Our windlass is a vital part of our boat as it controls our anchor and anchor chain. It allows us to use the motor to raise and lower our 100 meters of 10mm stainless chain and 33 kilo spade anchor. We replaced the motor, gaskets and a few other small pieces in Costa Rica 2019, but we have not taken the top portion of the windlass apart for some time.
We were having issues with the windlass as it was drawing too much power to operate. Something was causing friction or issues making the motor work too hard which then overloaded the batteries. Never a good thing to have the boat shut down as you are trying to bring up the anchor.
In order to work on the windlass we have to disengage the anchor chain. However, we did not want it to drop into the marina water so we ended up securing the anchor and chain to the bow roller.
We ordered new gaskets, o-rings, a sure clip, and a bearing from Lewmar (which took forever to arrive). As Matt was taking everything apart he realized that the spacer had rotted. Well shoot! For some reason, Lewmar has stainless and aluminum pieces put together which is odd as these two materials don’t like each other.
End of Year Delay
New problem. This spacer was not available anywhere in NZ, USA, or Europe! Evidently Lewmar would not be manufacturing more of these pieces until end February (it was December when we discovered the problem). If we were to wait, the part would not get to us until April or May. That would mean that we could not leave the marina as we would have no means to anchor which was simply unacceptable. So, we decided to take it to RH Precision Engineering to have a new one fabricated.
Rob at RH Precision was wonderful! We dropped the sad little spacer off on Friday before Christmas and he called us on Wednesday 28 Dec to tell us it was ready! And on top of that he only charged us $100NZD and 2 beers! We would have spent hundreds of dollars more had we ordered it from Lewmar. And it is beautiful and works perfectly!
We discovered the culprit was a rotted cord deck which held the spacer. Sea water had seeped into the wood, rotted it out and kept the spacer wet. So, Matt had to dig out all of the rotted wood, let it dry out, then filled it with epoxy.
We were finally able to complete the windlass project after 3 weeks, mostly waiting on parts. Now, we should be able to anchor without putting too much stress on our batteries.
Events from this blog occurred in late December and early January 2023. Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events. We upgrade Sugar Shack with lithium batteries and Starlink in our last blog.
Being in Tahiti can be a challenge. It means boat projects, lots of errands, tons of walking, and hordes of people and shops. It is a culture shock to be here after being in uninhabited islands with just the locals and a few other cruisers. But it is a necessary “evil.” I say “evil” only because we end up spending a lot of money, as we are surrounded by cruiser ships, tall buildings, loud noises, and dirty water. I’m not ungrateful, this is a beautiful island and offers hundreds of thousands of people a reprise from everyday life. But for us, as cruisers, it is only a place to stock up on provisions, get boat parts, handle paperwork, and do boat work.
We anchored off of Marina Taina for the first two days which is directly across from the Intercontinental Hotel. This was the same place we anchored last year several times and it was familiar. Within the first 4 hours of our arrival we had 3 visitors from other cruisers. A wonderful welcoming committee!
First Day Frenzy
On our first full day, we hit the ground running. We stopped in to see our agents at Tahiti Crew. Technically, we had not engaged them as our agents this year, but we had worked with them last year and they continue to be helpful. We had hoped they could help us with our long-stay visa renewals. Unfortunately, all they could do we offer us was advice and that advice was to wait until we received an approval email.
Our friends Josh and Rachel on Agape came into the office as we were chatting with Tahiti Crew. They too were looking for advice on their visa renewals. So, we decided to go to the source, the Haute Commissionaire’s office. We hopped on the bus and took the short 30-minute ride into town. It was a total déjà vu as we had submitted our visa applications together back in September 2019 and here we are going together to see if they are approved in July 2020.
We patiently waited our turn as Josh and Rachel went first. Laurie took their CDs back to her supervisor and asked them to wait. I walked up to the window to “present” myself and Matt to her which is required once a year. I tried my best to chat and be friendly and cheerful behind my mask and glass partition. She took our CDs and was gone for about 20 minutes. She came out with all 4 of our CDs stamped, approved and good until April 11, 2020! What a huge relief! We celebrated with a huge lunch and cold beer.
