May 22 – June 23, 2015 – by Anne – BORA BORA, THE SOCIETY ARCHIPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA – PART 1
To date, June 23, Joyful is still enjoying Bora Bora, but I want to enter this Bora Bora Part 1 portion of the blog entry today, then post a Bora Bora Part 2 later before we sail away. We hope to sail away to Vava’u, Tonga, as soon as the weather at sea improves.
At the first call of “Land ho!” when we spotted the exotic atoll of Bora Bora, we have been charmed by the island’s natural beauty. Typical white voluminous cumulus clouds floated above this tiny island in the vast South Pacific Ocean, easily marking the location of such a mountainous island. Jeff, Bill, and I were quite excited to see this famous isle in French Polynesia, to experience its culture, meet its people, to accomplish the goals of the BPO, to do some music and art ministry, and to gather with the rest of the Blue Planet Odyssey fleet for the first time before the rally began.
Jeff had to have some medical checks by a local doctor while here at Bora Bora, who found Jeff has a bacterial infection causing us to stay a little longer in this tropical paradise in order to rest and heal. Bill had a cold, and, I’m in good health.
BPO BORA BORA RENDEZVOUS:
Within a few days of Joyful’s arrival in Bora Bora, several other boats in the Blue Planet Odyssey appeared from other islands in French Polynesia. For this planned rendezvous, Luc and Jackie (Jackie was not present at Bora Bora due to a prior overseas commitment), who are the excellent BPO coordinators for a large portion of the rally, arranged some spectacular events for the fleet, which included a welcome to Bora Bora lunch, a BPO route planning update session, a training session for a program in which we will be testing children’s eye health while on the BPO, a departure cocktail party, departure feast, and Polynesian dance show at the MaiKai Marina and Yacht Club. Teiva and Jessica, owners of the MaiKai Marina and Yacht Club, are extraordinary hosts, as they showed much kindness and consideration for everyone in the BPO. Luc continued to demonstrate his heartfelt commitment to the participants of the BPO, and to the BPO’s mission, by spending a lot of time, energy, and effort on every detail. Thank you so much, Luc, Jackie, Teiva and Jessica! Thank you and your family, Teiva, for letting Joyful stay at your dock, and for your gracious hospitality and help for Jeff, Bill, and me while we are here in Bora Bora.
Can you hear those drums? No, not Ringo Starr’s drums, but ancient Polynesian traditional drums made of tree trunks, branches, goat skins, shells, and banana fibers. I hear them almost every night as I sleep in Joyful’s cockpit under the Southern sky. The drums cry out rhythms and beats passed down through the generations and echo for miles against Bora Bora’s high volcanic rain forest covered mountain. The lagoon also carries soft voices singing sweet sounding Polynesian words for miles, punctuated by softer drum beats. Who is making those exotic, welcoming sounds? Local teens, young adults and older adults, five nights a week, starting at 6:30 and ending sometimes at midnight, who are practicing Polynesian drums and dances for an upcoming Polynesian competition called a Heiva. The singing is from local “elders” who sing and chant beautiful traditional songs, sometimes calling to the dancers. Jeff, Bill, and I have many times strolled through the main street of Vaitape to stand for hours, under tropical trees and the Southern Cross in the night sky, marveling at this enjoyable activity. We love the way the dance/drum competition encourages group solidarity within the community, as well as the capacity for cultural traditions to be kept alive. I will post some photos of these extraordinary dancers and drummers in Bora Bora Part 2, “so stay tuned!”
Secchi Disk –
Yippee! All the Bears, the Eagles, and the Huns, who are the students at the three schools with whom Joyful is partnered in the USA, will be excited to hear that we took our first successful Secchi disk reading on this circumnavigation! After replacing the devices on the bottom of the Secchi disk with heavier weights, we lowered the scientific instrument Mr. Muldowney’s 5th grade science students from the Round Hill Elementary School graciously made for Joyful. On the floating dock next to Joyful, Jeff stood by with the still camera, while Luc, a wonderful man from Belgium who is the BPO rally coordinator for this part of the world, took a video of me operating the Secchi disk from Joyful’s deck. The Secchi Depth was 8 meters 20 centimeters, and the sea temperature was 32.3 degrees Celsius right around Joyful. We entered this data and more into the Secchi Disk App. The data will be used to study phytoplankton, which is a crucial part of the planet’s food chain. The health and status of the ocean can be reflected in phytoplankton, and therefore, these Secchi Depths can be a part of the puzzle requested by scientists throughout the world who are concerned with the earth and life on the earth.
Bird sightings –
We’ve seen a few beautiful birds in Bora Bora, one of my favorites is the one I call, “The Duke of Oxford”. He is the magnificent white beaked, blackish brown and white sea bird that flew around Joyful during her passage to Bora Bora and to Nuku Hiva. A brown juvenile one even sailed on Joyful for a while on top of her solar panels! These birds are known as brown boobies. It made me feel so happy to see the Duke of Oxford welcoming us to Bora Bora when he was sitting on top of the green starboard marker, which marked the coral reef in the pass separating the open sea from Bora Bora’s lagoon.
