Odds and Ends
21 September 2022 | Oakland, CA
William Ennis | Warm and sunny
We're back in America. What a whirlwind finish to the season!
I was unpacking some clothes from my bag and came across the clothing that I had worn after leaving the boat the last time: canvas work shorts, a white nylon sun shirt, sun hat. We simply boarded the plane from Raiatea to Papeete, Tahiti wearing those clothes and didn't change into more appropriate/less stinky clothing until we were through customs and in the boarding area. Holy smokes! That stuff was rank! They were damp from South Pacific humidity and sweat, dirty from crusted dirt, paint, caulk, and other materials, and had that sticky feel of clothing that needed a wash. Well, perhaps you don't know what that feels like... All we wear for footgear is sandals, so my toes were covered in red bottom paint, black paint that I applied to the water maker motor, and a few splatters of white caulk from dinghy work.
We worked like dogs for 10 days to prepare the boat for layover. There was little about which I hadn't written before, so I spared you the details. Our decommissioning list grows longer and longer as we learn from others or discover for ourselves what needs to be done. For several days, we delayed attaching the cover for the deck forward of the mast since we had ordered some gel coat work done. Passports were well made but the workers were inexperienced in fiberglass work since they were, first and foremost, builders of teak boats. We worked on the dinghy almost every day, trying to get it ready for service next season. Not having any purpose-made Hypalon glue, we were forced to use caulk to re-attach the rub rail, for example. By the time that we had climbed down the ladder for the last time, we were both exhausted, but the boat was in better condition than ever.
While I'm here in Oakland, I'll post some photos of the burned boat that appeared at the Carenage. Actually, we learned that the burned boat caused by the incompetent (and consequently deceased) sailor had been raised from a bay on Huahine, a neighboring island, a few weeks ago. That boat was also burned to the waterline, but raised, cut into pieces and shipped to Tahiti for processing. This past week, two other catamarans sank, one, a Moorings charter boat, burned to the waterline in an incident that is still unexplained, and the other simply sank between Moorea and Tahiti. That last one was a charter boat from Poe Charter in Tahiti, and will not be recovered. We wondered if the people who chartered the boat got a refund. The burned boat sank about 17 September in Fa'aroa Bay on Raiatea, although we haven't learned a cause, yet. The remnants were raised by the Carenage staff and dragged to the Carenage behind their tug. What a mess! The boat, as you'll see in the photos, burned down to the waterline so nothing could be salvaged. The two hulls of the catamaran were burned below the bridge deck so they were separate and very difficult to manage. The fuel tanks were damaged, of course, so the wreck leaked diesel fuel into the lagoon. Usually, Dominique, the Carnage owner, can sell the remains for salvage or recycle, but things were so destroyed that Dominique was scrambling for a way to rid himself of the mess. The ramp in which the boat was hanging overnight from salvage buoys was badly polluted with diesel fuel and oil, and the main concrete area was littered with oily debris. Dominique thinks that he'll have to rent a Connex to store the chopped up boat, then ship it to Tahiti for the landfill. Lest we forget, there's also a Sunsail monohull that went up on a reef, another human mistake.
So, that's three wrecks in a month, not a good average, and not good for boat insurance payments.
We were able to bid farewell to our many new cruising friends, and even shared a return flight from Papeete to San Francisco with Amy and Peter. We made many new friends this season, and we spent more time socializing than we ever have. There's just something about cruisers: They're problem solvers, they're daring, and they know how to optimize friendships for the time allowed.
We did buy new batteries, two new 4D batteries. They're lower capacity than we'd prefer, but they're AGM-formats and we got a decent price. They won't arrive until later this week, so we'll have to hire the local electrician to install them. On the other hand, he'll have to hump those 100+ pound batteries up the ladder and down into the cabin! I won't miss that exercise.
Next season, the big project will be the new refrigerator installation. We've got the measurements that we need and I'll fabricate some extra mounts for the holding plate that we can modify on-site for a more custom fit. I simply did not have time to remove the old fridge parts.
