Thursday, March 2, 2017

Here we are back in Raiatea, French Polynesia January 2008

15/01/2008 Here we are back in Raiatea

When we left here last October my dear wife said what we are going to do for three months back in Oz without a house and without the boat, we are going to be bored. Wrong again sweetheart.

I suppose we cover 6000 kms by car and flew to the Alice in that time, besides wedding, baby naming, baby birthday, christening, and catching up with family and friends we could have spent longer, but we did miss our sea going home.

A personal thanks to daughter Angela that housed us most of our time and gave us the use of her vehicle for the whole time, love ya babe. Ange is getting into the sailing at Manly, keep it up Ange.

Thanks to all the other relatives and friends that put us up over our stay.

We did have a great time unfortunately we did not catch up with everyone, our apologies for that we did our best.

Packing to come back was fun, I bought a larger bag to fit boat parts in, I had two bags they were both full of parts and very little clothing, just to list a few here as follows:

  • Compressor and drier for fridge,
  • New CD/MP3/AM.FM radio
  • New VHF Radio
  • Numerous LED Lights to reduce power usage
  • Electrical switches
  • Pulleys
  • Misc fittings
  • New toilet pump housing

All went well with the exception of a little scare at Brisbane when we were getting our boarding passes, when the assistant realised we did not have a return ticket she called the supervisor, I explained we would be leaving by boat, she said they may make us return to Oz. This made it a relaxing trip, seven odd hours to think about it. However, when we got to Tahiti there was not a problem. Although we were concerned about our being able to stay after the bad time we had with the gendarmes when we first arrived at Raiatea, when arriving in Tahiti the gendarme welcomed us and stamped our passports, I asked how long can we stay he replied 90 days. We arrived at 0105 hours and our flight to Raiatea was at 0700 hours. We went to the only place open at the airport had a refreshing fruit juice followed by two small bottles of white wine each and a coffee, that got us through the night.

Checking in for flight to Raiatea was interesting, we were allowed 20 kg each for loaded baggage we totaled 85 kg between us, excess baggage was allowed at a cost of 6000 xpf (AU$84). Then we had to load the baggage through the scanner, next problem, the compressor, this showed like a black box on the x-ray. Panic alarm bells rang out the conveyor came to a sudden halt, what is in your bag they asked I said a refrigeration compressor, is it full of oil if it is it cannot fly, I told them it is a new compressor, it has just flown half way across the world it’s a sealed unit. It’s like take the engines off the plane they have lubricating oil in them and they are not sealed. Anyway the boss came out and spoke with me she was very pleasant and accepted the baggage.

We arrived at Raiatea with our taxi waiting for us that the lovely Amandine had organised for us, we got back to CNI where Alana Rose was waiting for us. We had a bit of work to do before we could bring our bags or ourselves on board. Unload the bikes that were stowed in the saloon, get ropes out to drop them below; Alana Rose is a few metres above the ground. Lift the bags up by rope. The boat smells a little from mildew, the boat is a little low in the bow and has allowed water to penetrate. The day was spent loading and unloading and some cleaning. Put the bimini back up for some shade.
(This is the lovely Amandine (pronounced Amadeena) She is French sailed here with her now ex-boyfriend and has started a life here)

All in all we were pleased to be home. 

Boat work Raiatea 16/01/2008

After getting back on board and settling down a little it was time to get started into the work. Nancy started by cleaning all the inside, removing the mildew that had built up on the deck head and washing all the stored clothes that had that musty smell. I started on the hulls, but before we got right into it I asked Amandine if something could be done about making the boat level. She got the boys to come over and re-lift us up and relocates us on the stands; it was a full afternoon’s work for them. I thanked Amandine and the boys and said I had better buy them a beer. Amandine suggested Friday afternoon at 1530 hours, that’s when the boys generally pull up for a beer, she added that we should join them for a beer. So I mentioned it to Taputu the supervisor that I would buy the beer on Friday.

 (The boys re-lifting and leveling Alana Rose)
 (The problem was that we was not here when they hauled out and they leveled the boat using the deck as the guide not the waterline of the boat)

(All good, you can see how high of the ground we are that is because of the type of lift platform)

(They pack the boats in quite well)

After all was finished I went on board to do a few things and when I went on the ground again the boys had brought over work stands for me to do the hull work.

I cleaned and polished the props and changed the anodes then got into the dirty stuff of wet sanding the hull. The work has to be done in between the pouring down rain times.

Friday came around quite fast I got in the dinghy and went a bought a crate of Hinano Tahiti beer and some coke for the non-drinkers, Nancy did up a couple of dips and trays of cheese and biscuits and away we went over to the workshop. The boys were a little surprised that we brought food and they ran around getting drums and planks to make a table.  It was a good night and we ran out of beer, one of the boys was collecting money to go and get more beer, I gave him some more money to go with what he had. A little later Amandine came over to me and said the boys say you are now family. We had a very good night we came back on board around 2030 hours and the boys continued for another couple of hours.

 (Friday night drinks)

Saturday we went into town and did a little shopping, it is very hard here to get what you want; because everything is so expensive stores do not stock gear that only moves occasionally. This is one of the reasons our fridge is still not working, we need two new brass fittings with nuts, and olives and they have to come from Tahiti.

