Posts Tagged ‘French Polynesia’


Monday, November 10th, 2014
Headland Malpiti

Headland Maulpiti

What a nice place.  Can’t say it is the friendliest; that was in the Marqueses, Can’t say it has the best restaurants, that was Bora Boara, Can’t say it is the  largest island or the one with the most people, but I can say it just plain is a nice place.

The anchorage off the Tahiti Nui Airline dock was excellent during that odd weather we had. Four days of no Sun, three days of almost constant rain and we were snug as a bug hidden in the wave shade of the reef out in front of us.

When we had a good looking day we worked a wee bit on the boat; I  changed the fuel filter and we ran the engine for 45 minutes; all seemed fine. But; the issue really seems to occur after about 2 hours of engine run time so we’ll see between here and our next stop if we’re good. We varnished a bit; trying to do our one coat every 12-18 months, we walked a lot and we even tried the one restaurant open sometimes on the island.

Water Front, Malpiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia

Water Front, Maulpiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia

We walked around the entire island. We had planned on renting bicycles for a day; 1,000 cfp or $12 US each but as we had walked back and forth across the water front and had read that it only takes about 3 hours to walk around the island we decided to give it a go. W/ packed up our stuff and we smartly carried a water bottle. Not however smart enough as we would have been wise to carry two!  We headed off in a clockwise direction first walking the waterfront and then heading down the main road; the only road on the island. Well, I say only road but there were a couple of dead ends attached to it.

We discovered another bakery; out of flour, figures. So we continued on, taking pictures and checking out the lay of the land. We traversed a hogsback on the NW side and had a gorgeous view of the

Circumnavigating Mulpiti

Circumnavigating Maulpiti

western Motu’s. There we rounded up to look towards Bora Bora and then descended to the home stretch. It was here a bouts we ran out of water.

Water on the island is precious resource. The public spigots had a  key pad for digital input so residents could enter their number and take what water they needed. One resident told us  water is barged in for the islanders. We didn’t see any waterfalls out of the mountain as we had in Tahiti but we did see a couple of smallish streams running out of the countryside.  I’m damn glad we put in a water maker as here is one  place we could have had an issue. Excepting that we just had 3 days of rain we would have easily filled our tanks then but one can’t count on the rain. At least we can’t count on it. We only carry about 800 liters of water and for some boats that is a lot but compared to what the home users use it’s a drop in the bucket.

We were getting a little parched. But; there was hope. On our walks we had discovered a small store on the N end of town that had cold drinks as well as some grocery supplies. We hoped it was open but we were not sure. It was after all Saturday afternoon and if this island is anything like the other Society islands, Saturday after 12 noonish EVERYTHING closes. For us however there were not any real alternatives. Going back was longer and we knew we were only an hour or so from the boat. We would make it. We walked on; slowly. 🙂

Every corner  we rounded I felt we would be arriving at the Maulpiti suburbs. We keep looking for the ball park that was on the N side of town and yet as we turn with each bend in the road it wasn’t there. We crossed in front of a few homes and a 7th Day Adventist Church but no store.  Eventually we came upon the ball park and quickened our steps as we knew the store we hoped was open would be only a few minutes ahead. We passed the store that had the grouchy guy and we had found only open once. Then a few buildings down we saw our Nirvana.

And…. it looked like… I see the window to the store up….I think it is open! We get closer and indeed it is. Thankfully they have drinks. But only beer and then a beer with lime. We go for both. The beer with lime neither of us loved but it was liquid and we it would quench our thirst for a bit. We were only about 20 minutes from the boat now, less if we take bigger steps.

At the boat we guzzle water, then we fill the glass with ice, add water and guzzle some more. We’ve made it. We circumnavigated Maulpiti by foot. The only island in French Polynesia that we have done so with. Next we want to do a dinghy tour. But that will wait. Time enough tomorrow or the next day. The weather doesn’t yet hold the cards for heading out.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bye-Bye, Bora Bora

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

We left Bora Bora with our outbound clearance to Samoa. Little did we know it would change.  We were planning on a stop in Maupiti and Maopulea, then Suvarrow and finally Pago Pago (American Samoa), where we had planned on spending the cyclone season.

As we left Bora Bora the weather deteriorated. Soon we had very little wind and plenty of rain. Maupiti has a rather narrow harrowing entrance that at times can have surf breaking all the way across it. With the rain and a swell running out of the S we didn’t actually know if we would see the entrance and then if the entrance was passable.  But we soldiered on anyway.

Remember my little engine problem. I had blown out the vent lines to make sure they were clear and there was only one thing left to do if there was any issue; change the fuel filter on the engine. For the first two hours our 85 hp Perkins ran like a top. Then we began hearing a little surge every couple of minutes. It was small but we both heard it so it was there.  Our need to stop at Maupiti just went up and our hopes that the rain would abate in a few hours and let us into the lagoon skyrocketed.

The saying “God protects fools, children and sailors” must have some element of truth. Because about an hour out of the pass the sky cleared and we could see the mountain of Maupiti.  Now if we can just see the pass and see too if we will be able to motor in. Should there be surf breaking entirely across the pass there is no way we’ll attempt it. We closed in on the coordinates and stayed a bit off the reef; just because I’m a cautious guy. I’m looking through the binoculars trying to ascertain if we can make it in and W/ is watching me using her focus to reduce her fear that if she looks to our beam and sees the waves breaking less then 100′ from us she’ll freak out.  I see the opening and it is clear.

