Here we are in stunning Bora Bora and it’s certainly a little surreal. We have heard a lot about this place some love it and some not that fussed, it can be difficult for those with monohulls as some anchorages are shallow, others find the tourism and over the water bungalows too much. So far we are loving this island where the central mountain changes her look deviating as we motored around her, at one point she looked like a majestic circular peaked coil, further around she transformed with a treacherous black vertical cliff drop with a rectangle cut out alongside a green rolling steep hill, this famous mountain looks totally different from the different angles we saw her from.
We left Raiatea the same time as 2 charter cats, so that kept us on our toes with fishing lines and more to avoid, it was hot with zero wind but stunning glassy seas. I navigated and helmed into the anchorage with Stus help and we managed to avoid hitting bombies and set our anchor in stunningly clear aquamarine 5m sandy bottom. We floated a fender to lift the anchor chain off a bombie in case the wind spun us around. As I was cooking dinner a man from the boat in front paddled over and we had a chat, he is a Kiwi crewing on his friend’s boat. Sempre Due called us and we gave them some idea of the anchoring here as it was getting late and the sun was low making it hard to see the bombies. It was great to see them again, we invaded their territory and stayed too late, but we had fun. Andy taught me a new knot, and I taught Suzy the bowline.
We snorkelled the bombies, I got some footage of a spotted puffer fish being cleaned by a cleaner fish. After a little school we went to try and find the stingrays, no stingrays but we found some pipefish, not many shells so we guess they have been cleaned out.
The following day we left (took a detour to say hi to our friends on S/V Itajasmine whom we met in Raiatea Boat yard), and with Sempre Due following we navigated very slowly towards the famous Bloody Marys restaurant mooring balls. After a not so professional mooring line pick up (Jake and I got the first rope on, but then we realized it was around a life line, so we had to attach the second line then swing the first back over Neverland’s long bowsprit which is always a challenge, I ended up walking out on the 2m long bowsprit to unhook it from the block), we all went into the famous Bloody Marys restaurant. We checked out the list of famous people that have dined there – everyone from Brad Pitt to Marlon Brando. The dinner was great, it was done a little differently with the uncooked meat all displayed in front of us on ice with the menu explained. It wasn’t fancy, but had a great feel to the place with a sand floor.
The following day we were all exhausted and I assumed we had left it too late to motor around to the East side of the island, but Sempre Due and Stu were up for it. So off we went, Sempre Due following. At one stage passing the cruise ship and main town we had a Va’a (canoe with outrigger) riding our wake, it was very cool. When we entered the shallow part, I was reef spotting on the bow, even though the sun was low and visibility was not so great (we had left it a little late, oops). Then we found ourselves in very shallow water, we ended up going over a scary but dark coral shelf to enter deep water. Prior to this we were just entering a tricky navigation area with lateral and cardinal buoys everywhere, I was out front spotting and directing Stu where to go with Sempre Due just about to enter the little pass. Then I saw a shallow large lump of coral that looked bad, I got Stu to back up Neverland, at this stage Sempre Due radioed us and said the locals were directing us away from this channel. It was certainly a bit hit and miss and I am glad we went around the other way. We probably would have been fine as we saw other cats going into this channel, lesson relearnt that we already knew – always move to new anchorages when the sun is high!
We had Sempre Due over for an impromptu dinner, it’s great hanging with them. Nadia was awesome, she showed the kids how to twist long balloons to make animals. Sienna really likes Nadia, and sticks to her whenever she’s around. Sempre Due had to return to Raiatea after a few days here for repairs to their boat after a miss hap with the dock! Poor Den was so upset. We were planning on doing the crossing to Mauapiti and the 5 day sail to Suwarrow with them, but it may not work out now. Hopefully we meet up with them soon.