Another interesting point the anodes on the props had to be ordered, the ones they had in stock were too small but I noticed that the two in stock had two different prices one was 450xpf the other was 1001xpf (francs). I asked why the difference the answer was that the cheaper one came direct from France the other from Papeete Tahiti. Tahiti add on a tax on all stuff that goes out to the other islands.

On Monday morning when the boys returned to work they all made a point of coming over and say bonjour and showed me their local handshake, then they rushed of and brought over more planks and stands to go the full length of the boat so I do not have to move them to do the whole side.

Another week of work in Raiatea

We had another week of working on the hulls getting it rubbed back for the new coat of anti-foul paint, this will be done during this coming week, and we will probably go back into the water the following week.

It felt good on Friday when I had finished the dirty job of wet sanding the hulls, the new paint will be black not blue as before. This is due to the fact that they only have black in stock. It isn’t a bad idea of having a different colour as I will be able to see easily if the anti-foul is damaged in any way as the blue will show through. I have painted a test patch nearly a week ago to ensure the two different paints will not cause any problems.

(Me sanding fast)
(Sanding complete)
(Starting the antifouling)

We still do not have the refrigeration operational, after getting all the parts we needed and Christian fitting and recharging the unit the next morning Christian was coming back to fully charge the refrigerant gas but during the night the fan that cools the compressor failed and now we are waiting for a new fan, should be fitted on Monday and lets hope all will be well.

We celebrated two Australia days, as the time zone is twenty hours different, (we are behind), we celebrated Oz Day when it was the 26 in Oz on Friday here and we celebrated again yesterday when it was the 26th here. We flew the Aussie Flag and the Boxing Kangaroo Flag.

We were careful not to upset any locals as they were flying lots of flags yesterday as it was there Government election day, they take it very seriously here, we had a relax day and went into town, town was packed with cars flying the flags of their political party. We caught a taxi into town and back, Trucky Tours is the name of the taxi. On the way back the young lady driving said here is my party and coming towards us was a procession of cars about 2 kms long.

I asked her what party it was she answered that it is the party that does not want independence; she said we do not want the French or Chinese to leave.

There election yesterday was very important. The outgoing President has been the President for the past 25 years and he is retiring. Apparently the only man that is of the same standard was going to declare independence if he took power, this would mean the French and Chinese would be out and would probably have to leave. This was a main concern for all French and Chinese in the country. If this occurred it could have a snowball affect through the pacific islands when you come to think of it. I was quite surprised to see the support from the local Polynesians for the party against independence. But again that is here, there are many islands and Tahiti being the main island the most population.

According to our driver if they had independence French Polynesia would be a poorer country as they rely on the French and Chinese to provide businesses that create employment. I have not heard of any results at this stage.

Being Sunday we are having another relax day today, we are going for a BBQ lunch with some Americans, Charlie and Sony, Charlie is a retired Captain of the LA Fire Department. Can’t get away from the firies, we have met quite a few and most from the LA area.

Well not much news at this stage, we still having regular storms, the wind picks up and you can see the dark grey sky coming towards us then down she comes for a short time then clears for a while. That’s 

Monday  Another day in paradise.

Well the day was quite good did not achieve a great deal, did a small amount of touch up painting where the anti-foul paint had bared the gel coat and touched it up with primer in preparation to start anti-fouling. Checked all the through hull valves and gave them a good spray of WD40. Had Pascal the electrician come and put in a circuit breaker on my battery charger shore power line. But still waiting on the fan for the fridge.

I did work on our mode of transport the bikes, Nancy had a flat tyre the other day unfortunately it needs a new tube.

The other item I went in the dinghy to get ice due to the situation with the fridge, carrying the bags of ice to the boat one bag decided to come apart at the base 20m short of the boat. I yelled to Nancy throw down the buckets. I retrieved what ice I could off the road into the bucket. Bugger. It’s not all beer and skittles out here you know.

Update on the election here, the party got in that the people that did not want independence, however, he did not get the majority so now the groups that have got in have to vote in two weeks time for a President. Crazy system. But the old guy that had been in power previously that is corrupt and wanted to go for independence lost miserably so he is no threat.

We also had a lot of activity near us at a community area and we could not work out what was going on, we thought they were organizing a big party, chopping firewood, getting half 44 gal drums etc.
Apparently there is a certain time of year that they harvest a certain type of sea shell, I think for ornaments to sell at the markets as they make different items such as headdresses, necklaces, bracelets etc.
Some of the shell inhabitants were also a food source, as they were all having a good feed as they pulled the shells from the pots.

Some of the photos show people cleaning the shells whilst the kids have fun in the water.

01/02/2008 Alana Rose has a black bottom.

Today the final coat was completed on both hulls, the antifoul is three coats deep. It has been three days full on painting , moving scaffolds more painting and moving scaffolds.  I finished the painting just before lunchtime and there was just enough time for the paint to go off when the rain came. Good timing.
(From blue to black)

The fridge appears to be working, it takes a couple of days to have it to top efficiency so by tomorrow we should see it back to normal, lets hope anyway. Not sure what the bill is going to be for that at this stage.

Other than this there is not much news as all we have been doing is working on the boat.

 The locals are still cleaning the shells, they go late into the night, apparently they sell them to the Japanese at 300 francs for 2 kgs. Does not sound much to me for the work they put into it, but it may be good for them.

They have an ice cream vehicle come around in the afternoons, it is called TAXI GLACES, glaces is French for ice. I know that one we have been bags of glace since the fridge broke down. This is a unique setup.

