Wednesday 30 June 2021

Time on the dock in Tahiti

In our grand plan we had thought we would carry out substantial works on Tintamarre in New Zealand. By mid August it was becoming plain to us that the New Zealand border was likely to be closed to us this year, due to strict covid-19 related border policies. Therefore we decided to bite the bullet and find a spot in the inexpensive but handily situated marina in Pape'ete and work our way through the job list here. 

Pape'ete (pronounced Pappy-etey) is the buzzing centre of French Polynesia. After the remote and sparsely endowed archipelagos of the Marquesas and Tuomotus it really does seem to be the last word in Metropolitan glamour, with large supermarkets and chandlery stores, boulevards and colonial style administrative buildings, a small cathedral and a humming big ship port.

At the top of our list was replacement of some of our rigging. The inner Ds had been replaced in Guatemala last October. Despite the fact that rigging should last for ten years, this new rigging wire had started to fail already. 

We realised that because our original plan to visit the UK in December was going to be impossible and we were going to run short of various essential supplies. Health check-ups that we had scheduled for our planned trip home would have to be carried out in Papeete. We discovered that the dentists here are excellent (and that appointments are readily available), doctors can also be seen easily, and most medications can be readily obtained here at surprisingly reasonable cost.  For Clare supplies of contact lenses were essential. 

We had long been considering replacing our old 20 kg delta anchor with a 25kg Rocna. The heavier weight of the anchor is of only of slight significance as the boat relies also on the weight of our heavy anchor chain to keep us secure. The Rocna is generally deemed to "set" better, having a roll bar to roll it into position, and a sharper point to help it dig in. We had to wait a while for the anchor to arrive by ship, and carried it back excitedly to Tintamarre. We had measured our bow roller set up carefully, so we were confident that it would fit. However, it then took us several hours of trudging around the marine stores to find a shackle of the appropriate size and quality. I cleaned up our rather rusty looking old anchor and quickly found a buyer for it.

We explored the options for our sails. Repair or renew? Our research took us to the Tahiti sail lofts and also had us researching the possible purchase of new ones. Buying sails is a good deal more complex and expensive than I had imagined. Our research indicated that it was probably worth fixing the genoa and replacing the mainsail, which needed to have every seam restitched to extend its life much further.

Our antifouling was looking very patchy - and was not going to see us through the next year. Also out sacrificial anodes needed to be replaced. Both jobs require Tintamarre to be hauled out - but with all the boat yards in French Polynesia full this seemed like a challenge. Eventually we secured a spot in a yard in Raiatea for a week in October. Our antifouling paint of choice was due to be delivered into one of the local chandleries in a workable time frame. We put in an order.

We researched insurance to give us cover against cyclones in French Polynesia. A requirement would be replacing all our rigging. Rigging parts needed to be ordered in from the work had to be done in the marina, and a marina berth can't be booked, we were obliged to continue our stay in the marina, waiting for the delivery.

Another project was to renew substantial parts of our boat wiring. Just as a domestic rewiring project can cause chaos, boat rewiring inevitably requires turning the boat inside out. Our cabin, which houses our battery charger, solar energy controller and access to the batteries needed to be deconstructed each time the project was progressed.

Life wasn't all work and no play. The marina was a sociable and safe place to be, somewhat reminiscent of a village. We got to know many of the other cruising crews, and could share expertise, tools, experiences with them - and had some excellent days out. As it turned out, we were in exactly the right place when we got the call that Andy needed to return to the UK urgently....

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