Ready for the off
Monday 12th August 2013
Distance run: 6 nmiles
On Friday we finally slipped our lines at the town quay and motored just around the corner to pick up a buoy off Marina Taina. This is a wonderful spot - calm, quiet and with the most fantastic view of Mo’orea less than 10nmiles away across the channel. We are inside the barrier reef, so the water is flat and calm but we can see and hear the waves breaking on the outside of the reef not too far away.
The plan was to diesel up at the fuel dock, then pick up a buoy overnight and set off for Mo’orea on Saturday. The first part of the plan went well – the fuel dock had a space and we went straight on and filled up with the cheapest diesel in a long time – 100 CPF per litre, about 75 pence. This is the duty-free price, and to get it you need a document from customs to show at the fuel dock. Steve had cycled round to Customs when we were in town to get it, and it cost nothing. In fact, checking in and customs clearance is very easy in French Polynesia, and has cost absolutely nothing. Very refreshing.
We were on a buoy by mid-morning, but our plan started to waver when we sat back in the cockpit and started to soak up the surroundings. We had been on the town quay for a month, with all the hustle, bustle, noise and dirt that is part and parcel of a big town. It was necessary to stay there, because we needed to plug into shore power for two reasons: 1) the batteries needed a good charging and then testing to check they would still hold the charge and 2) the generator was effectively out of action until the new mounts arrived and were fitted. Necessity aside, we were both happy to be able to step off the boat and go into town whenever we wanted, so we enjoyed our stay there, right in the middle of the action, as it were. It was great to be able to take a stroll in the evenings, have a bite to eat, and then stroll back to the boat.
We had a list of jobs all waiting to be done when we arrived in Tahiti, so this was our first priority. We managed to get all of our jobs done, with chandleries on hand if needed. The new sail eventually arrived, and after a delay while it cleared through Customs (in contradiction to my comments above re checking in, at great expense!), it was brought to the boat by Laurent, our agent. We kept our fingers crossed whilst unpacking it that it had not been damaged in transit, but Richie at Jeckells had made sure it was well-wrapped and all was well. With little wind in the harbour, we soon had the old one down and the new one up, again with fingers crossed that it would fit. There seemed to be a lack of space inside the mast, but it had furled away well, so hopefully it’s just the stiffness of the new sailcloth. We were a bit disconcerted by the lack of a third reefing mark – we are sailing the Pacific Ocean after all, not the Solent! The important thing is that it fits and we now have a decent mainsail that we can have confidence in when there’s a blow.
We fitted the new radio and command mike and it is wonderful to have proper communications again. Apart from a blip when we couldn’t get the GPS to speak to the radio, owing to iCOM swapping over the terminology they used for the old radio and the new, (thanks iCOM, whose idea was that?!!) the installation went without a hitch, and it’s great to be able to use the radio in the cockpit again.
Laurent was as good as his word and the guy came to fix the new generator mountings the morning after they arrived. This was a job we could have done ourselves, but as it involved hoisting the generator off its mounts, it just seemed more sensible to get someone in. It proved to be, as with everything else in Tahiti, rather expensive, but the job was done in a few hours and the generator is up and running once more.
The other part in the package was the new diaphragm for the compass. This was easily fitted and the oil replaced, though it took a while to reduce the size of the air bubble. Eventually we settled for a bubble the size of a 10-pence piece, which has since reduced itself to the size of a pinhead, so all well there. We had a bit of a panic when, having replaced the oil, we realised that North was wherever we pointed it – the compass card was stuck! Steve upended the compass a few times and eventually the card began to spin and North was once again in its rightful place. Phew!
Boats came and went during our stay, and we recognised quite a lot of them from one anchorage or another along the way. It was good to catch up with their news. One morning we were woken by a noisy bow-thruster and voices, and Steve went out to help take lines. “We haven’t seen you since Norfolk”, said a cheery voice. It took a little while for us to remember: we had met Dave and Jenny on Alexes when we were on our way back down the ICW in Autumn 2011. Like us, they were taking advantage of Gary & Greta’s invitation to use the empty docks at their condo. The day we arrived they were hosting a ‘thank you’ do on board Alexes, and kindly invited us along. Dave is a Brit who emigrated to Oz years ago, and he and Jenny are just completing their eight-year circumnavigation. The morning after we met them in Norfolk they slipped lines early and we hadn’t seen them since. We thought they had a good memory, then Dave confessed he has been following our blog for the last two years! It was good to share a glass of wine or two and catch up on news.
We also caught up again with Pepe & Bear on Beez Nees – well actually they caught up with us. They took a more southerly route from Galapagos, visiting the Gambier and Austral groups of islands on their way to Tahiti, and sat out rather more horrid weather than we did. So it was good to see them arrive safely on the town dock, and we enjoyed several sessions of catching up on news.
So, after a busy time in town, and realising what a lovely location this is, just around the corner, we decided to put Mo’orea on hold and enjoy a few restful days here. It will also give the wind and waves time to calm a little, as it’s been blowing 25+ knots out there over the weekend.
View of Mo’orea, from the buoy, and waves breaking on the reef. The Tahiti shoreline, from S-F.
We didn’t get to explore the interior, as we thought we might, but we have certainly enjoyed what we have seen of the island. The people are very friendly and go out of their way to be helpful. They are a very family-orientated culture, and it’s lovely to see that Sundays are indeed a day of rest when families spend time together.
A memorial to Pacific Islanders affected by nuclear bomb testing. Outrigger canoes stored on the quayside.
The beautifully landscaped park along the waterfront in Pape’ete. The old girl tied up on the town dock in Pape’ete. Still looking good!
This strangely shaped motor superyacht is called ‘A’.