On the water again Raiatea 12/02/2008 

Well yes you could say I have been slack and have not got around to updating the blog. Well you could be right.

Tuesday last week was the big day of going back on the water. The day was spent getting everything checked out making sure we had not forgotten anything that we needed to do whilst out of the water. There were some things that we could not check until we hit the water, like the engines, will the bloody things start to get us from the launch to the marina dock.

After lunch the boys came over to get things ready, they removed all the scaffolding and planks that they had loaned me and brought the tractor and lifting frame and heaps of timber to ensure it was lifted evenly.

When they lifted us clear I had to get in and antifouling paint under the keels as many times as I could prior to the girl going in the water. I did get three coats on her. Once all finished Nancy and I climbed the dry land ladder for the last time for a very nervous ride back to the water. It took a bit of maneuvering to get us on the downward slope into the water because of our width (6.7 metres).

 (All ready to go back in the water)
 (Augustine getting timbers in place)
 (This a a hydraulic platform that will lift the boat and put her back in the water)

 (Removing the stands)

 (Taputu the supervisor) 
 (We are on the boat as they move out, funny feeling)
 (Looking very close)

 (We have to turn here to go in the water backwards)

(Don't think we will fit in there)
 (That ramp looks a little narrow from up here)
 (Amandine making sure the boys do the right thing)
 (Nearly there, hope the engines start OK))
(Back in the water all good)

Once we hit the water we lifted all the deck boards to ensure we had no leaks, that all being well the next step is to start the engines, fingers crossed, I hit the first button and away the stbd engine went, next the port engine and all good, checked cooling water flow dirty but good. Two of the boys in the water made sure we were clear and pushed the boat backwards, Taputu the foreman then gave me the signal to use the engines, and I went astern for a short distance then maneuvered into a berth between two other yachts. There are no floating fingers or jetties. There are mooring buoys on the seaward side and the dock on the other. This time we chose to go bow to the dock because of the storm winds. Nancy and Taputu looked after the forward lines, I with the help of Augustus and Wilfred who were still in the water, tied two lines one to each mooring buoy. Once secure I left the engines run for an hour to ensure all was well.

With the bows being to the dock it makes it difficult to get on and off due to the height. I went to get a plank and step timber to assist in this matter. Taputu told me to get the better timber and actually drilled holes in it for me to tie to the boat. I said to him that I will buy the boys a beer this Friday for doing such a good job and taking the extra care that they did and extra assistance they have given us.

The boys did not finish until after 1800 hours that night so it shows the extra time they put into us. They actually started to get us ready at 1300 hours. They do not take that long with other boats. I went around after everything had settled down and checked water connections toilets and sump pumps. Out of the four heads/showers only one sump pump for the shower was working. As I had been warned by our friend Rick in Oz that some of these things will not work due to corrosion in the switches from condensation. So those went onto the job list. The main thing I wanted to do was clean the upper decks, they have suffered badly from being on the hard. With the rain and weather and the fact that even though we took our thongs off on the transom step after climbing the ladder the grime still got around the decks.

So Wednesday was scrub decks day, I got my environmentally friendly boat soap, some vinegar and a dash or two of chloride in a bucket filled it with water and got on the hands and knees and commenced the scrubbing. I may add that this sounds as though it is not the best job to do, let me tell you this is the easy part. This job has to be followed by polishing, now that is a s—t job. May I say that will be done over a long period doing a little each day.

Thursday it was hot and wet, so I spent the day working on the head vanity cabinet mirrors that were loose in the brackets and this also added me to get to the sump pump switches behind them. The stbd aft pump switch decided to work as soon as I touched the back so I cleaned it and gave it a good dose of electrical protection. Spray.

The stbd fwd pump was frozen, a little corrosion in the motor shaft again this was freed and given a dose of spray. Port aft pump was working but I gave it a good spray also. The Port fwd that had actually failed at sea some time before has a fault in the motor. As this is the shower that I use I pinched the motor from the stbd aft shower as we do not use this one. The stbd aft head/shower is our laundry and we will fit a small washing machine in there one day, the stbd aft cabin is the workshop and spare parts a tools room.

We finished this work by late lunchtime and my back was a little sore from leaning over working on the pumps through the deck plates using both hands to work and not being able to support the back. So I had an easy afternoon and Nancy had a nana nap.

I went and bought the beer at 1500 from the supermarket and a couple of other things whilst Nancy made some dip a biscuits and off to the workshop for drinks, we had an enjoyable time. Some of the conversation is sign language with some of the boys because we do not speak French of Polynesian and they do not speak English. We have been accepted into their fold, we know hello is yurana (your honour) and goodbye is hanana. We are also welcomed by the Polynesian workers with their hand shake which is slap each others open hand followed by touching fists.

I have found out by talking to some people that have been around here for near four years the reason that we do not get charged for every service provided. Amandine has done a lot for us that we have not paid for, faxes to Oz, ordering parts from Papeete picking them up after getting them through Customs at no charge, telephone calls to business in town for us. Amandine says it is part of the service we provide in the cost of you paying to stay here. The truth is that if you appreciate what the staff do for you and you show it in some small way, and this does not mean you have to buy them a beer, the service will be provided at no cost. But if you are demanding, or expect the service and show no appreciation then you pay for all services provided. Some people are their own worst enemy.

