13 Oct. 1986
Sunny, hot 85 F, clear
Bora-Bora. French Polynesia
To all of my wonderful friends,
My last letter was written on Sept. 15th while on the island of Huahine. So we have got a lot of catching up to do. On Sept. 15th, Pete and I were entered at the north side of Motu Taiahu of the island of Huahine. Winds of 30 knots or more blew through the anchorage for the next two days. While it was possible to get ashore for beach combing it was too rough to attempt the passage to the next island, Raiatea. Pete spent much of her time gathering 5 and 6 inch Turban shells, to take home because of their beauty. However, she made the mistake of giving them to me for safe keeping, I promptly broke them apart for the meat. It made a great chowder!. She of course got all shells she needed, as the reef was full of the little critters. We were still getting fresh bread, fruit, and vegetables from our friends each morning. One of the fun things that we did, was to introduce our friends Emile to the high tech world of the TV camera and VCR. Emile and two other friends, plus all of Emile's family, crowded aboard for a 'jam session'. I taped the singing and played it back on the color TV. Boy were they impressed!. Mostly they wanted to do it again and again to improve their style. The wind finally dropped on the night of the be 18th and we planned to be underway the next morning.
At 0830 on Sept. 19, we cleared the pass and set the Sumlog (distance measuring device) to 000. The sail was great!. The first few hours were spent in the lee of the island, but as soon as we cleared the north end, the wind was amidships and we could sail a broad reach. Seven hours later, at 1530, we cleared the pass into the sheltered waters of Raiatea. The Sumlog read 34 miles, an average of almost 5 knots. Good sailing. We elected to go into the small boat basin that was run by a U.S. charter firm called the "Moorings". Saturday the 20th, was spent just goofing around and going out to a great Chinese dinner. Sunday I gave the dinghy a new coat of paint and spent the evening gabbing with an old-time charter skipper moored 'next-door'. We made a date to meet on Bora-Bora next week, when he would have his charter guests aboard. On Monday morning,Pete and I rented a motor scooter to circumnavigate the island of Raiatea. I took the controls, while Pete hung on (mostly in panic!). Had we realized that the inland was over 100 miles around, would not have tried to make it all the way around. Had I known, before we began that there was no cold beer during the trip, we would have done something else with our time. Even though we found no cold beer, we did find a lovely 'skinny-dipping' stream. Both of us decided it was time to move on, as she had only a couple of weeks left of her five week vacation.
Eight thirty seems to always be our departure time as cleared Raiatea, bound for that table island Bora Bora. Bora Bora has been called the world's most beautiful island, and from 30 miles away the jagged peaks were certainly picturesque. The wind blew 8 to 10 knots right on our stern and we were able to run 'wing-and-wing'. It's not that often that the wind is directly aft, and when it is, it is fun and a quite dangerous. For my non-sailing friends, wing-and-wing is when some sails are catching wind on one side of the boat and other sails are catching wind on the other side. We had the big foresail out to port, the mainsail out to starboard and the mizzen sail out to port. So we were technically wing-and-wing-and-wing! The element of danger is that a sudden shift of wind or bad steering can cause a jibe. A jibe is when the mainsail or mizzen sail, change from one side to the other,with a sudden powerful movement. Booms, masts, sails and stays can all become broken or damaged. To prevent a jibe from happening, we rigged a 'preventer line'. A slow rolling motion, warm, clear, sunny skies and a special lunch with wine made this a perfect day.
We entered the pass through the coral reef at 1500 hours. The skyline of Bora Bora can only described as fantastic. Peaks rising to 3000 feet in less then a mile from the beach. Mountains clad in lush shade of green that only topical forests have. The lagoon with almost unbelievable shades of blues and greens and all the hues between. The depth sounder indicated over 20 ft, while I thought that we about to go aground in what I thought was 5 ft!. The fish were abundant and as colorful as swimming rainbows. Pete and I had been told about a nice little hidden anchorage behind Motu Toopua. I'll digress here to mention how these Polynesian words are pronounced. All vowels, except when proceeded by a constant, are considered a separate sound. If proceeded by a constant is sounded together with the constant. For example Motu Toopua. is pronounced Mo-Two Two-Oh-Pu-Ah. Earlier we had anchored at Taiahu (Tah-E-Ah-Who). Papeete (Pa-Pa-E-Tea). Enough of that, back to our anchorage. We had complete solitude, with only a few fishermen on the reef a mile or so away. We spent the rest of the day snorkeling . I tried to get us fresh fish for dinner, but the fish knew how long the line was on my spear gun, so no fresh fish. Dinner came out of a can that night, supplemented by fresh veggies and fruit.
