Tag Archives: Moorea

Moorea

What a beautiful place! With little wind we motor sailed around to the N side of Moorea and went in to Cooks Bay and anchored well up the bay at 17 30.271S 149 49.224W in 40’ of water. Ironically the good Capt Cook didn’t actually use this anchorage but I think he would be pleased as it is beautiful.

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We only stayed for a night as whilst the anchorage was deep and safe with a good mud base, the bay was brown with the run off following some heavy rain. We left Phylis and headed around to the far prettier anchorage behind the reef at Opunohu Bay, two miles W of Cooks Bay.

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And what an anchorage! We joined about a dozen other yachts anchored in 12’ on white sand 100m behind the reef at 17 28.976S 149 48.737W. We finally got to meet Avatar and Jacaranda, names I’d been hearing on the SSB net for more than a year. And within a day or so, we met up again with Emma Louise and then Reao as they arrived in as well.   Moorea is a popular stop and not just for the cruiser fleet. We had a succession of superyachts and cruise liners in. I think that Wind Spirit is the prettiest of them. It does have sails and will even occasionally run them out.

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We had some more rain. Lots of it. With torrential rain we had the advantage of free showers and the waterfalls on the cliffs above us sprang into life and looked great for a day or so. As the anchorage at Opunohu Bay is right at the edge of the reef we weren’t bothered by run off and we kept our clean white sand surround throughout. MooreaMoorea

With the wild weather came glorious sunsets. My thanks to Sheryl on Emma Louise for one of the best we have ever had taken of Skylark. I’m pretty sure she is taking a picture of me taking a picture of the paddler!

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The kids played with a new toy – a big drag ring that Mary Ann II passed on to us after it failed to help Julia in her search for an easy way to get in to the dinghy. It is greatly appreciated and is being well used and abused.

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And then, joy! A kids boat! Lou had put where we were up on the Kids4sail Facebook page and a CA boat, Stop Work Order, had followed through and came to meet up. The whole family was a delight. Truly and Hannah hit it off and Eleanor and Cameron hung out too. I think big sister, Ciara, enjoyed a bit of peace from the smalls too but did come across for the sleepover we had when Pat and Corise headed ashore to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. One morning, Truly came to do school with us. Most afternoons were spent exploring the local area and throwing themselves in off one of the boats.

Eleanor and I had gone to ask Top Dive about diving with them and for refilling our bottles. $85 a single dive and $30 for a refill is the highest we have encountered anywhere, Pacific or Caribbean. We left in the huff. However, we found out that Pat and Corice dive and in Cameron, we found another junior diver. We managed to get one dive in on the outside of the reef and Pat was kind enough to refill our bottles. The dive sight we choose was 400m to the E of the Opunohu Bay entrance (look for a string of white buoys placed out by the dive boats). We dropped in with a fair amount of surge and enjoyed rolling over the banks of coral running out as spines from the reef. We were a little surprised by a big Silvertip coming to have a look at us. 10’ of shark which the book says is in the “dangerous” category always looks big close up!

We also did some snorkelling. When the missionaries got their teeth into the locals, tiki, the revered carved in stone representations of their ancestors overnight became “heathen idols”. Rather than just destroy them, some of the locals rebelled and moved three huge tiki out to the edge of the reef where they remain. In just ten feet of water, they are in great condition. Find them at  a white ball near 17 29.224S 149 52.735W. Swim N towards the reef. They are within 30m.

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Just 400m W of the Intercontinental Hotel is a sandbank on the edge of the inside channel where rays and sharks have become used to tourists feeding them at 0830hrs each morning. It was a long dinghy ride around but so worth it. We had lots of over friendly Stingrays mobbing us and the Black Tip Reef sharks cruised around us without ever getting too close. It was marvellous. Whilst we didn’t have the chunks of fresh tuna that Plastik Plankton suggested were favourites, the tinned stuff we had seemed to go down pretty well too. Word of advice  – if you don’t want to be jumped by Stingrays stay horizontal in the water. As soon as you go upright, they crawl all over you!

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We had one major expedition towards the Belvedere view point, a high point between Cooks and Opunohu bays. We didn’t quite make it but got some great views on the way and courtesy of the café at the Agricultural Research Station, some of the best vanilla ice-cream ever. A mistake in route selection on the way down turned out to be a fortunate one as we found a river with good pools to jump in to to cool off.

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I stayed behind to help Craig and Steve track down the problem with Craig’s engine which had suddenly just decided to stop working. It took several hours to track down a split pipe, very slowly leaking  in a difficult to see spot, letting air into the system. Once we found the leak it was quickly fixed. We celebrated with a spot of lunch at the nearby Hilton.

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We said our goodbyes as we choose to move before a new system bringing wind from N arrived, exactly where we wouldn’t want it from for the overnight passage up to Huahine. There were tears when we said goodbye to Stop Work Order as they are heading back to Tahiti to pick up some parts but we hope that our routes will intertwine again sooner rather than later.

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Moorea is spectacular. If I was to describe the views in the bay then I’d say think Fatu Hiva and the Bay of Virgins and think BIGGER! We enjoyed being back on a white sand anchorage after the deep Rangiroa and the not so clean Tahiti. It is just a joy walking off the back of the boat into warm clear water. And a pleasure to be back into a cruising community again – we have missed it. We are looking forward to being around a lot more boats this year as we travel continue our travels W.

