s/y Nine of Cups
The Society Islands - Iles Sous le Vent (The Leewards)
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Get a preview of where we we're
heading next... the
Cook Islands.
A calm, windless overnight motor-sail of 110 nm with a full moon and a mackerel sky
and we arrived at Huahine around Noon. The cut through the reef at Passe Avapehi
was uneventful despite rain showers and  SE winds up to 30 kts (better known as a
maraamu) as we approached. A long, well marked channel inside the barrier reef  led
us to lovely, well-protected Port Bourayne where we anchored in nearly 100'. There
were only a couple of other boats in the bay and despite our lovely feeling of being a
bit remote, we found we once again had wifi on the boat! Life is good.
In the austral winter, especially in the months of July and August, southeast
winds of 25 to 35 knots called
maraamu can occur with some regularity in
the Society leeward islands, bringing with them ocean swells of 10-12 feet.
Like Tahiti, Huahine's two islands are connected by a narrow
little isthmus. The north island is Huahine Nui (big Huahine)
and the south island is Huahine Iti (little Huahine). The story
goes that the demigod Hiro's canoe cut this strait.
View entering Baie Bourayne, Huahine
We anchored for two days in Baie Bourayne...relaxing and
doing some chores the first day, just happy to be moving again.
The second day, we took the dinghy across the bay and under
the little bridge at the isthmus that connects Huahine-Nui with
Huahine-Iti and crossed Maroe Bay. We left the dinghy near a
little village and walked up to the Belvedere (a 15% grade...
ugh!) and then on to the village of Faie.
The view from the top of the pass over the mountain was stupendous (upper left). I
had an ulterior motive, however, for wanting to walk to the little village of Faie. It's the
home of the sacred, blue-eyed eels. I kid you not. These guys are famous and because
they're so sacred, they're very well fed. We joined with the other tourists, bought a can
of mackerel and, since I was the photographer and could not go into the water lest the
camera would get wet, I took photos while David waded in with his can of mackerel
and announced chow time to the eels by slapping the water and dribbling mackerel
juice to aid the process.  My, oh, my...what a sight as these meter-long eels came from
under every rock and cranny in this tiny, muddy stream to see what treats David had in
store for them. They mistook his white toes for mackerel at one point and began
nipping so he promptly got back on shore and as you can see, they followed him.
Islanders say the eels, which have been on Huahine as long as man, keep the waters
clean and free of pollution, eating rubbish and bacteria that grow in the riverbed.
Legend holds that it was these eels that brought fresh water to the village.
We moved the boat to the largest village of
Huahine, Fare.
Boat anchorage off Fare, Huahine. In the
distance, Raiatea and Tahaa are in view.
The quay along the waterfront was lovely.
Main Street, Fare, Huahine
Saturday market day in downtown Fare. The
SuperFare supermarket was a huge warren of
aisles, nooks and crannies and carried just
about everything and anything you'd want.
LeTruck seemed to have no posted
schedule. Only the drivers knew when
and where they were going.
A fan palm, also known as a Traveler's Tree,
outside the post office.
We walked the six+ kilometers to the little
village of Maeva, noted for its plethora of
marae, places reserved for religious and
social ceremonial activities. In this area
alone, there were 20 marae, all quite
accessible and in differing states of repair.
These were constructed by the different
district chiefs as places for people to meet
and worship their ancestors. Archeologists
date activity in this area as early as 850 A.D.
Those marae along the banks of the Lake
Fauna Nui were interesting and saved us the
climb into the hills on a hot, humid day.
Informative signs (in French, English and
Tahitian) provided lots of information on
Marae Rauhuru was the most intricate of
all and incorporated all of the typical
elements of a marae.
The "unu" were particularly interesting.
Carved wooden planks, brightly colored
with intricate patterns and carved zoo-
morphic and anthropomorphic images of
family guardians and ancestors, e.g. totems.
We stopped at the Fare Pote'e which is a replica
of an original community building associated with
the marae.
Ancient stone and coral fish traps still in use
today as they were generations ago.
A pretty view of Maeva village
A monument to the French who did here in 1846 in
the Battle of Maeva when the islanders successfully
defended their independence.
