Archive for June, 2008

Bora Bora

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Nice beach at the south end of Huahine during a break in the weather:

Well Trevor and Alex are still with me for a few more days. Since my last posting, we spent a few days down at the south end of Huahine, but we kinda shutdown on account of weather. Lots of wind and lots of rain. The south end of Huahine had a promising looking surf break inside the reef over sand, but was blown out the two days we were down there.

My brothers really wanted to get to Bora Bora before they took off, so we broke company with the rest of the company that I’d been buddy boating with and went back up to Fare to get ready to head across to Tahaa and then Bora Bora. The trip to Tahaa was a bit rainy, but we had decent wind and easily made the 25 mile passage from Huahine. The wind actually made it easier to go to Raietea and then motor up to Tahaa inside their shared barrier reef. We spent one night on Tahaa in a horrible anchorage where after scouting around for an hour or so I found one little pactch of 67 foot water surrounded by 100 foot water with a reef well in swinging distance if the wind ever changed. Fortunately it was just for one night.

Trevor coming through the pass into Bora Bora:

The trip from Tahaa to Bora Bora was a bit rolly with the wind right on our stern, but again we had good wind most of the way, and amazingly enough some sunny skies for the first time in maybe 5 days. I can’t believe how many charter boats there are out here. The charters are all out of Raietea and most of them go and spend time on Bora Bora. Basically no one I’ve been hanging out with for the last 3 months has had to do anything less than a 3000 mile passage to get here, so I was astonished to watch all these “go fast” boats struggling to go downwind. It was kind of fun watching them drop into my wake while I was able to sail the rhumb line using a jib and whisker pole never even bothering to put up my main for the little 20 mile crossing to Bora Bora

Bungalows on Bora Bora:

Trevor snorkeling with some very friendly fish:

So far Bora Bora seems to be mainly hotels with cool little bungalows on stilts out over the water. We anchored for the night off one of these resorts last night. Pulled up the hook this morning and anchored near an excellent snorkeling spot for a few hours. Now we’ve picked up a mooring in front of Bloody Mary’s bar. Rick, the proprietor, is nice enough to provide mooring for free and clewed us into some festivities in town tonight. After we go in and buy some more drinks at his bar of course. Tomorrow we wake up early and beat 20 miles dead to weather against the trades to get back to Raietea to get Alex and Trevor off on the 1st. Hopefully I’ll pick back up with Willow and the gang there.

Some our company over here in the low rent district. I can’t remember how big the Maltese Falcon is, but I hear it’s for sale for $180 million:

Myself and Alex at Bloody Mary’s:


Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Fare town quay on Huahine

Rough sailing, hiking, snorkeling, music and tattoos, Huahine has it all. The crossing from Moorea to Huahine is about 90 miles. Too long for a single day, so we took off in the afternoon and made most of the crossing at night. The swell we had fled from on Tahiti had been built upon by the wind that we were hiding from on Moorea to create a pretty nasty cross swell. To make matters worse we had to motor 12 miles to get out of the lee of the island before we could start sailing and steady the boat a bit. It’s too bad that it was such a rolly and squally night for Alex’s first night sail, but morning found us at the south end of Huahine and we made our way around to the town of Fare and anchored in company with Willow, Vari, Fearless and Little Wing.

We had heard from Vari that there was an archaeological site and hiking trail a couple of miles walk from town, so the crews from all the boats set out to get a little culture and exercise. Turns out that the trailhead was further than we thought and by the time we recovered from our wrong turn on the trail, finally found the overlook and got back to the road, we were all too tired to check out the museum and archaeological site. We did however see some great, very prehistoric looking eels in a creek on the way to the trail. The biggest one was about 4′ long and supposedly they have blue eyes and are sacred, but none of us bothered to check.

Trevor, myself and Alex overlooking the east side of Huahine:

Just had to show off the quality of some of the local artwork:

Other than that, business is proceeding as usual. The snorkeling is good right off the boat and Trevor saw a Lion Fish the other day. There’s a bar right by the quay where we can go get $7 beers. There are a few food trucks here where we can almost afford to eat and we’ve been playing a bit of music. Apparently there’s a French tradition of playing music on the solstice and so there was supposed to be a music festival at the elementary school, but we never found it. There were however lots of people out and about and so we played with some guys next to a truck for a few hours until someone came up with their car bumping out music and we moved to the back of a fishing boat for the rest of the night. It seems harder to get the locals to play here than other places, but we eventually got them going and a raucous night was had by all.

