Mo’Orea to Tahiti to Mo’Orea

Saturday morning we got up early, secured dink at the hotel, and wandered across the road to the tour operator to await our pick up.   The 4WD open-backed truck arrived and we took off – we were the last people to be collected so we said hi to the all English-speaking group (New Zealand, USA and UK).

We immediately headed around the island and up Magic Mountain.   The path was paved and it went straight up with very tight switchbacks and huge drop offs – it looked barely big enough to carry us.   Then we parked up and had to walk up a very steep footpath to get to the top but it was definitely worth the effort as the scenery was spectacular looking over the reef and out to the deep water beyond. 

We drove back down the mountain to our next stop at the pineapple plantation.   They are really small here and you can eat everything including the core, all of which is very sweet and soft.  I was interested to see that they plant citronella bushes amongst the pineapples to ward off bugs.  

We then went to the agricultural college area – admiring spectacular mountain scenery along the way – where there was a little shop which offered us free tastings of jams and marmalades made from local produce.   We absolutely loved the pineapple and vanilla jam so that was a welcome addition to our boat stores.    Oh yes and the vanilla ice cream was stunning too!

We then moved on to visit the black sand bay of Opunoho which is beautiful and definitely on our list of potential anchorages…..its backdrop is another spectacular volcanic crater. Interestingly there is a prawn/shrimp farm here which supplies the whole island.  

Back in our trusty truck we headed up to the Belvedere lookout where you get more beautiful views across mountains and down to the two main bays of the island.  

On the way down the mountain from the lookout we went to visit a Marae (a Polynesian temple) and listened to the tales of sacrifice and the communication with the gods of the earth, sky and sea before the people converted to Christianity on the arrival of the London Society missionaries.   We wandered around the site and enjoyed checking out the huge trees and ferns.

Next stop was the local distillery where we tried a variety of rum-based pre-mixed cocktails – and ended up buying two one-litre cartons to take back on board.   The one we preferred was made with pineapple, passion fruit, orange and pamplemousse (grapefruit) which kept it from being too sweet.  I wanted to try the local pineapple wine but they didn’t offer this at the tasting and, at £30 a bottle, was a little expensive when we were unsure of its taste…so we decided not to purchase any.  I’m hoping to come across it somewhere further in our travels so I can actually get to taste it.

The final part of the tour was to a pearl shop which was opposite the Bali Hai – so rather than continue in the truck which was only now going to drop off the other tourists at their hotels – we decided to leave the tour at this point.   We returned to Bali Hai for lunch which was OK but the average food was more than made up for by the surroundings….including the chicken waiting patiently for handouts.  Morphie loves this anchorage!

Later on we bobbed in the pool until some kids turned up and played tag….so then went into the sea and bobbed there instead from the little beach.  We were joined by an Australian couple called Mary and James who we had a laugh with….they were guests in the hotel…..and they bobbed with wine while we continued drinking our beer.   It had been a great day.

Quite late, just before dark, we returned to Morphie to find that our batteries were very low.   We decided to run the engine rather than the generator as the sound doesn’t carry so far and we didn’t want to annoy our neighbours.   The engine started great….and the batteries improved….but didn’t go as high as they should have.   We went to bed hoping that they would last through the night – and I changed the settings on the fridge and freezer to ensure that they wouldn’t draw too much power.

During the flat calm of the night – this anchorage is so amazing it feels like you are sleeping on land – we awoke a couple of times and checked the batteries.   Well, they were fading fast, so I ended up switching the fridge and freezer off so that the Lifeline AGM batteries – which have a memory – didn’t get too low and end up damaged.

Very early Sunday morning we started the engine again.  This time the batteries did not respond – clearly something had gone wrong with our alternator / charging system.   Mindful of a meat-filled freezer we decided to return to Tahiti so that we could plug into shore power in the marina whilst troubleshooting the problem.

Decision made we picked up our anchor….and it got stuck!    We manoeuvred around a bit and, eventually, it came up.  Phew….     We then motored out of the pass and the battery charger kicked in so looked like an intermittent issue – and just turned towards Tahiti (still motoring) when the fan belt broke!   Richard went down to install a new one while I kept watch as we were being swept closer to the reef – eventually I decided that the waves were growing and the wind wasn’t that strong – so pulled out the genoa, went 90 degrees to the coast and sailed away giving us more wiggle room.   Richard surfaced having put a new fan belt on, we restarted the engine, and turned back towards Tahiti.   Phew!

We arrived at the marina and Bill – surprised to see us again so soon – came down to help us tie up.   We checked in and agreed to meet him later for Happy Hour.  We got busy washing Morphie down and plugged her in.  We also arranged for Guy to come by on Monday morning to help Richard do the trouble shooting.   We stripped the bed – might as well make the most of the access to washing machines whilst in the marina – and eventually had an early dinner, got ourselves cleaned up and headed to the Bora Bora lounge.   We had a nice few hours there chatting…..

Monday morning and Guy was due to arrive so I took myself off to the cruisers lounge along with the laundry….and persevered with the rubbish internet….trying to get on top of a few things.    Guy and Richard, in the meantime, could not replicate the charging fault.   So they decided to swap the alternator out for a new one – seems like we have used pretty much every spare we brought with us this year LOL.   I gave up on the internet, returned with the laundry and then took myself off shopping….and got some fresh bread, fruit and vegetables from the market.   I also got out some more drinking vouchers from the ATM.

Returning to Morphie I was pleased to find that everything was working as it should and Guy headed off.   Whilst in the engine compartment, though, they had noticed that a diesel fuel line was getting a bit worn so Richard headed off to buy some more hose while I put things away and tidied up.    Richard came back, fitted the hose, and we’re good to go.   We headed to the 3 Brasseurs, caught up with some more people and had a chat, then headed over to the Roulettes for another Chinese!   Fantastic food…..

Tuesday morning and we were up early and pulled away from Papeete Marina, Tahiti, hopefully for the last time!    The trade winds decided to switch on us so we ended up motoring the 19 miles right into the wind getting rolled around by the swell……   But we were delighted to be back out there again.   We pulled into Cook’s Bay, anchored in 70 feet of water this time, and decided to go out in dink.   Here’s the view of the Bali Hai from the cockpit.

We explored the bay, checked out a couple of hotels and restaurants, and even went behind the reef around the corner to a little village but failed to find anywhere to tie up and go ashore.   So we poodled back to Morphie and had a quiet night on board.

Wednesday morning and we decided that as this anchorage is so calm – apart from when we get buzzed by tourists on jet skis – we will do our varnishing here.   So we spent the morning going around the rail looking for ‘keepers’ and taped up.   In the meantime someone is shouting and waving at us from one of the water bungalows and it is Mary….   So we took ourselves over to see her and made arrangements to return later.

At around 4pm we took dink over to their water bungalow and had a lovely time catching up with them.    They were very pleased to see us again and it was nice to have company after a day’s work in the sun.    We took our own beer but they provided nibbles – we had a really good laugh – and they invited us back for a bobbing session on Thursday afternoon once we had finished our chores.

Thursday morning we were up early and were horrified to read that the American family we had first met in Panama and had been bumping into regularly along the way had hit a reef hard in Huahine in the night and had to be airlifted off the boat.   At this moment their large catamaran is still on the uncharted reef being bashed by waves and they are trying to find out whether it is salvageable.   Our heart goes out to them about the potential loss of their boat but just grateful that all seven of them are safe and well.   Fingers crossed it can be recovered and repaired so that they can continue their journey around the world….

In a sombre mood, we got on with rubbing down – all of the wood under the rail, the eyebrows and keepers only on the main rail.    We got this done and then Richard went round and varnished while I chilled for a while.   Later on I made some nibbles and we headed over for a bobbing session with Mary and James.   We had another lovely evening…..and they had made us promise to return on Friday as it is their last day before they head over to Tahiti.   They have a week booked on a crewed catamaran after that so you never know, we might still bump into them again!    And we have promised to visit them when we reach Australia…..