Malpiti Pass, Society Islands

Malpiti Pass, Society Islands

We head for the narrow stretch of water that is lumpy but not foamy and I look for the range markers showing us the channel center to help guide us in. The guide books indicate there might be a 5 kt current running out at times and since we motor at a max of 7 kts that could be a bit problematic. There is no turning around in the pass once you begin; if you need to exit you just slow down and the current will spit you right back out.  But; I watch our speed and we move quickly up to the channel and soon cross the smallish standing waves at the entrance and are past the breakers on the reef. W/ tells me it was only here that she chose to glance sideways and she was rather glad we had passed through the most dangerous point already. Now it was down to fighting the current and following the markers.

One fantastic thing about French Poly has been that all the channels and passes have been well marked. Often with range markers that show you where the channel center is and then with day marks telling you to say N, S, E, or W and sometimes just to stay clear.  Fortunately for us the current was only about 2 kts against us at the time we entered so we cleared the narrows between the motus and

Malpiti Anchorage off of Tahiti Nui Airline Dock

Maupiti Anchorage off of Tahiti Nui Airline Dock

once inside the lagoon W/ and I both breathed a sigh of relief. Even though the engine has always run well even with the surge one can’t be 100% sure of it.  But with the worst behind us we motored up to the village and anchored near another boat just off the Tahiti Nui Airline dock. Here we hope to settle in and repair the engine and too we hope to meet up with Bruno and Poema for a massage. They are two people we met strolling about in Huahini.  The day is young yet but traveling as we did; motoring all the way, worrying about the entrance, finding a place to anchor, it all take its toll. We’re exhausted and so we revel in the peace and quite, planning on removing the dinghy from the deck the following am and changing the filter after. For now it is time to rest….

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bora Bora; Ain’t all it’s Cracked up to Be!

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Don’t get me wrong. It is a beautiful place. But in French Polynesia; for us it is not “the most beautiful”.  I can think of a few places more stunning; Daniels Bay in Nuku Hiva, Hanaiapa Bay in Hiva Oa, Cooks Bay in Moorea, and Port Bouyrne in Houahini.  As for the colors of the water most all the places in French Poly have those various shades of Blues and Greens.  They’re beautiful but they are not restricted to Bora Bora.

Dave's Night for Cooking

Dave's Night for Cooking

What Bora Bora has the the others don’t; including Papeete was IMHO excellent food.  I don’t just mean good, but excellent. We ate at only two of the 4 super restaurants; Maikai Yacht Club and the Bloody Marys and both were outstanding. Price was a wee bit up there too but not for the usual standard prices of French Polynesia.

At Bloody Mary’s we both had Mahi-Mahi and we were both delighted. Even with the kitty cat that sat by our table and looked up with those sad eyes.  The Bloody Mary drink was certainly toxic and while W/ and I shared one; I still remember it (keep in mind that I usually write these blogs a week or two after the events).  What we didn’t like was 1st the Wifi sucked.  Yeah, I know; we’re on an island and we’re at a great restaurant but we still look to anyplace we can to keep up with world events. When a Kuna in the San Blas Islands tells us about Osama Bin Ladin on the same day we heard it on the news we feel we ought to keep abreast of world events as much as the locals. Second; the service was a bit off. They wanted to rush us through as they had full reservations for the restaurant an hour and a half later but they dragged their feet almost; not quite, almost putting us in a rush. The individual that was explaining the menu to everyone was rushing through and with 20 people around the table it was a bit overwhelming. I’m sure had we been French speakers we might have felt better; even though the person touting the food spoke passable English.

The other restaurant of interest was the Maikai Yacht club. Kevin is the Chef and general manager there and we had very good Mahi Burgers plus I had one night Roasted Duck and another a HUGE Lamb Chop. Both excellent and would equal what I’ve had anywhere else at home or in my travels.

Bloody Mary's Mooring with our Summer Clothes on.

Bloody Mary's Mooring with our Summer Clothes on.

While hanging in Bora Bora we were able to get some boat work done as well as provision for our trip West.  I made sure the fuel vent line was cleared and there were no nests built in the vent fitting exiting the boat. I made sure the return line to the fuel tanks was clear and now I hope this solves the issue.  At Bloody Mary’s W/ and I thought we had a great day to varnish so we quickly put the peddle to the metal and while W/ made breakfast I ran the scotch brite over the old varnish and began to tape. By the time dishes were washed we were mostly taped and ready to go. W/ made up the varnish and began applying. Finished we stripped off the blue tape and watched the weather turn.

One great thing about Signature Finishes Honey Teak is that after hours of application there is not much weather that can hurt it. And in this heat even less time. Soon the rains came and we were lucky. 90% of it was excellent; only the last  1/2 meter shows any effect from the rain and when we do the other side will fix those last few centimeters.

