Tuesday 26 July – Monday 12 September, 2016
We arrived in Papeete, Tahiti early Tuesday morning after a fast & wet ride down from the Marquesas.
The first 3 days of the passage we had winds 20 to 30 knots with seas 2-3 meters, the occasional swell hitting us just right to spray the cockpit with salt water then a little later the rain would give us a good rinse. Sunday the wind & seas laid down as we approached & passed thru part of the Tuamotu's, Monday was a beautiful sailing day but we had to keep the sails reefed to stay below 6 knots so we would arrive Tuesday AM and not Monday PM. As we approached the port of Papeete we called the harbormaster to ask permission to enter the port. A lot of big cargo ships, ferries, and cruise ships are always coming and going in & out of the small entrance to the port so it is a good thing to check that the coast is clear to enter. Next we call the marina to see about a slip, they tell us to just choose whichever slip we want. This is a new experience for us as usually they ask your boat length, width, & depth and direct you to a certain slip. We find a slip easy enough as there are plenty of empty spaces, no dock hands to help with lines but 2 nearby boats crew came over to help. Boat tied up, we go to check into the office, this is a gated marina with the office located outside of the gated area. So a boat owner going by had to let us out. Once checked in with the office we received our gate access cards, as well as giving access to the showers, bathrooms and lounge area. One of the cards gets money put on it to activate the water & electricity at the pedestal on the dock at your slip. A pretty neat idea as long as you remember to keep $ on the card and don't run out when the office is closed as that is the only place to top off the card.
Back to the boat and Steve gets the 220 electric cord out, which turns out to be just long enough to reach as we were bow in at the slip. Batteries charging & water hose hooked up so the clean up of the boat was started. We wound up in a slip right behind friends boat S/V Shriaz, who we knew from Grenada.
As we were approaching Papeete, I had been in phone contact with my brother Doug who was in Tahiti for vacation. 11 months prior while I was in Texas visiting family he said they were thinking about coming to Tahiti for 2 weeks on their summer vacation. At the time I was pretty sure we would NOT be in Tahiti by the 1st of August so we talked about them coming to either the Marquesas or the Tuamotu's to meet up and stay on the boat with us for their 2nd week. As time got closer it was looking like they would be coming to the Marquesas even though my nephew just got PADI certified to dive and they wanted to meet in the Tuamotu's. As more boat problems occurred our plans changed but so did theirs. My sister-in-law Laura’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, so Laura would not be coming on this vacation. Doug & Dylan came to Tahiti & Moorea and spent a few days with us on the boat. Tuesday afternoon they stopped by the marina on their way to catch the ferry over to Moorea, dropping off the items they brought for us. After seeing them off on the ferry I finished washing the boat as Steve started a few projects from the items that Doug brought.
Wednesday & Thursday a few more boat repairs. The engine had been running a little hot, Steve found & repaired a little hose leak. The watermaker was not pressuring up, at first Steve thought it was due to another end cap crack, this one just a tiny hairline crack. But once the end cap was replaced it would still not pressure up. An email reply back from Spectra said to check O-ring, that was the problem as one was missing. We had 2 new small tears in the sails from this passage. Thursday we dropped the main sail so Steve could repair that one. In between boat projects we walked around town a little and along the beautiful malecon.
Friday 7/29 I caught the 11:30 ferry over to Moorea to meet up with Doug & Dylan for a couple of days. Steve stayed at the marina to continue with a few boat projects. After a fast 40 minute ferry ride I got a cab to the Intercontinental resort arriving just before they went on their afternoon dive, while I relaxed by the pool. That night we walked across the street to have a wonderful steak dinner at the Holy Steak House Restaurant. Saturday we were up early for the buffet breakfast then used the hotel kayaks to go out to stingray city. Not only stingrays but a bunch of black tip sharks swimming around you. Back to the room to get cleaned up and packed up to move over to the Hilton. Checked in by 1 and enjoyed a light lunch with our free drink coupon then back at the room they had left a bottle of wine that we finished off before I went for a massage. That night dinner at the Moorea Beach Cafe. Sunday I caught the 8 AM ferry back to Tahiti and was back to the boat & reality by 9:15. It was a nice calm morning, perfect to lower the genoa sail so Steve could stitch that tear in the sail.