Friday went well, better than Saturday morning with a little suffering of the night before. We soon fixed that with a bike ride (6kms) into town to do some shopping. Early that morning a merchant barge had run aground on the reef at Uturoa, not sure what happened, locals say that quite a few ships have done the same, they set auto pilot controlled by GPS and go to sleep. It looks like it will be there for a while. Biking back with stores it started to rain near Apooiti Marina so we called in to stay out of the rain and had lunch and a drink. Then we headed back to our boat. We had an easy afternoon and evening.

Today Sunday, we went into town again on our bikes, I wanted to get a photo of the barge aground, and to our surprise the Paul Gauguin passenger liner was entering port so we sat and watched it berth. We have seen this ship a few times it was in an earlier photo at Rangiroa.
 (This is the very large delivery barge from Tahiti, high and dry, the fellow on watch said he went to the toilet and then it happened. I don't think so, you do not go anywhere when approaching reefs, I think he fell asleep on watch. They have brought big tugs and they cannot budge it so they will remove the new engines and cut the ship up)
(The Paul Gauguin)

We then cycled back to the boat in time to prepare for the usual Sunday BBQ near Pascal’s yacht. He has a BBQ he loads with wood and gets it ready for around midday anyone that wants to front up brings food and their drink and we sit around having a talk. Last week there was five of us this week there was eleven of us, sometimes there can be up to twenty five Pascal tells us. It was another pleasant afternoon.
 (Pascal puts up the shade protection from the sun and rain)
 (Pascal's BBQ made from an old water heater)
(People from all different countries come along)

That brings everyone up to date.

With the exception that we are still having problems with the frige/freezer, it appears now that the pressure valve has failed and is the possible cause for the compressor and fan failing because they could have been running 24/7. When I get the new valve just about everything in the unit will be new.

Still here at Raiatea

We have had a good week work, resting and socializing.
We have replaced a lot of rope this week, renewed the Genoa halyard, main sheet, outhaul and second reef line. Other good things have been washing the boats hulls above waterline and have actually started to polish. I have to do it in certain times of the day, when it’s not too bloody hot in the sun. This gives a small window of opportunity to do the job, at this stage I am about 20% completed.

We have cycled into town nearly every day which is good exercise, 6 kms each way; it was fun carting 150 metres of 14mm rope on a pushbike.

The other day we saw a beautiful sailing vessel enter port, approximately 100 metres, it is owned by Swiss bloke the second richest in Sweden, and apparently he is a very nice bloke and does not flaunt his wealth. He owns two of these sailing ships, they are tourist vessels and travel this way once a year. The picture shows what type of ship they are. This one is the Star Flyer and the other some 47 metres longer is Moon Maker.
 (Star flyer)

They brought a large tug boat in this week to try and pull the ship/landing barge off the reef, I think all they were able to do was lift wanted stores off it, the tug has left, and the ship is still on the reef.

The locals are still working on the shells in the yard, I think I mentioned before they have this two week period to harvest the special shells, well we found out that this period only happens every five years. They are still working cleaning the shells although the harvest period ended last weekend. They have collected 6 tonne of shells. When the buyers arrive they are expected to get 300 to 400 francs per kilogram. In Oz terms that about $3:50 a kg.
  (They sit in the water cleaning the shells and removing what is inside) 
(The children well they just have fun and perform for the camera)
 (The shells drying)

Friday came around rather quickly, the boys in the yard had just finished putting a Belgium yacht in the water belonging to a young Belgium couple, and their yacht has been on the hard for six months. They also now have fridge problems and the engine when started did not get cooling water pumping, so their sea water pump impeller is also gone. They have to be home by September so they are looking at sailing to Oz and then putting their yacht on the yacht transport ship and fly home from Oz.

As the boys were swimming back after attaching the yachts lines to the mooring buoy I waved out to them as I was walking back to our boat, although Augustus cannot speak much English his actions spoke for him. He pointed to the workshop then me a gave a signal like downing a beer. I got back on board and said to Nancy I have just been directed by Augustus to go and have a beer. Next thing there is a knock on the bow of our boat and it is the lovely Amandine she also came to invite us for a beer at the workshop with them. We had a good night with drinking a few 500 ml stubbies, Nancy had a couple of them, she wasn’t too bad this morning, but she wasn’t a 100% either. The photos tell the story. At the end of the session I thanked the boys for the invite, Augustus said through someone who interpreted, thank you for coming and thank you for buying all of us a beer last Friday. As Amandine says we are part of the family now. I wouldn’t be dead for quids.
 (Augustine, Jacque and Amandine)
(Taputu, Eaves, Muriel and Amandine)

Today was an easy day we biked into the store near the airport and I bought some plastic containers then returned and started to tidy up my workshop and have things in their place and labeled.

Tomorrow is Sunday here, if the weather is fine it is BBQ at Pascal’s area as usual and it appears that there will be a lot more people there this week, must take the camera.

The weather this week has been less rain and a lot of sun and bloody hot. A few days we did as the locals do, siesta time, have a nap after lunch and work when it is cooler.

 Raiatea 24 February

Haven’t much to report, we are still doing maintenance on Alana Rose did a full service on the port engine the other day and will do the Stbd engine on Monday. I have also completed some electrical work. Have put in key isolation switches inside the saloon at the nav desk for the engines. These boats are design with keyless ignition not the ideal situation in some places. I think I had already mentioned that we put the new CD/MP3 player in. We have been converting the music on the computer to MP3 from WMA; this way by cutting a disc with MP3 music gives approximately seven hours playing without having to change a disc.

