Monthly Archives: October 2010

Boo!!!! Bora Bora wrapup

Well gang – it’s Halloween.  I hope your costumes are great, that you get lots of candy or whatever you prefer, and that someone gives you a good friendly fright.  We plan to head back out onto the S Pacific seas today, but first a little recap of the last few days:

 

Friday morning it looked as if the worst of the front had blown through, so we dropped the mooring at the BBYC after breakfast and started motoring around the lagoon for a little sightseeing…

 

First we we went north and then east around the point, venturing into Faanui Bay, and past the Fare Piti Quay.  A local transport ship had just come in and so the process of unloading cargo and small half-containers was underway… The miscellaneous cargo is placed on smaller flat-bottom boats with outboard engines, and from there these smaller barges make their way to the outer Motus, or islands, that make up the part of the protective ring around Bora Bora.  The motus are also where a good percentage of the famous bunglaow hotels are located – Sofitel, Intercontinental, Le Meridien, Hilton, etc.  Other than that, the bay is quiet, quite empty and only a ‘good’ anchorage if you carry lots and lots of chain – it’s mostly 25 to 30 meters deep throughout.

 

Then we continued north up to check out some of the other motus – both Tevairoa (Teveiroa) and Mute, where the airport is located.  The sandbars and reefs in this area are quite extensive, creating gigantic stretches of shallow water, the ones that make up the delightful scenes you’re used to seeing when you take in a photo of Bora Bora.  The airport on Mute was busy, as it probably has been for many many years now.  Today it handles the endless stream of tourist, honeymooners and the like, on their way to the hotels – but originally, the airstrip was built by the US military as part of the Pacific Theater war effort.  It took 4 months to build and the airstrip was opened in April 1943.  The first soldiers and marines arrived here as part of Operation Bob Cat, with an armada of ships that had sailed from Charleston, SC, and arrived here in February 1942.

Me & Tevairoa Motu

Mute Motu and airport…

Motus & Bungalows: that’s Bora Bora.

 

Next we did a 180 and headed south, this time in the direction of Matira, on the south point of the island of Bora Bora, and nearby Motu, Topua.  We went all the way to the point where the now defunct Hotel Bora Bora sits, and thought very seriously about trying to make it through the pass.  Further south, and for those that brave the pass, there is an absolutely delightful anchorage off the beaches of Matira.  The guidebooks say it’s tricky but worth it – however at the time we were there looking at it, the cloud cover was making visibility difficult, and there was  50 meter stretch or so of shallow water and coral heads… Through which I could not see a clear path, however easy or difficult.  We decided not to risk it, not with poor visibility anyway, and turned back.  Lucky for us, there are mooring balls just around the corner at the entrance of Povai Bay… So we grabbed one!

Some of the Bungalows of the Hotel Bora Bora.  I think this place had it’s heyday back in the 80’s, perhaps earlier.  Likely it was one of the first like it in Bora Bora and certainly was “the place” at some point… now it’s abbandoned.  Sad really.  Just like the Club Med on Moorea… old buidlings and ghosts.

 

The moorings actually belong to Bloody Mary’s the famous restaurant.  They’ve got probably four or five moorings here, and a wonderful dock for very easy dinghy access.  The trick of course is that you should (they never said we had to) eat there during your stay on their moorings.  That was fine with us – the water is again too deep to try anchoring with any real confidence, and the northerly system was still blowing through with 15 knots and more, and the occasional rain shower.

Mooring area of Bloody Mary’s in the distance: charter boat on the left, pier with grass roof awning on the pier, right.

 

It was still early, so Lara and I dinghied over to the excellent pier at Bloody Mary’s, made a dinner reservation, and then simply walked down around the peninsula to the Matira area.

Leaving Bloody Mary’s, with pier right in front and Walk On as close as you can get to the pier.  Convenient!

