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Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti #179675
01/05/2019 04:07 PM
01/05/2019 04:07 PM
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 34
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BPT Offline OP
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BPT  Offline OP
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We're going to try something new (my 60th) after sailing/visiting the BVI's for 22 years (56 trips!!) and wondering if someone can help. I can't seem to find a sailing guide for Tahiti and I know many of you seasoned TTOL'ers have sailed there! Any reading suggestions other than what The Moorings has on their website? We have saved all of our Sailing Guides from BVI trips. Dog eared and precious! Thanks! Happy New Year!

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Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: BPT] #179682
01/05/2019 04:55 PM
01/05/2019 04:55 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 236
Redmond, WA
MrEZgoin Offline
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We did a 2 week BB charter with Moorings out of the Raiatea base about 5 years ago. Information was definitely a little thin... we had photocopied black and white "not for navigation" charts. These were marked up with pen by the chart briefer showing some of the suggested anchoring areas.

Navigation within the lagoons was quite easy as they were very well marked. Anchoring, on the other hand, I found challenging.

Most of the lagoon is too deep for anchoring, 90 feet was about typical. That leaves mostly anchoring on the edge of the fringing reef and in the vicinity of the passes. The passages between islands (say, Raiatea to Bora Bora) is long enough that you will arrive too late to have good light to see into the water. The bottom shoals VERY rapidly approaching the fringing reef... we almost came to grief several times because the depth finder was set to average a window of readings and would lag behind the depth when approaching the reef. There is a setting in the depth finder to adjust this window and I recommend setting it to the minimum.

Currents in the vicinity of the passes can be strong, holding isn't great and coral is everywhere. Tahiti is the only charter where we dragged (yanked really, when a squall pushed us hard against the direction our anchor was set). It's also the only place we have made ground contact, which was fortunately minimal.

Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: MrEZgoin] #179684
01/05/2019 05:01 PM
01/05/2019 05:01 PM
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Yikes Mr EZ, sounds like my husband will defn need a co-captain!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: BPT] #179709
01/05/2019 09:18 PM
01/05/2019 09:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 236
Redmond, WA
MrEZgoin Offline
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I hope I'm not overstating the difficulty and things may have changed in the last five years. At that time there were only a few places with mooring balls. By all means gather some more opinions.

The Moorings/Sunsail difficulty ratings seem to heavily emphasize navigation and wind/current/tide conditions, and doesn't IMO adequately factor in infrastructure, or lack thereof.

Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: BPT] #179720
01/05/2019 11:45 PM
01/05/2019 11:45 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 207
Dallas
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Went 4 years ago -- 44 'cat out of Riataea. Sunsail. Very professional. Briefing very straightforward and while the charts were rudimentary they proved adequate. Sailing guide I think is available on line and very helpful. I don't think any of the available boats had A/C or water makers then -- probably too much maintenance -- may have changed. Taking the boat out the first day getting a feel for the scale of the maps vs the distances travelled was a bit different from our familiar BVI waters but was soon accommodated.
The snorkel on Ta'aha was truly magnificent. 20 feet wide 6 ft deep and 100 yds long -- drift snorkeled it several times -- Titan triggers so aggressive they knocked off your mask if too close. Largest moray's I've seen. Unbelievable fish, corals and multihued clams in abundance. and the pearl shop there had the best tour, best prices and quality.

The trip to Huahina was quite the adventure -- 8-10 foot seas for 7 hours -- but the island was beautiful and the people unforgettable.

The trip to BoraBora a bit shorter but still much more adventurous than sailing the BVI --- but truly magnificent.

The briefing very effectively outlined where to go for fuel, water, provisions on the various islands and I found the info very easy to follow and up to date.

Much more open water sailing than BVI and there is no effective chase-boat system if you go island hopping. I would have been happy just staying within the atoll system comprising Riatea and TaHaa-- That is no more challenging than Sir Francis Drake channel. Otherwise you are sort of on your own to fix most things. But that is sailing.......

We never had a problem finding good holding anchorages following the guides given by Sunsail. You do have to anchor as most mooring balls are private.

