Tag Archives: dolphins

Vaiare Bay, Mo'orea

Discovering the Beauty of Lockdown

Sugar Shack enters confinement / lockdown in Mo’orea with Wayne and Deborah on board.  Not an ideal situation for visiting guests, but we make the best of it.  Deborah has never been on Sugar Shack and we are determined to show her a good time.

Matt met Deborah at Maxserve in the 90’s (yep, well over 30 years ago and she still hangs around).  I have had the pleasure of knowing her for about 20 years and was really looking forward to sharing our sea life with her.

Deborah

Deborah

There’s a lot of gray area around the lockdown rules.  The government stated that no inter island travel was allowed.  Which sucked as we had planned on sailing Deborah and Wayne to the Leeward islands.  The government (DPAM) stated “no leisure travel.”   However, there was no clear law or rule about moving around to other anchorages within the island you were currently anchored at.  Several cruisers wrote to the local authorities and everyone got mixed messages.  One government group (police municipale) said yes, you have to move around to adhere to the local anchoring laws. Whereas DPAM (another government department) said “no moving period.” Who do you believe?

Some anchorages in Mo’orea (where we were located) have anchoring restrictions.  Some places you can only anchor for 1 week and some for only 48 hours.  These regulations were created by a different organization than the one running the confinement.  So, two groups trying to instill their version of the law and we are caught in the middle.  We decided to move to a different anchorage to give Deborah and Wayne a change of scenery.  I mean, if we are going to be stuck on the boat, at least we can do is change the view, right?

We started in Opunohu Bay and moved to the Tiki anchorage closer to the reef.

What do you do on a 47’ boat 24/7?

Lucky for us, both Deborah and Wayne are super easy going and flexible.  We chatted a lot, shared tall stories, laid out in the sun, and swam.  We read, played a lot of games (Cards Against Humanity, Gin, Poker, Racko, Dominoes), watched a movie or two and went to shore to stretch our legs during our allotted time.

Fly a Kite.  Matt found one kite in the water and tried to fly it despite the fact that it was missing a rod.  He then got out another smaller kite and flew it off the back of the boat.

Work out:  Deborah and I worked out in the mornings with some stretching, crunches, squats, and wrist weights.  After all, you have to stay in shape during lockdown, right?

Some reading….

Played on the dinghy.

Pearl Shopping

A friend of mine, who runs a small pearl farm, provides me with imperfect pearls.  I try to sell them to other cruisers to help my friend and to make the recipients happy.  They get cheap pearls and all the money goes back to the pearl farmer. 

It was great fun educating Deborah on the life cycle of the oyster and its pearl.  She found some real gems.

The Tiki anchorage is not a bad place to be during lockdown.  The views are beautiful as are the sunsets.

Lockdown view

Lockdown view

Excursion on Shore

We decided to make use of our 1-hour exercise allotment and headed to shore.  We have visited here before and had no problem using this old basin to access the village, but this time we were thwarted by a locked gate. So, we just enjoyed the entire basin grounds to ourselves.

No worries, we found plenty to entertain ourselves.  Deborah at the welcome sign and departure sign.  We also found some cool art work on the walls: a giant gecko and octopus.

Deborah so badly wanted to reach the palm tree…try as she might, she wasn’t nearly tall enough.

We had a lot of lounging around on the “lido deck”

The Underwater Tiki Anchorage

We couldn’t anchor at the tiki anchorage without stopping at the underwater tiki garden.  Now technically, we are not supposed to be snorkeling.  The locals can’t snorkel and do watersports so they ask that cruisers don’t do it either.  But we were in a remote anchorage, far from shore with little traffic and we used it as our one hour of exercise.  I know, excuses, excuses, excuses.

Snorkeling was a first for Deborah.  We had a rough start, but that was because the mask did not fit her properly.  After switching masks, she did rather well for a first timer.  It can be scary learning how to breath under water. 

Wayne and I swam out to the underwater tiki garden.  Matt took Deborah by dinghy and helped her with her gear.  She jumped in and swam around like a Rockstar.

