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


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


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


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

Final days in Hiva Oa…..

Wednesday morning we were lying in bed – around 7 am – when we heard the sound of scraping on the hull. We quickly dressed and Richard found a guy chiselling out the epoxy from the repaired patch on the hull. Apparently they had used the wrong mix so it hadn’t set properly. OMG this is turning into a French farce – could we have inadvertently stumbled into a new reality show? In which case get me out of here!
It was, however, soon removed, taped up and repaired again. It still needs another layer, then sanding followed by antifouling – all by ten on Thursday morning as we are scheduled to splash soon after at high tide. That is not a flexible option!
We got on with boat jobs – I cleaned the fridge and freezer and left them open to dry out in preparation for being turned on again. Richard winterised the outboard again and it is now wrapped up against the elements on the rail. We checked the silicone had taken on the plastic covers on the bow – protecting the windlass holes – and added more protective plastic sheets and gaffer tape. We filled up a couple of diesel cans at the gas station and replenished our supply of canned drinks.
We then went to the shed to pay Vincent the remainder of our bill. He wasn’t there, as usual, but to our great surprise the wifi was working for a very short time. We had a quick look and were delighted to hear from a New Zealand company that they can supply and ship us a new windlass….just waiting for the price now. We also had an email to confirm our marina reservation in Tahiti. And the Tahiti agent confirmed that they had received all the documents they needed. Woo hoo! Things are finally coming together.
The water in the marina ran clearer so we washed some of the mud off the topsides and flushed Morphie’s engine to ensure she starts when we splash. Richard went to find Vincent again and was told that he had a problem with one of the hoses which had broken on the tractor. Morale plummeted again…..this is a real emotional roller coaster right now…..sigh…..
Finally Vincent reappeared later in the day and confirmed we will be hauled Thursday as planned. Fantastic news despite the size of the boatyard bill which was shockingly high considering the lack of facilities. Hey ho.
We readied Morphie for her passage and then walked up the hill – in the mud – for the social evening planned by the French Polynesian equivalent of the RNLI. We sat and drank a few beers on our own, thinking we had made a mistake bothering. But eventually some other people turned up and we had a nice evening – being entertained by Jack and Christophe amongst other musicians. Although it did feel like an evening attended by a horde of unwashed and emaciated boat people LOL.
We skipped back down the hill and we struggled to get back into the boatyard as we couldn’t get the combination to work but Richard realised there was some slack in the cable which enabled us to slip through a tiny gap. Phew!
Thursday morning and we were awake early and were pleased to see a catamaran being moved from the concrete into chocks – which frees up the trailer for our haul out. At around 8.30 we went to the gas station store for the last time – collected our bags of frozen food – and a week’s supply of baguettes. Oh yes and chocolate supplies had also been replenished. We thanked Antoinette for her kindness to us keeping the food in her freezer throughout our stay in the boatyard and greeting us with daily smiles…
Finally at around 9.30 the tractor came for us….Richard supervised Morphie being put into the cradle using some discarded old cushions we found in the boatyard to protect her leading edge from being damaged again. Finally we were lifted off our chocks and Richard climbed aboard. We started moving….we wobbled….then the trailer’s wheels slid and we got stuck in the mud. You couldn’t make this up!! They had to put us back on chocks…..dug out the trailers wheels….reposition the trailer and fill in the holes with gravel. They then lifted us back in the cradle and started moving forward again.
After an anxious hour or so finally we were splashed at 11 am and made our way straight out into huge seas and 22 knot winds. The waves were hitting us on the side so it was pretty uncomfortable as we bashed our way out until we were able to turn to go alongside the island and out to sea.
Then it was a downwind run between the islands under the genoa alone and some great surfing action. The seas were confused as we left the Marquesa chain of islands behind us and didn’t settle until almost 20 miles away. We are rolling from side to side but at least we have finally escaped! Morale is improving mile by mile….
Bye for now Jan