We’re Here Again
01 June 2017 | Marina near Uturoa, Raiatea, French Polynesia
We’ve had some exciting and depressing days since the last update. I’m not sure but I think that the last update was in Tapuamu Bay and via SSB.
We’ve lost a lot of stuff so far. You know about the lost camera, but since then we’ve also lost the hook for our very old but much-used boat hook, and one of our dinghy oars. The boat hook we use when we take a mooring, of course, and we had to improvise when the hook was pulled off the pole during a mooring attempt. We had to drop the dinghy into the water, I climbed aboard as Conni maneuvered us close to the mooring buoy. I grabbed the mooring buoy by hand, quickly tied a knot using a line that had previously been attached to the bow, then climbed aboard to complete the task. By Conni’s excellent helm work and some strong arm on my side, we managed to attach a short, stout line with an anti-chafe section over it, to the buoy’s pendant, then secure that to a foredeck cleat. What a task! It was cumbersome, but it worked. The dinghy oar, by the way, was flicked overboard by a moving jib sheet. Conn also lost her good sun hat, removed by a stiff breeze. Sheesh!
At any rate, we’ve traveled a lot since then, circumnavigating Taha’a. Our last stop on Taha’a was in Apu Bay, the large bay that sits opposite Raiatea. We found a mooring buoy and moored using the man-in-the-dinghy method. We were in Apu Bay night before last (30 May) and enjoyed a very new bay for us.
We had planned to move to Huahine yesterday, and we prepared for the day’s travel of 25 miles in our first blue water crossing. We were excited! We got everything ready, motored out of the pass and into the sapphire-blue Pacific, and began our sail.
After a few hours, the wind died, so we decided to motor sail. Engine on…engine coughs and dies. Damn! As usual, Conni grabs the wheel and sails while I dive below and begin whatever repairs I can. We suspected dirty fuel and just how dirty was beyond our wildest dreams! The fuel polishing had been a total failure! The lumpy seas had stirred the fuel pot and the sludge made the primary fuel filter red with bacteria bodies, choking fuel from the engine.
I changed the primary filter and cleaned the bowl, then began the process of bleeding the injector system. Have I ever mentioned that I HATE bathing in diesel fuel?
We decided to wait on the engine use until we were close to the dock, figuring that the dirty fuel would clog the filter very quickly. We were slightly closer to Raiatea than Taha’a, so turned around to Raiatea. After a fast sail back with the wind behind us, we entered the pass under sail and sailed to within 100-feet of the Uturoa fuel dock, where we started the engine and ghosted into a safe landing. Whew! What a hassle! Conni did a superb job at the helm.
We took ourselves to dinner at the food wagon that I had used when I put the boat to bed last year, then walked back to the boat. We had heard that there are a lot of thefts of electronics by the locals tied to the city dock, and we were appropriately careful. So far, no problems.
Today, was clean-the-tank day. Our plan for the fuel was to dump all of the bad fuel into one tank and thoroughly clean the other, then fill that with clean fuel. I looked at the starboard tank first since it’s easier to work on, but there’s a baffle that prevents complete cleaning and there was more fuel in it. Richard, a local whom we’ve met, dropped by and asked for the old fuel, so as I removed fuel, we put it into his crappy old tanks. Richard, thanks!
Port tank holds only 50 gallons but there were only 15 or so remaining, I pumped that into Richard’s waiting fuel tanks and scraped the tank to remove and dislodge as much of the crap as I could. It occurred to me that we could use the little shop vac that we use for boat cleaning and remove all of the debris from tank cleaning and that’s what we did. I would NOT eat off the tank bottom, but it’s clean to the touch and smooth. We let it dry the remainder of today and we’ll fill it tomorrow and add biocide and fuel stabilizer. We’ll also change all of the fill-cap O-rings, to be safe. I’ll change all of the filters, bleed the injector system, and we should be OK. We’ll still have 20 gallons of the dirtiest diesel fuel that I’ve ever seen, but we’ll let the boat yard staff take care of it.
So, we’re here in downtown Uturoa and plan to stay until I’ve got the work done and we’re re-fueled. I guess that we’ll continue our sail to Huahine. We walked to a local chandlery and bought another boat hook, so we’re set for that essential item. We also bought a lot of groceries, including some locally-caught swordfish steaks that we’ll enjoy tonight. Even if we’re in downtown Uturoa, I will shower tonight. Cleaning a fuel filter is nothing compared to cleaning a tank, I promise.
Just so that you know, Internet access is simply non-existent this year and we’ve walked a mile to find what we hope is Internet access. If it works for Conni’s financial work, we’ll try to buy some time and I’ll post this blog. Perhaps tomorrow, we’ll post some of the MANY photos that we’ve stockpiled the past many days.
Wish us good luck.