2/2019: Moorea

2/1 – 2/3

Hanging around Marina Taina some more.

2/4

We left mid-morning to return to Moorea. The passage was pretty mellow, with some sailing in the middle but mostly motor sailing. It was a nice day, and we anchored at the back of Opunohu bay.

2/5

I left in the morning to surf at Haapiti for an hour and a half. Conditions were nice, and I got 11 rides on my shortboard, standing up maybe 1/2-2/3 of the time. It was challenging, but I felt that my practice on Tahiti was paying off and things were still easier than past times I used the shortboard on this wave. Back at Magic Lisa did some droning and then we went diving at the balls outside the pass, seeing some turtles and sharks and mainly enjoying being back in the water after a few weeks away.

2/6

After relaxing most of the morning we moved the boat to the tiki anchorage at papetoai which we’ve used in the past. Opunohu is beautiful but buggy, and we can only stay there a little while at a time. In the afternoon we went paddling around the anchorage together, which was really nice, saw a couple stingrays and so forth.

2/7

I went surfing at Haapiti in the morning again for a couple hours. The shortboard felt much better than the last time and I was able to get 18 rides during my time there, some of them really good. It felt great to finally be making progress with using this board in real waves. Later in the day we went hiking ashore, doing the magic mountain hike in papeotai which Lisa had done once before with the folks from Kiapa Nui. A pretty steep climb up a rough road used by ATV tours, lots of fruits and shade, great views at the top and a really nice time out. Very warm and sweaty.

2/8

In the morning we went diving outside the pass, seeing several turtles and blacktips and having a nice time out. I gathered some fragments broken off a coral head for use in experiments. Relaxed most of the rest of the day, doing some work on the boat in the afternoon — there has been a lot of maintenance being deferred lately.

2/9

I went surfing at Haapiti again, having a great time. It was a saturday but not too crowded, and I had an easy time getting waves. I got a total of 23 rides on the shortboard, as good as I’ve ever done on the mini-mal. While I still have a ways to go to really feel comfortable with my popup on the shortboard, it’s great to be making so much progress riding it and still have a lot of fun.

2/10

Hung out on the boat all day.

2/11

In the morning we went diving outside the pass. On the way out there were ten or so people surfing the left outside Opunohu. The swell was pretty high and the wave looked great as we saw a few people getting rides on the way. It was glassy calm on the surface but as we started the dive the surge was high and visibility was poor due to all the swell. We did an out and back and managed to find the mooring with some difficulty, it would have been better if I’d dragged the dinghy. Saw a turtle but not much else.

2/12

I went boogie boarding at dawn at the left we’d admired yesterday. The first wave I caught I was a little inside and it broke on me quickly, ripping the boogie board off my wrist (cheesy strap) and sending it over the reef. I went after it and eventually found it, swimming all the way around the reef to get back to the dinghy. I fixed the board to my wrist in a better fashion, and the second wave I caught was pretty nice. I still ended up inside though and had a tough time getting back out. The wave just didn’t have a good egress option like the right here or Haapiti. After struggling back out I gave up on the spot, it just seems too much for me with my current skill set. Afterwards I went to the right and got a half dozen or so good rides on the boogie board. The wave wasn’t perfect and the swell seemed like it had too much W in it for the spot but it was still a lot of fun and I felt like I had a better handle on the wave than when I’d tried it in the past.

2/13

I went surfing in the morning at Haapiti. The south swell was pretty meagre compared to the north swell, and the whole time I was out only a couple other people came to surf (one boat came by with several surfers but turned up their noses and left). I still had a lot of fun, getting 22 rides, a few of them really excellent and some of the best I’ve gotten so far on the shortboard. Back at Magic we went hiking from the Magic Mountain trailhead, getting a lot of photos and videos of the mango trees along the trail and turning around when we were about halfway up (it was pretty hot and we didn’t have much energy).

2/14

In the late morning we went diving with the folks from Kiapa Nui at the nearby spot in the lagoon. This was a nice relaxing dive with lots of fish life. One issue of note was the anemone here was partially bleached (the topside parts facing the sun), which I don’t think I’ve seen before here. In the late afternoon we got ready to leave the anchorage, which turned into a two hour ordeal. The starboard engine wouldn’t start and I had to diagnose an electrical issue, which was frustrating but not too bad. Then, when we tried to pull up the anchor it wouldn’t budge. I dove on it with a mostly empty tank and found that we had apparently pulled over some huge, immovable pieces of limestone, which were now resting on top of the chain. I came back up to the boat, filled a tank, went down and found that most of the chain was threaded through gaps in the pieces of limestone, except in one foot long section where it was pinned underneath the limestone. I spent a while digging this out with my bare hand, eventually getting the chain free. I went back up to Magic, refilled the tank, went back down, disconnected the chain from the anchor and threaded it all through the gaps in the limestone so it was free, sent the anchor to the surface with a lift bag, then back to Magic to hoist the anchor. It still wouldn’t come up all the way, and I had to dive again to free the chain where it had managed to wrap on another horn of limestone. Good grief. We are never anchoring around limestone again without using a mooring to keep the boat in one place. We finally got on our way and went to the back of Opunohu to wait out an impending W/NW blow.

2/15

Hung out on the boat all day, not a lot of wind but a fair amount of rain.

2/16

Hung out on the boat all day, there was a nice wind for part of the day but otherwise things were pretty gusty.

