Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stand by

The last three days, we have had numerous showers, strong winds while a
front was passing through. We were ready to go but knowing that behind
the front the trade winds were coming back promising a very comfortable
crossing, I was not in a hurry to get wet.
The barbecue organized by Matt and Ulla ended up with pouring rain, but
we were almost done anyway. Next morning, not a very encouraging
weather, but anyway we were getting ready to go sometimes in the
afternoon. This is when we heard about the earthquake in the Samoas and
the risk of a Tsunami in Tahiti.
I then decided to wait for whatever the authorities would say. In the
end, although Tahiti went into red alert with administration and some
shops closing, the Tsunami turned out to be a 12 inches wave, obviously
with no damage at all.
So, at 4 p.m., we went to the fuel dock to fill up, I paid the marina
and we came back to our dock to spend a last quiet dinner and night and
go tomorrow morning at daybreak, direcly for Rarotonga.
I will remember the Taina marina as an excellent place. Florient and
Constance are very helpful, cordial, friendly and always ready to help.
Thanks to them, I was able to assist two boats having problems,
Chennaker and Triple Seven. As far as I am concerned, I only have
positive comments to make about this marina and I will recommend it to

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Having received the remainder of the sails on Friday night, Saturday morning was entirely devoted into installing the main, the lazy bag and jacks, setting again the reefing lines and sorting out stuff so that Papy Jovial would be ready to go. This took all morning and turned out to be hard work but was completed all right. We then went for a quick lunch followed by a 30 minutes nap and a shower.
I then took the "truck" to Papeete as I had promised Mat that I would be on Chennaker by 3:00 p.m. I was a bit late but so were they, so it turned out OK.
I gave him all the informations I had gathered to help him with his sails and other problems, but I told him that I felt that he ought to have his boat towed to Taina marina where plenty of help is available. But he said that it would be too expensive and the idea was temporarily dropped. We then went strolling into town, looking for a place to have dinner. Their idea was a restaurant called Voo Doo Lounge but we could not find it. In fact, it had already changed name and ha
d been converted into a kind of snack bar with food 24/7.
We went to the "Retro" bistro to discuss possible alternatives and I suggested the Royal Tahitian that Jean-Francois had told me was an excellent place.
We went there and this was probably the best evening I have had since I arrived in Tahiti. The place is magnificient by the sea side, th
ere were a lot of customers, most of them locals, the music 
was, at last, Tahitian with a live band and the food was super. I enjoyed that evening, which was the real celebration of Matt's birthday thoroughly.
Sunday morning, we were supposed to go to the Sofitel hotel for a typical polynesian lunch and with polynesian dances. Instead, I discussed with the marina ways to tow Chennaker back to Taina and Florient, the manager, agreed to do it for an excellent price. I called Matt, told him to cancel the Sofitel event, and drive himself to Taina so we could go and get his boat in Papeete, Which is what we did for the best part of Sunday.
Chennaker is now in Taina, and I feel a lot better about their chances to get the boat back in a safe condition allowing them to continue on to NZ.
As for us, the boat is more than ready, Claude will join us tomorrow morning, I will do the clearance out tomorrow morning, the provisionning tomorrow afternoon, have a barbecue with everbody we know here in Taina, organised by Matt, and be ready to go.
I am leaving Tahiti on a positive note.
The one thing I noticed about Tahiti is the everpresent kindness of people everywhere. Especially towards children who are everywhere. No bickering, no shouting, a lot of affection, hugging, touching and gentleness. It must be good to be a child here. Also in three weeks, I have not seen once people shouting at each other or loosing their temper. This creates overall a very friendly and pleasant atmosphere.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The day before

After a wonderful Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (today) brought back
some degree of frustration.
To start with, I was still waiting to get my sails back up. Last night
after dark I got the sails and the cushions for the main cabin with
velcro sewn on them, but not the lazy Jacks and lazy bag, and not the
fittings to reinstall the main. I was promised that it would be done on
Friday. Today turned out to be rainy and windy day. I could work on the
velcro for the cushions and take care of a few minor jobs inside but
there is little hope to do anything outside. The good news is that all
the remaining bits and pieces showed up at 4:00 p.m. which means that we
will be able to put the sails back up tomorrw.
On the weather front however, it turns out that leaving on Saturday
would not be a good idea as we would probably have to motor quite a bit
or face variable and unstable weather. Based on the grib files and the
advice of Bob McDavitt, I have decided to leave only on Tuesday morning.
This gives us ample time to be more than ready.
The crew who was supposed to come with us and was supposed to come
aboard last night (Thursday) has disappeared from the radar screen. No
reply to my emails and his cell phone does not answer. I hope nothing
bad has happened to him.
Tonight there will be some drinking. Matthias and Ulla, aboard
Chennaker, finally made it to Papeete, after an adventurous journey from
the Marquesas via the Tuamotou. Broken finger, leaking water pump,
broken autopilot, etc . . . I am glad they finally made it to a place
where they can fix all that and be on their way to NZ, but before that
we are going to celebrate his 33rd birthday tonight.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