As Friday approached we made our trips to the food stores and began loading up. We figure we need food for a month of no stores and then we’ll be back in civilization again.  The goal is working our way to American Samoa. But as cruisers are fond of saying; plans are written in sand little did we know then that our plans would change.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Internet: French Polynesia

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

In a word: BAD!  At times it rivals the worst of the Galapagos in Ecuador and other times, it is almost not bad. You would think a country that is so closely related to a first world nation: France, would have a solid internet setup. I don’t really care that it is in the Pacific, I care that if the service is offered it works; even slow is better than pretending. And too; here in French Polynesia you don’t buy data; you buy time, except on a smart phone you buy DATA but it is so expensive.   So if you have a smart phone you DO NOT want to leave anything on for any data.

The only phone service available in the islands is VINI and they have a way of taking your money and giving you very little. And if you think you will use data from your plan at home think again; one cruiser that has AT&T Worldwide received a call after about 3 days of intermittent use. He said, “See I have data” and his bill was $500.00 US. He was able to get it reduced but not to any reasonable rate. Check with your carrier on the price for data here before you leave it set to receive.

Vini: Fist if you want data at any speed it is $12/ 120 megs. Yep $1 / 10 megabyte.  Now that is EXPENSIVE! In Panama data is roughly $1 / 100 megabytes.  Vini is certainly not the best deal on the planet but one some choose to live with. Vini advertises the data connection as 3g and speeds are 8 mb / sec. However, individuals that have used the connection tell me while it may connect at 3g the data transfer rate is often much closer to the EDGE network speed (equal to an older modem dial up connection of 56k / sec) and they are mostly reduced to emails.  As for phone service you receive some free text message when you purchase and add the money to your SIM card. It’s like 20 messages for $12 US or 50 messages for $25 US.  And of course you get time with that too. BUT; and you notice I put the emphasis on but; the time runs out and quite fast in my opinion.  30 Days. If you add time and you don’t use your time up in 30 days you lose it. At least the SIM card is good for 6 months of inactivity which is fair but 30 days for the time being and then it disappears. IMHO not  a fair deal.  And, should you add more money to your account in 30 days it appears the old minutes disappear after 30 days anyway. Thus to keep the account active you need to add $12 / month. They have smaller amount cards but last time I bought one they only had the 1,000 cfp cards which is about $12 as of this writing. The smallest  prepay is 500 cfp and is only active for 15 days. I’m guessing the 2,000 cfp will be good for 60 days but that is still costing anyone not using the service often to pay roughly $12 US / month.  Further to add time can often be problematic. I purchased a prepaid card after my time ran out and I couldn’t use their messaging system to activate it.  Yeah, after purchasing the card they made it difficult to use it!  This may disappear as time passes but the instructions on the card were not correct needing to put an 87 in front of their Prepaid number.  Some cards are now correct and others still in the system in the outer islands are out of date.

WDG: This WiFi connection spot is one of 3 others. Sometimes it works sometimes not. When we were in Tiahoe on Hiva Oa WDG was one of two ways to connect to the internet. Manospot was the other (see below). In Tiahoe I had a good signal with my high gain wifi adapter and could get to the sign in page. For all of these services I tried I first paid for a few hours to see how well they worked. In Tiahoe I could not even complete a transaction. The sign up page there just didn’t work. I was able to connect successfully and pay in Rangiroa for WDG. The boat Evenstar had the same issue in Tiahoe. I use a Mac and he used Linux. Both of us were IT people back in our other life. Neither could get past the page to sign up and of course contacting the company can be a problem even though there is a place on the page to “choose your language”. Mark on Mystic had our agent in Tahiti call WDG and  try to get some resolution on an issue  he had; and she, being a fluent French speaker, could not reach the one individual that manages or owns WDG.  For us WDG worked in Rangiroa, Moorea, Marina Taina, and Raiatea, and Maupiti. While for the most part the hotspots they indicate have been correct the area of the hotspot coverage has been smaller than shown.  And finally, don’t expect WDG to be everyplace they say they are and don’t expect the coverage they show on the map to be near the coverage in practice. They have over exaggerated their coverage area.

In Raiatea I had much difficulty. I was able to connect in with my eeePC but when I tried with the Mac running 10.5 and Firefox  31 I the connection would continuously time out.  I switched to Safari where it connected up fine.  BTW, to keep Firefox working fine with WDG I needed to clear my Cache about once / week.

Beyond that the log off for WDG is at times problematic. When I updated Firefox the disconnect button worked fine. Before the update I couldn’t disconnect from the computer with the window they provided. I would quite Firefox and unplug the modem.  WDG indicates that after 5 minutes of inactivity they automatically disconnect you. So each time I lost 5 minutes. I never seemed to lose any more time than that. However; NorthStar indicated that WDG double billed them and they received that info from other cruisers. That is; when you check your history you will find two identical times and usage with identical times and the time then doubly debited. He had to email WDG to get it corrected. Steve did indicate it was corrected I believe in one day; however it is something to watch out for. NorthStar is using Linux. Finally, I’ve lost 13 hours of connect time with WDG. I have used their contact button on the bottom of their web page asking them to restore the 13 hours 3 times now over two days and have NO response from them!