I have also installed a permanent night light (Red LED), this is above the nav desk and gives enough light to move around in the saloon of night without upsetting ones night vision. Also installed a new white light above the nav desk this is also LED light. The LED lights save on battery power. Also changing a few other lights that need replacing.

The good news is that our refrigeration is now working again after changing nearly everything. The system is a simple system, but unfortunately someone prior to us picking up the boat had worked on the pressure valve and possibly done damage to it, it was probably this that caused the compressor to fail as it was running 24/7. Christian the fridge mech will be back on Monday to check everything but so far so good. I had to get the valve from USA it cost US$75 and US$215 to get it here and that was not express.

Being Sunday today it is the group BBQ if the rain goes away; we had some heavy rain in the last 24 hours. We had a good BBQ last week, we had the League of Nations there, six Americans, one Italian come Frenchman, four French persons, two from Belgium and us two Aussie, so you can see we outnumbered them.

The new Americans there are travelling around the same time as us and to the same places. One couple both doctors have two children with them, they have to return to work in September so they are putting their boat up for sale in Oz, it is a 47 ft Benateau 2003 model. The other couples plans are the full circumnavigation around the world.

The other good news is that we went to see immigration on Friday, we thought we had better, we acted dumb which many people may say that would not be hard. Immigration said not to worry we have until April 13 before we have to leave or go and see them for an extension of visa. They said we had to go and see the Gendarmes and get the passport stamped each month, Dianne who assisted us took us to the Gendarmes because she said they do not speak English. She told them what was required and left us there to wait our turn, when we went in, we went through the same routine we went through last year. The officer that Diane spoke with did not come forward, in the end I said I will go and get Diane to explain with this the officer attending to us said no worries you have until April 13 you do not need a stamp unless you extend past that date. I think he really put it in the too hard basket and got rid of us.

So we are alright to stay, they did not want to worry about the time we had last year. When we got back to the boat we had Customs waiting to see us. We went through the normal as we did last year; they inspected the boat and filled out paperwork then left.

They did ask if I had anything to declare, I said no, he then pointed to the alcohol I declared in Hiv Oa when clearing into French Polynesia, I said that’s all gone, he smiled, I said there has been a few sundowners since then.
 (We called in to the markets and said hello to some of the people that we had met last year)

(This bloke makes these instruments and plays them whilst selling them)

Now 26 February - We had a good day Sunday

At last weeks BBQ a French couple Gilles and Christine arrived back on their yacht from a week trip away. Gilles was dressed in a males sarong some material around his head for the sun. After we helped dock the yacht Gilles brought ashore this huge coconut crab, shown below. He was the star attraction and the crab still alive was getting photos taken. You wouldn’t want to get your finger caught in those claws.
(Giles with the coconut crab)

At Sundays BBQ this week Charlie took the rinse out of Gilles and dressed up the in a similar fashion and did a comic re-enactment of Gilles with the crab. It gave everyone a laugh including Gilles and his wife Christine.
(Charlie clowning around)

There was plenty of food as always, Pascal’s dog Plomb decided to pinch the cream off Pascal’s desert. Pascal takes his dog everywhere with him even when he goes to work. The name Plomb is French for plumb line weight, sinker, (that’s if I have spelled it correctly). He gave him this name because Plomb cannot swim, he sinks. After Plomb has eaten he jumps up in Pascal’s lap and commences to suck on his arm, it’s a thing he started as a very young pup and continues to do it.
 (Plomb pinching the cream, then sucking on his arm)

(Christine, Giles's wife on the right)
(After the BBQ Plomb has a bath)

Pascal is a character, he is funny and always makes with the jokes and he is very talented. He is Italian but speaks French, he joined the French Navy at the age of 15 years and became a diver. He was doing a job at Bora Bora with the navy when the gas mix was wrong and he got the bends and nearly died. After this he retrained as an electrician and had to do extra service time after getting his qualifications. He spent 24 years in the navy. He is a nice bloke and one you don’t forget.

This is the one thing about this voyage we have been on is that we have met so many nice people sailing and non sailing. Some of them we communicate through translators or sign language because we do not speak the same tongue.

After everyone had finished eating on Sunday a massive storm hit, we got a little wet but we stayed under the tarp and continued our social time.

I got talking to Lee and Mary-Beth, they are both American Doctors, Lee has problems with his electrical system and said the yard next door has been working on it but things appear to be getting worse not better. I went over to have a look after grabbing the multi meter and a few tools. After going through his electrical (12v DC) system I found that his shower sump pump was leaking current to four other systems, I located the area that it was leaking but could not find the leak itself, I did get his fridge working again which was a plus, but I think that also needs some work which I told him. I told Lee I could not do much more and that he should get Pascal to have a look at it, I had at least found the area that was causing the problem. Lee said that I had conducted a larger diagnostic investigation than the yard next door had done over two days.

By the time I had finished it was time to go back to our yacht and have tea, we sat and finished the day with a nice wine and listening to music.

Monday a work day, I serviced the starboard engine, flushed the coolant water system and changed the coolant, oil, oil filter, fuel filters and stripped and cleaned the separator filter. Checked all the systems and ran the engine for a short time. Finished by late lunch time and then took it easy for the rest of the day.

