Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bora Bora Gazette

Bora Bora, Wed 29 June 2011 17:30 Tahiti Time
Sailing across the Pacific is a lot like getting a Ph.D.—it’s not difficult, it just takes a little time and determination. If I were to recommend one, I’d say sail the Pacific.
                Twister was looking a little scruffy on the bottom of her keel, so I decided to run her aground on some sand. I had made an appointment for the following day to do two dives with a local dive shop and decided to move the boat near the dive shop which is on Matira Beach. The last few hundred meters into the anchorage were a minefield of coral heads. I managed to barely scrape the keel over one (I probably would not have touched had I not just topped up the water tanks and filled all my jugs at Bloody Mary’s pier). I made it through the coral heads without further incident and turned into Matira Beach. Trying to avoid another patch of coral I turned right when I should’ve turned left and ended up grounding Twister on sand (fortunately sand and not coral) in just under 5 feet of water (Twister normally draws about 5 feet—draft (or is it draught?) is the distance between the deepest part of the keel and the water’s surface). I noticed that the depth meter read 3 feet at that point. Good to know. The keel doesn’t appear to have been damaged, just some paint scraped off.  It was pretty stressful after I first scraped against the coral, anticipating a bone-crunching impact to follow at any moment. Oh well, I had figured that the entrance to Matira Beach was going to be tricky (with one person. With one person on the bow and one steering, it wouldn’t have been hard). It’s difficult to see how deep the coral heads are while steering from the cockpit. Part of me had wanted to stay in the comfort and safety of the mooring by Bloody Mary’s, but sailing is like other pursuits, you have to test your limits sometimes to grow and learn(maybe I learned to stay on the moorings when they’re free?).
                I jumped in the water and walked/swam an anchor out to try to pull the boat off the sand (kedge I think it’s called in nautical terms). Before I tried to use the kedge, I found I was able to slowly push Twister toward the deeper water, about 25 cm at a time. A French couple saw my predicament and came over in their dinghy and offered to pull me off which they were able to do. By pulling sideways on the boat, the keel cleared the sand and they pulled me to where Twister was floating freely again. They invited me to their boat for coffee, so I brought the now-chilled beers. They—Pac and Marie—have been living in French Polynesia for six years, working as charter and delivery captains. Bridget and I actually met Pac briefly in Rangiroa—he was the guy walking the opposite direction as us when we were had just walked from the dinghy dock with our surfboards. He asked if we knew that Liz Clark was there in Rangiroa (she’s a sailor and surfer with a website and some sponsors). They said that was the first time they had helped a grounded boat. I replied that it was my first grounding (at least on my own, ).
                Before I left Bloody Mary’s I tied up to their dock for 30-40 minutes to fill the water tanks and jugs. I have become much less conservative with my water use than I was during the first, long passage. I think the longest passage from here to Australia will not be much more than a week (I used 38 gallons on the passage from San Diego to Nuku Hiva).  Bloody Mary’s is also kind enough to give sailboats free ice, so I filled up a small cooler with some ice to cool a six-pack of beer (which I had bought in anticipation of the free ice—normally I wouldn’t  buy that many beers at once as they’d get warm before I could drink them all—hey it could happen). It’s a real luxury to be able to tie up to a dock and fill water and ice.
Thursday 30 June, 2011
                You know what I miss about my old job?  That’s right, not a goddam thing. No, I kid--I really miss the ultrafast internet connection.  I did two dives today with Bora Diving Center today. Bridget and I had met the owner while hitchhiking in Tahiti where he was kind enough to give us a ride (he was sailboat shopping in Tahiti).  The main draw of the first dive were the lemon sharks. I had never seen one before and they are quite imposing. I’d say they were about six feet long and quite hefty. There were also black-tip sharks, lionfish, octopuses, and lots of fish I can’t ID.  The main attraction at the second dive were the Manta Rays, but the reef and many colorful fish were nice too. After diving I took my bike for another loop around the island. Still no buyers.
                I feel a bit claustrophobic in this anchorage. Not because it’s crowded or small (in fact it’s just about perfect at the moment—quiet, calm, sand bottom, 20 ft deep, spotted eagle rays swimming around the boat) but because I’m not sure I could get out of here without running into a coral head if the weather turned nasty. The last forecast (GRIB file) I saw called for calm winds the next couple of days, so hopefully that is what we’ll have, but tomorrow may be my last day in this anchorage if conditions are good for moving (ie not cloudy so the coral is more visible). 
Just posted some pics from BB


  1. Fun adventures! You make me miss sailing and I can't believe the color of the water in some of the pictures. You know, you are making my hubbie talk about joining you for some of your trip - which makes me a little nervous. If he were to join you, you must return him in one piece, ok? Much love to you and thank you for the postcard. We miss you and wish you well. Cati-

  2. Lars Thanks for all the posts I have showed a couple of friends your blog and they love it, I am still planning a European leg. What an adventure, I can't get over all the stories of people that have made this there lifestyle. I bet you one thing that would come in real handy is a spear gun, Do you have one? Keep the posts coming Rich

  3. I hope to see both of you, Alex and Rich, on the Twister sometime. European leg will probably be 2013. I have a speargun.

  4. I found your post searching for this bay. We came in today and ran aground at the last green marker before entering the bay. Glad to read I am not the only one. :-) We are now anchored in the deep patch 15 to 20m for the night but we also have no clue how to get out of here again. Will snorkel the "pass" tomorrow and hope to find a deeper part. Do you have any tips?

  5. That is what I did - scout the exit route by snorkeling. I seem to recall an old iron stake by the abandoned hotel that should be left to starboard when going back toward Bloody Mary's.