Friday morning we were up really early and rubbed down again trying to do most of the hard graft before the sun is high in the sky.    Richard finished under the rail while I started blogging….we’ve just had breakfast….and now he is varnishing while I get this finished.   Later on we are going to say our farewells to Mary and James but will be back on board before dark tonight as they need to pack and get ready for a very early start to the airport in the morning.   

Saturday will be the final varnishing day for now and then, once we have removed the tape, I want to go round and give the stainless some attention.    Not sure yet what we’ll do next but probably move to another anchorage on this beautiful island of Mo’Orea (its Polynesian spelling).

Bye for now

Jan 

Tahiti to Moorea

Saturday night we headed into town and were tempted by the sounds coming from 3 Brasseurs – there was a live band on so we found a table and settled down to watch their performance.  They were really good….singing a range of songs from local Tahitian through to reggae and hard rock.   Excellent!    The guy in the front of the photo, apparently, is a groupie that follows the band around and dances all night.  Bill had been to see the Heiva show and joined us later for a beer.   Was another fun night in Papeete.

Sunday we had a quiet day on board cleaning and tidying and didn’t venture out at all apart from to the marina lounge to catch up on emails etc.   Oh yes…and remember the heavily-armed gendarmes who were looking for GoldenAge in Hiva Oa??   Well, looks like the law caught up with them – the word on the street is that it is up for sale as it has been confiscated by the authorities!!!  

Monday morning and we hit the shops again.   First stop was the internet café where we managed to get our printing and copying done – hugely expensive – but we are set all the way to New Zealand now with just a few boxes to fill in by hand when they are known.    Relieved that is out of the way.    Oh yes and I bought some pearls!!!!!   Sadly couldn’t afford these amazing designs.   But Christmas is coming…..

Back on board Richard finished his anchor locker project – it looked really good.  In the afternoon we spent some time doing some navigation and weather studying in preparation for our future passages.  We’ve identified islands we fancy visiting including a couple of uninhabited reef atolls on the way.  Everything is weather dependent especially as we will be crossing the ‘Dangerous Middle’ which is subject to the vagaries of the South Pacific Convergence Zone which is a moving area full of high winds and thunderstorms.   The knack is to identify where it is….so we’ve been boning up on that as we get ready to start moving on again.

In the evening we went out with Bill for dinner at the 3 Brasseurs – great food – and huge pitchers of beers.    We had a fun time but managed to get Bill a bit tipsy and had to walk him back to his boat later.   Oops LOL!

Tuesday we had a quiet day on board after the partying of the last few days and did a few boat jobs before having a movie night.    Appropriately, considering where we are, we watched Walt Disney’s Moana.   It is a great animated film about the people of this region with recognisable dancing, hand movements and traditional songs.   The giant magic fish hook even appeared in one of the dances we saw at the Heiva….so well done Disney for authenticity.

Wednesday morning I did laundry and we went shopping for the final time.    Later on Richard went up the mast to install a new block for our safety line which we will also use to lift dink onto the bow and to check our rigging. 

All being well we then headed into town for a final bit of sightseeing.   We enjoyed the street art….

We also visited the Catholic Cathedral where the flowers were stunning….

Oh yes…did I tell you about the large numbers of homeless people sleeping rough in Papeete?  I think this local guy is just sleeping off his excesses though LOL.

Later on we headed over to the Bora Bora Lounge for a mini Island Packet rendezvous with Linus and Janet with their daughter Sophie, Bill and ourselves.   Later on we headed over to the Roulettes where we enjoyed our final Chinese meal and said our farewells to Bill.

Thursday morning we got up early and used the last of our credit on the dock to give Morphie a wash down.   At 10 am we slipped away from our slip towards Moorea having got clearance to exit through the Papeete Pass.   

We said our sad farewells to Tahiti and, once we had cleared the pass and were out in open water, we did a seatrial calibration of our autopilot.   So if you were wondered why our track was a little weird that’s why LOL.  

Was a little swelly out there…..here was another boat (coincidentally an Australian-registered Island Packet) coming towards us….watch him disappear…..

We admired the coastline of Moorea before heading through the reef into the bay.

Cook’s Bay  – named after Captain Cook who arrived here in his square rigger in 1777 – is absolutely spectacular!  

We motored around a bit looking for shallower water and eventually dropped our hook in 60 foot of water in the middle of the bay opposite the Bali Hai Hotel.   Richard’s project worked perfectly so thankfully no worries about the anchor chain hitting the windlass motor in future.   Good job!   We had a quiet afternoon and evening on board just enjoying the solitude and the peace and quiet after the noise of Papeete.

Friday morning we got dink off the bow, cleaned and pumped him up, got the outboard off the rail and reinstated it.    Everything worked as it should thankfully.   We headed across to the hotel – checked out the restaurant and the pool – and then wandered the street. 

We found a Chinese supermarket but were too late to get fresh bread this being a holiday – Bastille Day.   We enjoyed the view of the bay from the road and, having found a tour company, booked a 4WD tour into the mountains for tomorrow. 

We then returned to Morphie for a quiet afternoon on board.   We are very happy that, for the first time in a long while, we actually have free internet from the hotel as we are close enough to pick up the signal.   It is very slow and spotty but definitely an improvement LOL.

Morphie is happy here in this beautiful place…check out these photos of her at anchor.

We are planning an early night tonight in preparation for our day out tomorrow.   While I’m sitting in the cockpit typing this I can hear singing from shore where a choir are clearly practising for their slot in the Heiva competition.   What a lovely distraction!   

Bye for now

Jan

Having fun in Papeete, Tahiti

Sunday was boat cleaning day so we cleaned and tidied before heading out for Happy Hour.   Whilst there we caught up with a Swiss couple whom we had previously met in Hiva Oa – amazing stories from cruising Patagonia, Chile and Brazil – and they’ve only been out for three years!  We had a nice social evening.  

Monday morning we headed off to see our agent – who turned up late and had forgotten to get our inter-island clearance for us.   This is needed before we can leave to explore the other Society Islands.    Never mind – best laid plans and all that.   By this time it was late so our plans to head to the French restaurant near Carrefour for breakfast and internet had been thwarted.   So instead we headed to the municipal building armed with supplies from the supermarket along the way.  We made camp and that is pretty much where we stayed for the day.   We had a long list of documents that we needed to download so that we can fill them in and send them off in advance of our future destinations – bureaucracy gone mad!!!    Check out the size of the welcome pack from New Zealand as an example.

About four we decided we had had enough – despite not completing the list of tasks that we had set ourselves – and headed back to Morphie.   We got ourselves cleaned up and went to the Dinghy Dock for Happy Hour.    There was a large family group of locals who were singing, dancing and just generally having fun.  Their melodies were fabulous…..we thoroughly enjoyed listening to them….and they clearly enjoyed entertaining the audience. 

Tuesday we did exactly the same as Monday camping out at the municipal building.   Finally, by the end of the day, we felt like we had enough information from a variety of cruiser compendiums, additional pilot guides, online chartlets for anchorages etc as well as finding a great app specifically for Tonga with local knowledge.    Pilot guides and charts in this region are sketchy and our main book – Warwick Clay’s South Pacific Anchorages – although recommended and we have one on board we are not keen.    

On top of our continued internet frustrations our printer decided to quit as it has no ink in the yellow printer cartridge even though I only want to print in black – a safety feature apparently and despite online workarounds – including changing the driver – none of them would work for me.   Very frustrating when the black cartridge is full to the brim as I only swapped it out earlier in the season.   That means no photocopying either but, at least, we can still scan.   After another tiring day in front of our screens we took ourselves off for Happy Hour and had a good time despite being caught by Carl the constantly-drunk single-hander LOL.

Wednesday morning we picked up our inter-island clearance document and headed to Carrefour for a final shop.   We had lunch at the French restaurant first, this place does great food, and returned to Morphie with additional beer and soft drink supplies.   We put all the shopping away, did the laundry, and final preparation for the morning including engine checks – as we were finally leaving Marina Taina after almost a month!  Woo hoo – very excited….    Well, we wandered in for happy hour, had a couple and then walked back to Morphie but got enticed to the Pink Coconut by the music we could hear and it was our favourite group again doing another set.  So we settled down and enjoyed the music until they finished at ten.