We also must rejuvenate our water maker: season two on that task. We worked for several days on removing the end caps, but failed. We'll buy the recommended plugs and try again next season. We had taken a new reverse osmosis membrane with us, at great cost and hassle, but were told that the membrane would not survive in its packaging. We decided to buy an ABS pipe, cut it to length, and buy and cement some end caps. After filling the tube with the "pickling" compound mixed in some rain water (no chlorine in the membrane!), we dropped in the membrane and it's stored until next season.
There will be other challenges and tasks, of course, but those are the two that we know that we'll face.
19 September 2022 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Windy, rainy
Wings was pulled out of the water 9 days ago. As we've been working on Wings as she sits in her cradle, we've met some very interesting other cruisers.
Next door were Brita and Michael, Germans from Berlin. They speak English as well as we do, for heaven's sake, idioms and all. He's an architecture professor and she's a biochemist professor and they take sabbaticals from their teaching positions to go sailing. Shoot, their last 3-year sabbatical allowed them to circumnavigate!
Michael wrote a book and he gave us his last copy, and signed it: how nice is that? Michael, thank you. Of course, they can tell some interesting stories and both are very kind people.
We met the crew from Winsome in Apu Bay. Jay and Irwin dropped by in their dinghy and Jay said that she'd take our garbage ashore! What? They did and we all became friends, re-acquainting since they're in the same yard. Irwin is a double PE (professional engineer) in electrical and mechanical, and he was an engineer on a Navy nuclear sub for many years, then worked on nuclear power plants. He built Winsome over 40 years ago and has lived aboard her that entire time. Imagine! They're both bright and wonderful people.
Alfred and Anva are companions, we are told. She's Israeli, working on her master's degree from University of Tel Aviv in story telling. She interviewed us tonight for that project. I've never been interviewed but she's very good aa eliciting comments.
So, the yard is full of interesting and accomplished people, all brought together around love for the oceans and cruising. It's a strong attachment and makes for good friendships.
We've been working like crazy, arriving early and staying late, although we've also spent more time with friends than we usually do. Yesterday, Saturday, we were in a panic about not being far along enough, but today we made substantial progress and think that, perhaps, we'll be ready on Tuesday afternoon. On Tuesday, we fly from Raiatea to Papeete, then board the United flight to San Francisco. LaVerne will meet us there and take us to his place for a several day stay, and to help him celebrate his 96th birthday. Happy Birthday, LaVerne!
We can't get the proper glue for our dinghy's repair, so we've had to make due with caulk, for heaven's sake. All they have are white and black caulk, so any mistake is obvious. We've still got to buy and replace a bad valve on the dinghy, but can't do that this season.
Otherwise, we're plugging along, trying to get outside work completed while dodging the ever-present rain. Jeez, it's getting down to the wire and the weather has not relented.
Both sails down and packed, two of the three boat cover sections are up, and most tasks for the engine and below decks are complete. We had some bad gelcoat problems on the foredeck. Gelcoat is the stuff that you see when you look at a fiberglass boat: it's the very thin outer layer that provide color to the fiberglass. At any rate, the Careange worker is doing a superb job but leaving a big mess.
We leave tomorrow afternoon, as I said. I haven't written much since tearing down the boat is the same old thing. [I just brought in our next-to-last cup of cold instant coffee for the season!]
One last story is in order. Dominique told us about a leased catamaran that had lethal-ignorant crew. On Huahine, they were motoring toward Avea Bay and the male aboard decided to re-fuel as they were motoring. He grabbed a gas can instead of diesel, and poured into the bilge, or least most of it. Spark...BOOM! The hull exploded, sending him through the cable lifelines, dismembering him and throwing pieces into the water, although his family avoided the blast and leaped overboard. Since it was a lethal event, the wreck has been off-limits since last year, and Dominique finally got the request to move the wreck. He went out over the weekend with a crew and his tug. They raised the wreck with big air bags, and dragged it back to the yard where it sits, leaking diesel into the water. I'll post a photo or two when we return to Oakland. It's probably the most gruesome story that we've heard here.
