d 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490



4th Report 2005:        

Society Islands

Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora-Bora and Maupity

(July 16 - August 29)

In ending our last report, we had just arrived in the Society Islands and now we are about to leave here again and move on to Tonga via Palmerston and Niue.

After Jonas had left us one early morning in Papeete, we left the busy place in the down town basin and moved a few miles south to a vast anchorage behind the reef, just in front of Marina Taina, where we were able to fill our diesel tanks easily and at duty free prices. At the anchorage we met up with some other boats and stayed for another few days with some nice activities.


We had heard about a possibility to dive with dolphins a few miles further south and set off with Endelig's and our dinghy loaded with the crews of both ships, plus Morten from "Blaatur" (www.blaatur.net) and a lady from another Norwegian ship. 

But the dolphins were rater busy with their own fishing busyness and had no interest to play with us. But while we were looking out for them, a huge whale surfaced just 50 ft from Endelig's dinghy and was coming towards us. 


We were so stunned, that nobody jumped into the water to see him as he gently dove and glided through just below us. A rather poor photo was all we could manage.

On the way back we stopped at the outside edge of the large fringing reef, just where it falls off into an unknown blue depth. The skin diving there was grandiose with some of us and particularly Felix heading down into the deep blue.
All these days at our anchorage in Tahiti we had wonderful sunsets, with the sun disappearing behind the neighbor island of Moorea, our next destination.

So, eventually, after almost two weeks in Tahiti, which is much nicer than its reputation, we set off for the short trip across to Moorea. Moorea has two almost identical, deep, fjord-like bays on its northern side, the first one Cook Bay and the second Opunohu Bay. Each has its own entrance through the reef, big enough to accommodate the big cruise ships.

Upon arrival, we first had a scenic tour through Cooks Bay, and then moved on to a beach behind the reef, right at the entrance to Opunohu Bay.

This was a quite lovely anchorage from where we could explore the surrounding area by dinghy. Or hike up a hill for a magnificent view, like Felix and Flo did together with the girls from Peregrinata.

Across, at the other side of Oponohu Bay is one of those new Hotels, with Bungalows right over the water, usually with glass floors so that one can see the fish and corals. Since the big success of the famous Bora-Bora Hotel, many similar ones have been built throughout the islands. But occupancy didn't seem particularly high at any of them.

One of the nicer side effects for us cruisers, was that the local folks in the tourist busyness, started to feed the sting rays every morning, in order to have a nice attraction.


So, one morning we joined in and were quite impressed by these magnificent animals, that so far we had only come close to a few meters; now they were looking for you, literally climbing up ones legs to se if you had anything good for them.

The next island up the chain from Moorea is Huahine. It is just over 80 miles and so a bit uncertain to make during day light. Most boats leave in the late afternoon and arrive well after sunrise. We originally thought about doing this leg during daylight, but light winds were forecast and so we also went with the night option, leaving Moorea around 6 pm. Well, there was more wind than forecast and we had to reluctantly slow down Taniwani who was happily gliding along at 8 knots. Interestingly slowing down to some 6.5 knots makes the ride less comfortable, since the keel dynamics of the fast moving boat have an enormous stabilizing effect. 


Still we arrived at the well lit eastern pass of Huahine before sunrise and had no difficulties getting in. Then the sun came up behind the outer Motu and we worked our way behind it. With the sun still so low we had to stay in somewhat deeper water, but found a nice place to anchor.

This eastern side of Huahine is not often visited by other yachts and we were alone there. Huahine is actually two islands, that are connected by a small bridge. Deep bays come in from both sides. Depth and clearance at the bridge however are only good for small dinghies and our youngsters went off by dinghy to explore the other side.

Off course there they found their friends on Blaatur, (Morten and Jo of Endelig was temporarily on board), and didn't return for a long while. With friends on the other side of the island we then had to change plans and sail around the northern part to the anchorage at the main village the next morning.

