Bora Bora is a nice place to wait out the weather but this late in the season means happy hour ashore is a little less happy. There are few boats here, as most are already in Tonga, Samoa or Fiji, making their way to New Zealand or Australia for cyclone season.
The day after we arrived a dinghy full of Germans from the boat on the mooring next to us stopped by and asked Jack if he could help with their SSB radio. They were having trouble receiving email and wondered if he knew anything about it. “I do,” I jumped in, and with that the four men started chuckling. It’s not so common, a woman knowing about radios, their skipper said. I know otherwise, as we hear at least as many female voices on the cruiser nets as men, but apparently these men hadn’t and found the whole idea quite amusing. I offered to take a look later that afternoon, and we told them about happy hour ashore for afterwards.
We went over to their boat, Incroyable, at four o’clock and while Jack sat in the cockpit with two Gunthers I went below with Arno, the skipper. I checked the settings on the computer but Arno was convinced it was something wrong with the radio itself. “Show me what it does,” I said, and Arno started the send/receive function. Within seconds, the radio connected with the shore station and operated perfectly.
“It works!” said Arno, and he looked at me with astonishment. I did nothing, of course, but I smiled and held up my index finger. “It’s magic,” I said. It’s the same magic finger I show Jack whenever he’s having issues with his iPhone and hands it over to me to “fix.”
Arno and I joined the Gunthers in the cockpit and we talked for a while. The three men are doctors, and the fourth member of the crew is Arno’s son Julian, who was out kayaking. After a while we went ashore for happy hour and over beers we made plans to take the same short hike Jack did a month ago while I was flat on my back and couldn’t move.
We dinghied all the way across the bay to Bloody Mary’s where the trail begins. Riding in the dinghy is not too comfortable on my back but Jack took it slow and easy for me. It’s a short, steep hike with a spectacular view at the top over the encircling reef.
We took turns taking pictures of each other and stepped aside whenever the 4WD tour vehicles spat out their cruise ship passengers for two minutes of selfies before bouncing back down the rutted track.
Jack led us over the other side of the ridge back down to a small pearl farm and we took the brief tour of the operation. Of all the places we’ve been where they farm oysters we never took a tour. The most interesting fact we learned is that the nuclei they use to seed the oysters come from the shell of a different variety of oyster that grows in — wait for it — the Mississippi River. Those shells are thicker and tougher than the beautiful and delicate ones that produce the Polynesian black pearls. That means they can machine a larger nucleus to get bigger pearls, and the strong nucleus also means the pearls can be drilled without the risk of crumbling. So it turns out that Tahitian black pearls are American at heart!
As always, you exit through the gift shop and while Jack and I admired the lovely jewelry, the doctors considered some pearl souvenirs. In the end the high prices turned them away and Jack and I were glad we made our pearl purchases in the craft tent in Fakarava.
We had one more happy hour with the crew of Incroyable before they sailed toward Tonga in less than optimum conditions. Julian has a flight scheduled in ten days and they couldn’t wait any longer. They have a big boat and four on board so we hope they have a reasonable passage. With only two on Escape Velocity we need to wait for better conditions before we venture out. High winds and big seas are too exhausting.
It’s another goodbye, but we imagine we’ll see the doctors again in New Zealand.