradise

Here we are: Bora Bora, the pearl of the Pacific. One of these mythical paradise names we always dreamed of sailing to. And we have to admit: it is rather wonderful to be here… Especially as it is blowing a hoolie outside! We are stuck here for at least another week until the weather calms down and we can set sail for Tonga.

On arrival from Tahaa we spend a few days at the anchorage near the Bora Bora Yacht Club and then decide to head south. We have to go around the northern end of the island to reach the south, as the southern tip of the lagoon is too shallow to cross. It’s eyeball navigation as the charts are very inaccurate and we have to dodge several reefs and bommies as we work our way around the lagoon. We anchor behind a motu, to find shelter from the strong winds. The next morning we dinghy over to a recommended snorkelling spot and we also say hello to our friends from Nelly Rose who are anchored a mile further south. We discover a much quieter anchorage area behind the Sofitel private island motu and check the depth and channel location by dinghy. It will be touch and go as the depth of the channel to get into that side of the lagoon is no more than 2 metres in places and very narrow with reefs everywhere. But we manage and it is so worth it to be here: beautiful calm water, great snorkelling and access to several hotels. We manage to pick up free wifi that works (which is totally unheard of!) and go for happy hour drinks at the intercontinental hotel. We literally get welcomed onto the beach by the staff. We leave our dinghy on the silky sand and head over to the beautiful beachfront bar. The kids are given towels for the tropical swimming pool and we are handed the happy hour cocktail menu. We are in heaven!

the mythical island of Bora Bora!

the mythical island of Bora Bora!

we had to go around the north to go south!

we had to go around the north to go south!

eyeball navigation

eyeball navigation

anchored in turquoise water!

anchored in turquoise water!

view from the cockpit

view from the cockpit

the swimming pool at the intercontinental

the swimming pool at the intercontinental

great snorkelling spot

great snorkelling spot

Tahaa

Tahaa is famous for its coral gardens so that’s where we go! We have to wait a day for the sun to come out and then we can admire the true colours of the corals and the fishes. It’s absolutely stunning. After a final snorkel on Sunday morning we lift the anchor and sail to Bora Bora. It’s a perfect day with a gentle breeze, 15 knots on the beam, and relatively flat seas. We arrive late afternoon and drop anchor outside the Yacht Club just in time for happy hour drinks😀

 

coral gardens in Tahaa

            

view from the cockpit with Bora Bora in the background

  

approaching Bora Bora

 

Huahine, the wild one

This is more like it! After crowded Tahiti and touristy Moorea we enjoy one of the quieter Society Islands very much. Huahine, l’île sauvage, is mountainous and fertile. We arrive under glorious sunshine and the intensity of the turquoise water is stunning. A huge reef surrounds the entire island and there’s a pass on the northwest side close to the main village. In the afternoon a couple of humpback whales come through the pass (a mother and calf) and it’s beautiful to watch them reappear several times before they head out again.

Fare is a laid back welcoming settlement with a decent grocery store, some roulottes (food vans) serving steak frites and chow mein and even a yacht club, which does happy hour every night. The brilliant sunshine doesn’t last and the next few days are overcast. In fact, the weather has been a bit strange lately with lots of squalls and unseasonal cold weather. We even have to use a blanket at night, tch tch! Apparently this is due to El Niño, a weather phenomenon that occurs every few years. Anyway, it’s perfect weather for a bike ride! We hire four bicycles and go around the northern part of the island, which is about 20 kilometres. There are a few steep hills (15%) where we dismount but apart from that even Aeneas (who is only five) manages to cycle the whole way without any complaints. During the trip we stop at the archaeological site in Maeva, we see some very fat sacred blue eels in Faie, we visit a pearl farm and have lunch from a roulotte. It’s a great day out and a real pleasure to be on bikes again, it’s been a long time! After three nights in Huahine we decide it’s time to head for the next island, Tahaa: famous for its vanilla and its coral gardens …      

the view from our cockpit with raiatea in the backgroind

      

view from the top

 

approaching huahine, surrounded by one big reef

    

the anchorage near the villlage

 

