Raiatea to Bora-Bora   September 2009

September 9

South Pacific Ocean:  Wednesday


0700  Dropped mooring, which was in 85‘ of dark water.  I was awake earlier, but waited until there was enough light to see the color of shallower water.

Powered a mile south to a pass I hadn’t used before.  Wide and easy, with a steadily curling wave breaking on the north side.

Once clear I unfurled the jib, cut the engine, and with the tillerpilot steering had a fine beam reach at 6.5 to 7 knots in 14 to 17 knots of wind.

Unlike most of these islands, Bora-Bora has only one pass through its reef, and that is halfway up the west side.  The reef extends a long way off the south end of the island.  In the past I aimed at a point I thought was far enough, invariably found that it wasn’t, and sailed along the reef until I came to the corner.  With GPS I set a waypoint and that was it.

The morning steadily brightened.

Two of the three most beautiful islands I have ever sailed to are in the Society Islands:  Bora-Bora and Moorea.  The third is Australia’s seldom visited Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea.

They are very different.  Moorea is dark, mysterious, other worldly, with two deep fjord-like coves in the north.  Bora-Bora rises like a castle of light from the sea, and has a lagoon so intense that the undersides of passing clouds become turquoise by reflection.


1145  Entered the pass still undecided as to whether to anchor off the islet of Toofua or take a mooring at the resurrected Bora Bora Yacht Club.  The number of boats off the Yacht Club caused me to go over there to see if I could find one empty.  I need shore access for provisioning, laundry, and dealing with officials, including getting back the $1400 bond I had to post upon arrival in Nuku Hiva.  This is a stupid bit of French bureaucracy that didn’t exist when I first sailed to these islands, and is required to cover the cost of airfare back to the sailor’s home country.  I don’t know anywhere else in the world that has such a rule. 

1200 picked up mooring at Bora-Bora Yacht Club.

The lagoon is much too deep to anchor.  My mooring is in 90’.  And the only other moorings are off a restaurant called Bloody Mary’s. 

The Bora-Bora Yacht Club is not a yacht club with members, but a business.  I was here in 1979 when the first owners were starting up.  In addition to moorings, there is a restaurant, showers, a place that does laundry--at what expense I will find out tomorrow.  Mine has been piling up since Panama.


Five hours.  Twenty-five miles.  Only one more passage to go.