Lockdown in Maupiti 2021
12 September 2021 | Maupiti
Well, it has been 3 weeks now in lockdown. We are anchored near the south reef in Maupiti. This week I went snorkeling again and once with a Manta doing it's cleaning thing. Pretty neat to watch. I need to edit the video I took and will be post links to it in a few days.
I just added about 80 photos to our Album. The new "Album" is called Maupiti and Bora Bora. I also added a couple to the solar panel album.
Still doing some boat maintenance as always. A couple of days ago checking bolts and screws on various equipment was due. Yes we track much of that stuff...probably from our flying days. Anyhow, when we went to unfurl the Solent sail I noticed that the furling drum top and bottom plates were cracked and actually separating. Great. We have an order being put together in the US so I went shopping. No one has the 3 parts required, Harken, the manufacture of the furler has to make them! They say a "couple of days". Right.
So in meantime we did what we do best...jury rig our own repair. The top plate was easy, we just drilled it and added a stainless steel strap on it to hold it together. Better that new? Stronger for sure. The bottom plate was more difficult. We could not drill it as it was too confined for access with the drill so we centered the plate using wooden wedges that we keep for such occasions as you never know. Wood clothes pins... Laurie then set about prepping the surface that then we "glassed" a repair. Fiberglass that is. We mixed up the hardner and resin, added silica fibers to thicken and add strength to the mix and applied it. Those 2 halves of the bottom plate are not going anywhere now! When we finally get the new ones in a couple of months we'll probably have to cut it off...
Bora Bora and Maupiti
14 August 2021
MAUPITI – August 14, 2021
Well, a lot has happened since my last post but mostly projects on the boat.
The “stuff” we needed to finish the new Solar installation arrived and we completed the install. (sounds simple but not really!) Once those were installed, we then had the “easy task” of re-installing our 155 watt panels on the stern rails that had been removed from the Bimini rack to make room for the 340’s. That took about a full week all said and done. So now we have 1.7 kw of solar power!!! That is 1700 watts. That is putting “in” over 60 amp of power at noon into our new battery bank. (We see over 70 amps on occasion, the record being 79 amps) That is running our AC powered water maker with the inverter and making 114 liters per hour for an hour or so! Of course, we have to “balance” our power usage. We make water once the batteries are almost full and it is sunny. We only make water every few days or so depending on usage. You know, washing clothes, washing the boat and so on. On other days as the batteries approach being full, we now turn on the ELECTRIC Hot water again, through the inverter. (I had to move the Hot water circuit to the Inverter Bus on the panel to be able to do this) Why use the electric hot water? Well, there are days when the batteries are getting full and the solar chargers with just shut down the charging of the Lithium Batteries and all that solar power would go to waste.
On overcast days the solar still provides enough power that we can run all normal things, fridge, fans etc. In fact, we are not using the generator at all except to exercise it every few weeks....
As I am writing this here in Maupiti I just looked out and let Laurie know that there is a blue truck going by our stern….
You don’t see that every day! Ok, it is on a small barge….
So, when we finished the solar install, we headed back to Papeete to provision and get sailing. We quickly headed back to Moorea to wait for the correct wind angle and set off for Bora Bora where we arrived after about a 26-hour sail. Not the nicest of sails but we arrived. The wind was not as “advertised” and we ended up motoring the first number of hours (10 or so) until the wind finally filled in. It is funny that 3 wind models can be wrong at the same time.
Anyhow, when approaching Bora Bora, perhaps 10 miles back, I was at the helm going over the entrance to the lagoon (again!) when I heard a LOUD crash. I looked up and saw the huge splash right in front of us. I yelled at Laurie and she came running up after grabbing her glasses. By then we were just passing the “splash mark” on the water with bubbles still coming up. Of course, it must have been a whale breaching but my head was down looking at the plotter but it must have been a big one to have the water boiling for that long. It is Humpback whale birthing and mating season here now….
We entered the Bora Bora lagoon shortly after 9 am and took a (mandatory) mooring in front of the Bora Bora Yacht Club. I was happy to take the mooring in one respect, the water was 85 feet (26 meters) deep! Not too long later and the mooring company showed up for payment. How much? Well, $30 per night. Buy a month for $300. We took the month which allows us to take any mooring in Bora Bora so we are not stuck on just one.
Friends of ours were already in Bora Bora and they came over to visit before they left having arrive a few weeks ahead of us. We had a great dinner at the Bora Bora Yacht Club and they departed the following morning.
We took some time to walk to town and do a bit of exploring but not much really. Bora Bora is VERY touristy. Tee shirts at the yacht club were $90. That is not a typo!
Our real plan was to use Bora Bora as a jump off to Maupiti, about 27 miles west. Maupiti is a smaller island with a narrow and somewhat tricky lagoon entrance on the south side with the water ALWAYS flowing out. You cannot enter the “pass” with anything over a 1.5 meter swell from the south. Well, I had been watching the wave forecasts for days and the appointed arrived, Tuesday August 3. (so much for buying a months mooring pass) The swell was to be around 1.5 meters and was supposed to increase in the coming days. We left Bora Bora in the dark (easy to do as it is well marked and the pass is big enough for Cruise Ships) and headed of to Maupiti. The entry to the pass was straight forward although there is a bend just as you enter. Prior to entering we did our “full power” check, furled the jib, closed the hatches and headed in. There are actually 2 “ranges” in the entrance. Just line up the poles and be sure you switch to the next set at the appointed spot. We only saw about 1.5 kts of current against us that morning. Today as I write this it is about 8 kts so not passable not to mention the breakers but more about that in a bit.
