Monthly Archives: September 2019

Sugar Shack is back on the water in good company with 2 other Catanas

Lightning Strike: The Highs and Lows

Originally, there were a dozen posts documenting our lightning strike catastrophe and the claims process.  But after 6+ months of living the hell, we decided not to publish any of those posts. Instead, we will publish one post and focus on the highlights and the benefits rather than all the negativity surrounding this journey.

If you are a cruiser, please contact us for your copy of “Prevention and Preparing for a Claim” which outlines key measures to take prior to claim.  We created this document with the sole purpose of helping others avoid issues and is based on our experience with our insurance carrier and being in the Pacific.

Despite all the setbacks, Sugar Shack is back on the water and we are a lot more knowledgeable of all the boat’s systems and parts.


A lighting strike can give you the blues.  However, we were elated each time new parts arrived.  It was exciting and surprising to see what arrived each time.  There was no rhyme or reason as to what arrived or when.  Some parts ordered way after others arrived first and parts ordered first arrived last.

Arrival of boat parts

Arrival of boat parts

Waiting Game

While we waited for parts to arrive, we did everything we could to prep the boat for installation.  The most time consuming project was rewiring the boat.  As you can imagine, a lightning strike can do some damage to wiring/cables.  Old cables in lower left image.

Out with the old, in with the new: Cables

Out with the old, in with the new: Cables

The Team:

We had a good team working on electronics, mechanical, and refrigeration.  Of course, Matt was extremely hands on, supervised all the work, and jumped in to ensure it all was properly executed.

AG Marine Descends on Sugar Shack

AG Marine Descends on Sugar Shack

Flaco, the tallest AG Marine worker contorted into the smallest places:

AG Marine get's into Tight Spaces

AG Marine get’s into Tight Spaces

Navigation System

All the equipment at our navigation station had to be replaced.  It was a bit of a disaster for many months as we awaited for parts to come in.  Diego had to build a new face panel to accommodate the new parts, but the end product came out really nice giving us a much cleaner, less cluttered space.

Navigation Station & Equipment Rebuilt

Navigation Station & Equipment Rebuilt

Solar Panels:

Our solar panels were fried and had to be replaced.  The new panels had different specifications, so we had to modify our existing rails to accommodate them. 

New Solar Panels Providing Energy

New Solar Panels Providing Energy


The last to arrive, even though it was the first to be ordered, was our main digital switching or AC/DC control system.  Of course it had to be built, programmed, and calibrated before being sent to us.  Catana built their boats with cartes which are no longer being manufactured.  So, we replaced the system with a C-Zone system.

C-ZONE AC/DC Main Control System

C-ZONE AC/DC Main Control System

The old Digital Switching Control Panel (lower left photo) was completely destroyed by the lightning strike and is no longer available. C-Zone replaced it, which is a complicated beast, but gives us much better monitoring and access to everything remotely.  We can now control systems from this main control panel, a sub-control panel in the master suite, through B&G, and on an iPad.

DC Digital Switching Panel

DC Digital Switching Panel


We also took care of standard maintenance including wash, wax, bottom job, and prop speed.  I love the mid-way photo of the wash wax below (middle photo).

Sugar Shack get's a bath and a new wax

Sugar Shack get’s a bath and a new wax

The last color of our skirt was red and they sanded it down, painted a light blue which we didn’t like and changed it to a dark blue, which we love.

Sugar Shack get's a new skirt

Sugar Shack get’s a new skirt

Prop speed is used by a lot of fishing and speed boats.  We have never applied it to our props because it’s very expensive.  But, Bristol Marine included it for free with the cost of our bottom job.  Prop Speed prevents marine growth from bonding to metal surfaces below the waterline.

Prop Speed on our props - it's a first for us.

Prop Speed on our props – it’s a first for us.

Stepping the Mast:

Stepping the mast requires a village.  We had a rigging crew (3), yard assistants (3), AG Marine (5), painters (2), crane driver, lift drivers (3), launch slip helpers (4), a diver, and of course Matt and I.

Stepping the mast includes: carefully positioning the mast, connecting all the cables, securing the standing rigging (and tuning it), and putting the lazy jacks, sail bag, main sail, jib, and reefing lines all back on.  Then they touch up the bottom job where the blocks were located, move the crane, bring in the lift and slowly lower us into the water.

Stepping the Mast Takes a Village

Stepping the Mast Takes a Village

And she floats!  Thank God!  We had several issues once she was in the water, but we worked through them.  Both engines wouldn’t start, but after 20 minutes they were purring like kittens.

Sugar Shack is back on the water in good company with 2 other Catanas

Sugar Shack is back on the water in good company with 2 other Catanas

Outstanding Items After Splash (since repaired):

  • The radar doesn’t work (we have to exchange it for another new one),
  • Autopilot smart controller LCD screen is still funky (we are going to live with what we have)
  • The new starter battery was dead (charged her up)
  • Frigeration is on the fritz (spent 4 days working on it).