 

What a delightful place.  The cloud cover, more or less without rain, made it difficult to fully appreciate the visual spectacle, but the calm and generally peace of the whole setting told you, every so quietly, that this indeed was a real jewel of a spot, almost a secret in the middle of the big blue Pacific.  The beach is very pleasant and the water placid and clear.  The anchorage is something of a large swimming pool really, with the beach on the northern side and sandbar and reefs on the south (and pretty much every other direction).  The breeze comes through, but natural barriers keep the place almost totally devoid of any kind of waves, even wavelets.  There are about a half a dozen boats here – many appear to be on homemade moorings – and it’s not apparently a cruising fleet.  There are no charter boats and the boats that are here don’t appear to be going anywhere, anytime soon.  Later I would see some up close and in fact most of them are registered in Tahiti…

Lara doesn’t even attempt to hide her disappointment about the weather as we walk down Matira Beach.  🙂

My favorite pouter.

baby cakes.

The road is lined with quaint little houses, a few simple ‘snack bar’ type restaurants and an abunance of flora – fruit trees and coconut palms and hibiscus of I don’t know how many different colors.  Every house seems to have at least 2 dogs – but apparently there aren’t many strays.  The dog population here, as it was on Huahine and Moorea, is thriving, but it would seem that the locals take them all in to one degree or another. We swam and relaxed and read and talked about how much better it would be when the sun was out… We’d have to wait another day for that.

In cloudy weather, use black and white.  After all, it could be worse.

A picture for Bruno & Bia – they’d just come from here (at least I think this is where they styaed) when they made the surprise visit to the Marina Taina in Tahiti…

Dinner at Bloody Mary’s was good, though not excellent and certainly not worth the steep prices – but the atmosphere was charming and the bloody mary’s extremely tasty.  Seems that they get all the honeymooners at some point, and we saw countless young couples with shiny rings.

 

Saturday was the day though.  We did the same program all over again – except this time the sun was shining!  Actually, we dinhied around the point by the Hotel Bora Bora and explored by boat for a while.  After going through by dinghy, I still couldn’t see how I would have been able to get Walk On into that special anchorage, I mean without bumping head with some resident coral.  The secret will remain hidden from me for now, until we can sail back here again one day with even more time on our hands.

 

We swam again, lunched at the charming “Snack Matira” (a place for locals), and then rented a couple of cruiser bicycles to explore further around to the south and east.  On the east side of the island, we got good views of the other Motus, an endless stretch of sandbars, reefs, bungalow hotels (they’re nearly crowding one another now), and the islands of Tahaa an Raiatea in the distance.  It’s a pretty place, no doubt about it.  We got armed with the polarizing lens filter and tried to take some decent pics to share with you.  Here ya go, hope you enjoy:

 

Well, that’s it.  Time to start getting the boat ready for the beat back to Tahiti.  Maybe we’ll stop in Raiatea today. Maybe not.  We’ll see.

Happy Halloween everyone!!!!

mm

 

 

 

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Outta Jail!

Just had a FANTASTIC day in Bora Bora… likely the way you’re supposed to, but even if it wasn’t what some would believe it’s supposed to be, so what, it was the way we wanted it, and it was DUCA (translation in English for family: really really really really really good, without the expletives for emphasis).

Am I a lucky guy, or what?

More pics soon (tonight perhaps).

Tomorrow?  Sailing to Tahiti.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.

MM


House Arrest!

Well, today was a stick around on the boat and do very little day…  There’s a northerly system blowing through and so for 24 hours it’s been rain, gray skies, and 20 knots plus blowing through the area.  It’s not a big deal, as we’re tied up securely to a mooring at the club, but it’s not a great day for exploring either.  Snorkeling?  Nope.  Island tour by scooter? Nope, not in the rain, thanks.  Move anchorages?  No need, it’s blowing everywhere, and gray everywhere too.  In fact, not even the charter boats, certainly on limited time here in paradise, moved from their mooring balls today.  We tidied, relaxed, watched a movie, read, slept, ate, read some more…  Oh, and we finally used the ‘fill the tanks’ system built into our deck!  First time we’ve done that, actually.  We opened the valves last night after a good bit of rain had fallen (to clean the decks), and then waited.  This morning we had more than 500 liters of free water in the tanks.  Very cool indeed.  No hauling jerry cans in the dinghy, no tricky tie ups, no hoses… Just free water.

However, this is as good a time as any to remember some Birthdays!  This week our friends Deborah and Helen are celebrating their b-days, and we wish them the very best, these two special ladies who were also maids of honor at our wedding.  Happy Happy Day ladies!  Hope your hubbies, friends and family made your days special.

