Sunday, September 11, 2016

Out and About in Maupiti

We have been having a wonderful time here in Maupiti.  We are anchored with our friends from Fata Morgana, Moby and Excalibur.  Getting baguettes here requires a very early morning trip to the town bakery, so the advantage of being with other boats is that each boat takes a turn to get the baguettes for all the boats, and delivers them to the boat!  When it was our turn, Dave put his alarm clock on (for 6:00am) so he would be up in time!!  We haven't done that since we left!  Just setting it the night before brought back memories of our "working days"!   
Baguette delivery - cruising style!  Ivo from Fata Morgana delivering our baguettes one morning.
On one of the mornings we all agreed to meet at the dinghy dock at 8:00am, so we could climb Mount Tiriano, the highest peak here on Maupiti.  There were 6 adults and 6 kids and it was quite a climb!  The kids all did a great job, even climbing some rock faces using the ropes provided!

5 of the 6 kids getting ready to climb the mountain:  Victor (12) from Moby, Gaby, Arthur (8; Moby), Benjamin and Maya (12; Fata Morgana).  Missing from this picture is little Anna, all of 4 years old, also from Moby.
The reward when we finally reached the top (about 1,100ft up), was the most spectacular views we've ever seen!    

The spectacular view of Passe Onoiau from the top of Mt Tiriano

Cool Runnings crew at the top of Mt. Tiriano - 1,100 ft up!

The 3 boat families (Moby, Fata Morgana and Cool Runnings) at the top of Mt. Tiriano
We love this picture of Gaby with the view reflected in her glasses!

We had 360 degree views of the island, and I wish I could post all the pictures I took!  This one shows the anchorage.   Cool Runnings is second from the right.

Beautiful Maupiti anchorage
Getting down was almost as difficult as getting up!  (Although it did seem to go a lot faster!!).  We counted this as Benjamin and Gaby's PE lesson...for the week!

Gaby on the way down using the ropes provided

Ben descending the mountain
The next day we took our bikes and circumnavigated the island by land.  Most of the these islands have a ring road that runs all the way around, and other than one hill we had to climb, it was a nice, flat ride, and a wonderful way to see the town, the people and the beauty of the island from the land instead of the water for a change.

We came across this incredible wall made almost entirely of coral and shells.  It was a cemetery, but it was locked when we cycled past.  It did have 2 cute dogs that squeezed in and out of a gap in the gate, and we named them the Guardians of the Gate!

Gaby with the Guardians of the Gate

A close up of the design of the coral and shell wall

On we went around the island, taking in beautiful view after beautiful view.

Ben stops to smile for the camera

Gaby, Ben and Dave take a rest at the top of the hill before the easy free wheel down!

The Cool Runnings bike gang (minus one member!)

At the beach!

Circumnavigating the island by bike
We will now move the boat to a different anchorage, where we hope to snorkel with Manta Rays in the morning.  We can't pick up internet there, so this is our last chance to post, google and email!  We won't have internet for a while after this, so any blog updates may be from our iridium satellite until we reach a destination that allows us to pick up some WiFi again (likely Cook Islands)!

In the next couple of days we will sail about 100 miles to the last of the Society Islands, Mopelia.  This is one of the most remote islands we'll visit.  There are only a couple of people living there, and the only contact they have with the outside world are cruisers, and a supply ship that comes twice A YEAR! We look forward to visiting the last of the Societies.  

Leaving the Society Islands marks a new chapter in our journey as we make our way across the Pacific towards New Zealand via Tonga, stopping in the Cook Islands, Palmerston Atoll and Niue along the way.  We will leave behind these beautiful islands, but take with us countless wonderful memories of the time spent here. In addition, we have met some wonderful new boat friends that have kids aboard, and are on the same journey and quest as us. We have so enjoyed the continuing ever slower pace, and that, together with having the boat back to ourselves, has completely recharged our batteries.

Au Revoir and merci, Îles de la Société!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Farewell to Beautiful Bora Bora

Aerial view of Bora Bora
As Dave mentioned in our previous post, we reluctantly left Bora Bora yesterday.  We had been in Bora Bora for just over 2 weeks, and could see why other cruisers have said they spend a whole month there.  It is absolutely beautiful!  We had read that Bora Bora had lost its charm, and was completely over developed, and some cruisers we had spoken to had said they were going to skip it all together.  Well, we certainly couldn't do that, and we are so glad we didn't!!  After having explored the whole island, both from the water and the land, both Dave and I agree that it was one the most beautiful of all the islands we've visited so far, (however, this may now slip into second place, now that we are in Maupiti!).  Yes, there are hotels and resorts, but there are also plenty of secluded anchorages where you can be by yourself and not even have another boat as a neighbour!  So to us, it was the best of both worlds:  development if and when we needed/wanted it; and seclusion and beauty when that was what we were looking for.  And the shades of turquoise water here in many different anchorages far superseded any we'd seen to date.

This picture of  one of our anchorages was taken by drone flown by Loic on Moby.  Cool Runnings is behind on the left, in front of us is Fata Morgana, Moby is the next catamaran along, and Excalibur is the monohull furthest away

We spent the first week anchored in various places along the north, east, and south east part of the island, usually in about 5 feet of crystal clear water, at times between the St. Regis and 4 Seasons over-the-water bungalow resort, another time off a beach, another time behind a motu at South East corner, snaking our way through a narrow channel in the coral, to get there.  From all of these places we had a magnificent view of Mt. Otemanu, the iconic peak that is synonymous with Bora Bora.

