It's getting somewhat repetitive describing how beautiful the places are that we are anchoring but once again we are anchored off a small motu, just within the reef, overlooking Ta'ha to our right and with distant views of Bora Bora to our left. The motu itself is home to an exclusive resort of bungalows on stilts set over the lagoon with onshore facilities, including a restaurant where we're having lunch today.
We had a super day yesterday. We'd taken a mooring ball in Apu Baie, the property of the nearby pearl farm, and enjoyed one of the best night's sleep we've had for a while, it was so still and calm. The pearl farm offer the balls free of charge but expect you to.visit their farm and so we duly climbed into the ever-deflating dinghy and headed ashore. Being the third pearl farm we have now visited, Paul and I are becoming somewhat experts on grafting smooth beads (made from.Mississippi clam shells) into the muscle of the oyster before leaving them for 18 months to grow. What was interesting yesterday was that they went on to explain how they grade the pearls depending on shape and the number of imperfections. Only 2 to 3% of pearls are classified as perfect, about 10% of the harvest as grade A (less than 5% imperfection), up to 15% as grade B (5 to 15% imperfection), 30% as grade C and the rest are misshapen or with rings around them.
At this particular pearl farm they set anything grade B or higher in 18ct gold with category C pearls and below in silver or less. After the presentation we entered their showroom and the designer, Monique, presented us her stunning range of gold and pearl jewellery. Pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings, all beautifully set and with lustrous pearls of varying hues. Hannah and I were in our element trying on different necklaces and both bought one: mine a 3-pearl grade A piece in yellow gold and hers a “perfect” pearl in a white gold cage (they don't drill perfect pearls apparently!). So the mooring ball wasn't free after all. In fact it was probably the most expensive mooring ball ever!!Heading north to the motu, after a celebration lunch, we snorkelled the incredible coral garden for an hour or so. Interestingly the fish were far more timid here than many places we have snorkelled recently, fewer snorkellers perhaps? An onboard bbq rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable day.