Thursday morning we were up early, paid the hefty marina bill, phoned the Papeete Marina to confirm they had space for us and headed out into the channel admiring the scenery and the colours of the water as we went.   We sought Port Captain authority to pass both ends of the runway – this is very carefully controlled – and we were just through when a plane took off.   

We finally pulled into the marina having travelled a huge five miles or so LOL.   We pulled into a slip, got settled and I went and checked in.  All sorted except that, apparently, the slip we are in is ‘too big’ for us so they asked us to move.   So we moved…..and got settled again into another ‘smaller’ slip.   So much for first come first served eh?!? 

Later on in the afternoon we got ourselves cleaned up and headed towards the House of Culture where the tickets for the Heiva festival where being sold and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the boardwalk areas along the way.     

Heiva pays tribute to the Polynesian traditions; their harmony with nature; and the transmission to future generations.   It is a huge event and attracts contestants from many Polynesian islands and countries.   There are dance, chant and singing competition nights with both sports events and arts and crafts competitions going on in different districts / islands throughout the day.   We managed to get two side-view tickets in the stadium for £15 each for Friday night’s singing and dancing competition and then wandered through the artisan village admiring the local crafts – largely shell and pearl jewellery plus traditional clothes.   I loved watching the old lady making the flowered headdresses…

We then stayed in To’ata Squre as there was a dance group from Papua New Guinea starting the event.  This was a mix between melodic harmonies and fancy hand movements through to war-like chanting not dissimilar to the New Zealand Hakka especially the sinister head twerking!  The group was mixed in ages from toddlers through to middle-aged men – was an absolutely fantastic spectacle.

After the show everyone moved into the stadium for the Heiva opening ceremony and we wandered the promenade back to the marina – admired the sights particularly of the sun setting over Moorea – and then took ourselves off to the square where the Roulettes (food trucks) set up each evening.   We chose one, sat down and had a great Chinese meal sitting on the square watching the world go by….armed with a Coke and a Fanta LOL.  

We then returned to Morphie and had a couple of cold beers in the cockpit listening to the sound of some popular tunes being slaughtered by the participants in the Karaoke bar opposite our slip.

Friday morning and we headed out early – on the lookout for printer cartridges and New Zealand dollars.    We hadn’t realised that the Cook Islands – our next destination if weather permits – have, allegedly, ATM problems so we need to ensure we have some cash on our arrival, just in case.  No banks had any so we gave up and while I returned to Morphie Richard took off to revisit Home Depot and another hardware / chandlery in the industrial area.  On his travels he found a Bureau de Change – so ordered some NZ $ for later – and also found out that there is an Office World here in Papeete.  

After lunch, allowing for the shops to reopen, we headed back into town and came across the municipal market where we admired the range of fresh produce and beautiful flowers on sale.   We also checked out some jewellery shops as I’m on a mission to get a black pearl whilst here – apparently cultured pearls have been over-produced in recent years so the prices are lower than normal.    So we went into a store that was linked to a pearl farm and found out all about the shapes, the sizes and the quality.  Interestingly, the difference – despite the huge price differential – isn’t really that obvious to the inexperienced eye unless they have obvious flaws or lack lustre.

We picked up our NZ $ so felt happy about that but completely failed on the printer cartridges.  However, we did find an internet café who would be happy to print / copy for us.   So looks like I’ll be filling in forms for a few days LOL.

We came back to Morphie for an early dinner / late lunch and headed out to the stadium, admiring another beautiful sunset on the way, for the 6pm start.  

We took our seats and were surprised that the stadium was half-empty.   It started filling a bit more….but considering there were only five seats left in the whole place when we brought ours…it did seem strange.   Anyway….the first dance group arrived…hundreds of them.   And people came to watch and then left so we think most of the seats were taken up by family members just watching their own people perform – lots of shouting out of names etc.   The performance went on for about an hour and then we had two chant / choir events before the final dance performance.    The no camera / no filming rules were strictly regulated so we weren’t able to get any of our own footage but I’ve shamefully borrowed the following images of last night’s event from the official site.   The evening was amazing….truly amazing…. 

At around 10 pm the show was over and we went in search of food and drink.   We ended up having a few beers in the Bora Bora lounge and caught the last 15 minutes of the international rugby which was quite exciting and we were delighted to see the Lions get a draw against the All Blacks.    We carried on drinking……and enjoyed the karaoke for a while too.  

It was interesting that the majority of the party goers heading upstairs to the Bora Bora’s night club were Rae-Rae (pron. Wee wees).  You may be surprised to know that there are huge numbers of cross-dressers and transvestites here in French Polynesia.  Rae-rae are the contemporaries of ‘Ma-hu’, Polynesian men of yesteryear who dressed like women because of their effeminate natures.   As a respected segment of Tahitian culture – whose presence dates back hundreds of years – they often took on the roles of servants, cooks and nannies because of their convivial nature and aptitude for domesticity.   Unlike the ladyboys in Thailand Rae-rae are not involved in the sex industry but are usually found working in the service / tourist industry.   We finally tore ourselves away around 3am…had been a very long day.

This morning, Saturday, and I’m blogging in the Tourist Office – as the internet is down in the marina – and Richard is in the anchor locker constructing a barrier so that the anchor chain cannot hit the new windlass motor on its way up and down…..   Later on we are going to explore some more of Papeete’s night life.  

Bye for now

Jan

Exploring the Tahitian Outback

Sunday morning we had a lazy start and were in a buoyant mood as all the repair jobs had been completed.  We worked hard and got the laundry done as well so finally Morphie was clean and tidy again down below.  And that was it, pretty much, for the rest of the day although we did head over to the Pink Coconut later in the evening when we heard some great music….  Unusually it was very quiet so we managed to get a table and settled down to listen to the guy.   He had a superb voice and we thoroughly enjoyed his set. 

Monday morning we were up early and headed out to see our agent – the FedEx parcel had arrived in Tahiti so we wanted to chase up when we might get it.    We then headed down the main drag towards Carrefour and hopped onto a really decrepit bus to take us to Papeete.  We had a long list of things we wanted to get so this was really a day for wandering the industrial area where we found Ace Hardware and the main chandlery – both of which were actually a bit disappointing.  Fancy a chandlery not having any wax!?!   Was good to see the fishing fleet though….

Whilst we were in Papeete we checked out the new downtown marina and spoke to the manager – there are no reservations as it is run on a first-come first-served basis.  He gave us his telephone number so we could call before we head that way to make sure there is room – there are no anchoring options nearby so it is definitely best to check before we commit to leaving our current spot.  

Whilst wandering the docks we came across Sea Bear who we had last seen in the Galapagos – so went and said hi to Chris and his friend Wendy who had just flown in from the UK.   We were surprised to be able to walk right up to boats but it turns out there had been a power failure so the security access gates were all open….

Anyway….we wandered back to the main town….admiring the peaks of the volcano behind.  Finally we ended up in the Bora Bora lounge having a cold one…..before returning to the bus stop to catch the last bus back to the marina which runs at 4.30pm.   Our initial impression of Papeete was that it was scruffy and slightly run down with poor quality housing – but with some great street art.   We are looking forward to exploring properly another day….and we’re also quite keen on visiting the street food trucks that fill up the boardwalk at night.

Tuesday morning and I didn’t feel too good so Richard busied himself with boat jobs all day while I rested up.    During the day we had a visit from the manager of a marina in Opua, New Zealand.  They had come over to present to the Puddle Jump rally – so he talked to us about his marina and we are quite interested in staying / hauling there.  We know that the Oyster Rally are heading to New Zealand too so we want to make sure that we have a slot booked – so we have sent a couple of emails to different marinas asking for quotes and availability so that we can then make a decision.   Think we need to do this sooner rather than later.   