The plan?  Well, tomorrow we’ll move down to another anchorage near the south side of the island – just for a change of scenery if nothing else.  It’s a bit of a crux really – we need to head back to Tahiti in the coming days for our work program… And the atypical weather at the moment is perfect for doing that.  But, as you may have picked up already, it’s not ideal for enjoying and exploring Bora Bora the way BB should be… So if we stick around for the better weather, we’ll delay our work program a few days (not a BIG deal, considering the overall scheme of things), but we’ll get to see Bora Bora properly (with mask and snorkel!)… The downside of that is we’ll have a beat against the trades to get back to Tahiti.  Ai ai ai – timing in life is everything, isn’t it?

A few Bora Bora pics… Such as they are. 😦  I know, you’ve been spoiled of late with better pics from Moorea.  At least the rain stopped long enough to get a few shots without risking the camera…

Entrance to the BBYC from the street, complete with Tiki.  The bar (and a lot of other things) are closed because they suffered a Cyclone here last February, so they told us, and lost Bungalows, Docks, all kinds of stuff.  They might be said to be in a rebuilding phase at the moment…

There we are, moored out in the bay.

Bungalows on the Motu (island), across the lagoon.  I’ve no idea which hotel this is.

Nor this one.  But it’s another Motu, another hotel… they’re everywhere.

The famous peaks and spires of Bora Bora?  They’re right there, behind the clouds! What do you mean you can’t see them?

Private parking spaces of the locals.

Fast funky cat ferry zips across the lagoon… swell on the reef in the distance, and dark clouds that had just blown through.

So, that’s it for today I suppose.  Dad, I hope you’re feeling better!

MJM


Moored @ BBYC

Well, at long last, we’re in Bora Bora.  If you’d seen my last apartment back in Rio, back in the day, you might remember a large panoramic framed poster picture of an aerial shot of Bora Bora.  It’s a dream destination for sailors (and honeymooners), a kind of a landmark, or hallmark or watermark, or just a damn “I sailed there-mark”.  I had hoped then, but didn’t know for sure, that I’d ever actually make it here by sailboat… But we have.  🙂

 

We are moored in front of the BBYC, the Bora Bora Yacht Club.  It’s quiet here nowadays, most folks having headed west by now – as they should if their destination is NZ or Australia for the Cyclone season.  There is one mega-yacht tied up at the dock (the only boat I’ve ever seen registered in “Bikini”, an atoll), and one other cruising boat.  The other four boats on moorings are charter boats, two from the Moorings, one from Sunsail, and one from dreamyachtcharters.com (not sure of the syntax on that one).

 

The trip over from Huahine was pretty straightforward and we had no complaints.  The big news of the afternoon and now post-dusk, is the rain rolling through.  There is a norhterly blowing, of all things, bringing not only a change in the trade winds but a good amount of rain and wind at the moment.  I feel bad for the honeymooners stuck in their grand-a-night bungalows.  That is, I feel bad for them in the daylight hours.

 

Lara and I are great, tucked in for the evening indoors, rain pattering outside on the deck.  She’s reading Hemingway, I’m writing this mini blog post.

 

More tomorrow, hopefully with some pics!  Be well gang, and stay dry – it’s raining gateaus (chats) and chiens, or something lie that (I don’t recall where the french dictionary is at the moment).

 


sometime you do what you wanna do….

other times you do what you got to.

We were going to head out early for Bora Bora, but two little incidents at bedtime last night demanded my attention and planning for today…

The first is that the ‘bilge’ area under the engine needs to be pumped, by hand.  That’s because the diaphragm pump we do have doesn’t work, and the shaft seal, which we will be replacing soon, has been dripping more than it should.  More on that some other time.  So I have to break out the little brass hand pump (thanks Brandon for that Christmas gift years ago… this little pump has really had some good mileage).

The second is that the macerator pump apparently died last night when Lara was taking her shower.  I’ve got to take it apart and see what’s what.  Oh well, today is ‘do what you HAVE to’ day and tomorrow will be doing what we want to do… sail about 50 miles or so over to Bora Bora.  But it’s a beautiful day and I am definitely NOT complaining.  Should have these done noon so we can enjoy the rest of the day.