Monday 8/1, a little grocery shopping before Doug & Dylan arrived on the late afternoon ferry. A walk down the malecon and around town before having dinner on board the boat. Tuesday Doug had an important conference call, so with the iffy marina WiFi he decided to go to the hotel across the street. They are a Vini hotspot so he could use one of our codes to log in and make his call with the internet connection. Once he was back on the boat we got underway by 10 AM to take the boat out and anchor overnight in Opunohu Baie in Moorea. After anchoring and lunch we swam around the boat and got the dive plane out. After I showed Dylan how it was used it was hard to get him to let Doug have a chance at it. Tuesday night on the boat at anchor. Wednesday we took the dinghy down to stingray city, it was later in the day so a lot more boats/people there but still a lot of stingrays & sharks swimming in between. We left Moorea around 3 PM to go back to Tahiti, a great sail back hitting 9 knots. We took a slip on the little dock closer to the marina office & bathrooms. Our gate cards had expired and of course by this time the marina office was closed, luckily another boat we knew was on this dock. Peter from S/V Batu lent us one of his cards to use for the evening. Doug & Dylan went to shower on shore before coming back to the boat to pack, they had changed their return flight to go back a few days early to be with Laura and her mom. Once Steve & I cleaned up we all went out to dinner before they caught a cab to the airport for their 11 PM flight back to the US. Not exactly what we had planned but a great visit.
Thursday 8/4 we get checked back into the marina and reactivate our cards.
The next 4 weeks we do several small boat projects as we wait for our new batteries and generator to come from the US. Learning what stores carry what items we might need and where they are located is always an adventure. Checking out the local city open air market as well as the grocery stores, we even have several choices of restaurants to try out.
Most of the time we are exploring the area on foot and carrying things purchased by hand back to the boat, so we make a lot of trips carrying smaller amounts. Papeete has buses that can be taken for longer trips once we figured out the schedule & bus stops. We took the bus to go to the airport to pick up our refrigerator compressor that was being flown back from Nuku Hiva. It was a no show as it was taken off the flight due to someone thinking it was hazardous material, even though it flew TO Nuku Hiva from Tahiti a week before. Kevin from Nuku Hiva Yacht Services talked to the Air Tahiti people and it was put on the plane the following day. Steve was able to install it but needed someone to vacuum it so we had to locate someone to do that, so easy projects can wind up taking 3 to 4 days.
The Generator was arriving first, it came air freight the batteries would be coming via cargo ship. Once we knew of the arrival date Steve went to work the day before dissembling bolts for easy removal of the old one. Steve would need help moving the old one out & new one in so that was arranged a few days ahead with the help from Tahiti Crew Yacht Services. We had to take down the dodger and bimini to be able to use the boom to lift it in & out of the boat. Since the generator is located under a settee in the salon it has great access but we still had to move the settee and the dining table so things were quite a mess during this job. On 8/11 the timing was perfect the old generator was out shortly before the new one was delivered. We went with the same brand Fisher Panda even though we have had a LOT of problems and they do not have the best reputation BUT it would fit into the same spot onto the existing support brackets. Steve still had to do several modifications for different hoses but after a couple days work it was in and running and the salon but back together. The old one sat on the dock for several days while Kevin made arrangements to have it picked up and shipped to him in Nuku Hiva on the local supply boat. He wanted it for the parts and to see if he could re wind the armature.
On Saturday 8/20 we took the dinghy down to an anchorage where friends Jeff & Katie on S/V Mezzaluna were anchored to watch the single man outrigger canoe races. We had been line handlers on their boat the year before when they went thru the canal and this was the first time we had gotten to visit with them since. It was a fun day and we managed to get up close to the race, maybe a little too close as at one point they were going around us on both sides.