eco tourism

Wonderful day last Wednesday. My first day as a real tourist in Tahiti.
I was picked up at the marina at 9 o'clock in the morning by a Land
Rover with three young couple aboard, one of them on their honeymoon,
and a young male driver/guide.
After a very short drive along the coast going east, we turned and
started moving south towards the centre of the island, which is the
crater of an old extinct volcano.
Words and photos cannot do justice to the magnificence of the scenery.
Very steep mountains with hundreds of waterfalls, very green and lush
vegetation, mostly trees and surprisingly no fruits. We started moving
up a valley in which flows the largest river on the island and from time
to time could stop in areas where it was possible to have a swim. Only
once did we see a sign of the past polynesian culture, a marae not far
from the coast. Other than that, no village, no dwelling of any kind, in
fact nobody. It felt like a green wonderful desert, but kind of irreal
after you just left a busy coast line with lots of people and cars.
The river is used to produce hydro-electricity, so we visited the
various dams which have been built up the river, and even went through a
short tunnel dug out so that maintenance vehicle going to the third dam
up the river could come from the other side of the island.
We had lunch along the way in a restaurant built in the mountains but
that does not have customers any more except for the few people like us
who take a safari tour. I am told that this restaurant, and an adjacent
defunct hotel, was very busy at the time of the french nuclear tests,
but has almost completely died since. The menu was chicken and french
fries, not quite a typical local food.
But all in all, a good day for me. After so much time at sea level, it
felt good to be up there in the mountains.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


It feels strange. I have done all that I can do, but still the boat is not ready as I am waiting for the sails, the lazy bag and the lazy jacks. I have been promised that they would be returned on Wednesday, but I will believe it once I see it.
Yesterday, I learned that the brother of the Coast from France who was supposed to join me on November 10th in Noumea won't be able to mak
e it due to medical reasons. Obviously, I feel very sorry for him and I wish him a speedy and full recovery. Meanwhile, I have started again the search for someone to help me either from Noumea, or from Sydney. I should be OK until New Zealand as Claude who joins us here in Papeete might be able to stay on until New Zealand.
Tomorrow Sunday is a rest day, so I will take advantage that nothing happens here to do the oil change on the engine. I hate doing it, but it has to be done.
Then on Monday, I hope to be able
 to go to Moorea, if the Ferries are operating (they were on strike earlier this week). Tuesday, I have booked an excursion throughout the island. Wednesday I should recover the sails. Thursday, if all goes well, I might take advantage of an offer to take a hand-gliding flight (two seaters, and I am only watching !).
Then on Friday, we go to Papeete to clear out, do the provisionning so as to be ready to leave Saturday morning.
Last Thursday,  I was able to get a foretaste of one element of the Polynesian culture with an evening organized by the local restaurant here. Pleasant to watch, but I feel that the music lacks some joy and fun. It is a far cry from the Caraibbean music.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The day we left Manta, I received in my mail a threatening letter from
my pension fund demanding a "certificat de vie" (official proof that I
am alive) within 60 days of the letter otherwise they would suspend
payment. The letter was dated April 23 2009 and had been mailed July
8th, 2009. I got the letter the Saturday we were leaving from Manta, and
to get such a document in Ecuador, I would have had to travel to Quito
and get it from the french consulate.
So, we left and I contacted by emails friends and family in France,
asking them to call the pension fund and find out when exactly was the
deadline for them to receive the document. One of the pension fund
employee said September 1st, another said October 1st. Result, stress . . .
As soon as we got to Hiva Oa (we were not supposed to be in Fatu Hiva
before making an official entry), I went to the Gendarmerie (National
Police) and asked for it. They said the "probably" could not do it. I
would have to come back in the afternoon and check again, but they
believed that to produce such a document, they would have to make a
report that they did so. They also told me that it was very unlikely
that the Mayor's office would do it. So, I went to the Mayor's office,
and they did it without asking a question. I mailed it registered and
then almost everyday, I had someone in France ask to see if they got it.
By the time I arrived in Tahiti, they still did not have it. So I went
to the Mayor's office of Punaauia where the marina is located. They said
they could not make such a document, or rather the mayor could not sign
such a document since I was not a resident of Punaauia.
So what they did was to get a telephoned statement from the marina that
I was a resident at the marina, then they made me a resident of Punaauia
with address in the marina, after which they could sign the "certificat
de vie". I mailed it registered, but the next day I learned that the one
mailed from Hiva Oa had arrived. Happy ending . . .