We found the village pleasant and the supermarket the best outside Tahiti. We were invited for an excellent dinner on board of Blaatur: Morten prepared steaks with Roquefort sauce.

Given that Flo had just a good week left, we decided to leave next morning and sail to Raiatea, the next island, together with Blaatur. Flo's flight would be from Raiatea, but we thought we might as well be able to make it to Bora-Bora and back in time, so that Flo could also enjoy Bora-Bora, and we would come back to explore the western side of Huahine later. But when we started to weigh anchor the next morning at 11:30, there was still no life on Blaatur. So we sailed to Raiatea, caught a nice Dorada en-route and entered at the southernmost pass of its east side looking for some place to anchor. 


The sheltered lagoon is quite deep and none of the places we looked at really pleased us. The only nice and interesting place we saw was behind the northern Motu of the middle entrance: A sheltered pool between two reefs and behind the tip of the motu. But swinging room seemed small and there was one boat in there already. If we couldn't use the place, it would get dark before we could find anything else, and navigating the lagoon at dark is quite hard because of all the pearl farms, that are unlit.

Blaatur didn't have any such concerns, they came in late ad didn't hear us on the radio, so Felix and Flo set of with the dinghy to receive them and tell them that we are anchored just across from that nice looking Motu on the mainland side. Blaatur picked them up, towed the dingy and went straight through the dark to this pool and anchored with no problem.

We joined next morning, and given the limited room, tied Taniwani between main anchor and a Palm tree on the motu. This would become our favorite anchorage in the Society Islands - a really lovely place and very well sheltered by all the palm trees.

Now Morten and Jo were invited to Taniwani for dinner and we had the nice Mahi Mahi that we caught the day before.

All the toys like kite and windsurfer were out again and so we spent two nice days in this lovely place before moving on to Bora-Bora.
It was a dark and overcast day, still the mountain ridge of Bora Bora looked impressive and towering once closer.

We joined Wetnose, 3T and Se Fever at their anchorage off the western Motu. A nice place except one cannot really see the magnificent mountains of Bora Bora from there. It didn't matter much, as the next day was a really rainy one, with big squalls coming through. One of them had a lot of wind and a French boat that had "parked" quite close to us had come loose and was about to hit us, when Beate saw this in the last second. We fired up the engine while still anchored and avoided them several times quite close, until they had their anchor out and disappeared.


Our plan for the next day, provided it stopped raining, was to climb the mountain tops of Bora Bora. Eva from 3T wanted to come along and Even would bring us ashore very early in the morning. Us that would be Felix, Flo and Harald. 

When we got started in the morning, we heard from Eva that a number of folks from various Scandinavian yachts wanted to join in and so we waited for the dinghies to arrive one after the other in the little harbor.

So we were around 12 people when we started, but the path was steep and slippery from the previous rain and so it didn't take long and we were back to four: Eva, Felix, Flo and Harald. We enjoyed the crazy path along steep cliffs, sometimes supported by ropes and made it up to both of the accessible peaks where we enjoyed the magnificent view over all of Bora Bora and its lagoon.


The next morning some quick shopping, and then we leave Bora Bora again for Tahaa and Raiatea; Flo's flight is in two days. Now we had to tack against the prevailing wind, but the 30 miles were quickly done and shortly after 2 pm, we dropped the Hook again in the lagoon of Tahaa. The lagoon is quite deep and we had to anchor in 27m of depth. For Felix this was a great opportunity, as he could improve his record depth, skin diving down all the 27 meters.


The next day we cruised back and forth in the lagoon, anchoring at the airport to confirm Flo's flight, then to the main village of Raiatea for some shopping and back to Tahaa again to pick up a mooring for the night at the so called Marina Iti. Marina Iti is not a Marina, but a small hotel with a nice little restaurant, to which we were invited by Flo on his last evening on board.

Back from the restaurant in the dark, we found the strongest phosphorescence of the sea that we had ever seen. So off course everybody had to jump in an draw an illuminated path.

