Well, it wasn’t really supposed to be moving day. Marce is under the weather so we fancied a couple of quiet days at anchor and after a less than calm passage over to Bora Bora we’d thought we’d found it, just off of Bloody Mary’s in the cat box. [ed: We call any place where shallow draft catamarans gather the “cat box.”]
The lagoon is very deep right up to the beach so when we saw several catamarans anchored together we knew that it would be reasonably shoal water but found a lot of coral there so we opted instead for something close but unfortunately semi deep.
Boat secured, and with Tim from Liberty Call and the ailing Marce in tow we bounced and splashed in the dinghy through the chop around the corner to the dock at Bloody Mary’s which looks a lot like a set from a Johnny Depp movie. Marce was less than amused. On the way in, we passed a large hanging slabs of wood with lists of celebrity names painted in gold. Don’t ask.
The movie set theme continued as we entered the bar walking on perfectly groomed sand floors, but a quick price check revealed who would be paying for some of this and it wasn’t going to be us. I haven’t met a hamburger yet that was worth that kind of money and a night aboard Escape Velocity was sounding better and better.
We awoke cozied up way too close to a boat we had anchored a discreet distance from just the night before. We hadn’t dragged but the high winds stretched our chain out in his direction. We got the hook up tout de suite, motored out of there and after a quick consult with the navigation department decided to chance rounding the southern point of Toopua Iti. It’s a nervous, circuitous route through the coral heads, around Point Mohio and up the coast of Toopua Island, past all the luxury resort palm frond bungalows suspended over the lagoon on stilts. Soon, off in the distance, we could see dozens of anchored sailboats. Maybe they have a wifi signal. No joy on the wifi but a nice anchorage just the same, in ten feet of the clearest water to date. I watched as our anchor dug into the sugar white coral sand.
All morning Safari adventure boats, camouflaged to look like Polynesian catamaran proas, ferried singing, camera-toting, lobster-red tourists out to the reefs and chummed the water for sharks, then took them back to their luxury resort palm frond bungalows suspended above the lagoon on stilts.
By mid afternoon and with weather moving in I was keen to reconnoiter Mai Kai Marina and the town that surrounds it. I invited Liberty Call to come along on the bumpy wet dinghy ride across the lagoon to Bora Bora. Pulling into the mooring field our friends on Enki II told us that a mooring ball had just opened up so we quickly tied their dingy to the pennant to discourage the vultures and turned around to make the run all the way back to get Escape Velocity. After totally disrupting Marce’s solitude aboard EV we motored around Vaina Mu, skirting it’s massive reef and did the always enjoyable gymnastics of securing EV to the mooring while avoiding crushing Enki II’s dink, all on the same ball. We then launched our dink and towed Enki II’s back to their boat. After a few social calls in the anchorage we popped over to pay the man but it’s Sunday and there’s no man today. I scored the marina wifi password which is why you’re reading this and then Tim and I headed back to Toopua, where Liberty Call was still anchored.
As we were picking our way across Vaina Mu’s massive reef Tim said, “Whoa, what was that?!” This is what I love about this cruising life. Magic happens with breathtaking regularity. Long flippers were slapping the water and twisting all around. Not threatening. It was a kind of mad-cap behavior. Now, dear Escapees, as you know I do not have the fish gene but I do know a whale when I see one, especially at such close range. I killed the outboard and we drifted. Is it my fault the whale swam over near us? I don’t think it was intentional. It seemed to be just goofing around, floating pink belly up, splashing and slapping the water.
Well, the killjoy fish gendarmes took exception to our special relationship with our new friend and demanded that I start my motor and back off a good way. As we slowly putted back other boats approached and the fish guy began to have a very bad day, such is the magnetic pull of whales. I dropped off Tim and turned around bashing into wind and chop back up the channel giving the reef and the whale lots of space and as I turned towards home. Mount Pahia was lit up by a slash of orange slanting light and for the first time I could see the top of the mountain that dominates Bora Bora.
If anyone asked what I did today I’d probably just say I moved the boat. It’s good to be home.