Bora bora - Society Islands


A letter for a sailing friends of mine

Mount Otemanu from the northeast


Dear Mieke and Bob,


its been already a couple of years since we last met. You remember? Carribbean, first time in Curacao and St. Martin later. I still remember what you have said about your sailing plans. "I want to see Bora bora because it is the most beautifull island in the world." I remember it as if it was yesterday. As many sailors I also had "Carribbean dreams about South Pacific" and I would not guess that I would be the first of us to be there. But it is unimportant. Bob wrote to me, you are heading for Polynesia next year. I wish you good luck I know you will like it. Without you I would not probably go to Bora bora at all. I avoid places where everybody goes and nearly nobody knows why. Just because others do it. What you said about Bora bora was so convincing that I had to go. And I am glad I did. It is my turn to write my report now.


Bora bora certainly deserves its fame. I can not say if its the most beautifull because I have seen only a few out of many thousands islands. What I have found to be the most worth of all is not the island but its lagoon. The mist from the huge breaking swell on the south when you are approaching it is like priness veil and you can do nothing but admire it. Looking at Mount Otemanu, the spectacular mountain from different directions makes you believe that this island has more than one mountain, so different the view is. I personally like best the panorama form the north east. But the most unique and amazing in this place is the navegable lagoon nearly all the way around, protected by the reef and giving you the priviledge of sailing in breathtakingly pale blue waters. I know sailors sometimes feel uneasy to sail over such shalow places with all the canvas up, it is true that occasionally the depthsounder wants to scare you and some corners are better to avoid with a sailing boat. The anchorage in the southeast corner is probably the best on the island and I think it worth to go all the way around to get there (you have to follow marks otherwise you make damage some of the corrals here, I know that your boat is unsinkable:-)) South of the soutestern end of the motu, in the shallow waters protected by the reef there is a beautifull snorkeling and I very much enjoyed the pleasure of being taken by the current and seeing a lot without even moving my fins. Only when I wanted to take a picture I grabbed a rock and stopped for a while.


Snorkeling in Bora bora


Well I did not go everywhere. All anchorages on the west side, next to the island were too deep for my anchor chain. I went ashore only once when I needed to check out of French Polynesia. I would not miss much if I did not go. The traffic is heavy and if you walk along the road you become an endangered minority. Besides that I did not find anything unique and special what you can not see on another islands. Also the pure, positive, relaxed and hospitable nature of the local people is a bit harder to find here than in other places. I would not say that it is immpossible but the bussiness changed this island more than others. There might be one thing which I did not try this time, one reason to go ashore and to find something special. I believe that if Bora bora is the best it is the best from a bird perspective. The top of the mountain is most likely unaccesible but there might be a place to admire the lagoon around you. I think it would be the most fantastic view of this place you can have. I have seen it on postcards only and I am not surprised that postcards taken from a plane are the first to be sold out in the stores.


I met some boat people too. Americans, Evan, Mair and Mike. The guys were musicians on holidays on a chartered boat. They showed me their own video of a big humback whale with a calf. They made it just three days before on the neighbor island Tahaa inside the lagoon!! There are surprises waiting for everybody in Polynesia, whales, manta rays, sharks. Not talking about a variety of corals and fish, so different from the Carribbean. Talking to my friends I realised that it is a great thing to have a lot of time to travel here. Boat people have the exclusive right to take time, to make or to change your own plannes untill you feel that a certain place gave you something, or reverse, sometimes you leave something behind you. What I need is the feeling that I did not miss the opportunity. (The actual experience can be different from what you have expected but I believe every place has something. Sometimes it takes time untill it is revealed and it would be a mistake to set sails too early and to leave something unfullfilled behind). My charter friends knows what the pressure of time is and it must be harder for them. But comparing to people from cruiseships they still have plenty of time to look for what they come for. Would you belive that, a cruiseship visiting an atol in Tuamotu let you go on shore just for two hours!? I am sorry for them. Anyway it is still better than to stay at home.


I wish you good winds in the Pacific ocean, looking froward to here about your adventures and possibly one day I will see Pauwke anchored near my boat so I will see you again.

Blue sky


7.10. 2008 Daniel
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