Posted by: catamarantwooceans | July 28, 2019

Maintenance in Tahiti

Be warned! This is a post about maintenance…

22.7.19 – Monday – In San Francisco, after a 14 hours flight I got a message from Marc, who is the man looking after Two oceans in Tahiti, telling me that the boat was taken out of the water. To do that he had to enter the boat through one of the hatches because he lost my key and the one I sent by mail three weeks ago did not arrive yet.

23.7.19 – Tuesday – I landed on United airlines flight 115 in Faaa, Tahiti airport at 1850, an eight hours flight. Marc was waiting for me and with his old Toyota, which was recently hit by another car and had a thin plastic cover flapping in the wind in lieu of a proper window. Once we got to the boat it didn’t take long for me to get into bed and fall asleep.

24.7.19 – Wednesday – I had a long list of maintenance jobs, of which the keel repair was most urgent. The marina people were busy with other matters, so Marc found a French yachtie named Laurent to do it.

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Laurent, a civil engineer by profession, and now a full time cruiser, will also repair the galley floor. He started working immediately and seems to know what he was doing.

I emptied the engines gear oil and dismantled the props in preparation for replacing the drive gaskets. One Allen screw of those holding the prop blades in place remained stuck. I’ll have to get a special extractor tomorrow. As noon approached I realized I had no food on the boat so I hitched a ride to the Carrefour, had a sandwich and shopped for the next few days. Going back by foot, 25 minutes walk, in the 28 degrees Celsius was not so pleasant.

As I was working, I noticed two cars entering the marina, each trailering a strange contraption. Ultra-light airplanes for sea operation.

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Seeing them take-off was really nice.

25.7.19 – Thursday – Another guy came over, a mechanic called Nicolas. A big, smiling man, he strangely made a fierce face when I took his picture (with his permission).

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He’ll come over on Monday to take the exhaust elbows and heat exchangers for cleaning. He would also replace the drives oil seals. I used the opportunity of his presence on board to check the port engine starting battery and found out I needed to buy a new one.

Yesterday Laurent sanded the damaged keel and drilled holes through which I passed 15 liters of sweet water to rinse the inside and get rid of any salt that may have accumulated there. Next I went with Marc to shop for items needed for the planned maintenance jobs. Here is the list: new battery, 10 liters of antifouling paint, primer for the above, special antifouling for the aluminum drives plus primer, epoxy resin and hardener, orbital sander plus various disks, face mask with filter for protection when using it, gear oil and a few others not worth mentioning.

Once I put all of those on the boat I started scraping the hulls to remove the barnacles which remained after the power wash done when the boat was taken out of the water. The actual sanding with the new orbital sander would be accomplished by a young Canadian named Dominic, whom I found working on one of the boats in the yard.

26.7.19 – Friday – Laurent came at 0700 and when I asked him whether he needed acetone it reminded him he also wanted a few more items for the repair of the galley’s floor. Marc came to take me to the shops which are further away than my walking distance limit. When I came back, Dominic could start sanding the hulls. It quickly turned out that buying 10 sanding discs would not be enough as they were eroding rather quick, This means another trip to town’s shops tomorrow. Laurent started working on the galley job, which entailed a lot of sanding; warned in advance I evacuated everything from the area and covered part of it with a large sheet. The salon was filled with fine white dust. He also extracted the stubborn Allen screw from the prop.

Dominic toiled with the orbital sander and in 4.5 hours did one side of one hull.

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Contrary to my suggestion he elected not wear the mask I invested about 70$ in, wanting to protect him from paint particles. The man (also Laurent) smoke cigarettes which he rolls himself, so a little dust does not impress him. Since the galley floor was re-made with fiberglass and epoxy, we wanted to let the material cure properly and I could not make dinner. I went to a restaurant Marc recommended but it was closed. A woman there directed me to a place “900 meters away”. I walked the distance and did not find it. Instead, already on the verge of collapse, I saw a place where families sat at plastic tables, orders given to a lady in a truck and passed to the kitchen in an adjacent shed. They had the standard Polynesian fare, I.E steak frites, poisson cru and the like but also Chinese food and sushi. The place is called M&M Food and gives good value for your money.


Going back to the boat took more than half an hour and I reached the boat in a state of exhaustion and a painful starboard knee.

27.7.19 – Saturday – Dominic did not show up so I put on what I designated as work clothes and started sanding. I did not neglect the use of the mask and goggles and looked like a character out of “Star Wars”.

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The job is not an easy one; the way to do it, as recommended by Laurent, is to wet the surface of the hull, sand, and clean the sanding disk frequently with a metal brush to remove the paint which clogs it. I toiled until 1430 and then was not in a mood to have the lunch I planned; a sandwich and a beer were all I wanted. A bit of rain later plus a bout of laziness cancelled more sanding for the day. I’ll continue tomorrow.

To be continued…

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