21 June 2017 | Bora Bora
We arrived in Bora Bora from Hurepiti Bay after a nice motor sail through light winds. Tomorrow, the winds are predicted to be even lighter, and Thursday the winds are predicted to be screaming along at 20 kts and pushing 3 meter seas. We felt that a motor sail was better than those choices. As usual, I tried trolling during the 5-hour passage, but got nothing. At some point, I've got to determine what I'm doing wrong and begin to catch rather than just fish.
As I've mentioned, my laptop screen has died, so I can't use it for routine blogs or web pages, nor can I use the SSB since the software to do so is on the laptop. In addition, the number of Wifi hotspots is dramatically reduced this year and our usual provider, WDG, has reduced its hotspots and those that exist are not allowing connections. I have no explanation for that problem, be I'll probably buy an ATT cell plan for my iPad next year. At least I can post blogs if not photos! We've been forced to use Conni's phone to acquire our weather information since it's the only reliable Internet connection we have.
Debbie and Philippe brought a pump that I was able to use to replace the raw water pump that failed. So far, so good. I live in fear that it'll fail, but I'm the only one who's worried, and it's worked perfectly so far. The coupling that I ordered has still not arrived, so repairing the old pump is still impossible. I'd love to have a rebuilt but perhaps I'll return the old pump to Alaska and rebuild it there.
The boat has performed very well. The bilge pump automatic switch has failed for unknown reasons, so we use the manual switch, but it's a nuisance and not a danger. We're still chained to the generator for an hour or two each day because of the fridge, and that's getting tiresome. Otherwise, we're pleased with the trip and the boat.
Today we'll motor around and do some errands in Viatape, the main marina. When we arrived, Wind Star, the fake sailboat/cruise ship, was at anchor and departed last night with her fake sails ablaze with colored lights, and motored through the narrow and complex pass through the reef. An odd half cargo/half passenger Tahitian ship was also in the harbor and followed Wind Star through the reef but with much less fanfare.
The Bora Bora Yacht Club has upgraded itself with nicer facilities, and they still have reliable Wifi, stand up showers, garbage disposal, and good food and drink. We're hanging on one of their moorings and will be here until Monday, at least. Debbie and Philippe depart on Saturday and Nate and Val arrive on Sunday. We'll have to scramble to get sheets cleaned and the boat prepared!
When we go into the yacht club tonight, I'll face over 1000 emails, most of which are political and unsolicited.
We just returned from our trip to Viatape. I took Debbie and Philippe to a nearby reef for some snorkeling, and then returned to the boat to refuel the dinghy tank and generator. Conni dealt with our laundry, making arrangements for it to be done today. After our chores, I fetched D and P, then we all prepared for the outing. They needed to buy their return tickets to Tahiti for their return flight to the US on Sunday. After a cafe visit, we climbed aboard the dinghy and motored South down the coast. We had a great trip!
19 June 2017 | Hurepiti Bay
Blog 19 June
The raw water pump has, thus far, functioned perfectly. As I mentioned, the quantity of water issuing from the exhaust supports our idea that the bearings in the old pump were failing and the extra torque needed to rotate the pump caused the metal fatigue that finished the pump's useful life. And on that matter, the coupling still has not arrived!
We spent last night in Ha'amene Bay, on a mooring. We paid for the mooring, of course, and enjoyed a peaceful night.
Conni had made arrangements for us to eat at the Taha'a Maitai restaurant, owned and run by Bruno Francois, a Cordon Blu-trained chef. We ordered the "Prix fixe" meal, a three course extravaganza with drinks, the lovely fish pate or mahi-mahi carpaccio, then each of us ordered the mahi-mahi in vanilla sauce, followed by fresh fruit sorbet or a chocolate decadence dessert with lots of whipped cream. There were three sorbets and one chocolate dessert....I had the chocolate! This was Debbie's and Philippe's first exposure to fish in vanilla sauce and both of them were taken by the unique flavor of the dish. We had our first taste on Rangiroa several years ago and have loved it since.
At 5:30AM on Sunday morning, some rascal young people began playing very good but very loud French rap. I didn't complain about the choice, only the volume and timing. It persisted until 7:00AM, and we were all awake. The citizens of Ha'amene have a youth problem with which they are not dealing. They'll lose the cruising customers if they don't act.
The weather was nice, so we motored around the East side of Taha'a, along the North side with its great views of Bora Bora, then along the West side, finally stopping to try some snorkeling at a recommended location. With nothing but flat white sand to be seen, we motored back to where Wings awaited us, still with her engine running for a quick getaway. If we had dragged, shallow water was close by.
