Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 15, 2017

Additional information

In the last post I mentioned the petroglyphs, thinking I already wrote about them. I just realized I did not, so here goes: In one of my forest walks I met a local tourist guide who asked me whether I’ve been to the petroglyphs. When I said I did not so he gave me directions. I followed a narrow trail, passed a fallen tree and found the big rock, 10 meters wide and 2.5 meters high on which they could be seen. The weather and moss make the ancient carvings somewhat unclear but still – an interesting site.

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Another thing I forgot to write about is the people in the boatyard. Most of the boats are closed, their owners gone. There is a French couple working to repair their mast, another French boat with two guys working on their hull and a single Englishman, whom I met when we were hauled out in June. His name is Chris and his boat is a 50 foot monohull; Chris used to be a farmer and the many wild hens and cocks in the yard feel free to climb on his ladder and roam on deck and even inside the cabin. Chris actually encourage them, giving out food and holding them as one would hold a loved pet.

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Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 15, 2017

Back to the Sea

8.11.17 – Wednesday – Vincent worked on my engine in his shop and I stayed away in order not to be a distracting nuisance. I went to the petrol station with my newly acquired customs document allowing me to buy tax-free diesel fuel. I first tried to get this document using the services of Sandra, who is a sort of agent here and also does laundry. She said the price of it is 13000 Polynesian francs, about 130$. It seemed a good investment as the document is good for six months and the price difference is about 40%, you save 50 cents a liter. After I gave her all the necessary papers, copy of passport and boat registration as well as the entry customs document, she called to say that the man who does it in Tahiti flew to France and that another agency would do it for 18000 francs.

I decided to search for a better deal and called Kevin, an American living with his Polynesian wife in Nuku Hiva, where they run a yacht service business. In two days he had the document ready and after I deposited 12000 francs in his Post Office bank he mailed it to me. Back to the petrol station – I asked whether they had a car to transport my three jerry-cans, containing about 60 liters, for four or five rounds. “Talk to Vincent, he will do it for you”. Back to the yard I went and to my surprise I saw Fred, a yard employee, driving a high-loader with my engine on it towards Two Oceans.

Vincent and Fred were having difficulty maneuvering the heavy motor from loader to boat so I suggested using the main halyard, which made it much easier. Being the man on the winch I was too busy to take a picture. Vincent kept working until 1700 and said the work was almost completed. Tomorrow will be a crucial day.

9.11.17 – Thursday – In the morning I contributed to the engine work by filling engine and drive oil as well as cooling water. Fred placed a big drum below the sail drive and filled it with water so that the engine would get cooling water once started.

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Vincent did some more work and then instructed me to start the engine. It did not start and it seemed as if the battery did not have enough power to turn it. It took a few tries with battery charging between each. Vincent said he wasn’t worried, “After the engine was reassembled and not working for such a long time it is normal”. I wished I could be as confident as he was. During one of the engine resting periods Vincent gave me his truck plus three of his jerry-cans to complement my three and I started doing fuel runs between the petrol station and the boat. According to the engine hours I figured I needed 120 liters for the starboard engine and 160 for the port.

I started by putting fuel into the starboard tank; after more than 200 liter were filled I stopped, bewildered and looked for a tank leak; there was none. I spoke to Vincent about it and he said that during the engine removal a lot of fuel was spilt. I ended up by putting almost 240 liters into a tank with a nominal capacity of 250! Altogether I bought 430 liters and hauling them from ground to the deck was not an easy job. I was lucky that Vincent came by, pushing the jerry-cans from below while I hauled each of the 18 kg tanks up to the deck with a rope. 20 times 18 = 360 kg, that’s about five times my weight; a good workout.

One more try in the afternoon and the engine sprang to life but a few things were not O.k; the starter’s behavior was suspect and Vincent thought one of the injectors was not properly tuned, causing a bit of black exhaust smoke at idle power, which is a thing I can take care of later. I asked Vincent to take the starter out and check it. The actual work would be done tomorrow since Maria, Vincent’s wife, flew to Tahiti and left their 5 and 9 years old daughters in his care. They came on the boat to look at papa working and shared the last Snickers remaining on board.

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It was a very tiring day, physically and mentally; after a shower and my meditation I poured myself a stiff Ricard Pastis and cooked a Surf and Turf dinner using tuna and a piece of entrecote.

