Uturoa Quay Side
29 May 2018 | Uturoa, Raiatea
We're not in the yard, and not on a mooring but 5 nm away from the yard, tied against the concrete quay in downtown Uturoa. Hurray!
The engine performed perfectly, and the new engine-start battery had no problem in starting the engine.
A long story to arrive here...
Nick, the owner's son, was furious when he arrived on Monday morning and we were still in the slip. I explained that our engine start battery was dead, but it helped not at all. Eventually, he was forced to drive to the battery shop (actually a pneumatic supply store named, "Pneumo" and pronounced "Pee Numo") and bought two automotive Group 24 batteries. Of course we requested AGMs, and the store might have had stacks, but Nick was in a snit.
The more interesting thing that I learned, other than that Nick is an asshole, is that my multimeter was faulty. Damn! I've worked with them for 30 years, and never seen of one go bad, and certainly never owned a faulty one. Nevertheless, this one was faulty and provided bad information on which I made some expensive and consequential decisions. After a lot of searching, today I did find a new digital multimeter, a French, China-made one, and it seems to work. It was probably the very last one for sale on Raiatea, and the only one that I've seen.
The engine start battery tested at 8.7VDC on my old meter and wouldn't start the engine. Did it need a charge or replacement? That's quite different, monetarily. I made the decision to replace the batteries, engine start and windlass, based on my meter readings: they were wrong. The windlass battery also measured, by my old meter, about the same 8.7VDC. That's lower than the 10.6VDC that's the limit for a totally dead battery. It's difficult for even a professional company to revive a battery so low. My decision was to buy two new batteries, but to buy Group 25 AGMs like we have. Nick, of course, bought what was convenient. One battery replaced the engine start battery and started the engine a few times, so I can't return it. I'm going to try tomorrow to return the windlass battery and even check the voltage of the old AGM that we left at the Carenage. I'd love to have all of the same battery types.
I fabricated a system to manually combine the engine and windlass banks with the house bank, and after 4 hours, got it installed. It's installed in the "man cave" below the cockpit, so no ventilation and on a hot day. It works but it's not convenient, and it'll get us through the problem. It's a circuit breaker, actually, attached to a double stud arrangement for the two other banks (engine and windlass). It's not the better use for the breaker, but it provides a switch that's protected. It won't get used often and it's all that I had.
We arrived in Uturoa yesterday and sidled up to the fuel dock. We took on 70 gallons of diesel (US$350!), some assorted engine oil and ice, and after asking permission, made fast for the evening. After a bit of a sponge bath, we went out to hunt dinner, and found a roulotte (a family-owned food wagon) that served us $10 "steak frite" or steak and French Fries. Man, what a dinner! We walked our overstuffed bodies back to the boat for the evening.
At 0630 this morning, we were rudely awakened by someone hammering on the hull, saying that we couldn't be there. Well, we asked permission! No matter. We motored to the big concrete quay nearby and will spend the night tonight, and perhaps tomorrow, here. The Gendarmes have already been by to check us.
Tomorrow, Conni will buy some last minute groceries and complete a few chores, and I'll do what I can to return one of the auto batteries that Nick bought for us. The windlass battery, by the way, measures at 12.2VDC, not high, but not a bad battery, either. I'd like to return the new windlass battery and use the old one now that it's tested as usable.
Thursday, we're outta here. The weather is as good as it'll get and we know that as we approach Rarotonga that we'll have 20 knots on our stern. That's livable. Conni will clear us from French Polynesia tomorrow and we'll depart from here, sailing SSW for 537nm. We've got good supplies: food for a few weeks, 140 gallons of water, 85 gallons of diesel fuel, 5 gallons of generator gasoline, the engine works, we both think that we're on track for departure.