Another drone shot of Bora Bora - you can see some of the resorts with their bungalows on the right side of the picture

 Ben at our anchorage at the south east corner behind the Sofitel private island

Our days were spent doing school in the mornings, spending time researching our next destinations, swimming, snorkeling and simply relaxing.  One day we went to snorkel with the Manta Rays and were extremely lucky to see 5 of these magnificent, gentle giants!  (Dave has posted a short video on this as well).
One of the beautiful Mantas

A little harder to see, but this guy was coming towards us

Some of the beautiful scenery BELOW the water!

Ben and Gaby snorkeling

This is what they were looking at!

On Tuesday of our second week we headed over to the main town, Vaitape, to go and check it out.  The village itself is somewhat quaint, but not really what I would have expected with Bora Bora being such a jet-set destination.  On the other hand, it is nice that it has remained just that:  a simple little village.  On Wednesday we rented a car and toured the island, which is really quite small.  You can drive around it in about an hour if you don't stop.

Bora Bora was the first island created after Raiatea, and it is believed that it has been inhabited since the year 900.  There are many "marae" ruins (such as the ones we saw on Raiatea) which can be found on the island.  The inhabitants of Bora Bora were fierce warriors who often raided Maupiti (our next stop), Tahaa and Raiatea.

Captain James Cook visited Bora Bora in 1769 and 1777 and in 1896 the island was annexed by France.  In February of 1942, the Americans set a refueling and regrouping base on Bora Bora, and their influence can still be felt today.  It was the Americans that built the road around the island, as well as the airfield that is still present on Motu Mute today.  (The airport is on an island (motu), and the only way to get there is by boat - go're in Bora Bora!).  By June 1946 the base was closed and the American soldiers left the island.  There are still 8 huge naval guns on the island that were placed here to defend the island against a surprise Japanese attack that never happened.

One of the huge guns still on the island
This shows the whole gun and the bunker in the background
The view from where the guns were located

With our tour of the island under our belts, and another history lesson on the books, we retreated back to the boat.  We also checked out the anchorages on the west side of the island, behind the motu "Topua".  There we found good shelter from the strong winds that had been blowing the last week or so.  We also checked out, and received our international clearance papers from Papeete.

While we were waiting, we were anchored with 4 of our "kid boat friends":  Invictus, Excalibur, Moby (whom we had met in Rangiroa), and Fata Morgana - a new family that Invictus introduced us to.  They have a daughter, Maya, who is 12, so Benjamin and Gaby have a new friend, who speaks English (!!) and they get on famously!  The one night we had a bonfire on the beach:  5 boats:  12 adults (Invictus has friends with them), and 12 kids!  It was awesome, and if I had had an SD card in my camera, I would be able to post the photos I thought I was taking!! (Dave posted a short video of the bonfire in a previous post below).

Dave also got a chance to windsurf after all these years, borrowing a windsurfer from Nicolas from Excalibur.  Excalibur and Moby both had windsurfers and smaller sails for the kids, so one day we had a "kids windsurfing session", which started off great, but then the wind died, unfortunately.  However, it turned into another social event with the adults having drinks on the beach, while the kids just played in the water!  The kids have also been having fun being towed behind the dinghy in our "raft".
Dave windsurfing

It's been 20 years since he last windsurfed - apparently it's like riding a bike!!

More water fun - Dave and Gaby in the dinghy, pulling Ben and their new friend Maya from Fata Morgana

Ben and Maya having fun!

The next morning (yesterday) dawned with the good weather window we had been waiting for, and we took the chance and headed over here to beautiful Maupiti.  We plan to explore this island, and hopefully one more (Mopelia) before leaving the Society Islands behind us.  With fairly decent internet here, I should be able to post some pictures and report on our time here in Maupiti.  One more boat joined us this morning (Excalibur), so now we have 4 of the 5 boat friends that were together in Bora Bora here with us in Maupiti!

Lastly, thanks as always for all the blog comments and emails from everyone with news and good wishes on our journey. We love reading them all!!!! "Maruru"....Polynesian for "thank you"!

Sunset over Bora Bora - Farewell!

Hi from Maupiti

Hi all...just a quick note to say we finally reluctantly left Bora Bora today and sailed over to Maupiti. What an absolutely beautiful place BB was.....but the little we have seen of Maupiti this afternoon indicates this may be even better. It's supposed to be a small Bora Bora, but undeveloped and how Bora Bora was 60 years ago.

We had been waiting for a good weather window to sail over and get through its potentially dangerous pass and got a break today so headed out at 9am. We arrived here at around 2pm and seas and wind were nice....We flew just the spinnaker the whole way. Two of our new boat buddies with kids we had been hanging with (Moby and Fata Morgana) also decided to come today so  the kids have their friends. They both have catamarans (51ft and 38ft respectively). We are all about to go for drinks and pot luck dinner on Fata Morgana so this is just a quick update.

With the 3 of us coming in today, we effectively doubled the boat population here from 3 to 6!  A nice change from our last anchorage in Bora Bora, where we counted 20 boats yesterday!

Our plan is to stay here for a few days or week...or more and start watching for weather windows for the next few legs. We have roughly another 3,000 miles to cover to get to NZL by December so have much fun and adventures lying ahead of us :)

All the best to all following our progress and especially all our love to our families back home!!!!
Kind regards Dave, Guds, Ben and Gaby.

Entering the pass at Maupiti

Starboard side of the pass with lookout!