Hope you have a good one!

mm


Huahine Nui today… Bora Bora tomorrow

We ended up staying in Moorea for days and days longer than we planned – but it was great and we needed it.  We left yesterday lunch time and found – oddly – that the wind WASN’T blowing outside the bay… so we motorsailed slowly and easily (testing the new motor, not stressing the rig before I make some repairs).  We had an easy passage over from Moorea to Huahine, about 85 miles or so.  The moon was BIG BRIGHT BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL all night long and the landfall here quite beautiful.  The island is less dramatic, geologically, than Moorea, but still beautiful, with reefs and lagoons and all that… the anchorage here on the sandbar near the old Bala Hai hotel is CROWDED!  We haven’t seen this many boats together (apart from Papeete) in I don’t remember how long.  With the charter boats mixed in with the cruisers, it feels a bit Caribbean…

Anyway, we’re anchored as firmly as you could want, and today we’ll relax on the beach and explore the small town of Fare.  Tomorrow morning an o-dark-thirty departure – we’re headed for Bora Bora.  More news and pics and all that soon.

Kudos to Nik & the gang on Espumeru, and hats off to Tim, Bryant and Friendship for the tow-in.  Really glad the Finns are moored safely after that crazy adventure! More on that soon too.

Ciao – gotta put on some sunblock!

MM

 


101020 Short term plans, from Moorea

Or, if you like, 20.10.2010, or even better… “20102010”  Pretty cool date that: 20 Oct 2010…. Anyway….

 

So guys, we’ve received a few of the proverbial ‘lemons’ and so, as we’re learning to do more and more each time, we’re going to make lemonade!  Actually, the story isn’t at all that bad – it’s just that I like the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” – or even better, “make a caipirinha!”.  🙂

 

We had imagined ourselves already in Tahiti by now, up on the hardstands and in the middle of the shaft seal replacement.  After that, we were to head out again, to the E and NE, and visit the remaining Society Islands.  Places like Raiatea, Bora Bora.. You know, more of those famous idyllic South Pacific landfalls…As it turns out, that will have to wait, for the moment.

 

The shaft seal (PSS Shaft Seal, from PYI Inc., the same guys who sell my MaxProp propeller out of WA, USA) has arrived in Tahiti.  That’s good news, and was a day or so faster than we had anticipated.  On the other hand, we need a place to haul out the boat and finish the work (by ‘finish’ I mean install the shaft seal, and then re-test the engine with the Yanmar folks, in the water and motoring around at various speeds.  I don’t expect any problem with that at all, but I do expect them to come back and complete this ‘in the water’ testing, to fully certify our new engine and engine installation).  The place we’ve planned to haul Walk On, a yard called Technimarine, is apparently full at the moment, quite busy as it were with three huge fishing vessels, occupying the travel lifts and space we would need at the yard.  Ironic really – they have THE largest travel lift I have ever seen (handles 300 tons if I’m not mistaken, not a joke that one), but in terms of acreage, they are actually quite limited for space to put the boats on the hard once they’re out of the water.

 

So, where are the lemons in this recipe?  The yard won’t have room for us until 2 November.  That’s in two weeks…

 

So we’ve decided to be flexible, as cruisers must, and reorganize the details of the next 20 days or so.  We’ll visit the other islands anyway, and then sail back to Tahiti for the job before continuing on (another chapter… Coming soon – keep your eyes peeled for the “long term plans” post).

 

We’ve prepped a little bit today by hauling a bunch of water from the sailing school (Arnaud, the manager, was super cool when we asked if we could get water there) and partially filling our tanks.  Tomorrow morning, early, we’ll head over to the head of Cook’s Bay, here in Moorea (about an hour trip or so), where there is a larger and potentially better-stocked market.  We plan to do a wee bit of provisioning.  It’s not Carrefour, but that’s fine with me – it’s also why I think Moorea is so much more charming than Tahiti, in part.  In mid-afternoon, we should be setting out on a downwind sail to Huahine.  After that, Bora Bora, and after that still, back against the trades to Raiatea.  When we’re close to our haulout date, say Halloween, we’ll start the uphill slog back to Tahiti.  Luckily, it isn’t all that far.

 

Here’s what the map looks like, to give you an idea:

 

 

And so, our plan for the next two weeks is something of a figure 8: Moorea to Huahine, to Bora Bora, to Raiatea, and then back to Tahiti.

