These are the voyages of the sailing vessel, Wings.

19 June 2017 | Hurepiti Bay
10 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
09 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
08 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
06 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
05 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
05 June 2017 | Fare Lagoon, Huahine, French Polynesia
01 June 2017 | Marina near Uturoa, Raiatea, French Polynesia
30 May 2017 | Tapuamu Bay, Taha'a
26 May 2017 | Mooring at the Hibiscus Hotel, Taha’a, French Polynesia
22 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
20 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
18 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
17 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
16 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
14 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
13 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Bungalow D Raiatea, French Polynesia
13 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
12 May 2017 | Los Angeles International Airport
08 May 2017 | Anchorage, AK

We Return to Wings 2020

09 July 2020 | Anchorage, AK
William Ennis | Finally sunny
As I sit here at home in Alaska with fog softening every view, I look back on a year that never appeared in my wildest dreams: a global pandemic. Regardless of what you might think of the handling of the US situation, and I'm not a fan, we are now poised on 130,000 American deaths. As a 71-year-old male, I am a prime candidate for dying of this disease and am aware of the risks of the transportation to French Polynesia. Note that I say, "transportation to" rather than, "stay in". French Polynesia effectively handled their few cases and implemented what some might say were draconian methods of reducing their population's risk. They closed their borders, stopped both flights and vessel traffic among their many islands, and expelled all non-residents until 15 July. We depart on 17 July. If we make it through the flights, we're much safer in French Polynesia than here. Entry to French Polynesia requires a negative CoVid test within 72 hours of a flight.

Another issue, although a much more pleasant one, is our new suite of instruments. As an employee (part time but for many years) of West Marine, I was eligible for a discount from B&G, a manufacturer of marine electronics that focus on sailors' special needs. We purchased a new chart plotter (Zeus3-9"), new radar (HALO 20+), depth sounder (DST800L), GPS antenna with compass, wireless wind instrument (not yet arrived), and a Triton2 digital display. In May, we discovered that we could use the Navico program and, fearful that the program would be eliminated before our purchase, we jumped into action. Be aware that we had no thought to buy new instruments so I had made no measurements, taken no photos, nor arranged in any way to acquire the information that I would have collected had this purchase been planned.

The new instruments use a different and newer protocol, NMEA2000. It's faster and considerably more robust than our current network, but requires considerable thought about installation. Additionally, the old instruments are from Raymarine, so use their proprietary protocols and hardware. All of that will be removed except the autopilot. It works and the B&G version is very expensive, so I've worked on a solution for adding the old Raymarine autopilot to our new system. Will it work? I hope so.

To prepare for buying network parts, I found a "floor plan" for Passport 40s and was able to make careful measurements of those plan dimensions. Then, I used proportion to find dimensions of our boat, and that allowed me to plan for the number and location of new cabling. Will it work? I hope so.

With new instruments to be installed and old ones to be discarded, I've had to design and fabricate several pieces: a helm-display box to hold the new instruments, various brackets to the boxes, and many small but important pieces of metal and plastic.

So, we're committed to this season in FP. Hopefully, we won't have as huge a task as our engine replacement last year, but anything is possible. As usual, I must take every single part with me since there are no sources whatsoever on Raiatea, our "home island". We've traveled by air in the US, both of us taking all precautions, so we feel that we'll survive the possible Coronavirus contacts during the flight, and French Polynesia (FP) is CoVid free at this point. Interestingly, we cannot board the flight from LAX to Papeete, FP without a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours. Recognizing that time difficulty, Tahiti Air has partnered with a local clinic and that clinic offers 24/7 testing and promises results within the prescribed times. We will arrive in LAX in the evening, pack our stuff into a local airport hotel, then traipse off to a 0100 hours appointment for our CoVid tests. Afterward, we return to the hotel for three days until we (hopefully!) receive our negative test results, clearing us for the next day's flight to Papeete. We'll stay sequestered in the hotel room since we can't afford to catch CoVid in Los Angeles. We're both sad that we can't make use of the cultural events and locations in LA, but many are closed or cancelled, and we can't afford the chance, anyway. We're unsure of how or where we'll eat, but we'll just do the best that we can to preserve our health.

