26th January 2018
We returned to Papeete Marina for the Australia Day party put on by S/V Southern Comfort. We learnt that they had invited the whole marina, and realized that they invited the 35 crew from the super yacht nearby. They had gone to a lot of effort – flags all over their boat from all the countries they have visited, Australian tattoos, Australia flagged tooth picks, boxing kangaroo key rings, BBQ dinner, tonnes of yummy salad, snacks and Australian music.
We met loads of great people and very happy to hang with some other Aussies – Rob, Lauren (who is USA born), Rex, Dennis, Suzi and Bushy. Stu is excited to meet Bushy as he is the head of surfing Australia and organizes events like Teahupoo and the Billabong Pro. Tomorrow he is going with Bushy to meet the owner of stonefish surfboards, he wants to get a faster board for the waves around here.
Exploding Holding tank
One of our worst nightmare boat jobs happened a few days after the party. We were paranoid about the through hull that lead from the holding tank (for the toilet) to drain out under the boat. Well, this broke in the Tuamotos causing sea water to gush in and if the holding tank had anything in it (ie. poo and wee) that would pour out into the bilge, yuck. Well this didn’t happen, but something more gross (but less dangerous) did.
We were right at the front of the marina where loads of people on the street look at the fish that are held in large wire confines, so we held off on opening the holding tank. Anyway I flushed the toilet and heard a bang sound, I was immediately worried and our worst fears were realized as I saw poo water seeping out from the cupboard where the holding tank was. Stu opened the door and the 50L tank that was full had fallen off the back wall mounting (which is now fixed as it was poorly attached), and the inlet on top of the tank from the toilet had disconnected (luckily not broken), and poo and wee had exploded everywhere! All through the cupboard (roof, walls and floor) and behind the nearby cupboards in areas we couldn’t reach unless we dismantled them (which we did). Then the poo had oozed down into the bilge. So poo water was floating all through the entire length of the hull which had to be sponged out by me. While poor Stu got into the cupboard to get the chunky bits out of the cupboard. It was unbelievably disgusting, I dry reached for the first 10 minutes.
We spent 2 days cleaning it up, had to post pone our dinner with S/V Sea Bean. They were champions and took the kids for us and fed them dinner, as we up to our elbows in sh…… Showering in the marina shower those 2 nights was bliss, thankfully this happened while we were in a marina. I think we are still traumatised, but we certainly came out with the poo jokes while up to our elbows in it! Talk about a lesson learnt the hard way!
Second tropical depression
The whole marina was watching the weather as a low pressure system was forecast and this is cyclone season so we certainly don’t want it spin up into one! Stu was checking the forecast a few times a day. On our way to the wifi room, I bumped into Rob and Lauren, who were quickly exiting the marina to tie up along an industrial wharf, Rob had just returned from seeing the Port Captain whom gave him permission.
Stu came up to the wifi room and showed me the updated forecast with 50 knot winds! EEEeeeeeeek that’s not good. Not far off a hurricane, as a category 1 is 63 knots. I told Stu that Rob saw the Port Captain to ask permission to move to that safer spot, and he said “let’s do it”. So when he returned with permission there were only a few spots left, we raced off. None of our friends were on their boats, so I was worrying about them when we secured our spot. We couldn’t get my phone working so we zoomed off in the dinghy to chat to them. They were all pretty chilled and not particularly worried about the forecast, but had their plans to tie off to the pontoons rather than the floating dock, good plan.
Three nights later the forecast thankfully was overcooked and we got winds of 30 knots rather than 50 knots. There are 4 other boats from the marina, three are behind us. We have been warily watching the rats on the rocks behind us, setting rat traps at night and Jake trying to shoot them with his homemade tic tac gun. It’s been a bit hard staying here, as we are hot facing the wrong way for the winds and we are on an industrial wharf, so no place for kids to play. School has been extra challenging also. Luckily we filled our water tanks the day prior so water is not so much of an issue, though we have to be careful. Luckily Alex and Sienna collected a bucket of rain water, so I could have a shower and wash my hair – so nice. They awoke in the morning demanding money as their income had been pilfered! They were planning to sell the rain water! I just smoozied them with “but you love your dearest mother so much, and she appreciated the shower immensely”. Well….. the sweet talk didn’t really work, but the promise of brownies later did!
