The Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands

Our visa time running short we head to the Leeward Islands of French Polynesia. After a wonderful moon lit crossing, first stop is Huihine, often described as the most beautiful island in French Polynesia. The lush foliage covers the “lady” with a blanket of green like a fine sculpture in storage. The name, Huihine, translates into the lady and a penis and the skyline explains the name well. The island is a place of fertility. We caution our married crew as to her powers.

We anchor in the main channel and discover the current prevents much swimming or snorkeling. A few of us venture into the town, a quaint village with some interesting shops, a clear departure from the hustle and bustle of Papeete. Seeking better protection, internet coverage and some access to land we move into a small albeit deep bay and anchor in 100 feet of water. I had added 200 feet of chain before I left Seattle for a total of 600 feet and it came in handy here. I took the crew ashore for a hike and enjoyed an afternoon on the boat.

We left Huihine and made the 18 miles crossing to Raitea in sunny weather and moderate seas. We seem to be in the middle of a weather pattern that will take days to pass. This time of year huge storms brew in the south passing unusual winds and rain our way and we were in just such a front. Seeking the best protection we anchored in the lee at the north end of the island. We were soon joined by Mary Powell and Mystery Ship. We found some great snorkeling on a motu just past the anchorage which we enjoyed three times. Rita and Magy join the Mary Powel crew for a car expedition one day and we used the car for provisioning the next morning before we depart. At the quey in the town I find Naveren with new skipper and some new crew. My dear friend Mona has left the boat for other adventures. While the gals shop the Naveren crew makes me a breakfast of Danish pastries, yum. We all make plans for a rendezvous, leaving with “see you in Bora Bora” gee that sounds cool!!

Still in over 20 knots of wind we make our way to Tahaa by way of the channel inside the reef. Seeking famed snorkeling at a collection of small motus at the northwest end of the islands we explore the anchorage but decide the conditions are just too bad to try. We retreat to a large bay in the middle of the west side of the islands and are joined by Mary Powel again. We all got to shore and find Sophie’s Boutique, a fairytale like home/store surrounded by lush gardens and wood carved furniture. We all, 8 now, go for a walk into the jungle bordered road finding a plethora of botanical wonders. Vanilla is grown here—gee it thought it came from small bottles—and harvested in a complicated process that demands strict adherence.

With hopes of clearing weather we will leave for Bora Bora today where we will prepare for out four day crossing to the Cook Islands. We make the short albeit bumpy trip to Bora Bora and enter the main pass through the coral reef. The tall angular mountain seems to attract cloud cover until she gives one of her rare appearances which evokes thoughts of exotic tales and dragons.

We grab a mooring buoy at the Bora Bora Yacht Club and join Mary Powel, Fly Aweigh, Serenity and Paike Mist.—some of the “usual suspects” as we say when planning a party and plan a party we did. Being July 1st it is Canada Day and two of our companion boats are flying spanking new maples leafs. Just as the party starts a rain squal hits moving all 12 of us indoors were we did several rousing verses of Oh Canada, the national anthem. Before the party I diligently made my way to the Gendarmerie to check in. After some language glitches I begin to fill out the entrance form, the agent sees the stack of passports I am carrying and not wanting me to take up his whole day dismisses me to come back Monday to check out.

The Bora Bora Yacht Club is operated by a Californian lady, Jessica and her French husband, Teiva. They are both extraordinarily friendly. When I inquire if I might exceed the buoy’s weight capacity he proudly describes the over sized anchor system, “If you can pull it out I will buy you a beer” he boasts. We decide to spend our time here and explore the island by land and sea.