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Old 20-08-2018, 18:44   #1
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Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

Hello fellow sailors!

I couldn't be more excited for my upcoming honeymoon in French Polynesia in May.

As a couple of sailors we surely intend on sailing around Raiatea, Taha'a and Bora-Bora.

I have a few concerns though! I would really appreciate any help on the matter.

1) Cats are beautiful and expensive. We're just a couple, monohulls are usually cheaper. Has anyone sailed a mono around the area? I figured the reefs are really shallow and thus a mono would not do it. Is that correct?

2) I'm a fairly seasoned sailor, albeit having only sailed in Brazil. As such I'm concerned about bareboating over there. I hear the tide doesn't change, reefs are well singnalized and Navionics charts are precise. Also I read there are abundant anchorages. Being such, it all seems just fine. Should I be concerned by anything else?

3) I'm also concerned about safety. We would like to explore the islands and interact with the local culture. Is safety an issue? Can I confidently leave the boat anchored and locked for hours straight?

4) We're also freak divers! Are there any dive shops that we could reach by boat and would let us anchor or moor over?

5) Are there local radio frequencies to ask for help in case it is needed? I'm guessing phones and internet (thankfully) wouldn't work once on the ocean...


I really appreciate all helps. First time posting in the forum but really enjoying reading the community inputs! cheers to all
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Old 20-08-2018, 20:40   #2
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

Quote:
Originally Posted by pedrobraz View Post
Hello fellow sailors!

I couldn't be more excited for my upcoming honeymoon in French Polynesia in May.

As a couple of sailors we surely intend on sailing around Raiatea, Taha'a and Bora-Bora.

I have a few concerns though! I would really appreciate any help on the matter.

1) Cats are beautiful and expensive. We're just a couple, monohulls are usually cheaper. Has anyone sailed a mono around the area? I figured the reefs are really shallow and thus a mono would not do it. Is that correct?

2) I'm a fairly seasoned sailor, albeit having only sailed in Brazil. As such I'm concerned about bareboating over there. I hear the tide doesn't change, reefs are well singnalized and Navionics charts are precise. Also I read there are abundant anchorages. Being such, it all seems just fine. Should I be concerned by anything else?

3) I'm also concerned about safety. We would like to explore the islands and interact with the local culture. Is safety an issue? Can I confidently leave the boat anchored and locked for hours straight?

4) We're also freak divers! Are there any dive shops that we could reach by boat and would let us anchor or moor over?

5) Are there local radio frequencies to ask for help in case it is needed? I'm guessing phones and internet (thankfully) wouldn't work once on the ocean...


I really appreciate all helps. First time posting in the forum but really enjoying reading the community inputs! cheers to all
We have been in FP more than 3 years now (1 1/2 years in the Societies) and can offer some comments. But you should get lots of great input from others as its a very popular spot for chartering.

First Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!!

#1 - We are on a monohull with a 1.8m draft and have had no issues cruising FP. A good depth sounder is very important.

2. Yes you are correct. Everything is well charted and many obstructions are well marked. Those French do it right. My suggestion would be create a number of Google earth charts using GE2KAP and bring them into opencpn on your laptop OR download Ovitalmaps and scan all the areas you are planning on sailing. Having a GE image is VERY helpful

3. There have been a number of thefts the past 2-3 years but mostly folks that don't lock their dinghy or their boats. We have had NO issues but we lock the dink and boat when ever we leave it. Overall its a very safe place to cruise. Locals are very warm and welcoming!

4. Just about every island in the Societies has at least one dive outfit that runs boats out for diving outside the reefs.

5. JRCC Papeete monitors VHF 16 for emergencies. Plus the charter companies provide you with a local phone number in case you have problems.

We recently charted a cat for 2 weeks with family and it was a wonderful time. Granted we had already visited all the places already on Jacaranda.

Suggestions
I for SURE would add the island of Huahine onto your list of places to visit. Less time on Bora and more time on Huahine

Another suggestion is to pay the extra fee and drop the boat off in Bora Bora rather than having to return it to Raiatea. You will gain an extra day in the islands and would be worth it for a week charter.

The cat we chartered did not have the anchor chain marked but we brought a tape measure and some zip ties and marked the chain on deck. This helped a lot with anchoring by knowing how much chain we had out. Now I know why many charter boats drag around here. No clue with amount of scope!

