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Old 26-08-2018, 13:08   #1
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French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

Am planning to sail the French Polynesia territory next year, putting out from Raiatea and the marinas on the south of the island. I'd like to visit Taha'a, Bora Bora and Huahine as part of an 8 day bareboat adventure. Is this realistic or am I being overly ambitious?
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Old 26-08-2018, 18:50   #2
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Re: French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

For 8 days that is way ambitious. I assume you are starting/finishing the charter at the Sunsail marina on the north coast of Raiatea? If so, Raiatea and Tahaa share a lagoon and you could easily spend the entire time not going outside the reef visiting the 6 or so key sites around the two islands.

But if you really want to see as many places as possible and donít want to relax/explore in place then pick either Bora Bora OR Huahine as the other island to visit. You use half a day for each passage, so itís not worth trying for all four islands.

As noted in another thread, Bora Bora is on everyoneís bucket list so is hard to pass up, while Huahine is much less touristy and uncrowded with equivalent beauty.

Save a bit of time and hassle by paying for pre-provisioning - all your food will be waiting in bags in your boat when you arrive (yes, you do need to pack it away yourself and that can take a few hours). Bring as much alcohol as import rules allow (in fact, bring more, and if they actually check and pull you up on it the tax will still be less than the cost in country). Plan on buying baguettes and fruit and if you have kids ice cream. Bring your own snorkels and masks to be sure they fit and work, otherwise check very carefully the gear the charter company provides so you donít find out during your first swim that your mask leaks or the snorkel is munted.

There is another thread that I donít recall that discusses charting from Raiatea in great detail.

Have fun!

If you can arrive the night before the start of the charter and spend the night on board youíll be able to get away earlier the next day.
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Old 27-08-2018, 07:34   #3
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Re: French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

Answer is dependent on:
- the amount of time you want to spend under sail/motor vs the time doing dingy/land/diving exploration. (ie. is this a sea trial for a potential purchase or a more relaxing vacation)

- the weather and sea state you actually experience once you arrive.
- type of boat.
- your appetite for rougher conditions if the seas pick up.



It is typically safer to sail when outside the reefs until you get some local knowledge, your charter co will have suggestions.


I would suggest making a few plans based on varied conditions. Look at the pilot charts to see what average winds are for the month you are visiting and then make a plan for varied winds and sea states. The European forecasts are normally pretty good, but I avoid the GFS in that area. Winds can be 5-10 kts in excess of forecasts, more where you get venturi around islands, and the sea period is often more important than sea size. You should be able to narrow down a weather/sea-state adjusted plan a week or two in advance of the trip.


Even if you find you are there when the winds have died, you will get a chance to see the magic of calm water swimming, diving and snorkeling in the tropics. Generally, less travel allows for greater flexibility with weather. More travel requires the seas and winds to cooperate, or a more seasoned and tolerant crew.



Finally I would load up predict wind and weather4D pro and Navionics and do some virtual trips. Experimenting with varied conditions will help to adjust your options to fit what you see as you get closer to your departure date. There is some point for everyone where bashing into seas becomes more work than play and you may not know those relative conditions until 6-10 days in advance. Hope this helps and have a blast!!
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Old 27-08-2018, 14:05   #4
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Re: French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

Perfect Ride, very good post about preparing for a charter anywhere in the world. But mostly not relevant to chartering from Raiatea - youíre way over-complicating the planning for the OP, especially since heís specified a very short charter.

Moorings/Sunsail and Dream and several others have got cruising guides for the area (available online) that are all you need, along with Google Maps in satellite mode, to plan an itinerary well in advance. Google the weather for the time of year that you will be there to get an idea of general wind direction and strength - likely out of the E hemisphere due to the trades, unless you have the bad luck club to be there during a hurricane (not likely, even in the season). Plan for more SE vs more NE wind directions, but that will only apply if you want to sail to Bora Bora or Huahine. Inside the lagoon if the weather is full of squalls plan for short hops between the rain clouds.