Once in the lagoon we turned left and worked our way around various “bombies” (coral heads) looking for “our anchorage”. We circled around as we usually do to check out the immediate vicinity of where we are planning to drop anchor. A lot of people just come straight in and drop anchor but we don’t. We like to survey the area first.
So, we picked a nice sandy bottom spot where our anchor chain would not touch any coral regardless of the wind direction and pushed the “down button” on the windlass as Laurie manned the helm. Nothing happened. I pushed it again…nothing. OK, lets try the “up button”. Nothing. The boat is not staying still either. Wiggle the wires. Nothing. Sent Laurie below to check the Windlass circuit breaker and it was “closed”. She opened it and then closed it…nothing. Damn.
We ended up circling around a bit while I came back to the cockpit to grab a winch handle to do a “manual” release of the anchor and chain, something we do not do hardly at all except backing up to the fuel dock in Nuka Hiva and then it was Laurie operating it. This was actually my first time. Not a huge deal (if Laurie can do it I can too! Editor's note: she told me to add this part, really!), I loosened the Windlass drum and kicked the anchor overboard a bit and then “braked it” until we were back over our appointed spot. The water was 30 feet (9 meters) deep and I watched the anchor drop to the bottom and a cloud of sand puffed up and the landing spot. Yes, the water is that clear. We set the anchor and then had our “arrival beer”, even though it was midmorning. You have to do it; it is a ritual.
The rest of the day spent sightseeing? Nope. The anchor was down but while I can “jury rig” a setup to raise the anchor it is not efficient and we look at the Windlass as a piece of safety equipment…it has to be working. (What if there was a reason to leave quickly?) So, after emptying the anchor locker I got to crawl in. Just so you know; the anchor locker can easily double as a Sauna on most days with no ventilation….poor me)
Anyhow, after wiggling every wire down there (I had to try) I removed the “control box” and installed our spare. All set…push the “button” and nothing. Darn again. Okay, what next? Of course, I had the multimeter with me for wringing the wires but I wasn’t getting anything. We had power coming “in” from the circuit breaker but nothing to the windlass itself. While wringing the wires to the hand controller I finally got a power “bump” to the windlass. AHHA! Must be in the hand controller. Well, we happen to have TWO windlasses, the secondary off to the right and not readily able to run as the primary; it was for a second anchor that we no longer carry. (Not on Lake Superior any more). So, I was able to remove the controller from Windlass II and install it on the Primary. It worked! Great. I’m done for today but not “done”. The cable on the controller was too short to use normally and of course, I need to find and fix the problem with controller #1. But it was now about 3:30 pm and I had had enough time in the sauna for one day.
Of course, I went for a swim right away and I must say, this place is NICE. So long Bora Bora! So long to all the tour boats, jet skis, airport ferries and so on. Yes, we will probably return to Bora Bora and look around a bit more but as I mentioned…way too touristy for us!
The following morning, I started to dissect the controller and wring out the wires. I was able to disassemble the actual hand controller (not meant to be user serviceable…the circuit board was glued together) and find the problem. Of course, the problem was a broken wire which we were able to repair fairly easily. We then had to epoxy that controller back together, and reinstalled it in the #1 Windlass position. All is now good.
It was then time to explore this wonderful island. Where else can you walk ¼ mile off shore (in fine sand) from a Motu to an island and only go hip deep? Photo above.
We have seen a ton or rays here including Manta Rays as well. And there is a “Manta Ray cleaning station” here. Okay; what is a Manta Ray cleaning station??? It is NOT like a fish cleaning station that I was used to growing up, that is for sure. You may want to GOOGLE it: “Manta Ray cleaning station” but to save you some time here is but one site:
“Manta Ray Cleaning Stations are certain locations where fish, mantas and sharks come to get their skin, gills and teeth cleaned by parasitic copepods and a variety of small cleaner wrasse species. Mantas spend many hours every day getting cleaned and can even wait in line for their turn.”
Anyhow, we have now been here for about 1 ½ weeks and will probably be here longer. Much yet to do on the “list”. Climb the mountain and swim with the rays at the cleaning station. We are also planning on renting bikes to circumnavigate the island about 10 miles around.
Today we are anchored off the town in about 15 feet (4.5 meters) of water. We moved away from the reef for protection from the enormous swell that started yesterday morning. We went to shore yesterday as the supply ship had come in on it’s “once a month” visit to bring supplies. We were able to pick up some fresh produce and will head in Monday when the store opens.
When we came back to the dinghy, we only then realized the extent of how the Lagoon fills with water with big swells. The concrete dock was being submerged and it was a bit tricky getting back into the dinghy. Later in the afternoon the water had risen to the point where the dock was totally submerged and the metal “bollards” were under water. The water just kept rising. The Post Office where the dock was getting waves against it as were most locations along the shore. Part of the runway was under water and Air Tahiti circled for about 30 minutes before heading back to Tahiti or Bora Bora. This morning the fire truck was again out on the runway this time washing the runway of debris. I should also mention that the Lagoon is now also full of debris washed from the shores and all of the beaches are under water.
And that big Cargo Ship? He is stuck here too as it is not safe to enter the pass. I will be posting photos of all this in the album of course.
So, as I write this, we have only about 45 days left in French Polynesia before our exemption for the boat runs out. When we arrived, we were allowed 3 years but that ran out in April. We were able to get an extension to the end of September due to COVID and most countries being closed. We could go on to Fiji as they are accepting sailboats but Fiji is in Cyclone alley so not really an option. We are hoping to get another extension due to COVID…we will see.
Don’t forget too: you can see our “real time” position and MINI Blog updates anytime at:
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!