Four weeks of pure joy

Time flies, it’s a month since my last post. We’ve been enjoying Moorea, sharing our time between Baie de Opunohu and Vaiare, the latter on the E coast of the island. On average we spend close to four hours a day in the water, one session in the morning and another in the a-noon. The two lagoon anchorages at Vaiare offers particularly nice snorkeling with colorful forests of coral, and a fabulous variety of fish. We’ve had some strong trade wind conditions lately(yeah, during cyclone season!) so quite a current in the lagoon always keeping the boat pointed in the same direction night and day. No need to spend much time directing solar panels!

Due to the current, a typical snorkel session starts with a swim to the reef, to windward and against the current about half a mile or so, and then we just drift back with the current while diving on an off to check whatever pops up on our way. The water is about 28C so the wetsuits not needed, it’s simply wonderful to be able to really ‘skin dive’. Not even cold after a couple of hours in- and under- water. I’ve started playing around with the ‘submarine camera’ a bit, but internet access is more scarce than ever. Hope to be able to upload some photos to Flickr soon enough.
In about a week it’s time for Isa to revisit her doctor again, and we will probably head over to Tahiti soon, and definitely before the end of March. I am in the process of getting quotes for our new standing rigging( all the wires, and other hardware holding the mast upright and straight, quite important stuff on a boat and pricy too, unfortunately). The plan is to replace it all before the official end of the hurricane season and then go exploring the Leeward Islands, Raiatea, Huahine and others. We’ll see how it works out.

Updates:

Chikungunya –
almost over, we both still have some pain in feet and hands, but definitely manageable.

Anti fouling:
the cupruous bottom paint that’s supposed to keep marine life from sticking to, and growing on, Nannas hull. A bit over three months since we relaunched after the haul-out, and nothing yet! Actually seems like we finally might have got a paint worth the name…. ‘ antifouling’…. To be followed

My free diving record:
Very pleased to be able to say that I daily descend to 20-25 ft (6-7 m) quite effortlessly, seems like my left ear finally got ‘unplugged’ of sorts. This brings me great pleasure, since I just love to be underwater, swimming upside down, playing around like a dolphin. The feeling of being relieved of the effects of gravity never stops thrilling me. Thanks to a strong heart and big lungs, I can hold my breath 2 minutes which is perfectly fine, albeit a wee bit shy of a dolphin ;)
The deepest spot I found so far was our anchor at 25ft or 7,5 mts to go deeper I would need to dive in the deepest parts of the lagoon, around 30-35 mrs, but I could do with longer fins to descend, the ones I have now, bought in a thrift store in Portugal, are just for swimming around a bit really. I checked the gear of some of our friends in the Gambiers who regularly descend to 30-40 mrs working on the pearl farms and those fins are 2-3 times longer than my toys! Will take a look at the store in Papeete which are specialized in this kind of gear and spear guns.

Fishing underwater:

Talking about spearguns, btw, quite a few people here go fishing ‘sous-marine’ at night(!) with a strong headlamp. Now this seems a bit spooky to me, what with those big sharkies and their impressive teeth?! Some do this at a professional level, and they tell me the fish are ‘asleep’ ( or perhaps just blinded by the light?) and thus easier to catch…. Others tell me that it’s due to this night fishing, that there’s less and less fish in the lagoon of Tahiti. Sounds plausible to me, and we can easily see that there are rarely a fish over 20-25cm on the lagoon side of the reef, just what I would call the limit for a Pansize fish. Go figure…
I believe PGEM, who are taking steps to protect the marine life, will have to completely protect larger parts of the lagoons in order to keep the diversity of species.

Sea turtles:

On another note, the last few weeks, the gendarmerie(police) have arrested a few people for poaching sea turtles. If found guilty, they’ll find themselves behind bars for about a year. This is a bit controversial, since sea turtles are a part of the traditional diet in Polynesia, and everyone I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with, have confirmed how tasty the meat is, and that it’s always been regarded as the most delicious ‘beef’ there is. It’s worth noting here that historically, meat has been very rare at a dinner party. They had pigs here, but they were considered property of the royals in the old days, much like the moose, and other big game, back in Sweden. So except for an occasional chicken, fish was the major source of animal protein on the islands.

