Raiatea is only 35nm from Huahine, a short and easy sail. We sailed through the main pass off the town of Uturoa to access the lagoon, then made our way to Apooiti Marina where we picked up a mooring, and then took the mainsail to Regine at Voilerie Sellerie Aveia for repair. This marina is also the base for the Moorings, Sunsail and the Tahiti Yacht Charter businesses, and Regine has a steady supply of business from repairing sails to making up complete sets of new cushion covers. By the following morning she had the sail ready for inspection to show us where the weak points are, along with a quote for the work (fabric and labour). Over 24 hours full use was made of the marina washing machine – the first loads of laundry to be treated to 40, 60, even 90 deg washes for what seems like a very long time! A banal but worthwhile blog entry, as the industrial sized machines found in most marinas / laundries provide a cold wash only.
The twin peaks of Bora Bora 30nm away were an attractive backdrop for the setting sun, so dinner was ashore at La Voile d’Or in time for sundowners. The time it was going to take to repair the mainsail enabled us to plan a passage around Taha’a, which shares the same lagoon as Raiatea. We were able to sail north on the leeward side of Taha’a, until we arrived at the planned anchorage just inside the reef, close to the motu of Ilot Tautau. The most expensive hotel in Polynesia has been built here. Le Taha’a Private Island & Spa, is a mere £770 per over-the-water-bungalow per night, excluding food and travel costs! To see what it really looks like, click on www.letahaa.com
Between this and another adjoining motu there is a ‘coral garden’. Here the water was shallow, clear and teeming with pretty, colourful fish, some of which we had not come across before. They were calmly swimming just an arm’s length away! Here are examples:
After being rather spoilt by the Caribbean, we found the coral disappointing and not particularly attractive. Unfortunately not a fan coral or sponge in sight. But we were anchored in very clear water, and the views of the island, motus, reef and Bora Bora were stunning.
We enjoyed two further overnight stops around the island, both of them just inside the coral reef, one on a ‘Moorings’ mooring off Motu Tuvahine, the other at what turned out to be a popular anchorage of Motu Mahaea just inside the eastern pass. Thus our gentle circumnavigation of this beautiful island was completed, sailing under genoa for much of the way.
As far as rating the islands we have visited is concerned, Taha’a is just as attractive, low key and uncommercialised as Huahine with the added advantage that we could sail within the reef.
We returned to Apooiti, picked up and bent on the repaired mainsail. Regine had done an expert and professional job, which will hopefully last until New Zealand. After buying a few provisions we filled Pipistrelle’s tanks with duty free diesel in Uturoa for the last time in French Polynesia and even managed to get our Camping Gaz bottles refilled with butane at the Raiatea Carenage.
Only another six hours to sail to Bora Bora and we set off from the Taha’a Yacht Club (currently closed for renovation) where we had picked up a mooring the previous evening. Again a wonderful setting.