Tomorrow morning, I am making my third trip to the port authority of
Papeete to complete my entry. I have cleared last week, but they forgot
to provide me with a certificate which will enable me to purchase fuel
duty free at the marina. I only need about 30 gallons, but it is worth a
visit to Papeete.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Soon to be tourist

When I arrived here at marin Taina, I told myself that I would not go visit the place until the boat was ready to go. I did not realise that time here does not go at the same pace as I am used to. Almost two weeks since we got here and I still have items on my to do list. This morning, I got up at 6 and spent the first 2 hours of the day taking apart the forward head, cleaning and removing the calcaire, and putting it back together. The head in my cabin is still waiting for a part that is essential.
This being said, progress has been made. I now have shore power reliably, the Monitor is ready to go, the whisker pole has been fixed and a lot of small jobs have been completed.
Then I still have to install my new computer, the sails are not back from the loft, etc. . . .
So, I have no idea what Tahiti looks like. I have made a few quick trips to Papeete, but too short to really get an idea of the place.
No matter what, next week I intend to visit and see what it looks like. I have booked an excursion on Tuesday and I am planning on making a few bus trips here and there and enjoy the place.
Jean-Francois is taking 2 weeks off with his wife Annie who flew in on the 10th and will spend 2 seeks here to visit Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea.
Yesterday, Claude came to visit and confirm that he will join us for the trip to Noumea. Good news as it means better sleep and a much easier passage. 
I am still struggling with Internet, despite three computers, 2 external long distance network adapters. different setups for the antenna. Sometimes, it works on one computer with one supplier, sometimes with another, sometimes nothing works. Game of patience which is not my specialty.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Tahitian week

One week already and I feel guilty to have almost disappear from the blog. That is the time it took for me to find the opportunity and the time and the energy to come back and update our blog.
We arrived last Wednesday at the Pointe Venus in 30 knots wind and under the guidance of Marc Lucas a.k.a. MarcGyver who has his boat in a marina nearby. I had been complaining about our 40 knots of wind that we experienced coming out of the Tuamotou, but in fact, we were rather lucky. A cat that had left the day before us from Hiva Oa and had gone south had 60 knots of wind for 12 hours. And in Tahiti itself, the wind was a 50 knots sustained and caused damages to a few boats, including one cat going on the reef.
So, Wednesday afternoon, we took a very quiet anchorage on the SW of Pointe Venus, and after a welcome drink with MarcGyver and Jane, who came with french baguette and pineapple, we enjoyed a wonderfully quiet night at the anchorage with no noise and very still  and quiet water.
Thursday morning, we took our time and around 10 o'clock, sailed to the entrance of the Papeete harbour and then around the airport to the marina Taina.
We got there a fantastic, friendly, competent and effective welcome from the personnel of the marina. In no time, we were tied up alongside, and were it not for the electric connection and the internet connection, we were as happy as can be. It turns out that their electric system has differential meters and cannot accept the green and the white wire inside the boat to be connected together anywhere. This took a whole week  to sort out and we are not out of the woods yet.
As for internet, there are two suppliers on the marina who compete against each other in a very disorderly fashion, including installing powerful antennas next to each other. The result is a lot of interferences, and even when you have a strong signal, the connection is very unstable.
Apart from that, the windvane is repaired, the spinnaker pole is fixed and shortened as I wanted, the sails are at the sailmaker, the bilge pump has been replaced and the connection redone. Very little left to do to bring Papy Jovial back to tip top shape for the departure to Noumea.
As for Tahiti, I have mixed feelings and perceptions, not all of them enthusiastic and it will take a full entry in the blog to explain my impressions
I'll be back . . . .   (who said that ?)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Connection problems

I have a ton of problems connecting to the internet which is why there
has been no posting on the blog since we arrived in Papeete. Apart from
that, everything is OK. The windvane Monitor has been repaired, the
spinnaker pole has been fixed, and we are making progress. I have to
wait the end of the Week-End to try and find a solution for Internet.
Please be patient.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Who say's it's boring ?

I am very often asked that question : when you are at sea on a long
crossing, do you ever get bored ?
This morning at 4:00 a.m., the genoa fell on deck while we were sailing
along nicely on a broad reach at 6 knots. It's probably the hook on the
halyard which either broke or opened up as I did not see anything on the
head of the sail when it came down. We scrambled a little to get it back
on deck and I was worried that it might have slipped under the hull. But
we got it out easy with the spinnaker halyard and secured it on deck.
Being only 55 miles from the anchorage and having the actual wind on the
beam, this with seas still in the 18 feet range and the rolling to go
with it, I decided to go from 3 to 2 reefs on the main and use the motor
to maintain speed, and wait until we are at anchor to worry about the genoa.
I also found that the cap that keep the packing material on the stuffing
box had unscrewed itself and the whole thing was spraying a lot of water
quite happily underneath the floor. This explains why the bilge pump
would come on quite often. So, I re-tighten everything but I know that
the whole thing, cutlass bearing and stuffing box will need a serious
look as we only cut roughly the material and netting tightened around
the shaft shortly before we got to Manta, and we could only work while
the boat was afloat.
All those small problems come on top of the boat needing a serious
cleaning and sorting out.
Tonight at anchor, we will enjoy a good meal and a good quiet night. But
I doubt that during our stay in Papeete we will find the time to get
bored. The to-do list will take care of that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No blog today

there will be no blog today. As we were exiting the Touamotou, we were
struck by a system of SSE wind at 35 to 40 knots steady, taking us to a
240 course. We do not know how long the system will stay with us and we
do not want to be taken west of Tahiti so we decided to heave to and
wait. In the meantime, we focus on handling the boat, resting and
eating. There will be more news when things quiet down.