M

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At anchor, snorkeling and diving

A week and a half in beautiful Opunohu Bay, Moorea, we are enjoying the best time since over a year. 2-4 hrs in the water each day, swimming around the reef and skin diving we’re getting back in shape quick and nice. The reef here was largely damaged by a cyclone some years ago, leaving lots of dead coral, but it is recuperating, much like us, and there is a great variety of fish. I haven’t yet done any spear gun fishing, since quite a few species carries ciguatera and I haven’t yet been able to obtain info on which species being safe to eat. I refuse to kill an animal, if I am not to eat it, so that’s it. There are zones in the lagoon here where all fishing is prohibited, a good initiative to maintain the biological diversity.

No problem, actually I have found that when I leave the speargun on board, I am in a different state of mind, together with the gun I also leave my ‘hunter and gatherer’ role, and just enjoy observing every little fish, and their feeding behavior instead of looking for something to catch for dinner. Instead we buy fresh tuna, wahoo, and other pelagic species, caught outside by the local professional fishermen, so no problem with our nutrition.

Unlike the Gambiers, where every session in the water meant encounters with sharks, here we’ve just spotted one black tip reef shark(harmless to man) so for the first time since Mexico and the Sea of Cortez, we do not need the dinghy to go to a spot for diving, we swim from our boat, making every session a couple of miles of swimming! Great work- out after the long spell with chikungunya and Isabelle’s surgery and all.

A few days ago I made a new personal record in free diving, at approx. 6 mtrs. Not a whopping depth as such, but for many years, I’ve had problems equalizing my left ear, thus rendering it impossible to descend deeper than a mere 2,5-3 mtrs, so for me this marks a tremendous step forward, and I intend to do a few attempts each day now to further improve on it. Isa easily descends to about 10 mtrs ( 33 ft) so that spurs me on…

Beginning of next week, we’ll head over to the E side of the island, where the ferry leaves for Tahiti. Isa needs to do a blood test before revisiting the clinic in Papeete, next Friday for a follow-up visit. Then we’ll go back here and continue as now, weather permitting.
We will also take the opportunity to replenish our ship’s stores, at the only ‘large’ supermarket on the island, close to the ferry station, before returning here. Moorea has a population of about 15 000, so very smallish compared to Tahiti, and many of the inhabitants work in Papeete, so they do their shopping there too, no doubt.

Over and out.
M

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Out exploring the Islands again, at long last

The Chikungunya; by far the worst bout of illness I’ve experienced in my life.

After over eight weeks of being all but disabled from this nasty virus, it felt like time for an appointment with a GP doctor, though we had already been told there’s no adequate remedy known…the doctor I met with was of a different opinion. When I started describing my symptoms, she chimed in with one superb description after another, in fact describing them far better than my limited French allows me to.
She said after so many weeks without significant amelioration, a treatment was needed indeed. Anti inflammatory pills, together with another drug to protect my stomach from those (!) and then vitamine B1andB6 in generous amounts during 3 weeks….fortunately it did the job, little by little, day by day the symptoms diminished. I am still on these medications for almost another week, but we’ve sailed the boat over to Moorea, Tahitis little sister, a few days ago. Anchored in a beautiful postcard-like lagoon anchorage some 150 mtrs from the heavy breakers on the reef, we fully enjoy life again, snorkeling, hiking, and doing those odd boat projects. During our 8-9 weeks in Arue, we didn’t do anything at all in fact, just surviving of sorts, so it feels intensely gooood to be out here.

The cyclone season is not over, so a daily check on the synoptic charts to see if a ‘bad one’ is brewing somewhere NW of here is a must. A few weeks ago we had a close encounter with TS Niko, who popped up with 48 hrs notice and initially seemed bound for Tahiti. Small depression, 985mb but packing 50-60 kt winds in the centre, he passed 80-100 miles E of us, causing heavy rain and 5-6 m waves across some of the Tuamotus before fading out a few days later around 23 South. Though Meteo France had him as a tropical depression ‘forte’, Nadi, the Fiji met office classified him as a cat. 1 cyclone. Apparently the met people can have different views on things too, though I believe the local Fr were correct this time. How we fared in all this? Forecasted 35-40 kts gusting to 55 we prepared as well as we could, but Niko changed his path slightly and the very day he passed, was in fact the best one weatherwise in weeks at the NW part of Tahiti. Blue skies, hardly any wind and less humid than normal this time of the year. Note that we were in the ‘navigable semi-circle’ the W side in the southern hemisphere, at the same distance on Nikos E flank, a totally different story!