We'll work today and some of tomorrow, pack, and be out of here tomorrow.
13 September 2022 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Extremely wet and windy
We're in the bungalow tonight, enduring unending rain, torrential downpours of it. Sheesh! This is winter and it's not supposed to be this way.
As you know, we got back to the Carenage on Friday and spent our first night in the bungalow that night. Hot, standup showers, air conditioned rooms, and a working refrigerator, all were most welcomed.
Let's see...what have we accomplished? We got the outboard prepared for layover: flushed of saltwater, foot lube changed, and Corrosion Block in the cylinder. The main engine is done, as is the transmission, new oil in both. We take oil samples from both and send them for analysis, and we got those taken. Conni's working below decks and above, cleaning and arranging, as well as sharing many tasks with me. Today, for example, she completed preparations for our anchor storage, disconnecting the chain from the anchor and stowing it in the anchor locker. All of our new electronics have had their software updated, they're cleaned and stowed. We got the boat power-washed in preparation for my painting the hull. I taped the water line today to allow me to begin as soon as it stops raining.
And an interesting process for removing the oil from the transmission. The drain plug for the trans is completely out of reach, unfortunately, so we use a "Handy Boy" pump to remove oil from the bottom of the trans. The problem is that it's a blind operation: we can't see where the pump tube is going, and only at the beginning of our trip this season did we finally luck into removing most of the oil. We tried yesterday but it was too frustrating to move the tube, pump unproductively, and then try again. We tried again today, with the same result, then thought of using our endoscope! We taped the pump tube to the endoscope, then poked them into the trans dipstick hole to see what we were doing. Hey, it worked! We retrieved 1.5L of oil from the trans, all that we were supposed to find there.
We've done some planning for the new fridge guts. We realized that we don't have the space for the cold plate that our preferred cooler uses, at least mounting it as it's recommended. I thought of an odd configuration and the fridge designer sees no problem with it, so we have a plan. It's exciting! We are looking at various insulation to reduce heat intrusion.
Today, in a brief spell of non-rain, we got the jib lowered and stowed. As the first boat on the new concrete section, we had a unique opportunity to spread the jib on clean concrete to get it properly rolled and packed.
Weather permitting, we'll get the main stowed, a milestone in our preparation. If I can get a few coats of pain on the hull, we'll be in great shape for next Monday's departure.
We've hit a wall with our old dinghy. The 34-year-old Avon has a bad valve and although I think that I can repair it next season, it's not possible this season. We need to re-attach the rub rail but have no glue since it's highly flammable so can't be transported. We're using caulk instead, but need the inflatable tubes to be inflated; something that we can't do just now. And about caulk: we buy it in Anchorage and keep tubes stowed aboard. All three of the tubes were dried after a year in the heat here. We'll just buy it hear and keep only what we will use. What a waste.
We did order the two new batteries today, too.
Return to the Bungalow
09 September 2022 | Pension Tiare Nui
To provide some context to our travels, we were in Ha'amene from 31 Aug to 1 Sept, then moved, or tried to move, to Fa'aroa Bay on Raiatea. That was a bust and we spent that night across the Raiatea/Taha'a lagoon, back on Taha'a in Apu Bay for 2-3 Sept: Great moorings, pretty good protection from wind.
For 4-5 Sept, we moored at Apoiti Bay, the charter base for French Polynesia. There are a lot of boats moored there, of course, and since it wasn't a turn-over day, many moorings were empty. It was SO nice that we spent two nights! We motored to shore a few times to buy baguettes, but Magazin Julien, the local small convenience store, had no ice and we had no fridge, unfortunately.
We motor-sailed from Apoiti Bay to Tapuamu, back on Taha'a for 6-7 Sept. They DO have ice, and a store large enough to provide some groceries. With ice, we could stock some yoghurt, sandwich bread, and a few other delicacies not possible with no refrigeration. I am now convinced that refrigeration is an essential piece of equipment aboard a cruising boat. We did get some rhum at Pari Pari, too, and I'll post some photos of that trip. I've had the page for a few days but Internet is difficult to find.
