Jadamama - Jadamama Bora Bora to Niue
Heno and I said our goodbyes to Maureen and Scott in Tahiti and have been joined by Heno’s dad, also called Henry/Heno, and my cousin Mícheál rejoined us in Bora Bora having last seen him in the Galapagos. I flew home for about ten days from Tahiti to reconnect with family and especially my wife Mairéad who has filled many of the gaps that I have left by doing this trip and yet has been unable to join for any part of it. I owe her and indeed all my family and friends a huge debt of gratitude for their support over the last twelve months that I have spent on the oceans around the planet.
Looking back at the Society islands as a whole, we heard Moorea was the jewel and indeed it is a very special place to visit and explore. We loved the hiking, the snorkelling and just the geography and ambience of the island. However we also enjoyed our time in Tahiti, even if it was too drawn out by delays in getting through the inevitable list of jobs. We were lucky to have Laurent, the capable agent for World ARC in Polynesia, as he sourced some really competent and energetic contractors for our various needs but even they found it difficult to source material in a timely fashion.
We were berthed in Marina Taine which we preferred to the bustle and noise of Papeete. We were within easy reach of the city and airport and had a decent Carrefour within walking distance. We explored both inland and around the island on a few expeditions with the very handy Hello Scoot short term car/scooter hire app from Avis. The water gardens were especially interesting with their huge variety of lotus flowers but we also loved our morning hike to a lookout at 850m that certainly tested the legs and lungs.
We stopped overnight in Raitea/Tahaa on the way to Bora Bora but did not really get to explore ashore as we simply navigated our way around the amazing lagoon that encompasses both islands. Bora Bora is spectacular from the surrounding reef to the heart of Mount Pahia and contrary to the epithet of Boring Boring, we had a fantastic time with a tough mountain climb, a local cultural festival and a few great evenings with fellow ARCers. Apparently we were the first visitors to climb Mount Pahia that season and were also the first to explore an alternative trail back down through the jungle from the peak. Our guide Hirohito lived on the mountain and treated it with great respect and indeed reverence which he tried to communicate to our somewhat bemused group.
We were anxious though to get going on the next leg by the time the start came around as the weather window looked quite fragile. In the end though it has provided some of the best sailing of the whole trip with winds typically in the 15+ knot area from an acceptable downwind sail angle that has allowed us to use our trade wind sail for virtually the entire journey. We have had to motor once or twice for a few hours but that has only highlighted the joy of sailing in these conditions. The night skies early on were spectacular and while we have not caught any fish, our visit from a solitary Orca was a stark reminder of the sealife around us. I especially like to track the major star systems that we are not familiar with in the Northern hemisphere and the watch is marked by the transit of the huge Scorpius constellation.
After about five days of the passage, we received news that Mícheál’s brother-in-law had died in an accident out on Cape Clear, Ireland. We were able to get him on a flight to Aukland from Niue by turning on both engines so that he and Luca flew out together. Landing the dinghy was probably the biggest challenge though of the whole trip as there was quite a swell running along the quay making it hard to attach to the crane.
Many thanks to Keith for all his logistical support in getting the lads to the airport for check in and then back again for boarding along with his great tour guide patter. Niue is like an outpost of New Zealand and flying is only a weekly event so it attracts families, lots of luggage and long queues.
Mícheál’s sad news was quickly followed by another tragedy involving the children of friends that highlighted how far away we are from our communities back home. It firmed up our desire to keep moving towards Fiji where our trip ends anyway so we only spent 36 hours in Niue. We were looking at a two day crossing to Vava’u and then another four days to Fiji and we wanted to spend a few days in each of them before we flew out.
It was hard to say our goodbyes to the ARC in Niue as we left before the evening reception but we did get to see Rachel as well as the Aussie crews which was nice and we got to buy some of the Niue Yacht Club merchandise even though it is virtually defunct at present. Hopefully Keith and his supporters will be able to bring it back to its former glory.