Several of the major met offices, notably Australia and NZ, have recently downgraded this years El Niño to a ‘weak to neutral’ event. Hope they’re right on that!

For weather, in the South Pacific there are some peculiarities to get to know once you’ve set off on a crossing towards French Polynesia. The Trade winds, always seemingly agreeable 10 kt average from SE, seems like sweet, leisurely sailing. The key word here is average. The everlasting flow deep in the southern ocean, of
Lows and Highs creates a pattern for the trades, in short you will most likely encounter winds both from north and even west for 2-3 days followed by about a week of SE, E and occasionally NE winds. Then there are the squalls… We had hundreds, too many to count, usually for a few days, followed by a few days with that pretty ‘trade wind sky’ all of us love. We never had more than 30-35 kts in a squall, but met several others who encountered 40-45 at times.

The most peculiar phenomenon, in this the greatest ocean on the planet is no doubt the SPCZ; South Pacific Convergence Zone. Simply put, this is where the cold air mass from Deep South, meets the warm humid air from the equatorial zone. Also, simply put, it means really shitty weather! To be avoided if possible. The SPCZ, starts in the western Pacific, and stretches in an arch Eastwards and Southwards. During the southern summer it reaches it’s extreme easterly position and affects FrPolynesia for a week or so, sometimes longer, at a time. Lots of rain, potent squalls, and perhaps most importantly for cruiser underway – winds from the NW quarter. Just 50 Miles to the East, it can be blue skies and Nicke SE winds.

The best source for info on all this that I have found, is the
Kiwi met ‘guru’ Bob MacDavitt, and his weekly weathergram, (subscribe to it via e-mail) gives you the big picture on the weather patterns from W Australia to FrPol
If still in print, his booklet on SP weather is superb.

Fair winds and following winds to all!

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Starter & Chikungunya Part II – revised plans agaiin

Today we are Dec 12, I am back onboard, alone, after following Isabelle to the hospital where she’s having a surgery while I write this. More on that later, now an update on the starter… It took a couple of days, before I regained my strenght enough to even have a look at it. As I stated in the previous post, it was a pleasure to just be in a protected anchorage again, and in fact we didn’t even go ashore in a few days. The culprit turned out to be a failing pushbutton/breaker in the ignition circuit. My attempt to jump the starter failed no doubt due to the very limited access I had with an ordinary screwdriver. While testing and troubleshooting I find that a very short, chubby little srewdriver does the job perfectly. This little tool will hereafter be kept at hand while we are uunderway. The startbutton got replaced in due time and so the problem solved. As for the Chikungunya, it’s still a pain in the rear…so to speak. After almost 4 weeks, I have so much pain in my neck, shoulders and worst of all- my hands- as to render me quite useless onboard. Isa got the same little virus a week and a half after me, but after the first few days with high fever, she seems to do better than me. No remedy, except painkillers, and vitamine C according to the pharmacist I asked today. For vit. C well, we do eat a healthy amount of fresh fruit to cover our needs, but I bought some pills anyway, though knowing only too well that any amount more than the body absorbs, just passes thru and exits with the urine, so nothing but a waste of money and resources. BTW, the pharmacist told me she had the same symptoms also after 4 weeks, and some folks are not well again after 3 months! I certainly hope I will not belong to that category, but only time will tell.

Anyway, this has lead us to change plans again, the Marquesas will be there for next year, we will spend the hurricane season – during the now confirmed El Nino event – between Tahiti and her little sister, Moorea. Keeping a close attention to the weather forecasts, IF or when a cyclone seems to possibly move this way, we’ll scoot down to Port Phaeton again, the by far best ‘hole’ in FrPol, and hunker down, either inside the little marina or on multiple anchors in the bay. I might also inestigate the possibility of making a hurricane mooring for us and splash it there, we’ll see.

First Isa has to recover from her surgery, hopefully no longer than a fortnight from now, and then we can start moving about, exploring the lagoons and do some much missed diving and fishing again. Better to have it done with at any rate, otherwise it was planned for late March or April the coming year.
In the meantime I am weighing different options as to how and where to by new standing rigging for NANNA, to replace the whole gang using mechanical end fittings (Norseman,StaLok, Hi-Mod or similar) more on this too later.

