Tahiti - massive work load and meeting wonderful people

2016-08-30 - 2016-09-23

Hello blog lovers, here’s another mammoth post that we are quite sure only our mothers will have the energy to read. It’s a case of not having enough time to write something more concise and us not wanting to forget something. Anyways, Lukas and Hampus had split the work a little so first up is Lukas text for Tahiti passage, fishing and Teahupoo, Hampus text regarding the time in Papeete area follows.

Tahiti is the main commercial area in the south pacific with its 180 000 inhabitants, with the capital city Papeete being somewhat of a “big city”. This was a destination we planned to visit for all other reasons than the ones we now came here for. We wanted to make a quick stop stocking up on food and maybe do some minor repairs to the boat. Though, after the lightning strike on the way to Galapagos we knew we had to spend at least a couple of weeks getting all the new instruments installed, also by now more work was coming our way since we recently discovered salt water in one of the diesel tanks causing problems to the starboard engine. How big this problem would be we did not know yet.

Even though we did a lot of work on the boat in Tahiti we ended up having a great time here thanks to all the wonderful new people we met. It is truly sad to leave these friends behind. We really maximized the time spent here doing both business and pleasure.

Tahiti passage, fishing and Teahupoo

We left Toau 10 in the morning in sunshine and had a 14 knot easterly breeze. Our goal is Teahupoo in the south of Tahiti Iti where we want to see the legendary surf waves. The wind is supposed to be only 10-12 so the plan is to do the 220M in two nights and arrive early morning. The winds is a bit stronger than expected and we’re going faster than we should. Disorganized waves between the atolls knocks around Kenobi and we have a bumpy ride. Should have left early and we would have made it in one night!! Easy to be wise after the fact…

We cruised along in an uneventful sail all until 1AM. I wake to the smell of burned plastic! Simon and Hampus is in the kitchen where white smoke emerges from under the sink. We soon find the cause - a relay for one of the fresh water pumps had burned up. Digging more into this we uncovered a crappy installation of water pipes and water had dripped down on the relay causing corrosion. Bad combo with electronics. All of this and most of the electronic wiring were later replaced in Tahiti. Luckily no danger for us, we disconnected the relay and switched to the other pump that has been installed for redundancy.

In the morning we have sailed a lot longer than planned in the fair winds. We reduce sails, two reefs in both main and genoa. Still 6 knots, aargh! Nothing happens during the day, no fish bites. At 18:00 we drop the main. at 21:00 we get a squall with some rain. The sea is even worse now with so little sails up, the small choppy waves comes from everywhere and they kick and slam under the boat. At 5:50 the sun comes up and we see the big, mountainous island of Tahiti. Only 1,7M left to the pass of Teahupoo. As we enter the channel to go inside the barrier reef we are only meters away from the big barrel waves but in the middle of the channel we get a smooth ride in. Here the risk is to get a strong opposing current, created not by the tide as in Tuamotus but from the waves breaking over the reef and whose water then passes out through the channel. Anyway, no problem this day and we anchor at the spot kite instructor Adrien had recommended to us. 13m, dark sand and murky water with a mostly dead coral reef only a couple meters behind the boat. Neither the anchorage or Teahupoo village has much to recommend it but we stayed one day to go out in the dinghy to the waves and see surfers. It was not a big day for Teahupoo but still some nice tubes and very cool to see. Only one week before Billabong Pro had finished, Kelly Slater won again.

Entering through the reef pass att Teahupoo.

The famous barrel wave at Teahupoo. The site of Billabong Pro. You could get really close to the wave in the dinghy.

