New Rhum and to Apu
03 September 2023 | Tapuamu, Taha'a
William Ennis | Hot, rainy, windy
We had a nice day today (2 September). Our main task, as we sit in the cockpit, is to plan our attack on re-rigging the boat. Our insurance company is requiring the we re-rig and we if we decide to sell her, we need to re-rig. This "rigging" is the network of stainless steel cables and their fittings that support the mast. Obviously, the rigging must be correctly made and attached or we run the substantial risk of losing the mast: a catastrophic problem, especially if we're offshore. There are two issues. The mast step, the block of wood under the mast that supports it, is water damaged. It happened through the many years of leaks; it's our fault, but not from lack of trying. That block must be removed, a new piece fabricated, and the new piece set into place at the correct location and height. The second problem is the rigging itself. The old rigging must be correctly measured so that new rigging can be fabricated. Finally, the old rigging must be replaced with the new.
The obvious issue is sequence. We remove the mast and as it sits on supports, the old rigging can easily be measured and new rigging fabricated. While the rigging is being fabricated, the old mast step can be removed, the new mast step fabricated, and finally installed. When complete, and the new rigging is available, the mast is re-stepped and the new rigging is installed and tuned. Done.
OF COURSE...that's a bloody pipe dream! Timing issues, personality issues, all contribute to the unlikelihood that we can expect anything as simple as this.
So, we're trying to create as many optional paths as we can, while still hoping that the simple model works. Sigh.
We motored into the village of Tapuamu, if one can call it that. There's a gas station that sells petrol, diesel, butane, and odds and ends. There are several non-functioning "snacs" or family-owned restaurants, a nice but small store, and a small rhum-tasting tent. We bought a baguette at the store, and dumped all of our garbage and recycle, and then chose to sample the rhum, Mana'o. Our host was a young local woman who spoke excellent English. The distillery is based on Moorea, since they do not yet have the government approval to distill alcohol here on Taha'a, but they have the various distillation and fermentation devices here, and sell the booze. Our host showed the process that they would use, and their still.
The rhum, though, was excellent! They make a silver, or un-aged, at 50%ABV, and an aged at 40%, aged at 18 months. Both were excellent and we bought a bottle of the silver. In a very creative move, they're also making gin. Gin is pure grain alcohol flavored with juniper, of course. This company used pure "cane" alcohol, and flavors it with various local herbs; ginger and a few others. It's an amazing product, as our friend Jonathan would say. They take greater care in distillation temperatures to get nothing but alcohol rather than the stuff that they bottle as rhum, but it's the same basic stuff. They use traditional varieties of sugar cane, including one that the original Polynesians brought with them: 15 in all. It's an impressive product line. They even make a tonic water, flavored with local herbs. Pari Pari was the first distiller of rhum using all hand methods, and they have started a trend, I think.
We stayed for two nights and at 1000, we slipped the mooring and motored against 16 knot winds down the lagoon to Apu Bay. We've got five days of wind and rain ahead of us, so we wanted some good shelter to sit it out. As soon as we were in binocular range of Apu, Conni at the helm began to search for moorings. We found only one, an unused one just on the edge of protection, but it's what we could find, so I donned rain gear and headed to the bow. In a masterful way, Conni guided Wings to within a boat pole's distance and I was able to grab and secure the mooring.
Within half an hour, a nearby boat dropped her mooring and departed, and it was close enough for us to see and recognize as a better location, so we quickly started the engine, slipped our mooring, and motored to the now-free mooring. I quickly grabbed and secured the mooring, and here we sit. It rained and blew all last night, and so far, on Monday, it's continued. Our solar panels are trying to grab some sun, but it'll be a generator day. Tomorrow, Tuesday, is supposed to be the worst, with 18-24 knot winds, so we'll stay put.
Tuesday WAS a worse day! We had pouring rain all day and big winds slewing the boat around. There was no outside sitting, although we made it work for cocktail hour. Fortunately, we enjoy indoors activities: I read and she surfs political websites. We spent a quiet day.
Wednesday, we made ready to depart Apu for Apooiti. I pumped the water from the dinghy, a LOT of water. We got going, I slipped the mooring line, and we were off across the strait between Raiatea and Taha'a. We had great fortune and found an empty mooring, and I got us secured to it.
So, here we are again, in Apooiti. We are scheduled to get pulled from the water on Friday, 8 Sept, and we'll have our traditional bungalow room and a vehicle. Shoot, we'll be leaving French Polynesia on 19 Sept, so we'll head back to civilization.
We're still fighting squalls as they come roaring through, and it's hatches open, then hatches hurriedly fastened, as they come through. At least it's sunny sometimes and our solar panels are helping to fill our batteries from what our short trip from Apu didn't have time to do. AND...hot showers tonight! We'll get the motor on the dinghy and go pay our money for that. It's a deal: some water if needed, garbage and recycle if needed, and hot showers, which definitely ARE needed!