A Merry Christmas to All!

Magnus

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A Close Haircut and Chikungunya

We saw it fit to do a little trial sail after all the work done during the haul-out and decided to combine it with going to Arue (just E of Papeete)at the N tip of the island to get together with friends and also to do some shopping for ‘boat-bits’ in Papeete before leaving for the Marquesas, so heaved anchor Monday morning and powered out of the Bay against a 6-7 kt contrary wind the first few miles. Set the Main underway and then the genoa once we turned to Starboard to exit the pass. This is the first time Isabelle sees this part of the lagoon, since she had already arrived here by air when I first made landfall last May. Everything appeared just fine with the drive train and with the clean new antifoul we made good speed on a reach W to double the ‘Pointe Maraa’ which makes the westernmost extremity of the island. Smooth, enjoyable sailing, but I had got another concern… I just didn’t feel OK, pain in every muscle after the little ‘work-out’ of cleaning the mud off 60 mtrs of chain is not normal. Slowly I felt I was getting more and more feverish and soon reluctantly realized I had Chikungunya rapidly taking control of my body. Fast and furious tropical fever. Great timing right?

Anyway we kept on planning to go inside the lagoon again some 12 miles south of Papeete to spend the night at anchor off Marina Tahina, where I wanted to buy some pickle for the watermaker. We should be able to make it there just before nightfall, but Eolius had other plans,

Just a couple miles from the pass, the wind suddenly died out. Completely. OK, no worries, fire up the engine and on we go. It did not crank though. Nothing. Not even the little ‘click’ from the solenoid. By now I knew I had high fever, sweating quite profusely, brain no longer functioning normallly. Anyway, when needed we can push our limits, so off the companionway hatch to get at the front end of the engine where the cables are connected to the starter. Connections all looking good, wiggled them and tried again but same discouraging result. I then bypassed the main suspect, the ignition switch but still no success. There is very limited access spacewise around the starter so very difficult to jump the solenoid in place with a screwdriver, but finally managed to do so with my by now quite fumbling hands, but to no avail.

Gave up on that. We’ll wait a while, some little breeze should pick up. A closer look at the chart showed our position 1,5 miles off the reef and GPS suggested a slow (as 0,3-0,5kt) drift toward the reef. Not the best situation to find ourselves in with about 45 minutes of useful daylight left. By now I was shivering and sweating in turns, and was clearly already on ‘reserve power’ and since Isabelle, unlike me, has the terrible experience of losing a boat on a reef, I could see how she was getting seriously scared. Surprisingly little other traffic on the water, not even the local fishing boats. One sailboat less than a mile off motoring south though. Isa put out a call on the VHF for them but no answer. Guess they didn’t have the radio powered up. After a little while I checked our position again, and we were indeed slowly drifting the wrong way. I saw the beginning of terror in the face of Isa, and even my admittedly dimmed mind realized that we were not in a very good position. I knew that I was simply to week physically by now to launch our dinghy -lashed down properly on foredeck- get the outboard on it and then tow us away a couple miles. Normally a simple task, but fever and pain had reduced me to a very week and tired OLD man, so in order to install some plan of action (though still hoping for some zephyrs to allow us to gain sea room under sail in time) I asked Isa to put out a Pan-Pan to inform MRCC of our predicament. So she did. They got back right away, and wondered if we required a tow.

Knowing that would cost a small (?) fortune, we told them to stand-by for half an hour to see if we would be able to get out of trouble by ourselves. They sent out a helicopter (for practice mostly as the told us) that came just a few minutes later, took a couple of circles around us and then scooted back to base..By the next time MRCC called us on 16 some ripples came up on the water and thanks to NANNAs maneuverability in very light airs, and very gentle handling of sheets and the wheel I made the boat steer a WNW course at 0,5-1 kt and so asked them to wait a while longer before sending out a tug or whatever kind of vessel they had in mind. Ripples hanged on and for 20 minutes or so we made 3kts + COG and soon had increased our margin to disaster with a bit over a mile.

From now on and all thru the night, MRCC called us every 2 hrs, for a position and we handsteered in zephyrs and calms all night. Boatspeed 0-1 kt in pretty much every direction of the compass, though we tried heading north as much as possible since we were now determined to keep on going to Arue. Incidentally our friend we wanted to see there is a mechanic and the pass is wide and entrance under sail straight-forward in most wind directions.