That said, my son who holds a 100 ton captains license was with us and helped with navigation and logistics.......Having a little piece of mind aboard might not be a bad thing

One of our most memorable sailing trips.

Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: BPT] #179840
01/06/2019 11:09 PM
01/06/2019 11:09 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 103
Dana Point
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I have sailed French Polynesia ( the leeward islands of Tahiti, 4 different times 12 days to 2 weeks. I have a U.S.C.G. Merchant Marine Officer License ( 5th issue) for vessels up to 500 tons. 35 years sailing professionally, Australia , Tahiti, Tonga, Mexico, Calif coast, and channel islands, the BVI, the Abacos , Bahamas; The French West Indies; the Windwards and Grenadines; , Ireland and Greece. It is great to see that you all are doing it right to get a cruising guide, and charts, and of course pay attention to the chart briefier. Good plan to study the charts and cruising guide well before the planned trip, and bring them with you .

The leeward islands of Tahiti...

Riatea, Taha'a, Bora Bora. and Huahine.

For a very easy cruising guide.......on the computer......> Tahiti Cruising Guide - The Moorings < You can view or download. Also, we strongly suggest some good charts of those islands. It has been some time, but I think we had another cruising, but I
do not want to guess at it. You might find it on the web. It was hard to read, with many, many long paragraphs. The Moorings guide was fairly simple . Both would be ideal.

Our plans varied a bit over the years, but there is zero night sailing, and no night entries thru the passes or around the reefs. Have a bow watch for reef passages, and in many cases , use RANGE MARKS to navigate thru the reef passes.

The passage from Taha'a to Bora Bora is fairly long, and we would leave Taha'a early morning. Always had good winds. We stayed alert, and were very aware of how far the reef around Bora Bora came out to sea on our course. We stood well off to
avoid that reef, and positively had a visual on the navaids, and actual passes before attempting to enter a pass. . It can be a fake out if you are not aware.

Our last trip, we found the Lagoon at Bora Bora had three large cruise ships in the lagoon...Thousands of pax, and buses, vans, and carloads of cruise ship passengers were flooding the island. We did meet some friends who were on one of the cruise ships, in port for only 5 hrs.

Be advised there are lots of moorings at the various anchorages and bays . Anyway, we picked up a mooring in front of bloody mary's, dinked over, and they were on the very nice pier waiting for us. All four of us, walked into Bloody Mary's for lunch, and it was crammed full of cruise shippers, one table left. They were only able to spend a short but fun lunch time wtih us, then the ships van, picked them up and off they went. Next morning, we dropped off at bloody marys and spent the night at the Bora Bora Yacht Club ( very nice and friendly and fun ) on a mooring, Good times . But we needed to get away from all that. Just as you enter the pass to the Bora Bora Lagoon, there is a large moto ( small island )to your starboard side.

Leaving the Bora Bora Yacht Club mooring fields, We motored over and behind the motu. Paying close attention to the nav aid stakes, and with a bow watch , found a great anchorage ( we were the only ones there ), good holding ground on the reef side of the motu. Dinked out to the reef to snorkel and watched a shark feeding , very calmly, arms and hands next to the body, and Then, snorkeled the barrier reef. Wow ! I think the tourists were paying several hundred fancs .

Taha'a actually became a fave island, and there is some great snorkeling at the CORAL RIVER, also some Pearl Farms, and the Vanilla Plantation , and actually we rented bikes at one of the anchorages and peddled on our own island tour. Taha'a is very peaceful and beautiful .

We also sailed over to Huahini, at Fare, and rented cars , or scooter to tour both of the islands.

Most of the places that we visited , we were able to use moorings, and we would not think of anchoring in any of the passes. We pretty much followed the navigation procedures set forth by the moorings / sunsail. The last two trips were just Erica and I. The
first two, was thru the sailing club that I worked for, and was a flotilla leader. of several boats. Life was somewhat easier, with just the two of us as to the responsibility factor.

We did not have GPS, and used Coastal Piloting and Navigation, studied the charts, and cruising guides, noted our positions on the charts, posted bow watches, and were at our destinations around 3 pm , or sooner.