The charter company will provide you with guides and charts to all the islands you plan to visit. But having charts on your computer or ipad will be extremely helpful

Happy to answer any questions. Contact me thru our website jacarandajourney.com

Regards

Chuck
Jacaranda
Tikehau, FP
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Old 20-08-2018, 22:00   #3
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

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Originally Posted by chouliha View Post
our website jacarandajourney.com
Wow, what a nice find.
I really enjoyed your pics of the South Pacific!
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Old 21-08-2018, 06:12   #4
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

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Originally Posted by chouliha View Post
First Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!!
Omg, can't thank you enough for the kind reply and invaluable knowledge, Chouliha!


I'm definitely more confident for the chartering and excited to get there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chouliha View Post
Happy to answer any questions. Contact me thru our website jacarandajourney.com
Congratulations on the website! it all seems so cool. If the chartering plans come true hopefully I'll be able to give you a call once we're there to meet in person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chouliha View Post
My suggestion would be create a number of Google earth charts using GE2KAP and bring them into opencpn on your laptop OR download Ovitalmaps and scan all the areas you are planning on sailing. Having a GE image is VERY helpful
You've mentioned those pieces of software. I already have and use navionics. Would it all be the same or would advise me to follow your suggestion of using GE2KAP anyway?



Again, thanks and all the best to the happy couple.
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Old 21-08-2018, 09:04   #5
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Unhappy Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

I've chartered in Tahiti 3 times and sailed there from San Francisco and stayed for 6 weeks so know the area pretty well. My first advice to you is to RELAX. You seem way too stressed in your post to enjoy your honeymoon.....and we all know what stress can do to romance. To answer your questions:

A monohull is fine. I've only used monohulls in my stay.

Navigation is easy. Just familiarize yourself with the cardinal system and know that some marks indicate whether your should pass them on the ocean side or the island side to avoid reefs.

Interact with the locals all you like. Safety is not an issue.

Check the internet for diving facilities but you can see a great deal by just snorkeling. There is also a snorkeling preserve in Bora Bora (haven't been to it.)

You can call the base in Raiatea if you have a problem. The distances are relatively short and they can get to you in an emergency within an hour.

If you have time, include Huahine in your trip. Its the least developed of the islands.

Enjoy!
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Old 21-08-2018, 09:05   #6
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

We have sailed the islands of Tahiti, Raiatea, Taha'a, Bora Boar and Huahne.

* No magical electronic wonders, and we sailed those islands of four different two week bare boat sailing vacations.

* We used coastal nav and piloting and paper charts. Now adays they have GPS and what ever. We never had a problem.

* Read the cruising guides and learn the very different day marks and day shapes. They are different, but are simple if followed and will keep you off the shallows and reefs.

* We skippered monohulls 36 to 51 ft. No worries, and I would not sail a cat over a monohull . We ranged from leading flotillas to just Erica and I on the 36 footers..... Both the Moorings and Sunsail.

* Tips....NO NIGHT SAILING, PERIOD.......AND be sure to 100% identify the passes thru the reef, and follow the range marks

* We just snorkeled and the best we found was the barrier reef at Bora Bora.

We anchored, all by oursleves off the large motu to starboard as you enter the main pass. We watched when the tourist shark feeding boats went out to the reef. The we dinked over, layed out our anchor clear of the coral, and snorkeled with the sharks and stingrays, and then the colorful reef and super marine life.

* Never had a problem and do not think we ever locked the boat up, but it has been 10 yrs....ask you chart briefer

* As to emergencies, the briefer will give you VHF freqs, and cell phone numbers.


Have more scoops but have to get

Denny
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Old 21-08-2018, 09:50   #7
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

We have spent 2 great weeks there 8 years ago, also with some “locals”. I agree with everything, with 2 caveats:
- At the time, BoraBora corals were nearly dead due to an hurricane, and diving/snorkeling had no interest. Maybe they have recovered since.
- Natives had the reputation of loosing occasionally a bit of control, late evening on the beach, having consumed beer in excess. It was recommended to be a bit careful. Otherwise very nice.
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Old 21-08-2018, 10:02   #8
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

Have only chartered there once, but did two weeks and loved it. As comparison, when we went we had also chartered twice in BVI and once in San Juan islands when we did French Polynesia.

In general I would agree with previous poster and don't worry too much about it, it's actually a relatively straightforward chartering area, yes you're making open ocean passages between islands (where you can get some big swells if the trades are honking) but they're still line of sight and pretty straightforward.