This night and the following day I passed in a feverish trance, interspersed with sleep, mostly lying on my back in the cockpit, since I couldn’t sit up, steering with a couple of my toes on a wheel spoke while keeping an eye on the stars for direction. When Isa took her watches I must have been more or less unconscious, at least I do not remember anything except that the 2-hrs invervals between the call-ups often to me seemed to be only 10 minutes apart.

The following day was calm, with clear skies and awfully hot for my fever-ridden body. At 14.00 we found ourselves some 5 miles west of Papeete when very suddenly a fresh NE breeze sprung up and we could make a tack 35 degrees in 14-18 kts apparent followed by another tack that took us right into Arue where Richard, our friend the mechanic, met up in his dingy to make sure we got safely anchored.

Just after that was done I checked my temperature. 39,9 C. Don’t remember I ever was more pleased to be at anchor and needless to say I enjoyed elongating myself in the v-berth!

This above took place Tuesday afternoon, I am writing these lines Friday and the fever was gone yesterday already. It has left me with bad pain in all joints though and a great fatigue.

Later on today I’ll have a look at the starter issue, still suspecting an electrical problem. If I can’t find the culprit, during the weekend Richard can have a look at it. By the way, thru another friend here we just found out that there is a shop in Papeete where they can rewind (or is it rewire?) electrical motors. Like someone said once ‘ You can find just about anything in Papeete, but the problem is to know where!’ Anyway we’ve got a spare starter, and spare brushes too, so that should not normally be needed. Back on this later…

Cheers, Magnusday morning and powered out of the Bay

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THE LONG HAUL (-OUT) and further

Isabelle and I, but most of all NANNA, are back on the water. After exactly 4 weeks on the hard it feels very good. I am a born optimist and thought 1-2 weeks on the hard should be enough, but reality proved me wrong again. Should really know better after having owned 6 sailboats (just counting the habitable ones…) over more or less 35 years but suffice to say that I do remain an optimist.

Here’s a list of the projects done on our dear NANNA and below the list a few comments that perhaps could be of interest for readers who have an interest in sailboat maintenance and particularly what it takes to get a boat up to standard after almost years in the water.

* All through hulls and seacocks checked and disassembled and greased * prop shaft pulled and cleaned, checked for alignment and reassembled * Cutless bearing cut out, replaced (after 11 years and approx. 1600 hrs motoring
* PSS Dripless stuffing box taken apart, cleaned and replaced with new bellow, o- rings and set-screws
* New shaft coupling fabricated and installed after the old one had to be cut in order to pull the shaft (more on this below)
* Propeller cleaned, polished and primed with epoxi then antifoulng * Our windvane steering (auxiliary rudder trib-tab autohelm model) completely taken apart and then reinstalled with new brackets, bushings and bearings
this is our mst reliable and never-tiring crew member so an essential piece of equipment
* The brown stripe on the upper part of the topsides were sanded, faired with epoxi and filler since it had myriads of miniscule cracks on the surface and the old paint was worn down to the primer on some spots. Then we gave it 2 coats of a two part polyurethane paint in a slightly darker brown colour
* Log transducer ‘impeller type’ replaced
* Topsides were a bit tired after 30 years so as an anniversary gift for the boat I wet- sanded them starting with 340 grit (lightly!) and through all the way to 2000 grit which is what car ‘body-shops’ use before painting to get that perfect shine. Then I polished with a carnauba wax twice and it looks soooo good! ;-D
Remains to be seen how long it will last. The good thing with older GRP boats is that they tend to have a thick cat of gelcoat, sometimes close to 1 mm, so there’s a lot to work away on before the inevitable moment arrives when it’s time to paint with 2-part PU. In my experience though, the gelcoat is WELL worth keeping as long as possible
* Isabelle had already done a lot of sanding-varnishing-cetolcoating on the exterior
teak trim and the interior too before we hauled the boat out. Now she finished it with the caompanionway, the hatch and the companionway ladder. There’s simply no way of telling that the boat is 30 y o, built 1984, pretty much everything down-below looks like new and our home is a beautiful one.
* The hull below the waterline was sanded too, after a tedious cleaning. it was 4 months since we last cleaned the bottom in the water and it was a mobile reef of a kind. Not much hard stuff like barbacles but a 8-10 cm full beard of weeds.
There were’nt much left of the old antifouling left after the sanding so I removed it all and then applied 5 liter af a 2-part epoxi primer formulated as a heavy duty barrier. Before this though, after finding some 10-15 small blisters, that seemed to be due to little airpockets between the gelcoat and the outermost mat of glassfiber (which is to there to act as a fairing between the heavier mats and the gelcoat) All boats have these little ‘air bubbles’ from the builder and after drilling them out with a conical bit and leaving them for a couple of days I filled them with epoxi (none ‘bled’ viinegar-smelling liquid after a few hours from piercing them) and then the followin day the primer coat. I have never worked with this type of epoxi primer before, it was very thick and heavy so one coat made a hard durable barrier. I bought it from the yard BTW. The surface after applying with a roller was a bit rough so once again a sanding did the trick.
* Antifouling; After doing some searching on what was available on Tahiti, I found an AF paint, for commercial shipping, with a 67% containt of Copper. 10 liter the smallest size can (boy, that can weighed some 25 kg!) This paint is aimed at commercial vessels <25 knots as an abradive/erodable formula. My thinking is that since we move quite a bit slower than the freighters do, it will be sort of semi-abradive on NANNA and we will still be doing our ‘mask and fins’ bottomcleaning sessions (hate to admit it, but like almost all cruising sailors, we are at anchor perhaps 90% of the time) This way, since our cleaning will expose fresh copper in the paint we might enjoy the optimal mix between durability of the anti-fouling and the minimum growth the copper allows. For it’s intended use on freighters they go 50 months between dry- dockiing and repainting. That would be yummy indeed! To be followe up…