 

 

And here is what the Huahine map looks like – including two planned anchorages (at least!).  The first, on the SE coast, I’ve been told is fantastic, and should be a good arrival area on Friday.  The second, near the largest village of the island, Fare, is supposed to be a nice place in general.

 

 

This is what Huahine looks like from the air… Not bad eh?

 

 

So, that’s about it.  We have simply reversed the order and will be visiting these places in the Societies first.. And then head back to Tahiti.  Lemonade indeed!  The best caipirinha I could have imagined.  🙂

 

More soon gang, more soon.

 

M

 

P.S. I’ve pretty much gotten over the cold, and Lara and I are enjoying the second season of Rome at the moment.  🙂

 

P.P.S.  News and updates about Friendship, Erasmus, Espumeru and Larabeck forthcoming…

 


Edu’s dream job, e outras coisas…

Galera, hoje resolvi colocar um pequeno post em Português… Pra nao esquecer!

 

O dia esta lindo, muito lindo.  Como vem acontecendo ultimamente, de manha cedo uma brisa levinha do sul, digamos entre as 5 e as 7.  Depois, calmaria, e ai, entre as 8 e 9 da manha, começa soprar um leste, que seria os alísios.  A ancoragem, que chegou a ter uns 9 barcos por aqui, agora esta ficando vazio… Somos nos, um catamaran, e dois monocascos, e so.  Dessa forma, o banco de areia fica praticamente todo para o Walk On vagar de um lado pra outro lado.  A cena é realmente muito linda, muito tranqüila.  Dando ainda mais cor e diversão no visual é um grupo de Optimists, com crianças pilotando…

 

Aqui na frente da ancoragem, na praia, tem uma escola de vela – ‘L’Ecole de Voile de Moorea’.  Um lugar simples e lindo, na areia mesmo, debaixo de um monte de palmeira altíssima.  Eles tem uma frota de Optimists – os primeiros que ja vi fabricados de alumínio – e uma frota também de Hobie Cats, de todo tipo e tamanho.  O lugar esta sempre bombando, com turmas de 15 ou mais crianças.  Chegam de manha, ficam armando os barquinhos e depois rola um tipo de reunião/aula.  Logo depois, quando a ansiedade deles deve estar no topo (e a brisa leste começa soprar de leve), ai vao pra a água!  As cenas que vimos sao muito engraçadas – as crianças rindo e gritando entre eles, em Francês é claro.  O clube parece ser gerenciado por três pessoas: um casal de Franceses jovem, que mora num dos monocascos aqui na ancoragem, e um outro rapaz, mesmo que nao sei onde ele mora.  Entao numa lancha, um deles segue a turma dos Optimist e numa outra lancha o outro rapaz segue a frota dos Hobie. O lugar é um paraíso mesmo para este tipo de coisa – seja você o professor, seja você o aluno de vela.  Pensei muito no meu amigo Edu, pois ele ficaria bobando certamente com os Optimist de alumínio (lindinhos!).  Mas mais ainda, é ‘tres facil’ imaginar ele como professor  e gerente dessa escolinha – brincando com as crianças, dando aula, e se divertindo com coisa que gosta muito, vela.

 

Edu, essas fotos sao pra você meu velho!

 

Bom, fora isso?  Nao tem muitissimo acontecendo mesmo.  Iamos pra Tahiti hoje, mas resolvi esperar amanha.  Sao dois os motivos.  Primeiro, nao tem vaga ainda no boatyard onde pretendemos subir o barco, o Technimarine.  Outro, estou gripado!  Carramba, nem me lembro da ultima gripe, mas certamente foi no brasil e muito antes do cruising.  Mas quando pegou, pegou bem.  Apos voltar pro barco depois da aventura no dead Club Med, me senti resfriado e logo estava sentindo todas as sintomas… Lara mediu a temperatura e eu tava com 37,5.  Talvez nao altissimo, mas certamente nao divertido… Passei a tarde no sofa, vendo filmes do Peter Sellers (da serie Pantera Rosa) e relaxando debaixo de um cobertor, nos Tropicos! Doido mesmo.  Durmi cedo, cheio de remedio e hoje me sinto melhor, digamos 90%.  Recuperando os 10% ainda hoje (fazendo nada, pelo menos nada de snorkeling), pensamos em ir pra Tahiti amanha cedo.  Vamos ver.

