11/2018: Maupiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti


We went diving in the morning with the mantas again to find visibility worse than yesterday but a few mantas swimming around their cleaning station, nice to hang out with them for a while. I went kiting afterwards for the first time in a couple months, trying out a new kite and having a lot of fun for an hour and a half or so zooming around the atoll on the foil. In the afternoon we went ashore to a lunch we’d been invited to, arriving late due to a work thing but finding a really nice scene, ten or so locals and twenty or so tourists, eating local foods (poisson cru was especially good) and talking to folks and listening to them singing and playing music.


It was windier today and while we went out to dive with the mantas in the morning visibility was really bad, 15′ or so. We still spent a half hour or so with them and had a nice time but it’s been a while since I did such a murky dive. Afterwards I went kiting, using the foil with a 7m kite in 15-20 knots of wind and having a great time, lots of fun. Relaxed on the boat the rest of the day.


We dove with the mantas again in the morning; the wind stopped overnight and visibility and conditions here were better, with several friendly mantas we spent an hour with, very nice. I worked a while, and in the afternoon we went out with me paddleboarding and Lisa in the kayak to circle around nearby Motu Pitiahe, a nice time taking less than an hour. At sunset we went ashore to get some time lapse videos of the sunset.


We got up early to look for the mantas, but they weren’t at their rock and visibility wasn’t great so we returned to Magic and motored out the lagoon and east to Bora Bora. Winds were very light most of the way, with some east wind building as we approached the island. We entered the lagoon and anchored to the south of the pass, next to Motu Toopua, and relaxed the rest of the day.


We were anchored in an area exposed to frequent boat wakes, and in the morning moved into shallow water further away from the traffic. In mid morning we went diving near the south end of Toopua. Conditions were pretty good for a lagoon dive, good visibility and coral and fish life. We liked our new anchorage and all the eagle rays that kept swimming by, but at the low tide in the evening Magic started rubbing the bottom when larger wakes came through, and I used a second anchor to kedge off and get us into slightly deeper water.


In the morning we dove outside the lagoon, south of the pass at a popular area with lots of mooring balls. Nice coral and fish life here, including a couple small napoleon wrasse, and at the end we passed through an area with a lemon shark and several blacktips circling. I suppose they get fed there.


We moved Magic a little bit in the morning as we were still rubbing the bottom on occasion. Afterwards we went diving in the same area as yesterday, though a little further down the reef and away from the traffic. More nice fish, nothing spectacular. Lots of redtooth triggerfish doing what looked like spawning behaviors, and a nice napoleon wrasse. Worked the rest of the day.


Worked all day, except for a brief interlude ashore for groceries.


We left around 8am to dive the same spot we’ve been going to lately, trying to get in before the crush of dive boats. We went down in a nice spot, several schools of fish and lots of pesty butterflyfish and bannerfish hoping for some food from us. Some nice triggerfish and relief, spent most of the dive playing with camera settings. In the afternoon I tried to go kiting by dinghying about a mile to the south, out of the wind shadow of Bora Bora and Toopua. After a false start where my small kite started leaking, I was able to get out on the 13m. I only rode for about half an hour, though. Winds were very turbulent, and three times the kite Hindenberg’ed out of the sky and hit the water. I got it back up each time, but it was a pain in the ass and very dangerous, so I stopped and returned to Magic. I don’t know if these problems were because I wasn’t far enough from the island, or just because the wind passing through is just plain turbulent (as it can be on stronger days in the Tuamotus).


Went diving again outside the lagoon at the same spot we’ve been going to, then worked the rest of the day.


Went on another dive in the morning, and in the afternoon I tried kiting again, going to a similar area as two days ago but a little further from the island. I had a much better time with the winds lighter and more consistent, stayed out an hour and a quarter or so foiling around in 5-6′ of water over sand. Back at Magic we checked out a nearby area we’ve been seeing a lot of boats at, finding a bunch of stingrays that people have been feeding. We tried giving them some sardines but they just roomba’ed around on the bottom and didn’t pay us much mind, probably full from all the attention earlier in the day.


Went on another dive in the morning, going to some buoys at the other end of the diving area and finding several sharks hanging around, including one lemon shark. This is where most of the feeding happens I think. Nice dive, some good fish life but not too pesty. A halfmoon triggerfish was very tolerant of me as it swam around the reef, sucking sand and other detritus into its mouth and filtering out food. It was kind of squally after a few days of really nice weather; for lunch we dinghied for about 3 miles (an adventure in itself) to the Bloody Mary, a restaurant popular with sailors/tourists, and while the food was pretty good the service was pretty poor and I was happy when we left.


Worked all day, then went paddleboarding with Lisa in the afternoon around Motu Tapu. Nice time watching the coral and fishes and stuff, and some nice rain on the way back to Magic.


In the morning we explored an area inside the pass and to the north, looking for rays, but didn’t see much of interest. We then went outside the pass and to the north to go diving in a new area. Pretty good coral and fish here, I was mostly looking for macro stuff but Lisa spotted a shark, turtle, and large tuna-like fish. In the afternoon we went paddling out to the edge of the lagoon, seeing a bunch of rays, and then working against the building north winds on the way back.


In the morning we went diving in the area to the south of the pass. Visibility was pretty poor (maybe 50′) but lots of fish were out feeding and we had a nice time cruising along the wall.