 
 

bike trip around the island

 

archaeological site

 

sacred eels

 

Moorea

It’s hard saying goodbye each time you leave somewhere. The boys made several new friends and are sad to leave Tahiti on Thursday. After filling up with (duty-free!) diesel we cross the ten miles or so to Moorea and flat turquoise water awaits us in the anchorage just outside Cook’s bay. We see several humpback whales on approaching Moorea and feel very lucky. Some come so close to the boat that we actually have to slow down!

On Friday morning we travel a bit further west. There’s an underwater tiki exhibition nearby where we’re anchored and we snorkel over to check it out. It’s very cool and the coral and wildlife near the reef is pretty too. Also nearby is “stingray ally” and we’re in for a treat! Those rays are used to being fed and are very friendly and curious. On Saturday morning after breakfast we head over to the recommended location, anchor the dinghy and get out amongst the stingrays. They are very inquisitive and are all over us! A bit freaky! There are also tens of black tip reef sharks circling around us but they don’t come as close as the stingrays. We feed the rays sardines and they love it! After everything is gobbled up we dinghy back to the boat and half an hour later Tyrii sees a humpback whale jump up out of the water right next to the boat. Amazing! We get the cameras out and Seathan jumps in the water. We can’t believe our luck. The whale swims around the boat for half an hour and then finds his way back out to the pass to exit the reef. What a morning!
Moorea is absolutely gorgeous and reminds us a bit of the Marquesas with its bright green mountains and deep bays. The only difference is that there is a big reef around the island. We want to spend a few more days here and then it’s off to the next island, probably Huahine.

 

we see a lot of whales on approaching Moorea

  

Moorea coastline

  

underwater tiki

  

beautiful corals near the reef

  

our anchorage on Saturday morning

  

seathan cuddles with stingrays

  

they are very inquisitive

  

the sharks are out too

 

they eat out of our hands

  

a humpback whale right next to the boat

 

Tahiti

Ahhhh… The luxury of being in a marina for a few days: shore power, Wi-Fi, unlimited water on tap, access to all the shops and amenities, being able to go for a run in the morning…

We spend the first week in Tahiti anchored near Taine marina. It’s a roley anchorage and after having checked it out by dinghy we decide to move to the marina in the centre of town. We motor the five miles through the channel inside the reef and call port control for authorisation before proceeding past the airstrip. The marina is brand new and has only been open for a few months. We plug into shore power, get the scooters out of the stern locker and off we go exploring the city!

Pape’ete is not a big city by anyone’s standards but there are shops, restaurants, big supermarkets and plenty of city activities. There’s a large park nearby and there are other kid boats on our pontoon. All the kids have scooters and we go and race them in the park. In the evening we have dinner at one of the roulottes near the waterfront. They are small food vans set up every evening and there is plenty to choose from: traditional French food, sushi and sashimi, pizza, barbecue and grill, … You have to bring your own drinks and there are fold out tables and plastic chairs to sit on. It’s a great ambiance with street music and entertainment nearby.

I’m sure we’ll soon yearn for a quite and remote anchorage but for now we are making the most of city living. A few more days are needed to fill up the boat with provisions and diesel before we can head off to Moorea and the other Society islands.

PS – Make sure to check out our newly uploaded videos under the vimeo link and Tyrii’s update on the kids blog!

the channel alongside the airport with Moorea in the background

the channel alongside the airport with Moorea in the background

Papeete marina with with Mirabelle 5 in the background, the largest single masted yacht ever built apparently

Papeete marina with with Mirabelle 5 in the background, the largest single masted yacht ever built apparently

cruising kids love their scooters

cruising kids love their scooters

the market in Papeete

the market in Papeete

Belgian beer night aboard Rehua!

