Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pilialoha - Thursday 27 Sept

    Its 5 am on Thursday and Pilialoha is moored to a ball off the Bora-Bora Yacht Club.  In about two hours we shall leave and start on our way back to Tahaa.  Its raining outside and we hope its just the normal tropical early morning shower.  The forecast is for good wind and weather which will be welcome given the upwind nature of the trip today.
    Last Monday we were at Raiatea and provisioned thoroughly at Laiut Supermarket which had everything we could desire.  We also visited Champion supermarket which was more modern and even better stocked.  Liaut was willing to deliver to the boat on the spot but we had our trusty "personal" taxi driver, Warren, and his large van and it all fit easily.
    That afternoon we paid up at marina Apooiti where port captain Jean Michel, a Walter Mathau lookalike, bid his quiet farewell with a mild yet sincere smile.  There was little wind to Tahaa and after about an hour of sailing at 3 knots we turned on the engine.  The views as always were spectacular.  Emerald seas and green mountains enhanced by the idea that we were between two islands so close by.  We bypassed Baie Haupiti and went instead for Baie Tepamau at the recommendation of Bill Leary (Noodle) who had recently been there and had great things to say about it.
    He was right.  It was extremely well protected from wind and wave.  Bob and Caroline worked the bow as we anchored in 70 feet of water and did a great job as we paid out all of the anchor and then some of the line.  We went for a wonderfully pleasant swim off the back of the boat and then followed that up with drinks and finger food.  The view out of the bay was out over some nearby small islands and at night the stars came out and filled the sky.  It was amazing how many stars could be seen.  I especially enjoyed watching the constellation Scorpio with its unusual shape and its bright red central star of Antares.  The moon was half full and very very bright.  I choose to sleep in the cockpit and at 2 am the intensity of the moonlight woke me up as it came down low on the horizon.  At that time in the morning I just looked around for about an hour taking in the beauty of the bay, the stars and the moon and enjoying a deep sense of contentment and relaxation.  It was a funny feeling as I was not sleepy, not doing anything and far from being bored.  Just sitting there watching and enjoying.
   The next morning, after much consultation, we left for Bora-Bora at 1000.  It was a nice day and for the most part a good downwind sale.  We had a moderate squall come down upon us to make things interesting.   We soon approached the outer reefs of Bora-Bora.  This was the second time I had approached these, the first time being ten years ago on what is now Bill Leary's boat Mokupea (then known as Le Christien and in charter with The Moorings).   The power of the waves crashing on this reef is always awe insipiring and we made sure to keep a healthy distance.  A local freighter came out from around the reef bend fortuitously indicating where the reef ended and then he headed directly towards us.  We decided to keep him on our starboard as that would ensure that we had him between us and the reef.  We communicated on the radio and told him we would pass starboard to starboard.  It took a while for them to respond and we imagine they went looking for someone who spoke English as in a few minutes we had a most pleasant, calm and authoritative voice agree with our plan.  The large red ship passed us just about a quarter mile away rumbling along loudly.
    Once around the bend we sailed easily to the Bora Bora entrance through the reef at 1600.  We headed to the Bloody Mary moorings hoping to have dinner there that night at the kind invitation of Bob and Maren Wrigley.  Capturing the mooring was again up to the team of Bob and Caroline and it was a bit more challenging than expected.  Wind gusts  were coming down from the hills and did not help.  Eventually we tied up, shut down engines and being quite tired decided to not to deal with launching the dinghy and to leave dinner at Bloody Mary's for the next day.
    The night was not bad but not great either.  The strong gusts of wind continued and the noise and movement were annoying.  The next morning we decided to move to the Bora Bora Yacht Club which seemed better protected and that made all the difference in the world.  We got the foremost mooring, so close to the club you could see inside and watch the customers.  We did not even put the engine on the dinghy as it was such an easy row and this dinghy responds nicely to rowing.
    Julien was our host at the club.  A nice young Frenchman with a pleasant warm smile on his handsome face, he had the ladies in the group enthralled.  Bob and Maren had lunch at the club while Caroline and I rented bikes and went out to explore the north of the island.  The flat road took us along the water and we enjoyed the small homes in this area that was devoid of tourism and commerce.  Local people were everywhere carrying out there normal lives.  We talked about some of the modest homes with fabulous views and how some would call the people living there poor yet they were actually quite rich to have the view and the pleasant lifestyle which we came so far to enjoy.
   Caroline and I entered a local market and found hot Chinese fried rice for sale and we took that with us, found a shady cove at the waters edge and ate enjoying the scenery.
   Back at the boat we did some boat chores, bathed in the ocean and then got ready for our meal at the Bora Bora Yacht club.  We rowed in and had a table right outside in front of Pilialoha.  Quite a treat.  We had Breast of duck and Vanilla Mahi Mahi accompanied by wine and prefaced by great salade gourmand and Tuna Carpaccio.  The desert was also great as was the service by Julien and his staff.
    After a good nights sleep the crew is now starting to wake up to get the boat ready.  We hope to leave by 0700 and be on our way to Tahaa.  Our goal is Baie Haupiti where we will overnight and then leave the next day for Papeete, weather permitting.  We will check the forecast carefully as the winds were not expected to be good for Friday and Saturday, especially for this upwind trip.
    Cheers from the crew of Pilialoha
Rick Villalobos
Caroline Heinrich
Bob and Maren Wrigley

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