We found all 7 sunken tikis along with several fish and little coral gardens.

We headed back to the boat to enjoy some water time.

Dolphins and Whales

We got so lucky!  One calm day we were able to spy some whales just outside the pass.  We jumped in the dinghy and went out to meet them.  A large pod of dolphins enjoyed surfing the waves too.

Then the humpback whales came out to play.  It appeared to be a momma and baby and another large adult.  They were amaze balls! 

Some random photo ops during lockdown:

Sunrise over Tahiti from Mo'orea

Sunrise over Tahiti from Mo’orea

Crazy Fun Photos

Definitely not the holiday we had envisioned for Deborah.  But hopefully she had a good time.

Coming up next we visit an underwater sanctuary.  In our last blog, we welcome Wayne onboard Sugar Shack and get one day to play before confinement.

Events from this blog post occurred during the third week of August, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Sugar Shack at Oponohu Passe

Voyage to Mo’orea

Finally, it was time for us to leave Tahiti and begin our voyage East. It is a short passage of 12nm to Moo’rea.  The weather was not conducive to sail toward the Tuamotus so we just went to the next island over.  However, before we left we enjoyed sundowners (aka happy hour) with our friends Julie and Andy on “Little Wing.”

Julie and I at sunset

Julie and I at sunset

Afterwards we were rewarded with a beautiful moonrise over Marina Taina in Tahiti. Perfect for this Halloween night.

The next morning, we made a final trash run and another quick trip to the grocery store to see if they got any pork in stock.  For some reason, the island of Tahiti is out of pork products – no pork chops, pork shoulder or pork ribs.  So sad for me.

Voyage to Mo’orea

We left the south pass and had light winds of 6-8kts coming north of east.  Sugar Shack had a full main and a reefed jib because there was hardly any wind.  We were doing a whopping 3-5kts of boat speed – just plugging along.  We were not in a hurry and had all day to cross the bay to the next island.

Several local surfers were taking advantage of the great waves as we left the pass.  These are short waves that break on a dangerous reef – but they still manage to rock it!

A French War ship was hanging out just in front of Mo’orea.  It looked like they were dragging something, but we were not close enough to figure it out.

French warship off the coast of Mo'orea

French warship off the coast of Mo’orea

In the distance we could see white caps.  Not a good sign, so we took a reef in the main sail.  After 15 minutes we decided to take a 2nd reef in the main sail.  Thank Holy God!  The winds jumped to 30-35kts and the seas quickly became 2-3 meters!  We were  bouncing all over the place.  We almost turned around, but decided to forge ahead.  The weather calmed down to 20-25kts and 1.5-2 meter seas which was a bit better.  The boat found her happy place and we were doing 7-8kts.

We turned the corner and had another 5nm to go to Oponohu passe entrance. During this leg of our voyage we encountered lots of beautiful dolphin.  They were surfing in the waves, jumping, and having fun.  We first spotted some dolphins at the Tahiti pass by the new surf platform (upper left photo), and then we saw dozens more as we got closer to Mo’orea.

Another mile further we ran into a super talented, overzealous foil boarder.   He was amazing!  He circled around Sugar Shack several times showing off his mad skills!  See my Instagram account for video footage.  He pumps the board by bending his knees which keeps the board moving forward.  He also uses the kite that is in his hand for propulsion.  We were going 6-7kts and he was going faster than us!

We were gifted with a grand view as we entered the Oponohu passe.

Sugar Shack at Oponohu Passe

Sugar Shack at Oponohu Passe

To the left of the pass is the anchorage which is full of other boats.  We grabbed a spot on a nice sandy patch in 3 meters of water.

Oponohu Anchorage

Oponohu Anchorage

Events from this blog occurred over the last week of October 2020.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

Whales in Teti'aroa

A Whale of a Send Off: Passage Teti’aroa to Makatea

Teti’aroa is know for whale spotting, especially from July to November.  We had seen several spouts and watched a few charter boats do the dance around the entrance in search of a whale.  But we didn’t actually see a whale breach the water during our stay.  A little disappointed, we raised the main sail and released the mooring.  It was time to head to a new island called Makatea.  We unfurled the jib and put out our three fishing lines as soon as we left and were crossing the bay.  Then I heard Matt shout “whale.”  I ran back, grabbed the big camera and tried to capture these elusive beauties.

