Friday, June 18, 2010

Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora.

Leaving Tahiti in direction of Bora Bora we had a small stop to do at the island of Raiatea in order to do some repairs on the boat. Nothing major but the main task consisted in changing the blades of our starboard propeller and for this we needed to haul out the boat. Less than two hours after being out of the water the propeller had three new shiny blades but less than 48 hours after returning in the salt water the blades were already faded and the corrosion process well engaged! While waiting for our haul out at the dock of the “Chantier Maritime des Iles sous le vent” we chatted with Patrick and Naya who were moored just next to us. Naya mentioned among other things that she had some issues receiving her emails and Danielle told her she would come later to see what she can do. The next day, after we were done with the repairs and had launched the boat, we went to see them. We stayed four hours on their boat; 15 minutes for Danielle to fix the email problem and 3 hours and 45 minutes to chat with them!

Before leaving Raiatea we went to the neighbor island of Tahaa. In fact the two islands are so close that they share the same coral belt. We wanted to visit a pearl farm since the black pearl is literally the jewel of French Polynesia and the pun is entirely intended J Carl, from the “Motu Pearl Village” explained to us how they implant a small seed in the oysters to provoke the creation of a pearl. Eighteen months after the implant the oyster has covered the seed with a layer of black mother-of-pearl sufficiently thick to meet the regulations required to put it on the market. To give you an idea of the local pearl industry the farm we visited had, at one point, up to 200,000 oysters but the recent downturn in the pearl industry forced them to bring that figure down to 20,000. There are apparently around 650 pearl farms in French Polynesia. As for us since it was Danielle’s birthday and our wedding anniversary both in the same week we bought her a nice black pearl, the size of our means, she will be able to wear at the neck.

We couldn’t leave French Polynesia without seeing the island of Bora Bora. The water in the area is obviously magnificent but the island itself doesn’t have much for the passing tourists. The reason is very simple; Bora Bora is the paradise of De Luxe All Inclusive Resorts, which offer rooms starting around $150/night up to the bungalows built on piles going for as much as $850/night! People come here for the water and fishes are beautiful. We went snorkeling close to our anchorage at a place we saw many tour boats bringing tourists for a dive. While attaching our dinghy to a mooring ball at the location in question we saw hundreds of fishes gathering around us. It didn’t take us long to understand that those fishes are regularly fed by the tourist boats. We quickly came back to the boat and brought back a baguette of bread with us. As soon as we were in the water it was close to a thousand fishes that surrounded us from everywhere and we only had to hold the pieces of bread in our hand for them to come and nibble at it. We could even feel the tickling from some of them confusing our fingers with the bread. In few minutes the whole baguette was gone and not a single crumb touched the bottom!