S/V Southern Comfort invited all the boats around for a ‘pot luck’. So I cooked up a fish dish with rice and off we went to get some needed time off the boat, tempers were a little frayed with cabin fever and fight school! It was great to meet and get to know the other cruisers a little better. Rob and Lauren are champions, having us all over. They also delivered five croissants for morning tea, such awesome people.
We returned to the marina, very happy to be there. We didn’t want to go out the main pass and make water again as it would be pretty uncomfortable, so we made a plan to try and find a charcoal filter to connect to the tap on the dock and find an extension hose. Stu came back that pm with both these and it was bliss having a hot shower aboard Neverland and to be able to run water for dishes etc, rather than get buckets of water and lug them aboard.
I have declared that boat school is not working! The fights and energy required to get the boys going is exhausting. It seems it is always a fight and no one is happy. Friends on another boat suggested stopping school and enjoying the rest of the trip, or unschool. Either of these options has never been on my scope, but at that moment I was ready for anything else. Sea Bean and Southern Comfort were great, I felt better after chatting with them. Rob and Lauren told us about the film festival that was currently on, and to take the kids on a school excursion. We did and got a 3 day ticket, watching documentaries about the South Pacific islands made by talented people in the Pacific region.
We returned to the marina around 4pm and discovered that another finger on the marina had broken, and the boat attached to this had to tie up on the solid concrete dock where the super yatchs go. The whole marina docks were moving more violently as the swell from the NW was picking up, with another tropical depression system coming in 3 days. On the forecast models there is a low pressure band (South Pacific Convergence Zone, SPCZ) with numerous low pressure systems evolving from it coming towards Tahiti and dropping south just before Tahiti. This is a worry as one of them has a pressure of 983mb, so with this in mind as well as the 2 broken finger jetties with ours the next in line to go, we decided to move to the solid concrete jetty. I had wanted to go there as soon as we got back, but Stu didn’t want to panic and move for no reason. So when he saw Southern Comfort move there, and after speaking with Jody (an Aussie cruiser) Stu was happy to move there now (6pm), before other boats got the remaining 2 spots left. Unfortunately, as we were moving, with Nicole, Ryan and Jody to help with lines off the dock, it started pelting with rain and wind. Rob, Lauren and the other boats captain were on the dock in the pouring rain, along with Jody whom jumped aboard to help us – what champions, such a great bunch of people to help us dock at dinner time in the pouring rain!
Jake was pretty pumped and was great running around with a fender and helping out with lines, he said the rain made it more fun. Well it feels good to not have to worry about the dock breaking that we are tied to, though it is much more rolly over here. And we have no water to connect up to, but we filled the tanks before we left.
Two days later, we were just heading off to the last day of Fifo (the film festival), when we were told we had to move as per the Port Captain as a large super yacht was coming later that day. We explained that we were just heading out, and he said we had until 5pm. Feeling a little annoyed, and not quite sure where we were going to move to, we headed off in the rain to Fifo. If you get a chance see the movie called ‘Blue’, it’s a great documentary about our oceans and how we as a people need to change our ways as the plastics in the ocean will soon outnumber the number of sea creatures in our oceans. Another great film was ‘Westwind’, the history of Australia told from the Aboriginal point of view. The Aborigines have been in Australia for 70,000 years while us whities have been in Oz for just over 200 years, according to the movie.
We returned after lunch to be told we didn’t have to move Neverland now as the super yacht was docking on the other side of the wall now as the cruise ship had gone. That’s great, only the forecast was looking potentially bad in 3 days time – gusts from the north of 47 knots and a week later another cell was possibly heading our way which had 100 knot winds in it, though that one was a long way off and these forecasts can change dramatically. So we decided to move to Port Phaeton, which was the last place I wanted to go as I know it rains a lot, loads of mozzies, we have heard there is a fly plague there at the moment and its around 3 hours south. But safety is number one and the marina was empting fast due to the swell coming (marina falls apart as they are floating docks attached to pylons that are only 1 m off the water, apparently with large NW swell the docks come away over the pylons).
We spent the night on a mooring ball by Tahina Marina, we started to pack away things for strong winds, we did a large provision and got drenched on the way there, we parked our 2 trolleys outside the marina restaurant where we treated ourselves to delicious pizza. It was dark when we returned and spent till 9pm packing away. We were off at 0700 the next morning, we motored the whole way. It was pleasant and really great to be out of the Marina and city. The water was glassy, it wasn’t too hot, the mountains were pretty and we had a kayak team following, catching up to us.