As for speeds Wow! And I’m not saying WOW for how good it is. In Rangiroa my speeds would max at 65 kbs. I would watch the data app and she would rise to that amount and then stay for awhile and finally drop off and maybe back up or not.  In Marina Taina I saw speeds increase to about 125 kbs but it never would stay there if I was updating something or downloading  a short file. The speeds would bounce around often ending up near zero where I would just need to disconnect and start over. If, of course you were on in the middle of the night; which one cruiser told me, you might find it much faster. He never reported the speeds to me however.

As for cost – it is up there. The best rate is 2 euros / hour if you purchase 100 hours and then there is a supposed bonus of 20 hours. Ok, that’s 200 euros for 120 hours.  The worst is 4 euros for their minimum hourly rate. There is no data restrictions other than the max data speed their hardware is set to provide or the access point can push out.  They seem to have two few access points for the number of connections made as indicated by the excessive slowing of data during the day.

Manospot FP

Manospot FP

Manospot: This is one of the alternatives to WDG and often in the same harbor you might have both. We’ve used Manospot in Ou Pua, Tiahoe, downtown Papeete, and Moorea.  It seems all the post offices have Manospot. In  Ou Pua it was quite good and the best we had in the Marquases. Speeds at times close to the 100 kbs range. In downtown Papeete the speeds would surge to between 100 and 175 kbs range and the consistency was much better. Still not good enough to say update iPhone or iPad software.  In Moorea the connection in the harbor was weak and one was often left waiting. However the disconnect worked fine and checking my time I was never double billed. However;  one BIG caveat is that from when you purchase the time you have 3 months to use it!  This to my knowledge was not on the purchase page but came in the email confirming purchase.   There may be some wiggle room but not much. I purchased 100 hours planning on using it during our 6 month stay and lost about 50 hours because of the 3 month thing. Again the rates are the same as WDG and Kevin (the yacht agent) on Nuku Hiva indicated they were the same company or used all the same hardware and uplinks. I don’t know if that is true but for the most part the deal is the same. You buy time and not data but don’t think that you get unlimited data. Again; data  is limited by the poor data speeds that the system is providing.

I never used Ioraspot and it is said that a fellow cruiser is running this service but because we were moving and both Manospot and WDG were more places and I could then purchase the longer time deals I went with those two using the best one  (strongest or fastest) at any location we were at.

Private:  There were some times we could connect to hotels and restaurants and homes. We met a wonderful cruising land based family that allowed us to connect to their service and the speed was equal to the best of either WDG or Manospot and the connection quality was far superior. Same with the hotels and restaurants. Too, there was a wifi cafe in Papeete that actually had very fast speeds. They charged $10 US for as long as you could sit there in  one day.  One account; no sharing of the connection between you and your friends. I was able to update my iPhone while there and some other software on the computer that had been hounding me too.  That was the best connection we had anywhere in French Polynesia, and my download speed topped out at 1 mps, most often running between 500-800 kps.

If you expect first world connectivity…stay home.  If you expect anything like you’ve had in the Caribbean or South / Central America you will be disappointed. If you hope to stay connected to family and friends off and on for much of your stay here it is possible, just not loads of joy. For joy, head to the beach, snorkel a pass, walk the islands, try the food, and share in the sunset with your friends. Here the internet is not your friend.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bora Bora Here We Come

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

We left Raiatea heading N.  I had tightened all the fuel connections on the diesel fuel line and we had completed the repair of the pulpit. With those done and being a long way from Uturoa, hanging on a mooring there was not our cup of tea. One boat we spoke with that stayed at the pier in Uturoa said early in the morning they had an unwelcome boarding. Fortunately nothing bad happened and nothing was lost but this is just not where we prefer to hang out.  We had planned on visiting the river but a tourist from the Wind Spirit we spoke with said they took a tour there and there was a large tree across the river that could not be passed. Too, with having lost a month on our Visa it was time to trim some of the places we had wanted to go. Skip Baie Faaroa for us. sv Paje had told us of a beautiful place to snorkel off of Ile De Taha’a (damn no spear fishing) called the Coral Gardens off of Ile Tautau. We figure to head there for a day or two, snorkel, walk the town and then cross to Bora Bora.

A couple of days turned into nearly a week.  A weird weather pattern stopped by and gave us NW, W and SW winds for a few days with cloudy overcast skies and off and on rain.  We don’t like motoring through crappy weather especially if we have a nice calm anchorage to hang in. So we hung out in Baie Tapuamu (A cruisers guide said there was 3-5 m of water on the north side to anchor in but we never found it; instead anchoring in 30 meters).  We visited the village Tapuamu in the moments the weather provided us with an interlude, walked the main road, visited the EXPENISVE resort on the Motu and once did the coral garden snorkel.  The schools of colorful pacific fish waffling abound in the current and among the coral heads was spectacular. An aquarium is a fitting description of the experience with everything being healthy and active. Blue lipped Clams, Yellow Surgeon Fish, tangs, wrasses, trigger fish, etc. The list goes on and on. Returning to our boat in Baie Tapuamu we futzed with small boat projects, did some laundry and just plain “hung out”.