This is a much later departure in the season, of course, so we'll delay our return to the US until late September. With any luck, we'll have installed all of the electronics, worked on the multiple other tasks that we had identified last season, and had a few weeks of sailing together.

As always, wish us luck.

Last Day in French Polynesia

19 August 2019 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Very hot for winter
We depart Raiatea and French Polynesia on Tuesday, tomorrow, so we're near the end of this trip.

We did spend some time this morning cleaning our packing mess in the room and such, but then headed to the boat. Back to the salt mines.

Conni's main task today was to re-caulk the mast as it enters the cabin top. There's a "boot", as it's called, a vinyl cone that spans between the mast with a smaller diameter and the mast ring, a larger diameter. To hold the mast firmly in the mast ring, small wooden wedges are hammered into the space. Conni had to pound them in more firmly, then use two tubes of caulk to fill the space between the mast ring and the mast itself. She did a great job but she covered the mast, the ring, the mast boot, and herself, along with assorted tools and sail bags, with white caulk. I would have taken a photo of her and her nest of caulk, but her glare quickly changed my mind.

I used contractor's garbage bags to seal, or try to seal, each chain plate and Conni did the same for the mast, even with the new caulking job. Hopefully, we've done enough to stop our mast leak problem.

It's hot today, very hot, and it drains our energy quickly, so we were both struggling as we put the final two pieces of boat cover in place, placed the lock in the companionway hatch, and climbed down the ladder for the last time this season.

We depart at 0800 on Tuesday, so we've got to get packed and be ready to go much earlier than usual.

When we arrive in Papeete after the 45-minute flight, we grab our boxes and gear and I'll take a taxi to Marina Taina where I'll fetch our port-side chock, the bronze piece that allows dock lines to pass through the teak cap rail. As I mentioned, a low tide snatched the piece from the boat and it landed the water. I sent an email to a dive shop, Fluid Dives, and one of their kind divers found it and have it saved for us. I offered US$100, and although the diver, Cyrille, found it just to be helpful, we'll pay him anyway. That kind of kindness strengthens my confidence in humanity. We board the Big Bird to return to the US a bit later in the day.

Wednesday night, we'll be back in Oakland with Conni's dad, dead tired but safely in the States.

We're still digesting all that happened this trip: the engine change process in particular. I'll have to consider that topic for awhile.

We found that the leaks where our mast passes through the cabin top has caused some serious rotting to the mast step. We use "Git Rot", a penetrating epoxy treatment that we'll repeat seasonal from here on. I've got some interior painting and varnishing to do

As I was thinking about all of this maintenance, I realized that by the time that I have become aware of the places to look for problems and have some storehouse of solutions, we'll sell the damned boat! There are so many place to have problems on a cruising sailboat in tropical environments. Saltwater and plentiful rain cause or find pathways into the interior as they have for more natural features throughout time. With a 35-year-old boat, the problems multiply. The case in point is the leakage problem. It's a work in progress.

An Evening to Remember

16 August 2019 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Hot and humid
When we arrived at the Carenage, among the boats near to us was a one-off owned and sailed by an older guy named Larry. He came by and introduced himself to us and invited us for a sundowner: a cocktail.

We work hard in the heat, so when 1700 rolled around, we were ready for a break and climbed aboard his boat. It was a wonderful evening, listening to his stories of tavels around the world: the Near East, Far East, and points in between. He's in his late seventies, I imagine, and still at it. He doesn't single-hand, but finds compatible crew as he travels.

