10 September 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
09 September 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
05 September 2021 | Raiatea
03 September 2021 | Raiatea
01 September 2021 | Apu Bay, Taha'a
28 August 2021 | Bora Bora
22 August 2021 | Bora Bora
21 August 2021 | Bora Bora
20 August 2021 | Now, Bora Bora
15 August 2021 | Faaroa Bay, Raiatea
14 August 2021 | Fare, Huahine
10 August 2021 | Avea Bay
01 August 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
30 July 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
27 July 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
25 July 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
23 July 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
20 July 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
19 July 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
Our Trip Begins: Day 1
07 August 2022 | Apu Bay, Taha'a
William Ennis | Stormy!
We're holed up in Apu Bay, just 5 nautical miles from the Carenage. It's been an interesting day.
We awakened early today. We both took our last land-based shower for awhile. I checked the engine and got our instruments in place while Conni worked below. While she showered after me, I ran the engine to check for fuel problems, Seeing that all was well, we cast off and left the launch slip at the Careange, and we were cruisers again!
For the first time in many years, everything worked. All of our instruments, the engine...everything. We ran with our chart plotter on with a radar overlay. We had two sonars going, our forward-looking and our down-looking. The wind sensor showed the 30+ knot winds: yuck. The autopilot, even without the final sea trial commissioning, worked well, too. It was a surprisingly satisfying feeling for us both.
And about the autopilot, I'd like to personally thank these people for their substantial help: George Rooney, mechanical engineer and long-time climbing friend; one of my best friends, Peter Bradshaw, rotating equipment engineer and all-round smart guy; and my father-in-law, LaVerne, who worked very hard and offered his lifetime of machinist expertise on this project. To you all, pressing the "Auto" button on the autopilot control and seeing that steering wheel turn was a near-miracle. I've fretted and stewed over this project for almost a year, and it's securely installed and operative. Simply, I couldn't have done it without your help and support. Thank you.
We motored across the pass between Raiatea and Taha'a, then on to Tapuamu, one of our favorites, and in most cases, a great storm shelter. The weather was so bad coming across the pass that we suddenly realized how sheltered we must have been at the Carenage. We've sat through many bad storms in Tapuamu through the years. When we arrived, there were 12 other boats there! What a zoo! After driving around the bay for 30 minutes, trying to locate someplace for us to anchor, we finally decided, but were unable to get a good hook set. We tried twice in one spot, and once in another, but it was not to be. We did the better thing and simply departed Tapuamu for Apu, further south. In retrospect, it was a poor choice to even stop in Tapuamu since there were so many other boats. If another boat's anchor dragged, and with 30 knots of wind coming through it was likely, it would have been a boat bowling alley. We should have taken a look and turned back before even attempting to anchor.
Neither the wind nor seas have let up for a week, now, so we slogged against the wind to Apu. We did find an unused mooring and grabbed it. The wind was so strong that Conni had trouble holding the boat in place while I grabbed the mooring, so it took us twice to manage it, but finally we were moored on a very strong mooring. There's a lot of strength and reach needed to grab a mooring line with a boat hook, haul it on deck, and then getting it tied to one of our special mooring lines that has a piece of fire hose to prevent chafe. (Thanks, LaVerne) I do the mooring work, and thankfully, Conni's superb at the helm.
Since we've been on the mooring, the wind has continued unabated and the boat's hobby-horsing and fish-tailing around on the mooring. There are about 20 other boats here in Apu Bay, both multi and mono-hull here and everyone is suffering the same. It will not be a restful night.
I'm writing this on Monday morning and it's still blowing hard although not quite. We'll stay here today through Wednesday morning, and then move to Huahine, we think.
Wings Is a Boat Again!
05 August 2022 | Launch Slip, Raiatea Carenage
William Ennis | Rainy, stormy, hot
It's 5:30PM, now, raining, and we're afloat in the little launch slip at the Carenage. What a day!
This is the day that we had hoped to be launched, since we could stay in their launch slip and take on water and use their electricity for one last time. We want batteries and all electronics to be fully charged when we depart.
