In the South Pacific, a New Chapter Begins…in Tahiti
That’s where the “ship” is. 640 air miles from the east coast, 1,995 from the west (that makes a 22-hour flight for you curious folks who like complete equations). I felt like Noah building his massive ark in the middle of nowhere, because this idea was born while I was working in central Ohio.
Preparation and the boat
Normally, a vessel purchase requires an on-site visit, but logistics precluded that option here. I have a trusted stateside broker working closely with a co-broker in Bora Bora. I have worked extensively with my U.S. contact and trust him implicitly. The boat is a 28-foot Bristol Channel Cutter, fiberglass (hard to find a reasonably-priced wooden one), a sturdy sailor drawn by Lyle Hess. The design performed in stellar fashion as Lin and Larry Pardey sailed their 24’ Hess-drawn Serrafyn thousands of miles around the world through every ocean.
A year ago, Amica’s owner outfitted her for his next planned cruising adventure, but he needed to return unexpectedly to Canada for family reasons. He prepared the boat well, attending to maintenance, rigging, and electronics issues. Through the Seven Seas Cruising Association, I located a well-respected local surveyor, Iain McClain, to perform a survey for an up-to-date bottom line. He was delayed as he was briefly off-island, but I quickly received his pdf outlining a comprehensive review – he found Amica to be in great structural shape, noting only a few minor issues which David happily attended to.
Some concessions to technology, i.e. backup navigation equipment, have been acquiesced to – but the less electrical gadgets aboard, the less that can go wrong, to which other cruisers can attest! So we’re abandoning, as realistically as possible, a tech-heavy existence to gain a simpler lifestyle – my goal is to offer folks we know or meet an experience where they can ditch their iPhones and go for a sail…for a couple of hours or an entire day; a space where they can simply enjoy (rediscover?) the simple pleasures of conversing on the foredeck, relaxing in the cockpit, or enjoying a fabulous meal around the table.
As the airliner began its descent, enormous cumulus clouds passed my window. Open patches revealed a cerulean sky and a captivating transparent blue ocean as we overflew nearby islands. Though we’ll be sailing in deeper waters as we approach harbor entrances, we will be able to call out coral and rocks from our bowsprit perch or aloft in the bosun’s chair.
As we roll to a stop on the tarmac, the tropical climate nudges ever-so-slightly into the cabin. The weather here will be a delightful change from what I have known my entire life – enjoying the light attire of spring and summer, but dressing “against” the weather in fall and winter. For the first few days here, I will stay in the outermost overwater bungalow at my favorite resort, to decompress and recover from a very long flight.
Pleasantly ensconced in my little place, I’ve popped in a Keurig, showered, and collapsed into the soft rope chair on my balcony. A warm breeze sweeps gently round the corner, wrapping my light batik tunic about my legs – it’s 75 degrees, somewhat humid, but with the breeze it’s absolutely perfect!
My goal in relocating to Bora Bora is to rediscover simplicity. No pushback, please, stating that the same is doable on either U.S. coast or the Caribbean. I am a (reasonable) risk taker and have never been to French Polynesia, and I don’t want to miss the chance. To begin new adventures in a region that many never get to see is an amazing opportunity.
David, my co-broker contact at Bora Bora Yacht Brokers, put me in touch with an experienced local expat sailor who will accompany me for the first several weeks, as I learn the ship and explore nearby anchorages until my licensed captain brother arrives to be my indispensable mate.
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To support myself, I chronicle my travels in word and photo, and also record books. I am also pretty handy with a brush, varnish, and my splicing tools; so although not a millionaire’s salary, finances will suffice for the foreseeable future.
I do not know how long it will take to properly explore French Polynesia, taking typhoon/off-season weather into account, but we are not planning a trans-Pacific crossing. The West Indies and southern Caribbean are an option, but one day at a time, one day at a time…
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