Category Archives: 6. Tahiti to Australia

Mo’orea and Huahine

We motored to Opunopu Bay on the north side of Mo’orea. Beautiful anchorage, shallow sandy bottom with no coral heads (all positive qualities), clear water, beautiful views, a handful of other boats nearby. We met Len and Erin on Maestro, and their delightful 10-month old Trenton. When they came to visit I wasn’t sure Hallie was going to let Trenton leave.
 
BPOers Ransom and Libby came to the same anchorage. There were several birthdays to be celebrated — we had a good time all squeezed into Libby’s cockpit for beer and cake. Unfortunately Sue had been bitten by a dog earlier in the day. They took her to a doctor who noticed from her ID that it was her birthday, and he wrote a prescription for pain killers and champagne! She was in good spirits for her party.
Ransom in Opinopu Bay, Mo'orea
Ransom in Opinopu Bay, Mo’orea
Libby in Opunopu Bay, Mo'orea
Libby in Opunopu Bay, Mo’orea
Next day Hallie and I took the dinghy across the bay to where you can “swim with the rays.” It’s a shallow area with stingrays, and tour operators feed them so they have effectively become tame. If you hold food in your hands they will swim up on your chest to try to get it. Even without food you can rub their bellies as they swim by.  All the while with sharks circling — but they are black tip sharks, nothing to worry about, they say. Hallie was proud of herself for getting in the water and joining the fun.
No photo of the rays because we were in the water, but got the Sharks as we were leaving.
No photo of the rays because we were in the water, but got the Sharks as we were leaving.
Then we went ashore at the Intercontinental Resort, and had an expensive (but quite good) lunch. The resort has three dolphins in captivity and, supposedly for educational/fundraising purposes they do a dolphin show and you can swim with the dolphins. We had mixed feelings about this, but we stayed to watch the dolphin show. Very impressive (but I can’t upload the video of them doing amazing somersaults).
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Next day we dinghied over to Cooks Bay, found a gas station for dinghy gas, and were thwarted in our attempt to buy groceries due to it’s being a holiday. (It seems that there is a holiday about once a week!) We went back again the next day for the groceries, plus Hallie bought a Tahitian pareo.
Back at the boat we were below putting the groceries away when Terry from Libby called to us from his dinghy, saying that our anchor was dragging! This was an understatement — we were moving rapidly backwards toward a deep narrow channel, and in another 50 yards we would be across it and on the reef! We started an engine and reset the anchor uneventfully. But we were incredibly lucky that we were back on the boat and Terry was paying attention!! We’d never had our anchor drag before, and it left us a little shaken, uncertain about what we can/can’t count on.
We planned to leave the next day, and sail/motor through the night to go to Huahine, about 80 miles away. But first Hallie and I went snorkeling at the “underwater tikis.” This is a creation by an artist who carved several stone tikis and then placed them in the lagoon, in about 8 feet of water. Interesting way to view an artist’s work…
We got underway just as it was starting to get dark, plus it started to rain, plus it was more bumpy than we had expected. Hallie had a tough night… But things looked better in the morning.
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We anchored in a very protected channel between Huahine Iti and a barrier island. And stayed for three nights. The area had no store, no restaurant, and no wifi — we were roughing it!
The anchorage had crystal clear water.
Self portrait
Self portrait
The wind was blowing one way and the current was running the other. The boat couldn’t decide which to lie to, so we turned this way and that. At one point we noticed that our anchor chain was wrapped around our anchor. We realized that this was how/why we dragged in the previous anchorage. Our primary anchor has a ‘float’ that helps it orient properly on the bottom. But the float sticks up and can foul the chain if the boat drifts in circles. At least we now know what to watch out for.
Anchor chain in a loop.  If this happens around the anchor we're in trouble...
Anchor chain in a loop. If this happens around the anchor we’re in trouble…
We were visited by “Paul,” a local who apparently reaches out to all yachts that come to his lagoon. Paul is deaf, and communication is very challenging, but he has a book with entries by hundreds of sailors, to which we added ours. He left us with coconuts and a breadfruit, and the next day dropped off fish as well. We made a local cuisine dinner of fish and coconut rice and breadfruit. I over cooked the breadfruit, but the rest was very good.
Breakfast includes coconut (milk and meat) courtesy of Paul, mango and pamplemousse.
Breakfast includes coconut (milk and meat) courtesy of Paul, mango and pamplemousse.
Next day we went exploring by dinghy, and visited a small pearl farm. The owner lives on the edge of the lagoon, had a pottery studio in a building out on the reef (he can walk to it on the reef), and the pearl farm (and pottery) store is a short boat hop further into the lagoon. Pretty cool arrangement.
We snorkeled at a “coral garden” (we rated it a solid B), and we decided we were done with the east side of Huahine. Today we came around to the west side, where we picked up a mooring off the town of Fare. Here they have a large supermarket, restaurants, and…wait for it…wifi! It’s not the prettiest place around, but I’m happy to be able to do a blog post and buy ice cream!