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10.11.17 – Friday – It’s not clear what Vincent did with the starter but as he reinstalled it the engine started easily; he still needed to adjust the idle R.P.M and then we were set. Our plan to go into the water on Monday received a blow – the ship Aranui is scheduled to enter that day and she practically closes the port for other traffic. So Tuesday will be the day. Vincent was happy to return to his building project, which – I must say – progresses beautifully.

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I siphoned the water from the big barrel and then installed the propeller. Just as I concluded that, a German couple, Helge and Asha, which I met yesterday in the yard came by. Theirs is an interesting story; they sailed out of Bahia De Caraquez in Ecuador and despite having Ariosto clean their underwater surfaces found out that the boat was heavily fouled with goose barnacles and other marine growth, limiting their speed to less than three knots, sometimes just two knots. As their 35 monohull was rolling considerably with winds from the rear and the Pacific swell, they decided not to go into the water to try and clean the hull but rather to continue with what they had. It took them 51 days to reach Fatu Hiva, where they rested a bit and did the necessary hull cleaning.

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Having decided to take over the painting project I started preparing the hulls, sticking a tape on the waterline in order to avoid paint runoff above the required line. Vincent brought the paints – primer for some areas and the Hempel anti-fouling. He also gave me an electric drill with a special tool to mix the paint; those heavy paints have the tendency to form gobs which must be broken to achieve the right properties of the paint.

11.11.17 – Saturday – Painting the first layer took seven and a half hours. Hard work! I had a surprise when I came to paint the starboard drive leg – the oil drain plug was not screwed all the way in. Although no oil leaked out I was concerned that when the leg was in the full barrel, water may have entered it, contaminating the oil. I’ll check it with Vincent on Monday.

12.11.17 – Sunday – Surprisingly the next layer of anti-fouling took only four hours. Normally I use 16 liters for two layers but with the Hempel paint I needed only 11; I hope Vincent would take it back and adjust my bill. Gili has problems with her airline tickets; suddenly all the El Al ( the airline I worked for and where we get considerable discounts) flights to Los Angeles and New York are full at the dates we were planning on. She is on standby on two flights but until she gets the O.K she cannot buy ticket for the flight to Tahiti. Stress!

In the late afternoon, when it stopped being so hot, I went to check the control box of my windlass, which was working only in the down direction. I opened and cleaned all the cable connections with sandpaper and also used a bit of electric cleaning spray. As much as I took care with the spanner I succeeded in making a brief short, resulting in a spark which ignited the still remaining fumes of that spray. The flame was of a very short duration and when everything, including yours truly, cooled down I tried operating the windlass but although the control box clicked nicely, the windlass did not move. I was ready for that eventuality and have a spare on board but this time I’ll let Vincent do the job.

13.11.17 – Monday – Spoke to Gili early in the morning; she has decided to try her luck on tonight’s flight to LA. She bought tickets from LA to Tahiti and Tahiti to Hiva Oa which would be refundable if she does not get a seat.

Vincent came to tell me that they would put Two Oceans on the haul-out apparatus today in preparation for launching tomorrow with high water at 1335. I told him about the oil plug and my wish to drain a bit of oil and see its condition; this was done immediately and the oil showed whitish emulsion, a sign of water ingress. We drained and changed the oil. Vincent said he does not want to take the left-over paint and suggested I find some yachtie who might want it. Helge and Asha might be interested. As planned Vincent installed the new windlass control box and made it work, not before he encouraged it by tapping it with the spanner.

At 1315 my phone rang; Gili, sounding tired and unhappy (I was preparing for bad news) told me she got a seat. She would have to spend a day in LA, fly to Papeete on the 15th and to Hiva Oa on the 16th – more than 27 hours in the air, not easy, but I’m sure the Marquesas will compensate her.

1430 – The haul-out machine replaced the wooden blocks on which the boat was for a long time.

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14.11.17 – Tuesday – When it was about two hours past Gili’s planned landing time and she didn’t call, I texted: “Did you arrive?”. In a minute she called back and told me that being tired and a bit disoriented, she left her bag with all her money and credit cards in the ladies room and now that she is past customs they wouldn’t let her go back to look for it. Luckily she had her passport and cell phone. The man who sat next to her on the flight was a great help, lending her 200$ and helping her look for the authority that would be able to find the bag. It took about two hours and happily the bag with all its contents was found.