Official CDs with stamps
The renewal consists of a stamp on our CD’s. The first stamp was for our first year and the and the second stamp is for our 2nd year.
One Down, More to Go
We swung by Marina Papeete (downtown) to see if we could find someone to help us secure a slip. This marina does not take any reservations and it is first come first serve. So, we had to find someone who knew someone who was leaving so we could take their spot. We talked to 4 different boats who promised to let us know when someone left.
Next, we walked 1.5 miles to the main harbor to find the Douanes (immigration). They issue, among other things, a duty-free fuel certificate. This little piece of paper saves us over 40% on diesel. It has added up to several thousand dollars for us. Ours had expired while we were in Gambier and we could only renew it in Tahiti. So, off we went. It is a really simple process and we walked out with our certificate 10-minutes later.
On our way back into town we stopped by Ace Hardware in search of a pressure washer. The K’Archer we have sort of blew up and is no longer working. We did not find any brands we recognized so we continued on back to the bus stop and home to Sugar Shack.
Duck, Duck, Goose
Early the next morning we heard a boat had let so we pulled up anchor, readied the boat for marina life (put out lines and fenders) and headed in. Our friends on September AM helped us with our lines from shore and we snugly fit into a perfect spot in the marina. Lucky us as another boat came in minutes after us looking for a spot.
We walked to the marina office to alert them of our arrival. They were super nice. The prices were “low season” rates the marina is technically under construction. Which means there are no facilities like bathrooms, showers, or laundry. No big deal, we have all that on the boat. We ended up paying about $28 a night which is ridiculously cheap! Most excellent for us! It’s good to be in Tahiti (I say that now).
No More Corner Anchoring
During an unfortunate anchoring event we had bent our stainless-steel anchor shaft. It had happened when we anchored too close to a coral head in very deep water. We could not see the bottom and raised the anchor. Not an uncommon experience, but this time we had hooked a huge coral which literally bent the shaft. We had been dealing with it for about a year and it was frustrating to get the anchor into the bow roller slot. So, it was time to fix it.
You can’t really fix your anchor while at anchor. So, lucky for us, we are at the marina. Matt was able to remove the anchor shaft which was no easy feat. We headed to the industrial area where we knew there was a machinist.
After a 2.2 mile walk, carrying a 20+lb stainless-steel anchor shaft, we arrived at the shop. The two workers were certainly surprised and perplexed. It was fun to see Matt try to communicate with them, telling them what it is, how it is made, and how he wanted it fixed. Once all the details were worked out we went to work.
In the 2nd and 3rd photo you can see how bent it is.
It is amazing what you can do when you have the right tools! The three men set up the manual press and started cranking. I would not have thought it would be so “easy” to bend steel – they did not look like superman to me 🙂 After about 15 minutes, we had a much straighter shaft. They were so incredibly nice, they did not even charge us! They did walk away with a giggle
We have been seeing some weird numbers come out of our battery bank. These are relatively new house batteries (about 2-2.5 years young) and should be in excellent condition. However, we have been seeing a drain each morning that was have never seen before. Meaning they are lower than they expected based on our energy consumption.
We have 1200 wats of solar panels that work great when we have sun. On days when we don’t, we run the engines or our portable generator to charge the batteries. We have not been able to diagnose the problem because we could not get them to a full charge.
Being at the marina allowed us to connect to shore power and get to that full charge mode. Matt spent several hours testing and resetting the boat. He found one coupler that was not tight as it should be, but nothing that should be causing problems. Maybe it just needed to be at 100%? Who knows.
Of course there was lots of internetting to be done. I needed to catch up with post for the blog, place orders to be brought to us by the amazing Konis clan and catch up on business. Not always fun to be stuck in an internet cafe, but at least we have access and work can get done.
Refrigerator and Freon
Our fridge was not staying as cold as we liked. Matt thought it needed a shot of freon, which we have, but we don’t have the tools to add the freon. We called another cruiser, Mike Campbell who works on refrigeration and ac. He was convinced we had a leak. So, they spent an hour looking and guess what – no leak. I guess that is good. He shot us up with some freon and just like that we are back in business.