 

Ia comentar tb das leituras a bordo.  Recentemente, curti bastante uns 2 livros, muito diferentes entre eles.  O primeiro, que foi emprestado da nossa amiga sul africana Sarah, se chama “Nathaniel’s Nutmeg”.  Esse livro, do Giles Milton, conta as aventuras e historias (verdadeiras) da corrida das especiarias, principalmente entre Inglaterra e Holanda, e as intrigas e brigas entre o East India Trading Company and Dutch East India Trading Company.  Coisa de louco.  Certamente quem gosta de historia da época de exploração, e de navegação em geral, vai curtir esse livro.

 

 

Outro, que acabei pegando de bobeira na lavanderia, se chama “The To-Do List”.  Nesse, um inglês muito engraçado chamado Mike Gayle, conta a sua propria historia que começou com um lista de afazeres, que tinha nada menos de 1.277 itens!  Ele se comprotete a riscar um x em todos os itens em apenas um ano… O estilo do cara é muito divertido, e por qualquer pessoa que teve uma to do list, é uma leitura divertida.  Talvez ele nem sabe que quem vive em barco sempre tem uma lista dessas… So fico feliz que o meu nao chegou a ter 1.277 itens!

 

 

A Lara também dedicou-se a leitura neste período, com “A Cor Purpura” de Alice Walker (gostou mais ou menos, me diz, esperava mais), e “Mar Sem Fim” de A. Klink (que amou, diz com ênfase).  Ontem começou um livro de Isabel Allende… Ainda nao me comentou como é, mas foi presente da mae da Deborah.

 

In other news….

 

Nosso amigos velejadores nos barcos “Friendship”, “Espumeru” e “Larabeck” sao todos atualmente em travessia, entre Bora Bora e o próximo destino (quem Ilhas Cook, quem Tonga).  Pelo que sabemos via radio SSB e e-mail, a travessia nao esta sendo das mais fáceis.  Para todos, o vento esta sendo inconsistente e fraco, fazendo eles motorar de vez em quando.  Velejador nao gosta disso, mas as vezes faz parte.  Pelo Niklas & Espumeru, as coisa ta um pouco mais complicada.  Eles acabaram de fazer um serviço em Raiatea, com o barco fora da água…. Parece que na hora de remontar a hélice de um dos 2 motores, teve um problema com um parafuso. Agora, no meio de nowhere, perderam um pa de uma das hélices.  Isso quer dizer que, de novo, sao limitados a um motor de 2.  Nossa, que azar!  Espero que o vento chega pra todos!

 

Bom, por enquanto, that’s it.  Deve ter uns 39 erros acima, mas estou tentando nao esquecer meu portuga…

 

 

 

 


the ghosts of Club Med

We left early again on Monday morning and dinghied over to the NW corner of the island.  There are  few gorgeous Motus there (small coral islands) and some decent snorkeling.  Then we crossed the lagoon back to the island to check out the old Club Med location.  Great location!  Sadly, the place is closed and in an ever-progressing state of decay.  Some investor or Club Med Director somewhere must be taking Tums tablets over the heartburn.  What a sad sight!  They seemed to have had everything here, probably the best location o the island.  Oh well, we still enjoyed the little beach, the Motus and the gorgeous water.  Hell, we even did a few Tarzan imitations… 🙂

Part of the Club Med beach with Sexy Babe in neoprene diving boots, and Motu in the background.

The old main building of the Club – now very ‘Tabu” (off limits).

The pier, or what’s left of it.

The newest residents of the pier.

Sailors on the breeze…. it’s  Hobie Cat sail, but the boat itself is some sort of Trimaran.  The guy to windward was getting a good ride, out of the water!

This sexy babe, with cool boots, didn’t mind the the state of the pier.  🙂

🙂

Some beach bum, hanging around waiting for the Club to re0pen… he might be there a long time.

Couplagoofballs

Tarzan, version 1

Tarzana, version 2!