We’ve also talked to a number of people who have done the run south and back many times before and all of them felt we should miss Fiji this season – instead we should spend the time exploring the many hundreds of islands in the Tongan chain.   New Zealand is then a straight shot if we get the right weather window and catch a norther.  The run back up to Fiji from New Zealand is a better wind angle too so looks like we have made a decision!  

Wednesday morning and the parcel arrived – woo hoo!    So we now have a working drill again, a spare autopilot data cable and a control head.  We took our other gas bottle in for a partial refill as we want to leave here with two full bottles not knowing where we can get them filled again.    Then we took the long walk to Carrefour for a big provisioning run.    We bought a lot of fresh meat for the freezer and a few other things we wanted to try – like Duck Cassoulet.    There was too much to carry so we pushed the trolley all the way back to Morphie, unpacked, and returned the trolley to the superyacht dock where there is a small supply of them parked neatly in the corner by the gate.   I think Carrefour must come by and pick them up every now and again…..

Later in the afternoon, we decided to test the spare autopilot control head that had just arrived as it had been purchased second-hand from eBay.   We were delighted that it worked perfectly.  But as we tested it something went ‘clang’ in the lazarette.   We quickly checked and were horrified to see that the new autopilot arm had parted.  OMG – really?!?   But on investigation it was apparent that the factory had welded only one end and that it had just pulled out.  Very relieved but now we need to solve this latest issue….   Sigh…..   So glad we tested the unit before we left the dock!

Later on we went to Happy Hour and met Chris and Wendy.  Was good to catch up over a few cold ones….. 

Thursday was a really hot sunny day and we never had any pressing jobs to do.  We had also found out it was a public holiday so everything was shut – so we just stayed on the boat reading and relaxing.   We were so lazy we couldn’t even be bothered to go out for happy hour LOL.

Friday morning and we got up early in preparation for our safari expedition.  And, of course, it was raining!!!   We debated whether to go or not – as we hadn’t actually paid at this point – but decided that wouldn’t be fair and another rainy day on the boat would drive us both crazy!    So we got out our pack-a-macs and headed across to meet our 4WD vehicle.   It arrived promptly at 8.45 and we piled in the back of the truck with two tourists in it already….then we stopped at another hotel….and another….  Eventually we had a diverse gang of French, American and Australian tourists.   The Australian women were here in Tahiti competing in an international outrigger rowing competition – they had just won gold for an 18k ocean race.   Totally unaware this was going on – apparently there is a squad from the UK here too – we didn’t even know this was a sport we participated in!   

Anyway…in the pouring rain with the plastic sides pulled down to keep us dry in the back….we headed off for about an hour around the north coast of Tahiti towards the Pampanoo valley.  To start with the road was a single concrete track winding up and down and through some mining operations and hydro-electric power stations.    Then we moved onto unmade tracks towards the interior of the island where our first destination was the centre of the volcanic crater.     

The rain had diminished a little bit and we were rewarded by views of loads of waterfalls crashing down into the river below – and we actually drove across the river bed a couple of times despite the quite strong current running.    The hills rose majestically with dense rain forest and the views were spectacular.

Finally we stopped at the centre of the volcanic crater where there is a reconstructed traditional Polynesian village where people come from Tahiti – particularly camps for youngsters – or from other Polynesian areas, such as Hawaii.   They live as their ancestors did having to hunt wild boar and goats, fish, collect water, make fires and live communally.   It was interesting to see – with the one nod to modernity in the provision of bathrooms – and to hear the tales of the spirits of the wind, the earth and the sky.   Plus their continued teaching of celestial navigation using art…..it is important to remember these proud people arrived here as fearless sailors on their sea canoes in a wave of migration from South East Asia over 30,000 years ago.      

Then we got the gory details when they used to sacrifice humans – by eating their flesh they believed that they gained the power from them.   And in this village is an original stone where sacrifices were conducted.  And we both thought it still looked a shade red from the bloodletting!!!    Apparently the influx of the London Missionary Societies in the late 1700s stopped this practice as they introduced Christianity to the people of Tahiti.   We then went to look at an original temple and were introduced to some native plants – including the “ta-it-ti” fruit which is dried, burnt to carbon, ground down and, when mixed with coconut oil, makes the jet black ink for their tattoos.   Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable about everything Polynesian.

After this interesting cultural part of the trip we continued further up the mountain to a hotel on the top where we had a local lunch – Richard tried the Tahitian national dish of raw fish in coconut milk while I took the safer option of curried goat.    After resting up we then climbed back into the truck.   Sadly our driver said that, because of the rainy weather, we would not be able to swim at any of the waterfalls.  That was a shame…..  We also glimpsed a rescue helicopter searching the area – not good!

We continued to climb up and up towards the summit – the road was now just a mud track and the angle was pretty precarious.   People started getting a bit nervous especially when we realised that the driver spent most of his time looking up for landslides!   Then we turned a corner and were confronted with a basalt tunnel which was an extraordinary sight.   Having passed through we were onto more mud and we slithered down the hill to see the lake Vaihiria which had been created by a rockslide.   This lake was the ancestral home of the sacred eel which is black with blue eyes – although none have been sighted for a number of years now. 

Having taken our photos we then climbed back in the truck and reversed the trip all the way back out to the north coast of Tahiti – this was a long arduous journey in the rain as by now the hard seats and back rails were giving all of us an uncomfortable ride.

We stopped, briefly, on the north coast so we could watch some surfing action on the black sand beaches as the light faded.   And then it was a trip back to the marina dropping people off as we went.    We didn’t get back until about 6.30 pm so returned to Morphie pretty tired and had an early night.    

This morning, Saturday, and Richard has just been to see Michel in the small on-site chandlery.   He helped him reassemble the autopilot arm so the old one has now been reinstalled and everything is operational again.    The new one needs welding – planned for Monday – and will then become our spare.   Phew!

The weather remains pretty cloudy and miserable today and, after yesterday, I think we’ll rest up although Richard has just gone off on the bus to Mr Bricolage while I’m blogging.   Sunday is laundry and cleaning day again….    On Monday our agent is bringing us our inter-island clearance documents so we can head to Papeete marina on Tuesday (if they have room).  We’ll then explore the capital properly and look forward to sampling some of the night life.  I’m particularly interested in the food trucks that fill a public space each evening near the marina.   Next stop will be to head over to Cook’s Bay in Moorea when we have had our fill of Papeete and we’re really looking forward to swimming, snorkelling and bobbing again!   It feels good to be finally enjoying French Polynesia having sailed 4,000 miles to get here from Panama…..     

Bye for now

Jan

Our second week in Tahiti

Saturday afternoon we went shopping and got some drinking vouchers from the ATM.  We planned to buy some beer from the supermarket but no alcohol was being sold because of local elections….funny how these events always coincide with us getting low on supplies LOL.   We chased up our agent in relation to the delivery of our windlass.   It had been delivered physically to Tahiti last Wednesday but was still awaiting customs clearance.   Very frustrating that it can fly here from New Zealand quicker than it can get through customs!  

Saturday night we went to Bill’s boat Magic (a 40 foot Island Packet) for dinner.  He very generously fed us three courses including ribeye steak.  We had a very nice evening and drank a lot of wine while we chatted.   Luckily he had purchased his supplies before the election alcohol ban.

Sunday morning I was up early and headed to the laundry.  There was a long queue but the owner told me to leave it with him and return at 10.  So I went back to Morphie and we had breakfast before I returned.  When I got back I found that he had done a service wash and dry for me – which was a real surprise – as that is not something he offers.   He said that he wanted to thank me for last week as I’d helped him deal with some rude English-speaking clients.  What a nice man!  

Later on Richard went off to help Bill get his dinghy up onto the davits and the outboard onto the rail – he is waiting on crew to arrive at the minute so we are helping him out where we can.   We also flaked his genoa for him as he had swapped it out for a larger sail – amazingly he had never seen this done before!   Later in the afternoon it poured with rain so we stayed on board.

