Posted by: catamarantwooceans | October 19, 2009

The Last Week

This is a short account of the last few days on the boat, written in the comfort of my daughter’s home in Redwood city CA.

8.10.09 – Thursday – We motored clockwise around Bora Bora to the southeastern side, passing a very narrow, but well marked channel between reefs that were just under the surface.

Bora Bora

Bora Bora

Went all the way to two small islands, part of a resort where we found a good snorkeling site. The water was crystal clear and the site had there were a lot of fish that were completely unafraid of us humans, probably because they are being fed by guides of snorkeling groups. A funny phenomenon were the many clusters of small mullets, those called Barbounia in the eastern Mediterranean, arranged on the bottom like cars in a parking lot, barely moving. There was supposed to be a rays and sharks site near the reef, but we couldn’t find it and went back to the boat.

We chose another location for the night in the lee of the long Piti Aau motu, on the way there we were followed by two guys in pirogues. At first they just kept pace with us, doing 4-5 knots easily. Then, after an exchange of gestures, they came closer, took hold of our aft platform and hitched a ride for a while.

hitch-hikers

hitch-hikers

9.10.09 – Friday – We spent a quiet night in the anchorage. In the morning Nir woke up early and took the following picture of the central Bora bora island (the one above, as well as some more pictures are also his).

Bora Bora sunrise

Bora Bora sunrise

We wanted to see the southwestern part of the island, just a few hundred meters away from where we were but there is no pass and we had to go back all around the island. There is a pretty bay past Matira point but I did not feel secure about it as a night anchorage so we went back to spend the crew last night on board behind Maoaohonuu motu, a place we enjoyed before.

10.10.09 – Saturday – Gili, Yael and Nir had to be at the airport at 1415 for the first leg of their long journey home. We just passed the time waiting and watching the clock advance. The last day is always a bit sad and sitting doing nothing was not improving my mood. Looking at the direction of the encircling reef I could see some tourist boats movement in the shallow part of the lagoon. They all seemed to stop at a certain point and people were getting into the water. A “Ray observatory” perhaps? “We have enough time, let’s go see what it is”. We took the dinghy over there and sure enough the same Rays and Shark show, just like the one in Moorea! Admittedly, it is a kind of circus, but still a nice one that brought smiles back.

Gili and Yael

Gili and Yael

At 1415, after anchoring near the airport, which is on a motu of its own, I took my crew to the terminal in the dinghy. What a pity they couldn’t stay longer! We had great fun together in spite of all the bad weather we experienced some of the time.

11.10.09 – Sunday – Alone again, I woke up early and with first light exited the pass and sailed to Raiatea. Trolling proved fruitless once more – frustrating! I will have to eat those industrial, tasteless Cordon Bleu schnitzels that I have in the freezer. Oh, by the way, the fridge packed up altogether. Luckily, the freezer is so big, that I can use its aft section as a fridge. Now that it is dead, I could see how much electricity it used daily! I’ll fix it when I come back in March.

The uneventful trip was concluded by taking a mooring next to the boatyard. Tried fishing again in the evening and while having the hook taken by something more than once, nothing came out.

12.10.09 – Monday – In the morning I threw the fishing line in and surprise! A small grouper, the kind that has blue dots all over, was caught. The polynesian guys in the boatyard said it was O.K  to eat, no Ciguaterra. I went to the office, where Karine gave me the god news that we could lift the boat out on Thursday.

I took the dinghy to the airport, bought a ticket to Tahiti for Friday and then sailed south to Nao Nao motu, where I decided to spend two days. With my computer dead (again) and Nir’s laptop on the way back to Israel, I was using the ” Guide to Navigation and Tourism in French Polynesia” by P. Bonnette and E. Deschamp in its English version which I bought for 45 euros in Papeete. It says the anchorage there is “exiguous”. I have yet to find the meaning of the word in the dictionary but what I found out was that the place was full of reefs and quite narrow considering the fact that there were two other yachts at anchor. A few words about this guide; In my view – a big disappointment. The sketches are very schematic and have no GPS coordinates. All guides cover their asses regarding their chartlets by adding:”Do not use for navigation” but really you can. Just look at the excellent Panama guide by Eric Bauhaus with its satellite pictures with geographical grid superimposed and wealth of information. The FP guide lacks detail, which is a pity. Even the venerable “Charlie’s charts of Polynesia” which is 20 years old is better, in my humble opinion.