The lagoons are very well marked around Raiatea/Tahaa and Bora Bora; Huahine a little less so. It is perfectly safe to sail inside those lagoons even during restricted visibility due to the accuracy of the navigation markers and the e-charts youíll be provided with. Bring your own if you like, but not necessary. You can ask for the paper charts during the chart briefing - theyíll love you for that.
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Old 27-08-2018, 16:04   #5
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Re: French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

Its all good info! I am introducing my neighbor to bareboat chartering so all advice is valued. Some have noted the marinas and charter companies have suggested itineraries and I've seen them. They are indeed useful for planning purposes. My concern was fitting in Huahine on an 8-day charter that includes Bora Bora at the other end of the sailing range. Huahine is excluded from trips of this duration but high on my list, so I may extend to 9 days. I am a big proponent of planning, while recognizing things don't always go as planned.

A local friend actually made this trip with same charter company for a 7 day trip and he felt Huahine was definitely possible. This contradicts other feedback I've received. What I learned from previous bareboat adventures is to gather lots of input, then average the responses. Also I've learned that "you're good to go" is the kiss of death!

For me, its equally important to sail as to see local attractions, hence my tendency to push the envelope to ensure both passions are satisfied.

Any more advice is certainly welcomed!
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Old 27-08-2018, 16:22   #6
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Re: French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

Here is what my friend suggested:

I honestly think one or two nights in Tahaa is plenty. We enjoyed anchoring off the Le Tahaa Island resort. You have a nice view of Bora Bora and thereís great snorkeling there. In Bora Bora we spent the first night near Bloody Maryís restaurant in a nice snorkeling spot. Then we headed around the island to the south east side. Thatís the most scenic area. The prevailing winds in June 14-20, 2013 were from the south east, so we sailed to Bora Bora and motored back to Tahaa.

I like your plan to go to Huahine. If I had your itinerary I would spend the first night in Tahaa then go to Bora Bora for a few nights, then sail to Huahine for a few nights. Then sail back to Tahaa or the east shore of Raiatea for your last night. Or go in the opposite direction if that works better.

Just a thought, you could transit between Bora Bora and Huahine via the Sunsail base in Raiatea if you need more water etc.
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Old 27-08-2018, 16:45   #7
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Re: French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

My only point cautioning against including Bora Bora and/or Huahine in a short charter itinerary is that each passage, including transiting the respective passes, is at least half a day. Not only does that add up to a full day or two days of passages to your charter, but your guests may not enjoy the rocking and rolling outside the lagoons.

Iíve chartered once (the first time) with a group of friends where we were constantly on the move several times a day to superficially visit two or three places each day plus several longer distance sails (3+ hours) to cover as much territory as possible. Afterwards we all agreed that it was fun but hectic, definitely not relaxing. On subsequent charters and now cruising our own boat weíve decided that we prefer to go much slower and do deeper dives into each place we visit. YMMV, peace.

We had a 12 night / 11 day charter from Raiatea and spent two nights at three different locations. We only went to Raiatea/Tahaa and Bora Bora that time and even so it felt a bit rushed.

Plus 1 on passing through the charter base to resupply rather than taking risks at other docks.
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Old 27-08-2018, 22:59   #8
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Re: French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

Hello Nomad, It certainly sounds like you are getting some varied recommendations from which to choose from. Kudos. The distances and areas you will be in are small and well traveled and you will have the charter companies to support you. Having said that we have seen seasoned sailors loose their boat due to poor charting and poor weather planning. I see these small preparations as very cheap insurance. Just last year we saw a cat on the reef near here due to poor charting.

A real life weather example: later this week GEM has the winds forecast to over 25+kts and seas 10 feet at 8 second period in the area. 8 second forecasts can turn out to be six. While this could be a lot of fun, I would not choose those conditions as an introduction sail experience to a friend. I would most likely choose to make any crossing a few days earlier when the conditions are half. I prefer alternative plans and a reasonable weather forecast no matter the location or season and then I change those. Sounds like you are going to have an excellent time. Enjoy your adventure and pet some rays for us!!
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Old 21-02-2019, 22:07   #9
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Re: French Polynesia - Pls review preliminary float plan and advise!

You may have already taken your trip by now, but I would not add Huanine to this vacation. We did Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora last May and felt that 7 nights was not enough time in just those places. Adding getting to/from Huaine would have felt stressful to us given the distance, though we understand it's a wonderful destination. Have a fantastic and safe adventure!
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