We have been in Opunohu Bay, Moorea for the last week after leaving Tahiti. Had a fantastic 2 hour lively sail, hand steered through the tall waves just for the thrill of it and dropped anchor in beautiful coral sand behind the reef. Sandy beaches lined with coconut and palm trees, clear water, and peaceful surroundings. It was cloudy most of the time, had a couple of howling windy days, gusting 25 – 35 knots, enough that we took 3 hour anchor watches throughout the first night. Easy to sit up and read or watch movies compared to night watches on passage. A catamaran came in and dropped his anchor very close to us. Even in the best conditions we are nervous when the reef is so close to our anchored position and to have this guy swinging our way made the sleepless night even worse.
We snorkeled 3 days out on the ocean side reef and along the shoreline. The coral appears to be stagnant, covered with a growing, muddy algae crop across the tops of the heads. We suspect the nutrient rich water may be aiding the algae growth. The village runoff, ski doos, lagoon tour boats, cruising yachts, and the commercial princess line cruising yachts are taking the toll on the coral’s demise.
Across the top of the water are large clusters of floating dead algae with prickly stems all strung together like long stringers of rope. It was entwined in our arms and legs as we glided across the water surface.
In a few spots we viewed a few patches of healthy anemones. They were about 3’ in diameter, beautiful white and light brown ones attached to the sides of the coral heads with long waving tentacles and had orange, brown and purple Nemos swimming through them. We even saw a couple of light pink anemones. We hope the camera was able to pick up the coral heads as the lighting wasn’t very good on the snorkeling days. We saw some different fish compared to Fakarava. The red squirrel eyed fish, a star eyed fish (had 4-5 lines streaking back from his eyes, looked like long eyelashes), an eel, sea a yellow conch that was nearly 12” long, giant sea cucumbers, and schools of tiny bright purple fish and so many others. We saw several rays sitting quietly on the bottom, the spotted ray was gliding peacefully with large bottom fish trailing him.
We motored the dinghy around the reef channel, nearly 2 miles to Cook’s Bay. Incredible scenery with the deep bay lined with the tall basalt craggy mountains. Coconut, banyan trees and palm trees grow along the banks and mountain sides. A pineapple farm travels upward along the steep hillside. (they sell bunches of 5 small ones tied together, fragrant and delicious). An archeological site is visible from the water, a marae (a ceremonial stone platform with walls used for religious and human sacrifices) stands out vividly. We tried to imagine what it must have been like for Captain Cook to sail into the pristine bay with only the natives standing along the sandy shores waiting for newcomers. Perhaps some of them gleefully clapping awaiting their next meal.
Greg Clark – we did see the Mines of Moorea, strained our eyes but didn’t catch a glimpse of the Balrog, think he sunk into the 118′ water depth below us. The mountains are SO cool, can’t wait to show you the pictures!
Today the dark, muddy bay is lined with a half demolished hotel, old concrete wharfs, homes of the rich and famous, an “upscale” hotel chain with those glass bottom rooms overlooking the water, a snack bar, and lagoon tour boats moored at the Mobil gas station dock. The water along the shoreline is muddy with clumps of dead algae. We’re glad we didn’t anchor in the bay despite the very calm water.
We’re stowed and ready to depart for Raiteaa. It’s about 100 miles to our next anchorage. It will be an overnighter, 18 hours of light winds and small 1.8 Meter waves. As two of our solar panels have quit, the housebank batteries need a deep cycle charge so we’ll unfortunately need to motor for at least 6 hours, pushing us along at 5 – 6 kts and burning 15 gallons of diesel. With the wind coming from behind us the fumes generally blow into the cabin causing a headache.
We get lonely sometimes, think of our family and friends everyday, miss the conveniences of a house when we want clean laundry and a shower but we’re doing well and very grateful for our life style. We’ve met nice cruisers and made new friends, continue to say “good-bye” to them and move on knowing there are other cruisers like us looking to make a connection.
Oh, and a really exciting note, I repaired the sunbrella cover on a headsail for a cruising boat the other day with my heavy duty sewing machine, I made $100 !!! paid for 10 hours of wifi, ice cream and 15 gallons of fuel. Seriously, there went $100.00
We’ll see you later, and if you have time look up Hotopuu Bay, Raiteaa on google earth, that’s where we’re headed for a few days as we migrate north from various anchorages to Taha’a.