Finally the GRIB files showed a time when we could sail to Bora Bora and all looked up and up. Unfortunately Mother Nature obviously can’t read what the meteorologists say about what the weather will be and while we left early with a lovely looking day ahead, an hour later the sky’s darkened and the rain started.  We motored for the first hour, then were able to put some sail up only to frustrate ourselves. In comes the sail and back on the iron jenny goes. We motored the rest of the way and discovered that the engine surge I was having we indeed still had. At this point I have changed all the Racor Filters, checked and tightened all the fuel hose clamps. Now loaded with the dinghy on back and traveling we heard a very light engine surge after about 2 hours of motoring. I then changed the fuel tanks that we were pulling fuel out of and the frequency of the surges decreased by 50%. But they were still there. The last two things to do are to check the vent line and make sure there are no obstructions and to change the primary filter on the main engine. When we are somewhere quiet I will complete one task at time hoping to learn exactly what was causing the issue. If I change multiple things at once I will not know what the cause was should things get better.  So we motor on.

Arriving Bora Bora

Arriving Bora Bora

We arrive in Bora Bora and pick up a mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht club then settle in for lunch. There we discover that the swell coming through the pass and the wakes from the multitude of boats traveling inside the lagoon is just not comfortable so we move south to Maikai Yacht Club.  We pick up another mooring as the water is 30+ meters deep and once tied off W/ puts the boat in reverse and we pull like hell on it, testing the mooring to ensure its integrity.  Once satisfied we settle in to an afternoon of preparing the boat for life on the hook (oops mooring).

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bad News

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

It was in Raiatea that we discovered the bad news.  As I said earlier W/ had received an email from one of the yards here that they could indeed haul and store us for the Summer and before we had made any final decisions we felt the need to check it out.  It was talking to the yard manager when we were discussing our Visa and she said our time depended on if the visa was marked “180” days or had a date range.  That evening I checked our visas.

Dates instead of Days

Dates instead of Days

Our visas had a date range. But!  When sv NorthStar cleared in they cleared on the exact same date as we did and their year visa then came back a year from the date they had cleared in. I had assumed ours would be the same. But, sometimes I’m a worry wart and  did not want to get

Our Entry Stamp

Our Entry Stamp

caught up in the French Bureaucracy so I took pics of our date stamp and our 6 month visa then emailed them to our agent.

She in turned forwarded the question to the Haut Commissaire and asked for clarification. The answer we received was not the one we wished. We lost a month!

When we asked for the long term stay visa in Panama we were asked if we wanted a 6 months or a year. A year came with a 2 month visa and then the need to go to Papeete for completion of the Carte de Sejour. We didn’t want to hurry through the Marquesas and Tuomotus and felt 6 months would be long enough  On our application we had put the dates as June 1st to December 1st for our 6 months.  When the visa arrived it came back with the dates  different by one month from what we had asked for. As we were now getting late in this season to leave we didn’t feel we could stay and wait for the change; this visa took over 30 days to receive.. Boy, were we wrong!

Now the decision has come back to bite us in the; well the best way is to say it is the, ass.  That puts a dent in our option to haul and reduces the time we had planned on spending in Bora Bora.

Time to get moving, time to get things done. No more Go Slow, Stay Long although that still is my philosophy. As this yard has a welding shop we’ll next stop and see about getting one item checked off the list we’ve been traveling with from Panama fixed; the cracked bow pulpit rail .

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Colds, One then Two

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

I should have known. I felt a wee bit of a scratchy throat and the next day I definitely had a sore throat.  Had we been traveling we would have had no choice but for us to leave for Huahine; a 100 nm trip, with one of us sick was not in our cards. If we had to we could have. But; it was not required. And besides the weather just didn’t look exactly the way we wanted it to look. There was no need to rush, the stars were not aligned right so we didn’t hurry. I needed to get well. I started taking care of the symptoms and the sore throat had eased a bit when W/ commented on the same thing.

Now both of us are sick. It is a good thing we are at a safe quiet anchorage with supplies near by.  We hang on the boat for an extra day and then both feel well enough for a walk. We walk for food and to the pharmacy to replenish our cold supplies.

Two days later we’re ready to go and at noon we up anchor and motor out of the harbor heading NW.  The wind is looking good; about 10 kts and the seas are to be about a meter or less. But one thing we don’t really get info on is a cross sea. We cleared the coast of Moorea before nightfall and saw no more whales. We don’t wish to come across any at night as we hear they do sleep and we’ve also known of other boats that run into them. Not a good thing for either the boat (us) or the whale. My guess is – if they do bruise it’s one hell of a bruise having a boat strike it while sleeping and I also have heard of the whales getting rather upset and attacking the boat at times doing some damage.

We fly our geriatric sail and settle in for the night.  Our watch system has been working well; 3 on 3 off, then 2 on and 2 off. We try to go a little more giving each other time to prepare for sleep and prepare for getting on the deck.  So we would ideally like it to be 3 sleeping, then 2 sleeping. We can do further sleep time during the day but if either of us can really get 5 hours at night then we seem to be quite good for doing what is needed the following day.

The night goes well and I actually email some of my shore side team bragging that this passage is rather “uneventful”.  And again the future makes a liar out of me.

The seas are a little confused and the boat is moving in some odd directions, not a lot but enough that neither of us is really comfortable. We gybe in the middle of the night finding we are making to much N in our track and even still the boat’s motion is a little uncomfortable. I describe it like a washing machine set on “delicate”.  Still we’re getting shaken up a bit but we are making progress and as the Sun rises we see Huahine.

