We awoke on Friday morning at Marina Apooti and had our usual eggs and potato breakfast (two ingredients that are readily available here), which we shared with Robby, the Hawaiian delivery skipper who we’d met while walking the docks the night before. He’s on his 79th Pacific crossing, most of the time running between Hawaii and California. When he is not making deliveries, he serves as the bowman on racing crews–the person who handles the lines and sails on the foredeck. He claims to be well known in Hawaiian racing circuits and once changed headsails 10 times in 6 minutes according to the changing winds. He also claims to have sailed with famed mariners such as Robin Lee Graham and B.J. Caldwell and to have caught halibut in Alaska that weighed several hundred pounds. We can’t verify the accuracy of any of these stories, but they were entertaining nonetheless.

After saying good-bye to Robby, we took SHOWERS, the first real showers (i.e., with indoor plumbing) we’d had since we stayed at a hotel in the Galapagos. There wasn’t any hot water, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. I had forgotten how good it feels to have sufficient water pressure to rinsed away all the soap (and maybe even use some conditioner!). That probably sounds pretty funny to all of you landlubbers, but I would bet that most cruisers can relate to it.

Throwing off the bow and stern lines at Marina Apooti was much easier than getting them on, and off we motored into the calm lagoon. We were expecting to have some rough seas like we had had en route to Raiatea once we got out of the protection of its lagoon, but although they were “confused” (coming from various directions), they were only 2-3 feet, not too bad by our standards. After we had sailed a fair distance away from the isles of Raiatea and Ta’haa, the seas began to organize into impressive rollers that still weren’t that big, but I was glad we were sailing with rather than against them.

breakers Waves breaking onto the reef encircling Ta’haa

Bora Bora is well known for its clear and colorful lagoon and is listed in more than one cruising guide as having the most beautiful anchorages in the world. We were not disappointed as we approached and could see the rugged peaks of the island enveloped in bright turquoise water. Along the edge of the lagoon we could see the thatched-roof bungalows of the expensive hotels that are frequented by celebs and honeymooners. There were also several dive boats and glass-bottom boats buzzing about, confirming what we had heard about the abundant marine life here.

bora bora offshore Our first glimpse of the lagoon of Bora Bora

Our friends Dave and Shauna aboard Dragon, the boat for which Dallas and Wes served as linehandlers on their first trip through the Panama Canal, had informed us by email that they were staying on a mooring buoy at the Yacht Club of Bora Bora. However, we could tell from afar that that bay was packed with boats, so we thought we’d try to anchor in the adjacent bay. In the midst of checking it out, Dave and Shauna came over by dinghy to greet us and informed us that while there were no buoys available at the Yacht Club, five boats were leaving the following day. They also reported that for $50/week for the buoy, we would also get to use the shower and laundry facilities and take part in the yachties’ social hours, barbeques, etc. Although we tend to enjoy less populated anchorages, this sounded like a fun change of pace for a few days, so we settled in for the night at a nearby anchorage (from which Wes and Tiff were able to dinghy into the village) and got up early to watch for boats leaving. The first two boats left at 7:00 a.m. We motored over soon thereafter and helped ourselves to one of the mooring buoys for which some people have had to wait 4-5 days.

DSC_0597 Boats moored at Yacht Club of Bora Bora

Dave and Shauna popped over in their dinghy on their way into town for a shopping run. We started the process of catching up on events of the last couple of months (since Panama), but the raging winds made it difficult to hear. I asked Shauna if they would like to join us for lunch (as Dallas, Tiff, and I had discussed over breakfast), and she agreed. Meanwhile, Dave asked Dallas if we would like to join them for dinner aboard Dragon, and naturally, Dallas agreed. So we got a double-dose of the vibrant South Africans yesterday. Dave and Shauna are very social people and seem to have met all of the cruisers who have come through the Yacht Club in the last few weeks. It was interesting to hear their second-hand stories of the cruisers’ various experiences, both personal and sailing-related. One of the most noteworthy in my mind was the American who sailed from California to the Marquesas living primarily on Snickers bars and Coke. Dave and Shauna discovered this when, after noticing the sails sitting untended to on the deck of his boat with no one in sight for 3 days, they got concerned and went over to check it out. In response to their calls, he emerged looking very gaunt and very appreciative of the leftovers that Shauna brought over!

This morning Dallas and I set off with Dave of Dragon to climb the volcanic peaks of Bora Bora, with the highest point at 2,385 feet. Dallas set a pretty quick pace, and it was not long before I was panting from the exertion and the altitude. Fortunately my lungs seemed to adapt as we pressed on, and it was not long before we arrived at the really steep sections toward the top that required you to use ropes to pull yourself up. It was about this time that we met some American cruisers who were on their way down who explained to us why it was not possible for them to make it to the top. We sympathized, but as Dave noted, this also posed a challenge for us. Suffice it to say that 2.5 hours after we set off, we arrived at the summit of the mountain to see an absolutely breathtaking view of the surrounding lagoon with its many, many shades of blue. What’s more, the atmosphere seemed to have put us all in a pensive mood, as we had an uncommonly good conversation with Dave, an articulate and insightful former labor attorney, about relationships, money, happiness, and all that good stuff over lunch.

DSC_0736 View from the top of the mountain

DSC_0743 Clouds rolling in


Dave was an ideal hiking companion

The hike down the mountain was almost as challenging as the way up. It was muddy and slippery in many places, and at the pace we were going, I had to concentrate on where to put my hands and feet next to avoid sliding. Sometimes slip-sliding was unavoidable, in which case there was only one thing to do–drop down onto my bum. By the end of the hike, we were beyond dirty, but I am pleased to report that the Yacht Club’s lone shower (unisex once again) is “divine”, to borrow one of Shauna’s trademark words. That’s right, we’ve had two real showers in three days! We’d better not get to used to it, though, as we don’t expect to see another until New Zealand.

Though exhausted, we are pretty jazzed about the mountain climbing. Dallas even said that he would like to do it again tomorrow! Fortunately for my aching body, we have other things on the agenda such as visiting the gendarme and the bank to get our bond back from the French Polynesian government. With any luck, that will go smoothly and we can bike or dive in the afternoon. There’s quite a bit to do here in paradise.