Belgian beer night aboard Rehua!

the roulottes

the roulottes

crazy cloud bridge over Moorea

crazy cloud bridge over Moorea

Passage from Tuamotus to Tahiti

We are stunned by the sight of so many cars, planes and buildings and immediately notice the noise and smells of a city sailing into Papetee. It’s a stark contrast with the remote Tuamotus where we spent the last month and had such an amazing time. The snorkelling, diving and swimming was spectacular. We got used to having reef sharks around the boat and even started swimming again (always with someone on shark watch). We had cosy campfires on the beach at night. The boys had daily adventures ashore and became expert coconut pickers. We all miss those beautiful atolls already.

Our passage from Tahanea takes us three days and three nights, which is longer than expected. There is not quite enough wind to keep the average speed up and we have to slow down on the second day in order not to arrive in darkness in Tahiti. This results in a slow rocky motion and for the first time in a year I am properly seasick. It lasts twenty-four hours. I still manage to do my nighttime watches but not much else. The boys are absolutely fine, no complaints at all, and play with their toys and ask regularly for snacks. Our stores are low so we eat pasta, pasta and pasta. And some baked beans.

Tahiti is surrounded by coral reefs and there are several naturally formed passes to get in through. Arriving at the Taapuna Pass in the morning, there is strong ebb tide running against us. Full power on both engines is needed to make headway. There’s a bunch of surf dudes floating on the side of the reef waiting to catch that perfect breaker, there are plenty of big waves coming in. We manage to follow the channel in and anchor just outside Marina Taine.

As soon as the anchor is kedged in we go ashore and find an Italian restaurant to indulge in a filling meal and after lunch we hit the Carrefour supermarket to buy some essentials. It’s the best stocked up supermarket we’ve been in since the ABC islands and I’m happy to find some familiar products from back home.

A good night’s sleep and then it’s back to school. Seathan is organising the work that needs doing and we need to find some time for sightseeing and fun too. I’m sure that won’t be a problem!

 

Toucan exiting the pass in Tahanea

Toucan exiting the pass in Tahanea


good morning Tahiti!

good morning Tahiti!


surf dudes next to the pass

 

pass and channel with strong tide, moorea looms in the background

 

Tahanea, Tuamotus

Tahanea is an uninhabited nature reserve and the third atoll we visit in the Tuamotus. After dropping our anchor on Sunday evening we stay for four nights in the same spot. From the four boats that arrived together only two remain: Toucan and us. Perhaps we were too loud for the others? After all we did have one late night with singing and guitar playing until the early hours…

It’s a beautiful anchorage. “But what do we do all day?” I hear people ask. In fact, our days are very busy and action packed. The mornings usually start early around 6 am (unless we have been up late, see above). I practice some yoga on the foredeck before the boys are up. We all have breakfast together and after tidying up we start school around 8 am. We only do school in the morning for a few hours (but we don’t have holidays and we tend to also have school on weekends). When we are sailing we usually don’t have school. Tyrii’s main focus is math, English and French. But he is also very interested in history, geography and science. He loves reading and devours one book after the other. We recently studied poetry and he wrote a few poems as part of his English lessons and they are beautiful. I hope he will let me publish one or two on the blog… Aeneas is learning to read so phonics is his priority but we also cover other subjects and he likes math. It’s sometimes tough teaching them both simultaneously. But we get by. And I have to admit: there’s often some bribing involved (e.g. IPad time or chocolate cake). While we get on with schoolwork Seathan usually has some boat maintenance or cleaning jobs to do. Or he runs the dinghy to the beach to get some coconuts for some delicious coconut juice. After lunch we have time for swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving or a trip ashore to explore our surroundings. And it gets dark early so we have sundowners around 5pm either on the beach by a fire or one of the boats we are travelling with. After dinner it is off to bed early, as we tend to be tired most evenings!