We skipped his invitation last night but on our last Friday night, we decided to accept. We had given him 10 gallons of diesel and 3 gallons of gas that we didn't want to keep over the season so didn't feel bad about drinking his wine and beer. We climbed aboard at the usual 1700 hours and I started in on his HInano, although he and Conni shared a bottle of white wine. They began to talk about wine and another of his many jobs was at a winery in...Missouri! Conversations with Larry lead to countless stories of his travels and his life that surprise and amaze. It was a great evening.

Conni and I had also planned to have a meal at a roulotte, one of the food wagons, and it was after 2000 hours before we climbed down the ladder from Larry's boat. We drove into town, planning to have a meal at the same roulotte at which we had eaten when we began the season and were commissioning the boat.

There' a burger joint in town, "Tonton Burger" that's rarely open, or at least it's never consistently open during the day. We wondered how it survived being closed so frequently. Low and behold, it was open as we drove past! We swerved into the parking lot, our last burger having been at the Pink Coconut in Marina Taina during the first week we were there. As we entered the open air restaurant, we heard then saw a 7-person ukulele band! The secret of Tonton Burger seems to be that they're open at night! Who knew? The band was great, with two women with one on spoons, one guitar, and four ukulele players, one of whom played an 8-string instrument and he was a superb musician and the obvious leader. they sang in Polynesian and there were always new people in the restaurant listening. We got our burger and fries and as much local music as we could want. It was glorious! I snapped a few surreptitious photos that I'll post soon.

I've winnowed the engine parts that I want to take home and sell: they're all in our room, ready to be weighed and packed. Most of the boat work is done, although some large projects remain, such as Conni's mast work. We dropped by our sailmaker's business and fetched our dinghy storage bag. Madame Faux, laughed the the bag was large enough for both she and Conni to be stored inside it, and it was! At 28-inches in diameter and 5-feet tall, Conni would certainly fit. Still, it's a great fit for our dinghy and keeps it from sun and weather damage and since we leave the dinghy stored on deck. Both of our sails and now the dinghy reside on-deck in a Madame Faux-built bag.

After this evening, we're back at work.

Work in the Heat

15 August 2019 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Been hot!
This is our second night in Pension Tiare Nui and, holy smokes is it nice! Air conditioned room, hot shower, room to spread and sort our stuff: I know that it's a low bar, but when one works all day in humid heat, it's a miracle to suddenly be clean and cool and stay that way all night.

Conni went up the mast today and removed the Windex (a purely mechanical wind direction indicator) and our electronic wind sensor. They don't need to be in the wind and sun for so many months so we remove them at the end of each season. She can also check nuts and bolts on her way up and down the mast. Several years ago, she discovered that our radar mount was loose so the i could get it fixed before a catastrophe.

Both main and jib are down and stowed. The same with our dinghy, although Madame Faux, our wonderful sail maker, is fabricating a dinghy storage bag for us out of material that we bought and brought with us. We hope that the bag provides sun and rain protection during the hot season as the bags do that she made for our two sails.

Conni's remaining big on-deck chore is to modify our mast boot system so it doesn't leak like a sieve. She got some hints and suggestions from a good rigger in Marina Taina and we both hope for the best. At the least, the bilge pump works on automatic, so if we continue to get leaks, we can rid the boat of the water.

We got the Honda generator prepared for storage, and the Mercury outboard, too: two big tasks for me. All in all, we had a successful day.

Wednesday, we continued our work on decommissioning the boat. Now that the big items are done, things move more slowly. Conni worked on various on-deck chores and helped me with "summer-izing" our new engine. It didn't go smoothly since it was our first time, but we're done. It did take several hours of Conni's time, though, and we depart the island on Tuesday morning. Yikes!

We fetch our newly-made dinghy bag tomorrow and Conni works on the mast leak and scrubs the hull at waterline. I've got some fabrication chores to do since the engine installation changed a lot of structures in the boat and we're not sure we'll remember to make the changes next year.

The Last Night on Wings, probably...