On 8 Sept, we motored through some heavy winds and seas, across the lagoon from Tapuamu to Apoiti Bay on Raiatea, hanging on to a mooring just to wait for a 1600 hours arrangement to get into the Carenage slip. We did spend the night of 8 Sept in the slip at the Careange. We had arranged to have help for tying up when we made it into the slip, but I guess that they forgot. I was at the helm and Conni was on the bow, watching my alignment with the slip: hair-raising! 15-18 knots of wind broad on the beam and shallows over coral providing only a few feet below the keel. Yikes! Nevertheless, we made it in and got the boat tied up: a first for us. The winds continued all night with lots of wave action making into the slip. We've NEVER had such a night in any slip, with the boat rocking and rolling continuously. Even in the slip, the boat surged side to side and fore and aft, tugging at the four lines that we had used to keep her in place. The four lines that kept the boat from crashing into the sides of the slip creaked and groaned continually all night, so neither of us had a restful night. Crazy!
That said, we did have a standup shower. albeit a cold one, and there was more shower water than we normally have. We got used to wiping down/sponge bath every night and taking showers ever third night, but it was astoundingly nice to take a long shower and not worry about water use. I hope that no one is offended.
This morning, Dominique's crew at the Careange lifted Wings from the water and placed her in a cradle in the newly-cemented section of the yard: the first boat to use that facility! As corny as it sounds, we know that Dominique meant it as an honor and we certainly took it that way. Dominique, thank you.
As a point of interest, the wrecked boat that we saw on Taha'a this season, the one outside Heuripiti Pass, was in the Careange yard when we arrived. As I had mentioned in the 9 Aug blog, it appeared that the sloop had turned into the pass too soon and waves had simply picked her up and slammed her on the reef. Dominique confirmed our guess. Surprisingly, the boat was a Sunsail charter boat. Sunsail, one of the largest charter fleets in the world, had contacted Dominique since they could not leave the boat on the reef.
Dominique had taken his tug over to Taha'a and, after jacking up the boat, placed an aluminum plate under the boat as she lay on the reef. With that, they dragged her to the inside of the reef where they made temporary repairs on the hull holes, re-floated her, and dragged her to the Careange behind the tug. Dominique's crew has been working for 2 weeks and he says that she'll be ready to launch next week! It surprised both Conni and me, but he said that she had damage that was easily repaired, although they had to remove the galley to repair some of the hull damage. Still, the boat survived and luckily for Sunsail, Dominique was nearby. No one was hurt, and the boat's repaired: a great outcome for a potentially lethal mistake.
We're here in Pension Tiare Nui again. We're in the cool, we're clean after stand-up, hot water showers, and sated on a fine meal and cocktails with ice. I suppose cruising does lower the bar on what we need for comfort.
02 September 2022 | Apu Bay
William Ennis | Very hot, windy
Tuesday, 30 Aug
We departed Bora Bora at 0900, but had enjoyed seeing friends the night before. We had befriended a couple from England here: Jeff and Doreen. We've come a long way but they've REALLY come a long way! We grabbed a cold shower at the Yacht Club, then had burgers and cocktails with them. We were up and moving early on Monday morning.
Weather and conditions between Bora Bora and Taha'a are never good, but they were as good as we could expect: 15 knot winds and 5-6-foot seas. Of course, we've been working trying to get our old fridge working and sometimes, after several hundred (no kidding) on/off cycles with the breaker, it manages to come on. We get ice where we can, but always hope for our fridge to survive. I was the lucky one on Monday, sitting down at the main panel switching the breaker...on-off...on-off...ON! Usually, Conni is the fridge-whisperer. We reached Tapuamu on Monday night and found a good mooring. We launched the dinghy and made our way to Pari Pari Rhum Distillery. As usual, we took the quick tour, bought a bottle or two of rhum, then headed back to Wings. Later, we made it into the tiny village of Tapuamu. Tapuamu has a single store and a gas station, but we managed to find everything on our wish list: baguette, yoghurt, sandwich bread, instant coffee (we drink it cold), and ice and gas at the gas station. We were set!!
