L O G B O O K - by John Philp


MON 17th JULY - At dawn with the moon still full over a mirror smooth lagoon and the sky cloudless and glowing red in the east a moment before sunrise, we head out through the nearby pass and set a course for Bora Bora twenty five miles away.

The Bora Bora lagoon has just one reef pass through which we enter, anchoring beside the gorgeous little island of Motu Tapu in thirty five feet of water. From the yacht it’s quite easy to be captivated by the beauty all around us - the clarity of the turquoise water, the dazzling white sand beach, the puffy white clouds dancing over the reef. In ancient times Motu Tapu was the Queen’s private island - off limits to everyone save when she had a big celebration planned.

Later, as the late afternoon light begins to lose it’s harshness, the famous pinnacle that crowns Bora Bora becomes more defined, seductive and alluring, beckoning anyone that glances at her. The sunset is delightful. As the sun disappears from view the sky remains a vivid burnt orange leaving a tantalizing blemish on the horizon that refuses to fade.

TUE 18th - A dinghy ride across the lagoon to the main town of Vaitape. It’s a busy little town - charter yachts coming and going from the tiny port, passengers ferrying ashore from the passenger liner anchored in the lagoon, 4WD safari trips leaving, boutiques, art galleries and cafe’s. Bora Bora’s airstrip is on a motu on the barrier reef and passengers are ferried here to disembark.

Tony and Lydia and Kristy walk down to the Bora Bora Yacht Club and after picking themselves off the floor when they were told how much lunch cost they wandered back into town where we all browsed, and e.mailed, grocery shopped, and made phone calls home to Fiji.

Sefo and Kristy and I do some spearfishing in the pass. The water clarity is incredible and we don’t mind that there is little to spear save for two difficult octopus. They’re real ugly too. Kristy refuses to eat them tonight at dinner after she found out that they were holding ‘hands’ when we first spotted them. Cute. Like newly weds on honeymoon. They even had names by this time - Clyde and Julia. Then after Kristy explained that they have well developed brains and that they probably have feelings and personalities, I was put off ever spearing an octopus again. Ugly but cute.

WED 19th - A fine morning. We motor around the lagoon, sightseeing, as far around the main island as we can go both north and south then return to Motu Tapu. The lagoon flaunts an incomparable range of light and colour in every shade of blue and green beginning with cobalt and azure, and running to emerald and aquamarine. Gods palette is used up fully here in the limpid waters of probably the worlds most famous coral atoll lagoon. The main island however, barely rates a look by the crew as we’ve been spoilt by the dramatic grandeur of the Marquesan and Society Islands.

Afterwards we dinghy into town and take a ride down to Matira Point where the islands best beaches are and a concentration of hotels. A swim and a wander back to town on foot and to pick up some ice cream for dinner. It’s a hard life, but someone has to endure this hardship.

THUR 20th - Our last day in French Polynesia. One final dinghy ride across the lagoon for supplies and the last baguettes I hope we see in a very long time, and a swim in the delightful water. Tau is anchored in seven meters of clear sapphire coloured water, so transparent you can see the shadow of the hull on the sand bottom and all the way up the chain almost to the anchor. The water is so pristine and so blue it’s as like swimming in a giant swimming pool. A tidal current is running and large clumps of seaweed roll by on the bottom like giant tumble weeds.

We haul the anchor up to find that we’ve snagged an odd souvenir of Bora Bora - a clump of coral as big as your front door. After a few tugs it splashes back into the clear water.

Sailing west the trades begin to freshen as we leave the wind shadow of the main island. Our ultimate destination is Suvarov but we’ll go where the wind allows us, perhaps even to Raratonga to avoid rolling around on a dead run, and for the moment this is north of the course to Suvarov. The wind continues to freshen and we’re going nowhere in particular into the vast blue void at a pleasant rate of knots.

FRI 21st - The trades are steady at 20-25 knots mostly from the east, we’re still going nowhere at a fast clip. Finally in the mid morning the wind tends south and we gybe onto port enabling us to steer directly for Suvarov for the rest of the day.

SAT 22nd - A fine day. Still no fish on the line, but, worse than that, the good Cuban coffee has run out. This could be serious.

I wonder what’s for dinner? Probably fish curry again. I think we might comfortably claim the title of most curry meals consumed by a yacht during a world circumnavigation - we’d probably even hold off a challenge from the Indian National Sailing Team.

SUN 23rd - We’ve been motoring since last night as the breeze dropped off and what little there was was directly astern. Unfortunately the sea remains and it’s uncomfortable as all hell. Low grey cloud hovers over us all day. It’s hot and humid and feels like it’s going to rain. Tiny rain squalls hang about but none come near us until finally in the late afternoon the heavens open up and half the crew take showers on deck, the rain so dense that the scuppers become little rivers of fresh water. Yeehaaaw!!!

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