* Last, but not at all last, the Dinghy, named by us ‘Orm’ kinda like a baby to my previous boat ‘Röde Orm’. As mentioned elsewhere and earlier, Orm is a Sam Devlin ‘polliwog’ design that rows excellent for a 7,5 ft boat. It was built by a
sailor in Mexico where picked it up used, when they had their boat for sale. Well, he built it in plywood, covered with epoxi and then painted ( the rail and seats were varnished when I bought it, but for easier maintenance we later painted it all in Golfito, Costa Rica. Epoxicoated plywood is just fine, as long as you keep a close watch on all the little dings and dents on the hull from docks, rocks or God help us – coral heads. The dink weighs in at about 20 kg so it’s quick and easy to turn it over (on deck or on land) and with a small brush (or my preferred tool – a Q pin) epoxi the little scratches or whatever.
BUT! -and here’s the big BUT. I never thought about asking the previous owner/builder if he really had coated everything in epoxi, before painting. Simply because it didn’t occur to me that anyone could be so stupid or just ignorant to fail to do that at the time of construction. So, here we are some 4 y ater discoveriing that he had covered the hull in- and outside but not the ‘bulkheads’ or whatever they can be called that the seats (made from solid wood so no worries) are resting on. We now found them all rotten. After a little fun of ‘destruction mode’ with chisels, a knife and an angle-grinder came time to build them up again, but the correct way this time. We found some left-over pieces of closed-cell foam in the garbage bin one day (always check garbage bins at yards! ;-D) that were ust about the right size (gotta love small size things on the water) for us to use instead of ply. More durable and lighter, so we cut it and laminated with one mat of glass each side with epoxi and then t he whole little ‘barque’ (Fr) was like new only a little better…

So, why the 4 weeks?….. getting a bit itchy to quit writing now, and the shorter than the long version is that cutting away the coupler required 2 cuts with an anglegrinder 180 degrees apart. The first one thru the key on the shaft. This done in situ with, hmmm fairly limited access under the cockpit of the boat was quite tedious. I could only cut a minut or two at a time, then spend 15 or more cooling everything off, with rags wetted in cold well as cold as it gets when the ambient temp. is around 30 C! before cutting again for a minut and so on. Then stretching my back, drinking a pint of water and so on…… the bummer for a coupling just refused until he was cut through both sides. A tight fit indeed – and hardly any exterior rust that is. Luckily I had some advise and ‘cheering-me-up’ from the mechanic here in Port Phaeton; Patrick, who fabricated a new coupling on his lathe for a third of the price if I had had to order it from outside. A very nice guy and highly recommended to anyone who are in need of a skilled mechanic in Tahiti.