We prepared the boat and dinghy for an early departure on Wednesday morning. Motoring to Haamene was uneventful other than the abysmal weather, even inside the lagoon. 20 knots of wind and heavy chop in the lagoon? It's not often that we see that, but it adds to our suspicion that climate change has come to the South Pacific.
Wednesday, 31 Aug
Conni's favorite bay in the Society Islands is Ha'amene, and she's right that it's ridiculously picturesque. It's a municipal hub for Taha'a, so there are offices for the entire island, as well as an elementary and high school. There's a small store and a few "snacks" or food stalls: not much. Taha'a is not a tourist destination.
We did find the mooring that we usually use, and it was still in decent shape. As I've mentioned many times, a well-maintained mooring is safe and they make it easy to moor and depart.
We splashed the dinghy and prepared to dine at our favorite restaurant in the Society Islands: Taha'a MaiTai. The owner, Bruno François, is a Cordon Blu-trained chef, who met a Taha'a woman in Paris and moved back with her. We have been concerned that his business had suffered because of CoVid restrictions, but he said that things had been OK with take-away food and a loyal local following. We were pleased for ourselves and for him.
Our meals were delicious and when I have some Internet, I'll post some photos. Toward the evening's end, he visited each of his dozen tables, and on visiting ours, he remembered us! How cool! We talked for a long time and finally departed after one of those one-time special evenings. Thanks, Bruno.
Thursday, 1 Sept
On our second day in Ha'amene, we were surprised to see WildStar, a big Tartan ketch, with Bonnie and Bob aboard and two friends. We've mentioned these two that we met in Avea Bay on Huahine. We didn't join them for another meal at Taha'a MaiTai, but did recommend it to them. Their guests, Jean Pierre and George, live in Paris, so they were excited about the opportunity to dine at MaiTai.
We had visited the village that day, grabbing a few groceries, but no ice was to be had. Neither of us could prevail upon our fridge to start, so we declared it dead. Task one for next season is to install a new fridge. It is astounding to us how it's changed our energy balance, though. Previously, even with our big batteries, we ran the generator every other day to keep up with the fridge demand, as low as it was. Now, our two solar panels give us spare energy and we can keep everything charged. Yes, we want another fridge because of the variety of food we can keep, but it'd be a different world without it.
On Thursday morning, we loaded the dinghy and headed for Raiatea.
Friday, 2 Sept
It was howling! Even at the far end of Ha'amene, the winds were 25 knots, causing us to creep out of the bay against it. We persevered and finally made it across the lagoon to Raiatea: Taha'a and Raiatea are in the same lagoon. Our original plan was to dock at Uturoa, the main village, and grab ice and some groceries, but the wind would have trapped us against the dock, not something that we will allow ever again. Been there, done that. We decided on staying in Fa'aroa, a bay so long that it almost bisects Raiatea. It has no services, but we thought that it might offer some protection from the wind.
We pushed toward it for a few hours, turned into the bay's mouth and headed in. Usually, Fa'aroa is long enough to shelter from almost any wind. Now we know: it's not shelter from an East wind. We found a mooring but the water was dangerously shallow. We tried to anchor, and still felt exposed. Should we drag anchor, we'd ground. We both decided to pull the hook and find other accommodations. At 3PM, we headed out against the wind, so another painful slog to windward.
The only bay that might offer protection was Apu back on Taha'a, so we headed there. It's a long haul, but in the direction toward Apu, the wind offered some propulsion that speeded us to Apu in 2 hours! Wow!
Our fear was that no moorings would be available since it was so late in the day, but on rounding the point, we found the bay had many still open. We snagged one inside the wind line and snugged in for the night. Instead of spending a dreadful night at anchor in Fa'aroa, requiring an anchor watch since the consequences of dragging anchor were so dire, we spent a fairly calm night on a mooring. The mooring ball somehow got caught on our bow, so at 10:30PM, I had to go lasso it, drag it around the bow, to keep it from banging the bow every few seconds. The collisions sounded like hammer blows on the hull, so I had to do something.