Greg, Bonnie, Trevor, Alex, Ivonna and Eric having steak fries and chow mien at one of the food trucks.

Playing with Leo and the boys:

More pickin with Henry (on-ree) and his crew on his fishing boat:

Finally, Greg and I have been talking about getting Tattoos ever since we got to the Marquesas. Traditionally when you cross the equator you become a “Shellback,” so I wanted to get a turtle to commemorate the crossing. The stars had just never been in alignment and it didn’t happen in the Marquesas or Tahiti. On the way back from the hike, we saw a sign for a Tattoo artist, so we checked him out the next day. He was in the middle of a 3 hour session working on a guy who had been coming in for 3 hours a day for the last two weeks getting his entire body inked. Couldn’t recommend it for most people, but it just looks so cool on a Tahitian. Anyway, after seeing this guys work and looking through books for a couple of hours, I decided on a sea turtle shape and made an appointment for the next day. Tihoti, the tattoo artist was great. I told him the meaning behind the tattoo and he came up with the design. It was pretty sketchy as he only drew the basic shape on my leg before starting with the gun and I had no idea what it was going to look like until I got up after an hour of intense discomfort and saw it for the first time. Thank God it turned out great!

Here’s all I saw of the design before Tihoti made in permanent:

Here’s my first tattoo:
The turtle with waves drawn into it’s flippers symbolizes my trip across the equator. The petroglyph in the middle is my essence surrounded by wind on the left, waves on the right with the clouds and stars above. The triangles and sun symbolizes my landfall in the Maquesas and the symbol beneath, Tihoti through in on his own. It’s the symbol for luck. I’m not sure if it’s the luck I needed to sail 3000 miles by myself or good luck to come, but I’ll take it either way.

Me and Tihoti after the deed was done:


Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Bodhran anchored outside of Cooks Bay on Moorea:

Ok, 8 days in Tahiti, internet access the entire time and I couldn’t be bothered to get a post off. Yeah that’s right I’m a slacker. Trevor and Alex have joined me and we’re over in Moorea where I’ve been able to poach free wi-fi for the first time since leaving Mexico.

I don’t know if it’s Papeete in particular or just cities in general after spending three months in some of the most isolated islands in the world I was completely overwhelmed by the traffic and bustle. The anchorage was crowded with well over 100 other boats and with squalls coming through and all of us anchored in over 50 feet of water, I wasn’t comfortable at all. We spent the night out in the anchorage and then went into town the early the next morning. When you come into French Polynesia, you can do a provisional check in in the Marquesas or in the Tuamotus, but you can’t actually clear in or out of the country anywhere but Papeete. So Bonnie, Greg and I dinghyed into the marina and took le Truck into Papeete to go and officially check into the country. The buses here remind me a bit of the Jeepnies in the Phillipines and are certainly the most economical way to travel though a ride to town is still almost $2 and close to $3 after dark. So we get downtown and find customs right on the waterfront and take care of the surprisingly easy formalities. After frustrating officialdom of the different Central American countries, Greg and Bonnie we astounded by the friendly accommodating nature of both customs/immigration and the port captain. To top it all off, we walk away from customs and Greg and my olfactory synapses start working overtime as we instantly hone in on the sweet smell of hops wafting across the street. That’s right Papeete even has it’s only micro-brewery. So at 9:30 in the morning with the rest of the patrons drinking coffee, we went across the street and treated ourselves to some $12 .5l glasses of Amber Ale. The first hoppy beers any of us had drunk in over 6 months. It’s a rough lot we’ve got here in paradise.