The lightning strike slowed us down and beat us up, but we are in the water and one step closer to continuing our adventures on sv Sugar Shack.

MPV Celebrating Our Departure

MPV Celebrating Our Departure

Any lightning strike is tough as you never know what it will impact. Some parts work at first, then fail, or fail, then work.  Unfortunately, there is no proven way to prevent lightning strikes.  All you can do is try your best to stay out of bad weather or zones that are prone to lightning strikes.

Nirvana on Rangiroa

Breaking News-Blog Release Dates

We have had so much fun in French Polynesia that our blogs can’t keep up!  As many of you know, our blogs are usually 6-8 weeks behind us.  Why do you ask?  It takes several hours to write each blog, compose the photos, upload the data and fix the SEO.  So, normally, I write the blog post offline.  When I find internet, I upload the content, photos and load the blog.  But the problem arises when we can’t find access to the world wide web, which can last for weeks on end.

Needless to say, we stock pile posts and schedule them to be released while we are offline. This will ensure that you always have something fabulous to read each week.  However, I have written so many posts about all of our amazing Polynesian adventures that they were being scheduled out through next year!  Yikes 3.5 months is way too long to wait.

Blog Release Dates

So, we have a new release schedule. Check out a new blog every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday!  Imagine all the work you can delay while reading our blog!  Blogs are released at 0700 PST every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday through the end of the year.


Did you know you can register at our blog?  Go to “Home” page, then on right hand side click “Register.” You will receive emails when a new blog is released once you are registered.  It’s easy and free.  This way you won’t miss a single adventure.

Gallery: Photos of Sugar Shack

Many of you have asked for photos of Sugar Shack.  We have created a new Gallery which has photos of the interior and exterior.  Go to the “home” page and click on  “Sugar Shack Gallery Page” then click on “Photos of Sugar Shack.”

Sugar Shack Standing Proud

Sugar Shack Standing Proud

Tracking us on Sugar Shack

Did you know that you can track our location at any time? Simply go to our “Home” page, click “Current Location.”

Send us Some Love

We always love to hear from you. Please don’t be shy about sending a comment on our blog, Facebook page or Instagram account (sv Sugar Shack)!

Makatea Belvedere Lookout

Makatea Belvedere Lookout


Did you know that you can “like” us on our Sugar Shack Facebook page?  I know it’s hard to remember to check our blog, each week, so be sure to “like” our svSugarShack Facebook  page ( to see when new posts are launched.

Lightning Strike Blog

Tomorrow we will launch a post on our lightning strike that occurred in Costa Rica two years ago.  Stay tuned.

Vanilla Island: Tahaa l’ile vanille

How can two islands within the same lagoon be so different?  Taha’a, the vanilla island is small, serene and surrounded by motus (sand islets).  Whereas Raiatea is the second largest island in the Society Archipelago (just behind Tahiti).  Since we have yet to visit Raitea, we will focus on Tahaa as it is a gem of an island.

Life is slow on Tahaa, the vanilla island, which can sweep you away into the traditional and tranquil life of the Tahitians.  The soft mountains are surrounded by tiny motus with bright, white sandy beaches.  The island is about 33 square miles and is home to just over 5,000 inhabitants.  It is known as the vanilla island.


Taha’a has almost 4,000 plant species on the island.  However, only 950 are considered indigenous to the island.  Of the 950 indigenous plants, 50 came from the wind, 200 came by sea and 700 were brought by birds.  Europeans brought most of the imported flora and fauna.  Overall the island is incredibly lush and colorful with a variety of plants and flowers to admire.

Vahine Island

We went to Vahine Island after we left Taha’a.  This is a private island and did not offer much to see besides the resort.  But what it did offer was wifi out in the bay!  Yippie.

Hurepiti Bay

We left early the next morning and headed to Hurepiti Bay (pronounced “her-a-pee-tee”) where we could easily get to shore to do a tour.

This was a deep, muddy bay with lots of coral heads and reefs surrounding each edge.  We dropped our hook in 16 meters and dragged.  We picked up the hook, dropped again in 12 meters, and let out 80 meters of chain before stuck.

Sugar Shack in Huripiti Bay

Sugar Shack in Hurepiti Bay

We were invited to go on a tour with 3 other boats and this is the best place to catch the start of the tour.  We hailed the operator, Noah on the radio and he offered wifi and a brief tour of the property.

Approaching the Vanilla Tour Property from the bay:

Vanilla Tours of Taha'a in Hurepiti Bay

Vanilla Tours of Taha’a in Hurepiti Bay

Walk About to the Peninsula

We decided to take a walk around the property, up to the road, and around the bay.  The road was asphalt part of the way then turned into a dirt/grass road.  We did get some gorgeous views of the bay.

Scenic stops along the tour

Scenic stops along the tour

We also captured a few pretty sunset photos.

Breathtaking sunset photos

Breathtaking sunset photos

Back to the boat for sunset and dinner.  We are all excited about our tour tomorrow.