Tahiti is fantastic, and you can chose busy anchorages, or mix and match with more easy going bays with less action.

Almost forgot, on the first two trips to Tahiti, we added in some time on Tahiti Island and a couple or three days on Moorea, ( land based ) at the end of our sailing vacations . Moorea was very nice .

Just FYI,

Denny and Erica

Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: captdennyj] #179846
01/07/2019 03:50 AM
01/07/2019 03:50 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 3,486
Worcester, U.K. and Spain
Jeannius Online content
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Great analysis by Denny and Erica. I'll just add one point... Take money. Lots and lots of money! We were leaving Tahiti for a few weeks taking in Moorea, Huahine and Bora Bora before heading through the rest of the South Pacific towards Australia. Our supermarket cart came to over around US$450 (back in 2010) and there was no alcohol included in that. Just basic food supplies for two people for two to three weeks.

The Society Islands are a really great destination and you will have a wonderful time. Very jealous.

Last edited by Jeannius; 01/07/2019 03:52 AM.
Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: BPT] #179956
01/07/2019 04:00 PM
01/07/2019 04:00 PM
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Wow CaptdennyJ really did a great in depth description.

We sailed last February for two weeks on a Sunsail 45 foot cat, had a great time, though we found sailing inside the lagoon to was less than grand, a lot of shallow water, and the wind was spotty. The sail from Tahaa to Bora Bora was fun, nice winds but one must really pay attention to the charts for entry to Bora Bora. We were anchored about half the time, on balls the rest.

The smartest thing we did was to have everyone buy 2 liters of hard liquor in the duty free in LA as we were leaving to fly to Raitea. There was eight of us which gave us 16 liters which almost made it to the end. Once we ran out and bought some liquor there, after that we all decided to give up drinking as the cost was crazy. Oh well it helped us dry up for the return trip.

I would highly recommend the Coral River, amazing snorkeling there. I have been a certified scuba diver since 1973, with many a dive, but the ease and beauty of that snorkel was fantastic.

gdw

Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: BPT] #179963
01/07/2019 04:36 PM
01/07/2019 04:36 PM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 286
Park City, Utah
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We were there in March. Chartered a 45' cat from Dream Yacht Charter, which has a reasonably good guide available as a download on their Tahiti page. Click the "Useful Downloads" tab and go to "Tahiti Guide."

We had no trouble with anchoring on the sandy shelves inside the fringing reefs. A monohull would have been a little trickier. Enjoy!

Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: BPT] #180403
01/11/2019 11:56 AM
01/11/2019 11:56 AM
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Narwhal Offline
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Very good intel everyone-thanks for the contributions! Would anyone have a recommendation for a local captain for hire? Interested in chartering, but would feel more comfortable first time with a local guide and may want to do a little more vacationing on this trip. Would be happy with a private charter vessel or bringing our own captain for hire if we go through one of the larger charter outfits. Husband/Wife teams also good. Any recommendations are much appreciated. Feel free to PM.

Fair winds,

Narwhal

Last edited by Narwhal; 01/11/2019 11:57 AM.
Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: BPT] #180440
01/11/2019 07:28 PM
01/11/2019 07:28 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 103
Dana Point
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The charter companies definitely can provide a Captain, for your Tahiti Sailing vacation. Probably the best way to go. Tell them what you are interested in doing, and also what the the skipper will be able to share with all of you.

Also, he, or she, will be very familiar with all of the islands, and have some of their favorite , out of the mainstream anchorages and snorkel areas, and maybe a small, semi private luau, music and tahitian dancing. You actually have a great idea,
and if you wish, you will be able to stand helm watches and help out with the sailing, anchoring and mooring pick up. That way you are part of the entire experience and just do what feels good to you. Or, just kick back. If you have a lot of people on a catamran, you might want to add a combo, ( cook, bartender and crew person ) . We have had , highly experienced sailing friends how have done that, and loved it .

The leeward islands of Tahiti, as mentioned are absolutely beautiful.

Check with the charter outfits, and they can give you all of the scoops.

Manuia ( Maw -new -ya ) Pretty much is a Tahitian Toast Roughly " Cheers - Good health " , Surprise the skipper, during your first on board tropical libation. Just that one little kindness, may make a friend for life.

