Tag Archives: marina papeete

Passport and Visa Mess

The pandemic changed our sail plan.  Not a hard ship or terrible thing, but a change none the less.  We had planned on going west toward New Zealand via Cook Islands, Tonga, and Fiji. However, all of these countries are closed so we will stay in French Polynesia for another year.  Yeah.  With that decision made, we had to get to work on renewing our long-stay visas (Carte de Sejure) and updating Matt’s passport.

Our current long-stay visas do not expire until 11 April 2021.  So, why are we preparing documentation in October of 2020?  Well, let me tell you.  The Haute Commissionaire will not allow us to submit our renewal application prior to 2 months before our expiry date ( which would be 11 February 2021).  However, we will be in Gambiers at that time.  Which leaves us in a pickle as there are no facilities to submit our application in the Gambiers. Not a big deal, we just hired Tahiti Crew to be our agent and assist us with the submission process.

Visa Prep Work

Several documents have to be original including two applications per person, the attestation, and confirmation of documents.  We are trying to avoid having to fly paperwork to Tahiti so we are opting to turn some of it in early.  This included:

  • (1) 9000xpf ($90) stamp
  • Signed Assistance in Obtaining the Carte de Sejur
  • (2) Completed original applications for both of us
  • Completed attestation: one each Christine and Matt
  • Photo copy of each passport (signature/photo page, and visa) Christine and Matt
  • (2) copies each of current residence permit (Carte du Sejure) Christine and Matt
  • Copy of Current Boat Registration (expires 30 April 2024)
  • Copy of tax returns (proving marriage)
  • Copy of Customs Declaration (green form)

In early February, we will have to email the rest of the paperwork which includes proof of health coverage and 3 months of financials for both Matt and I.

During this application process I realized that Matt’s passport expires June 2021.  Oh crapola!  The Haute Commissionaire will not accept our long-stay visa application if either one of the passports expire during the requested period.  Stop everything and move on to the next fire.

Passport Renewal Outside of the U.S.

Wouldn’t you know it, Matt’s passport expires soon.  After some research, we figure out which form we need to complete.  Lucky for us, Matt qualifies for mail in renewal.  His passport was issued within the last 15 years, is still “active” and is in good condition.  But, how do we do this from French Polynesia?  A quick call to the U.S. Consulate puts me at ease.  We schedule a meeting and head to the office.

Christopher Kozely is the U.S. Consulate in French Polynesia.  We had met him when we arrived last year (he notarized our power of attorney to sell our house).  We showed up with the completed application, passport photo, and money.  It was so easy.  We benefited greatly going through the U.S. Consulate.  Right now, it takes the states 6 months to renew passports with limited staff due to covid.  However, Christopher said Matt’s passport will be returned within 2 months.

In addition, we did not have to give up his current passport.  We were a little freaked out of possibility of not having Matt’s passport while being in a foreign country during a pandemic.  But, lucky for us, we get to keep it.  And the icing on the cake – there were no additional fees to go through the U.S. Consulate!  The only thing we paid was the $110 fee that is standard for passport renewals.

Processing a Passport Renewal from FP

So, how does it work to renew a United States passport from French Polynesia (FP)?  First you must qualify, like we did, for passport renewal by mail.  Then we took the standard passport photo (always so beautiful), along with the completed DS-82 form to the U.S. Consulate.

The Consulate verifies the information, scans the current passport, attaches the photo, watches you sign the application, takes the passport fee money, and stamps it.  He then sends it to Fiji via mail pouch.  Fiji, what, why?  The office in French Poly is small and uses the Fiji office as the main U.S. Consulate hub.  The Fijian official scans all of the information and sends it securely via web server directly to Washington.  This process takes about 3 weeks.  Washington produces the passports and sends them back to Fiji.  Once Fiji has a certain number of passports (we could not find out what that number was), they send them to French Poly via mail pouch.  The entire process takes approximately 6-8 weeks.

Sounds easy peasy.  But one small problem.  When our passport returns back to Tahiti, we will be in Gambiers (over 800nm away).  Crap. We can’t get the new passport without canceling the old one (which will be with us in Gambiers).  So, what do we do?  Once Christopher receives the new passport, he will email us.  We will then send the old passport via Air Tahiti along with 700xpf for return fees.  He will receive Matt’s passport, cancel it, scan the cancelled passport to Washington, and send the old and new passport back to us via Air Tahiti (at our expense of course).   Hopefully we will have it in our hot little hand before the end of the year!

Global Entry

We also checked the status of Matt’s Global Entry as we assumed it was tied to his passport.  Good news, it was not.  He renewed it in 2016 and it does not expire until May 2022!

Long-Stay Visa

Once we have Matt’s new passport, we will have to scan the appropriate pages and provide the new passport number, issue date, and expiry date to Tahiti Crew to update his long-stay visa application.  Should be easy, but I really dislike relying on other people to update the application when so much is at risk.

On or about 11 February 2021, Tahiti Crew will gather the original documents we submitted in October 2020, the emailed documents sent in January 2021, and Matt’s updated passport information.  They will then submit all of our paperwork to the Haute Commissionaire’s office.

It takes about 2 months for the Haute Commissionaire to process our long-stay visa renewal – during normal circumstances.  Since they are operating on a reduced staff, we are not sure how long it will take.  But we will follow protocol and get everything in as required and hope for the best.

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

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.