21 February 2021 | Toau Atoll
23 January 2019 | Rotoava
06 January 2019 | Fakarava
14 October 2018 | Papeete, Tahiti
19 August 2018 | 16 06.30'S:142 22.78'W, Rarioa, French Polynesia
30 July 2018 | 16 06.30'S:142 22.78'W, Nuku Hiva
25 May 2018 | 08 54.93'S:140 05.9'W, Nuku Hiva
07 May 2018 | 08 54.93'S:140 05.9'W, Arrived; Nuku Hiva
Update June 12, 2021 Moorea, FP
12 June 2021
So, as I mentioned in the previous post, we were planning on upgrading our batteries to Lithium. Well, the batteries arrived by Ocean shipping as well as a few other items to mount the new 340-watt solar panels. We headed over to the "working dock" at Marina Taina (our home most of last year...) and the new batteries were delivered to the boat around 1 PM. After loading them on the boat (a 400-amp hour pack is not light BUT, it is a LOT lighter that the old AGM batteries!) I was able to carry each battery on board and down the stairs.
The next step prior to installing is that we needed to "parallel" each pack. Step 1 was to charge each pack to 100%. They were at about 30% SOC (state of charge) so we had to put about 280 amps into each "pack", one at a time. With our 60-amp charger (we have a 100-amp charger as well but it runs on 115 VAC, aka; North American voltage OR our generator. Our 60-amp charger that we bought a few years ago takes anywhere from 95 to 250 volts input and either 50 or 60 hz. So, since we could plug in to the 230 volts at the marina, we used it.) It took about 4 ½ hours for each battery. We finally finished at abut 3 AM. (we did sleep while waiting...) Sometime during the charging of the Lithium's I found time to re-program the other battery chargers including the 100 amp, the solar charges and monitor to the new Lithium settings.
The instructions then had us parallel the two battery packs under "controlled conditions" so as to NOT zap the new batteries. We had charged to within the prescribed "0.2 volt" difference in each pack's voltage and now we had to connect them together with a wire of "suitable resistance" of 0.004 Ohms to keep the paralleling from happing too quickly and causing damage to the Lithium cells. (the zapping I mentioned).
Well, I am sure we all know how to do that! After a bit of research (previously done) I knew that 4 feet of 10 AWG wire has exactly 0.004 Ohms of resistance. We connect the 2 battery packs and watched the electrons flow as they equalized. Ok, not really but each pack does have its' own battery monitor gauge and we watched and waited for them to be exactly the same voltage. It took about 30 minutes instead of being almost instantaneous if we had used a normal sized battery cable.
Now was the most difficult part of the whole job, removing the old AGM batteries. We had waited until we had everything ready and then turned off the ships power (read: fridge and freezer + other stuff) at 0800 and started. First was to remove all of the old battery cables (a bunch of them; we had 4 batteries wired together in parallel). That was easy. Then just remove the old batteries, 4 of them; not so easy. They were in a fiberglass box with the handles tuck neatly inside. Neat enough that we could not use them. The first battery was the most difficult, it took about an hour; yes, an hour, to just get it out of the box. That included attaching lines to the battery posts and then threading another line through the other side. Each of these old AGMs is 152 pounds or 69 kgs.
The second and third battery were easier but we still need to tie lines under each one to lift it. The fourth we were able to turn and use the handles to just lift (152 pounds) out.
Now we had to get 608 pounds of batteries off the boat...
Well, that morning I had bumped into Adrian on the dock. Adrian is the guy that looked after Hedonism when we were home last time for 5 months. I asked him if he wanted the batteries. He did not but he knew someone who did. How much $$$? Free, but the caveat was "you want them, you come and get them"! Within an hour the new potential battery owner showed up. I explained the "deal". We wasn't in stellar shape but was off in a flash to recruit "young guys" to carry them. Mission accomplished and my back was saved!
Once the batteries were off the boat we quickly installed and connected the new Lithium battery packs.
At precisely 1300 we turned the power back on and we were underway back to the anchorage by 1600 and very importantly, 430 pounds lighter!