Other fugitives from the wind here in Apu included crews from several boats whom we have met: Ocean, Nanook (Canadian, as you might guess), Winsome, Sailing Teatime, and a few others. Hi, friends.
It appears that our fridge is, as the Oz coroner decreed, "Not just merely dead but really most sincerely dead!" C'est la vie, I suppose. We get pulled from the water on 7 Sept, so we have only 4 days of no cold food, but last night our supper consisted of all the cheese and saucisson (sausage) that Conni had purchased for our cocktail hours. She also prepared two cocktails that were delicious but without ice. I've been reading the manual for the new fridge and I'll have to replace the old wire with new marine wire of larger diameter, but that's the main problem. Otherwise, it'll be a simple replacement.
Another failure is our water maker. The actual membrane through which salt water is pushed under pressure, separating the fresh water from the brine, resides in a strong steel tube. The end caps must be removed to replace the membrane and after several weeks of trial, we still can't get the end caps off. We've contacted the designer and he's been unable to suggest any methods that don't require supplies that are simply unavailable to us. I'll determine exactly what we need and be a lot more prepared next season, but we're both miffed at our inability to complete this job. I think that the designer should have warned us of this possibility and suggested some of the obvious parts that would have helped, but we're here and I'll have to bring things from the US. Sigh.
28 August 2022 | Bora Bora Yacht Club
William Ennis | Hot, rainy
been here for several days now, enjoying the beautiful Bora Bora. Once again, we're on a mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht Club, to which we can dinghy for very cold showers now and again. We can get Internet when we drop by for a beer, so what's not to like? We got our laundry done, too, although it took 3 days for them to have it ready. Island life!
On Saturday, yesterday, we rented bicycles and rode several miles along the belt road. I got to snorkel at a public beach. It must have been fantastic when the stag horn coral was alive, but it's all gone but broken pieces. They've also built a very nice bath house, with a nice restroom and shower area, although in true Polynesian style, it's a both-gender room.
From there, we could walk, down the road to the Lucky House, our favorite pizza place on the island. We've eaten there for years and taken guests there, too. They have a wood-fired oven for their pizza and they have a rotating list of interesting pizzas from which to choose. At any rate, it's a favorite and after 5-6 miles cycling in the heat, a welcome respite.
We cycled back to the Hotel Intercontinental Bora Bora-Moana. It's older but very exclusive and expensive. We got an entire pizza for the price of a single drink there, for heaven's sake. This is one of those fancy hotels with "bungalows over the water": hey, we've got one of those!
After cocktails, we biked back to Viatape, hopped in our dinghy, and motored to Wings.
The weather has stabilized a bit and it's been very sunny the past few days: very hot, in fact. We've tried to stay out of the sun so some of our deck work has gone wanting. I have replaced the teak bungs that cover the screws that hold the teak deck in place. I completed 8 today and will trim them to deck height tomorrow. The time-consuming part of the work is to reduce the diameter of the teak bungs from the package to the size needed to fill the deck holes. I remove and replace the old screws with new stainless steel ones, the caulk them before driving them home. After the bungs are suitably sized, I glue them in place. The new bungs are teak cylinders so I must and all the sides to acquire a decent and watertight fit.
We get pulled from the water on Sept 6, 9 days from now. It's hard to imagine, really. We'll return to the Raiatea/Taha'a lagoon on Aug 30 or 31, depending on weather. From there, we can visit one or two more locations before we must be at the Careange slip. Then, 10 days of effort to ready the boat for over-season, and we're out of here. Yep, we're thinking of that already.
We're still fighting with the fridge. When it goes off, it's very difficult to get it back on. It usually entails shits of our flipping the breaker on and off until the fridge is on, a process lasting 15-20 minutes, usually. When it's on, it runs well, but it's hard to manage.
The weather gods have decided: We're out of here tomorrow.