June 26, 2011

Dreams of Bora Bora

I SEE THAT 16-year-old Laura Dekker has reached Bora Bora in the 38-foot ketch she calls Guppy. The Dutch girl is attempting to be the youngest person to sail around the world singlehanded.

I don’t know why she’s doing this. Jessica Watson, of Australia, was 16 when she sailed around the world, so Laura will just be a younger 16, no better. And her voyage will be nothing like that undertaken by Jessica, who sailed singlehanded and non-stop around the five great capes, including, of course, Cape Horn, with no outside assistance.

By comparison, Laura has been on a vacation cruise, flitting from port to port from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Panama Canal (where, technically, she had several people helping on board for the canal transit and wasn’t singlehanded) and having a wonderful time.

On her website there are pleas for financial donations to help Laura Dekker swan her way around the world. It seems to me that what I need is a similar website with pleas for donations to help me spend a vacation in Bora Bora, reputedly one of the most beautiful of all the Pacific islands.

It’s French territory, of course, and thus everything is very expensive for those of us who have to pay in dollars. I would have chosen the Club Med site for the best value on Bora Bora and also for nostalgic reasons. I once had a Club Med vacation on the Greek island of Corfu and it made a lasting impression on me because it was the first place that confirmed the rumor that French women go around topless on public beaches.

Anyway, according to the Internet, the Club Med on Bora Bora has closed down because of hard times so I won’t be going to Bora Bora any time soon unless the euro crashes and the American dollar rises phoenix-like from the ashes. Too bad. Everybody ought to see Bora Bora and feed the black-finned reef sharks by hand, as Laura did — and preferably arrive by yacht, as she did.

Today’s Thought
Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will — whatever we may think.
— Lawrence Durrell.

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #214
To find out how much your boat will sink in the water when you add weight, multiply her waterplane area in square feet by 5.34. The answer is the number of pounds needed to sink her 1 inch.
Waterplane area? For a close approximation, multiply waterline length by waterline beam in feet and multiply the result by 0.76.

At a farewell dinner for a clergyman who was being transferred to another city, a frail old lady went up to his table to say goodbye.
“I’m so sorry you’re going,” she said.
“That’s very kind of you,” said the clergyman.
“Yes,” said the lady, “Until you came here I never really knew what sin was.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Hugh Saunders said...

Oh Dear John, sounding a little bitter today! Hope you have some good sailing weather soon ;-)

Eric said...


Perhaps you could help me - I have decided to sail around the world for charity, and I need a list of the poshest spots and some routing tips. I've jotted down Bora Bora, but I need many more similar ports where I can liase with the natives, spreading only goodwill (I am very hygenic). While I've NO experience with it, "singlehanding" does not sound fulfilling.

I am also trying to decide on a sponsorship format: should I have people sponsor me by nautical mile, by sunburn, or by tropical drink? Or perhaps by every new friend I make?

I am just glad for this opportunity to change the world. If any of your readers are interested, I am willing to take early donations in the form of essentials, and a freshly refitted Baba 40 would be a nice start. Finally you have a chance to make a difference, thanks in advance...

World Saver #101,569