On Wednesday, we worked all day on various projects, primarily my work on the aft head. I replaced the entire pump and re-routed the entry water hose so that it properly ran through the vented loop. Without much detail, a vented loop, or siphon break, allows water to be pumped through under pressure, but when the pumping stops, the resulting lower pressure triggers the vented loop to open and water isn't allowed to siphon from the ocean to inside the boat. It's a clever device that works well. I had foolishly used the hose routing that was on the boat when we bought her, but that was wrong and I should have changed it years ago. It's done, now, although it was an all-day affair.
Thursday, we did...NOTHING! We read and lay around, our first day of no work in 3 weeks and neither of us felt bad about it. It was so nice to just relax and look at the world without several important tasks to accomplish.
Conni and I would like to recommend the Raiatea Carenage for their exemplary service to us. True to his work, Dominique produced a replacement fixture for our bow bicolor that he broke. He had one of his sons wire it in place this afternoon. No scrimping, he bought an LED-powered lamp and got it installed. Thank you, Dominique.
Today, we knew...we hoped...that we'd be in the water today. We did what we could to prepare and when the trailer backed to lift the boat, we were paying our bill in preparation for departure. They launch sailboats with a standard TraveLift, the device with wheels that maneuvers over of a boat and lifts it with slings, but they pack in the boats with a trailer since they can stack the boats closer. I hope to have photos of the machine hand-off posted tonight.
We'll get the water tanks filled tonight or tomorrow. Our main engine started quickly, a huge deal for us. Our battery cranked it and the engine started easily. Our solar panels are doing very well. Our generator works. We have two working heads, again. All of our B&G electronics seem to function although we've got sea trials for the new autopilot at some point. All in all, we had hoped to have 3 weeks of work and 7 of sailing and we're down to 5 weeks of work and 5 of sailing, but "it is what it is."
Tomorrow, we'll complete our tasks and motor out of here. I've got no idea when I can post another blog or webpage, but I'll try.
Our tentative schedule is to cross the pass between Raiatea and Taha'a, our sister island in the same lagoon. We'll spend the first night, tomorrow night, in Apu Bay, directly across from us, although perhaps a few nights. Then, we'll travel up the Taha'a coast to Tapuamu Bay and stay several days there. There's a rum distillery that we love to visit. Afterward, we'll have a good idea on boat condition so we'll probably make it across to Huahine. Fare, the main village will be our first stop, as usual. We can re-provision there, get some Internet, and a cheeseburger in paradise! Later, we'll follow the Huahine coast to Avea Bay, one of our favorites. My birthday will be spent, as many before, enjoying a good meal at the Relais Mahana Lodge. Check out these places.
After I wrote this, an Australian friend dropped by and invite us to dinner tonight. We accepted, so all of the schedule is delayed by one night.
Hard Work in the Yard, Day 2
02 August 2022 | Raiatea Carenage
William Ennis | Hot and rainy
We worked today on raising sails. Each year, we seem to forget the nuances of putting on sails and it was the same this year. We also raced against wind, since raising a sail in wind simply isn't possible and is usually dangerous to people and gear. We have to wait for the lulls to do any work.
Eventually, we got our gear together and decided to get the larger sail on first: the jib. And it's enormous! We got lucky with the jib and endured just a few small gusts before we could get it raised, adjusted, and rolled up on the forestay.
Although the main sail is smaller, it's physically much heavier. There are battens to install: lengths of fiberglass placed through horizontal pockets in the sail that stiffen the sail and provide better shape. We also had to install the "lazy bag", a cloth bag that hugs the boom and into which one can easily drop the main for protecting the main from sun and the elements. Both can be difficult when working in a sea of stiff nylon cloth, flopping in the wind.
While waiting on the wind to cooperate, I studied our next big chore, the water maker rebuild. Conni worked her tail off in the heat and did all of those chores that add up to a well-ordered deck: lines stowed, line bags installed, dodger completed, and lots more. Wings looks like a sailboat on deck, at last.
The weather is supposed to deteriorate starting tomorrow, Wednesday, and continue to be bad until Sunday. We've thought about it and have decided that scrambling for a mooring or dropping a hook then waiting out bad weather, is a poor entry into sailing this season. We've got a boat that hasn't been in the water for almost a year and we'd be facing 12-foot seas and 27 knot wind. Nope. We'll stay ashore and hope that we'll be splashed on Friday and sit in the little launch slip until Sunday, then head to Taha'a. We can fill water tanks, inflate the dinghy, and test the engine, all in the safety of the slip, and with their power and water nearby! Sounds like a plan to us both.