2/17

During the night there were some very strong gusts, at least one around 45 knots. The boat dragged into shallower water (not enough chain out) and we were up watching things after about 4am. When it got light I let out more chain, and later in the day we moved the boat back into deeper water.

2/18

In the morning we went diving out of the pass. Visibility was poor near the surface and close to the breakers, but we found a deeper ~70′ area with very nice visibility and stayed there most of the dive. Nice fish life, not much else. Afterwards we moved Magic to the anchorage near Papetoai.

2/19

In the night some more strong winds came up, 25-30 knots. At first light we were uncomfortably close to the coral at the edge of the anchorage, so I took up some chain, went diving to set up a mooring on a piece of limestone, then let the chain back out and dove to reposition the anchor a little further away from the reef. This went well and the winds came down somewhat. In the afternoon I tried kiting but had problems getting enough power and doing a strapless launch with the surfboard. I quickly found my way on the other side of the reef behind the boat (the winds were N/NW unlike the usual NE here) and wasn’t able to get upwind and back to Magic. Eventually I gave up, walked partway back to Magic in the shallows, then Lisa came with the dinghy to rescue me.

2/20

It wasn’t super windy in the morning and I went down to Haapiti. The wind direction was more NW than I expected and there were following seas much of the way down. The break itself was pretty choppy, and the swell was tiny which combined to make conditions pretty awful. I got a couple rides but gave up after 1/2 hour and headed back to Magic. In the afternoon we went walking along the coastal highway around Papetoai, but gave up after an intense squall came through.

2/21

It was calmer in the morning and I went down to try out Haapiti again. The swell was a little bigger (still pretty small) and the wind wasn’t bad, making for pretty good conditions. I was working on surfing with booties and got 14 rides on the shortboard, pretty fun after too much time away from the break (poor weather lately). Back at Magic we went hiking on shore. It was pretty sunny and we did the Magic Mountain hike again, doing the loop this time and seeing the whole trail, spending lots of time getting photos and videos of all the fruit along the trail.

2/22

We left the anchorage in the morning, with everything going smoothly as I dove to unset the mooring and then pick up the mooring and anchor/chain from the boat. Wind was in the mid teens from the north as we headed CCW around the island towards Haapiti, increasing to the mid-20s at points with some squall activity. When we reached Haapiti the pass was very mellow and we cruised through and anchored in front of town, looking for an area with low fetch and no nearby shoals due to the ~30 knot gusts.

2/23

I went surfing in the morning (nice to just buzz over to the wave, instead of a 35 minute dinghy ride), getting 11 rides. Some difficulty with the booties but things went better towards the end. Afterwards we went diving right next to the wave, an area we checked out by snorkel last year. Some nice vertical walls here going from ~20′ down to probably 80-100′, covered in zoanthids or some type of colonial anemone. We went along this but the wind started up above and pushed the dinghy/line into the wall, so we retreated to a more slanted and broken up area that was dinghy friendly. Nice life, lots of fish (especially smaller parrotfish), a pretty pink pipefish on the wall, several big morays, and so forth.

2/24

We went diving again in the morning at the same spot. It was calm and we were able to see more of the walll, with several big anemones past the area we explored yesterday. Afterwards the wall became more sloping and we crossed to a series of ridges and canyons at moderate depth that we had seen while snorkeling here last year. Better coral here than other areas, more anemones and still very nice fish life. In the afternoon I went surfing for an hour or so, skipping the booties and having a lot of fun on the smaller waves rolling through, getting 12 rides.

2/25

I went surfing in the morning, getting 12 rides. I was using booties and my legs were worn out from the previous days, and was having problems doing popups with good form. After getting back to Magic we went to shore to walk around and do some filming near the main church in town, very green with some nice fruit trees.

2/26

We went diving in the morning, spending pretty much the whole dive on the wall we’ve been exploring here. I spent a while filming a pair of pipefish that Lisa spotted, otherwise life was pretty good but the usual for what we’ve seen here. In the afternoon I went surfing for an hour or so, getting 10 rides with good form on the small waves, lots of fun.

2/27

I went surfing in the morning, getting 15 rides over an hour and a half. I had the wave to myself for nearly an hour, some of the best conditions I’ve been there alone. I was riding well and got some really good rides, had a great time. Towards the end I managed to get urchin spines in both of my feet in separate incidents, pretty painful at first but after pulling the spines out I was ok to keep surfing and the spines didn’t bother me the rest of the day. In the afternoon we went paddling for a while in the shallows to the NW of the anchorage. Some areas with very nice coral near the surface, nice sights including a stingray and schools of convict tangs and cornetfish.

2/28

We went diving in the morning, starting on the wall and then moving out into the ridge system and eventually ending up at the reef slope, with clearer water and the reef slowly sloping into the blue. The coolest sight was a pair of eagle rays that came upon us mid-coitus, one of them clasping the other and the two of them swimming together in synchrony, angling back and forth. Once they noticed us they quickly separated and took off but this was really cool to see.

In the afternoon I went surfing. While there were only a couple people out when I started, within a few minutes some boats arrived and then there were a dozen or so people on the wave. It felt like things were at capacity with the low swell and it was hard for me to get rides on the inside. I still got 15 rides, but not very good ones. At the end I tried going further out into the lineup, then got hit by a couple larger waves and snapped my board.

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