You don't say who you're chartering through, I imagine they all do the same, but our Sunsail chart briefing was extremely informative and we didn't really come across anything during our trip that hadn't been covered in the briefing. About only thing that we hadn't expected, one random spot we'd been told would be OK to anchor on Huahine when we dropped the hook a local paddled over and asked us not to anchor there as it's their local fishing spot... not a lot of language crossover but the guy was very friendly and nice about it so we just moved on, no worries.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pedrobraz View Post
1) Cats are beautiful and expensive. We're just a couple, monohulls are usually cheaper. Has anyone sailed a mono around the area? I figured the reefs are really shallow and thus a mono would not do it. Is that correct?
We chartered a Sunsail 44i, 6'7" draft, no problems. The passes and waters inside the lagoons are all relatively deep as long as you pay attention to the water color and learn how their system of markers work (if you're a nervous type like I am consider printing off a little refresher guide to the marker system, laminate it and keep in cockpit... I have one if you want) you won't have depth problems. About only thing you won't want to try is going over the north side of Bora Bora to the east side... think it could be done but you'd be pushing your luck with that draft. Keep in mind, minimal tides means no calculating when you can and can't do things but also means no big up swing to float you off if you go aground. Going over north side of Tahaa is a little convoluted with some turns here and there but they're well marked and inside the channel was plenty deep.

Only other place cats seemed to have it easier was in Baie d'Avea on Huahne, it's a beautiful place (don't miss it if you have time) but it's a relatively deep bay that goes shallow fast near the inside of the reef, the cats could anchor in the shallow sand near the reef but monohull could not. But it was calm when we were there and anchoring in the deeper part wasn't a problem.




Quote:
Originally Posted by pedrobraz View Post
2) I'm a fairly seasoned sailor, albeit having only sailed in Brazil. As such I'm concerned about bareboating over there. I hear the tide doesn't change, reefs are well singnalized and Navionics charts are precise. Also I read there are abundant anchorages. Being such, it all seems just fine. Should I be concerned by anything else?
We brought our own laptop with French Polynesia charts and the navigating was fine. We mostly used the electronic chart for planning anyway, everything was line of sight. Just be aware of how to use range markers (line up two posts on shore to know you're in line for the channel), use your inbound track as a guide when coming back out, and as noted above know how to understand the marker system inside the reefs.

Two things about reef passes:
1) They are NOT red right returning... it's red right leaving... very important
2) Always have a bailout plan. That goes for loss of engine power (we sailed every pass with our main up) and, something that does happen, loss of visibility... local squalls can blow in quickly and you need to be ready to hang out outside or inside a pass if you can't see well, especially when you're coming in and relying on range markers.

As far as anchoring, was always pretty straightforward, just watch you don't damage the reef / wrap a corral head. If the trades are blowing (they weren't very strong when we we there) you'll have a consistent wind direction 24 hours a day, but if they're weak there's a bit of land breeze / day-night shift that happens around dusk and can swing you 180, so be ready for that. Lots of spots have mooring balls, all free as far as I recall.

Oh, and on your passages, DON'T SHORT CUT CORNERS... for example, you'll be coming to Bora Bora from the east and the pass is on the west... as you go around the SW corner of the island leave lots of room between you and the reef, it's closer than you think and closer than your chart plotter might show (people way more experienced than me have come to grief this way).


Quote:
Originally Posted by pedrobraz View Post
3) I'm also concerned about safety. We would like to explore the islands and interact with the local culture. Is safety an issue? Can I confidently leave the boat anchored and locked for hours straight?
We never felt any sort of safety issue at all. Granted we aren't nightlife people and were always back on the boat by dark, but everyone we interacted with was very friendly... try to break out a little French and they will appreciate it. We did lock our boat when we left, and we did lock our dinghy (albeit with a miserably small little cable lock) and that seemed to be enough.