Monday morning and it was still raining.   The waves were crashing over the reef in front of the marina and it was pretty blustery.  We watched a couple of superyachts depart – including our large neighbour with his helicopter – which was quickly replaced by another superyacht coming in.   The weather turned into a full-blown event with winds of 40 knots whistling through the anchorage – so we were glad to be tucked into the marina.   Apparently a few boats dragged their anchors and one ended up on the reef but was able to be manoeuvred off without too much damage.   Scary stuff.     

We headed off to see our agent to keep the pressure on DHL and were delighted to find out that the parcel was going to be delivered to us later that morning.   We got online for a short time and found out that our steering parts had also been despatched from Auckland.   So everything we need, fingers crossed, is now on its way and we can track the progress of the remaining parcels.  Our mood was certainly lightened at this news. 

We headed off out for breakfast and returned when the DHL man arrived.   We took delivery and managed to find an abandoned shopping trolley which we gratefully commandeered to take the strain as the box was really heavy.   Richard got it on board and unpacked it with glee.   We let Guy (our friendly French engineer) know that it had arrived and he came by later in the afternoon to have a look.

Later on we headed to the bar for Happy Hour and spent a few hours chatting with fellow cruisers.  A new crowd had arrived in the last few days – so we are starting to feel like old hands giving out information about supermarkets, internet and ATMs!     They were also pretty jealous that we are on the dock as they have all been turned away as both the marina and the mooring field is completely full.   I guess we were lucky we arrived when we did!

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early and I popped out to buy breakfast pastries while Richard waited for Guy.   He turned up – they emptied the anchor locker onto the deck – and removed all the protective covers we had put over the holes in the bow sprit whilst at sea.     

Guy was immediately concerned over the teak inside the anchor locker.   It appears that, when the windlass was originally fitted, they just screwed it straight through the wood and fibreglass sandwich without any protective measures other than a very thin – in our view – totally inadequate backing plate so the teak had got really wet and needed to be dried out. Richard and Guy went off on the bus to Mr Bricolage to get wood and other supplies.  They found some strong ply that they planned to epoxy and fit below deck to make a strengthened base for the windlass to be fitted to.      

When they came back they proceeded to make the templates….cut them out…epoxied them….and hang them up to dry.   They also cleaned up the original holes and filled them so that the screw holes will be drilled from scratch as another strengthening measure.    And here’s Guy cutting it down to size…….

After a frustrating day of moving things around and passing tools up and down – plus cleaning up after Guy who is a bit of a messy worker – we had the boat back to ourselves.     After cleaning ourselves up we headed to the Dinghy Dock restaurant for happy hour and watched a very moody sunset before returning to Morphie for dinner.   We were pretty cold by the time we got back as the wind was still howling through from the south. 

Tuesday I chased the agent again about DHL – this time for the steering parts – as they arrived last night into Tahiti.   Fingers crossed we might get them by Friday.   Guy came on board and fitted the two backing plates together…..they then offered up the new windlass and drilled the holes….and the windlass was almost ready to be installed.  

Guy then went off to do another job elsewhere while things ‘cured’ and planned to return later.  While all this was going on I’d been to Carrefour and found some new goodies on the deli counter – salt beef and Canadian bacon – so that’s our lunch today and breakfast tomorrow sorted.    I even managed to cart back a couple of six packs of beer.  

Guy returned and they worked together to fit and seal the new windlass into the hole – it just needed to be connected up.  But it was getting late so they called it a day.  Both Richard and I felt a bit tired so we just sat in the cockpit, had a couple of cold ones, and had an early night.

Wednesday morning and Guy was back.    He finished the windlass and then we reinstalled the anchor and tested it out.     Yay!!!    Huge smiles on faces.

Then it was time for Guy’s lunch…so Richard and I cleaned up after him again.   I headed off back to the mall to get some more money out of the ATM but the cards got refused again.  This is a real pain in the proverbial literally…..the lengthy walk there and back each day sometimes more than once.….combined with the awkward stretch to get on and off the stern of the boat to the dock is taking its toll on my dodgy legs…   Never mind.   But at least Richard had good news for me when I got back – the steering parts had arrived – woo hoo!

Wednesday afternoon Guy had another job so he didn’t return until much later – he checked out the steering parts and had another look inside the binnacle just to make sure.   Amazing how many tools and how much mess he and Richard can make in such a short time….so we cleaned up and put everything away again before having another early night on board.    The heat is zapping our energy and the lack of internet continues to frustrate!

Thursday morning and Guy had to take his wife to the doctors so we had a day to ourselves.    We had a lazy start and then went to the Dinghy Dock Bar – which doesn’t open until lunchtime – to try and get back online as we had some urgent things to attend to.   But, of course, it didn’t work.   So we decided to walk to the municipal building – about a mile up the road – as we had been told there was fast speed wifi there.   We managed to get across the busy dual carriageway and arrived at the building to find that there are no seats – just shallow steps and rocks to sit on.  We perched, got online, and managed to catch up with essential stuff again.   Wasn’t the most comfortable position but there really was very little choice.  

Feeling happier that we had completed a few items on the list – which, finally, appears to be diminishing – we crossed back across the road and checked out the pass through the reef….well, with the surf running, it looked very tricky, narrow, and quite intimidating.  Glad we came into the lagoon from the other direction.     Later on we went out for happy hour and enjoyed people watching for a little while. 

Friday morning and Guy was back.    He took the binnacle apart and struggled to get the old pinion out but, thankfully, after some swearing and brute strength Richard and he managed it between then.   Voila – steering fixed.   Yay!!!!!    They also took the hoses off the toilet as we had some flushing issues so a rather smelly day on Morphie – it appears we have a dodgy joker valve and other broken parts that we need to replace / fix.

By the time Guy had left us for the day we were shattered but determined to head off to the Australia Day party on the superyacht dock.   Richard had managed to charm and persuade our agent that we were worthy guests so, as we were on the list, we got wristbands from the security on the dock and proceeded to eat and drink for free!!    Our agent was there having a good time and it was lovely to see her wearing her traditional Polynesian flowered headgear.  

We chatted with a number of superyacht crews – who were largely dressed up for the occasion in fancy dress – and enjoyed watching them do their Masterchef cooking competition.   There was some pretty innovative stuff going on with the Australian steak and vegemite from their surprise shopping bag.   I have to say I thought that TimTams wrapped in Marshmallow and grilled over the BBQ were my personal favourite LOL.  

Later on there was traditional Polynesian dancing which everyone really enjoyed – and many people joined in too.    Definitely a good time was had by all.

This morning, Saturday, and Guy is back.   This is the final push and then we will be free to have fun!  Sadly we are missing out on the Puddle Jump cruisers’ rendezvous party over in Moorea this weekend but Guy has a big job on next week and we wanted to get everything finished while he was available.   He and Richard are working on other miscellaneous preventative maintenance jobs as well as the toilet – like swapping out the gas solenoid for example.    We still have one more parcel coming from the USA – which we should get early next week – but it is spares rather than essential parts that need fixing so we are less concerned over its arrival.  

We are really looking forward to getting Morphie clean and straight again and then finally we can explore Tahiti.    Right now the saloon looks like a bomb has hit it with all the lockers open while they attempt to use every tool known to man LOL.   

Bye for now

Jan   

Our week in Tahiti

Sunday was spent on board doing boat jobs…..  We had a late lunch before heading out for sundowners.  The Happy Hour deal at the Dinghy Dock bar isn’t bad with BOGOF beers – you get a voucher for the free refill when you purchase one – but the voucher is valid all evening so with some clever timing of purchases you can actually extend happy hour by quite a bit.

We enjoyed a wonderful sunset over the marina before heading back for an early night.

Monday morning we made an inventory of our food to generate a shopping list.   Most of it will wait until we are getting ready to leave Tahiti but, in the meantime, there were some fresh things we wanted.   So we wandered off down the dual carriageway towards Carrefour and the little shopping mall.     

We made the most of the small restaurant opposite the supermarket to have a traditional French breakfast whilst we caught up on the internet.   I also downloaded some more Kindle books as I had just finished reading the last one.  

