Monthly Archives: December 2020

Tahiti Sails

Main Sail Maintenance

Our main sail, the main source of power for our sailboat needed some loving.  It is original to the boat which puts her at 20 years old.  She is made of two layers of dacron which is a heavy-duty material and weighs in at almost 300lbs!  She needs to be replaced because she doesn’t really hold her shape very well, but she still is functioning.  Matt and I hope to replace her and the jib when we get to New Zealand (next year).

We decided to get her re-stitched in order to get the most use of her and make her last longer.  We contacted Tahiti Sails and scheduled an appointment for them to retrieve our beastly sail.  First, you have to remove it and that is not easy.

Removing the Main Sail

The main sail lives inside the sail bag which is held up by lines called “lazy jacks.”  The sail is hoisted up the mast by 13  “cars” and has 3 reefing lines (in the front and 3 in the back), and 3 boom stromps that have to be removed.  Matt positions the boom off to the side (protecting the boom with a fender on the cabin top).  This gives him access to the sail bag, lazy jacks, boom stromps, and reefing lines.  Photos are of the sail bag as Matt removes the sail.


Next, we document the areas that we want re-stitched and repaired.  Mostly it is re-stitching the tack, clew, head, and baton pockets.  We are going to have them strengthen all of the key stress points and add a protective fabric over them (head, tack, clew). baton pockets) to block the UV from the sun. 


Tahiti Sails

Guillaume met us at our boat to pick up the sail.  We walk him through all the “weak” areas or areas of concern (as mentioned above).  He tests the thread on the actual material as he thinks it might be compromised as well since it is over 20 years old.  But to our surprise it is holding up nicely.  Matt and Guillaume fold up the main and off it goes to get repaired.

We also noticed that our small / top baton needs replacing.  It is shattered.  You can tell because it does not look like the rest.  Lucky for us it is the smallest one and the easiest to reach.  We will have to hunt to find a replacement.

Guillaume said it should take about 5/6 hours of work which could be done within the week.  Not sure how it takes a week to do 5/6 hours of work, but ok.  At an estimated cost of 40000xpf ($400).  We shall see.

The Beast Returns

Guillaume called us on Tuesday with the quote and a run down of all the repairs after he laid out the canvas on the floor.  The work was completed on Wednesday and delivered on Thursday – under budget and on time.  He repaired the head, tack, clew, baton pockets.  Added tail tales (wind indicators) and patched a few small tears.  He did really good work.  The top right photo shows where he hand stitched around a high stress point, then covered it with sunbrella.

Installing the Beast

Then the process of reinstalling the 300lb main begins.  It is a slow process as the weight makes it difficult to raise above our heads.  But Matt powers through it.

The sail is positioned along the side of the boom.  First he attaches the clew (bottom rear attachment point to the boom.  Then he attaches the head (the attachment point that raises the main up and down) to the main halyard.  Next up, he attaches the first of 13 cars.  He opens the car, slips the line in, closes the car, and inserts a split ring on the pin so it can’t slip out. Then is raises the main to the next car and repeats the process 13 times.  As he approaches each of the 3 reefing lines, he has to tie them on to the appropriate place in the front.  He will do the back 3 reefing points last.

Attaching the main to the cars

Attaching the main to the cars

After he attaches all 13 cars, he works on the rear reefing lines.  Lucky for us it is a quiet, windless day which makes it so much easier to keep the sail up while at anchor!  Matt is amazing!

Fast Forward:

A few days later we go to Tahiti Yacht Accessories and find a baton.  It is not really the correct size, but it is better nothing.  We needed a 16mm by 165 and he had either a 14 or 18.  Since the 18 was too big, we went with the 16.  You can clearly see the good vs the bad.

We celebrate with Rachel (from Agape) at a cool Poke Bowl place and it was delicious!

Events from this blog occurred on 21 October 2020.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

French Polynesia Flag

Tahiti Madness Part II

We continue on with the Tahiti madness as we rush to get through our provisioning, shopping, and projects.  If you missed part I (click this link).  We were both up early again to try to get through all of our tasks for the day.  

