Fine Food and Black Pearls

Anapa Pearl Farm perched above the lagoon

Time to say "Nana," goodbye to Bora Bora. Time to make the crossing back to the west side of Raiatea. We planned to enter Passe Toamaro at Tehurui and pick up a mooring off Motu Tepouru. 

Once again, hoping to sail back, we prepared the boat and headed out, the lush landscape falling away as we made out way through the pass and out to open water.

To be hit head on with a stiff breeze! Wait! Not again! Once again the wind did not stick to our plan of sailing on a pleasant beam reach but here it was again, right on the nose. We did sail for a while, tacking back and forth but making absolutely no headway towards our destination. (That's the problem with catamarans; they don't point very well!) And it was bumpy, very bumpy. 

Fishermen on the reef

We cried "uncle" and motorsailed most of the way.

Passe Toamaro was tricky; narrow with markers that are quite difficult to pick out against the vegetation on shore. With our lookouts on the bow, we entered slowly, once again relying on the bright sunlight to highlight the water colors as we made our way into the mooring area. 

It was a tricky approach with a lot of current and wind. We made two approaches and on the second, the boat hook got tangled in the mooring lines and Barbara wasn't able to hang on to it! Oops! But never fear! Betsy yelled out, "Jane, jump in and get the hook!" Jane, our super swimmer, ripped off her clothes and went over the side in an instant, swam to the buoy, untangled the boat hook, hooked it onto the back of her bikini top and swam back to the boat! What a hero!

Katie says "The mooring is that way!"

Next pass, we grabbed the mooring, no problem!

Once secure, via cell phone, I confirmed our dinner reservations at Fare Vai Nui, a small restaurant we had heard was excellent and the reason we chose this spot. Another one of those confirmations that was difficult to get from afar. You had to be there! 

This was the best meal we had, by far. And one of the less expensive ones. It was Barbara's birthday, too so it was quite a celebration! As you can imagine, nine women and a couple of bottles of wine, (and a very good French gin!) can cause quite a racket. We were gently chastised by an older (than me) lady at the next table!! Raucous Americans!

That was one night we were very grateful to be secure on a solid mooring, rather than an anchor, as it was really, really windy! The wind funnels over the island through the valleys, and this mooring area was right in the middle of it. But it did keep the mosquitoes away.

A gorgeous black pearl being harvested

Next morning, bright and early, we dropped the mooring and headed up the coast through Passe Rautoanui at Tevaitoa to our next big adventure, visiting Anapa Pearl Farm, something we had all been looking forward to. Black pearls from Tahiti are prized and we all wanted to see them in their natural form. 

The actual farm is in the lagoon covering a large coral garden where the oysters are cultivated, with the workshop/shop being a small, over-the-water structure sitting all by itself. The visits are by appointment only, and Summer picked us up in the big farm skiff and shuttled us to the workshop.

What an interesting tour! She explained exactly how the pearls are cultivated and Reno demonstrated how it is done. Such precision! He used dental tools to extract the pearl or insert a new nucleus into a virgin oyster. Bowls of pearls of all sizes gleamed, the multiple colors from rose through greens and golds showing that black pearls really aren't always black!

Which one do you want?

I think everyone bought a pearl or multiple pearls in various settings. I bought a pair of keshi pearl earrings which called out to me! Tiny so they won't take up any space in an overpacked suitcase.

Back on the boat, we prepared for our Final Supper Celebration and Entertainment! The poetry slam was hilarious and very clever. I don't think anyone was the overall winner as they were all so creative! It was a fitting last supper for the group.

As we made the rounds before going to bed, Betsy noticed with great dismay, that our kayak was missing! The line was still attached to the boat but the other end of the very old, hard and tired nylon line had come untied. Of course, by now it was pitch black and there was no way anyone was going out looking for it. 

Looking for the kayak

Because I am such an early bird and up at first light, I scanned the horizon, searching for any sort of odd shape on the reef. Barely light, I thought I saw something to the south, the way I thought the current had been running the night before. I went below to wake Betsy, who responded with "I really wanted to sleep in this morning" but came topside regardless. By now it was getting lighter and we agreed what I had seen was not "little blue" the kayak.

Betsy grabbed a couple of limes, tossed them over the side, saying "If I was a kayak, where would I go?" and went below. I watched as they floated away on the current - in the opposite direction! So I scanned the horizon and lo and behold! There it was, moving slowly towards the pass we had entered the day before.

Jane and Laura retrieving the errant kayak before it floated through the pass

All hands on deck! Dropping the mooring we headed back up the channel and while Betsy held the Hoku Lele in a wide part of the channel, Jane and Laura jumped in the dinghy and carefully set off across the very shallow coral to retrieve the wayward kayak. As they neared it, as it got closer and closer to the pass, Laura swam to it, with the paddle, climbed aboard and started back to the mother ship. A great cheer went up! What an achievement!

Because it was so early and we didn't have to be back at the Moorings base until 10 that morning, we went back down the channel and picked up a different mooring closer to the reef for our final snorkeling of the trip.

We had done a lot of packing the previous night, so we were - mostly - ready for our passage back to the Moorings base. The inside channel runs right between MiriMiri Motu and the guest house where we stayed at the start of our trip. We waved to Manarii but he wasn't there!

The beginning of the end...

The crew dispersed, some to Tahiti and some on to Huahine for some land adventures. I think we all agreed it was an amazing week, with amazing adventures, spectacular sights and exhilarating experiences. New friends were made and existing friendships strengthened.

So where to next time?

Mauruuru and nana...

A Day of Preparation
First Day Aboard Our Moorings 48
Sweet Vanilla Island
Floating Down the Coral River
A Most Beautiful Place
Fine Food and Black Pearls
Huahine - My Heaven
Papeete On My Own