All for now…..be heading out to the Marquesas in about a week or so….

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Maintenance on boat and our selves

I can’t believe it’s over 2 months since my latest post here. Time flies, Nanna is bobbing at her anchor as always, the moon has waxed and vaned, rain and squalls come and go in this beautiful spot with a fair amount of sunny days in between. The boat resembles a floating reef by now, I haven’t cleaned the hull or even the prop, for 4 months and cranked the engine just once, in order to haul some 20 meters of anchor chain in to clean off the barnacles before letting it out again. After almost 4 years in the water, the antifouling is but a memory though the colour is still there, mostly black but now with large areas of red, the paint that was on the boat when we bought her.

We have decided to haul-out here in Port Phaeton either 1st Oct or a week after depending on the yard. This is later than we were wishing for since the ‘dry season’ is at it’s end and in November the cyclone season here in the Southern Pacific starts officially. The latest updates on El Nino says 63% chance of an El Nino this year, but likely a ‘mild to moderate’ event, so a very slim risque of cyclones in FrPol.

After the 1-2 week haul-out we’ll head for the Marquesas to explore these 8 islands during the season, in order to sail back here in April. By that time we hope that a package will have arrived with a spool of rigging wire, mechanical terminals and all needed bits and pieces for us to replace the standing rigging on NANNA. I am quite intrigued by fabric standiing rigging (as in Dyneema & others)and am looking into it seriously at the moment, so far it seems not too many cruising boats have converted, perhaps the price is still a chilling factor?

As I think I’ve mentioned previously, the law regarding ‘temporary boat importation’ has changed here recently, allowing a boat in transit to stay for 36 months w/o paying the import tax. This is great news for us and we will make the most of it to see as many as at all possible of all these paradise islands.

After that, we are considering going the Southern Ocean route to Chile and the Patagonian channels (before returning here again) as one alternative to the more common route to Tonga, Fiji and further west. This is one major reason we want new standing rigging on the boat.

I mentioned maintenance projects on ourselves too, and this is quite as important.
Without going into details, I had a minor surgery done here a few weeks ago which went very well and I feel very good about having it done. Since I never had any health issues ever before, I have travelled without health insurance since we left Europe in 2010. Thus, I had too pay cash for the surgery. It only took 15 minutes for the surgeon, but since they had to put me to sleep, the whole affair cost me almost 2000 EURO, which seems like a lot, but OTOH, I already ‘saved’ more than 2 times that in going w/o insurance policy. Isabelle has also had some ‘upkeep and check-ups’ done and will in her turn, have a surgery scheduled for late April next year, which is one of the reasons for our return to Tahiti.

These little interruptions is what caused us not yet to explore Tahiti much on the boat. We did however have access to a car for a few days, courtesy of our friends Richard and Cinthia on ‘Baloo’ and made the most of it by exploring most of the island by road. In fact, there is pretty much just one major road, along the shore, that goes around all but the southernmost part of Tahiti Iti; the peninsula at the south.

Tahiti looks very promising as a cruising ground, it’s a pity that most cruising boats seem to spend just a week or two, and mostly in Papeete or rather the huge, expensive marina at Tahina. Most of the lagoons are navigable, well marked and charted, and anchoring is fine just anywhere where the depth makes it practical.

It has not been all gloom, if I sound like it has, we have made new friends on land and boats alike, enjoyed a few ‘aperós’ in spirited company.
A few weeks ago on an Albin Vega **), a 27′ swedish ‘coastal cruiser’ built in the 70’ies, came in here with a young skipper who is a sailmaker by profession. He stitched chafe patches on the batten pockets on our mainsail (Too heavy to do by hand or on our sewing machine) and said the sail is good for a good many miles still. The main chafes on the intermediate backstays when we’re going downwind. To remedy this for the future, I will replace the intermediarys with running backstays made of ‘high-tech’ line and bock and tackle at the lower end.

Isabelle has once again put her wood- and brightwork skills to work in varnishing most of the interior and exterior wood trim. Exterirally she prefers to use ‘Cetol’ by the dutch company Sikkens, which is something in between – or a little of both- oil and varnish. Looks fantastic! I’ll see if I can upload some pics, once on the hard, internet will be a bit more reliable and hopefully even faster….