I come up on deck and look over everything. Oh-Oh. Something isn’t right. The geriatric sail (Yankee Jib) has a lot of scalloping in the luff. No way should that be there. Something is amiss. I go forward and see immediately what is up. Our roller furling track is made up of 3′ sections that screw together. Two pieces about 5′ up parted and that’s letting the sail drop down, tensioning the halyard where it should not and

Broken Famet Foil

Broken Famet Foil

wearing on the  luff line on the jib.  Nothing is good about that and really, I can’t effect a repair here and only 4 hours away from harbor.  We furl it. Luckily it still furls as my fear was that it would not. I was so busy checking out what to do I forgot to get a good look at why the pieces parted.  Did the screws back out or did the heads pop off them. Knowing which will effect how we need to repair it. The furled sail ain’t pretty but she is no longer in trouble. I hoist the staysail jib and we slow down only 1/2 knot and continue on course. In the end this means that we make harbor about 30 minutes later than if we had had no problem. Fortunately we had timed this crossing right and before noon we hope to be anchored.

The reef around the SW side of Huahine is sometimes out a mile from shore and with the new moon and tides up we are fascinated by the huge breaking surf; glad to be off enough that it bothers us not.  But; the surfers love it and as we clear the pass we watch as they mount the waves and some ride them to a sweet exit while others make a grand tumble up over and into the water.  Clear the pass we check out the anchorages.  A group of boats are anchored on the reef but we just don’t like doing that and don’t feel comfortable doing that. We instead head up the bay and anchor in the shallow (20 m ) water there. With wind gusting down the mountain we sit for lunch and watch as our boat sails back and forth on the anchor all the while digging it deeper and deeper into the mud. I love sailing on the anchor!  The boat is calm and we have a good breeze. The following morning we’ll launch the dinghy, explore the town and the other anchorages.  We hope to be here about 7-10 days.  But again….we just don’t see the future very well.

Port Bourayne, Huahine

Port Bourayne, Huahine

After 2 nights, maybe 3, we choose to move S a bit. We needed a calm place to fix the sail and of course we were getting a bit tired of the constant gusting out of the mountains. We choose Port Bourayne which was described as closest to a Scottish Highlands as anyplace existing S of the equator. We motored down inside the reef and another problem appeared. The surging of the engine that we had before is back. Damn!  But the surging didn’t cause us to change where we were going only that I needed to be aware more of what was around us, have the windlass turned on and be ready with a sail.  The surging was pretty regular and indicates an air leak in the fuel system, why again it would surface was any ones guess. Add to my list to contact my mechanical shore side support team.  We turned the corner passing into the bay and headed to the NE corner where another catamaran was.  As we closed in on it we discovered it was our friends Werner and Kristina on Windance III. Sweet. Maybe we’ll be lucky and they’ll be here a day or so and I can beg his help.

And lucky we were; they would be here a couple of days and tomorrow he would assist in fixing of the furler. In the am we expect it to be calmer and we can do it then.  But ma nature if anything is not good at consistency, nor does she read weather maps and predictions. In the am we didn’t get the calm we expected but as the breeze was less then 10 kts we decided to go ahead anyway.  The plan was:  Send me up the mast, unfurl the sail and inspect to see if the screws vibrated loose or the heads popped off.  If they were gone it would be a good thing because we could loosen the jib halyard, pull up the track, put the pieces back in place and add new screws with locktite. And that is what we did. Since the track has an internal halyard we had to first loosen the halyard for the reefer and then I used a halyard to pull the track back up in place. However I had forgotten that this system if free floating and as I pulled the upper track up it pulled the lower with it too. Werner was below and once we discovered this he had to pull down the lower section. Finally they were far enough apart that he could fit the two pieces back into place and then add the screws with my favorite; Duralac – a coating that has not failed me yet. However, some of the jib halyard and some of the luff wire of the sail had worked it’s way out of the track so once Werner put the pieces back together he had to gently tap the wire and the luff back into place. All the while I was useless at the top of the mast where I had control of the halyards that separated the track.  W/ found a piece of wood to tap with so he would not distort the wire and eventually they lowered me so I could help. Once back in place we rolled the sail back up correctly and congratulated ourselves on a  job well done. Back to one issue.

That afternoon I tooled down to the S end of the harbor and met Eric on Maritea. He’s a French sailing expat who bought a place here and he with his family use this now as a cruising base. He invited us to use his spare mooring if we wanted and when Windance III leaves we’ll most likely move down and share some cruising stories with he and his family. Till then, I’m off working on solving the engine surging again and we’re hanging with Werner and Kristina before they disappear East to Apitake for hauling the boat and doing a family filled event back in S. Africa over the holidays.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cost of Repairing your Boat in Paradise

Friday, September 19th, 2014

The following is the cost of the; what I would say, simple repair in the replacement of the thermostat.  Notes are at the bottom.