 


On Maddie’s 10th & Colby’s dedication: The seven stings and a ‘furada’ bike ride

The whole furada thing really deserves a sit-down blog session, to write about it properly – in Portuguese.  Our friends and family in Brazil will laugh about it, I am sure.  I may do that tomorrow morning.  But first thing’s first on this Sunday blog session:

Happy 10’th Birthday to my niece Maddie! Hope your celebration was everything you hoped it would be, and more.  I can imagine that my sis and bro did it up right for you, just as they always do.  Ask Mommy to see those pictures of her with the cone-shaped party hat on, on her birthday, with glasses, I think she was about 10 at that time too.  Nan – if you know what I’m talking about, show Maddie.  If you were like 6 and I’m way off the mark, ignore me and tell your daughter that Uncle Mike John still doesn’t have a very good grasp of child ages!

And

Congratulations to my great-nephew Colby on your dedication today at the Church!!!! We are really happy for you and pleased that the family could be together to share the special day.  I am not sure you really knew what was up, but I imagine you were all dressed up, had lots of attention, and everyone in the family – including your big sister – were talking about you today.  Not to mention some good times, good grub and drinks too.  I bet on it.

So, what did we do today?

We left the boat at about 7 for a 40-minute dinghy ride over to a place where they typically feed stingrays and  black-tipped reef sharks, you know, tourist style (i.e. Not  dangerous).  Yes, Bruno, we did find it, easily! Thanks for the tip and the coordinates on G.Earth. It was a gorgeous morning and the trip over, through the dinghy pass and all that was worth the trip – stunning!

We ended up being the first ones on the scene… And the rays were waiting for us.  It was bizarre.  Motoring up slowly towards the sandbank and near the permanent mooring buoys,  you looked down into the crystal clear water and almost couldn’t believe it… Rays everywhere!  The water is only about 3 feet deep, and so everything on the sandbar looks like it’s ‘on the floor’ rather than under the water.

We didn’t even get close to the little mooring buoys when the rays had us surrounded!  They are clearly tipped off by the sound of the engine – a sort of Pavlov’s Ray kind of effect.   There were seven of them at that point, and they followed us like a bunch of puppy dogs expecting dog-treats.  We motored around very very slowly to see what what happen – and they formed up and stayed in a line, and followed us…. “Ok guys, what is for breakfast this morning?”

After taking some pics, we jumped in the water and snorkeled with them for a while.  It was weird – they came right up and brushed you, as if to say: Hey! You didn’t bring any eats for us?  Unfortunately, we had no eats for them and so… Pretty soon they figured it out and wanted to more or less ignore us till the next boat came along.

So we snorkeled for a while, saw a bunch of larger fish on the sandbank and in the channel, as well as a pair of black-tipped reef sharks.  They are shy compared to the rays but were obviously used to hanging around for eats.  We didn’t stick around long enough for the tour operators to pull up with boatloads of tourists and ‘eats’ – whatever it is they actually feed these guys.  Thank goodness.  I felt like I was in cheap zoo sort of – sorry to say that.  I know, we are in Paradise, in French Polynesia, in the middle of the Pacific and all that – but still.  Ok, wait, I won’t go there at the moment.  Really I did enjoy being close to the rays and snorkeling snout to snout with them, and I did want to post a few pictures of that, so here goes:

the ‘puppy dogs’, all in a row, and following!

When you stop, they keep coming, and swim right under the dinghy!

Raimundo & Raffa, a pair…. of rays.

The gang cirlces back… as if they’d missed something we dropped in the water for them…

There is always a “Geroge” in every group, I don’t know why.  This is George.  Later he would come and say hello, very close and personal-like.

You can see, almost, where the sandbank drops off behind us.

He was checking my feet for food….

Tickle tickle tickle…

Me and George.  He figured out that I was food-less and started to ignore me.  I swam away and watched the sharks instead.  Ciao Geroge!

Just off a small private beach near the Intercontinental Hotel. We stopped in to dump loads of water from the dinghy after a wet upwind slog.  Mental note: next time, get a bigger dinghy (for more than one person!!!), and bigger outboard.  More on that some other time….

A house that Lara liked.  🙂

Swimming pool or South Pacific lagoon?  You decide.

Coming in to pick up Baby Cakes!  “Taxi!”

 

Changing direction and scenery, entirely, this is Baby Cakes engrossed in a film!  She’s adorable!!! This look also means, ‘don’t bother me, I’m watching a movie!!!”  🙂

Ok, so that’s it for Sunday.  Hope you had a great weekend!  We did.

CIao

MM