Matt and a FAD

FAD: Fish Aggregating Device

Many fishermen from around the world use a “FAD” (fish aggregating device) to catch their fish.  It can be a stationary or floating device.  The stationary FADs are tied to something at the bottom of the sea using an extremely long line.  The floating devices are attached to a beacon equipped with GPS, solar, batteries, circuit board, and sometimes depth gauges.

A FAD is a raft type float, usually made of bamboo, strong netting, loads of various sizes of line (rope), and floats.  Fisherman attach the beacon to the raft so they can find it later.  Small fish gather under the raft attracting larger fish which attract even larger fish.  Fisherman use the GPS to track the raft, then fish for the easy prey below.  Kind of like hunting using deer feeders – all cheating to me.

Anyway, won’t get into that debate.  The rafts and beacons tend to end up on shore.  As we walk around the windward side (Pacific Ocean side) of the motus we come across the FAD remnants. We picked up a beacon last year and tried to take it apart to see if there were any pieces we could salvage.  However, that particular beacon was sealed shut with 5200 glue and was useless.

Many of our friends have retrieved the FAD beacons and scored rechargeable batteries, small solar panels, LED lights, and stainless screws.  But we just did not think it was worth the trouble to lug these heavy beacons back to the boat so we usually leave them where we find them.

Try, Try, Again

Surprise, surprise.  We had just walked the Puaumu motu a few days ago and did not come across any FADs.  However, on this day, we came across a recently arrived FAD with a fairly new beacon attached.  We removed the beacon and dragged the raft as high up on the rocks as possible (its super heavy).  Trying to prevent it from going back out to sea.

Matt carried the beacon back to the boat and began the dissection.

FAD Beacon

FAD Beacon

The cover is connected with 20 stainless steel screws, nuts, and washers which can easily be reused on Sugar Shack!

After removing the clear plastic cover, we access the cute little solar panels.  Maybe we can use these to create a solar powered charger for our phones?  Surely there is something on google telling us to build that?

Beacon Solar Panels

Beacon Solar Panels

Below the solar panels is the circuit board.

Circuit Board

Circuit Board

Surrounded by a nice wood block are the batteries.  The white batteries on the top row do not have numbers so we are not sure if we can use them.  There are 10 soldered together.  The bottom row are D batteries and unfortunately, they are not rechargeable.  What a waste.  There are about 15 of these batteries.  The beacon also had 2 dehumidifier packs as well.

Beacon Parts

Beacon Parts

All in all, we will probably only keep the stainless-steel screws, nuts, washers, solar panels and maybe the wood.  We will dispose of the rest.  It was pure entertainment value.

All Beacon Parts

All Beacon Parts

Check out what we did with the FAD coming up next week.

Events from this blog post occurred on 23 April, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Honda Generator

Need Power: Honda Generator

Sugar Shack is its own city. We generate our own power using solar panels, engines, and/or a portable Honda Generator.  We also make our own water using a Spectra watermaker that desalinates the sea.  Typically, on a sunny day, we generate enough power to operate the boat. Sugar Shack has eight Solara Ultra 150-watt solar panels that can generate 1200 watts of solar.

We are considered “power hogs” compared to most of our fellow cruisers. We run 1 frigerator, 2 freezers, stereo, DiskStation, VHF, and electronics (lighting, AIS, etc…) all day.  On average, we burn 12-15 amps per hour.  If we are under passage, we burn a heck of a lot more while we run navigation, instruments, and auto pilot. 

This is with us trying to conserve power.  All the lights on the boat are LED and devices are turned off when not in use.  We don’t charge devices at night because we are not making power.

On a rainy or cloudy day, we tend to use our portable Honda Generator to charge the house batteries.  It is a 2000-watt, 220V generator that runs on gasoline.  It’s cheaper for us to charge the batteries using the Honda Generator than it is to use the main Volvo engines.  And it is way less wear and tear on the most expensive items on the boat.

Where am I going with all of this?

Our portable Honda Generator that was purchased in 2018 stopped putting out the proper number of amps and was making a horrible sound when we used it.  Matt took it apart several times and discovered the stator was burnt.  Crap! This must have happened when we over heated the generator while trying to weld steel for our engine’s alternator bracket (see this post) last year.

Honda Generator

Honda Generator

We sort of forgot about the issue as we had months and months of sunny days.  But as rainy season approached, we had to bring the old girl back out for service. Same problem, just different day. We decided to price out a new Honda Generator from Tahiti.  If we could hire an agent to purchase the generator for us at a “decent Tahiti” price we would buy it now and ship it to Gambier.  Sugar Shack will not planning on being in Tahiti for another 3 months and buying the Honda Generator now would save us from having to run the engines to charge the house batteries which saves money in the long run.