Hard Work in the Yard
01 August 2022 | Raiatea Carenage
William Ennis | Rainy and hot
And I do mean hard work! We departed our pension and unpacked here so by noon, we had already done a lot.
Yesterday was the first full day aboard and our tasks were primarily up on the mast. Preparing for a trip up the mast is complex because of the obvious danger involved. Conni normally does all of that work since I must physically climb but I can use a winch to raise her upward.
She sits in a "bosun's chair", a comfortably-padded chair designed for the work with lots of huge pockets for tools and gear and a solid safety system built in. She had to replace our old-fashioned "Windex": a horizontally-rotating arrow that provides wind direction only. That job requires that she place a nut on a bolt that was upside down, daring anything to drop. She also placed our new B&G wind sensor, but there are no wires and it's just a snap-on. She examines, adjusts, and tightens every bolt and nut on the way up, and uses 3M 303, a spray for protecting plastics from UV, on everything. She accomplished every task. Her last task was most difficult: the messenger line for our main halyard had broken and she had to drop a weighted line down the mast though a tiny hole at the top, and I had to find it, grab it, and guide it through a tiny hole about head-high from deck. It required several tries, as you can imagine, but we finally accomplished it.
We decided that if she had the time and wasn't overheated that she'd try to install our new LED-powered light: the upper fixture provides a "steaming light" while motoring, and the lower fixture illuminates the foredeck for night work. In our continuing efforts to lower our energy use, we're trying to replace all of our light sources with LEDs. After an hour of frustrating work, she called it and came down and it was my turn.
I don't do much ascending by rope anymore, although I certainly have done a lot while I was climbing. Nevertheless, I got my gear set and ascended to just below the second spreader, about 3/4 of the way up the mast. Not bad! After a half hour of work, clever Conni realized that she could just lower me using the jib halyard. It was SO easy and fast compared to descending in the usual way.
Not bad for 72, but totally exhausting! We completed a few more tasks and called it a day.
We geared up for our showers, climbed down the ladder into darkness, walked to the shower house and had cold water showers. It's great to be clean. but boy is that water brisk!
We had our first cocktail hour aboard and Conni prepared a Wings Sundowner: Tamurei rum, Schwepps Lemon Seltzer, and a squeeze of lime: delicious! We also opened our gifts from dear friend: clever cocktail napkins and little umbrella and pink flamingos for our cocktail hours. Thank you, Sara.
We ate dinner and both of us dropped to sleep.
Moving to the Boat
31 July 2022 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Hot, rainy, windy
We've moved to the boat all of our stuff other than breakfast and tomorrow's clothing. We'll be out of the room and on our way to Wings by 0900 tomorrow. Goodbye, hot showers. Wifi, and air-conditioning, hello cold showers, no Wifi. and boatyard life!
Still, we're here to live on the boat, but we do get spoiled living here in our little bungalow and we'll miss it. We counted and this is night 19 here! No wonder we're used to the place. It's cheap but not free, so moving is more affordable.
We worked most of the day on stowing gear and supplies so we would be able to live aboard. We were successful and tomorrow night we'll have some space to stay. The fridge is stocked and the stove works. The solar panels are supplying more energy than ever, and the generator works, too. We have a full tank of butane and another about half full. Note, butane and not propane, but propane isn't available here.
Yesterday, we made a big store run, buying food and drink for several weeks. I didn't find the oil that I like to use, but both the engine and the transmission (which uses the same oil, thankfully) have clean oil and are full. We stowed all of that food after the store run. At lunch today, I looked in the snack cabinet and Conni had purchased 3 family-sized bags of Doritos! That woman loves Doritos.
Tasks to yet complete are to replace the aft head and add a lot of vacuum-rated hose, as I've explained. We've got to rebuild the water maker, too. Of course, we've to put on sails or re-reave our main halyard, and none of the masthead instruments have been re-installed. The weather has been so windy and rainy that Conni's not been able to go up the mast. Perhaps tomorrow.
Our helper, Richard, came by this morning and added some epoxy to the bottom of the autopilot drive leg where it touches the hull. Both of us and Richard were concerned about movement since the leg sits on a surface that slants fore-and-aft, as well as side-to-side. The epoxy will be cured by the time we splash in a few days...we hope.
