August 2, 2008 Saturday
“The spectacular volcanic peaks surrounded by an extensive lagoon of varied hues of blue make this one of the world’s most beautiful islands.” That is the opening sentence of Charlie’s Charts of Polynesia, the primary sailing guide for
Bora. We have now spent a
full week anchored in the same spot – Baie de Povai near Bloody Mary’s
restaurant & bar – so we have seen only the western side of Bora Bora.
Supposedly the shallow eastern side is gorgeous with its light blues and
greens of the shallow water. The western
side is deep and just looks like dark blue water around a small mountainous
island. We are not overly impressed so
far but will withhold judgment until we have an opportunity to see the other
Winds have been pretty consistent 20 knots with occasional gusts to 30 knots for the past 3 days, so we have been confined to the boat and are getting bored. We do not want to leave the boat unattended in the high winds. We are anchored in deep water – 66 feet under the keel or 79 feet from the bow deck. That means we should have out 553 feet of anchor chain in order to have the preferred scope of 7 to 1. Unfortunately, we do not have near that amount of anchor chain. We have down 309 feet of chain, which is scope of just under 4:1. But the bottom is mud and we seem to be very well hooked. Bill set an anchor alarm on the GPS and we tracked our swinging for 24 hours, and our anchor is definitely well-set and not likely to drag. But other boats have dragged anchor so we don’t want to leave the boat unattended until the winds die down, which is predicted to happen in another 3 days. We will be good and sick of sitting on this boat by then.
Hans and Georgie of S/V ARBUTHNOT arrived here the day before the winds kicked up. Hans and Georgie assisted us as line handlers during our
Panama Canal transit. They transited the canal exactly one month
after we did; and they have already caught up with us. They are a young couple and live near Perth on the western coast of . They plan to arrive on the eastern coast and
have their boat trucked across the continent.
They invited us to join them for dinner at Bloody Mary’s. It was a lovely evening; the food was great;
and the company was even better.
Needless to say, the bloody Mary drinks are fabulous (and they cost $18
each!, plus tax and tip). Bill and I definitely want to have dinner there once
more before leaving Australia Bora Bora.
Hans was very creative and constructed bamboo poles to use for downwind sailing here in the Pacific. He got the original bamboo from the jungle in
and his idea worked great but did eventually break. He replaced the original bamboo pole from the
bamboo stands on the hillside of Moorea and plans to use the new pole for the
upcoming passage to Panama . Very creative. And being free makes the idea even
better. Sorry we did no t get a photo to
show how this works. Tonga
Quoting the sailing guide authored by 2 French sailors: “In 1942 the US Army built a big naval base here during the War of the Pacific against
(1941-1945). I find that truly insulting. This was the Pacific campaign of World War
II. I guess all the other countries that
participated in fighting Japan
don’t warrant a mention by these 2 French sailors. And apparently they believe that only the European
campaigns are considered to be World War II. Japan
The first airport in all of Polynesia was built by the Americans in
Bora in 1942. There is also
a wonderful breakwater and concrete wharf in the main village
of Vaitape which was built by the and is still
in use today. At times during the war
there were as many as 100 transports in the huge deep lagoon on the western
side of US Bora Bora. As there is only one pass for entry and exit,
this very deep lagoon was the perfect protected area for transports and
submarines and ships during the war. A
very strong cable was stretched across Baie de Faanui just inside the pass and
the ships would hook onto this cable rather than anchoring. This would allow faster exit in case of an
attack by the Japanese, which never happened.
Eight 16” Navy guns (think huge cannon) were placed at strategic
locations around the island. Seven of
these guns can still be found in the heavy vegetation on the mountainsides, but
all but one are located on what is now private land of luxury resorts and
cannot be visited unless you are a guest of the resort.
The circumference of the main
island of Bora Bora is only 32 kilometers, not including the
lagoon and the many outer motus or smaller long islands that surround Bora Bora. Like
most of the other islands in French Polynesia,
there is only one road and it encircles the island edge at sea level. The road around Bora
Bora was also constructed by the US Army during WWII and is still
in use today. We have been surprised by
the constant automobile traffic on the circle road, both day and night. Can’t imagine why there is so much auto
traffic all night when the restaurants close by 9 p.m. and this is not a bar
town. The total population here is only
around 8,000 people. Bora
Bora is quite the tourist destination, especially for
honeymoons. Luxury resorts are scattered
all around the main island and there are many private motus. But it is not a party place and the only bars
appear to be those located in the resorts, plus the obligatory bar inside each
restaurant where one is directed to wait an hour for seating to dine, even when
the dining room is completely empty.
Every tourist activity imaginable on an island can be found in
– outrigger tours around the island, helicopter rides, parasailing, surfing,
you-name-it. All for a “nice”
price. We visited the tourist center one
day and learned that a 15-minute helicopter ride costs 18,000 CFP per person,
or around $250 each. That is a bit
ridiculous for only 15 minutes. We
decided to skip it. I wanted to see one
of the Polynesian dance performances at one of the resort restaurants. There is a dinner and dance performance at
one of the many resorts on every night of the week except Sundays. They usually cost around $150 per person and
that was something I wanted to do while here.
But after sitting here for a week I have lost interest. Figure it would not be any better than the
Polynesian dance performances at the old Mai Kai restaurant that we frequented
in Ft. Lauderdale 35 years ago. So we
probably will skip that also.