We left early in the morning, motoring out the pass, to the SW end of the lagoon, and then east over the top of Tahaa. We sailed much of the way, taking advantage of the (as forecast) north winds. As we headed towards Huahine the wind suddenly switched around to the south and got very squally, not super windy (high teens) but coming from the wrong direction. We screwed around with this a while and eventually I got convinced that the forecast was wrong and we were seeing trade winds which would make it very hard to reach our destination, Moorea. It was late afternoon but we had time to reach Tahaa before dark so went there to regroup. The wind seemed to switch around to the SW and then die as we approached, still very rainy all the way in but we found a place to anchor inside Toahotu pass.

In retrospect the southerly winds we were seeing were probably local effects of the squalls and we would have been ok to continue, but the weather was just so poor I wasn’t sad to turn back. More problematic on this passage is that my attitude was pretty poor, both in dealing with the squalls and an earlier time when I had a mini tantrum when Lisa asked me to reef the sail. I resolved after this to make sure I’m on my best behavior on passage, to hopefully break the pattern we’ve been seeing of passages generally being pretty stressful.


We relaxed on the boat all day, recovering from yesterday. It was still pretty squally much of the day, but cleared in the afternoon and we paddled around a nearby island at the pass, spotting a good sized moray and corals and fish and so forth.


We left shortly after dawn and headed out the pass and back towards Moorea. A nice wind came in but slacked off after an hour or two, and we started sailing on the spinnaker through the mid afternoon, when the wind pretty much died and we motored. We had occasional light wind through the rest of the passage but kept motoring, nice weather through the day and a relaxing time.


We got to Moorea mid morning and anchored near the back of Opunohu bay. It was kind of rainy but we wanted to spend some time ashore so went to the back with our bike and skateboard and went along the flat road inland to the Banyan trees we spent time at back in April. This was pretty nice, with some fun times swinging on vines. Later in the afternoon I went surfing on the right at the mouth of the bay. There were a couple other folks but things were never crowded and I had a lot of fun, getting eight or ten rides with a couple really good ones. I got swept into the reef shallows a couple times and scraped my feet up making my way back out.


We went diving in the morning at one of the buoys outside the pass, I was mostly looking for macro life but Lisa saw several turtles. In the afternoon I went surfing at the right again. I was trying to stay outside and only got a few rides, but still kept getting swept into the shallow parts of the reef. I didn’t get as deep in as yesterday but still got more scrapes on my hands and feet; I’d tried using some wet socks today but didn’t like them, and clearly don’t have enough respect for the damage these reefs can do. Back at Magic it was raining but we went paddling around the back of the bay, having a nice time looking at the plants and birds along the shoreline.


After relaxing and using the drone in Opunohu bay in the morning, we moved out to Papetoai around noon. We went in for lunch ashore, seeing several eagle rays, and in the afternoon went paddling around the same area. Near Magic there were a lot of surgeonfish spawning — several fish jumping out of the water at once (a female pursued by several males, presumably) with several blacktips around and some milkfish that Lisa saw feeding on the eggs at the surface. We went snorkeling with them and I tried to get some video of the spawning behavior but the fish were pretty shy.


Thanksgiving! We went diving in the morning and saw several turtles outside the pass, lots of active fish with visibility not so good but plenty of food in the water. In the afternoon I went surfing at Haapiti. The surf was at a great level — .8m SSW groundswell — and with six or so other folks in the water it was pretty easy to get nice rides. In a little over an hour I got 13 rides, having a really fun time. A squall came through while I was out and it rained some more on the way back; one guy I passed was in an outrigger and just super friendly despite the conditions, really emblematic of polynesian culture.


Stayed on the boat all day, felt pretty down due to REDACTED.


In the afternoon I went surfing at Haapiti again. I arrived earlier and it was a weekend so it was pretty busy (a dozen or so folks in the water), but I still managed to get 15 or so rides in about two hours.


I went diving in the morning by myself to get some video of the clownfish out of the pass. I visited both groups of anemones and the clownfish were tending eggs at both of them. Better visibility than the last couple times we dove here, I had a nice time despite focusing on my task and a huge number of divers in the water from a couple boats in the area. In the afternoon we went paddling around the anchorage, it was a little windy but still a nice time, a lot of nice stands of staghorn coral in the area.


In the morning I went with Lisa down to Haapiti so I could surf and she could take photographs and go snorkeling. The wave was small but still very nice, for nearly an hour I was the only one there and then it slowly built to six or so people by the time I finished, 20 rides in a bit over two hours.


In the morning we motored to Tahiti, doing some motor sailing as the wind built between the two islands but a pleasant little passage.


We went out for a really nice lunch in town and then went to go surfing at the spot east of Point Venus. There was 10-15 knots of wind and it seemed to have a northeast component as the waves just weren’t very good, very sloppy due to the wind chop. We were there for about an hour and weren’t having a great time so headed back to Magic.


Worked and hung out on the boat all day.


In the morning hiked to the Fautaua waterfall (we tried this a few months ago and were turned around by a locked gate, but as it was a weekday today the water facility behind was open and so was the gate). On the way to the trailhead there was a pig wandering down the middle of the road, very satisfied with itself as people had to drive around it. The hike itself was a really nice time, taking about four hours — a couple miles on a gravel road next to a stream, and then a trail climbing steeply up the valley to a nice overlook of the waterfall pouring off a dramatic cliff and nearly 1000 feet to a pool below. We took some photos and used the drone a bit (I forgot to bring a phone for piloting it which restricted things a lot) but the bugs were pretty bad and we didn’t have much food so didn’t go down to the base of the waterfall itself.

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