Quick! Call the police! Call the gendarmes! Its a red-vented bulbul bird! Why the need for the law? Here on Bora Bora and on other Pacific Islands, other birds, bees, fruits, and plants are severely threatened by this innocent looking land bird called a bulbul. The red-vented bulbul, Pycnonotus cafer, is on the list of the top 100 worst invasive alien species. We saw a large poster in town, a photo of which I am including in this blog, which stated in large print to call the police (gendarmes) if you see a bulbul. We asked an islander about the bulbuls and she became very serious and told us about how that bird is creating a real danger to the island. So we are keeping our eyes open for a bulbul, and oui, we will call the police tout de suite!
The daily dosimeter readings readings at the dock in Bora Bora were all between 8 and 15 counts per minute (CPM).
Eye Health Program for Youth –
In Bora Bora, a new community service was made available to the Blue Planet Odyssey (BPO) participants. The Hamburg Institute of Research, Training, and Therapy, gGmbH (HIT) has provided the BPO with two kits of eye measurement equipment to take to the remote areas along the route of the BPO. We will measure children, ages 7-14, for vision deficiencies, and HIT will make glasses for, and mail them to, the children who need them. Two of the BPO boats have already started using the kits to improve the lives of the children; Joyful will participate in this worthwhile program when we are in company with the boats that have the equipment.
We want to apologize for the difficult communications via phone and email so far during this circumnavigation. Our computers have had issues, allowing very few minutes of use, to no use at all, ever since we sailed away from Key West. Also, once we had our computers repaired here in Bora Bora, the WiFi access has been unreliable, uncooperative, and still intermittent! We hope the communication possibilities improve for the rest of the circumnavigation. In the mean time, we hope you will be patient, and if we can’t read your email messages quickly, or send you emails quickly, that you will understand. But we will try! Such is the life of cruising boaters in remote parts of the world. We hope you will enjoy Joyful’s blog as it stands at any given time, as well as reading articles about Joyful’s endeavors, and enjoy tracking Joyful’s position via http://www.blueplanetodyssey.com.
Art Ministry –
So far during our stay in Bora Bora, I have had the pleasure to hold two art ministry events in which I taught two watercolor classes to a few lovely local people and some wonderful fellow cruisers who are sailing around the world on their yacht as they do missionary work. Like Joyful! The first lesson, consisted of students ranging from a sweet 7 year old girl, to a teenager and adults. In this Bora Bora Part 1 blog entry, I will tell you about the first art ministry event, then catch you up on the second event in Bora Bora Part 2.
As an inspiration for their subject for their artwork, I used the turtle painting I made for the Key West entry in the book I plan to publish, which incorporates the Bible verse from Genesis 1:21 “So God created the living creatures of the sea… and God saw that it was good.” I demonstrated how to use brushes, mix any color from three primary colors, use washes, splattering, and other techniques to create a work of art on watercolor paper. I also demonstrated how to use a flat brush to form words within their design, and explained how, if they wished, they could share the Word of God with others if they used Bible verses in their designs. While they painted the sea creatures of their choice, we had such a pleasant time listening to the young 7 year old girl extemporaneously explain how God wants people to keep the oceans and earth clean so the fish and animals can be healthy. She spoke about how God created the creatures of the sea, the ocean itself, and everything else. From the mouths of babes! Praise the Lord!
Music Ministry and Art Ministry Together! Extraordinary and Unplanned! –
During these days in Bora Bora, I was able to share the gift of music with a wonderful French local man, at whose villa Jeff and I stayed for several days for Jeff to recover in an air conditioned environment per the doctor’s orders. In our desire to be obedient to the Lord, we try to follow 1 Peter 4:10 “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” So one fine morning, while our French gentleman host was enjoying his coffee near the bougainvillea blossoms on his veranda, I asked if I could play him a few Italian pieces on my classical guitar. He welcomed the invitation, and we each had great joy together, relaxing together with the great mountains of Bora Bora and the azure sea as our backdrop! Thank you, Lord, for giving us the gift of music to please one another!
The gentleman was able to reciprocate in sharing the gift the Lord gave him in the form of art. He is a respected artist from France and Bora Bora, and his extraordinarily colorful and vibrant oil paintings are positive and uplifting to observe. One of the most impressive of his paintings hung in our private portion of the villa, which was a life size painting of Jesus Christ. The artist was able to share in art ministry with me by explaining the only subjects he paints are those that are positive, upbeat, and reflect the good in people. This reminds me of what the Holy Bible says in Philippians 4:8-9 “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you.” I will recall with happiness those few days in that peaceful, idyllic environment with such a special individual. His approach to art is akin to mine, so there, too, will be a valued memory, inspiration, and connection. Merci!
Artistic Inspirations from the Lord About this Landfall –
The inspiration was clear for a painting reflecting this landfall of Bora Bora, for publication in the book I plan on illustrating showing how God lives throughout the world, whether at sea or on land. Joyful, here in Bora Bora, has been totally surrounded by four amazing sights every minute of the day and night; the coral reefs to her West and South, the verdant rainforest on the volcanic mountain to her North and East, the crystal clear waters of the lagoon beneath her keel, and the clean, magnificent sky above her decks. The Holy Bible says that the Lord created these natural phenomena as well as mankind, and wants humans to be caretakers of His creation. Therefore, for the painting representing Bora Bora, I wish to make a design which will incorporate the verse from the Holy Bible, Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”