Cost Thermostat Change for a Perkins 4-236 Diesel in French Polynesia


Price CFP Price US Notes
High Temp Engine Paint
Hose 5/8″
Hose 1 1/2″
1/4″ All Thread
Steel Cross Piece

a) Cost only includes our being here dependent on the engine not running. We felt the boat was safer here then on a mooring or anchored and we were much closer to services. Taxi into and out of town are $50 round trip and the bus is about $10

b) I could have gotten by without but felt in the interest of expediency it was better to buy now then pay the marina fee for another day or the weekend.

c) Luckily another cruisers had one and I paid him with a little extra. This is the single price and I picked up another and now have a spare.

d) I was trying to be patient and work the header off the stud. Had I known better and figured out to cut the bolt the first day I would have save about 5 marina days

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

50-100% More

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

I just can’t seem to get the timing right. We chose a 6 month visa for French Polynesia and should have chosen a year. Just saying “no” to the year question effected our choices. Hopefully lesson learned. Get the longest then leave early if need be. BTW there was no extra cost to the long term. But; we did need to be in Tahiti within two months to secure it. We were not sure we wanted to be there that fast but hind sight is 20/20 and we ended up here anyway within two months.

Bastille Day, Manihi, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Bastille Day, Manihi, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Sailmail Station, Manihi, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Sailmail Station, Manihi, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

We figured to stay about 3 days, maybe 4 in Manihi.  Jack and Jan on Anthem showed up on the 4th day so we hung with them for 2 more days. We visited Xavier on his family’s own private Mutu and walked the village from one end to the next. Spent a wee bit o’ time watching the “Bastielle Day” activities and ate 3 times at the only restaurant in the village. Is it that time flies when you are having fun or am I just time disabled?

Bastielle Day on Manihi was so like a family gathering on a 4th of July Picnic in the US.  Tug o’ War, young ones beauty

Poison Cru, Manihi, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Poison Cru, Manihi, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

contest, etc.  As we travel about the world and we visit the different cultures we find more similarities then differences between the peoples. Doesn’t matter the language, the religion, or the region.  We are much more similar then different.

We left Manihi at exactly the right moment. We carefully hauled up our anchor dreading it being fouled on all the coral growing on the bottom and hoping I did not need to go into the water to aid in the retrieval. We were lucky, with patience, we retrieved the anchor, minus some galvanizing on the chain. Oh-well, that’s one of the cost of cruising. Chain will not always be new. We motored straight across the lagoon to the entrance and looked at the standing waves in the cut. Not seeming bad we pointed Elysium south and exited this remote island heading for the second largest atoll in the wold; Rangiroa. In the pass we only had a knot current against us and the standing waves were negligible.

My goal was 3 fold; get out of Manihi pass without issues, be S of Ahe (another atoll) before dark, and arrive at Rangaroia in time for slack current in the pass. We exited Manihi fine and set sail heading south.  By night fall we had passed the southern tip of Ahe and were well on our way.  I had hoped to make the slack tide of Rangaroia around 3 pm and we were going to be ahead; way ahead, of schedule.  So much so that we might make the  9 am tide change.

Again I used the Tuamotus CurrentGuestamater and again it was off by at least 2 hours. While approaching the island we heard sv Rewa on the VHF and W/  contacted Dave for info on Rangiroa. He was leaving this am and said he had had a favorable ride out the pass at 8 ish. We were coming up on 9 am and were a little concerned as the guides and blogs describe this as a at times wicked pass.  As we approached I checked the pass with Binocs and found dive boats running back and forth and some 2-3′ standing waves at the entrance.  Ok, not bad, we can do it.  Just don’t look back.

We began the wild ride in with W/ at the helm and me checking the chart and the water. Divers were in the water and one dive boat asked us to slow down. We did….. a bit; yet we didn’t want to lose any advantage of steerage. While we entered the pass traveling close to 7 kts after backing off a bit on the fuel we had slowed to about 4 kts. A 2 – 3 kt current. Not bad but it could be a potential problem. We stayed in the deep water and thus the water with the most current while we entered the lagon. Immediately behind us was the mega yacht Silencio and being the good captain I was (stop snickering) I radioed them to tell them of our 2 knot adverse current. Being well over 100′ I’m not sure how much he cared. The Captain or Navigator thanked me and immediately following our exit of the channel he litterely flew in like there was no current.

We tooled around the anchorage a bit looking for a sandy spot, dropped the anchor and immediately set back to close to another boat. We picked it up again and anchored immediately off the Kia Oa Resort. There we sat, calm and upright. Always a good feeling after any passage.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Manihi, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Monday, July 14th, 2014

We arrived at our destination a little early. We had read as much as possible about the Tuamotus and a great deal of what is written and talked about is the ferocious currents in the passes. Even though in the US we have often adverse currents  in all the Ocean / Gulf channels I was; in hindsight overly aware enough that I was, stressing a bit. Well, probably a lot.  I felt we had to enter at slack tide or as close to it as possible.  Was I wrong.

We had downloaded an Excel Program called the Tuamotus GurrentGestimator and used it to advise us when times of the slack tides on the various atolls. We had arrived here approx 1 pm and slack was predicted to be at 2:40 pm.  W/ motored around outside the pass while I checked the conditions with a binocular. There appeared to be some rough water inside the pass and a marker that is not shown on our guides.  I re-read the guides and watched the rough water. Finally, we were tired of motoring around and waiting. A supply ship had arrived and was standing off, unloading palates of merchandise to a small barge with outboards which would then motor up to the dock inside the pass and unload. I wasn’t seeing any adverse effect on them from the water.  Yes, there was current but the were not turned 360 degrees or moved in any untold manner. We chose to go for it. W/ turned towards the pass.