In the U.S. you can purchase an EU20i for about $1000.  In Panama, we purchased the same unit for $1800 but it included shipping from the states to Panama and the agent’s fees.  Not horrible. In Tahiti, the costs are as follows:

  • $2,555
  • $409 (16% VAT)
  • $15 – Shipping
  • $437 – Agent’s fees ($50/hr x 2hrs = $100, 10% fee $296, and VAT on their services ($41)
  • $3,416 total estimated cost

Our Agent told us that VAT ($409) would be waived using “Vessel in Transit” which would just about cover his fees ($437) bringing the new total to $3,007.

Most countries honor “Vessel in Transit” which allows boats to purchase items VAT/Duty free. However, French Polynesia decided to stop offering this discount because “supposedly” some cruisers were purchasing items for locals using this discount.  We pitched a fit because our agent did not tell us this.  Granted he said he did not know about this “new” law.  We would have declined the purchase had we known the 16% VAT was being charged. 

After a snit fit, we were able to get a 10% discount of $255 bringing our new total $3,161.  Three times the cost of a U.S. Honda Generator.  What can you do when you are in a remote third world country?  Ugh.

Wrong Unit

The agent was doing us a “favor” by fronting the money and rushing the purchase of the Honda Generator.  We wanted to get it on the ship which was leaving that day.  The agent did work some magic and was able to get the generator on the ship that very afternoon before it left the dock.  Remember, we only get the supply ship every 3 weeks so we did not want to wait 6 weeks for the next one.  We emailed the agent with the specifics of the Honda Generator that we wanted.  He said he purchased it, put it on the ship, and sent the invoices the following week. We did not have internet and could not download the invoices until the ship arrived.

Picking up the unit was relatively painless.  We picked up our shipping invoice from the ship’s office, waited for the container to be unloaded and unlocked, grabbed our Honda Generator and went back to the boat.  Immediately, realizing it is the wrong model.  We had asked for the EU22i and were given an EU20i.  They both will work, but the EU22i provides more power.  Oh, for fuckity fuck fuck sake!  Not only was it 3x as much but it is not even the correct model.

We contacted our agent who said the store did not have an EU22i in stock and if we wanted, we could send the EU20i back.  We would not be able to get our shipping fees (both ways), or the agent fees refunded ($467). 


We decided to keep the new unit because it is still better to run this EU20i than it is to run our main engines. And we expect to need extra charge over the next several months as we enter rainy season.  Not an ideal transaction, but what can you do?

The good news is we have already used the new Honda Generator 3x in the first week as we had lots of rainy/cloudy days.

Events from this blog post occurred during mid to late April 2021.  Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind our adventures.

The Beauty of Puaumu

The beauty of Puaumu takes my breath away.  We had this beautiful motu all to ourselves for well over a week where we simply enjoyed nature.  The waters have so many different shades of blue that you could create your own blue rainbow.  

Puaumu is located in the north east corner of the Gambier Archipelago.  Two local families own this motu which makes it private.  On occasion, locals will come out here for the weekend and enjoy the beautiful setting. Cruisers tend not to come this far north because it is not charted, but it is still navigable.  Below you can see where the charts end…white space.

The windward side, facing the Pacific, looks like it has a sandy shore.  However, that is not the case.  Dark rocks and coral line the tree line and the shore line is covered in light rocks and coral.  Sugar Shack in the background.

Puaumu is a medium sized motu.  It is about .4nm in length and .1nm in width at the widest part.  The center of the island is covered in a palm trees and a variety of lush green trees.  The windward side is covered in coral and rocks making it a challenge traverse across.  The leeward side is a small sandy beach home to tons of hermit crabs and other sea/land-based critters.  Many coral heads liter the lagoon side of the island making it a challenge to navigate to a safe anchorage.

Puaumu Lagoon

Puaumu Lagoon

Puaumu Highlights

Matt caught the sun lighting up the tree tops at sunrise.  The shades of blue in the lagoon start out turquoise and slowly blend in to a beautiful hue of purple.

This photo gives you an idea of how very isolated we are when we visit this small piece of paradise.  This shot looks at the far left (North West) corner of Puaumu.

Love this reflection of Sugar Shack in the water.

Check out our reflection

Check out our reflection

Looks like the sun is our anchor light on steroids.

A few more stunning photos

Sunrise at Puaumu

Sunrise at Puaumu

Moonrise at Puaumu

Moonrise at Puaumu

Love this photo of the sun reflecting off of our dagger board.

The American Flag never looked so good.  Made of Sunbrella – thank you for the awesome flag that lasts forever and still looks beautiful!

Port Sugar Scoop / Transom – just a wee bit proud of our home!

Just a beautiful sunset with colorful rays in the sky.

Check out our other post on Puaumu.

Because of low bandwidth we had to spread our posts out. Events from this blog post occurred during early April 2021.  Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind our adventures.