Tonight, we packed the last of our items from the bungalow and made one last run to the boat, just after dark. After Conni put all of the cold stuff from our bungalow kitchen into our boat fridge, we dropped by a local roulotte (food wagon) at which we've had good meals before. They didn't disappoint! We both ordered "steak frites" or steak and french fries. It's a family business and the entire family works from 6:30-8:30 each night. Dad grills and everyone else prepares the other food or serves. They are hugely successful and the place is hopping. They've continued to improve the seating area, which is now cement covered rather than gravel. They've got some outside tables. The food is just as good, with offerings of steak frites, chicken frites, or tuna frites. Since we're chronically dehydrated, we had no difficulties consuming a liter of lemonade! It was a fine idea that Conni had since we had no food in the bungalow and were worn from many long days.
With any luck at all, we'll get splashed on Wednesday or Thursday, at day's end. That allows us to stay in the little launch slip overnight so that we can easily take on water and ensure that all of our systems work as planned. Last year, we had the launch crew turn us around, bow out, so that we could move out of the slip and into the main lagoon while moving forward, and we'll try to get them to do that this time, too. It'll be SO nice not to have to dodge that PoS ferry that's been docked almost blocking the one narrow route through the coral and into the main channel! What a relief for departing, but even more so in entering on our return, since the prevailing wind forces us either into the rusty ferry or into the coral field.
It might be possible that I can get the SSB (marine Ham radio) operating so I can send blogs while we're away from land, but definitely no photos until we have Wifi. We've no specific plans for what we want to do this season since we've been so focused on our installations, but I'm sure that Bora Bora, Huahine, and Taha'a are in the mix. In the first two of those we'll probably have Wifi available at least a few times, but none until then.
Wish us luck.
I'm sorry to lose two real heroes: Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhuru, and Bill Russell, who helped me love the game of basketball. How many Bill Russell/Wilt Chamberlain duels I watched! RIP.
29 July 2022 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Hot, hot, windy, rainy
The big news today was that Conni completed the "Dockside Commissioning" process, and our installation came through with flying colors. Everything checks out, thankfully. The drive moves the rudder, the rudder indicator correctly provides information on the direction and degree of rudder movement, and the other devices needed correctly provide their data. It's a monumental validation of our work.
Yesterday, Dominc, the yard owner, was moving a boat into the yard. He wants to get as many boats as possible into the yard, of course, to make the money. He places the boats just inches away from other boats, and in this case, the boat he was moving started swinging and hit ours. Thud! I was out of the cabin immediately and found that Dominic had moved the boat too close and it had smashed our bow bicolor light, the red/green bow-mounted light. I cursed, the saw that it was Dominic. He apologized and took full responsibility. I saw him today and he said that he had already ordered a new one. I went forward to today and checked the damage and Wow! There were only a few pieces of plastic hanging by the electric wire. I guess that's something else to do.
Today was filled mostly with various smaller jobs. I got the diesel feed hose from the old heater removed. Conni got all of the plastic windows cleaned and polished. In fact, I was able to start stowing tools.
Each day from here on will entail our usual commissioning list rather than installations. We've got another head pump to replace and some new hose to install. We've got a water maker (desalinator) to rebuild. There are some big repair jobs but nothing like we've done.
Assuming that the weather cooperates tomorrow, Conni will make her yearly trip up the mast to install various wind gadgets: the old technology of a Windex and our new B&G wind sensor. She and I also must re-install the main halyard, the line that raises and lowers the main sail. We replace with parachute cord all of our halyard for the long off-season, and then use those to pull through the original line. Unfortunately, that "messenger line" broke during the off-season and we've got to have Conni drop a line down the mast that I can catch, then use it to pull through the actual halyard. It could be 20 minutes, it could be all day, and we've had both. The last chore, is for her to replace an old and battered light located high on the mast. I usually do that kind of thing, but if Conni can mange it, it'll save a lot of work for me. It should be easy, but nothing is easy when hanging 60-feet in the air.
[As I write this, a land crab about two feet from my chair has crept from its hole in the ground and is using its claws to pluck tiny pieces of grass and is stuffing them into its mouth. Obviously it's how they eat, but we've just never seen them do it.]