Next morning we leave for Papeete at 07:20. That’s as soon as the sun is up far enough for us to see the coral fringing the channel back out. Once out the wind shifts a lot, disturbed by proximity to land but comes pretty much from behind so we fly the gennaker, doing between 4 and 8 knots. At 11 we’re about the round the SW corner of the main island and the wind picks up so we do 9 knots. To Simons great disappointment I insist on taking the gennaker down and continue with only genoa, doing a safe 5 knots. Turned out to be a good thing - 50 minutes later we get a big strike on one of the rods! The big splash in the back reveals what we’re dealing with - a big marlin. Steel leader on the lure, 2m bimini twist on the line, we are ready to go. And this time we succeed! The boat is stopped perfectly and after only 10 minutes of hard fighting we can grab this blue marlin by the bill and as Hampus holds it I can unhook it and return it unharmed. What a great feeling to see this magnificent fish swim back out to sea. Since marlins in general and blue marlins especially are a bit low in numbers in the oceans now (as far as I know) we wanted to release it. But when I later talked to local fishermen in Papeete about this they just shook their heads like I was crazy; “there’s soo much marlin here, we always eat them!”. Not sure what to thing but it felt like we did the right thing. A 2 meter long marlin would have been a bit too much swordfish meat to eat anyways. Don’t know the weight of this one but it was big!

Fighting the Blue Marlin just outside of Tahiti.

Like the sport fisherman he is, lukas decided to release the Marlin back to the ocean.

At 14:30 we call up Marina Taina on the VHF and are piloted in to a berth alongside the pier facing the main hub of the marina - Dinghy Bar.

// END of Lukas text, over to Hampus

Tahiti – Business and pleasure

There are two major marinas in Papeete. The Marina de Papeete is down town but can’t offer any boat repair services, therefor we went to Marina Taina about 6M south of the city. This was a nice big marina with lots of boats both berthing in the docks and many more on mooring buoys outside. We were guided by the marina staff and tied up Kenobi along the main pier. We soon realized this was a great spot since we were in the middle of everything, a lot of people passed by our boat and we made many new acquaintances. All boat repair businesses in Papeete are working out of Marina Taina so this is the place for us to get the work done.

Kenobi alongside the pier at Marina Taina.

We were finally getting all our damaged instruments replaced, we are really looking forward to having an autopilot again! After our unsuccessful attempt to get things fixed in in Galapagos, Lukas focused on contacting all the marine dealers in Tahiti well in advance to make sure all the parts we needed would be waiting for us on arrival. The first day we arrived in the marina we went to see all different marine dealers to make sure they would get to work on Kenobi asap. All the new Raymarine instruments were waiting for us in a big box at “Tahiti yacht accessories”, we were as happy as children on Christmas eve! Of course another dealer had screwed up the ordering of the new panels and gauges for our engines so we had to wait for these parts to be delivered, hopefully “only” 5-10 days delivery time but you never know. The people started working on the instruments right away and we felt things were at least moving in the right direction.

List of electronics we are getting replaced:

  • Autopilot
  • Wind instrument
  • Logg
  • Depth sounder
  • Tridata display
  • Engine panels
  • Engine gauges
  • Diesel tank fuel gauge
  • Inverter
  • Battery charger
  • Generator port engine
Ahh, all the new instruments straight out of the box.

Arnaud working on the installation.

Meanwhile we started working on the saltwater in the diesel issue. During our stay in The Tuamotus we noticed that the starboard engine was not giving enough power, it only did about 1800 RPM when it normally does up to 3000 RPM. Because the engine panel was not working correctly and the fuel pre-filter housing was all murky, we did not realize we had this problem earlier, concerning the level of dirt in the pre-filter, the saltwater had probably been in the tank for a while. In Farakawa the mechanic on Polish boat Wassyl helped us to do a temporary setup for the fuel, disconnecting the fuel supply from the bad tank and hooked it up directly to a jerry can. This way we could at least use the engine until we got to Tahiti without damaging it further.

The temporary set up for fuel supply to starboard engine.

At Marina Taina a cool mechanic called Regis came to our assistance. This was a big guy 2m tall, with less than perfect English but he managed to communicate with his expressive body language. We felt completely comfortable he was the man for the job. Me (Hampus) and Regis started the process of emptying the 120 L of diesel by hand and cleaning it with fresh water. After we put fresh diesel and a chemical substance to get rid of the final “little dirty” (as Regis put it) still left in the tank. Unfortunately, the saltwater had already caused damage to the fuel injection pump and the injectors on the engine, these had to be restored and replaced, not a cheap repair... We found the source of the problem to be water being pushed into the tank through the ventilation hose, this was a bad construction that couldn’t take the rougher conditions of the big ocean. We had to come up with a solution to this and turned to Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook for advice. The solution was to plug the ventilation tube through hull and lead the ventilation to a small jerry can inside the boat, if Nigel Calder use this solution you can trust its safe.