Vincent, having his own agenda (Maria coming back on the noon flight) wanted to start the launching operation at 1100. He said there would be enough water and so we did it. Vincent joined me to check that the starboard engine, the refurbished one, is operating as it should. The anchoring area was limited because the supply ship Taporo was expected, so finding a good place was a bit tricky but we finally did. We dropped anchors – bow and stern – I lowered the dinghy and took Vincent ashore.  Actually, as I write this, the ship is entering the port…


So Two Oceans is back in the water after a long and arduous stay on land. I’m looking forward to three weeks of sailing the Marquesas, hopefully with no undesired dramas.

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 8, 2017

My UPS experience

28.10.17 – Saturday – During the week more information regarding the delivery of my package came in; on Thursday Juda forwarded to me a mail that he got from the UPS Store saying that it was delayed in U.S customs, strange! It started its travel on Tuesday the 24th; I was finally able to use the tracking number and saw an ETA Monday 30.10 at the end of the day. Today I looked at the UPS site and found that my stuff is in Botany Bay, Australia and a delivery update: Thursday November 2nd! I suppose the ETA is for Tahiti, where a release from the local customs would be needed, so there is no way it’ll reach Hiva Oa before Monday November 6th. I am going to check the UPS site daily and hope there will not be another maddening update.

29.10.17 – Sunday – No news from UPS. I took the SUP down and paddled for about an hour. Passing the time with Salman Rushdi latest book – “Two Years, Eight Months and twenty eight nights” (adds up to 1001 nights) – BRILLIANT!

30.19.17 – Monday – UPS update – delivery on Friday, November 3rd. I am beyond despair. Gili will not buy the ticket to Tahiti and Hiva Oa before the engine is installed and operating and as I need to leave the country on the 8th of December there is doubt whether she will join at all.

31.10.17 – Tuesday – UPS update – My package arrived at Oakland, New Zealand and the ETA was moved to November 6th! Calling the UPS agents in Tahiti, Cowan, only added the information that there were two NZ – Tahiti flights this week, Wednesday and Saturday; why isn’t my stuff on the Wednesday flight?

1.11.17 – Wednesday – This morning the UPS site showed my package left Oakland; it said the next movement is to be on Sunday (why?). I went for a two hours walk in the mountains and when I came back I saw that the petrol station as well as the grocery shop in it were closed. Being out of bread I made myself some version of focaccia for lunch and later in the afternoon went up to Vincent intending to ask him to call the Tahiti UPS agent. “Oh Michael, I forgot to tell you it is a national holiday today, nobody is working”.  Well, Vincent and Maria, his wife, were hard at work constructing an additional building in the yard. The following is a picture I took a few days ago, when they were working on the foundation of that building.

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                                   Hard working Maria

2.11.17 – Thursday – Calling the UPS agent in Tahiti revealed the fact that the parts arrived yesterday night. Now the question is how fast it would be released by customs and sent to the island. With the weekend ahead it’ll probably be Tuesday. I have already written a mail to the UPS store in Florida asking them how they rated their service and what would they do about it. I am curious as to what they will have to say. Some people say that they should refund the money paid.

                             The importance of being lucky

7.11.17 – Tuesday – Waking up around 0500 I used the relatively cool early hours to go for a walk in the forest. Starting with the road to the petroglyphs I came up to a point where the it forked in two directions. I took the one to the right (petro is to the left) and thought I’d walk until I find some wild pamplemousse. At about an hour since I left the port I found a grove where I could take some bananas and a green coconut. Out of there I stumbled upon a trap, seemingly for wild boar, with the tripping bait of coconuts: they were already very dry so I suppose the place has not been visited for quite some time. A delightful two hours walk!

The airplane with my parts landed at 1100. Maria brought me the package, asking me to check whether everything was there. I did it according to a list I had in my  copybook and found the all the six items on it were in the box, part numbers correct. One hour later there was a knock on the hull. An ominous feeling crept in; it was Vincent saying that the most important part – the cylinder head gasket was missing! That was a shock, I felt as if I was hit on the head with a baseball bat. I connected to the web to check all the emails and understand what happened and very quickly discovered that making the list I sent to Juda, doing copy/paste time and again I missed the gasket. I felt like a complete idiot.

Our only chance of keeping the planned timetable and Gili’s joining was getting the part in Tahiti, if the local Yanmar agent Sing Tung Hing were to have it in stock. Vincent called Maria’s sister who happened to be in Tahiti, asking her to try and find that out. I went to the boat and passed two anxious hours until another knock on the hull was heard; Vincent brought the good news that the part was available. In my not so adequate French I tried to convey to him my feeling that if you are an idiot, at least have good luck on your side. The reassembling of the engine will start today; let’s hope there would be no more surprises.

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