Matt greased the main sail cars that take our main sail up and down the mast.  This is much easier to do when the 300lb main sail is not attached.  We wrapped up the long-stay visa paperwork and are ready to pass that off the documents to Tahiti crew next week.  Many loads of laundry, and a little boat cleaning all before 0900.  We are expecting Guillaume any minute and we wait…and wait.  We are eager to get going to run more errands, but we stand by.

Wouldn’t you know it, a down pour hits us, putting a huge kink in our day.  Guillaume posts pones the main sail pick up until the next day so we are free to work on boat chores.

I decide it’s time to wash all our blankets, bedding, and try to remove the many stains on our clothes.  Not sure what it is about boat life, but every cruiser has stains on all their clothes.  You just can’t find stain remover like in the U.S. and the washer is always on gentle cycle so there is no real friction.  Another 4 loads of laundry later and things are smelling yummy.

Guillaume comes on Thursday to pick up the main sail. We spend some time pointing out all the areas we want repaired or re-stitched and he is on his way to work his magic. (Coming up next is our blog on the main sail repair).

Tahiti Madness Continues

More errands to the post office, the marina office, the market, Maxi’s, and a few small stores downtown.  Part of the beauty of being at the dock is that we have easy access to all the stores and we can easily work on boat projects – and we have many. 

Our ceiling panels are 20-year-old corrugated PVC.  We replaced all of the ceiling panels in the salon a few years ago and a few panels in the master cabin and aft cabin. However, there are few more that need to be replaced and it is a huge job.  We start working on the port, aft cabin panel as it needs the most attention.  Bottom right photo shows the cracks in the panel.  Matt removes the panel without damaging it which is good because we need to use it as a pattern.  Then the fun process of scraping all the glue.

Using a slanted razor blade, you scrape lawyer after layer until you get down to the glue residue.  Then you use mineral spirits or acetone to get the last bit of residue off before a light sand.

Matt tries to seal up a leak while we have the ceiling panel down.  The good news: he identified where the leak is and can plug it from the outside.  The photo below shows the silicone that has given way around the pipe.

Fixing the leak

Fixing the leak

Cut your pattern out of the new smooth PVC, apply VHB double stick tape (which is amazing) and install.

Create the pattern, cut it, prep for installation

Create the pattern, cut it, prep for installation

We finish the project several weeks later with the new ceiling panel place and all looking lovely.

Sweetie is feeling deflated

Sweetie is losing air.  We woke up to a flat “Sweetie” several days in a row.  Weird.  We know we have a slow leak, but she was losing air every day for several days in a row (even after we pumped her back up).  Time to look for the new leak.

The dinghy has 3 valves that put air into the pontoons.  Each valve has two “fail safe” leak preventions.  The inner mechanism on one valve has a slow leak, but the secondary cap always prevented air from leaking out.  However, it appears that the cap is now leaking.  It was cracked either by being tightened too tight or being hit.  Bummer. 

The quick fix is to swap the cap with another cap to stop the immediate leak.  Then try to glue it.  Of course, the dinghy is 20-years old and is no longer being made.  So, trying to find a new cap is highly unlikely.

Sunday Market Days

Part of Tahiti madness is Sunday Market Days.  The local farmers host a massive market day on Sundays in the center of downtown Papeete.  There are always local farmers selling fresh produce at this center, but on Sundays it is 10 times bigger than regular days.  They start at 0300 and ends at 1000 (yep you read that right, 3am in the morning).  We got up and made it there by 0600 and it was crazy busy.

The great thing about French Polynesia is that the locals actually listen to their government and follow the set rules.  Despite the Tahiti Madness, everyone was wearing a mask and everyone was using hand sanitizer (all around the market).  Very cool.  Even with the precautions, we bought our supplies and got out quickly.

They have a section with fresh flowers, which smell devine and are stunningly beautiful.