Under full sail with three fishing lines out we had to be careful about maneuvering the boat.  We could not just turn on a dime to go back which was frustrating, but I got a few shots of the mama whale and her baby calf.

Whales in Teti'aroa

Whales in Teti’aroa

We received a send off part just as we were passing Brando island.  A pod of dolphins came to play with Sugar Shack.  We weren’t going very fast, so I am sure it was not much of a sport to them.

Dolphins off Brando Island

Dolphins off Brando Island

Making Our Way to Makatea

We knew it would be a light wind motor sail, but we had hoped for a little more wind than what we got.  Regardless, we had full sails up, port engine running, and three lines out on our way to Makatea.

The moon rose as the sun set in perfect unison.  So gorgeous.

Moonrise and Sunset

Moonrise and Sunset

As we approached Makatea the next morning, we started preparing the boat for mooring.  I was setting the lines for the mooring while Matt brought in the fishing lines.  We caught nothing, zippo, nada during the entire trip!  As Matt brought in one of the lures, we understood why we did not hear the elusive “zing” of the line.  Someone ate our skirt as an appetizer.

Someone ate her skirt!

Someone ate her skirt!

Passage Details:

Miles Traveled:  110 nm

Duration:  20:30

Avg. Speed:  5.3 kt

Max Speed:  8.1 kt

Wind Speed:  8-10 kt

Swell:  .5

Makatea has soaring cliffs that jet into the sky from the sea’s surge.  Making a very imposing sight on entry.

Approaching Makatea

Approaching Makatea

Mooring in Makatea

There is no anchorage anywhere near the island of Makatea.  There are only three moorings that are maintained by the locals.  Lucky for us, there were no other boats when we arrived.  So we had our pick of the moorings.  A fellow cruiser told us that the mooring on the far left (red) is the best one because it is not moored in super deep water (50 meters vs 100 meters).   We circled around and found the painter sunk below the water.  We grabbed the line, threaded our two lines through loop and secured Sugar Shack.    The boat is maybe 8-10 meters away from the surge and the reef – freakishly close!

Surge over reef at Makatea

Surge over reef at Makatea

Long Lost Friends

A few hours after we arrived, we saw a boat on the horizon without AIS.  We could not determine their name so we just watched as they approached.  It did not take long for us to hear the roar of “Sugar Shack.  Hey, it’s Matt and Christine!”  Well they certainly know us….if we only knew them?  They slowly motored up next to us and it was Yves and Martha on Break Away.  We had not seen them since Las Perles, Panama (over 18 months ago).  Sweet!

We let them get settled on the furthest mooring before picking them up to go exploring in town.  We had to navigate the tricky pass that has a big surge over the reef. Lucky for us, Sweetie is equipped with a 25hp outboard.  We timed it between sets and made it in with no problem.  A quick bow anchor and stern tie to dock and we are off.  The photo below shows the surge over the reef between the two poles which is the entrance.

Entrance to Makatea Port

Entrance to Makatea Port

On Shore – Makatea

We found lots of industrial equipment, the le marie (mayor’s office) and a magasin with ice cream and wifi.  We decided to turn back before it got too dark and enjoyed sun downers on Break Away.

Old trains abandoned on the island

Old trains abandoned on the island

The map below shows the trail we will go on during our tour.  See Belvedere and Pot Hole.

Map of Makatea

Map of Makatea

The terrain was mixed between large rocks jetting from the ground to beautiful forests.  I am sure will learn more about this on our tour.

Lots of phosphate rocks on this island

Lots of phosphate rocks on this island

Returning to the port, we see our beautiful boat sitting close to the ruins.

Sugar Shack on her mooring close to the reef

Sugar Shack on her mooring close to the reef