So, except for putting the boat back together, the main part of that project was complete. Our new 800 amp/hour battery bank was installed and while the previous AGM batteries were 840 Amp/hours, we now have closer to 600 amps of useable energy. But; you need to feed them.
So back at the anchorage we set out to installing the 2 new 340-watt solar panels. Everything that we needed to do the install was in the Ocean Shipment with the battery packs. Or so we thought. It turned out that the Aluminum bars we were going to use to mount the new (heavier) panels on were not up to the task; as in not strong enough. Darn. Finding anything in Tahiti is usually a problem so I took the dive and ordered what I needed to finish the task from the U.S. In fact, they have just arrived in Tahiti yesterday so we will be heading back to Tahiti on Monday morning to pick them up and finish that job. This of course is why we are still here!
I will say though, we love the new batteries. You do not have to have to monitor the voltage like a normal battery as it will not tell you the battery state. The voltage on Lithium's stays virtually constant so observing the voltage in fact, will not well you the state of the battery, you must measure the amps; in and out. There is a meter on each pack that tells us the SOC. (state of charge). The refrigeration on the boat is now running more efficiently at the higher constant voltage as is everything else. We have a new battery monitor in the shipment that is coming. While it does give you voltage, it also measures those amps like a fuel gauge and can give us the SOC at a glance.
The only negative thing about these lithium batteries is that you cannot charge them below 0 c or freezing. We won't need to worry about that for a long time, if ever!
Back to Tahiti for a bit
02 May 2021
February 22 to May 01, 2021
We headed back to Toau on Wednesday March 3 for almost 2 weeks. During the second week friends arrived on 3 boats, Ocean Maiden, Moggy and Nuwam II. We hung out each afternoon for a B + B in the water at Wallis’ place. (B + B is Beer and Bob; as in bobbing around…not named after me!) We went snorkeling towards the west side of the Atoll on a couple of reefs. Got to visit with numerous fish, White Tip Sharks, Black Tip Sharks and even a Grey visited us for a short time. The White Tip was inquisitive; it kept turning back towards us to do a “swim by”.
We all gathered one afternoon and made Pizza from scratch at Wallis’ place using his barrel oven. I think we made about 6 Pizzas! I was stuffed!
We headed back to Fakarava on March 14. We needed to visit the medical clinic and visit the Doctor. The Doc wanted to see Laurie again a week later after giving her some antibiotics. The second visit the Doc was not happy and she sent us off to Tahiti for more tests. So, the next day we set sail for Tahiti. It was a boisterous downwind sail with swells to 2.5 meters and wind waves to 2 meters. All was good and it made for a quick trip of only 33 hours.
We spent the next couple of weeks in Tahiti anchored off the airport. We both got our doctor visits in and Laurie had a couple of scans completed. Laurie’s Doctor was optimistic and scheduled another scan and consult for about a month later. We also ventured out and got our 1st COVID vaccine “jab”. Pfizer actually and they then booked our 2nd “jab” for exactly 4 weeks later. During the wait we got work done, hopped over to Moorea for about 12 days and then came back. The second scan and visit went well and Laurie got the thumbs up from the Doc. All good! Phew! We also went in and completed our 2nd “jab” the next day so we are done with vaccines…for now.
And during this time, we also decided to order some boat parts. The “biggie” is it is approaching time to change out our house bank batteries. We have 4 Slim Line 210 amp hour batteries but they are now 6 ½ years old and not holding up as well as they used to. So, we decided to do the plunge and order new Lithium Iron batteries (LiFe04). (not to be confused with Lithium ION batteries!) They are more money but the pricing has come down and they will give us almost double, if not triple the capacity that we have now. The new batteries will consist of 2, 400 amp hour banks for a total of 800 amp hours, basically the size we have now but, and this is a big but, you can run them to 50% capacity and still maintain the voltage.