We motored on to Hurepiti Bay, and a mooring owned by the Vanilla Tour folks whose tour last year we had so enjoyed. We hopped in the dinghy for a 8:00AM tour departure. A Moorings catamaran had joined us during the early evening, carrying 8 Californians, all members of the Santa Barbara sailing club. They were nice people, very good sailors, and good company on the tour.
When we finally returned to the tour home, it was raining small animals and we all got drenched returning to the boat. I had to use a borrowed bucket to remove the 10-inches of accumulated rain water before we could depart the tour dock! The tour owner on whose mooring we had spent the night had asked that we clear his mooring for possible tour guests, which we did. Shoot, he said that 95% of his customers arrive by boat and he depends on the moorings as an enticement!
Lovely Conni prepared another sundowner spread and then a nice dinner. With so much rain, the solar panels had done little to lessen our fridge deficit, so two hours of generator time was needed to refill the banks.
As part of the tour, we dropped by PariPari, a new business in Tapuamu Bay, which we know well, having stayed there many times. The business makes a variety of products using only locally-sourced ingredients. Their coconut oil is cold pressed and their rum is distilled from local cane juice, unlike most rum distillers. The rum is simply delicious and a true hand-made product. They crush the cane in small batches using small machinery, and buy cane from a large number of local family growers. The cane juice is fermented using indigenous yeasts, then distilled using a tiny German-made still, a beautiful stainless steel and brass affair. They sell white, 3-month aged rum, and a rum that's been aged 6 months. They're working on an 18 month and 3-year types, too, but the business isn't old enough to have either rum! We bought a bottle of the 6-month-old rum that's slightly orange-colored. For the aging, they're using Jack Daniels casks! My, those things get around!
We'll say goodbye to Vanilla Tours and Hurepiti Bay and motor through Passe Paipai, a pass through Taha'a's reef that we've never used. Once out, we'll sail to Bora Bora. The weather is predicted to be good and more importantly, turns to crap on Thursday! By then, we'll be enjoying the hospitality of the Bora Bora Yacht Club. Debbie and Philippe depart on Saturday, flying to Papeete and then home. Nate and Val will fly into Bora Bora and we'll meet them on Sunday. It's a fast turnaround for guests! D and P just get too seasick and the weather will be too rough for us to subject them to an overnight sail to Papeete. I am hoping to post this on Bora Bora.
10 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
Our first set of visitors arrive tomorrow on the flight from Papeete to Fare airport. We made arrangements for a taxi to meet them, although it’s bloody expensive. At any rate, we’ll awaken early and I’ll take the dinghy to town and hop in the taxi to meet them at 8AM. Sheesh, I’m barely awake by 8AM! My sister, Debbie, and her French husband, Philippe, arrive tomorrow for 10 days on the boat. When they depart, our second set of guests arrive, Nate and Val. When they depart, Wings goes into the yard and the trip is over. Tonight is our last night with just the two of us.
We ran through some errands today, got ten more gallons of water, and grabbed some groceries. I had put teak plugs into some screw holes in our teak decks, and today the glue was dried so I could use a sharp chisel (thanks, LaVerne) to remove the proud wood. It’s always satisfying to accomplish small but important tasks like that. Teak decks are beautiful but they do take a bit of care, and since they’re screwed on the fiberglass, the teak plugs that cover the screws sometimes are lost and must be replaced.
And speaking of tasks, the entire trip is in my hands when the pump parts arrive, carried by Debbie and Philippe. I think that I can manage to rebuild the pump that I removed from the engine, but we also will try to use a pump that might not fit. We’ll see. I’ve gotten advice from Conni’s dad, LaVerne, and have studied all of the resources that I have, so perhaps we can manage it. If so, we’re up and running and can go where we please. If not, we’ll have to sparingly use the engine to leave the lagoon here in Huahine, then sail to Raiatea, about 25 miles, sail into their lagoon and as close to the dock at Uturoa as we can, then sparingly use the engine to tie up at the dock. I’ll take a taxi to the Raiatea Carenage and have them help with the rebuild. I hope that it’s not necessary, but we needed some options so I contacted the Carenage to arrange the help.
Last night at the Huahine Yacht Club, an older sailor introduced himself and began to talk. Roy Starkey is his name, and he build his ferrocement boat back in 1970 and has never returned to a land-based life. He had invited us aboard at 5PM today, so Conni had thoughtfully purchased a few luxuries for him and we jumped in the dinghy at the appointed time.