Today Tuesday 26, it poured rain all night and this morning, some very heavy rain so we are having an easy day. Hope you like the photos.

(Love the comments on the last blog, I think it may have been Rick. No beer does not stunt the growth, it makes you grow outwards).

5 March Raiatea

Well we are getting things done and getting ready to head off at the end of the month, the fridge/freezer is finally doing its job. We have changed all the ropes, halyards sheets, and control lines including the lazy jacks. A few days ago I pulled out the mainsail fitted the batons and checked the cars etc. As soon as that was complete the winds came in and I had to tie the sail down on the fwd deck area. After checking the weather I thought the sail may be laying there for the next week, we have high winds and storms predicted. However, this morning at around 6am  both Nancy and I looked out and the sea was like glass. I said we should get the main up whilst it is calm, Nancy said she was thinking the same thing. So we got stuck into it, I tell you what this is a good way to do morning exercises. The sail rolled up I can just lift but not for long, when its laid out with the batons fitted and having to drag it into place adjacent to the boom is tough going after this hoisting whilst putting the cars on the track is bloody hard work. It took one hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish that was doing everything. Nancy helped but I had to do all the heavy stuff. I ensured that all D shackles were wired so no vibrating loose, tied off the reefing lines on the boom and the outhaul. After this we lowered the main into the sail bag, zipped her shut and then the wind picked up. We had finished just in time, we were both a pool of sweat so we just used the transom shower to cool off.

Today was a public holiday here, not sure what for. It was also the German couple next doors 37th wedding anniversary and they invited us for a Champaign breakfast to help celebrate. I made a card on the computer and we gave them a bottle of wine. Ingrid and Ernest, they are such a lovely couple, they work as a team all the time they work together on every job that has to be done and they still act like newlyweds, they tease each other, it is great to watch them.

It was also Charlie’s 66th birthday today so we made a card for him, it said, Happy 30 birthday Charlie on the front and inside said is this the second or third time. It gave him a laugh anyway.

Since my last blog they have launched a barge that was built here in the yard, they built it in a shed then had to take out the end wall to get it out. The pictures tell the story.

Other than that there is not much to report, we had the usual BBQ on Sunday which was again a lot of fun and laughs, there are more boaties returning to their boats to get them ready for sailing in April so there are more people attending the BBQ. It is a league of nations, people from everywhere.

15 March Raiatea

Not much news at the moment, we are still getting things ready for the day we sail, there is always some maintenance to do or help someone with things. That is the good thing about the yachting fraternity, everyone helps each other, got a problem talk about it and you will find the answer from one of them.

An American couple was having computer problems and I was able to sort that out very easily. Someone had removed information that they said was not needed but some of the data removed stopped other programs from working. By going on line and updating the programs fixed that, and then they run out of hard drive space, some friend had downloaded 36.8GB of music on a 55GB hard drive.

Had a funny incident yesterday, we did a bit of moving yachts in the marina, they wanted us to move where Cosmos an American boat was berthed as that is normally where the catamarans are berthed so first we moved Charlie and Suni of Cosmos. We got most of the lines off, just keeping one forward line and the aft line on until Charlie was ready. This marina does not have fingers; you tie off to the dock, and your stern lines loop round mooring buoys. Charlie let go of the last stern line then yelled out let go forward as he jumped in the cockpit to take control, and then he screamed put the forward line back on fast.

The problem was that Cosmos has been alongside for quite some time and to make it easy to move around the cockpit they removed the steering helm, Charlie had forgotten to put it back on before moving. It took a second to put it back on. Poor Charlie won’t live that down for a while, we won’t let him.

As soon as he was secured in his new location I said to Charlie I can fix this problem, I went on board our boat got the masking tape and a marker , wrote on the tape “FIT HELM BEFORE REMOVING” and wrapped it around the windward forward line. We all had a big laugh. Fortunately Charlie can take it probably because he was a fireman and they are always making fun of each other.

After this it was our turn to move, we got in the berth easily but we had some trouble getting blown around by the wind whilst we got the lines on. Normally when you tie up at the marina a couple of the fella’s in the yard jump in the water and feed the lines through the mooring buoys for you and it makes it a fast operation. Yesterday I did Charlie’s mooring lines for him and he did them for me from a dinghy. This is a slower operation and with strong winds on the starboard quarter it makes it a little difficult.

I made sure everything was secure regularly during low and high tide and I am pleased that I did, around midnight last night a massive squall hit us, high wind and poured rain. The only casualty was Nancy’s thongs (the ones you put on your feet, thought I best clear that up), they were sitting on the trampoline where we get on and off the boat. I found one this morning wedged between the steps at the fwd saloon windows, the other one will probably get to Oz before we do.

Some local kids were having fun yesterday they had this small ramp they were jumping their bicycles over, they got bored with this after a short while so the next was to relocate the jump so that when they came down they landed in the sea. What made me smile was the first thing they had to find material for the jump, this became a young girl’s job, who found it and carried it all by herself for about a hundred metres whilst the boys sat on their bikes and watched. The young girl did not have a bike and only watched the boys jump. She did jump in the sea a few times to help the boys retrieve their bikes.