Don't miss if possible:
1) Coral River on Tahaa.
2) Huahine... Fare is cool town, there's an epic (although all day) cultural tour you can take there from locals, and Baie d'Avea is paradise IMO.
3) Bora Bora is a little overdone for sure, and a small cruise ship does come there, so don't plan too much time there. We actually found the Bora Bora Yacht Club pretty lousy. On the other hand, Bloody Mary's felt true to form with lots of cruisers in there (we chatted with folks about the BVI and other places we'd sailed), mooring balls out front and cold Hinano on tap.
4) If you go over top of Tahaa, if you can grab one of the two mooring balls of Vahine Island Resort you'll be in very isolated spot (we were by ourselves, no boat on other ball) with wicked view of sunset behind Bora Bora:



Other thoughts:

1) Internet was hard to come by but we found WiFi to use in a few places, sometimes paying by the minute... just used it to check weather, but that was the only weather we found (there is a local broadcast on the VHF but it's in French).
2) Liquor is spendy... if you can bring your own (within the legal import limits) or hit duty free in Papeete you'll be ahead of the game.
3) We never had to fill up with water or fuel (one of the plusses of only two people, who are used to conserving resources, on a 44' boat supposedly built for 8), but it didn't seem super straightforward so if you think that's something you'll need to do make some direct inquiries about that in your briefing.

It's been a few years and it still ranks as one of our favorite trips ever... if you want some of the cheat sheets I made for the marker system or some other stuff I put together PM me.


-- Bass
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Old 21-08-2018, 10:11   #9
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

We chartered a 43' cat five years ago and sailed the islands of Raiatea, Taha'a, Bora Bora and Huahine for two weeks and loved it. I agree with what has been said above. A cat is nice, but not a necessity. The french navigation makers are excellent and make going through the reefs very safe. I used navonics on an android tablet and had no issues. I would spend more time on Huahine and less time on Bora Bora. Check out the 'coral gardens' off motu Tautau north of Tah'a for an excellent drift snorkel. Take a dingy trip up the Faaroa river on Raiatea as well. Stick to french products in the supermarkets as everything brought in from French territories is subsidized. You'll have a great trip!
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Old 21-08-2018, 10:13   #10
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

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Stick to french products in the supermarkets as everything brought in from French territories is subsidized. You'll have a great trip!

Honestly by the end of our trip I was convinced I could live the rest of my life on three things: fresh baguettes, brie and Hinano beer ;-)


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Old 21-08-2018, 10:15   #11
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

I am doing the same trip this upcoming September. The Moorings has their cruising Guide online as a PDF and dream yacht Charters has their cruising guide online as a PDF. Also, SV Soggypaws has a huge repository of information about FP. Google all three and you'll see what I mean. It's all very good! I took it one step further and ordered all of the charts that I will need so I can familiarize myself with the area prior to getting there. I can give you the vendor and chart numbers if you wish.
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Old 21-08-2018, 10:45   #12
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

I spent quite a bit of time on research before hand and found very little available at that time(5yrs ago). I had a copy of the Moorings guide ahead of time but I only gave it a so-so rating. No knowledge of the Dream Yacht Charters guide. SV Soggypaws is a great resource. Charlies charts were of little use for us, meant more for passages. Moorings/Sunsail give out excellent charts of the islands and the staff are very helpful.
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Old 21-08-2018, 12:54   #13
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

Thank you SO much everyone. I didn't expect any replies, can't thank you all enough for the warmth I feel right now. I know the local brazilian sailing community and it is indeed very thoughtful and caring about each other, but this is my first contact with the global community. Thanks again!


One last question: If I understand it correctly there is much to do ashore. Is it fine for me to leave the dinghy hanging on a beach or attached to a pier? if not, would it be easy to find willing locals to keep it close and perhaps keep an eye on it? like a near bar, restaurante and so on...

Cheers!
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Old 21-08-2018, 13:20   #14
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

Good question concerning your dink...

Lock it up to a dinghy dock, or even if pulled up on shore.
The dink should come with a long cable, and padlock. Lock the motor, and the gas tank, and the dink. Hate to say that , but in 2015 they had a rash of dinghy thefts, so stay ahead of the power curve on that one.

Our fist night after leaving Raiitea and the charter base....we would head up to Taha'a, all the same lagoon with Raitea. You might consider anchoring near motu Topua, and snorkel the CORAL RIVER .

Suggest that you pick get the on line cruising guide that the moorings have.

Lots of great and information.

Sorry, have to leave again, the admrial wants the computer.
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Old 21-08-2018, 14:02   #15
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Re: Chartering Concerns Tahiti/French Polynesia

Error

My mistake....

Topua Motu is the secluded motu to starboard after you enter the pass to BORA BORA


TAU TAU TAU moto is next to the CORAL RIVER ON TAHA'A

Pleae check out the MOORINGS CRUISING GUIDE on line.

Extremely quality and important information for cruising Tahiti.
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