Society Islands



Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora

19th August to 2nd September


Now in the Leeward Society Islands (Iles Sous-le-Vent top left in the photo above) – blog already has posts for Tahiti and Moorea (the Windward Society Islands). It isn’t clear why they’re called Society Islands but probably because Captain Cook considered them close together, (though Royal Society suggested they were named in recognition of their assistance with funding one of Cook’s voyages). Also, ‘close together’ in the Pacific isn’t quite the same as ‘close together’ in British waters. They may be grouped together under one name here but they spread over 200 miles; equivalent to grouping Scilly Isles with Channel Islands and Isle of Wight (and I can’t see that happening!).

Leaving Moorea at dusk

A straightforward and brisk overnight sail from Moorea took Henrietta 85 miles to Huahine, another fabulous mountainous, reef-fringed island. 

It was sobering to see at dawn the wreck of a large catamaran that had sailed into the reef one night three weeks earlier. Reef location isn’t very clear on the chart and apparently they’d cut too close to island Huahine, parents with four children thankfully safely helicoptered off, boat now abandoned with fixtures removed for sale, and them facing not just the loss of all their worldly goods (they had no other home), but also the tug’s ‘tow off and sink’ fee of over $20,000. I spent three nights at a tranquil anchorage nearby and heard the sorry story from fellow cruisers, Ian and Erika, who’d been friends of the wrecked boat family, and had helped unload the coral-stranded catamaran – a hazardous task in itself.


Huahine’s main village is typically laid back with standard features of quay (for supply ships), a store, post-office, church or two, food shacks and ‘yacht club’. (‘yacht club’ is not a club, simply a restaurant on the waterfront, open to all, and often a congregating spot for yachties). This particular yacht club had a folk music evening (American not Polynesian) and here’s a nice picture of my favourite young fellow sailors, all smartened up for an evening ashore with folk music. Needless to say, I didn’t go!

Youngsters! Miranda, Hugh, Paul and Jenny

You won’t want too many details of day-by-day trivia so I’ll summarise and just say, I


sailed next to Raiatea (Polynesian languages use lots of vowels), enjoyed the regatta of Polynesian canoe racing at one spot (kindly invited to join participants’ feasting), did hilly walks till private land and trackless wilderness ended progress….made friends with a dog….admired soul-cleansing scenery and bright tropical flowers……moods from melancholia to happy excitement….ate truly delicious veggie meals on Ian and Erika’s friendly catamaran Makara, and the charming Little Coconut, and often cook for others to join me on Henrietta ….sailed on to neighbouring island Tahaa for one windy squally night at deepest anchorage yet (35 metres)….next day, rough windy downwind rolling surfing whizz near top speed with half genoa, and in through reef to Bora Bora.

Choppy at pass into Bora Bora lagoon


Just had thorough haircut in Bora Bora (final few murky grey locks all gone), and bought beer to celebrate. 

The island of Bora Bora, despite its reputation, is no more beautiful than other Polynesian islands; mountainous, cloaked in blanket of lush verdant textured green, surrounded with clear lagoon inside coral reef. 

All very pretty but, I guess because Americans were here in the war and went home with extravagant tales, Bora Bora has since been over-hyped and is very overrated and over glamourised, I reckon. Lots and lots of luxury hotels on islets here and there, every other shop selling expensive pearl jewelry and colourful tourist tat in pretty shabby surroundings, lots of litter, busy smelly traffic on single road that winds around the island’s perimeter, prices generally eye-watering. And yet, somehow, the local people retain their charm and hospitality.

Pictures from Bora Bora



So now, Henrietta waits at a fairly sheltered spot in Bora Bora with about a dozen others; waiting for current spell of rough windy horrid weather to abate.

A birthday party (thank you Miranda for yummy cake!)


I may next stop at island Maupiti, a final stop in French Polynesia, before a longer stretch to the Cook Islands. There’s one called Suwarrow that is uninhabited and looks nice, about 690 miles away. But there’s another one called Palmerston that looks interesting too….oh! decisions to make…

3 thoughts on “Society Islands

  1. Hey Mike,

    Just checking you are out of harms way! I did a bit of googling and managed to establish that you are in the path of the ‘waves’ (not too big it seems) created by the earthquake off the southern coast of Mexico. Very glad to find that you are safe and sound and that you are continuing to complain about the state of ‘paradise’!

    Good luck with the next leg of your journey! X


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s