Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 29, 2017

Sailing the Marquesas with Gili

16-18.11.17 – Thursday – Saturday- Gili came to the boat Thursday afternoon and immediately found that it was not clean according to her standards, as always – she is right. We spent the next two days cleaning house and provisioning.

19.11.17 – Sunday – At 0515 we motored out of the Tahauku bay to go to Fatu Hiva, 45 miles away. The forecast was for wind from the ENE at 14 knots, but in reality it was 17-22 which gave us apparent wind from 60 degrees and boat speed of 7-8 knots. It took us 6 hours to reach the Bay of Virgins and we found there five sailing yachts and a motor yacht, making the anchoring spot selection tricky. Two locations I tried brought us too close to a French boat with its owner shouting protests and advices. On the third try my windlass suddenly stopped working. I ended up releasing the anchor manually, letting out all of our 55 meters of chain and connecting the bridle to its end. The wind in this bay can come down the mountains in what is called “wind bullets”, strong gusts surpassing 30 knots, it also changes direction in an unpredictable way. Chris, of yacht Rossana, just to our starboard asked me to release more rope so as not to be close to them. To do that I needed to disconnect the bridle from the chain, which with two anchors in tandem and 55 meters of chain in the water was very difficult to do. Chris came to help and using the spinnaker halyard and a winch we lifted the lot, disconnected the bridle and moved aft some more.

All that time I was thinking about the operation of lifting the anchors and chain when we want to go back to Hiva Oa, for we must go there to try and fix the windlass. I’ve had the experience of taking out an anchor in Suvarov atoll from a depth of 17 meters and if my memory does not fail me it took more than an hour of hard work. Regarding the windlass failure – the blame is shared by myself and Vincent. A day before the launch I tested the windlass and found out it was working in one direction only. I called Vincent and may have voiced the opinion that the controller was faulty and that I had a spare on board. Vincent concurred and changed it. As I reported in the previous post when he tried operating the windlass it did work until he gave it a few taps with the spanner. I should have known that this was not a proper repair and we should have explored some more.

Back in Fatu Hiva, gazing around me, I saw this motor yacht and thought that maybe they had an electrician on board.

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I  dinghied over asking for the skipper; the man came, said his name was Barney and promised to come after lunch. He came over, tested the various electrical lines and cables, replaced one that was simply rotten, by that bringing the controller back to clicking life. He concluded that the problem may lie at the cables leading to the windlass’ electrical motor or the motor itself. For that we would need to go back to Hiva Oa and we’ll do it on Wednesday.

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                Good man Barney

20.11.17 – Monday – Today’s plan was going to the waterfall, the “Cascade”. On the way we passed by a few mango trees, which shed a lot of fruit to the ground. We picked some that did not explode on impact, took the skin off and ate them. A single yachtie who lives on the smallest yacht in the bay, a Hurley 22 footer (!), told us we should be careful with those mangoes, since if they were peed on by wild boar one might contract LEPROSY! A local guy we met later said there was no problem at all. The way to the fall was very enjoyable; reaching the fall I saw that the quantity of water was much less than on our visit in May, probably due to less rainfall.

On our way Gili complained that I did not put enough pictures of her in the blog, as she is always right, I’m putting in two pics.

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On the way back we stopped at the only grocery shop in the village. Gili, whose French is better than mine, got into a conversation with two ladies in the store. They wanted to do some barter, fruit for goods they thought we might have on board. Gili has some clothes she wanted to get rid of and promised to bring them in the afternoon. When we came back at 1500 with our bag the ladies started giggling. None of the local women was even close to Gili’s size. “Give it to one of the girls” Gili said. We paid a slightly inflated price for two pamplemousse, a few green mangoes and some bananas, remembering our place and function in the local economy.

21.11.17 – Tuesday – We spent the morning hiking towards the mountains to the north of the village, on a dirt road around which all the local fruit trees were present. After walking for about 50 minutes we reached what looked like a big banana grove where to our surprise we saw a house, which seemed to be empty and further on a relatively new Toyota Hilux truck. We continued climbing and came upon four guys collecting a large quantity of bananas. “Is this for the ship?” I asked. “No, it’s for our homes, we eat a lot of bananas”. Judging by what we saw they must have a very big family.

