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Moorea, Raiatea and Taaha

We had a very nice two hour sail to Moorea where we anchored in Cooks Bay which isn’t where Captain Cook landed in Moorea which was actually the next bay over, Baie D’Opunohu. This was a nice quiet anchorage that had a great view of the mountain made famous with the name of Bali Hi in the movie South Pacific! This was also in front of a sailor friendly resort where we could go and sit in the shade and have a beer with internet access.

We could take the dingy out to the outer reef about a mile away and go snorkelling or just jump off the back of the boat for a swim. We took a guided tour of the island which showed us the sights and history including the fruit factory where they made juice and various sorts of rum J as well as the local Marae’s (family temples)

After three days here we decided to sail onto Raiatea and Taaha which are two islands that were once one so the share the same barrier reef. This was supposed to be a calm 10-15 knot overnight voyage where we left at 12:00 so that we would arrive just after sunrise. To our surprise as soon as we cleared the barrier reef of Moorea we were hit by a squall that produced 30 knot winds. Squalls on the open ocean differ in wind strength but take you through a typical cycle of where you are sailing under the standard condition of 10-15 knots… you see a squall coming toward you and then the wind increases dramatically in a matter of two to three minutes, holds this strength for 20-30 minutes and then passes with the wind dyeing dramatically to 5 knots or less for about 20 minutes and then starts to return to the average wind conditions for the day. We were hit by three more of these before the night finished as well as a couple less serious ones. We were ahead of schedule and needed not to approach the pass in the reef before sunrise so just stayed reefed for the squalls and sailed slow in between for as long as we saw them on the horizon.

We went straight to Baei Tapua on the eastern side of Taaha and managed to pick up a public mooring and settled into a fantastic view of Bora Bora on the horizon! There was a small village in this bay with small grocery store for us to top up on bread and milk as well as the islands only rum distillery! A very small operation that produced a wonderful vanilla rum!. J A short dingy ride across the channel there were a couple of motu’s (small islands on reefs) one of which had a resort on it and between that one and the adjacent motu was a beautiful coral garden which offered an excellent shallow snorkel where you could start at the outer part of the reef and drift across the reef offering the best snorkelling I have seen in French Polynesia so far! We spent a couple of hour’s snorkelling here and then went to the resort restaurant for lunch. All in all a great day.

We then moved on to Baie Apu as we had reservations for a vanilla farm tour which included a trip around the island of Taaha. The tour had moorings we could use for as long as we liked that were available to any yachts that did the tour. Noah the tour guide spoke great English and was very knowledgeable with the local fauna. So we learned a lot about the fruits and other plants that were used for medicinal purposes as we drove around the island.

Next was a move to the Marina Apootii so that we could get showers and fill with fuel and water as this was our last chance before our passage to Bora Bora and on to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands

We had another nice sail to Bora Bora which turned out to be not nearly as touristy as we were led to believe. We picked up a mooring ball at the Maikai Marina which is hard to call a marina as there were only mooring balls, no showers or other facilities except a restaurant/Bar and a pool which was nice. It was close to the village of Vaitape where the Heiva festival was being held. As Friday and Saturday are the primary nights for the festivities and it was Friday we decided to buy bleacher seats to see the dance competition. This was great and a good night was had by all! Brand, Thomas and I decided to hire bicycles and ride the 14 miles around the island the next day. Taking time to hike up to a couple of lookouts, one of which had a couple of WWII American cannons still in place pointing out to sea. We also stopped and had a cocktail at the iconic Bloody Mary’s Bar and restaurant. Before going to lunch at a small shop on one of the fantastic beaches in Bora Bora (Bora Bora was the first place in French Polynesia that really had any beaches). The next day Brad, Debbie and I took the dingy for about 3 miles to a place to snorkel. Whilst we were snorkelling the wind kicked up to between 20-25 knots making a very interesting dingy ride back against the wind to the boat! Debbie and Brad decided to have lunch at the shop on the beach we visited the day before and then walk the 8 or so kilometres by land back and I took the dingy challenge on by myself! The wind continued for the next day making us predominantly boat bound. We couldn’t complain as besides the squalls on the way to Taaha and this day the weather had been fantastic the rest of our time in French Polynesia!

The next day was Brad’s 60th birthday so we spent the time going to the Gendarmerie to go through our check out formalities and happy hour at the marina then catching the courtesy bus to a fantastic dinner at Bloody Mary’s for Brad’s birthday!

I’m currently writing this on our voyage to Rarotonga! We are currently in our third day of a four day passage and it has been quite nice with clear skies and predominantly 20 knots just aft of the beam. Can’t as for much better, nice and relaxing…. See you in Rarotonga where Leg 3 crew will depart and I will pick up the crew of leg 4. Juan will be re-joining, Juan’s friend Brianna, Greg Tasker and my good friend Grant Hannaford will also be joining us.

And now a little contest! Who can tell me what the purpose of the structure in the last picture is????

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