Charlie and Pascal have been diving this week repairing the moorings for CNI, the strange part is that they are doing it for free, CNI do not want to spend money on them, but Charlie and Pascal see them as an asset to the yachting community and feel they should be fixed. Pascal is a very generous man he works for himself as an electrician and is losing paid work hours to fix these moorings. He is a very nice gentleman and kind to everyone. He loans the car to Suni to take us into town with her and Charlie and will not accept anything for it. He makes sure the car is full of fuel before we go so that we cannot put any fuel in it. He says he knows what it is like when you get to a foreign port and have no transport.

Pascal went into town yesterday and asked if we needed anything, when he returned he had bought a pair of heavy work gloves for Charlie for when they dive on the moorings. He said to Suni, gives these to Charlie to use when diving the ones he has are girl’s gloves. Then he laughs but he will not accept payment for them. We meet a lot of interesting people on this journey.

18 March Raiatea and still having fun.

We are still doing what yachties do, cleaning, maintaining, repairing, and polishing the boat. At the moment we are going to get some covers made to give us a little more weather protection during mooring or anchoring. There is more action going on with other people arriving and getting their boats back in the water. They, like us are waiting to see what happens with the weather, the MJO (which is a computer tool to monitor the low pressure system that comes from Africa through the top end and into the Pacific), may go through its eighth phase mid to late March, this will be the system that can create cyclones. So we sit and wait.

We have had a good week doing different things, I helped Charlie and Pascal by being the boat guy whilst they dived, set up three more moorings that had broken and disappeared. We had our usual BBQ on Sunday although it was quieter this Sunday with some people sailing around the island, the Belgium couple Eaves and Muriel have gone over to Tahiti, Eaves has to have some medical check up. Last year he found out that his body was host to a parasite that he picked up in Africa. Fortunately a smart doctor picked it up where others had failed, he lost part of his liver, his lung, and I cannot remember what else. He is going for a check up as he feels that he has a swelling in the side. Sunday BBQ’s are great we have some good laughs and it is the day off.

I think once the weather looks promising there will be a few boats leaving in roughly the same direction at the same time most are heading to some part of Oz some are not because they have heard that Customs is too tough. They may be tough but it is good that they are in many ways. Many countries have very simple processes and don’t even look at the boat, you fill a form in at an office, and that is it. We were in Raiatea near a month before Customs approached us in a dinghy, filled out the form every country has and they looked through the yacht, opened cupboards etc. They have been back and done the same a couple of weeks ago.

Naturally yachties expect it to be the same all over and Oz is not that simple, you have to give a minimum of 96 hours notice prior to entering Oz or there are very big fines, all the countries we have been to you just arrive go to the authorities and clear in. Some yachties do not even bother to clear in at some places.

On another note things we do to pass the time is play on our computers. The other week everyone was coming back to there boats and some people are very demanding and poor Amandine was getting a little upset with people and was upset herself. To try and cheer her up I made up a couple of photos, they are as follows.

When I gave these to Amandine she had a big smile and she said John this morning I was in a bad mood but you have now made me feel better.
 (Amandine often helps the boys if someone is off sick)
(Tough customers)

Pascal and Charlie did not miss out either. I think I showed the photo earlier of Charlie taking the rinse out of Gilles with the crab, I did not show the photo of Pascal when he served coffee to the girls after the BBQ, he dressed up in a sailors cap bow tie and braces. Well I put this together with a caption.

We have had some good times and I am sure we will have more before we leave, we have met some great people some we may never see again some we may but we will always have those memories, but we both want to get going again.

24 March 08 Last week in Raiatea, I think.

Well we are just about ready to sail just a couple of small jobs to do. Suni and Charlie have just asked us to join them to celebrate Suni’s birthday at Bloody Mary’s at Bora Bora on the 1 April so that will be the starting point for us to begin the final stages of our voyage.

It is going to be hard for us to say goodbye to some of the friends that we have made, but I think it may be a little harder on Pascal when it comes to the Sunday BBQ everyone will be vacating at the same time. Although he may have experienced it many times in his three years here and there will be the next lot of sailors returning to their boats here and new ones arriving from the east he has become very close to some of the crowd.

We now have our new covers and it is great being able to sit in the cockpit when it is pouring of rain and staying dry and also have the cockpit cooler with the additional light coloured covers. We had a two hour rain storm last night with strong winds and only the fine spray penetrated into the cockpit.

The rear cockpit covers still have to be secured in place; they stop the afternoon sun from entering the cockpit and the saloon as well as any rain that may come from the rear. The fact is with the catamaran and the easterly winds when anchored the stern faces the setting sun and it heats the cockpit and the saloon. The difference is unbelievable.

Easter weekend, happy Easter everyone, bit late eh. We had a good Easter weekend, Friday I helped Charlie and Pascal with some more moorings, they dived and I kept an eye on them from the boat, we fitted the new top covers and checked for any other adjustments. Saturday I did some adjustments to the securing of the covers to make it easy to release in bad weather and did some repairs to the boat. Sunday we went to church, WHAT!!!! You say, no the roof did not cave in either. We had Suni, Charlie, Maggie and Chris over for dinner on Saturday night and Chris mentioned that the French Polynesian church services are great, the singing is wonderful. So we all thought it would be a good idea to go, so we went, could not understand a word they said it was in the local tongue. The singing was beautiful, I enjoyed it.

