After snorkeling the tikis in Moorea last week, we took off for Bora Bora. The sail took about a day and a half, and we arrived on the early morning of day 3. The three of us were all exhausted from the sail and heavy weather was blowing in, so we took cover behind the mountain on the main island, anchoring in about 90 feet of water off the Bora Bora Yacht Club. Most people moor there instead of anchoring, but several folks had the idea to hide out there before we did, and there were no spare mooring balls. Holding was very good however, and with our oversized anchor and chain, we held fast with 3-1 ratio on the chain.
The first few days of our week had me feeling very antsy, because thanks to the weather, we pretty much stuck to the boat. Winds were gusting into the mid and high 30s, and bands of rain blew through every hour or so. We walked down to town in the rain our second morning in, getting our bearings on activities and amenities in the area. I found a great shop called Bora Home that had beautiful tifaifai, the traditional patchwork bedcovers that are made here. They also had incredible carved objects made of bone, wood and mother of pearl from oyster shells. It sort of made me wish I were here as a fly-in visitor, so I’d have the space and budget to pick up some home decor to bring back. The trade-off is worth it though.
We joined the cruisers for a potluck at the Bora Bora Yacht Club that night, reuniting with several of the folks we’ve made friends with along the way. The Yacht Club was outfitted with a full-scale restaurant and bar until February of this year, when a cyclone blew through and flooded the property with 4-5 feet of water and waves. The owners, one of whom is an American lady named Jessica, are well on their way to rebuilding the place, with docks complete, laundry facilities, indoor/outdoor seating and a full bar, but the guest bungalows on the property have yet to be rebuilt, and regular dinner service is still on hiatus. Instead, the cruisers organize dinners like this potluck, utilizing the grill on the property and buying drinks at the bar. It works out well.
After hiding out from the rain for a couple of days, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I asked the guys if they were interested in biking around the island. The winds were still up, eliminating the prospect of any dinghy-based lagoon excursions, but I figured we were up to the task of battling wind drag for the 32 km round-the-island ride. Besides, after several days stuck on the boat, we needed the exercise. We rode around the corner over to Vaitape and went by the Avis to get bikes, but despite the fact that a cruise ship was in, it turned out they were closed on Sundays. After doing some asking around, some locals directed us to 3 Tikis, which rents electric bikes. They go for a slightly higher price than the standard bikes at Avis (3500 fcp vs. 2000 fop), and they definitely cut down on the calorie burning, but I have to say they were pretty nice—especially when we were passing folks sweating it out against the blustery winds.
On the way around we saw beautiful vistas of Bora Bora’s mountains and lagoon, stopped for lunch at an outdoor restaurant called Maitai, and walked the length of Matira Beach, Bora Bora’s beautiful white-sand public beach. Snack bars and restaurants line the roadside, and the shallow water extends out about 300 yards into the lagoon. The beach is full of people who hail from all parts of the world, here for honeymoons, backpacking trips and sailing vacations.
Monday we moved Tahina to an anchorage behind Motu Toopua, where the Hilton Bora Bora is located. Our friends on Broken Compass were celebrating a birthday, and we wanted to be sure to be there to join in the festivities. We motored out to the sand banks across the channel from our anchorage and joined some tourist boats feeding the stingrays. Dozens of rays come here every morning, and visitors can jump in the water and interact with them, holding chunks of fish as feed. The whole idea bugs me, feeding wild rays, but it seems it’s been done in Bora Bora for decades now, and the animals in the immediate area may have come to depend on it at this point. They swim right up to you and brush along your body when you get in, and as soon as you lower a chunk of fish into the water, there is a ray there ready to slurp it out of your hand into its bony-plated mouth.
After the feeding, several boats, including African Innovation, Liquid Courage and Broken Compass, got together to go spearfishing. Jason and Frank joined them, but didn’t have much luck finding edible fish not at risk for ciguatera. Broken Compass did bring back an octopus, however, and no, I didn’t have a taste. Later that night everyone got together for the bday party for Broken Compass, and after a very late bedtime, we rose this morning to sail to Raiatea, were we’ll pick Karen up in the morning.