Late next morning we moved to the airport again, where we had a last lunch for Flo, with barbequed sausages. Then, after dropping Flo at the airport, we moved on to the south-eastern pass of Tahaa, from where we could have a quick exit to sail to Huahine next day. The anchorage with lots of coral heads was very nice for snorkeling.

The beautiful bay on Huahine, far down south the western side seemed very popular and has become the place where most boats in Huahine hang out. Here we caught up with Endelig again.

Unfortunately, our biggest trouble maker, the Fischer Panda generator decided to have yet another serious problem. (We had trouble with it on a pretty regular base). This time the diesel engine ran fine, but it delivered no power. It had to be either the capacitors or the windings in the generator itself. Unfortunately the one meter that can measure capacitance had fallen over board in the San Blas islands and its replacement only worked for two days and was on its way home with Jonas. The simple test showed that they had capacity, just not clear how much. The two windings on the other hand, that should be symmetric according to the manual showed substantially different resistance. So the worst had to be assumed: A short in a winding.

It was a big job lifting the generator from its base and removing the stator block. Fischer Panda was not at all cooperative in providing exact winding specs, so it had to be reverse engineered. The result was luckily that the windings are genuinely asymmetric and not defect. At that point we made a small arrangement to measure capacitance with the scope and found that all four capacitors that provide for exciting the generator had at best 10% capacity left. So with one spare capacitor on board and loaning one from the dive compressor and two more from the boost circuitry, we got it going again at about 75% of its nominal power.

For the case of generator failure we have a big alternator on the main engine as a backup, and with our big 3.5kW inverter we can also run all our appliances like washing machine, without generator, but we didn't want to go on all the way to New Zealand without a back-up. So we were really glad we could get this thing going again. Markus is bringing new capacitors and several other parts that failed to Tonga and so we should soon be back to full operational status.

For Harald though this exercise meant spending the better part of two long days wrestling with this monster, only shortly interrupted when we moved the short distance from the bay in the south up to a lovely sand beach, towing Felix behind the boat and powering Taniwani to 9 knots, its maximum speed under engine.


The next morning we were to enjoy a rather interesting show: Already the previous day we were wondering why this little beach was so well maintained and clear of any garbage or washed ashore wood, and we saw an brushing the sand about twice a day. He then came out to tell us that we were very welcome on the beach, but that we should not make a fire there. He also mentioned that a cruise ship would be coming late in the evening and leave again next afternoon. We off course had no perception of what this may mean.


So, early in the morning we swam ashore hoping to still have the beach for us alone. And so we did, but maybe for just ten minutes. Then the crew of the little cruise ship (26 crew - 30 passengers) arrived in two tenders, loaded with tables, chairs, lounges, cookers; you name it. They started to set up tables and chairs for breakfast in about a foot deep water. Deck chairs on the sand, a massage table and a full size buffet. It was fascinating to watch these preparations and it all seemed like from another world.

From this little beach it is just a short distance to the main village on Huahine called Fare. A quite good supermarket, some fresh fruits and vegetables sold right on the main street and an Internet Cafe was what we were looking for. We found all we needed and were off again two hours later, headed for Raiatea. Now that we knew the most likely nicest anchorage in the Society Islands we headed straight for it and tied up to the same palm tree as before. Endelig joined us the next morning and we had several nice days in paradise. 




Activities included playing with all the toys, like the windsurfer, or to go diving and bring the obvious ingredient of octopus salad. In the barbeque on the nice little beach or Canasta competition between the boats.


Reluctantly we eventually moved on, first to the main village for some shopping and with some hope to possibly find capacitors for our generator. But it was a holiday and most stores were closed. So on we went to the pretty island of Tahaa, just a few miles north of Raiatea and surrounded by a joint reef. Tahaa has lush green hills and a lot of agriculture; the later is more inland so the view from the sea is unspoiled. We went into a fjord like deep bay on Tahaa's east side, where we anchored together with Endelig.



