Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bora Bora


For years Bora Bora has held a special fascination for me….the very epitome of an exotic Pacific island, incorporating a distinctive mountain peak in the middle, surrounded by calm turquoise waters protected by a fringing reef, with palm tree lined white beaches, dotted with luxury hotels with bedrooms overhanging the water on stilts….a place frequented only by the rich and famous!!!!
For me, it became a fusion of James Michener’s books, South Pacific musicals, Polynesian culture, and I just longed to drop the hook there!

Approaching Bora Bora from Raiatea

Rounding the south west corner

The Bora Bora Yacht Club anchorage
The closer we got to Bora Bora, however, the more negative comments we heard…tourist trap.... terribly expensive…..cheek by jowl hotels…polluted lagoon….dead coral…spoilt etc etc.
While some of this is true, the cruising yachtie can pick and choose between some really super, calm and protected anchorages, from which one can view the majestic,  and ever changing profile of the mountain, Ote-Manu, FREE, as one circuits the island within the protecting reef!
A couple of tricky passes and cuts through the inner reef, and some shallow “heart in mouth” patches also cuts down on the number of bare boat charter boats venturing to  the more remote spots.
And yes, prices are expensive, so it pays to arrive well provisioned, and avoid the temptation of eating out too often! At the Bora Bora Yacht club, one is offered the first night on a mooring ball (normally R200) free, if one eats at the restaurant. As one has to check in at the Gendarme, and anchoring around the town is very deep, this has a definite appeal! When one has to pay R80 for a beer, or glass of wine, and R210 for a prawn pasta, and R220 for Poisson Cru , one begins to understand why they offer you one night free! Nevertheless, the meal was superb, and the setting is lovely!

Mary and Chris posing as Tikis
Have we enough money for a beer??
Yes, we did!
Scott-Free and Sheer Tenacity left their mark on their flags
BBYC dinghy dock
 After visiting the gendarme, and researching the local supermarket for our final replenishment before Samoa/Tonga, we moved on round to the east of the island, ahead of Scott Free, whose batteries had died.They had arranged for a new set to be delivered from Papeete on the ferry.  We waited for them near the Four Season hotel, where had our first real taste of calm, clear anchoring, watching the sun set behind the mountain peak.

Anchored off the Four Seasons hotel
We then headed down to the SE corner of the island, where we anchored behind a protecting motu, in white sand in 3mts of turquoise water. There are a few coral heads dotted around the wide open anchorage, some of which support their own little ecosystem of brightly colored fish.

The tricky pass through the inner reef as shown on the chartplotter

A channel marker on the way

Scott-Free at anchor in beautiful turquoise water
Sirena of Oare

Steve, Eric & Dee( Sirena of Oare), and I explored an area out towards the outer reef, where we found ourselves swimming with 4 or 5 Blacktips, a couple of stingrays, and a variety of brightly colored reef fish ,…… but very dead coral! Sadly I had left the camera behind, but then we’d already done Black tips and stingrays!
Today we have made our way back around the island, and have picked up a mooring buoy at the legendary “Bloody Mary’s”. Being a Sunday, sadly we found it closed. So we are spending the night on their buoys and will have lunch there tomorrow.

We had originally hoped to check out with the gendarme on Monday, stock up, and set sail for Suwarrow (Suvarov), 680 miles away in the Northern Cook Islands on Tuesday…. no go! Our weather Guru , Bob McDavitt says we would be better off waiting for some fronts to pass, and to leave next Sunday. Who are we to argue? We’ll just have to suffer through a few more days in paradise!

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