The next morning we ran out of water. I had last filled the tanks in the Marqueses, more than three months ago. The 60 gallons had lasted a long time. We had been told that the Oha-Oha hotel had free moorings, hot showers, fresh water and a great bar with cold beer. Got up the anchor and motored the three miles to the moorings. Picking up a mooring can be difficult, but Pete was by this time an old hand, and we got a round of applause for our seamanship. Little time was spent board as this was to be the first hot shower that I had since Papeete in July. Few of you can know just what little things, that you take for granted, can mean. A simple thing like a hot shower can mean more than almost anything you can imagine. Pete and I went ashore and that Greg and Elaine, the owners of the of the hotel. They welcome cruising sailors and had a simple set of rules to follow: Don't take too long a shower and don't use more then 10 gallons of their distilled water per day. They had only two requests. If a hotel guests wants to talk to you about sailing, passages or your life style, then by all means talk to them. The second request was to fill out a page in the Cruising Scrap Book. Each year a new scrap book is started and it was fun looking back over previous years of cruising stories. If any of you ever get to Oha Oha, by all means, look for our page in the 1986 book. We did a two page entry, and even though I say so myself, they turned out very well. In fact there are many photos, perhaps one of you.
After hot showers and putting 60 gallons of water on board, we dropped the lines and sailed back to our first anchorage. We had arranged to meet Bear Cub (with Paula and Ross) and Maurice (Mooring charter captain). This was going to the a pot luck dinner. The dinner was superb with lobster, fish, clams and oysters. Fresh fruit and wonderful French cheese made the desert. Maurice had charter guests aboard and they were enthralled listening to each of us trying to top the other's sea stories. It's one up-mans-ship about who can tell wildest stories. Understand that we don't really lie, but the truth does get stretched to near the breaking point.
That night the wind started blowing hard out of the north. All three of the boats were on a lee shore, and the next morning we prudently sailed back to the Oha Oha and protection. Whatever I go someplace new I always hear the expression "that the weather sure is unusual right now, we've never seen this kind of weather before". These north winds blew for the next ten days, accompanied by heavy rains and high seas breaking on the reef. While the north winds would have been fine for sailing back to Papeete. The high seas and vicious line squalls would have made a very uncomfortable trip. So we sat out the weather, hoping for a break. Time was getting close for Pete's return flight to Sam Francisco. We decided to return to Papeete on the ferry.
At noon, on the fifth of October, we boarded the ferry for the 18 hour trip to Papeete. The ride back was uneventful, except for 'the jogger'. I have to call him 'the jogger' because we never got his name. The story goes something like this, as Pete and I stood in line at the ticket counter we got to talking to this American fellow who wore nothing more than jogging shorts and shoes. He and a group of friends were to have caught a copra boat at 9 A M. He had misunderstood the departure time and thought that he had time to go jogging. Of course he missed the boat, but his friends had loaded his gear and here he was without money or ID. As he said " I am addicted to jogging, and if I don't run every day, I can't live with myself". Pete, being the earth mother that she is, provided him with warm clothes, money and a share of our food. All of his friends were down to greet the boat when we arrived. They were a group of eight or ten who were camping and cycling around the world. We're only sorry that we didn't have more time to get acquainted.
Papeete wasn't really awake when the ferry docked at 5 A M. Peter and I found a coffee shop that was open and we spent a couple of hours over coffee and croissants. We were standing at the door as the Port Captain opened the office. Pete had a dozen letters while I had over 20. We checked into a small hotel and spent the rest of the day reading and answering mail. I was scheduled to take the ferry back to Bora Bora on Wednesday, which gave us all of Tuesday together. We spent the day as tourists, taking in the sights of Papeete. I also had to change my crew list as I was once again a solo sailor. The final item was to get my clearance papers for the passage to American Samoa. A dark mood came over both of us as we spent the last day together. Pete was to fly back to San Francisco boom, while I sailed of to Pago Pago. I can't remember when a goodbye hurt so much a lot of tears were shed that day. After five weeks with Pete, I dreaded, indeed hated, the thought of being alone again. Solo sailing takes a huge toll of your emotions. I was constantly forming close relationships and then suffering the pains of separation. As we exchanged goodbye hugs and kisses, I resolved not to sail alone again.
The ferry ride back seemed ten times longer than the trip in. I was so lonely and miserable that I was ready to give up sailing all together. I also got the flu. This was the first bug in over two years. After a couple of days I felt much better and my spirits were up. I decided that I had to continue on regardless. So tomorrow morning Oct. 14 I sail to American Samoa, heavy of heart and in low spirits.