Greg and Bonnie across from the Brewery:

The rest of the week in Papeete fell into a pretty standard routine. We’d wake in the morning and go into town to shop and take care of chores, then we’d be back to the dinghy bar in the marina for their 5-6pm happy hour where beers were 2 for $7, a real bargain in Tahiti. The real memorable standout for our time in Papeete was Matt, Greg and my Friday night busking session in the big square on the waterfront. This square is just big and open during the day and you wonder why they didn’t fill it with benches and landscaping, but at night about 20 of the nicest “Roach Coach” style food trucks pull in frying up steaks, seafood, crepes, pizza and lots of Chinese fare. There’s also a large gazebo at one end where they often have entertainment. Luckily for us, there was no entertainment that night, so we set up shop on the side of the square and played for a couple of hours. There were defintitely a lot of people listening, but for the most part they stayed off in the wings, but we attracted a gaggle of kids to us many of whom obviously didn’t know what to think of us. They did however know what to think of the money in my guitar case and started playing games with all the loose change. I’m not sure if they took any of it, but I did catch a little boy taking a few coins as he innocently grinned at me and put the change back in the case. We ended up making 4550 francs ($60) in a couple of hours of busking. Of course we then went down the alley to where a Tahitian band was playing and spent all that money and more on beer while playing with the local into the early morning.

Buskin at the food trucks in Papeete:

Kids playing with the change in my guitar case:

Towards the end of the week a large swell started rolling in from the southwest breaking on the barrier reef but still made the anchorage very uncomfortable. So Willow and many of my other friends took off while I stayed behind to wait for my brothers, Alex and Trevor to arrive. Their flight came in at 5am. I was worried about getting to the airport on time, but the rolliness in the anchorge had me awake at 2:30 and at the airport by 4:00. Their plane was right on time, but their bags decided they needed a bit longer in LA before making the arduous trip across the Pacific. Thus ensued a day of hitting the brewery, shopping in the central market, more provising at the supermarket near the marina, happy hour at the dinghy bar, dinner at the food trucks and waiting at the airport at 11pm finally getting their luggage 21 hours after I got up that morning. It was a long day, but we got everything we needed and I was ready to get out of the city and back to clean quiet anchorages.

Central Market in Papeete:

We got the boat stowed, fueled up for the first time since Mexico, filled the water tanks and were underway for Moorea by 10am. It was a cloudy day, and the wind was down as we set out to motor the 12 miles between the two islands. We’d heard on the radio that the wind was blowing hard on Moorea and we were ready for it when the wind picked up a mile out of Tahiti. We were still ready for it when the wind picked up to the point we need to tuck in a double reef and only leave 20% of the jib out. What we weren’t really ready for was the breaking tops of the seas as they dealt with the current between the two islands often looking innocent and breaking over the side of the boat drenching the three of us. We knew that the wind would be accelerating around the island and down the draws and were down to just a double reefed main when we first started getting hit by 40+ knot winds as we neared Moorea. Of course the anchorages in Moorea are also protected by a barrier reef and from a distance the entrance looked to be a sea of breaking waves, but Robyn had just gone through and said that it wasn’t a big deal. Turns out that the entrance wasn’t too big a deal though I had the hammer down and was only making 3 knots against the wind waves driving down Cooks Bay. What was a big deal was the 60+ knot wind gust that hit us as we were anchoring, heeling the boat over to 45 degrees under bare poles and driving us away from the anchorage an towards the reef. With the engine red-lining and the wheel hard over Bodhran still couldn’t do a thing against the wind and I was about ready to drop the hook to keep off the reef when the gust ended and we were able go back and anchor on a killer little drop-off leaving the hook in 25 feet of water while Bodhran was in 10. So with 10-1 scope out and the fact the anchor would have to drag uphill we were in a pretty good position, but I still veered off a second hook at a 60 degree angle to the first to handle the gusts from the other gap on the hill. So with two anchors we quite comfortably rode out the night of continuing 40-50 knot wind gust.

Trevor and Alex on the crossing to Moorea:

My twin anchors veering off during a lull in the wind:

This morning things are back to normal. We got some good snorkeling in on the reef, toured around in the dinghy and tonight will all be meeting up on Fearless for a potluck and music. We’re here with Willow, Veleda, Airel, Fearless and Morning Star. So we’re surrounded by friends during a nice little break in the weather, but the wind is supposed to come back up on Monday and we’ll once again all be hunkered down till it clears up.

Alex and Trevor out snorkeling on Moorea:

Marquesas And Crossing Pics

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Howdy all, I’m in Tahiti now. I’ll get a post up when I get some pictures together. For now I’ve finished uploading all my pictures from back in the Marquesas and the crossing from Mexico.



Crossing Pics