The boat has a beautiful look, and from any distance other than close, looks made of fiberglass. Of course, up close one can see the telltale roughness of hand-laid cement, but it’s still a remarkably fine looking boat and has a lot of miles under her keel. It’s small-looking, with a single-spreader mast, and has a very small cockpit, but the space below is impressive. Although he’s had, and lost, a wife and many live aboard girlfriends, he’s alone now and so has a lot of space. I’ll post some photos when I can.
We talked with him for a few hours, listening to his stories of the luminaries of the sailing world whom he’s met, and his part in that world. He’s been living aboard his boat for almost 50 years, and has few accoutrements of modern cruising. There’s no radar, no chart plotter, but he’s recently purchased and loves an AIS, and a fish finder. He’s still a sextant user, primarily, and his is now worn to a frazzle. As he says, what he’s done probably cannot be done today. Rules and laws are stricter, marine items more expensive, and life on the water costs more. His mother passed away a few years ago and an inheritance allowed him to repower his boat, but with only 10 gallons of fuel aboard, he can’t go far. He’s also got only 100 gallons of fresh water, but he says that it gets him a long way. He’s a single-hander, so whatever must be done, he must do it by himself. At 72, it’s getting more difficult to do many of the things that need doing.
As I mentioned, he makes jewelry of scrap wood that he’s acquired here and there: cocobolo from South America, some odd tropical hardwood from the Marquesas, and he hand carves tiki necklaces and other items. He has a band saw powered by an inverter to shape the pieces, and when his batteries are down, he simply stops work until his solar panels can recharge them. He does have a small fridge, but the solar can manage the drain he says.
He did write a book: “Around and Around and Around”, but Roy Starkey. Amazingly, it’s out in ebook so I’ll add it to the collection for reading.
We’ve got the aft berth cleared of stuff, since it’s our garage for stowage. We’ve got our stuff tied to the deck and piled up here and there below, but our guests have a place to stay. We checked the aft head, and it does work, thankfully. We’re stocked with food and water, so I think that we’re real, provided that we can get the engine fixed.
Wish us luck!
We Meet a Character
09 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
We arose earlier today, and got a lot of niggling cores accomplished. About noon, we headed to Fare by dinghy and refilled a gas jog used for the generator.
Our Norwegian neighbor, aboard Willhelm, dropped by some excess tomatoes that had been purchased and told us, as cruisers will do, where the only free faucet in town was located. Hurray! We added that stop to our list of things to do, too.
Since the water jug stop was near a roulotte (food wagon) that we had used last year, we decided to enjoy another meal there. I had (hey, I’m American) a cheeseburger, and fries and Conni had fried fish and fries. Both were wonderful and we chased the meals with a liter of cold water.
After returning to the boat, we offloaded our treasures and decided to skip travel in the hottest part of the day, so stayed aboard in the cockpit and read in the shade. Ahhh… I love the cruising lifestyle!
We watched the community come alive as the heat dissipated with the end of the day and I saw two horses wither-deep in the lagoon water. I’ve never seen a horse in salt water, but these two seemed to enjoy the cool water. I was glad that I was not swimming down-current of them. When I gather some more photos, I’ll post them.
We awaited the 5:30 Happy Hour at Huahine Yacht Club, then dinghies in and enjoyed another MaiTai. An older sailor (we later learned that he was 70-something) approached the table and asked if we spoke English. Well, after a fashion. It was a low bar to pass for a conversation.
Roy, as he gave his name, has been single-handing in the South Pacific since the 1970s, in a homemade ferrocement boat. Ferrocement boats were all the rage for home-builders back then. One had to design or buy the design of a boat, produce a replica in wire mesh, then spread cement over the frame. Ferrocement is incredibly strong (hence the name) and can even cure underwater, so repairs can be made without hauling the boat. They’re heavy, but virtually indestructible.
At any rate, he’s been sailing around the world since then and has even published a book, “How to Finance Sailing” or some such, currently available as an ebook. He makes jewelry and sells it for his income, but lives, he says, on $3000 a year. That is not much money! He regaled us with stories of the famous and not-so-famous whom he has met during the years, besmirching most of their reputations, other than my hero, Bernard Moitessier. At any rate, he’s quite a character! We have a date to meet him on his boat tomorrow at 5PM. I’ll take photos.
It’s 9PM and we’re running the generator. We run it at least 1-1/2 hours a day to keep up with the fridge’s energy use, and we’re considering some options. Of course, running the generator is cheaper and easier than a new fridge, but we’re beginning to begrudge the hours of roar in the cockpit as we charge the batteries. The technology has improved dramatically since 1984 when this fridge was built and installed, so we do have several options, including the CoolBlue made by the same guy who desgned and sold us our water maker. The units are terribly expensive but could save us 50% of our energy outlay. That’s significant. More as we consider the options.
