Daily Ramblings - October 1-7, 2008

Wednesday through Friday, October 1st - 3rd - As Major Wager departed Huahine first thing in the morning several of us boarded “Love Me Tender”  to fish and make the journey to Bora Bora.  Molly caught her first fish of the trip.  Martin Murray’s turn was next.  He could not buy a fish. While anxiously pointing out every bird he saw and, like a kid, begged us not to give up.  But sadly, we rejoined the Major Wager by the village of Vaitape, just outside the dock at the famous Bloody Marys Restaurant.

After locating an incredible snorkeling sight just near, Tom went for a dive and the rest of us snorkeled. 

We were treated to an exceptional dinner at Bloody Marys – the tuna sashimi melted in our mouths.

Off course that night we lit the underwater lights and floated chum.  After relentlessly reminding Martin he had failed to catch a fish while Hazel and Molly had been successful, he was determined.  When he stepped inside the boat for just a minute, we tied a frozen turkey on to his line.  You can imagine the hoots and cheers as Martin struggled to land his HUGE fish – only to discover he had been scammed!

The following day we shopped in Vaitape – even prices in Aspen are reasonable compared to Bora Bora.  They make sure to secure their living when the occasional cruise ship visits. And we ate lunch at the new Bora Bora Yacht Club.  They are targeting crew members so it is a swinging spot!  The island has been so over built with resorts, the occupancy rates are way down. And the currency exchange rates with the weak dollar result in an over the water bungalow costing an average $1,300 per night.

We surprised the group with an afternoon helicopter tour that gave a fantastic perspective of the entire reef, atolls and volcanic peaks and cliffs that make up this magical place.  Unfortunately, the fuel pump broke so only one group was able to enjoy this spectacular experience.

Our final dinner together has a hoot.  Each person came with a limerick.  Val outfitted the boys with pink Speedos; JR was awarded a wife beater shirt.  Kirk continued his non-stop humor…

The following morning, with emotions amok, we bid our friends bon voyage.  It was week of adventure and sharing we will always cherish.

That Friday afternoon we picked up Tom’s longtime fishing buddy, Keith Olson and his wife Dianna for a few hours of trolling outside the reef.  Nothing was caught, but Tom and Keith had a great time catching up.  Keith has been Tom’s Bora Bora fishing guide and friend for 30 years.

Sunday through Tuesday, October 5th - 7th - With excited anticipation we hopped into the Love Me Tender and headed to the Bora Bora airport to receive Michelle and Steve Goodenow, Mary and Loren Ryerson and Donna and Jon Weiss.  The airstrip was first built by the US during WWII on the only flat atoll surrounding Bora Bora.

Following a delightful lunch at the Matira Bay Restaurant we launched right into snorkeling.

After Master Chief Martha produced another of her incredible dinners – Molly is going to begin posting pictures of her meals – we headed to the back of the boat for night fishing.  With jacks circling and fish jumping, only Tom was able to hook one on a Berkley Gulp Mullet.  You can imagine Jon Weiss’s frustration. 

The scuba diving lessons began in earnest on Monday while others went to Vaipate shopping.  And the afternoon was filled with helicopter rides.  Both Molly and Tom went along this time – it is amazing to see Mother Nature’s work.  Unlike the Hawaiian Islands, Tahiti is old volcanoes retreating into the sea several centimeters a year, while the atolls continue to grow as the coral prospers.  The eco system is fascinating.

We returned to Bloody Marys for dinner and were surprised to find our names posted along with other famous guests.  It might have been the music Jon and Steve offered the entire bay until 3:00AM the previous evening.

Tuesday the guys fished their way to Tahaa Island while the Major Wager found anchor in a stunning peaceful and beautiful bay.  Even after circling through several flocks of diving birds we remained catchless.  Fishing typical picks up in Tahiti in October as the sea begins to warm, and peeks in December/January.  The refreshing perfect temperatures we have been blessed with are not hot enough to warm the seas.  But we do have high fish catching expectations for our visit to Tonga in two weeks.

Tahaa is heaven on earth.  Without, dependence on tourism the 6,000 inhabitants are industrious with agriculture – specializing in vanilla.  Our tour guide, Dave was entertaining as he proudly shared his island with us.  From eating fresh coconut. Pineapple and grapefruit, to feeding the wild chickens and sacred blue eyed eels, we came away with a feeling of contentment and peace.  If we ever need to a place to hide from the rest of the world, this is an ideal prospect.

We have all fantasized about the beautiful Tahitians coming out to greet our boat. Why should Captain Cook and the filthy sailors get such treatment and not us? So after much joking about it, our crew surprised us as the sun delivered a stunning sunset. We were on the top deck reflecting on the day and suddenly there appeared torches and four canoes circling our boat. Dressed in native costume including tattoos and all, our dream came true. Of course for the staff it all turned into a delightful water fight.

Wednesday morning we shifted anchor to Faaroa Bay at Raiatea Island. Incredible views.  First thing, we found ourselves on a four hour hike through the jungle to amazing waterfalls.  Our guide knew all of the plants and shared the sustenance way of life that supported families since the beginning of human life here. 

At 3:00 an elder man stopped by our boat inviting us to trek up the river with him in his canoe.  It was incredible, his life stories and reflections on the changes brought by the French after the international airstrip was constructed in Papette.  During his childhood there was no money, no property ownership…the island and its bounty were for all to share.  Extended families lived together and shared the daily tasks.  You fished when you needed fish, harvested coconuts when it was time. 

He tells the story of his house being destroyed by a tropical storm and the French authorities telling him he cannot rebuild it without an architect.  “This is crazy” he said in exacerbation.  He had always built his own home with bamboo, banana leaves and other materials from the jungle.  And he did again!

He stimulated evening conversations on how complicated we have made life, and how money and property ownership have consumed so much of behavior and interpersonal relationships.  Even Presidential debates seem unimportant…and if we truly could assume Hei Mau’s attitude, the volatile economy would be of little concern!

The contradiction of sharing this idealism from the top deck of a yacht is humorous.