It’s been raining. Not light drizzle that leaves a faint haze of moisture on your hair. Proper rain that fills your dinghy so you can take a bath. Rain that wheedles it’s way behind your window seals to deliver annoying leaks. Rain that stops play when you’re varnishing.

Saturday was a wash out. Shame as there was a free festival of activity and health organised in the park. It’s not just local agricultural shows in the british countryside that suffer such fates with precipitation.

Sessions were advertised on big printed boards. The sand football pitch was offering a version of archery I’d never seen before. Two teams of kids fired sponge arrows at each other, their protection provided by face masks and inflatable balls to hide behind. It wasn’t quite Agincourt but with a bit of organisation it could have been. There was certainly lots of intent. Or maybe it was the opportunity to shoot your brother or sister that provided the motivation.

A bunch of adult blokes who were supposedly shooting at plastic shapes got bored with this. It was much more fun to shoot arrows high into the air and watch them fall on the unsuspecting kids. They guffawed with laughter. The blokes not the kids.

The rain arrived like the turning on of a tap and we retreated to Grace. Dripping, followed by stripping then tea. The outdoor activities for the day were over by 11am.

We’ve been on boat upgrades and maintenance for over a week here in Papeete. But it’s been fun too as there are several people around that we know. We’ve tackled the bits of outdoor varnishing we didn’t do last time plus we’ve applied some top up coats. Mechanical things like engines and generators and water makers have been serviced. The gooseneck on the boom has had some attention.

We submitted our application to enter Fiji and two days later received an email saying ‘approved’. Super speedy. Some American friends have also applied. Seven days later they have had no response. “Maybe it’s to do with the Commonwealth” they joked. My response, “we can certainly do common but we have no wealth”.

We are awaiting two packages with some small parts to arrive from the UK. Sometimes packages attract duty, sometimes they don’t. It’s a lottery. One previous parcel which contained some replacement parts from our outboard engine sailed through. To get a second parcel from the same company released into our sticky paws, we had to pay $50 of duty. How, why, logic, no idea.

Then we’ll be off to Fiji. We’ll probably check out of French Polynesia from one of the island 100 miles west from here, Raiatea or Bora Bora then it’s about 1700 miles to Savasava. Our next ocean passage is almost here.

Bora Bora

Sailing though New York, visiting Lisbon and walking the Picos Mountains in Spain were a few ‘let’s make sure we do this’ items on our list when we left the UK. I’m pleased to say we’ve achieved one of our other aspirations. We visited Bora Bora, a small island in the Society Islands, French Polynesia.

Our chum Ken who lives in Bonsall, Derbyshire in the UK sailed to Bora Bora on what I think was the first ever Round the World Rally, an organised sailing event where boats travelled in company on a planned route. I don’t recall the exact year but it was a chunk of time ago. He has a front page newspaper article from a a local Derbyshire paper on his office wall. A fresh faced tanned healthy looking youth smiles as he is ‘the news’ that week. 

He recounts a tale from Bora Bora. Which was the reason we had to go there. 

The schedule on his world sailing trip was fast paced, round the world in 18 months. To put this into perspective, we’ll have been sailing for 6 years come July and we’re not even half way across yet.

Bora Bora is a stop on his itinerary. It’s a stunning place delivering clear water, reefs, hills with views to sell travel magazines and it boasts the Bora Bora Yacht Club where having a Pina Colada as the sun sets is rather a pleasant thing to do. 

Ken is on this whirlwind trip as crew. The agenda is generally sail to the next place requiring a few days at sea, stop, fix things that have broken, clean the boat then have a couple of days to see the place before it’s time to cast off again to the next destination. There’s a fairly tight schedule with weather patterns driving the need to keep moving if the 18 month deadline is to be hit.

Breakages have been dealt with, the boat is clean so Ken and a friend from another boat head off to do the big walk to the top of Mount Pahia. It’s not far to the top in terms of distance but it’s steep, unforgiving and you absolutely earn the view from the summit with every step. It’s hard work and very hot.

A few hours later, Ken and his friend are lying on a white sand beach with a beer having descended and rewarded themselves with a cold beverage. The rally is a whirlwind tour, places merge and blur. There’s no time to draw breath. It’s fun with a relentless pace. Then the line that has drawn us here is uttered on this beach all those years ago ….. “Where the f*ck is Bora Bora!?”

In his honour, we came, we climbed, we raised a glass. It’s likely much busier here than when he passed though all those year ago. Posh chicken coops over the water cost mega bucks per night. Swanky resorts promise a magical pacific experience. There was no one else sweating their rocks off on the hill climb though. That requires effort and no one goes to Bora Bora to expend themselves. Except sailors, from Derbyshire.

To you Ken, my friend. 😀

Waterfalls and ocean rivers

After not moving much, we’ve been rattling thorough islands. Spurts, lulls, pausing, rushing. It’s how boat life works. I’ve now realised this after only a few years. I would appear I’m not a quick learner! Now that a big ocean passage to Fiji is on the horizon in a month or so, our pace has quickened.

An overnight sail took us from Makatea to Raiatea, bypassing Huahine. We originally planned to stop in Huahine but knew we had friends already in Raiatea so decided to that was a bigger draw. It was one of those sails where the final miles seems to take forever. We had about 25 miles to cover when we made the decision to keep sailing. The islands here are relatively high so we could see our destination but it didn’t seem to be getting any bigger, even though we were making progress towards it. (Refer to that classic scene in the brilliant TV show Father Ted, when Ted explains to Dougal about near and far).

As often happens, a squall announced itself as we approached the pass. Hey ho, but once inside the outer reef, things settled down and we motored the final 4 miles or so to the anchorage where our lovely friends on Sea Rose fed and watered us. Right decision to go and hook up with them!

We chose to spend a few days around different anchorages, out on the reef for a few days on the NE side then round to an area called The Coral Gardens on Tahaa. This was a fun place. A break in the outer reef brings a salty river between the motos into the lagoon. Not particularly deep, it’s a great snorkel as you get pushed along with the current. It’s one of the more touristy places we’ve been with more human traffic but the coral was in relatively good shape, quite a lot of small colourful fish and a monster six or seven foot moray eel who came out of his / her hole and frightened the bejesus out of me.

There were also sting rays and eagle rays. It was rewarding just being still holding onto a rock facing into the current as underwater creatures came by. I can see why it’s a popular spot.

And we squeezed in a walk up to three waterfalls. That’s a good use of a Sunday afternoon.