Provisions: Boat and People
Sugar Shack was getting empty and we needed to fill her up again with basic provisions. In Tahiti, there are several big box stores (places where you can buy in bulk), regular grocery stores, marine stores, hardware stores, and more. Tahiti is the land of plenty after all. We purchased 3 cases of bottled beer for about $41/case and bought juice, soda, milk, tea from the box stores which are not shown in the photo below.
From the regular market we purchased the items below. The photo does not include fresh produce, or any item purchased at the bulk stores.
We saw our friend Popo (the English teacher from Gambier) at the market. She is on holiday in Tahiti. She was so excited to me that she picked me up and twirled me around!
Medical and Dental Visits
The covid pandemic has prevented me from returning to the states to visit my doctors and dentist. I decided to visit the doctors here in Tahiti and was pleasantly surprised. I visited with Dr. Prevost who did a basic physical and labs for me. I needed to run several tests (CBC and CMP) for my oncologist. His visit was $68 and the labs were about $100.
Then I went to see a gynecologist who did a full breast exam, pelvic exam, sonogram and pap smear for $77 with labs at $30. Pretty reasonably priced and got the results emailed to me 😉
A few cool Items
Our friend Mike on “Easy” carved a few coconuts for us and we made decorations of them
Sugar Shack in the crowd of boats at Marina Papeete
This post was written in July 2020. Our blog posts are usually 6 to 7 weeks behind are true adventures.
We decided to spend a week in Rikitea which is the main anchorage of Mangareva. Typically, we try to avoid staying in this anchorage for that length of time because it is often crowded with other cruising boats. However, it is the main island with the only village and we needed to get a few things done like fixing our alternator plate and provisioning. As a bonus we would have time to spend with our local friends who live in the main village.
The Rikitea anchorage was crowded with over 30 boats. In addition, we were hit with a maramu (storm) which brought rain, high winds, rolly waves, and cold weather. But there is always lemonade to be made with those lemons.
We hung out with our local friends Stefan and Manu a lot. They have baby goats that needed constant feeding and cuddling. I signed up for that chore. I dragged Missy and Yanel (HooDoo) along to help out.
Stefan’s Baby Goats
Polynesian Party Sugar Shack
We invited Stefan, Manu, and Popo back onboard Sugar Shack for the weekend. We had planned on sailing to another island, but bad weather made it a weekend at anchor in Rikitea. Dada and his two kids came for dinner and brunch the next day but did not stay the night like the others. Our local friends brought an immense about of food and showed us how to prepare meals Polynesian style.
Tangled and Twisted
One day during our 10-day stay in Rikitea we had a particularly hard blow (gusty winds). It whipped us around and close to a float. We watched it and felt that we were far enough away to avoid getting tangled. However, when we woke the next morning, we discovered the ball wrapped around the chain and the bridle.
We could not do anything about it as the winds were howling and the seas were a large. We finally get a calm day with no wind and no swell a week later.
Matt starts to pull up the chain only to realize that it is not one float, but many. In fact, it looks like we hooked the entire pearl float farm! These shots were taken from the bow looking down.
We had to tie a secondary line to raise the chain since the floats were all tangled. Of course, I got the line all messed up and it over rode onto itself.
Matt hops back in the dinghy to try to figure out this mess. 5 balls, tons of line and everything tethered to a big cement block at the bottom of the 16-meter Riketea anchorage.
After several hours, we finally came to the realization that we could not detangle this mess without getting the hooka or dive gear out. Our friends on Hoodoo have a dive compressor and offered up one of their dive tanks.
Diving the Tangled Web
The good news about having to dive this mess in Rikitea is that we get to check out Matt’s dive gear which has not been in use for a awhile. Matt got all his gear on and went down under. It took him well over an hour to remove everything including 6 floats, a pear net, half dozen lines in various widths, and 3 pearl floats anchors. It appears Gambiers did not want us to leave either.