A Quick Stop in Raiatea

Something you never get to do at home is hop in the water with your snorkel gear to check your anchor when it’s being fussy about setting. That’s just what I did yesterday after the third time we tried to get it to set and still weren’t sure it really was. We could see the bottom as we dropped and it looked like there was just rock over hardpan, and sure enough I think we were right. The anchor was wrapped in 90 degree turns around two bommies and just laying on it’s side on top of the rocks. The cruising guides called it a “fair weather anchorage”, which I guess means you don’t need more than the weight of your anchor and chain.

We’re in Raiatea where there’s a wreck inside the lagoon that we stopped to dive on. We took the dink over to the dive site after we anchored and found the visibility in the lagoon really crappy. Even after I got in the water and snorkeled down as deep as I could, I couldn’t see any evidence of the 200′ ship in 80′ of water. There seems to be some sort of a bloom in the water, maybe even jellyfish. 100′ visibility in the South Pacific isn’t unusual, and I couldn’t see probably more than 15′.

About 3:00 the wind started picking up from the southeast and the waves started building in the lagoon. I quickly checked the weather forecast and discovered that nope, this wouldn’t be a “fair weather” night, so we opted out of the pretty little anchorage in front of the motu. Not surprisingly, when we got ready to up anchor we realized all the other cruising boats but one had left and there were only charter boats remaining.

A huge lagoon inside the reef with lots of room for sailingFrom what we’ve seen so far, the Society Islands seem to be the best of the Marquesas and Tuamotus. The islands are beautiful towering green mountains, with high peaks, sharp cliffs and steep faces, which are surrounded by coral reefs with a lagoon between the reef and the shoreline that’s generally deep enough to navigate through. We have beautiful bays to anchor in with no ocean swell. Of course you lose the isolation of the Tuamotus and Marquesas, so if it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for you don’t come here for that. But if it’s a lovely anchorage that’s not rolly with stunning islands behind you, right here is the place to be.

Surprisingly to us it gets really cold here at night. We didn’t notice this in Tahiti, but as soon as we got to Moorea we found very chilly nights and mornings. Chilly, of course, is truly a relative term. But let’s just say there are no fans running at night and the hatches are closed for the first time in years. Maya goes out to play usually about 3 or 4 in the morning, and when she came in this morning (in the front portlight directly onto our bed) she was soaking wet from the heavy dew. She’s the only cat I’ve ever had who just doesn’t care that she’s wet, and plays in the sink with the faucet running. Needless to say, with as hot as it gets during the day, we’re enjoying the refreshingly cool nights.

I was sitting in the cockpit enjoying the cool evening air two nights ago when Maya found a lone wasp out late to chase. My hair was unpinned and hanging down, and she chased it right into my hair. Truly a big hair nightmare to have a wasp tangled up in it. Neither of us was very happy, both before he stung me in the face and after.

Today we’ll head over to Bora Bora and stay there until our visas run out. We’ve got about 10 days left and want to get rested up and enjoy Bora Bora for a while before we have to leave. It’s called “the most beautiful island in the South Pacific”, so we have high expectations after what we’ve seen so far. There’s a dive site called “manta dance” inside the lagoon where the manta rays come play, and we’re looking forward to that. I haven’t seen any manta rays up close yet and want a chance to add that to the list of amazing things we’ve enjoyed here in French Polynesia.


Raiatea is here