On return to Morphie we tried to get hold of an engineer – Guy – who had been recommended by Michelle the marina’s chandlery owner.   But this proved problematical without a local phone or reliable internet access.  So we walked back to the mall to buy a SIM card so we were able to text and make arrangements.   On our return to the marina – again – Guy came and had a look and arranged to return in the morning to help us replace the autopilot direct drive unit.   Later on we went to Happy Hour and enjoyed a few hours socialising with other cruisers.    It’s quite the social event for an hour or so…..and we’ve certainly heard some interesting stories. 

Tuesday morning and Guy came on board to help Richard replace the autopilot direct drive unit.  I went off to meet Tahiti Crew – our Agent – as they had got our Duty Free Fuel certificate ready for us.   I also spent some frustrating time online sending them the final tracking numbers and original invoices for our packages coming in from both the US and New Zealand.    The internet here continues to drive me nuts.  The cheapest package is via the local hotspot and a scratch card which costs about £14 for five hours – but, in reality, the five hours only equates to about two because of the slow speed.    As a result we are doing the essential stuff only so sorry if we have missed anything! 

The drive unit job was going well – with the occasional snag – but Guy was very confident and able to resolve any difficulties as he went along.   Within a couple of hours it had all been replaced and we were able to test the autopilot sitting at the dock.   Hurrah….one job done.   But Guy and Richard were unhappy with the noise coming from the rack and pinion steering system itself so decided to investigate – we had never heard this noise before but I guess it could have been masked by the noise of the ocean underway.   So the front of the binnacle came off and they found that the pinion had some broken teeth!   OMG really?!?  This is too dangerous to continue without fixing….so morale slumped once again.    It feels like we might be in Tahiti forever….

In the afternoon we spent a few hours online trying to source Edson part numbers but failed miserably.   We ended up taking photos and sending them directly to both Edson and an Edson dealer in New Zealand.     Nothing else for it whilst we waited for responses so we went out for lunch – and I’m ashamed to say this – but we ended up eating McDonalds!!!    And, of course, this being Tahiti it is the only McDonalds that doesn’t have internet….

On the way back we walked the docks and checked out the Oyster fleet and the views out to the mooring field.  

There are some fabulous superyachts here – and some pretty unique and ugly ones too. Check out this one with the curved tubular windows….reminds me of a tube train LOL.   

We were surprised to see La Familia on the dock as they were supposed to have been and gone by now – well, we have found out they broke their engines on the way here.   Ouch….that is going to hurt a lot!!!!

Later on we headed to Happy Hour and this time we sat on our own and drowned our sorrows. 

Wednesday – I went out to get my hair cut – and Richard continued cleaning.    After I got back he went to pick up our gas bottle from the Mobile station and – yay – they had managed to fill it.   So that was good news for a change!    We then walked to the Dinghy Dock bar and sat in their gardens as they have a better hotspot wifi signal than anywhere on the docks.   We got online and were pleased to find that the Edson dealer in Auckland was able to help us.    Some back and forward emails and, by the end of the day, he had worked out the part numbers and had sourced them.  

Feeling happier we returned to Morphie – scrubbed and cleaned our saloon upholstery – and then returned to the Dinghy Dock bar for another Happy Hour.  We had a good evening chatting to some professional crew who were looking for an onward passage towards Tonga.    It was interesting to talk to them – especially the young Australian called Josh.   Would you believe the custom superyacht he is crewing on is made completely out of carbon fibre and even has its own submarine?  Crazy money or what?!?   

Thursday morning we went back to the French restaurant near Carrefour and skyped New Zealand – handed over the credit card details – and an invoice pinged its way to us pretty quickly.     Thankfully that is now resolved – just time to play the waiting game as things wing their way towards us.   We checked the trackers for the parcels – and were surprised to find that the windlass had actually arrived in Tahiti.  It will take DHL about 3-5 days to get it through customs apparently but at least that’s another job that can be sorted soon.   Oh yes, and the fridge compressor decided not to start today…..   One step forward…

Thursday night we headed over to the superyacht dock as there was supposed to be a dock party going on.   But we had clearly been misinformed as there was nobody around.   So we decided, instead, to follow the sound of live music and ended up in the Pink Coconut.  This is a locals’ hangout and the average age was about 20….so we definitely stood out a bit….especially when they all got carried away doing flaming shots!!!   But nobody bothered us and we enjoyed people watching and listening to the music.  They are very passionate about it all – it turns into a massive singalong – with lots of sexy dancing too.   Was really good fun.

Friday morning and I headed back to the mall as I’d booked myself in for a long-overdue neck, shoulders and back massage.   Well, the woman was brutal, and I’m not sure about paying for pain LOL.   But she definitely sorted out all the knots and kinks….   I headed back to Morphie – having done a quick shop in Carrefour first.   I just love wandering around and seeing what they are selling each day…the displays are pretty impressive!   

Richard was busy helping Bill get his mainsail back on having resolved the fridge problem which turned out to be an ‘undercharged’ system.   Oh yes and we had a new neighbour….who was unwrapping his helicopter….this place is crazy!

We had a lazy afternoon and Bill came by for dinner at 6pm – we then headed off in a taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel to watch their dancing show.  We arrived and headed to the Tiki Bar to be told that the outside terrace was closed due to bad weather.  Well, it had been spitting and spotting, but really?!?  So we reluctantly took a seat inside the bar and I wandered off to see if the restaurant would allow us to sit on their terrace drinking to watch the show.  I was cut off at the pass by the ever-vigilant French bar manager who told me ‘No’ very loudly, embarrassingly, and quite rudely.  I did explain that we had telephoned the hotel and had specifically asked about coming to see the show and had been told it was OK providing we purchased drinks.  He didn’t care that we appeared to have been misinformed.  A few of the bar staff heard his tirade and threw me a couple of empathetic looks behind his back.   Oh well never mind….we settled down to drink the biggest beers ever….with Bill checking out cocktails.    

Suddenly a table at the edge of the bar, overlooking the restaurant and the terrace, came free and we were ushered over there pretty quickly by the staff.  So we got to see the show anyway!   Yay….   It was great and for the first time it felt like we really were in Tahiti.

This morning, Saturday, and Richard has just been over to the fuel dock and filled up all our cans with duty-free fuel while I’m blogging.  Not sure what else we’ll do today.  We anticipate receiving the anchor windlass next week and so we need to get that fitted and tested.  Then we plan to go out and explore while we wait another week or so for the other parts to turn up.  

The steering issue is easily resolved with the right parts and, thankfully, we found this before we took off again.   The consequences of losing our steering whilst at sea does not bear thinking about.  

It has certainly been nice to have some fun this week.   Bye for now

Jan

Hiva Oa to Tahiti

We said farewell to Hiva Oa, having enjoyed our last night there, with entertainment from Christophe and Jack amongst others.  The passage from Hiva Oa to Tahiti was a good shakedown cruise for both us and Morphie after having been stuck in the mud.   Actually we weren’t there that long it just felt like it LOL.

We had the full range of weather on passage – from cloudy, stormy, rainy times – to beautiful blue skies and fluffy clouds.  The seas seemed to go from large lumpy growlers to pretty calm and serene.  We sailed along in pretty steady winds most of the time apart from squalls…and also had to motor occasionally when the wind died.

We had a range of sunrises and sunsets – from nothing at all as the sun was totally obscured by storm clouds – through to the most spectacular displays and unusual cloud formations.

We slowed down for the last 24 hours of the 848 mile passage to ensure we would make landfall in daylight hours.   We also re-evaluated our decision to go through the narrow pass on the western coast of Tahiti.  That pass was closest to the marina where we had a reservation but is also more hazardous in particular conditions – and, of course, those conditions were looking to be present for our arrival.  So we made the executive decision to go through the larger ship cut at Papette despite it being heavily controlled by the Port Authority.

When we spotted landfall early on Thursday morning Tahiti looked a bit ominous in the dark and gloomy conditions.  

We found ourselves in a busy shipping area now along with a number of yachts in the vicinity.   The island of Moorea, 15 miles away to starboard, looked stunning….

