29th January

Bora Bora is, in my estimation at least, the loveliest of the islands we have visited.  A mountainous interior, surrounded by the most beautiful lagoon, sheltered from the Pacific swell and winds; turquoise water and soft, soft sand.

We are anchored off Vaitape, a small town on the west side, it has a nice harbour and, more importantly, great facilities for tendering.

We came in through yet another gap in a reef, however the transit of this one is a little trickier than others, one that requires a great deal of concentration.  This because the gap is narrow and the water, relatively shallow, (as we came through, we had 3 metres, about 10 feet of water under our keel).  If one is too far north or south as one approaches, well, we won’t go into that. 

Awkwardly, Mother Nature stuck another reef just to the east of the gap, so once we are through, (or halfway through actually), one has to ‘throw’ the helm over to avoid running straight onto it.

We follow 15 minutes behind another cruise ship, the “Amadea”, strangely the same ship which shared the Panama Canal transit with us.  Fortunately, the anchorage has plenty of space, more than enough for the 2 of us.  In fact, it was used as a major supply base by the U.S. Navy in WW2 due to this protected anchorage.

We are anchored by 7 a.m. and have our platforms rigged and tender service running by 7:30, most guests are off by 9:30.  Many will spend a day at some of the beautiful Hotel resorts to be found here, for a fee they will allow you to use the facilities, restaurants and, particularly, the magnificent beaches.

I did my usual ‘jaunt’ ashore for these photos and came back dripping, most uncomfortable.  I have to confess that, in these climes, I find myself yearning for the  ‘rig’ (uniform) that I used to wear in the tropics.  Outside today, the heat is stifling and humid and wearing long, black trousers is uncomfortable, to say the least.  Below is (an embarrassing) photo of what I used to wear, I’d like the hair too 😎  and I thought long and hard before I posted it, but what the heck, in for a penny…….. ’tis me on the left 😳


Pendennis Castle 2nd officer

Pendennis Castle 2nd officer

The group of gentlemen you see in this photo, (below) are having difficulty with their repertoire, “She’ll be coming round the mountain” in Tahitian sounds quite odd, I can tell you.


Talking about uniform, it brought a smile to my face and took me back years, (nearly 40 to be precise) and it too concerns uniform.  I served as a 3rd Navigating officer on a Bulk Carrier, hauling iron ore from Australia to the steelworks of Japan.  My captain had been on our Union-Castle Mail ships and he had a hard time with the transition to a bulk carrier.  On the Passenger ships, we changed uniform depending on the sea temperature. (?? Don’t ask me, I have no idea why).   It didn’t matter if it was baking hot, if the sea was cold, then Blue uniform was the rig and vice versa.

This is an extract from my book;-

“We had changed uniform so often that it had become a matter of much humour; our 2nd Engineer took it upon himself to ‘note protest’ to the Captain.

One evening, the Captain was in the Officer’s bar, sitting on one of the bar stools, sipping his drink.  In walked our 2nd Engineer, dressed in a uniform which wasn’t quite standard.

He had cut his blue jacket in half and to it had sewn half of a white tropical short-sleeve shirt.  Similarly, he had done the same with his trousers, one blue long leg and one white short leg; to top it off he had one black and one white sock on, completed with a black shoe and one white shoe.

In his hands were two suitcases.  As he made his entrance, all heads turned mouths agape in astonishment.  As the Captain looked to see what the commotion was, the 2nd looked him in the eye and uttered the now unforgettable words, “Evening Captain and what, pray tell is the bloody rig of the day today?”

The captain, suitably shocked, fell off his bar stool and the remainder of the wardroom collapsed in laughter.  (We had fewer uniform changes after this, so it had the desired effect).

On that note, I will leave you; we are on our way to American Samoa and Pago Pago!


A medley of command, travel and family

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