During a refueling from our fuel drums on deck Steve noticed a crack in the arch at the base, not good, we had to find a welder for that repair. Tuesday 8/23 a guy came to the boat to look at what needed to be done and said he would be out the following day to do the repair. They do not allow welding on the docks at the marina but do have a work dock. Steve spent the day removing the bolts, then to hold the arch in place, we used the spinnaker line & topping lift line to help support the arch and pull it away from the boat to be ready to move to the work dock the following morning to have the work done. About the time the guy is supposed to show up, Steve gets a phone call saying he cant come for several days. This is not good, we are on the work dock exposed to a lot more surge against a metal dock and the arch needs to get bolted back into place as soon as possible. Steve makes several phone calls with no luck trying to get someone else out that day. We go back to our slip, the following day Steve checks with the marina office to see if they know someone. They do and he can come out the next day, Friday 8/26. Back over to the work dock, the guy comes to see what needs to be done then comes back in an hour, like he said, with his equipment and helper. The guy is used to working on big freighters so this is a really small job to him. It is not the cleanest / neatest job but he gets it done and does NOT charge us anything. Bolts back in and back over to our slip to re-bed & tighten them down. Steve uses his dremel tool the following day to try to make it look a little neater. Once again a simple one or two day job turns into a 3 or 4 day job.
Our batteries had arrived but were still in customs, and getting a release date was proving difficult. We were still working thru Kevin in Nuku Hiva since he had placed the order, another boat was also waiting for their batteries. Finally on 9/1 they were delivered. Steve enlisted the help of the two teenagers from S/V Batu to help pull out the old ones, and carry the new ones down. Steve had loosened all the fasteners and removed some unused cables to have the area ready to switch them out. Having done the prep work the actual switching old / new went very smoothly and was done in one day. We took delivery of the other boat S/V Athanor's batteries also since they had a daughter come to visit and had left the dock. They were returning 4 days later and did not want to have to have them redelivered. The one battery we purchased in Panama 9 months prior went to another boat very quickly, the others were all picked up after Athanor switched theirs out to be disposed of.
Friday 9/2 was my birthday so a NO work day, a fun play day. We rented a car to tour around the island, stopping at a few tourist stops as well as the other marina to check it out and of course a few hardware & supply stores making good use of having a trunk !!! We made it all the way around the island and had planned to have drinks at sunset at the Belvedere, known for its fantastic view of the harbor from 1800 feet above sea level. The maps on my phone & Steve's tablet had the wrong location, luckily I had their phone # and was able to call and get directions. It was hard to believe that we would find it as we drove up the road / trail leading up the mountainside, we finally found it, way after sunset, but the evening view of the harbor down below was still great and the dinner was excellent. The following morning since we had the car until 9, a quick run to the local grocery store for a few heavy items like soda & bottles of liquor. A stop to pick up Steve's computer at a shop where he had dropped it off for help, it is old and overworked & keeps crashing / freezing up on him, it is on its last days.
That final week at the marina we finished up boat projects and cleaned the boat really good after all the work that had been going on. Laundry with marina water, not free but cheap. Getting the boat organized & well stocked for going to the Tuamotu’s for a couple of months where stores if & when available would have very limited supplies. I had a sinus infection that would not go away so went to a local doctor to get some meds. Friday September 9 after a little over 6 weeks we leave the marina to go anchor out by the Tahiti Yacht Club in Lagoon D'Arue by friends Jeff & Katie on Mezzaluna who are also waiting on a weather window to head to the Tuamotu’s. A short trip down there BUT it was against the wind & waves so our nice clean boat got a lot of salt spray all over the deck. We first stopped at the fuel dock which is a really tight fit for a boat our size !! Thankfully Katie & Jeff met us on the dock to catch our lines. All fueled up, a few more trips to the store to pick up a few more things that we probably don't really need but since we have the opportunity we don't want to not take advantage since it will be awhile before we see stores like the ones in Tahiti. Our weather window comes Tuesday 9/13 as we leave at 6:45 AM heading north east to the Atoll Tikehau our first stop in the Tuamotu Archipelago.
Link to pictures; https://goo.gl/photos/vwAgY4PMNPp2Aibx7