Nao Nao

Nao Nao

After anchoring in less than 3 meters on sand, I took the dinghy to the motu and found it surrounded by signs:Tabu – private – no trespassing. I knew that it was a private island but also that it was inhabited and was looking forward to explore it. On the north side I saw a few women in the water and a modest wooden house on shore. I approached and asked if I could come ashore. “Yes you can, but only on the beach”. They were laughing and giggling and generally having a good time. “Is this a women only island?” I asked. “No, there is also a man here”. I asked to take their picture but one of them merrily shouted:”No, we are too fat!” She, by the way, was the least obese… I walked around a bit and met the man they spoke about, who was the island caretaker. He told me that the owner is an American – Greek gentleman, who was going to start building a home there next year. A young man on a pirogue was leaving the island and I mentioned that I would have liked to try paddling one someday. “No problem, we have another one here”. He said a few words to one of the girls, who brought it to the beach. “Do you want me to take your picture?” she asked. “Certainly” I said and here is one of the many she took.

paddling in Nao Nao

paddling in Nao Nao

This skiff is very light, 11 kgs only and very easily driven in the water – great fun!

As the sun set I put the fishing line out just for fun and after ten minutes had a nice snapper. For my dinner, though, I had the grouper; baked in the oven with some Creole spices it was simply the best, most tender fish I have ever had.

13.10.09 – Tuesday – Cloudy with a little rain. Passed the day snorkeling and reading John le Carre’s “A Most Wanted Man”. The way this man writes! Simply fantastic, although I do have some doubts about its ending.

The evening brought higher winds, not a big deal, no more than 20 knots, but with the close proximity of the boat behind and the short scope of chain in the water, I decided to put the second anchor out too. Got a bit careless and had the anchor rope entangled in the dinghy’s prop. While bending over the transom to release it, I lost my balance and fell into the water. Not my best performance there… Everything was sorted out quickly and I retired to my book and a Rum Punch.

14.10.09 – Wednesday – Back to the boatyard. One has to go outside the reef to go there. Going out of the pass I had an escort of a few dolphins, 3.5 knots current from behind and some big waves breaking on the reef, both sides. The swell was more pronounced than the last time I sailed there, reaching three meters in my estimation. It was impressive looking at a fishing boat coming head-on as if from a roof of a one story building. The easterly wind, coming from over the mountains and between the valleys became a bit crazy and I was lucky to decide on early reefing as we approached the entrance to the boatyard area when the wind rose and heavy rain started falling.

wave and wind

wave and wind

Back to a mooring and a quiet night.

15.10.09 – Thursday – Boat out. Work, work and more work.

boat out

boat out

16.10.09 – Friday – Just before the rain, aided by Sylvain (not the one that sank and was saved…) I took down, folded and put the main and jib inside the boat. Clean, clean and clean some more and then evening came and I flew to Papeete. Cathy, who have a boat “guardiennage” service will watch over “Two Oceans” while I’m gone.

Cathy

Cathy

Karine recommended  the Lola Pension near the airport and said they will pick me up. Great! Lola herself, a woman of an undeterminable age in the upper side of the scale, took me with her similarly advanced in years Isuzu jeep into a dark neighborhood. A very basic accommodation with the bathroom and toilet shared with the other guests… She took me to a chinese restaurant, which was a sight to behold. On one side the dining room, on the other – the kitchen, open to the parking lot, where people came for takeaway food. A pity I did not take my camera along. Chicken in Ginger with rice and back to the Pension where I gobbled it down and had lights out before 2100.

17.10.09 – Saturday – Air-France to L.A, United to San Francisco to be united with Nogah, my daughter and her family. Especially those two brats – Aya and Yotam, who woke me up the next morning with their charming smiles.

Aya and Yotam

Aya and Yotam

So, this is it for the time being. Plans are to go back to the boat late March. Until then – although I may surprise you with another project earlier – thanks to all who followed the blog and wrote comments –                 GOODBYE, ALL THE BEST, SEE YOU SOON!

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