The large Clipper cruise ship Windspirit was approaching us from starboard and we radioed them – to be told that they were being directed by a pilot vessel and had a seven am slot to go through the cut and we were welcome to follow them.   We radioed the Port Authority and they were happy for us to do that.   It was very nice of them to show us the way LOL.  Windspirit looked quite dramatic against the backdrop of Moorea.

We entered through the cut and headed straight at the opposite shore…then turned to starboard to follow the route through the lagoon which is totally sheltered by the large reef that runs around the coastline.   

We admired the views and watched a few light aircraft come over us into the airport and then we reached the airport zone and had to radio for permission to cross the end of the runway.  We had to do a 360 while we waited…and then were given the go ahead to proceed. 

We carried on marvelling at the shallow water one side of us while we were motoring through in 50+ feet of water and the waves crashing over the reef beyond.   Isn’t nature wonderful?!?   We reached the other end of the airport and had to ask permission to cross the runway again – this was given immediately – and we turned the corner towards our marina past some fancy hotel rooms over the lagoon.

The marina wasn’t ready for us – well, it was only about eight in the morning – and told us to pick up a mooring ball.   So we had a cup of tea and a breakfast baguette while we waited watching some superyachts leaving.

Finally at just before 10 we were escorted into the marina by a skiff with three men in it.   They asked if we had bow thrusters and which way we prop walked in reverse to identify the best spot for us.   They told us to go ahead to get lined up and then reverse down into the marina and into the spot they had allocated.  Well, I couldn’t believe the spot they wanted us to go in with only inches either side of small power boats.    At one point I thought Richard was going to abort when we came very close to our neighbours bow as we turned in but somehow he managed it and suddenly the guys were there – with one standing in the skiff holding our bow straight – and the others catching lines to tie us stern to the dock.   Then one guy jumped into the water, kitted up with a scuba tank, and got two lazy lines from the bottom and handed them up to the guy who was now on our bow.  He tied us off on both sides and – voila!  We had arrived. 

We had to use our step down transformer for power – which is charged by the week not by usage – and Richard had to reassemble the plug as we had reverse polarity.   Finally fixed we headed off to the office to check in having cleaned ourselves up.   That was all pretty simple and we then went on the hunt for internet.  We had a beer in both on-site bars/restaurants but no internet to be found.  We returned to Morphie around 4ish and just went to bed.    We were pretty tired and slept right through.

Friday morning we were up early and headed out of the marina and turned right towards the Mobil gas station.    They apparently collect and refill propane gas bottles – so we left ours there – and were told to return on Wednesday.   We are hoping they can fill this as we are getting low on our second bottle now and the French bottles are totally incompatible with our US systems.  So fingers crossed.

We found the on-site chandlery and had a chat to the owner.    We showed him the video Richard had taken of the autopilot when it was grinding away and he immediately diagnosed an issue with the motor.  He suggested swapping it all out and getting the old one serviced – it is a sealed unit – and keeping that as the spare.  So that’s on the list of things to do here.   He also confirmed that he was able to help us fit the windlass when it arrived.   He has a little treasure trove store so Richard is looking forward to exploring that later….

We then met with our Tahiti Agents and completed some forms – they had the documents for FedEx and now we needed to fill out some for DHL – plus they are going to organise our inter-island clearance documents and duty-free fuel certificate.     All for a fee of course…..never mind….we really don’t have any choice if we want to get things facilitated through the French Polynesian bureaucratic system. 

We need to give a mention to Dan and Ruth at this point.   During our passage to the Marquesas they were in contact with us via our satellite system and, even before we had arrived in Hiva Oa, they had found a replacement autopilot control head, ordered it, paid for it and had it delivered to their home.   Once we arrived in Hiva Oa they took delivery of other parts we needed and are now sending them via FedEx down to us here in Tahiti.   They are very special, kind and generous people and we are very grateful to have them as our friends.   Dan’s procurement abilities are almost as good as his grilling skills LOL.   As a reminder here’s a picture of the four of us together sampling the local brew in Wisconsin last year.

Having completed the formalities we walked down the dual carriageway towards the small shopping mall and the large Carrefour supermarket.    We found a restaurant in the mall that had free internet so we made good use of that while enjoying a lovely lunch.   We managed to skype New Zealand and paid for the windlass – so that is now on its way.    We also caught up with emails etc. 

After lunch we wandered the shops and got some drinking vouchers out of the ATM.   Richard’s card is still getting refused by the ATMs but he managed to pay for lunch with it – this is getting irritating – and the bank confirmed that everything is OK when we spoke to them.  So I think we’ll give that up as a bad job.

We then went into Carrefour and, OMG, a proper supermarket with huge supplies of everything we could possibly need and then some.  So we wandered the aisles – taking note of the selection – and will come back here with a car and/or taxi when it is time to provision up properly.   In the meantime we just made do with some fresh ham, cheese, bread and salad.    

We wandered back to Morphie and bumped into Bill who is British and who moved to Canada many years ago…he is here on his Island Packet that he has sailed down from Vancouver and is planning to head to Fiji.  He is just looking for suitable crew to help him.   We had a chat with him and made arrangements to meet him over happy hour drinks later on.

We wandered to the Dinghy Dock bar and finally found a seat – we chatted to Bill and Ian (an Australian single-hander) and then bumped into Phil who is the American we were Panama Canal line handlers for.  What a small world.  What is interesting in this marina is that everyone we have spoken to so far is waiting here for spare parts.  Nobody had a great passage and most people broke things…lots of things…including rudders and swinging keels….and sadly there is at least one boat we know of which has been lost.   So much for the fabled beautiful downwind sail across the Pacific called the Milk Run then eh?!? 

After happy hour we wandered to the marina-front restaurant as we heard live music.  We managed to have one beer while they finished up their set for the night.  The guy had an amazing voice so really it enjoyed it briefly.   As you can see Richard is happy to be here….

Saturday and I was up with the lark to get to the self-service laundry which is only open from 7-12 at weekends and closed during the week.   I was there at 6.50am heavily laden to find myself the sixth person in the queue!!!  Guess everyone else thought it was a good idea too.   Anyway I persevered and came back to a lovely clean boat as Richard had been tidying and cleaning up.  We will continue to get on with boat jobs and, when the list has diminished significantly, we’ll think about exploring Tahiti while we continue to wait for parts….      

Bye for now

Jan

Passage to Tahiti: Days 5-7

Monday morning (Day 5) we were motor sailing slowly under a grey cloudy sky with wind speeds of less than five knots. We had enough diesel on board for the remainder of the trip so we had no concerns if the wind didn’t return. In the afternoon the skies got darker and the wind started to fill in again – but surprisingly from the North West. By the time we started our evening shifts the wind was strong enough to be sailing nicely on a beam reach parallel with our rhumb line.
Despite the laden sky the moon was able to peak through. But not for long. Suddenly we had lots of lightning behind us and down came the rain. Once more we put our equipment away for safety so sorry again that the tracker got disrupted….. Thankfully by midnight the rain had stopped.
Irritatingly at 3am on Tuesday morning (Day 6) the wind disappeared again so it was back to motoring. Squalls were running either side of us but we didn’t get any more rain or even any wind…we were in a gloomy no man’s land. By six there was another thunderstorm off our port bow and more miserable weather ahead. This was getting tiresome.
By nine the skies behind had started to clear and there were signs of improvement all round. Finally at noon the sun broke through, the clouds dissipated and it turned into a lovely day at sea. Hurrah! The only downside was that there was still no wind….. Oh yes and we put the clocks back half an hour – so we are now aligned with local time in Tahiti.
At 2pm the wind started to fill in and we were finally sailing again. The island atoll called Mataiva appeared out of the sea…. This was our last island to dodge so we turned to port to run south towards Tahiti. The atoll was quite large although barely visible above sea level….there was a large smoke plume on one end and we wondered if they burnt all their rubbish – or could it be more sinister? Could they be ‘wreckers’ in a previous life?!?
Finally we were enjoying a nice sail…..with no rain….and we watched the sun go down early at 5.30 pm while we treated ourselves to shepherd’s pie for dinner in the relaxed conditions onboard. The evening was very pleasant although the wind eased quite a bit back to around 8-9 knots so our boat speed slowed too.
But we were potentially going to have to slow the boat down anyway to ensure a daylight arrival on Thursday so didn’t really care about our speed. We also want to be entering the narrow Taapuna pass at slack water or on a rising tide to avoid standing waves and strong adverse currents at the entrance into the inner lagoon that surrounds Tahiti. There is a larger cut at the top of the island but, because of its proximity to the airport, boat traffic and timings are closely controlled by the port authority so we decided we’d go in the other entrance rather than have to add more variables.
Early this morning, Wednesday (Day 7), and the winds remain light but we are still managing to sail. I’ve just spotted lightning off our starboard bow so am hoping that the storm system will have moved on by the time we get there: the constant need to unplug everything and put it all away is fine, but in the early hours when Richard is sleeping I find it hard to do without waking him up as he sleeps in the saloon. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that this time.
Thankfully the storm moved away from us and we had the most spectacular sun rise with amazing cloud formations…. Stunning! The day is shaping up to be a nice one and, if everything goes to plan, this will be our final full day at sea this passage. See you in Tahiti!
Bye for now Jan