An entire section is dedicated to chopped, flavored meats. We purchased 1 kilo of three different flavors, because why not?

Then there is an even larger selection of fresh fish, crab, and lobster.

A large assortment of pre-packaged food (posion cru, baked goods, potato mixes and more)

And then rows, and rows, and rows of fresh produce!   Just look at the beautiful colors on each table!  So vibrant and pretty calling you to buy them.

The Madness Continues

Tahiti madness seems to be a necessary evil.  Always dread being here, but it is necessary to stock up the boat with marine parts, provisions, water, electricity and more.  Plus we get many boat projects down.

We took the opportunity to replace our fire extinguishers while we were here.  We could only find 2 in the stores so I called Incendie Moz Services a local person who comes to you!  I should have called him first because his extinguishers were $10 cheaper and he took our old ones!  Oh well, at least we have 4 new ones.  We had 6 extinguishers that were well over 10 years old.  However, they all had indicators in the green (meaning they were still good).  We decided not to take any chances and just order 4 new ones.  We kept a few of the old ones, just in case.

We dump some stuff we no longer need or use or want.

We made several more trips to random stores.  Picked up long flippers for Matt to help him with free fiving (diving without oxygen or gear), a hose to replace the outboard fuel line, a courtesy flag, flex tape, and a few other odds and ends.  The lower right photo is my 2nd pantry which is full to the brim.  Love it!

At the marina we have super cheap water.  So, we took advantage and did 3 more loads of laundry, pressure washed the boat, and filled our water tanks.  Tahiti Sails delivered our main, we grabbed a quick lunch and finally left the marina.

It was a short motor to the anchorage.  We dropped the hook and began the fun process of installing the main (check out our next blog on the main sail).

Marina Taina

The anchorage is just 5 miles from Marina Papeete but it is much closer to Marina Taina where we had lots of other business.  We could have come here on the bus but we were avoiding it due to covid.    Here is a list of things we did here:

  • Tahiti Crew: dropped off original documents for our Carte de Sejure renewal in February 2021 (see “Passport and Visa Mess” blog post coming up soon)
  • Tahiti Yacht Services: picked up a new baton to replace our damaged one
  • Dropped off a ton of crap (old batteries, old fire extinguisher, unwanted cables and miscellaneous stuff we could recycle 
  • Carrefore market – huge and final grocery run

French Polynesia faces a huge crisis with covid and there are threats of another lockdown as we are wrapping up our stay in Papeete.  We decide it is best to get out of town as quickly as possible as we don’t want to be stuck in Tahiti for lockdown.

Events from this Tahiti Madness blog occurred during the last week of October 2020.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

Marina Papeete Sunset

Tahiti Madness Part I

A big part of me dreads coming to Tahiti.  First, because it is the epicenter for the pandemic.  The majority of the cases in French Polynesia are in Tahiti and people visiting this area have brought the virus back to the outer islands.  So, we have to be extra careful here to avoid catching covid.  Second, it means we have tons of chores, errands, and tasks which are exhausting.  And third, we will be spending loads of money.  It is why I call it Tahiti Madness when we come here.  A whirl wind of organized chaos and this visit is no different.

We arrived in Papeete around 10:15 from Huahine.  We had hoped to arrive much earlier.  In retrospect, we should have left on Sunday and arrived on Monday, but you know, hind sight is 20/20.  Our goal was to find a slip at Marina Papeete so we would have easy access to the downtown stores for a few days.  Then we thought we would move out to the anchorage and finish the rest of our errands from a different location.

The wind was blowing pretty darn good causing white caps in and around the marina.  Not a good sign as it can be challenging to maneuver the boat into a slip in those conditions.  But we got lucky as our friends on Garulfo helped us into the slip (after two false starts).  

