Monday, June 27, 2011

South Pacific Expedition - Bora Bora and Maupiti

At the helm going through the pass to Bora Bora
After saying goodbye to Ta'haa and Raiatea, we set sail for Bora Bora about 30 miles to the west.  As it seemed with all of the islands, either Annika or I tended to be scheduled on the helm while we were pulling into a pass.  For Bora Bora, it was my turn.  With 25 knot winds and a coral reef 20 feet abeam on both sides, I was steady and focused.  As we pulled through the pass, we furled in the headsail but still had the main up with the first reef.  As we reached the turn for the anchorage (to starboard), we still had to drop the main and so we headed to port into the wind, minding the shallows about 10 feet off our port bow.  With a great crew who were fast on the sail ties, it was quick and we headed back to the channel and our protected anchorage.

Laura Dekker & Guppy
The next day, The crew went into town for lunch and exploring.  Baxter and I had a tuna burger at a lunch shack run by a Mahu.  We made our way down to Bora Bora Yacht Club where we talked to the couple cruising aboard S/V Tomboy and had the privilege of meeting and having a coke with Laura Dekker.  From there we had heard there were U.S. cannons from WWII at the top of the hills facing the pass.  Baxter and I set out to explore the hills and see what we could find.  With our broken french, we spoke to at least 5 different people and walked back and forth past the turn until we discovered "you go to the row of banana trees" and turn right.  No signs, no markers, just banana trees - how could we miss it?  The cannons were very cool and we couldn't help but think if you were enlisted in WWII, this would not be a shabby assignment.
U.S. WWII cannons aimed at the pass

We rejoined the crew, John picked us up in the dinghy and we all made it back to the boat.  Shortly after, we did MOB (man overboard drills) but with the gusty winds and the choppiness of the harbor, I was the only one to give it a go.  We anchored in front of Bloody Mary's and the crew got ready for drinks and dinner.  I don't typically like touristy restaurants, but its just one of those places that if you're going to be on Bora Bora, you should partake.

Bloody Mary's
During the night, the winds rose to over 30 knots and we were on a questionable mooring, so we didn't get much sleep.  The next morning we had double braid and three-strand splicing class, and then made our way back to town briefly before setting sail for Maupiti.  The pass in Maupiti was more narrow and there were swells breaking close to the pass, so John himself took the helm.  We anchored close to the outer motu and did some practice untying a rope wrapped around the propeller.  Sounds easier than it is. One person would wrap the rope around the prop and then the next would unwrap it.  Holding your breath and watching for sharks 8 feet under can be intimidating - try it on the bottom of a pool sometime.

Maupiti Pass
After going for a swim, a squall moved in and we went down below for lunch.  Then off to anchor near town (I was at the helm navigating through the shallow and narrow channel, a-gain) and Amanda held rigging and rigging spares class.  For those not familiar - there are two kinds of rigging, standing and running.  Standing rigging are the wires and cables that keep the mast up and hold the sails.  A sailboat is not a sailboat without the standing rigging.  The running rigging is the lines (can't call them ropes) that trim/ease the sails, raise/drop the sails, or hitches "things" together.  Knowing every detail about all of your rigging is essential in case something fails while you're at sea.

Up to this point in the expedition, I was having an allergic reaction to something on the boat which made my eyes red, itchy and swollen.  Since I have had allergies on and off again throughout my life, I assumed it was probably some sort of tropical citrus that I was eating.  I stopped eating all fruits and vegetables which was a bummer because they were so ripe and tasty.  I also loaded up on Benadryl, which didn't do anything, and some cortisone that Annika (who is an ER nurse) brought.  That did the trick and the redness and swelling was gone - for about two days.  Once we got to Maupiti, my eyes were itching and swollen again and they wouldn't stop weeping.  I continued with eye drops and benedryl - anything that would make it go away, but nothing seemed to work.  Being in the middle of the ocean, there weren't a lot of options, so I just had to hang tough.

The next day Amanda gave us a tutorial on the Sailrite sewing machine and the best way to repair sails.  She also showed us how to make our own stow bags, which had my wheels turning about the endless possibilities of things you can make - I am so excited about getting a new sewing machine!  Class continued with classes about diesel engines, storm tactics, and communications.  Later that day, we anchored again by the outer motu and swam ahore (about 3/4 mile each way).  Baxter and I were lucky enough to spot four leopard rays swimming in the sand.  They were so playful with each other - they almost looked like puppies crawling on each other and snuggling.

Soon after, we charted our course and set sail for Mopelia.  We were fortunate enough to have the wind at our back and we set the sails to wing on wing with the pole out on the head sail.  I think while Annika was at the helm, she saw 8.6 knots.

Navigating to Mopelia

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