That was the name of one of our Peterson 44 ft sailing vessel that we had on our very first Tahiti bare boat sailing vacations. Always remembered that name, and used it constantly when hoisting a glass in Tahiti, and still do today,

Embrace the island, the natural beauty and the people.



Enjoy

Denny and Erica





Last edited by captdennyj; 01/11/2019 07:31 PM.
Re: Help with a different sailing ground - Tahiti [Re: captdennyj] #180481
01/12/2019 10:56 AM
01/12/2019 10:56 AM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 103
Dana Point
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Oh, a little tip as to naviagte while entering the passes thru the barrier reefs. If they have range marks, many do, which are very helpful to track in, as well as knowing your mag heading........one range mark , will be higher and further toward land.

Just FYI, When tracking in on the range marks, TURN TOWARD the LOWER mark, to keep them lined up. one over the top of the other. No need to be wildly S-turning, or snake waking , or WAG'ing. ( Wild A_ _ Guessing. Keep it simple-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------.

Tahiti tales :

When leaving the moorings base at Raiatea, we pay attention to the Grand Bank Central, between Raiatea and Taha'a. Avoid. We would overnight at Apu Bay , Taha'a before making the passage over to Bora Bora . Apu Bay, Beautiful, calm and peaceful mooring field. We moored off a very neat shore side restaurant and bar. I believe it may now be called FICUS. A few yards from the bar and restaurant, was a fantastic pearl farm. All of this is in one place.

We went ashore to explore,and walked down the road that ran along the shore line and coastal area of Taha'a. Just a nice after sailing stroll. A young man was working in his yard, and no matter where we are, we always greet people, He waved back and came over to visit with us. Turns out Jeremy and his family were presenting a special music and Tahitian Dance show at dinner time at the restaurant that evening. We stopped and made resevations for dinner and the show. Very few people, mostly crews off the moored vessels in the bay. Delightful evening. I did some digging on the computer last night, and found that FICUS puts on one heck of a show. Fire Dancing, singing, drums, etc. Might want to ask about that .

The pearl farm. Erica wanted to check it out, so the next day we walked out on the long wood dock to a small hut where the pearl divers talked story with us.

The actual sales place was in a very nice home, next to the restaurant, as well. We entered, and there was a long, long dining room table that was piled high and covered with pearls, and pearl jewelry . No glass presentation cases like the mainland U.S. The owner of the peal farm was there to help out, but you foraged thru all of the wonderful pearl presentations. They also advised Erica, if she found something that interested her, to go outside in the sunlight and check out the color, etc.

She did, but she was not able to find piece that was set, that interested her. We are about to leave, and I pointed out a stack of pearl settings...they were kind of tangled up in a pile. She starts separating the pieces and finds a three pearl pendant with a
gentle S curve, and three beautiful pearls. The color and luster were just what she was looking for. So, she picks it up and walks outside into the sunlight. That was many years ago, and to this day, when she wears that pendant, ladies make wonderful comments on how beautiful it is. Point being, if you get a chance, there are several different pearl farms, and you might stop by and check them out.

Others have mentioned the Coral River for snorkeling there at Taha'a. Do not miss.

For Bora Bora, snorkeling the barrier reef is amazing, sharks, sting rays, plus hundreds of milti colored reef fish and beautiful corals. on board ourr boat, We watched for the paid tourist snorkel boats to stop out on the reef at their favorite site. I figured that would be a great spot . We were anchored off Tapua Motu ( I think, all from memory ) , and took our dink out toward the reef. We anchored the dink in shallow water in sand, away from any coral. Back rolling off the gunnels of the dink, we calmly and slowly finned over to the area of the snorkel boat. Fins should NEVER break the water. No splashing, no torpedo , max speed swimming. We had our masks, snorkels and fins in place. Again, no flailing arms or legs. Great experience,
First , th e shark feeding and then after that, we spent quite a bit of time snorkeling the barrier reef. The snorkel boat left, and we were the only ones out there snorkeling the amazing reef.

Just a little more in depth , FYI ,

Denny and Erica


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