We entered with our boat speed close to 6 kts and once inside the pass we  dropped down to about 5 kts. We had an adverse current of 1 kt or thereabouts. Nothing unusual for us.  We hit the rough water and a minute later we were through it.  My heart rate returned to normal.

Inside the lagoon I immediately saw the bommies (coral structures) that rise from the bottom at 50-70′ to a foot or so below the surface. The water was so clear they were easily visible. With me on the foredeck watching for them W/ piloted the boat to where Xavier had suggested.

Xavier is a retired Commander from the French Navy who’s last posting was head of the Pacific fleet. He has a motu here that he’s developed  into a Mini resort and runs a Sailmail station. We hoped to meet him and up to this point had only an electronic relationship. He had sent us a coordinate on where to anchor suggesting that there was a small sand bottom with coral around.  We never found  the sand bottom.

Once in the area we came across another boat (European) having difficulty getting his anchor out of the coral.  We tried anchoring near him. As I dropped the anchor I felt the anchor and chain dragging across coral. Pull it up and try else where. We moved to what looked like a clear spot and tried again. Here we had no sand but a bottom like Walmart’s parking lot. The anchor and chain simply slid across the bottom and we were no longer where we started. We pulled it up again and this time moved farther N, behind a shallow reef area extending from the motu and dropped the hook in 40′ of clear water. Again I heard the coral but we decided to just take our chances.

We had read that there is a diver in the village that will assist in retrieving anchors should they get “stuck”. While I heard the chain rubbing against the coral (In the US that is a big NO-NO) but here it is unavoidable, I had hoped that we would not be here long enough to get it wrapped around a head.

Settled down for the day and tired from the 3 days offshore we cleaned up the boat for a restful evening and a good nights sleep. Fortunately in the aft cabin we couldn’t hear the chain dragging across the coral on the bottom and did indeed sleep like the dead, awaking the following am to a wonderful Sunrise and no roosters!

Our first task was to switch out dinghy engines and deploy the dinghy. This normally takes between 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours to lift it from it’s passage making place, gently rotating it out from underneath the boom gallows, inflating a wee bit, moving it over the side of the boat abeam of the cockpit, flipping it over, and lowering it into the water where I finish the inflation job and ensure the chaps are placed correctly.  We still hand pump the dinghy up and this takes up a large part of the time.  With that completed, we take a break and discuss the removal of our 15 hp engine from the engine room and lifting it out of the aft hatch. W/ remembers we used the tackle from the boom vang but to get the engine in place we need to man handle (woman Handle) it out of the engine room and under the hatch prior to lifting it.

We line the floor with cushions and towels so we can set the bottom of the engine on it and rotate it as needed. Finally under the hatch I balance it while W/ gets me the end of the block and tackle for attachment. We have an engine lift installed that works well and I put the Snapshackle on it for W/ to begin lifting it up. She doesn’t fit perfectly through the aft hatch and in one position I need to angle the engine while W/ pulls in the bitter end of the block and tackle line to get the engine head through the hatch. Once that is accomplished we reverse positions and I pull and guide the engine out while W makes sure the skeg does not swing wildly and strike / ding our wood.  Once on deck we change the  lifting mechanism and attach it straight to a halyard. W/ then cranks it up so we can swing it outside the lifelines and lower it to the dinghy. There I can lift it and put the engine on our ‘car’. First time with this engine on our new car.

I had some concerns.  From all appearances the engine looks great. But this time I was the one that decommissioned it, last time it was decommissioned for 3 years and it started and ran perfectly.  We had it in place, added fuel to the tank hooked up the fuel hose and again another Oh-Oh occurred. The system was old enough now that the bulb was rather hard and difficult to “squeeze”.  But as I left it in the Sun for a bit I was able to squeeze it.  (Add to the list to buy a new bulb ASAP).   Finally  we were ready and I pumped fuel into the engine and pulled the cord.

On the first two pulls there was nothing but a sputter. Finally on the third pull she started and then died.  Again she started and then died.  And again.  Since she ran perfectly when I had put her to bed and since I was the one that put her to bed, it must be something I had done.  I pulled the cover and looked at what was going on in the engine. Amazingly I found that if I adjusted one of the pulls on the throttle I could not only get it to start and run I could also then get it to idle. That was when she was dieing. She would run at speed but when I throttled down she would putter out. I adjust the idle (I believe that is the one) and finally she ran and kept running. Hooray!

Now we had transportation. I took her out for a spin up wind; just in case the engine died and I needed to row back, and all worked well. She’s quite responsive, this 15 hp on this 9 foot AB Rib Dinghy.  Responsive might be an understatement. She could be downright dangerous in the wrong hands.

Exquisit Colors..TownDock, Manihi Tuamotus

Exquisite Colors..Town Dock, Manihi Tuamotus

Tomorrow, we’ll run into the village, find a restaurant, see the sights and hopefully get a Pearl Farm tour and meet some of the island residents. We really would like to meet Xavier as his Sailmail station is a big help and he did answer my email about Manihi while we were preparing to visit.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long