December 2020, The year of the C.
17 December 2020
BACK IN TAHITI
Well, here it is, December 2020 and just about a week before Christmas. I promised in my last Blog that I would update more often; it didn’t work out that way.
So; to continue from where I left off in Nuku Hiva back in February. We enjoyed ourselves but unfortunately, I needed to return to Papeete so we departed Taiohae Bay at 0600 on February 18 for a non-stop, 767 NM run back. The trip was uneventful except for all of the squalls and weird lightning. Pop up Thunderstorms were everywhere for a couple of days. I say “pop-up” because they were just that. A small cloud would form beside us and within 15 to 20 minutes it was a squall pouring out lots of rain and wind gusts. 15 minutes after it started to rain from the cloud, the cloud was gone. I mean gone. And the lightning. I have seen lots of lightning in my days, especially as a pilot, but there was this, what I will call, “sparkling lightning” high in the sky on many occasions and was NOT associated with any cloud formation that we could see. It was as if the sky was electrified, zapping in multiple directions at the same time. Not big bolts of lightning but rather multiple thin arcs traveling in multiple directions as the same time. It looked reminiscent of the sparklers we would burn as kids on Fireworks day. As I said, weird.
We arrived back in Papeete on February 22 at 11:30 in the morning for a 4-day, 5.5-hour passage. We did have a couple of 175-mile days in there…
Back in Papeete we started to plan for my treatment, fly to France for an operation and so on. Then came COVID. My flights were cancelled so I ended up having the “open” surgery here in Papeete as well as 33 days of follow up treatments into August. Not fun, but here I am.
In May, after the surgery and prior to the treatments, we hauled the boat at Technimarine here in Papeete. At this point, Tahiti was COVID free as the whole country had been locked down. I mean locked down. People were not even allowed to swim by their boats in the anchorages. Road blocks were everywhere and you had to have a “attestation” form to go out with a complete itinerary of were you were going, shopping for groceries and so on.
We were allowed to make passage from the marina to the haul-out. No other boats were allowed to move without permission.
The haul out went well, the bottom of Hedonism was barnacle free but we repainted the bottom, replaced the propeller shaft seal bellows, changed the Cutlass bearing and serviced the propelled itself. The work went well and we were back in the water in 4 days. A little quicker that the almost 4 weeks in Panama…
It was about this time it finally settled in; we were not going anywhere. All destination countries were closed (and still are) so we were going to have to stay in French Polynesia. Could be worse places! The thing is, we needed to change our “standing rigging”. Our Insurance no longer covered “rig loss” or damage resulting from “rig loss” because the rigging was over 15 years old. Damage resulting clause meant that if we lost the boat due to a rig failure, insurance would pay nothing…
We were planning on having that done in either New Zealand or Australia but that was no longer an option. After doing much research, I arranged to have the standing rigging built in the USA and then have it shipped by Ocean shipping to Tahiti. I would hire a “rigger” to assist us (I am still in recovery mode at this point). The rigging arrived and we started with the fore and aft stays. The forestays with the furling foils was the heavy work and why I needed the riggers. I would like to say the project went well but I can’t. They worked WAY too quickly and it was obvious they did not have any respect for the boat. After day one, Laurie and I went to double check the toggle on the Solent Stay and the toggle pin was ¼ of the way out with no cotter pin! You could not see it; I had raised the drum up to inspect it. A failure would have been imminent.
We had a little chat with the rigger…
The other issue was the side stays. The fittings supplied for the lowers and uppers would not fit. The rigger announced that we would need new backing plates to go inside of the mast as they were a “different manufacture”. So, I got those ordered and had them shipped by Air. (Read: $$$) When they arrived I opened the box and (what would YOU do first thing???) checked the fit. They didn’t. The Hayn (manufacture of the fittings) spoon terminal did not fit the Hayn back plates. I called the rigger and he came over. His suggestion was to grind about 2mm off the spoon fittings. NOT on MY BOAT! The rig holds the mast up!!
So, I spent some time looking carefully at the fittings. Something did not look right. I climbed the mast and took down the existing lower stay and placed it side-by-side with the new ones. The angle of the spoon radius was definitely sharper. I took several photos and added arrows to them to show the differences and sent them off to the rigging supply company that assembled the stays. They came back and said: “Hayn terminal fittings should fit in Hayn back plates”. No kidding???? (that is not what I said to myself…)
I politely asked them to send my photos to Hayn, the fitting manufacture. They did and WITHIN THE HOUR they came back and said that Hayn agrees that there was a manufacturing defect and that THEY would build a complete new set of stays and air ship them to Tahiti at NO cost to us! Okay, now I am happy. I had the new stays delivered within a week!
Laurie and I completed the rigging change (Rigger no longer allowed on the boat…) with no issues. We tuned the rig as we have done many times previously and then wait for the sea trial to come.
I wonder how many other “defective fittings” are out there?