We have swum with the Manta rays twice now! It is EPIC, Stu and I were so excited, there were 4 of them just a few metres under us. Stu followed one across the channel (deep water) and he swum down to find 7 circling him! It’s a cleaning station for the Manta Rays, so they are there every morning, one stayed still and let the cleaner fish do their thing while I swum around him, they are magnificent animals. They are like a slow moving plane, they bank their wings as whey are turning as they are so huge. Around 4m from wing tip to tip. The kids were excited to see them also, but I think Mantas are my all-time favourite thing to swim with (though we haven’t swum with whales …….yet, certainly hoping though), it was super exciting and we’re feeling totally blessed as we saw so many of these magnificent mantas so close.
The dinghy motor is playing up and the water pump for the port engine is leaking a little. So Stu has been busy with these jobs. The dinghy motor is defiantly a worry as we dinghied a long way today and yesterday, it’s surging when it gets hot. Hmmmmm we don’t want a dodgy motor as we are leaving for these remote islands in a few weeks. When we motor around to the main port prior to leaving, we will see how the water pump on the port motor is going after Stus patch up and replacement job.
We did an undersea walk for the kids, as an another early birthday present for little Miss Sienna. It’s a glass helmet attached to a hooker air compressor system, and you walk on the sea floor. We paid for 3 (as it’s expensive) thinking Stu and I would snorkel around them, unfortunately Alex and Sienna couldn’t equalize, Alex was upset with sore ears also. It was in around 4m of water. So after trying to encourage them to try again I joined Stu and Jake down in the water with our Minecraft heads on. I must say it took me a good 5 minutes to get used to it, I really didn’t like it to start with, it was hot my sunscreen was going into my eyes but the main worry I felt was like a claustrophobic feeling. I really had to do a lot of self-talk to stay under there, and I’m glad I did. We touched a sea anemone, which suction cupped to my finger, the lady indicated it’s fine to touch with your hands but not any other part of your skin, as it will sting. A stingray was sucking onto another divers head, it was very entertaining to see how much it was appearing to eat her hair. I am glad that Jake enjoyed it, he enjoyed it a tonne – yay. I enjoyed it in the end but I much prefer free diving and SCUBA. I can totally understand why Sienna and Alex didn’t like it, even if equalizing was not an issue for them.
Did I mention how excited Sienna is about her upcoming 7thbirthday? She has now declared it will be her 6thbirthday as she doesn’t want to “get big”. She has ordered that we must do whatever she wants on her birthday, she is to do no jobs, Stu and I are not allowed coffee or beer! Huh the cheek of a 6 year old. She has a countdown calendar that she made up a month ago, it is now in tatters as she has studied it so much. I really don’t know how we will live up to her expectations! We are also thinking of Aunty Ange on the 27thand Vicky and Gina on the 25thof April, as it’s their birthdays.
Today we started the checkout process for French Polynesia, so we will get our passports stamped on Monday sometime (maybe as late as 2pm), which means we have to do a lot to get ready and move Neverland around to the main town site which is not as pretty an anchorage as here. So I guess Sienna will have to sail to Mauapiti on her birthday. We couldn’t work it any other way due to the weather windows, the pass into Mauapiti is a bit tricky and it seems we can only enter and exit the atoll pass with a swell under 2m (some guides say <1.5m) and less than 20 knots of wind. Boats get trapped inside the atoll as they can’t exit due to swell and seas causing breaking waves across the pass, so we obviously won’t enter or exit when it’s like that. After Mauapiti we sail to Suwarrow which is around 5 days, and we want little swell with wind so we don’t have to motor. So these things combined means we leave Monday (Siennas birthday) or Tuesday for Mauapiti due to the checkout process from French Polynesia and weather. I am very excited to be going to Mauapiti as it’s said by some to be the best island of the Societies, and it’s not visited by many due to the pass.
Sienna had a great birthday, we started with presents and pancakes. Had a quick swim with Tina (named after our friend Tina from S/V Hugo whom has the exact same swan she named Svetlana), which she adores. Sienna was so so so excited, it ended in tears as we upped anchor to move. She was just over whelmed and disappointed we had to leave. When she got over that she was great, playing with her new toys and happy.
Thanks for reading about our adventures, from the Neverland crew 😉