During such a long sail we had behind us there are numerous issues on the boat that you discover. Some things brake, and other things you just want to upgrade to make them work better. Coming to Tahiti we had a long list of things to do on the boat besides the electronic and the engine issue, in total about 65 bullet points to take care of.

Some examples from the list are:

  • Repair smaller tears in Lazy bag.
  • Service the outboard engine for the dinghy.
  • New oil dip stick for gear box.
  • Repair corroded wiring to the freshwater pumps under the zink (causing the “fire” during the Tahiti crossing)
  • New rubber seals for some of the hatches leaking water.
  • New blocks and attachments for the gennaker sheets.
  • Replace main sheet attachment to the boom.
  • Clean all outside and inside of the boat thoroughly.

We did a lot of these repairs and upgrades ourselves but we also got a help from good people working in the marina. There was a sailmaker who did repair on the canvas and the genoa, he was very busy working on all the super yachts but he always took time helping us out. “Tahiti yachts accessories” did not only supply us with the new instruments, they turned out to have a great marine store in the marina. It was a small store, but they had almost everything you needed. The store was run by Michel, this was the tough love kind of guy, a little tricky at first but he really wanted the best for you in the end. We went to him about 10 times some days for advice and to buy different spare parts for repairs we were doing. We always left his place with something different than expected after he showed us “the correct way of doing things”, he was always right. Michel helped us to replace the main sheet attachment to the boom. The metal rings that are attached under the boom were worn down and needed to be replaced. We went to Michel only to buy new metal rings, now we have a completely new setup for the attachment with all spectra lines instead of metal, kept in place by a custom made boom sock. A typical Michel solution.

Lukas and Simon together with Michel in his store.

Lukas and Michel working on the new boom attachments, all super strong spectra lines.

Serviceing the outboard engine.

Lukas working on replacing the bad electrical wires under the zink.

Now over to the pleasure side of our Tahiti visit. The big meeting point in Marina Taina was the happy hour at Dinghy bar, conveniently situated 50m from our spot. Basically all people you met during the day said “See you at happy hour!”. It became somewhat of a routine to quit working at about 17 and head over to Dinghy bar (not every day though). Here you met new people every day from different boats, some living on their boats in the marina who you saw every day and some in for a shorter stop who came and left. This was also a popular place for locals to hang out, this made up a good mix of people. It was a lot of fun to meet all these people again after four weeks in the remote Tuamotus. Julian from Ecuador was on the boat next to ours on the pier, it's called Kahuna. We had been talking to him and his friend J-A (Jean Ange) from Tahiti a few times before we met them on happy hour one night. We invited them to dinner at our boat, best decision in a long time! These guys were super friendly and we started hanging out a lot with them and all of their friends, Camille, Coco, Benedicte and many more. These great guys became our Tahitian family.

Dinghy Bar, the major meeting point in Marina Taina.

Julian took us snorkeling with humpback whales, we went in his big rib dinghy just outside of the reef close to the marina to see them. This was by far the best underwater experience in my life. I have been on the lookout for whales all this trip and now we got to be this close to these huge creatures, it was amazing. It was five or six of them in the water around us. They were resting at a depth of 15m and came up for air every five minutes or so, then we got so close you could almost reach out to touch them. Being a diving instructor Julian also took us diving and snorkeling in the lagoon. At one spot, close to the airport, there was a ship wreck and an aircraft wreck to see on shallow waters. The other guys also went night diving once, me not being a diver went to represent Kenobi at happy hour instead.

On our way to the whale snorkeling with Julian, J-A, Coco and Camille.

Typical Humpback whale selfie.

Close encounter with the Humpback whales

We went snorkeling and diving at this aircraft wreck a few times.

We spent almost all our stay in Tahiti in the marina. Papeete was not a very interesting nor beautiful city, you swedes reading this will understand a reference to Västerås in the seventies. To be fair, there was a really nice waterfront with a long boardwalk and some nice parks. We just went to town to visit the bigger marine and hardware stores, and to go shopping. One cool thing though are all the Rollottes (food trucks) you can find in basically every corner. There were also a square down town next to the water with many Roulottes gathered, everyone can choose whatever food they want and eat together like in a big food court. The Tahitian food was much focused on “poisson cru” and fish sashimi in different varieties, combined with a French influence of steak frites which you could find everywhere.