We got back from church just in time for the Sunday BBQ, as usual it was a good day, we had some new people join us, having the league of nations once again with Italian, French, Columbian, American and us Aussies. We had more than enough food, and the deserts, Nancy baked a banana cake, Suni had a cheese cake, Pascal made an almond pie with a large chocolate fish on top, Maggie had a fruit crumble, Claudia had chocolate brownies individually wrapped and handed them out to everyone for Easter. Nancy made little paper Easter baskets filled with chocolates for everyone. The general meals there was chicken, sausages, steak, chicken kebabs, tuna, salads, and potato bake everyone brings more food than they need themselves us included. We really need to get back to sea to lose some weight. As they say a good day was spent by all.
 (Easter BBQ, Claudette, Charlie and Suni)
 9Me talking to Michael and Barbara American friends)
 (Pascal acting up with the little box on chocolates Nancy made for everyone)
 (Pascal, Claudette and husband Paul. They used to run a charter boat around the islands one day they were by themselves when they hit something and started to sink, they put out a Mayday but the authorities said it was too far to go, they bailed water for three days keeping afloat. It was when one officer came on duty and recognised Paul's name, Paul was a French war hero so they decided to rescue them).
 Pascal knocks out a few tunes)

 (Plomb on guard duty)
 (Suni has desert a chocolate fish
(Pascal getting coffee for the ladies)

Today Monday we had a quiet day, I installed a new 12 volt cigarette type plug in the cockpit at the helm station, the only one we had was at the nav-station in the saloon and we were running wires out the door, now we will not have to. Then I have started checking the running gear for sea, navigation lights etc. Looks like I have to go up the mast tomorrow, the steaming light looks as though it has come lose.
Well that’s about all the news, this time next week we should be in Bora Bora.

28/03/08 Raiatea Goodbye

Today we prepared to sail out of here, we went to the Gendarmerie and cleared out, and we did our last minute shopping. We bought the beers with a few other yachties for a farewell with the CNI staff.

We have heard that there are quite a few yachts travelling in the same direction westwards, at Panama. I believe there is 60 yachts waiting to get through the Panama canal and they say there is a 3 – 4 week delay.

The CNI Carenage had a large exodus of sailors over the last few days the marina was nearly empty when we left yesterday. The next wave of sailors will move in over the next few weeks. We heard that there was sixty yachts waiting to go through the Panama a couple of weeks ago and the waiting list was four weeks to get through from booking date.
 (The two Italian boats are first to leave)

We had farewell drinks Friday night with the CNI team; it was a good night and a chance to say thanks to each of them. This was followed by the Sunday BBQ. I felt a little for Pascal as he had made good friends with us all and we were all leaving at the same time. But that gap will be filled with others. There were two newcomers on Sunday Tom and Linda, they are not a couple they both are skippers of their own yachts. Linda will be selling here yacht in Australia it is a 1983 monohull but to go inside it looks like it was built yesterday. It is very well looked after and has everything. When you are going down the steps in the companionway to the saloon it has a wow factor. It is full teak and red velveteen upholstery, water maker, generator and many extras. She hopes to move it quickly and will not be greedy with the price.

 (Linda, Nancy, Suni, Charlie and Marybeth)
 (Lee, Chris, me and Tom)
 (Inga playing up to Sylvain)
 (Sylvain and Nancy)
 (Jacque showing me where he put all the photos I had taken of the CNI crew)
(Some of the CNI staff)

There are a few Americans selling their yachts in Oz they feel it’s a good market and it is too hard to sail back the way they came so the only other choice is to keep going around the world and that takes time.

Charlie and Suni had been around French Polynesia for the past three years and had been long time friends of Pascal, Charlie did a lot of diving with Pascal. Pascal had been a diver in the French Navy for 24 years; he had active service in Desert Storm. On Sunday he gave Charlie a metal French Navy divers insignia, it was two dolphins encircling an anchor, this I know by being an ex-navy man myself, that this was a special gift.

During the weekend we also had dinner on “Atlantis” Ernest and Inge (Inga) yacht, what a night that was, Inge served a German style dinner, and it was very nice. They also served beer, many wines, and then apariti it is an aniseed liqueur and Inge kept topping up the glasses saying it will help you sleep, she was right there.

Monday morning it was get ready to cast off and go sailing, we took the covers down stowed all the gear, topped up the water tanks then went to see Amandine to pay our bill. Amandine was also a little saddened with everyone leaving. She gave us a weeks discount on our marina fees because I had helped her a few times. She will also be missed.

One item I missed of interest, on occasions the boats have this cat visit looking for food, it’s a stray lives in the boat yard, she became pregnant and a couple of weeks ago she had her kittens but no one had seen where she had them. We all assumed that she had them in one of the old boats. After Sunday BBQ we are sitting around and the cat is visiting our boat so I tried to chase her away which made her run and hide in the main sail bag, I opened the zip on the bag and out she jumped, when I looked in there were three little kittens. She must have moved them there after I had fitted the sail bag and mainsail. We relocated the kittens, but the next morning when I was getting everything ready I her something and opened the sail bag again to find two kittens. I don’t know whether she had brought them back or if they were two additions.

We then cast off with the help of Ernest and Inge and we followed Charlie and Suni on “Cosmos” out of Raiatea and over to Bora Bora. We had a good sail across about 35Nms. We arrived mid afternoon got settled put the covers up and went into town for dinner.

Today we have Suni’s birthday lunch and a few boats will be arriving for that. So I will let you know how it was tomorrow.


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