Back at the boat, in between rain showers, I prepared some hooks and lines for the manual lifting of the anchors tomorrow and did some other small jobs. One of those ended up in an undesirable way; climbing from the dinghy to the boat I cut my left hand palm quite deeply right between the thumb and the other fingers – just the place you use to pull ropes – which is certainly on the agenda for tomorrow.

22.11.17 – Wednesday – Waking up very early, just past four o’clock, I was surprised to see I was not the only one. The young yachtie on the Hurley 22, whom we found to be from Ireland but originally from Hungary, was already sailing out of the bay, towing his engineless dinghy behind him. I wonder whether he has any motor on his small yacht at all.

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At 0545 Gili joined me on deck. This is how we planned to raise our anchors: First pull by hand about 15 meters of rope until reaching the end of the chain. Then, using a hook connected to the spinnaker halyard, we’ll winch the chain about eight meters above deck, with a second hook hold its lower part, release the length with the halyard to deck and hook and lift another length until all the chain and anchors are in the boat. The anchors weigh 35 pounds each, the 55 meters long 10 mm chain is probably much heavier. We took turns winching and pulling the chain and it was really hard work.

A young Frenchman from a yacht near us offered to help and we gladly accepted. Nicolas brought his own winch handle and the three of us finished the operation which altogether lasted 80 minutes. Nicolas had to rush back to his boat in order to take his three kids to the village school to which he and his wife enrolled them just yesterday, but I insisted that he let me take his picture; this is another example of the norm between yachties – helping each other whenever a need arises.

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With no wind we started motoring towards Hiva Oa. Once out of the island’s shadow the wind came and we were sailing fast until a big cloud took the wind away and gave us a shower instead. Alternating between sailing and single engine motoring we continued, trolling a line for fish. We could see a lot of action in the water and in the air; birds diving for morsels left behind dolphins and other predators. On one of those occasions we had a hit but as I rolled the lure back the fish, perhaps a wahoo, looped out of the water and released itself. On one of the occasions I needed to start an engine I chose the starboard one and to my surprise no water came out of the exhaust. I shut it down and went into the engine room to investigate; remember this is the engine repaired by Vincent and crew and I took it for granted that it would work flawlessly. I found that the belt was sagging, tightened it and it worked fine.

We entered Tahauku bay at 1530, dropped anchor manually and I rushed with the dinghy to arrange the windlass repair with Vincent. Tomorrow at 0900 an electrician named Fred would come to check it. In the evening I started the starboard engine for battery charge and again no water came out of the exhaust. I’ll have Vincent look at it for me.

23.11.17 – Thursday – Our busy morning started with two rounds of filling water taken from a tap on shore in four 20 liters jerry-cans. During those I saw that the small 22 footer was anchored in port. The guy was in the cockpit so I came by to ask about his trip. He came in at 2 a.m after being rained on most of the time. He confirmed that he did have an engine but chose not to use it, being a frugal sailor. Interestingly his name was Attila!                                                                                                     At 0900 I brought Fred to the boat and the man did a very thorough inspection of the windlass system, concluding that the motor was faulty. He took it over to the shop to see whether he could repair it.

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                   Fred on the job

I  went with him, sitting in the corner so as not to disturb and after a few minutes he turned to me and said that the motor was dead. He showed me broken parts and corrosion on the inside of it. “Better buy a complete new unit” he said “the motor is the most expensive part in the windlass” and the general condition of mine was very poor. I asked Vincent to call a dealer in Tahiti to see whether they had a suitable one in stock; they did not. I knew that the owners of the yacht “Tanda malaika” which was wrecked on the reef in Huahine left a lot of the yacht’s equipment with a local guy for sale and published his phone number and e-mail. I called the man and he promised to send me the details. That boat was a Leopard 46 so their unit might be too big, but still, if it is serviceable it could be interesting. Importing a new windlass is, of course, the easy – if not the cheapest option; I’ll have to check E-Bay too.

In the mean time we’ll have to do without and that means trying to anchor in shallow anchorages and resigning ourselves to hard work every departure. Vincent tightened a water pump belt yet again, checked the engine and said all was well. Tomorrow we’ll sail to Hanatefau bay, near the village of Hapatoni in Tahuata.

To be continued…


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