Off to the Races – Day 1

After we secured the boat, we had to run to an appointment with the U.S. Consulate.  We were scheduled to meet him at 1100, but missed that time.  He graciously said he would wait for us if we could get there before 1200.  Well, that ruled out the bus because their schedule is on island time.  So, we hopped in a cab for the 10-mile journey.  $30 later we arrived, hopped out, and ran to the photo store to get Matt’s passport photo.  Then upstairs to the U.S. Consulate. (Stay tuned for a blog post called “Passport and Visa Mess” coming soon)

It was a huge relief to get that passport renewal process started.  Once we returned downtown, we headed for the marina office.  We needed to let them know we arrived, pay for the slip, obtain a security card, and load money on another card for our electricity and water.  Super nice folks at Marina Papeete!  Now that we are legal we headed to a late lunch because we were starved.

After lunch, we swung by two sporting goods stores to see if they had a volleyball and volleyball net for our friends in Gambiers (Herve and Valerie).  Remarkably, we found both, noted the prices and headed back to the boat. We needed to confirm with them that they still wanted these items and had not bought them since the last time we were there.

Marina Work

Back at the marina, Matt took advantage of the cheap water and washed down the boat.  It was incredibly salty from our passage and needed a good rinse.

As Matt was working on the outside, I was working on paperwork for our long-stay visa renewals and Matt’s passport. 

Before we knew it, it was time for the net and I was net controller.  As I’m wrapping up the net, I hear someone tell Matt that we have to move.  We are in their private slip.  Seriously!  Ugh.  I wrap up the net quickly, enlist our friends on Garulfo again, and we move 4 slips down on the same pier.  This spot was taken earlier so we were super happy it was available now.  The winds had virtually stopped and with the help of our friends, we eased in with no issues.

To wrap up our first day of Tahiti madness, we had happy hour on Garulfo.  It was a short night as we were exhausted from the lack of sleep during our previous passage night.

Tahiti Madness – Day 2

We slept long and hard waking up refreshed and ready for our busy day.  There was lots of ground to cover so we got started early.  Left the boat at 0730 and headed for the industrial area which is 1.2 miles away.  Matt needed to purchase bearings for the water maker.  Lucky for us, the guy had exactly what we needed and within 5 minutes we were walking toward our second stop, the Champion grocery store.  This will be the first of many grocery runs.  Back to the boat to drop off the first load.

Ocean 2000, a marine store was our next stop.  They close at 12n so we had to hustle to make it there on time.  We picked up the red button for the Yamaha kill switch, teak oil for our exterior wood, fuses, some other bits.  On the way back toward the boat, we stopped in Maxi’s which is a store where you can buy food in bulk (like Costco or Sam’s).  We had to be careful here as we could only buy what we could carry.  Unfortunately, we went overboard buying in bulk (minced garlic, snacks, ziplock bags, salsa, peanut butter, etc…).  Will have to come back for round 2.

Loaded down, we started the long walk back to the marina.  On the way, we made one more stop to Olympian Sports to buy the volleyball net and ball.  It was on the way, but seriously I needed a break from carrying the bags.  We continued on to the marina and unloaded our 2nd load.  This photo shows only the first load, we return to the market and bulk store the next day and the fresh market right before we left Papeete.

The Madness Continues

A quick lunch at the market, and off we go again.  We are in full blown Tahiti madness mode.   A mile later we arrive to Sing Tung Hung another marine store where we grab a few items.  Then we stop at Ace hardware (2 stores) for more boat supplies (cleaning agents, brushes, silicone, blue tape, etc…). A quick stop at the bank for local currency and back to the boat for the 3rd time.

Finally, back at the boat, but we are not done yet.  The sun is still up and there is work to do.  Matt starts working on removing the main sail.  (Look for the post “Main Sail Maintenance” coming soon).  As Matt is working outside, I work on stowing our goodies.  It’s not as easy as you’d think as we remove all packaging (cardboard attracts bugs), label all lids with content and expiry date, wrap blue tape on all metal items (cans), and then stow it safely on the boat.

We walked over 8 miles today, most of it schlepping bags.  No wonder my body is protesting!

Sunset in the marina

Coming up next, more of our Tahiti madness adventures.

Events from this blog occurred on 21 October 2020.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.