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Rangiroa

Rangiroa was to be our last atoll in the Tuamotus. I’d love to have spent more time exploring more of this huge group but it would take years to do so properly. Next time with a compressor onboard……

One problem that I encountered when renewing my nav info for the year was that the wonderful Tuamotus Tidal Guestimator had not been updated in the Soggy Paws website. This was a bit of a blow. I managed to download the NOAA info on Rangiroa tides and then cross checked it against the WXTide32 programme I had and found that the two didn’t correlate. Typical.

We arrived at the pass of Rangiroa I thought about on time to find a great big dive ship waiting on the outside with the tide still howling out and big standing waves evident at least half a mile from the pass. I had a chat with the Captain who agreed with my data, added another reference which appeared to be as equally wrong. We agreed we would be waiting a while to get in. Remember my post on “The Vagaries of Tuamotus Tides” ?? It applied! After over an hour hanging around, a dive school rib came over and the local suggested we would be able sneak in if we stayed close in to the E side of the pass. Punching about 5knts of tide, thankfully in flat water out of the race, we were able to do so. The dive ship waited another 45mins before the actual slack.

The bay at Rangiroa was empty other than our old friend Soren of Taranga who had arrived a week before to do some diving with his new crew,Magnus, Fleming and Nico, a good bunch. We picked up one of the free moorings @ 14 58.930S 147 38.106W provided by the town just off one of the posh hotels. We quickly moved to another buoy 300m W in deeper water as the original, very close to shore was too sheltered from the winds and we weren’t getting power. We dove on the new one and found it to be heavy and in good order.

It was just as well that we did move. A couple of days into our stay we had a localised gale which roared in on us out of the W with no warning and nothing in the forecast. 30+ miles of fetch and 35+kts of wind gave us a short, very nasty sea and both Taranga and ourselves were thrown around  violently. Our dinghy, down but padlocked on, snapped its security cable and I was required to get the canoe down, quickly surf down to the dinghy and stop it before it hit shore. Not much fun at all in the dark but we were lucky we felt the cable snap and were able to save the dinghy and engine from being smashed up. The gale blew itself out by the morning but the weather wasn’t settled Trades. The sky, at times, could only be described as steel in colour.

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Eleanor and myself found a handy dive shop to fill our bottles and the Aquarium, a dive area inside the Tiputa pass, unaffected by the current which had a maximum depth of around 15m. We managed to get six dives in, gradually spending longer underwater as Eleanor’s confidence, buoyancy technique and stamina improved. A highlight would be the huge Moray eel that came out and nuzzled the camera, hoping it was food.

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I also did a dive on the pass with the Taranga crowd. A little different to anywhere else I had been, you drop into the blue and descend to around 35m and hang 30-50m off the bottom, waiting to see what appears. We got a glimpse of a Great Hammerhead, solitary and huge, well below us on the floor and then were surprised when half a dozen Scallop Hammerhead appeared in full hunting order. When you can see the eye stalks you know they are a little close.

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They charged in at us fast, thankfully realised we weren’t for eating and quickly turned away in search of better prey. Watching a full size Manta ray swim over me as we did our 5m safety stop at the end of the dive was magical.

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Life around the anchorage once the weather settled, was pleasant. We became a roosting place for Sooty Terns and we watched the local kids practise on the big 6 mans canoes around us. There was a pretty good supermarket a 10min walk up the road where we could get bread at 0830hrs every morning and we got together with the Taranga crowd most days. We even ended up in the big hotel enjoying G&Ts at the beach front bar, eating a drizzle cake that the girls had made to celebrate Nico’s birthday. The only trouble with Rangiroa is it is too big and spread out. It certainly felt the most touristy of all the atolls we have visited. If we had more time and had explored away from the passes (and therefore the tourists), perhaps I would feel differently but other than the pass diving, I could enjoy everything here at any of the other smaller atolls.

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We made friends with the owner of the cafe/bar/restaurant at the pier that provides pretty good free internet for paying customers. Lily is a character. A widow, her husband a French soldier killed in Afghanistan, she set up the place on her husband’s island rather than go to her home, Madagascar where they had met. She was a cheerful flirt and buzz-ball of energy and their son is in the same mould. Toue, Etan, his best friend and Hannah quickly came thick as thieves and had a great time. Hannah handled herself with aplomb whenever they said goodbye, done in strictly French fashion, in which Toue was very enthusiastic in doing! 

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Lou was very keen in moving on to catch the boat kids we had seen in the Marina at Tahiti. We said our goodbyes again to Soren and wish him luck in his next endeavour somewhere as yet unspecified in the Far East with the liveaboard dive boat he and his friends are planning. We will stay in touch and I hope to dive with him again one day.

Seeing no great change in the outlook but suspicious of the inaccuracy of forecasts in what we had experienced the previous week, we left to a forecast E at 15-20kts for the 210mile reach S to Tahiti. Life is never that easy. We came out and immediately hit 25+kts and that didn’t significantly change for the whole trip. With squalls hitting 38kts, lightening storms all around us through the night and an average of 25-28kts, we alternated between 2 and 3 reefs and charged along. Our second to last hour run of 10 Nm as the seas abated in the shadow of Tahiti and we approached the entrance to Papeete Harbour with 3 reefs and a hanky up is our best single hour run ever.  Tahiti was largely hidden in cloud as we approached. Moorea looked magnificent!

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We arrived at last light with the sun setting over Moorea 10Nm to our W. We crawled through the narrow pass by the airport, waiting for clearance to cross the end of the runway, to the mooring ball fields at Marina Taina and tied up.

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The noise and lights of the city of Papeete told a story. Skylark, after looking after us for so long in the boonies, was back in civilisation.