We are peacefully anchored in the atoll of Fakarava after a calm, smooth sail from Tahiti; you can see our new location on the map. Just to keep us on our toes, on arrival in Fakarava we noticed two boats, a monohull and a catamaran, tangled together and aground on the reef. The day before we departed, a nasty low pressure system spun up from New Zealand across Tahiti and the Tuamotus. In Fakarava, sustained winds over 40 knots impacted the anchorage. We are not sure which boat dragged anchor, but it appears it took the other one with it aground. Our guess is the monohull dragged the cat onto the near shore reef. A sickening site to behold keeping us glued to PredictWind and making our nights a little less peaceful. (There's nothing to worry us in the next 7 days)
I'm reverting back to Moorea and Tahiti to keep you entertained. When we were in Moorea, the island was slowly opening up from the lockdown.There were several stores still closed and any businesses providing services for tourists were shuttered and abandoned. Many people were still wearing masks even though the virus is no longer circulating in Polynesia. The kids have gone back to school; the older ones to boarding schools and colleges on Tahiti and the little ones to the local l'ecole maternelle. There are many children in Polynesia so one misses them. On the other hand there are many unemployed since tourism is non-existent. They gather on the plazas, sitting on the grass in the shade of a palm or on the long verandas surrounding the government buildings, chatting amiably and listening to very loud Polynesian music on huge boom boxes. The atmosphere is very different from a year ago when Tahiti and Moorea were aspiring to first world status.
Departing Tahiti for Fakarava
One of our favorite restaurants, Rudi's French Bistro, had just reopened and we booked for dinner at 6:30pm. We booked, not to reserve a table, but if we hadn't they wouldn't have been open. We were anchored across the deep water channel about ¼ mile from the restaurant, an easy stroll had we been on land. It gets dark around 6:30pm so we piled in our dinghy at 6:00 with just enough light remaining to thread our way through the coral making careful note of the angle between lights on shore and anchor lights across the channel in order to know where to turn in the dark on the way home. Normally, an evening at Rudi's would be an occasion to dress up for but it's hard to look sophisticated with my white hair severely drawn back to combat the flyaways and wearing something convenient for clambering in and out of the dinghy with Teva sandles for stepping out into the water and pulling the dinghy up on the beach. I'd considered packing a dress in the backpack and changing in the restroom when I got there but as it happened we were the only guests that night. Sid, the maitre d' , a garrulous fellow, seated us with nary a glance but let it slip by asking, " So, where are you anchored?"
After a week in Moorea we reluctantly returned to Tahiti. We had packages to pick up and we were having new solar panels installed.This time we stayed in the Marina Papeete with access to shore power and unlimited water, however, no bathroom and shower facilities since the marina is being renovated. In fact, we really benefitted because , on the day we arrived, the marina lowered their prices in order to attract more cruisers. We were charged $90.00 a week instead of the usual high season rate of $270.00. At the same time, the government closed all the anchorages near Papeete. However, the marina is still half empty and the anchorages still have boats. If there are no facilities, why pay for what you can do on your own boat for free.
We, however, loved having long, hot showers for the first time since Chile, in the privacy of our own boat. We also went out for espresso and croissants every morning and took full advantage of the chandleries.
Since March, we have noticed that our solar panels started producing less and less power. It looked like they were delaminating as a thin film of plastic was peeling at the edges and wherever they had been scratched. Greg did some research and discovered that that thin film was actually shipping film that should have been removed when the panels were installed. We tried to remove the film on one of the panels but the sun had turned the glue into an opaque crusting that no chemical could remove. Greg contacted the manufacturer in Italy who told him that they would replace three of the four under waranty. We paid for the fourth so they'd all be new.
Installation of the new solar panels
The shipping was a nightmare with a pandemic underway and countries closed to flights.. It took 5 weeks to arrive routed from Italy through Germany, Manchester, London, Cincinnati, LA, Sidney, Aukland where it sat for a while waiting for Tahiti to accept flights. Interestingly, it arrived on the same plane that brought in two other packages from the US mailed just 3 weeks previously, which was convenient for us. When we unpacked the solar panels we found that the shipping film was now pink. This must have happened to other customers and that's why they agreed so readily to replacing them for free. We engaged Marine Electronic to do the installation, the same company that installed our wind generator. With the Watt&Sea hydro generator, we now have 3 green energy sources on Rapture. They keep up with the electrical load on the boat even when we occasionally run the microwave and tea kettle - high draw appliances. It can't keep up with the water heater or Air conditioning. We need shorepower ( or diesel) for that. So we've drastically reduced our fuel consumption unless we're not sailing, there's no wind and the sun doesn't shine.