To feed these guys we decided to, once again, add more Solar Panels. We went shopping for these right here in Papeete. Man, they have come down in price! We have been quoted for two, 340 watt panels for just $160 each! Wow! I remember when we bought our first panels about 16 years ago, a 68 watt panel was about $800! To add these to our existing array I needed to order some hardware and another solar controller. These will all be coming in on the same Ocean shipment which is scheduled to depart California almost anytime. The new panels will bring our total Solar capacity to 1700 watts! Too big? No. Remember, the water temperature here averages about 30C and the wind is not that high most of the time, not like the Caribbean. As well, we can take these batteries down more so we will not need to run the generator at 3 in the morning while on passage. They can wait to be charged when the sun comes up! And if you think it is a big array, our friends on Moggy have over 4000 watts! Our boat is not big enough for that!
So, we are sitting off Papeete this morning but are planning on heading back to Moorea for a couple of weeks while we are waiting for the “boat” with our stuff to arrive. Afterwards, not sure but probably head back Northeast to the Tuamotus and then maybe the Marquesas. We did get our 4th year renewal for our residency cards and were given a 6 month extension on keeping the boat here due to COVID. Normally the maximum you can keep you boat here is 3 years (2 years for new arrivals now). If countries are not opening by then hopefully, we can get another extension otherwise we need to pay TAX on the boat!
So all is good!
February 21, 2021 Back from Toau Atoll…again
21 February 2021 | Toau Atoll
We departed Fakarava for Toau Atoll on January 29 and stayed 1 day short of 3 weeks. Needless to say, it is pretty nice. We spent the first few nights the only boat in the anchorage. From time to time one or two boats would come in for a couple of days and then leave.
We did some exploring around various Motus (reminder: a Motu is a small island in an Atoll), ate coconut jelly and root sponge as well as bottled coconut milk for my morning thirst quencher.
One evening sitting in the cockpit before dinner and I could hear this noise, like rain falling but different. I got up to look around our sun shade and there it was, a rather large and CLOSE Water Spout...heading right over towards Wallis's house! I yelled at Laurie down below and grabbed the camera to take a video...AFTER confirming that it was not going to hit us! It did not miss by much, maybe ¼ of a mile. In fact, it passed over just about where another boat (sv Hanna) had been anchored the day before.
The "rain falling" that I heard was rain I guess in the sense that water was falling from the sky but in reality, it was water pouring back out of the cloud from the Water Spout. If you look closely in the Video you can see the water being sucked up into the cloud. Whether or not there were any fish in there, I don't know; I didn't see any fish falling into the Lagoon. When we first spotted the Spout, it was on the outside of the Atoll. As it crossed over the reef and Motu it partially dissipated until over the Lagoon when it got fired up again.
Not long after; my battery died in the camera. Looking at the video I think that the focusing was not constant as the battery was just about dead. It was not me zooming in and out...I am sticking to that.
Laurie started taking stills and video using her phone as well. As the Water Spout continued off across the Lagoon you could still see the "white water" on the surface even after the "spout" partially dissipated up to the cloud. That was the excitement for the day.
We would see Wallis, the only occupant of this end of the Atoll while we were here, every day or so. We would leave our dinghy at his place and walk the beach. One day when we returned, he met us and handed up a loaf of freshly made braided bread...still hot from his wood fired stove barrel complete with a broiler section. (45-gallon drum)
It was so good that Laurie asked him for baking lessons which he proudly did a couple of days later. Wallis used to be a baker in Papeete and the bread was great!
Another time Wallis went out to catch Lobster and supplied us with his entire catch. It turns out he is allergic to Lobster; he just went for us! Later on, he also gave us a Coconut Crab that ended up on the dinner table...
Near the end of our stay in Toau, friends from Australia on a sailing cat, Nuwam2, visited the anchorage. We did a beach dinner with Wallis complete with fish, veggies and Coconut crab. Lots of fun!
We are hanging out here in Fakarava for a couple of days to finish up some paperwork for our Visa Extension and watching the weather closely. There was supposed to be some "ugly" weather this week but as each day passes it looks like it "may" miss us. It was expected to be 30 knots from the North West and West so Toau Atoll SE corner was not an option. We have shelter from that direction here in Rotoava, Fakarava. We will see what the week brings...
(Check out the Videos on the LINK below!! You will need to "copy and paste" it. Only 4 short Videos, the Water Spout and Laurie baking in a barrel!!) I also just added numerous still photos of all this to our Album.
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