**) The Vega has gotten a reputation and many folowers, particularly in the Anglosaxon part of the world, with many impressive voyages to it’s merit; Antarctica (Jarle Andhoej) and circumnavigating the Americas by the Horn and the NW passage (Rutherford I believe) just to mention two. In the UK and the US there are Vega Owner’s Ass’ns. We met one in Ecuador and another in Chiapas, Mexico. Odd as it may seem, I have never sailed a Vega, since the Folkboats (about 3500 built and just over 3000 Vegas!)are so much better sailboats in my mind, albeit quite a bit more cramped below decks. As far as my knowledge goes, Folkboat is still the world’s most numerous keelboat class in racing, but since they aren’t made anymore the J24 might have achieved pole position by now.

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Beautiful Bretagne(Brittany)

I am on the way back to Tahiti and ‘Nanna’, since a little more than a week I am in Nantes, with Isabelle and her Mother. Isa has been very busy here, and still is and will be until we will fly back to Papeete the next Wednesday morning.

Still enjoying the french cuisine to the fullest,I’ve definitely gained a couple kilograms both in Sweden and here.

One of Isas cousins are running a creperie (Creperie La Gavotte)out in the the countryside along the Nantes-Brest Canal, built back in the days of Napoleon. We spent a day here, hiking along the canal.

Then on our way back to Nantes, stopped at the beautiful village of La Gacilly, where they had a big Photo Festival. This village is also known as the place of birth of the famous cosmetic entrepreneur Yves Rocher

Newly uploaded photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/9218039@N06/

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Nostalgic nosing around old favourite spots

After a few weeks of intensive social life with parents and a few old friends, we all agreed on it as we’ll done. So, rebooked my return flight to Paris and then Papeete. However, there weren’t any seats available in a good week, which left me with the nice possibility of a week off, just by myself!

Considering different possibilities, I came to think of the SXK (Swedish cruising association)-SXK.se- who has 4 IF-boats(Int’l Folkboat, i e the GRP build, still the most numerous kellboat class on the planet I would think.
These boat set are for rent, and one of them, ‘Tant Storm’ is at Fliskär Marina in my home town. Phoned the guy in charge and to my surprise the boat was free, at prime vacation time! That’ very sad for sailing, but a great boon to me. For a whopping 150€ Or SEK 1400 she was mine for week!

My first ever sail was in-77 or -78, in these waters. A weeken sail with my girlfriend, her little sister and the Mother skippering. After that weekend I was lost for life, with the sailing bug and bought my first own boat a the following spring.

Anyway, after an extremely cold June, the forecast was now very favorable with high pressure system stationary over Finland and NE winds veering to SE after a few days. Light winds, so decided to go to windward heading north the first couple days and then tacking back. A Folkboat without spinnaker isn’t much fun to sail downwind on light air. That plan worked out well, and I visited some beautiful spots… Storjunfrun, Eggegrund, Björn (all old lighthouse islands with plenty of history) and Kuso kalv, Limön and then finally Granskär, the home for the sailing club and SXK regionally.

simply wonderful to sail a Folkboat again, being close to the water, quick response and a nice heel going to windward. I owned a sistership for some 5 years until 2006.

Enjoyed a good wood burning Sauna at Storjungfrun, grace to STF(Swedish tourist association) and all in all had a great little holiday.
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The archipelago in Sweden and Finland is a truly unique sailing area, have yet to find something to challenge it’s status, in fact the whole area could, and arguably should be declared a world heritage sight. At 59-66 degrees North, the season is a wee bit short though I have sailed more or less full time from early May till the end of September a couple years before heading out for true blue water in 2009.

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Back on Swedish soil

At long last I find myself with a good internet connection. Uploaded some photos from the past 14 months at my Flickr.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/9218039@N06/

It’s nice to be back, meeting family and some friends and taking care of a list of things to do, to buy, and so on during my stay here.

In mid June, I had expected nice summer weather but so far it’s a bit chilly for my tropics-weakened body. I needed a new set of rain clothes anyway and bought it already the first day. I still get surprised seeing my countrymen in shorts and tees, sipping cold beer at restaurants with tables on the sidewalks. 12-14 C and a fresh breeze in town….the descendants of the vikings are still going strong ;-) For myself, I willingly admit that I haven’t yet adjusted after years spent in the tropics.

A nice benefit from going home at this time, is that I can enjoy watching the games from the World Championship in Football from Brazil. Good times roll!

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