Debbie and Philippe arrive on Sunday so we’re arranging our plans for that treat. They’re a lot of fun and very low maintenance.
No News is Good News
08 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
We’ve been indolent cruisers for the past two days. We’re still hanging on a mooring in Fare lagoon.
Night before last, and into yesterday, we had downpour after downpour. I started the night in the cockpit but soon was forced to retreat below decks for sleep. The squalls deposited “Prince William Sound” level rains. Yesterday, it required 20 minutes to bail the dinghy via pan and hand bilge pump. What a downpour!
Eventually, the rain subsided and we used the opportunity to motor into Fare for more water and supplies. We were forced to wait at the Huahine Yacht Club for our laundry to be done, darn it, and had to suffer through a beer each and then two Maitais each. What we won’t do for clean clothes! We had a lovely evening aboard and got to bed early.
I had word from my sister, Debbie, that the pump parts had arrived in Nashville, so they’ll arrive on Sunday. There’s a 90° elbow and two 3/4” thread-to-hose barbs that I would have to remove from the old pump and install on the possible replacement, but If I go to the rebuild, that’s not necessary, and that’s the way that I tend to go.
I’ve had several people, whose opinion I trust, that using the water maker pump is not the better choice, so its use it now a distant third option. With the direction of the trades, we can probably get to Raiatea for the pump rebuild with no engine help other than the final docking in Uturoa harbor. I’ve already made arrangements with the Raiatea Carenage staff to help me with that rebuild on Thursday, after we’ve had our guest rest and then see what’s to be seen locally. All told, it’s a good plan.
Today was more of the same. We read, watched our neighbors, and did almost nothing. Shoot, we didn’t even motor to Fare! I don’t remember when we’ve done so little. I did manage to complete my huge book, “Castles of Steel” about the naval war in World War 1, a present from my brother. If you enjoy history, the author is a Pulitzer Prize winner, so it’s well written and exhaustively researched.
Tomorrow is a bit more of an action day and we need to prepare for our guests who arrive on Sunday. We’ll be busier, anyway.
06 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
It appears that our raw water pump has a broken piece that probably cannot be repaired. One end of the pump’s drive shaft sits inside the engine and is turned by a pin. The part of the shaft that couples with that pin was originally attached to the shaft by being heated, slid over the shaft, then cooled, permanently bonding it to the shaft. It’s done like a metal hoop is put over a wagon wheel to act as a rim. At any rate, that’s what it appears. The coupling piece has cracked from age and stress, so the drive pin can rotate and not rotate the impeller. The impeller sits at the other end of the shaft from the drive pin.
I contacted the people who sold me a rebuild kit for the pump two years ago and they still have the rebuild kit and, amazingly, a new shaft. So, plan 1 is for my sister to bring us two kits (I might ruin one in my enthusiasm to repair the pump) and the shaft when they arrive on 11 June. I’ll spend some quality time with the pump and disassemble it, change the parts, including bearings, shaft, and seals, and then reassemble it. Once bolted into place, we should be good to go.
A nice member of the Passport sailboat list serve mentioned that there is another pump that might fit, and I ordered that too. Plan 2, then, is to simply bolt the replacement pump into place and move on. I have less hope for that than rebuilding the pump, but we have those two methods.
Method 3 is for me to use an electric pump already used for the water maker and re-purpose its output to run water through the engine cooling system. The positive point here is that it bypasses any difficulty with the pump replacement or rebuild. I feel much better about possible success tonight since we have several options and something will work. We had all of this done by mid-day today.
We spent the day doing odd jobs around the boat and at 2:30, we jumped in the dinghy and went to town. As we strolled around town, we enjoyed a cold Hinano on tap at the Huahine Yacht Club. An hour later, we took a sight-seeing cruise around the lagoon in the dinghy. Hey, why not? Until the parts arrive, we’ve nothing but time.
The generator is droning away on deck, trying to re-charge the batteries that become so depleted by the refrigerator. It’s been an absolutely beautiful evening and sunset was spectacular. The day was exceptionally hot and there was little in the way of breeze, making everyone hid for most of the day. As soon as the sun began to set, people started emerging from their dark holes and began to enjoy the place again. When it’s that hot, even the locals don’t enjoy it.
Tomorrow is more the same. Finally, we’re living the cruiser’s life.