We were planning on having to use our long bridle for the first time to anchor as we assumed the shallower spots had already been taken, we planned to anchor in 15 m so were pleasantly surprised to find a sheltered spot (surrounded by road though) in 11 m. No need for the long bridle on the anchor chain. This was lucky as we had problems with our windlass dropping out the chain at full speed and pulling up the anchor, we re-anchored once as felt we were too close to the wall in case strong winds cause us to drag anchor. It took a long time as the anchor chain kept slipping and just running out at full speed due to the bad twists in the chain, the first time it happened it was a bit scary but I remembered the lock and manually locked it before the whole chain came out (though rope holds the end of the chain to the boat). So Stu and I switched roles, as I was at the helm while he wrestled with the snubber and chain. I haven’t helmed while anchoring before, but I quite enjoyed it when I got used to it a little. We figured out that the windlass was pulling the anchor up, but then for some reason would let the whole chain out at full speed while not in gear, so we needed to use the brake to control it.
Anyway we eventually got the anchor down and set, with all 60m of chain out as there was strong winds forecasted. Stu realised something was wrong with the windlass (a broken spring or bolt), which needs to be replaced and the emergency mechanism had been triggered, hence we could pull up in gear but not down. Stu had previously ordered a Lofrans kit for the windlass which has everything in it we needed except one bolt. We will replace the gypsy (if we can source one, it’s the part that grabs the chain), as it is worn and the chain is slipping big time. So our plan is to remove the windlass when we are back on a dock at the Marina, and to repair it there. Let’s hope it pulls our anchor up for us when we go! Manually will be super hard and slow.
So the strong winds forecasted and loads of heavy rain never came! Thought it has rained all day today. I must say it is great to be out of the marina, surrounded by hills covered in clouds. SV Naoma anchored next to us, we are neighbours again (they were next to us in the marina). The evening we arrived a Catana 39 anchored right by us, the next day they came aboard with their 2 kids aged 8 months and 3 yrs. It was great to chat and the kids played well with the young children. They are chartering for 6 weeks, and his job is sailing solo around the world! So the French have this crazy race every 4 years called the ‘Vendee Globe’ where a whole team of people have a full time paid job preparing the solo sailor for this epic race! He has raced twice before, it took him 72 and 80 days previously, this time he is sailing a 60 ft foiling monohull averaging 12-14 knots with a max speed of 30 knots! Far out. The couple on SV Naoma are also fascinating people. They afford their cruising via video blogs and he has Muscular Dystrophy! They are a young couple, well a few years younger than us. We had a great conversation about his heart medical history, good to tick over the brain again with CCU knowledge. They are cruising and dealing with this terrible disease but still living their dream, such an inspiration and the challenges they face must be overwhelming at times but it doesn’t stop them.
We attempted school again after my mini melt down (all internalized of course). This time I let the kids decide what to do, zero expectations from me, and it turned out really well. They decided to research the Waved Albatross, which we could as we have internet! Alex surprised us all and read the whole text! With some help. We were stoked!! I didn’t know he could read so well. Jake jotted down key points to put into a paper. Poor Sienna was really sick with high temps of 39.5 that night and runny nose, so she was out for school. I must admit that I was worried about her, she slept most of the day. I was worried as Malaria has cold and flu symptoms. I slept with her from 0200 as her temp was 39.8 C. On the 5th day Alex came down with a cough and temps- phew, its viral…..yipeeeeeee. Parent guilt appeased! Sienna has now had temps and developed a bad dry cough on the 5th day, but today (day 7) she seems much better (though sleeping for 3 hours).
We have been anchored in Port Pheaton for 6 days and truly are ready to move on. We have flies bothering us all day (there’s a rubbish tip hidden away to one side of the inlet we are anchored in, and a prison on the other side. When the flies calm down at dusk the mozzies and midges move in (though we have had much worse). The water is yuck and we have been rained in for 2 days straight. We got out a few times between rain squalls to hit the shops and fly the trainer kite. Poor Sienna was not well and I returned to Neverland with the two younger ones and let Jake and Stu have some time together, Jake came back pumped.
Yesterday we received a much anticipated package, received via fed ex on the lawn by our anchorage, pretty cool. We have been ordering stuff for months now, we received school books, 2 kindles much to Alex and Siennas delight, non-fiction books for kids, loads of boat parts including an extra handheld VHF radio. We ordered two head sets so we can speak to each other whilst anchoring, but they are faulty, but we can now talk with one at the bow and other at the helm with our two VHFs.
Thanks for reading, from S/V Neverland.