Tahiti

We spent nine days in the new marina in downtown Papeete. Hallie and I spent three of those nights in a B&B a short walk from the boat. It was interesting to see the apartment and speak with the owners, but I think we were happier when we moved aboard.

Papeete was very convenient. Shops and restaurants and banks (everything is expensive, except baguettes), and the BPO reps Luc and Jackie helping with rides and phone calls and translation. We got our foresail patched and a zipper replaced on an awning. (And we ordered a new sail to be picked up in Australia.) We changed the oil in both engines and were able to dispose of the old oil. (We had been carrying old oil across the Pacific, waiting for a place to dispose it.) We had an electrician check our batteries and tell us they were okay. We rented a car so we could drive around the island, plus carry many hundreds of dollars worth of groceries to the boat. Last good place to shop until Australia, they say.

But the most important activity was the long-awaited meeting with Jimmy Cornell. My expectation coming into it was that the eight (?) remaining BPO boats would have eight different and strongly-held ideas about the route and schedule after Australia. I expected Jimmy to announce his grand plan, and then everyone would grumble that this wasn’t what they signed up for, and the BPO would unravel completely. That’s not what happened…

There were several surprises in store for me in Tahiti. The first was that Jimmy did not declare the new/revised BPO route. He asked the participants what they wanted to do, and made suggestions. My second surprise was that the participants went out of their way to come up with a consensus plan. Everyone was flexible. And indeed, with Jimmy’s coaching about what routes/schedules work and what doesn’t, a consensus plan emerged. The BPO still has life after all.

However, while many participants think the plan is ‘fast,’ I see it as ‘slow.’ I would like to sail more and visit places less, and return home sooner. The options are limited by the weather — particularly the cyclone season in the Indian Ocean. Either we have to sail aggressively to Australia and then to South Africa, which could get us home in one year, or else we follow the BPO plan (which now also goes to South Africa; the Red Sea is out), and see some marvelous places along the way, and get home in two years. There isn’t any middle ground. I’m on the fence about this. Since I expected the BPO to unravel, I was thinking of going fast on our own. With the BPO still alive, and the camaraderie of the participants, I’m now leaning toward the BPO plan (which, time-wise, is what I originally had planned).

But wait! There’s another surprise! Bill and I got word from Tim (who flew home from Rangiroa and planned to rejoin in Bora Bora) that his return is delayed, IF he returns at all!!!! This news requires some adjustments on the part of Bill and me. I don’t just mean having adequate crew aboard, but what is the nature of our partnership…the bond of trust…what the future of the voyage looks like…what happens after Bill leaves in Australia…

I probably haven’t written about all the crew in the BPO who have switched from one boat to another. There have been many shifts between boats. And in Papeete we learned that Bob Shanks, who had been crew on Maggie, was looking for a new berth. He asked Bill and me if we needed crew. At the time, the answer was, “Perhaps, after Australia.” It was later the same day that we got word that in fact we did need crew! (In retrospect it appears that Bob, and perhaps others, knew we would be wanting crew before Tim informed us; but Bob gave no hint of whatever knowledge he held in confidence.) In any case, by the next day we had signed Bob on through Australia. Bob is interested in continuing on after that, but we need a getting-to-know-each-other period, and we need to determine whether Tim will be rejoining or not.

More to be said about these changes, and what the post-Australia plan will be…in another post. For my own blogging purposes, I’m considering this the start of Part 3 of the BPO.

Yesterday we (Bill, Hallie and I) left Tahiti and sailed/motored the 10 miles or so to Mo’orea, where we could anchor out behind the reef, and get away from the city. That was a relief, but this anchorage leaves a lot to be desired, so we’ll get underway shortly to explore another part of the island.

Hallie says goodbye to Tahiti.
Hallie says goodbye to Tahiti.
Bill says it's great to be sailing again.
Bill says it’s great to be sailing again.
Mo’orea ahead.
Looking back at Tahiti from our anchorage in Mo'orea.
Looking back at Tahiti from our anchorage in Mo’orea.