Next morning we hiked up the hill and right across the island to its northern side. A beautiful walk with great views. Once on the other side we felt a bit tired and tried to hitch a ride back to our bay. That off course is a long way by road, which follows the shoreline of Tahaa. We thought that hitching a few rides may well get us there. But the first car that stopped, a pick-up truck owned by a young family with a nice baby, felt they wanted to bring us right to our bay. Again and again we found the Polynesian people to be so generous and welcoming.







Back to our boats, we just did the journey again and sailed our boats to the northern end of Tahaa, well in time to enjoy a magnificent sunset behind Bora Bora.


We had another shopping attempt at the main town of Raiatea. Found no capacitors and completed the rest of the shopping so timely, that we decided to follow Endelig and still cross over to Bora Bora. A light wind passage that needed some help by the engine for last couple of miles. This time we anchored right in front of the original and famous Bora Bora Hotel. A nice anchorage, with just three other boats adn a quite nice view onto the peaks of Bora Bora. Also the snorkeling was very good, with the reef still in tact and full of colorful marine life.


The next day we rounded the main island of Bora Bora and finally anchored in the far southeast behind a large fringing Motu. Getting there isn't quite straight forward and there are two very shallow areas or passes to navigate with great care. We came through fine and the lowest depth we measured was 2.8 meters, (we draw about 2.1m). 

It is nice to see the magnificent mountains of Bora-Bora from so many different angles and the view at our final anchorage was one of the finest.


We spend three days at this place and the 'kids' had a wonderful time playing with al the toys: Felix's windsurfer, Morton's kite, wakeboard, diving and so on. Luckily there was also plenty of wind for some exhilarating rides on windsurfer and kite surfer.

Unfortunately, Felix's days on Taniwani were now nearing their end with less than a week left before his flight home from Maupiti. And so we moved again all around Bora Bora and through the shoal passes back to the anchorage at the hotel. Unfortunately it didn't go that smooth this time: with some traffic coming against us and a moment of not enough attention, we touched ground in one of the passes - luckily with very little damage.








The next day some shopping and clearing out of French Polynesia and we were ready to leave. Felix couldn't resist a second trip up to the mountain tips of Bora Bora, this time together with Jo and Noel. Apparently it was less slippery and the were done in half the time.



It seems that major businesses in Polynesia are typically run by foreigners and it is no different in Bora Bora where some Chinese family dynasty seems to control all important supplies: the big supermarket as well as the gas station, the copy shop and more. So it is no surprise that at the gas station they require a copy of about every conceivable paper if you want duty free fuel, that way generating revenue at the other family shop. Unfortunately for them, Taniwani has its own copier.


Taniwani's fuel was topped up first thing in the morning and then we went off for Maupiti, some 30 miles west of Bora Bora. Maupiti is like a miniature version of Bora Bora, with a small, but mountainous island in the middle surrounded entirely by large reefs and lengthy motus. Only a narrow and winding pass leads in from the south.  This renders the lagoon inaccessible in stronger winds between southeast and southwest.

We arrived with just little wind, but still a strong outflow and the swell breaking left and right of the narrow pass. It probably looks more scary than it is and we passed without problems. But we remained worried that we might be trapped for several days if the wind would change.

Well the wind indeed changed to southeast and picked up to over 20 knots while we were there, but this was fine for Felix to have a last go with the windsurfer until Noel hit a coral head with the fin, taking the windsurfer out of operation for a day.


But there were other nice distractions like diving with the mantas, and some good time ashore. Not only is Maupiti a smaller copy of Bora Bora, it is also barley visited by tourists and prices in restaurants are just a fraction.


So we had some really nice days until Felix had to leave from the picturesque little airport. It was hard for Felix who had now lived on board for over a year and we also felt that some important part in our life on Taniwani was gone.

But life goes on, and the old couple settled into doing things alone. Next morning, it was August 29th, we packed up the dinghy and went out the treacherous pass without problems, setting course for Palmerston, some 600 miles ahead.