Posted by: Carol | April 17, 2009

Bora Bora – Settling In

2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090417_borabora-073Here we are the balmy South Pacific after freezing last weekend in San Diego and Tucson both! Of course it’s probably warming up nicely there as well, as soon as we left town!

Flights went smooth as silk – an hour’s flight from Tucson to LAX, a 3 hour layover in Air Tahiti Nui’s international lounge, and then an 8 1/2 hour flight from LAX to Papeete, arriving exactly on time at 6:30 p.m., just as it was turning dark. All our luggage made the trip as well so we flagged down a taxi and in five minutes we were checking in to the Intercontinental Resort Tahiti. It is a lovely resort but we didn’t see much of it, although we enjoyed a gourmet French dinner in an outdoor restaurant overlooking the sea – then early to bed and early to rise as we had a 7 a.m. island-hop flight from Tahiti to Bora Bora a couple of hundred miles away.

I love the Bora Bora airport! It was built on an island and there are no roads accessing the airport at all! Instead passengers are picked up or dropped off by boat. Rod met us at the airport dock in the dinghy; we put Hefty Bags over our suitcases to protect them from salt spray, and then raced off in our overloaded dinghy straight to Raven anchored in deeper water not too far away.

First order of business is always to quickly unpack the suitcases and stow all the “stuff” we brought with – this trip we had 36 Raven T-shirts (for handing out to islanders as we cruise); also repair parts for the washing machine which broke twice on the trip from La Paz to Bora Bora, a very fancy electric meter to diagnose the washing machine, a borrowed satellite phone for experimental purposes, assorted food items we enjoy and can’t buy here like EasiYo yogurt packets, natural peanut butter, and Vegemite (yuck!) for Rod, my usual camera gear, computers etc. Hardly anything in the way of clothing since everything we need is already on board.

We met Geraldine, Rod’s wife from the Philippines, for the first time although we’ve been hearing about her for a couple of years. She joined Raven in La Paz and had an abrupt transition to sailing life when a week or so later they struck off across the Pacific on the two-week passage to the Marquesas. Rod tells us she didn’t eat for fourteen days from the shock and dropped about as many pounds! Since she is so tiny anyway, well under 100 pounds normally I would guess, she could probably ill afford the loss!

So far we’ve just been enjoying the relaxation. Rod has a hammock hung under an awning on the foredeck, and it is a great place to read a book, gently rocking with the boat, shaded by the awning and cooled by the sea breeze. I am hooked on a series of vampire books of all things – downloaded from to my iPhone using the iPhone Kindle app. I loaded up some dozen books on the iPhone before I left home and is it a great way to read! Plus it doesn’t weigh down the suitcases with real live (heavy) books!

We also have enjoyed a couple of pleasant snorkels in the beautiful warm turquoise water, a two-hour walk along Bora Bora’s perimeter highway, and some shopping in Vaitape, the island’s main town. I bought a ukulele yesterday mostly because it was so pretty, carved out of assorted woods including hibiscus wood which is a soft grey-green color. However we have wifi at the moment, so I plan to download a “Learn to Play the Ukulele” tutorial before we lose the internet connection for good. That should provide many evening’s worth of entertainment as we cruise!

I took my camera on the walk just in case – lost Mike about halfway as he started to worry about blisters. Eventually I was side-tracked by the hibiscus blossoms along the roadside. One of the things I love most about the South Pacific are the ever present and luxuriant hibiscus hedges.

On the downside, the tourism industry here is very depressed as a result of the economic downturn. One of the big resort hotels is shut down, a store in town was going out of business, and most of the other stores were offering substantial discounts. In Papeete the Intercontinental Resort where we stayed appeared to be mostly empty.

We plan to hang out in Bora Bora for a week or so. I’m sure we’ll go scuba diving with the black tipped reef sharks again (Michelle remembers that dive). We are anchored in the perfect place for Mike to practice his kite surfing skills that he learned in New Zealand. He bought a kite-surfing kit and had it shipped to Raven. Only catch is that at the moment the wind has been blowing pretty hard every since our arrival, frequently hitting 20-25 knots, which is more than ideal for a newbie kite surfer. So we’re hoping it will die down a bit in a day or two.

When the weather reports look encouraging we will depart Bora Bora and head for our first Cook Island destination, an uninhabited atoll named Penrhyn. It should be about a three day passage with really nice sailing conditions – we’re looking forwards to it. Of course no wifi – so back to sailmail and satphone for communication.

Wish you all could be here to get a taste of our “other life”. It’s a pretty amazing contrast to life at home.

Love to all,



  1. Hi Carol and Mike! Welcome back to the Southern Hemisphere 🙂 It sounds like you are having an amazing time! I will watch this space with envy over the next months I am sure …haha 🙂

    Have you ever watched the movie entitled “Nim’s Island”? The kids are quite taken with it and believe that Nim’s Island is a real island out by Rarotonga! Could you perhaps send some pictures of it if you “happen to see it” in your travels?

    We have hopes of doing some of the same cruises you are doing with the kids one day! And it sounds like you have really gotten the transition into a sailor’s life down pretty well; I’m so impressed with the iPhone books!

    We look forward to hearing the next installment from “tales of the sea!” Have a great time!
    Love from all of us,

  2. Hi Amy!

    Never saw “Nim’s Island” but will have to check it out. For sure I’ll take some pictures – maybe Rod will give me a ride to the top of the mast in the bosun’s chair and I’ll get some aerials! We are going to Penrhyn and Suwarrow in the Cooks – neither very close to Rarotonga. After that hopefully Niue, and finally Tonga.

    We know of a nice cruising boat coming up for sale in November in New Zealand!


  3. The flowers and the turquoise water looks divine!
    The weather has been cold and windy as heck — so sofar — you’ve missed nothing here!!

    Enjoy, enjoy!

    Hello to Rod!

  4. Hello, I just found this website, blog today as I was surfing the internet. I am the orginal owner of RAVEN orginally PANACHE and glad she is still cruising the oceans. Sad to see you are selling her, hopefully her new owners will take good care as she is a fine boat. Small world as I see you are from Tucson where I have spent a fair amount of time as my mother winters there. Of course Steve is from there also.

    A little sad to see you are going to the dark side but I’ve had similar thoughts.


    Good luck,

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