From the anchorage, our next
island stop, Raiatea, is in clear
view. Only 21 miles away, it's a
straight shot out of Huahine's
Avamou Pass across the bay into
Raiatea's Teavapiti  Pass and an
anchorage near the village of  
Uturoa. Once again, no wind, so
we motored on a lovely day.
Quick trips between islands
reminded us of our time in the
eastern Carib.
We didn't spend much time at Raiatea, we
re-provisioned a bit at the Champion
Supermarket, filled our water jugs with laundry
water and then headed back to the boat. A
cruise ship had just arrived and the town was
overwhelmed by its passengers. Our next stop
was across the lagoon, around the Grand Banc
Centrale to Baie Haamene in Taha'a.
At 66 sq miles, Raiatea is the second largest island of French Polynesia. It was
traditionally the ancient "Havai'i", the sacred isle from which all of eastern Polynesia was
colonized.  Raiatea shares a lagoon with its northern sister, Taha'a. Legend tells how the
two islands were cut apart by a mythical eel (eels again!).
Entering the lagoon through Teavapiti Pass
The deep anchorage in front of Uturoa.
Uturoa is the administrative center of the
leeward islands. Though small, it's quite
modern with a great supermarket, fuel
dock and large municipal quay.
Flat-topped Tapioi Hill (956')
provides the backdrop for the local
yacht club.
Taha'a is known as the vanilla island because
it  produces 70% of the territory's "black
.Vanilla, a vine belonging to the orchid
family, is grown on small family plantations
here. Brought to Tahiti from
Manila in 1848, the
type originated from a
mutation of the original
plant. All plants must be
hand-pollinated, then harvested between April
and June. The pods are then put out to dry for
a couple of months. This extremely labor
intensive process accounts for the high price
charged for real vanilla products. In fact, it's
one of the world's most expensive spices.
Taha'a is considered "off the beaten track"
since it has no airport and is less built up than
its neighbors. Just our kind of place.
Entering Baie Haamene, the longest inlet on the
island, quite well protected and beautiful. The
little village of Haamene lies at the head of the
bay with a considerably shallower anchorage
(40') than we'd seen in awhile.
Baie Bourayne, Huahine - 16S45.98 / 151W01.79
Fare - 16S42.80 /151W02.25
Uturoa, Raiatea - 16S43.67 / 151.26.36
Baie Haamene, Taha'a - 16S38.24 / 151W29.16
The red steeple of this pretty little church on
Taha'a's west side is a landmark for folks
heading into the lagoon through Pass PaiPai.
Heading out through Pass PaiPai was a bit
boisterous. After a few bumps, we were through
the pass, in deep water again and all calmed
down for the 30+ nm  trip to Bora Bora.
Unfortunately, time was running out for us.
Our visa expired and we needed to leave
French Polynesia. Never enough time, it
seems. After only a couple of days in Taha'a,
we headed to Bora Bora, our last stop in
French Polynesia.
Bora Bora Yacht Club, Bora  Bora         16S29.28 / 151W45.65
NASA aerial view of Bora Bora
The trip from Taha'a to Bora Bora was pleasant enough though we had little wind and big
swells. A large vibrant green cloud lay over Bora Bora's lagoon; we thought it might be a
reflection of the turquoise green water below. The green cloud was soon overtaken by huge
black clouds and rain as we approached the entrance to Bora Bora's only pass, Te Ava Nui.
A few bumps and we were through the pass and picking up a mooring at the Bora Bora
Yacht Club.

We walked the mile+ into the little village of Vaitape to explore a bit and buy a few groceries.
The road to town was narrow with no sidewalk, almost no shoulder and lots of traffic.
Vaitape was crowded with cruise ship tourists, lots of traffic and otherwise not much
Polynesian flavor. We had the chance to catch up on emails via wifi and managed a visit with
friends Vanessa and Col on "Reality" and a great dinner with Rob & Teresa on "Yohelah".

The clock continued to tick and a weather window presented itself. With reluctance, we left
Bora Bora heading to the Cook Islands.
Nine of Cups sits comfortably on a mooring with the
peak of  Mataihua and the Bora Bora Yacht Club in
the background.
The original name for Bora Bora was Pora Pora
because no "B" sound exists in the Polynesian language.