And my bigger question: Why was it ME that figured this out??? There was a defect at the manufacturing facility; (quality control??), the Rigging Company that built our new rigging specifically for our boat did not recognize the fitting looked “different”, and then the rigger here who told me to buy NEW backplates (there went a LOT of $$$), and then told me to grind down the fittings? Again, why was it me? They were the professionals.
As we waited for my strength to improve, we completed countless projects on the boat to be ready to leave when we could. And as that time approached in November, we set out to do the final chores to leave in a few days. Change the fuel filters, change the water pump impellers and so on. When changing the main engine sea water pump impeller, we noticed that it had been weeping water out of the drive shaft. No big deal, we have a spare complete pump! This should only take an hour or so…. NO. Staring at the assembly, it was apparent that the engine mount foot was in the way of removing one of the bolts of the water pump. Not wanting to believe that, (how incredibly stupid!!!, no one would design it like that, or would they…?) After a few Google searches it became apparent that I would need to remove the engine mount and foot to change the water pump! I spoke with a guy we knew here who works on diesels here and he confirmed that it needed to be removed.
We would need to lift the engine while doing this. Okay, this will be fun. Not really. Step 1; remove engine alternator, step 2; remove the 210 amp house bank alternator, step 3; remove the custom made house bank alternator mounting bracket, Step 4; remove the top bolt on the engine mounts so you could complete step 3!!! And here comes the fun part, realize that the stud on the engine mount is / was sheared off…AND you can NOT change just one engine mount!
The next day I was off to the Yanmar dealer in search of a pair of mounts. Nope. We are in Tahiti!!!
I was telling a friend who Captains a super yacht here (he and his wife have their boat here too!) of my woes and he offered that they had a shipment leaving Fort Lauderdale by air in a few days and I could add my mounts to their shipment! WOW! I have to say it here: A big THANK YOU to Guy and Pika for that!!! And in that vein of luck, I found a Yanmar dealer on the SAME street in Fort Lauderdale as Guy’s consolidator!
The mounts arrived in short order and I hired that diesel mechanic (Adrian) to help. He had done this project a few times on other Yanmars and had a special tools to assist in the project, (cut off wrenches, chain hoist and so on) not to mention the experience. He completed the job in less than 3 hours! It took me a few days to put everything back on the engine. (remember the alternators, brackets and so on?) Why so long? Well, as we are working doing this, we notice that the hoses that run from the engine to the hot water tank were cracked. Not leaking but with access to the engine with everything removed, now was the time to do that as well as drain and flush the coolant.
Another trip to town for hoses, clamps and…
So, the next day we drained the coolant, disconnect the heater hoses and “try” to pull the hose out from under the hot water tank but, the boat builder had first installed the hose, tie wrapped it carefully and THEN installed the hot water heater on top of the tie wraps! After a fair bit of time, swearing and sweating, I hung Laurie up side down by her ankles in a space not much larger than her head and she was just able to reach the offending tie wrap. Boats….
We got it all together and test ran the engine, checked engine alignment and all good.
Somewhere in there we also changed the water pump for the Generator. I decided to change the whole pump (we had a new one) given the Yanmar pump problem. The Generator is housed in a VERY tight, sound resistant container. Working on anything is not fun. But we got it changed and then realized that the heat exchanger had a couple of very small leaks. Small leaks eventually become BIG leaks in my experience. So, we removed the heat exchanger and were able to have it silver brazed by Mike (friend and refrigeration guy on his own boat) as temporary fix. In the meantime, I contacted the Fischer Panda distributer in the USA about a replacement after all, the fix was temporary. They got back to me fairly quickly and advised that they were not in stock and would need to be ordered from Germany at a cost of about $1500 USD! I contemplated building an external heat exchanger but ended up contacting the factory in Germany directly. (I need to be up at midnight to call them with the time difference) They quoted me $750 for the same exchanger. I did not ask why; I didn’t want the price to go up to the USA figure. They had stock and shipped via DHL air to Tahiti. It was here in less than a week and for some reason, NO duty, customs fees, brokerage fees or anything. Just $20 for delivery to the back of our boat! Normally, fees would run about $500 for that.
So, we finally got everything finished up and the doctor is telling us to “go sailing”. It appears that the treatment worked, at least for the time being. I’m not at 100% but I am out of here!
We left the Marina yesterday to go sailing, the first sail in over 9 months. First sail is supposed to be short to check the new Rig and ensure it was tuned properly. We came out of the entrance to the Port of Papeete into winds of 20 kts gusting to 27. We were double reefed with the Solent sail; the recommended sail trial for this is winds around 15 kts. We sailed out on one tack and then back on the other. Each time going forward to check the rigging for correct tension and that the mast was straight and true. All was good.
We then pulled into Point Venus (again) and cracked a beer. Free from the dock at last. The only negative on today is that we “missed” an opportunity to sail to the Tuamotus yesterday BUT WE DON’T CARE!! We don’t even know which Atoll we are heading to…wherever the wind goes!
It now looks like perhaps Sunday or Monday we will have the opportunity to head out NE to the Tuamotus. In the meantime, we might just hang out here or head over to Moorea and leave from there.