I’m also a qualified open water diver now! I’ve had theory and practical lessons and several training dives and I took my exam right here in Tahanea with Bruce from Toucan who is a qualified and very experienced dive instructor. Tyrii also had a go and went scuba diving with Bruce in the shallower waters. He loved it and wants to do more and go deeper but he will have to wait until he is a little bit older.

Tahanea is an uninhabited nature reserve and there is literally nothing here. There used to be a village but it has long been abandoned. We bought sufficient supplies in Makemo but we have to make our own bread and we also started making our own yoghurt (and I never realised how easy that is!). We often make a chocolate cake or another treat. And there are no new toys so we started making our own: cardboard robots from a cool book we once got given by a friend and never before had a chance to get stuck into. It’s fun to finally have time for all those things.

On Thursday we feel it is time for a change and we move to a second anchorage. Our desire to move also has something to do with the fact that in the last day or so half a dozen sharks regularly started appearing and we are no longer keen to swim. They are mainly harmless black tip reef sharks but one shark is bigger than the rest and scary looking and he circles the boat in a predatory way. We think he is a lemon shark and they can be quite aggressive.

The second anchorage spot is gorgeous and close to a small pass. We drop our anchor right between several bommies in a patch of sand and manage to avoid a wrap. Of course, if the wind direction changes we might well wrap around one. As soon as the boat is settled into its new location we hop into the dinghy and go snorkel the pass. Toucan is with us and it’s always safer to be with two dinghies in case one of us breaks down. And our dinghy has been quite temperamental. Sometimes it just won’t start. Very frustrating! Seathan has spent many hours fixing it, taking the entire engine apart. When we get to Tahiti we need to drop it in for a serious review by an authorized Yamaha dealer or even consider buying a new engine. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of the bay and it can be dangerous too. We have paddles on board but if there is strong wind and counter current it is impossible to get anywhere. Our dinghy is like our car and it is our main mode of transport. We need it to get ashore, to get around, to do our shopping and to go on adventures. Without it we are totally stuck! In Tahiti there are a few other things we want to address. First of all: our icemaker. Ice is a hot commodity among cruisers. Everyone wants it and rum cocktails without the ice just aren’t the same! Our icemaker has gradually been producing less and less ice and the last time we got nine ice cubes after three hours of running the generator. I wonder what that works out as in terms of cost per ice-cube?

But back to our snorkelling trip in the pass… The pass or entrance to the lagoon is full of wildlife because of the current stream of incoming and outgoing water. The corals are amazing. They are like an extra-terrestrial underwater forest with an abundance of crazy colours and weird shapes. The four of us hang onto the dinghy rope and drift along the pass. The tide is nearly slack but still coming in so we drift into the lagoon. We see many different colourful fishes and Aeneas spots a black tip shark. When the tide starts to turn we clamber back into the dinghy and head back to our boats. The sun is going down fast so we head to the beach for a small campfire and some sundowner drinks. What a perfect day!

Friday morning the lemon shark is back and disturbs our breakfast. He’s circling the boat again and we will not be swimming or jumping off the boat as long as he is around! After school I go diving with Bruce and Di and Seathan takes the kids for another snorkel in the pass. In the afternoon we explore the abandoned village D’Otao. The villagers all left a few years ago but we don’t know why. There is also an impressive grave of a Frenchmen called Victor Michel Maurice Bernard who died in 2007 aged 51. We wonder what the history is here. It is something we must look up once we have Internet access again.

The days fly by and we’ve been here for a week now. We want to stay a few more days and try a couple more recommended anchoring locations. We’ll soon run out of beer though, which will probably force us to leave this beautiful atoll in search of some shops …

 

view from the cockpit

 

another spectacular sunrise

 

abandoned village otao

 

including a still fully operational church

 

mystery grave

 

anchored in crystal clear water

 

sharky

 

selfmade toys

 

juicing coconuts

  

happy camper

   

evening on the beach

 

sunset and moonrise