Monday, 24 August 2015

Hangin' in Bora

Bora Bora, seen from Tapuamu on Taaha

The Commodore at the wheel, ably supported by Barb

The party’s over. The guests have gone home.  Now it’s back to work, to use the term in the loosest possible way.  I hear Andy and Barb laugh. “First world problems,” Andy commented after an evening spent with some of our cruising friends where inevitably conversation drifted towards which bits on which boat were falling apart.

In our case, the watermaker (so very often it’s the watermaker). Alex is working on that now, thanks to Silver Fern’s friend Phil who brought up a new pump for us from New Zealand.

The skipper in relax mode

I’m not sure how it got to be that I became so reliant on having copious supplies of water. Maybe the rot set in when we bought a boat with a washing machine.  That established a standard of comfort that I hadn’t before associated with living on a boat.  But now the standard’s been set, you’d like it maintained. So it’s back to work, as I say.

Before we left Papeete, we borrowed a machine to stitch up the small headsail

....and we took a car around Tahiti island

The big pro-surf comp on Tahiti-iti was about to start (more pix below)

But what a month of play August has been.  Not only have we had good company on board, but the radio has fair crackled as the rump of the migratory Pacific fleet moves west through the Society Islands.  The social activity in the anchorages seems to have ratcheted up several notches, perhaps in anticipation of the next ocean passages which of course everyone does on their own.

The approach to Tapuamu on Taaha (which shares a lagoon with Raiatea)

The tummy-grazing snorkelling on Taaha 

Bora Bora is where those of us who are not staying over in French Polynesia for the cyclone season will check out.  And it’s where Barb and Andy got off the boat after 10 days on board. 

Baguettes are us...on Moorea, Cook's Bay

Opunohu Bay (left) and Cook's Bay, Moorea - seen from the Belvedere

Polynesian colour and movement (and below)

Where's the pass? 

We didn’t have enough time anywhere with them, and that goes for Bora Bora too, but funnily enough, it probably won’t be Bora Bora we’ll sigh over when we rewind memories of the top holidays we’ve had together. Huahine will take that honour.

Avea Bay, Huahine - with outsized neighbours

Nothing doing in the lagoon either

Some of that’s to do with the weather which jumped out of the paradise groove at the beginning of August and is still wandering about, looking more like wet season than dry.  But in Avea Bay, at the southernmost tip of Huahine,  all the essential ingredients of a tropical holiday mix were lined up –  a wide sandy anchorage, brilliant blue lagoon waters, a lazy curl of surf breaking on the distant rim of reef,  sufficient brightly coloured fish to make a drift snorkel interesting, blazing sunshine, and the whole  lush flowered kit and caboodle on shore.  And there was no internet or phone reception. Perfect.

Sunday lunch at Chez Tara is a Polynesian oven-baked feast (and below)

Reef and lagoon, Huahine (and below)

The Commodore discovered Jack Reacher, and forgot about his inbox.  Barb and I picked up our conversation where we’d last left off – was it 18 months ago? – and in the evenings gave the tonic supplies a nudge. Tahitian limes exist to go with Bombay Sapphire, don’t they?

The girls take the dinghy ashore to go cycling (and below)

Afternoon tea - fresh pawpaw and lime icy pole
Andy's SECOND book - Saturday, by Ian McEwan

The biggest yacht ever....anchors right next to Enki

The sea overnight from Moorea to Huahine was a washing machine

The sailing was mostly fine too. Nobody could have done much with the horrible cross-seas that Barb (and rest of us) endured on her first-ever overnight passage from Moorea to Huahine, but from there on, it was all a breeze.  For a heavy displacement cruising yacht, Enki performs surprisingly well upwind, the Commodore decided, as he pushed her along at 8 knots between Huahine and Raiatea. 

The sailing got better...

When we could, we bought baguettes early in the morning

On approach to the Bora Bora pass

Pity about the fishing.  It turns out that even the experts find Enki’s aft deck a challenge as a fishing platform. It isn’t just us, in other words. Still, we’d like to haul in something before we get home.

