The lagoon at the southern end of Bora has amazingly clear water, despite the huge fields of sand that could churn up – but it doesn’t. Not sure why. The sandy fields inside the fringing reef are very wide, perhaps a half mile, and the areas closer to the island don’t have coral and instead have lots of Eagle Rays and Sting Rays wandering around. The sting rays are on the bottom and let you get very close with the dinghy, the Eagle rays are up in the water column definitely do not like the dinghy approaching. Both rays are easy to spot, they are the moving dark blobs over the white sand.
Once you pass the open sand you reach a gradually building slope of coral, on out straight to the reef. You can anchor the dinghy in the sand just beyond the coral and them swim around slowly in the clear water and wander on through the beds of coral. The colors are wonderful, and while not as many fish as one might see in the deeper water, there are indeed lots of fish and lots of sea urchins to watch as they move around within the corals.
The island hasn’t lived up to its reputation as a crazy place, in fact it has been very nice so far. The pace of life here is definitely more frenetic as compared to Moorea, there is a lot going on here and people move around with much more purpose in life, as it were. The passenger boats do zoom back and forth, woe to anyone that anchors in the channel (which SV Apolima did) as the zooming boats don’t give much credence to that, and will pass by at full tilt less than 10′ off the anchored boat. After two days of this Apolima upped anchor and moved well clear of the channel!
Yesterday Kristen and I went for a snorkel on the reef near a small steel wreck that must be ages old, as the wreck itself has many large corals growing on it. That was another super trip underwater, lots of animals and good light to see everything – and the coral is growing in large clumps with sandy bits in between to facilitate swimming around the corals to see who is hiding inside. We saw several large puffer fish hovering in small hiding holes at the base of the corals, and those fish have big round wide eyes which they swivel around to watch you with. Fields of short-spined sea urchins across the sand flats, and in the reef itself are large numbers of spiny sea urchins with long delicate nasty pointy blackish spines, all aiming out away from the urchin’s body.
After the snorkel we decided to circumnavigate the island, and found that Bora is in fact quite small – it’s easy to zip around in the dinghy, I’ll be driving Kristen directly to the airport in the dinghy tomorrow as there’s no road to the airport – it dates back to WWII when the USA built the runway, which they did on a motu as it was fairly flat (the island doesn’t have a good flat area suitable for airports).
The main town has a tourism office, which directed me to the post office, which didn’t have the desired Vini data card SIM for the phone, and they directed us to Tahiti Phone. After an hour in the air conditioned phone store I emerged armed with the ability to get online via cellular telephone, plus I know how to recharge the access when it gets used up. That’s way better than looking for the WDG WiFi antenna, which being WiFi has quite short range. The weird part is that I now have two Vini SIM chips, one suitable for voice (open phone to install), and the other suitable for data (open phone and remove voice sim to install data sim). AT least it works! The lady at the Tourism office told me the WDG antennas didn’t work in town, but there was one antenna on the remote side of the island that did work – only it’s too shallow to anchor Beetle over there. Thus the trip to Tahiti Phone.
This morning I dived on the anchor chain and worked out which way Beetle needed to move in order to slide the chain out from under the Bommie. Immediately after getting up and out of the water Beetle was powered up, pointed in the desired direction, and voila! – we unhooked from the bommie. It was kinda early to action be un-anchored, so we thought for a moment and decided to shift across the lagoon to the moorings in front of the restaurant Bloody Mary’s. This is the same place that friends on Pangea had gone to as we were arriving, and yesterday we reconnoitered the moorings to see what they were (look for the yellow soccer size float with the large mooring line running through it). In the nice light air and early morning sun Kristen pulled Beetle up to the float, I nabbed it with the boat hook and we were done. Nice way to start the day.
This evening we’re joining Pangea for happy hour at Bloody Mary’s, and Kristen has made dinner reservations for two at 6:30. And last night we had a delightful evening with Philip on board his 20 ton steel 40′ boat Parotia; he’s singlehanding and I invited him over to Beetle for sundowner conversation and munchies. He turned out to be a delightful person, is an avid bird person (land birds, of all things, unusual to be observing land birds from a boat), spent three years in Peru leading nature tours, and is now on his boat working across the Pacific from Panama in search of getting photos of birds.
Upshot is life is very good in Bora, it’s calm in the lagoon (light wind, the passenger zoomer boats aren’t ripping by as we’re not near a channel), the French Navy is here in the form of P675 which is grey and slightly smaller than the cruise ship Paul Gauguin which is white and somewhat larger, and Kristen is working on the last of the shrimp she obtained from the shrimp farm in Moorea.
It’s tough not to like Bora, particularly with the super snorkeling in the corals.