Day 631: Problems in Papeete

It's one thing after another as the crew of Egret reach Papeete

Position: S17 35.41 W149 36.96 Anchored off Taina Marina, Papeete, Tahiti

Scott (YT) and Mary Flanders (MS) left Gibraltar on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete list of all the couple’s blog entries click here 

Thursday 12 June
Well mis amigos, what can we say? Tahiti is off to port, and Point Venus, where Captain Cook reportedly observed the transit of planet Venus in 1769 is just ahead. It was Captain Cook who named these the Society Islands, in honour of the British Royal Society. Two more hours and we should be in the harbour.

Papeete is going through an enormous expansion to handle more cruise ships and megayachts with an impressive pier and a 500 slip modern marina.Egretis anchored near the marina. You can imagine our surprise and pleasure to see two new Nordhavn 55s at the dock. We have met the owners of one,New Paigeand have been invited to dinner this evening. The owners are a forward thinking Canadian couple travelling with their 10-year-old daughter Kimberly whom they have been home schooling and she is way beyond her classmates at home.New Paigewill also winter (summer) in New Zealand. We have yet to meet the folks from the other N55,Myahbut we’re sure we will soon.

After arriving and heading ashore to check in, Roger onNew Paigeled us to the bus stop, or rather Le Truck stop, told us the drill and where to get off. Picture a worn out small delivery truck, take the bed off, add a low wooden box with benches along both sides and one down the middle and you have Le Truck, a relatively inexpensive form of local transportation. Going through customs and immigration was a tedious one and a half day affair. The officers couldn’t have been more accommodating or laid back but it is simply the system. Firstly we had to go to a local bank and post a $1400 bond per person to assure our flight out of Tahiti if we decided to stay and got caught. Next, our three credit cards wouldn’t accept the charge in francs so we gave them $2000 in cash and got the balance out of the ATM machine in francs. When we present our check out papers our money will be returned, minus 3%. The money will be returned to us in francs and to convert them back costs another 6%. We’ll let you know how this issue evolves.

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Papeete is crowded and has nearly constant traffic jams. Welcome to paradise. We have a few boat chores to do then we will leave to find a peaceful anchorage somewhere before Frank leaves us on Sunday. In all fairness, when we look above the city it is beautiful. Moorea is just eight miles away and within sight of the anchorage. We will stay within a relatively close range until friends arrive in early July. One local highlight of our anchorage is the outrigger canoes, one man, three man and five man, practising for an upcoming festival. On winding our way to the anchorage the locals were keeping pace with the boats, includingEgret, in their single man canoes. Last night three of the multiple person boats were practising and when the third boat took off the coach’s small outboard had to be up on plane to keep up. These guys, and girls, really move!

Friday 13 June
This has not been a fun couple days for theEgretcrew, it’s just been one thing after another. First, the water pressure system pump went out, which is no biggie. These inexpensive pumps work well but have about a 2-3 year life span when in constant use. We have two spares so we’ve installed one of these. However, during installation I jiggled a tee causing it to leak. We have written before about Whale type fittings and how they work on Chinese handcuff principles, sealed with an O-ring. We also mentioned before you cannot side load any of the fittings. This one was side loaded and was ready to give way so we changed it. The top of the tee connected to a fitting coming out of the bottom of the accumulator tank. This is a brass fitting with a pipe thread at one end (accumulator tank) and a smooth 15mm barb at the other. The barb was a bit corroded but I wiped it with a paper towel and slid the tee up, connected the other two parts of the tee and went to turn the water pump circuit breaker. Coming back to the enginroom checking for leaks there it was – spraying a mist of water on the inverter so I raced upstairs to turn off the breaker. Back in the engineroom the inverter was flashing all kinds of lights so we turned it off.

After all this we re-anchored, which was in itself a chore as we had to move here and there to find a better spot and holding. Thankfully running the engine heated the engineroom and so dried the inverter and it is now working so we have managed to dodge a big bullet.

The highlight of yesterday was looking out of the pilothouse window and seeing a Nord 50 coming in to anchor – four Nords within a few hundred yards of each other in this remote place. Cool. The crew of the N50Flat Earthconsists of Phil and Jan, Rick and Frank. After theFlat Earthcrew left we fired up the generator to charge the batteries but this time we didn’t dodge a bullet, our inverter is shot. We do have a spare, which was repaired in Turkey. Rick and Phil are coming over to give me a hand shortly so we’ll soon know if this other inverter works. The bottom line is: if the second inverter doesn’t work we’ll have to reinstall the original to use its inverter function, then we’ll have to decide whether to fly a third inverter in from the States and deal with customs and the expense or become a no refrigeration boat like most of our sailboat buddies until we reach New Zealand.

Does it make sense to have $8000 worth (three inverters including freight for the third) of inverters on hand in the hope that the repair parts fix the malfunctioning freezer? Remember, the extra generator burn for the amp-draining, malfunctioning freezer in just 35 days of anchoring used up 70-plus gallons of fuel. We’ll be anchoring a lot more than 35 days between here and New Zealand and duty free fuel in Papeete is $4.70 a gallon. Just 35 days cost $164.50 in additional fuel.

With our large solar panel display we don’t need to charge the batteries if we don’t have refrigeration. In an emergency we can use our separate wimpy 50 amp, 50/60 cycle battery charger along with paralleling the generator alternator to the battery bank. This combination produces about 35 net amps.

So after this tear soaked edition post we’ll leave on a high note. Ciao.

Picture 1. Five man canoe racing by Egret
Picture 2. Single man canoe. Note the flower behind his left ear and the water bottle behind the seat. Working hard.



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