With our business completed (sort of) at the Carenage, we set sail for Bora Bora, about 30 miles east of Raiatea. While this would normally be a rousing downwind passage, we ended up with light winds on a reach. With our Code Zero and full main we were able to maintain a nice steady 4 to 5 knots. I am sometimes amazed how we manage to move our heavy cruising boat in winds as light at 6-8 knots. That light weight Code Zero has helped us out so many times.
|On a mooring buoy near Bloody Mary's Restaurant.|
Seeing the romantic peaks of Bora Bora in the distance is certainly the quintessential experience for any bluewater sailor. The feeling is we’ve reached nirvana; where in the world is anything more exotic than Bora Bora? In reality Bora Bora is somewhat of an anachronism, some cruisers love it and some hate it. After reading many of the cruiser reports we had somewhat mixed feelings about visiting the fabled island, but we had to experience it for ourselves.
We entered the extensive lagoon through the only pass, Passe Teavanui, and headed south along the west side of Moto Topua to a bommie-free anchorage in about 30 feet of water. The area where you can anchor is huge given the large “flats” areas of sandy bottom that are immediately behind the reef until they hit the deeper blue water of the lagoon. Many of the charter cats anchor in the shallower areas leaving ample space for the deeper keeled monohulls such as Flying Cloud.
|These over-the-water bungalows are everywhere in Bora Bora.|
We basically hung out on the boat and did a couple of snorkeling trips and some exploring in the dingy. Just to the east of us in the flats were a small flotilla of tourist boats observing the sting rays who feed in the shallow waters. This brings up the main issue with Bora Bora, hoards of tourists pursing every activity under the sun. Bora Bora is literally lined with very high end hotels (Four Seasons, St. Regis, Intercontinental, Sofitel, Meridien, Pearl, etc.). All of these hotels feature hundreds of “over the water” bungalows, many of them built up over primo snorkeling areas. The bungalows are priced from $400/night up to $15,000, not exactly in our budget range.
All of the thousands of guests in these hotels pursue “the Bora Bora experience” with a plethora of waterborne activities, including shark and manta ray watching, snorkeling, parasailing, jet skis, water skiing, SCUBA diving, and so on. We are awoken in the morning by a buzzing herd of jet skis racing one after another to who knows where. They seem to love coming close to the anchored sailboats and waving at us. Some cruisers defense is to stand naked and wave back. At the primo snorkeling sites there will be two to five resort boats chock-a-block with white-skinned tourists to whom no one has mentioned the dangers of the tropic sun and the need for rash guards.
On top of all this many of the hotels maintain their exclusivity by banning cruisers from the grounds and restaurants. One cruiser couple we met did sweet talk their way into the restaurant at the St. Regis where they dropped a cool $384 on dinner. A little out of our league.
|Hanging of the mooring buoy just off Bloody Mary's.|
|There are two full walls of names of the "rich and famous" who have visited Bloody Mary's. We're not on it.|
|Stapling a dollar bill to the wall is one way of saying "We've been here."|
|There is no menu per se: The chief comes out and explains what he has that night and asks how you would like it cooked.|
On Oct. 14th we did a pre-birthday dinner for Meryl and Andrew (off Eye Candy) at the iconic Bora Bora restaurant, Bloody Mary’s. The Bloody Mary’s at Happy Hour were actually quite good and we enjoyed chatting with Andrew and Clare about our various experiences. It wasn’t the cheapest meal I’d ever eaten, but we don’t get out much so it was a wonderful treat and a good way to celebrate the birthdays.