In the lagoon, Bora Bora - crew pull out the toys for the kids

For now, we’re huddled under the famous peak of Bora Bora, with a cluster of other yachts, all of us quoting Bob McDavitt’s Sunday weathergram which forecasts a long week of South Pacific Convergence Zone conditions (read dismal) before the next “weather window” opens for yachts heading to Tonga. Paradise is momentarily lost under squally rain clouds. It’ll return, and if Alex lives up to his reputation as a man of uncommon good sense and resourcefulness, he’ll have the watermaker up and running by then.  Strangely, the job isn’t as easy as it first looked….

On the beach, Avea Bay


Monday, 10 August 2015

Tahitian interlude

Tahiti is where we’ve caught up with our world again. It’s not so far from New Zealand. We’re almost home, we sometimes say. That’s stretching the truth - we still have about 2500 miles to sail -  but more boats around here are from NZ and Australia than anywhere else we’ve been. Plus, there are daily Air New Zealand flights in and out of Tahiti.

NZ-flagged yacht Rhombus in Papeete port

Window in the cathedral of Papeete

 They’re bringing our world to us.

Touchdown Tahiti - the runway is just beyond the main pass

The Aranui coming into Papeete port on July 31
First up, my mum, who actually arrived by sea.
She had organised off her own bat to take a two-week turn around the Marquesas and the Tuamotus on the supply ship Aranui in July.  Would we be in the region at the time, she wondered? 

We made sure we were. We met her off the Aranui on the last day of July in Papeete and brought her back to Enki by dinghy. She had only a day in Papeete before she flew out to a chamber music festival in Townsville. It’s hard to keep up with my mum.

Lots to catch up on after 18 months

My mum charmed our cruising friends

 It was her first sighting of our floating home. She follows our travels, of course, but it’s hard to understand the constraints and the pleasures of our physical space without standing/sitting/moving around in it.  She did a lot of that,  and got the gist of our normality at dockside. I think it rather took her fancy.  Next time in New Zealand, we said.

Lunch was very French that day

A woman can't leave Tahiti without pearls

Next up, our old friends Bridget and Mike. They had a scant week to spend with us, but that was enough time to sink ourselves into the beats of Moorea which are considerably slower than those of Papeete.

The skipper relaxes on our way to Moorea

New man at the wheel

Opunohu Bay, Moorea (and below)

Moorea landscapes (and below)

At anchor in Opunohu Bay

The weather changed markedly  about the time that Bridget and Mike arrived in Tahiti.  In the Tuamotus, I’d noticed a drop in the temperature of the water.  I needed my  hardly-used wetsuit to go snorkeling for any length of time.  It’s winter in the tropics, we reminded ourselves.  But there’s more than that happening.

We nipped around the corner to Cook's Bay

From the pineapple plantation, sold at the gas station

We’ve been hearing for a couple of months that this is shaping up as an El Nino year, and now that seems definite. Troughs are tracking across the Pacific beneath French Polynesia, and affecting wind direction and air temperature.  We’re seeing a lot more cloud and rain. We’re sleeping under cotton blankets (rather than just a sheet).  I’ve come down with a cold.  How clumsy, catching a cold in paradise.

Marce and Jack joined us on a wintry evening at the Bali Hai hotel in Cook's Bay

 The weather shift that we who have been in the tropics for too long were noticing (and whining about) didn’t matter too much to Bridget and Mike.  They were taking a few days off work and out of Auckland’s damp cold.  Everything was enchanting….the stark beauty of our anchorage in Opunohu Bay, the lushness of Moorea’s deep northern valleys, the abundance of fruit, the  warmth of the water, the easy manner of the Tahitians and the camaraderie of our boating friends.  They had a fine time, we hope – and we enjoyed having them on board immensely.

The round-the-island road, Moorea

Roadside fruit stall

Bridget ready to take on the lagoon - with its rays and sharks

Mike faces off a big ray

Bridget thinks twice about the company she's keeping

Couple gone troppo

The road up to the Belvedere lookout on Moorea 

One eye on the sky
Archeological site on the side 

 Big marae dating from the 17th century
View of Cook's Bay from the Belvedere lookout

Shrimp farming at the head of Opunohu Bay (and below)

We’re back in Papeete, awaiting the arrival of sister Barb and the Commodore. The plan is to sail with them as far as Bora Bora – and to catch some fish on the way.

Back in port - with Moorea just over there

Our neighbour - M5 (Ron Holland design, ex Mirabella 5)

M5 crew at work

The Chinese are also in port, keeping an eye on things