11 August 2019 | Apooiti Bay
William Ennis | Hot!
We were up at 0630 this morning in preparation to leaving Avea Bay. Stowing gear, checking weather, all of the various tasks had to be completed. We had planned to stow the dinghy on deck but realized that the early hour would mean that we awakened the entire mooring field, so we just removed and stowed the outboard and prepared to drag the dinghy a suitable distance to bring it on deck.

Conni had deployed over 100-ft of anchor chain, as well as our 64-pound anchor, so it was a task to bring it all on board. As usual with an anchor set as good as this, we had to take up all of the chain and then then motor past the anchor to lever it out of the sand. In the end, up it came, covered and flowing with fine, fine white sand. I had the helm as we motored out of Avea, past Bourayne Bay, then through the very complex routes dictated by coral and the channel markers. In 2 hours, we had negotiated the entire system all the way to Fare where we found a suitably low-wind location and brought aboard the dinghy. Finally prepared, we headed to Raiatea, 25 nautical miles away.

After a few hours of motoring, the wind arose and we were able to sail most of the way to Raiatea, arriving a few hours ahead of our schedule. Through the labyrinth of coral and channels to Apooiti, although we did motor past it to check for moorings nearer our destination of the Raiatea Carenage. No luck.

So, back to Apooiti for the night, picking up a mooring.

If we are in luck, we will get pulled from the water tomorrow and this is the last night on the boat. Amazing.

A Cruisers' Day

10 August 2019 | Avea Bay, Huahine
William Ennis | Lovely but warm
This is our last day on Huahine and our last day in Avea Bay. BoooHooo.

We were up at 0800 and just hung until 1100 or so, drinking coffee, reading, and talking. It was a lazy day. Yesterday, I gathered my snorkel gear and went over the side, but after a half-hour, the current worried me and I returned. Today, we jumped in the dinghy and motored to the Mahana Resort dinghy dock to make reservations for tonight's meal, then hiked to the local market in an attempt to get a baguette. You can't expect a baguette at 1130 and we were SOL!

After that disappointment, we hiked back toward the resort and found our snorkeling spot. I enjoyed a few hours of seeing the sights while Conni read ashore. Most of the coral here is dead, unfortunately and the bottom was covered in what I guess were sea cucumbers. With apologies, they looked like fields of turds. Odd looking creatures with one end secreting pellets of what looked like sand (the rear end I guess) and the other end with small black "feelers" that looked like tiny black cloves. I suppose that they eat coral and sand and secrete the non-organic stuff. They looked like they were attacking the coral but perhaps they were simply taking advantage of dead or dying coral. With the coral gone, there were few fish, either.

During a potty break at the resort, Conni found that the pubic restrooms had showers, so our plan was to motor over 15 minutes before Happy Hour started, shower, then enjoy cocktails then dinner, and so we did. Hot showers! Not since we left Raiatea 7 weeks ago have we had a hot shower and it was glorious. Our cocktails were superbly made, each of us enjoying a MaiTai, then sharing a ChiChi. The snack was tiny slivers of fresh coconut served on a shell. Lovely!

For dinner, I ordered the slab of tuna in anchovy sauce, since it sounded unusual. Conni had a slab of baked Wahoo (King Mackeral) with bacon and a sweet pepper sauce. Both were beautifully prepared and quite unusual. Dessert was coconut creme brulé served in a coconut shell.
Vessel Name: Wings
Vessel Make/Model: Passport 40
Hailing Port: Anchorage, Alaska
Crew: William Ennis and Constance Livsey
About: We've been married since 1991, and both retired from our respective jobs (teacher and attorney) after long careers. We live in the most exotic of the United States: Alaska. We cruise on Wings for half the year, enjoying our home state the other part of the year.
We've sailed Wings Southward from Alaska since August, 2010. We joined the BajaHaha from SoCal to Mexico in 2012. We joined the Pacific Puddle Jump in 2013 and crossed the Pacific Ocean. Wings "over-summered" in French Polynesia. We continued our journey through western French Polynesia, [...]
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