Downtown Papeete

Tom from the American boat Cinnabar arranged a FSG gruoup photo on the boat in the downtown marina. His plan was to make us look "bad ass", I guess he succeeded with two of us at least... In the background you can see a little bit of the nice boardwalk.

For every day that passed we got more and more into the marina community. Together with Julian and J-A we threw a barbecue party on our boat. We borrowed a big barbecue from the restaurant and put it on the pier next to or boat. We invited everyone we knew and at least 25 people showed up, even our massive cockpit wasn’t big enough so people were hanging out everywhere on the boat and the on pier. Last guests left at 03 in the morning. It was so much fun we decided to throw another barbecue the next week.

Barbecue party on Kenobi

Sam and Amy works on a big super sailing yacht also berthing in Marina Taina.

It not every weekend you’ll find a full moon party on Tahiti. We thought we would leave Tahiti by the time of the party but all the work on the boat were delayed so we could go there with the other guys. The location was kept a secret until the day of the party, they had made a nice setting on a location by the beach on the south side of the island. The party was great and to Simons delight they had gathered a few good electronic DJs. Some of us got a couple of hours of sleep in the car before we headed back towards Papeete in the morning. Instead of going back to the marina the whole gang went to Benedictes nice beach house on the opposite side of Papeete to hang out the rest of the day. It was a perfect day at the house and in the evening we ate food at McDonalds for the first time since leaving Sweden. It was pretty good!

Nice setting at the Full moon party.

Flouricent face paint, check!

After two and a half weeks in the marina things were finally coming together with the boat. All parts that needed to be ordered had arrived and most of the work on our list had been taken care of. Now we had to haul out the boat at the ship yard Techni Marine in Papeete to replace damaged log and depth meter. There were still a lot of things that needed to be finished, for example final installation of all instruments and panels, so the two days at the ship yard were going to be busy. Of course, the haul out was postponed one day because of a faulty “travelift” at the yard so we had to spend one night in the marina in down town Papeete. Here we met some cruiser friends from other boats we met earlier. Tom from the American boat Cinnabar came over to say hello with a cup of coffee in the morning, he ended up sailing with us from the marina to the ship yard and hauling the boat. It was good having him onboard and being an experienced sailor he could share some tips and tricks with us. We stayed two days at the yard working from 8 in the morning until late evening with many people working on different parts of the boat. We were really happy to see that people we knew came to visit us here at the boring yard. Some friends dropped in during their lunch break and one evening we had beers and dinner onboard with our Tahiti friends while working on the boat.

Tom sailed with us to the ship yard in Papeete.

Our friend Christian helping us change the Cutless bearings for the propeller shafts.

The guys from Sin Tung Hin Marine doing some last minute installation of the new engine panels and gauges.

Congratulations, you made it almost all the way through the text, now you just some final words to read! We didn’t expect too much on the fun side from our stay in Tahiti but at least I was looking forward to seeing civilization again and spending some time in a city. Last time we visited a place with more than 10 000 inhabitants was Panama city five months ago. We knew we were in for a lot of work, it was time to “focus” again. But in the end we had a really good time in Tahiti, all thanks to the great people we met and good friends we made. Last three months we spent in French Polynesia have been really fun, interesting and diversified. One month in the rural Marquesas, one month in the super exotic Tuamotus and now one month in Tahiti enjoying ourselves and learning heaps about boat maintenance. For the last weekend we decided to invite our new friends to a weekend trip over to Moorea, a short day sail away. Really looking forward to hanging out all nine of us on the boat having a good time. The other guys, except Benedicte, will take the ferry back to Tahiti on Sunday. Benedicte will come with us all the way to Bora Bora, she has family and friends on the islands we will visit on the way. Besides being a nice and very fun friend, It will be good to have someone with local knowledge onboard.

Some of our Tahiti friends. Coco, Julian, J-A, Benedicte and Timeri. WE WILL MISS YOU GUYS!

Photo Albums


/Hampus and Lukas

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