Passage to Tahiti: Days 3-6

Saturday lunchtime (Day 3) we had covered another 132 miles during our full second 24 hour period at sea and remained happy with our progress. Was a beautiful sunny day with the wind staying steady at around 15 knots combined with flattish seas. An absolutely stunningly perfect day at sea. We thoroughly enjoyed it particularly when it was crowned by a spectacular sunset and red night sky.
Saturday night was bright as Mr Moon decided to stay up until 2am. We had reefed down before we started our evening shifts as there were rain clouds around and some squalls. But, throughout the night, the squalls came and went with little rain and only a small uplift to the wind. So we continued to make good process. The most important element of the calmer conditions is that we both slept well.
Oh yes and we have two stowaways – first I spotted Gordon the gekko on the starboard rail – he was at least three inches long. Latter on I spotted Buddy the baby gekko on the port stern seat and he wasn’t even an inch long. Not sure what they are eating as this is a bug free zone unless they have an emergency escape stash with them from Hiva Oa LOL.
Sunday morning (Day 4) and the sunrise was obscured by dark and heavy rain clouds – as per the forecast. The wind remained constant until a huge squall came through around 7 ish with 32 knot winds and torrential rain. Thankfully it was short lived. Throughout the morning strong squalls came and went and we got pretty adept at dodging them as they came through behind us. By lunchtime we had clocked another 137 miles in the previous 24 hours so still making good progress.
Squalls continued all day and then the wind shifted north which meant we couldn’t hold our course. We ran to starboard and settled there for a while…. Squalls were now all around us and we could no longer outrun them, so we had to face them head on. Lightning started and became a constant companion so we put away our secondary navigational equipment and the Iridium Go! unit just in case we took a strike as the only thing out here. So if you spotted the tracker wasn’t working that’s why – sorry!
The night brought with it more of the same and it was quite miserable with the rocking and rolling and quite a bit of rain, making sleep difficult once again.
This morning, Monday (Day 5), and it remains miserable. We are still awaiting the shift in the wind back to a normal easterly pattern but doesn’t look like that is going to happen any time soon. We gybed back towards the rhumb line and will see how long we can hold that course. Our speed has reduced along with the wind strength being sucked out by the squalls all around us and so progress now is slower than we would like.
This morning’s forecast – downloaded at 8am – made gloomy reading with rain and no wind forecast for a few days. And it was spot on as the wind almost simultaneously dropped to five knots and we are now motor sailing. But at least it is not raining! We have done 513 miles so far and there is about 350 to go……
Bye for now Jan

Passage to Tahiti: Days 1-3

Thursday afternoon (Day 1) the seas were big and confused while the wind had a north element so by the time we reached our rhumb line which was to take us across the top of the Dangerous Middle chain of reefs and atolls we were surfing downwind in large 3m seas and 25 knots breeze. There were a few growlers around and both of us were frustrated by the conditions as we pitched and rolled side to side. Come on give us a break!
As we ran between the majestically soaring islands we had some large bright yellow hornet-type insects turn up in significant numbers. We were batting them and spraying them – they just wouldn’t leave – so we had a bit of a war going on particularly as they all seemed intent on finding a spot down below. Finally they had all been removed when I felt something on my back…one had somehow got in between my tee shirt and my skin…and proceeded to sting me twice while I did a quick stripping act! Whatever I did in a previous life to bees and wasps I apologise – enough – please stop repaying me LOL.
We had the engine running throughout the day – at low revolutions to conserve fuel – so that we could get the fridge and freezer back down to their required temperatures and also to replenish our water supplies. I was really looking forward to a hot shower in clean water later. Pleased to report all systems are working well – including the resurrected autopilot Colin who has taken to wearing an aerated zip lock bag hat to stop any future water ingress if we have horizontal rain from behind like before.
The sun went down without any fanfare and although it remained squally with 25+ knot winds there was only a little rain and the seas flattened. The half moon was up before the sun went down so it didn’t really get dark until after midnight when the moon went to bed for the night. The phosphorescence in the water was spectacular and there were a few stars out there twinkling. We both relaxed into our shifts and started to enjoy the passage especially as we were making good progress at 5-6 knots average.
Around 4am Friday (Day 2) Richard spotted a light and called down to me to check our AIS was receiving/transmitting. It was but the other boat wasn’t visible on the system. So Richard tried to make radio contact – eventually they responded. The yacht Impulse was closing fast – the skipper suggested that we should cross his bow – but, as they got closer, Richard realised that was way too risky as the other guy was standing on despite his earlier suggestion. So Richard quickly took evading action and passed behind his stern. As you could imagine he was not impressed! This huge ocean – two sail boats – and we came within 100 yards of each other. Unbelievable. Excitement over I returned to my bed.
At six the sun came up and we could see the lumpy seas again – much better when you can anticipate getting slammed LOL. Anyway the wind steadied around 18/19 knots so we shook out a reef and carried on. Not quite a blue sky day but I’ll take it over the rain and mud of Hiva Oa anytime.
At 10 am we were both up enjoying sausage baguettes and mochas in the cockpit. Nice to get our food back! The seas remained big and confused with very short intervals leading to tough conditions on board. Colin, however, is doing an impressive job and we are very thankful to have him back with us. Richard’s auto-pilot shelf reinforcement seems to have paid off as the groaning has reduced significantly. There is the odd squeak but always when the wheel is required to spin fast from port lock to starboard lock and back multiple times to hold our course. Our first 24 hours at sea had netted us 139 miles so we were pleased with progress so far.
By lunchtime the seas had flattened a little, the sky was blue and the sea was deep blue. In fact, when the sun out, it was a lovely day. We both really enjoyed the day especially hot showers, clean hair and clean clothes! The feet still need a bit of work though LOL. Imagine ingrained mud in toenails – yuck!
The improved conditions continued throughout the starry starry night despite one blip when the engine refused to start! Richard had checked the fuel filter earlier to make sure there was no water in it – and thinks some air got into the system when he did it. The solution worked and concerns were allayed. Phew! We eventually ran the engine for about four hours to charge batteries and to continue making water…..
We did encounter another ship – no AIS again – who had obviously spotted us as he lit up like a Christmas tree and came to an abrupt halt. We assumed he was a commercial fishing vessel so we left about three miles between us as we slipped through keeping him on our starboard side.
At 6 this morning, Saturday (Day 3) the wind had eased to 14-16 knots – exactly as forecast – and has gone more easterly so we are now on a broad reach and enjoying the flatter, smoother ride that point of sail brings us. The sun came up leisurely and is already adding some heat to the day.
We expect conditions to remain similar – with a chance of heavy rain on Sunday – before we expect very light winds early next week. But everything can change of course – right now we are enjoying the ride and are always grateful to Morphie for keeping us safe.
Bye for now Jan