Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 23, 2018

Polynesia March 18 – part 2

17.3.18 – Saturday – Provisioning completed, water filled, I passed the day reading and resting. I finished a book, a memoir, by professor Saul Fridlander “Where Memory Leads”; fifty years ago I had the pleasure of attending a seminar he gave in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I remember how impressed we all were by this brilliant historian and lecturer. His life story is very interesting; I learned a lot of facts I didn’t know about him.

18.3.18 – Sunday – A quick visit ashore for downloading the latest forecast and out we went from Taiohae bay. Thinking about fishing, I raised the main with first reef but once out of the bay, the wind blew 17-20 knots from the beam and we were doing about 7 knots. That was too fast plus I bought some fish the day before so I decided to give up fishing. My target was Vaiehu bay on the west side of Ua Pou island, 29 miles away. The bay hides behind cape Punahu which I reached in four hours; a pod of dolphins led me in, boobies flew around us and in front I could see a catamaran sailing with just the jib. That was fun!

I entered the bay and anchored; during that operation I found out that the down foot switch of the windlass was not working; the switch near the helm did the job. So, what first? repair switch or have lunch? I decided on the first, dismantled the switch, found one of the wires disconnected and soldered it. While I was working a French monohull entered the bay.

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After a short rest I took a swim, didn’t go ashore, which is full of stones and I had no shoes or booties on. As I got back to the boat, another French yacht came in. Later it rained and there was even thunder and lightning.

19.3.18 – Monday – After getting the latest forecast from my friend Itzik in Israel, I sat down to analyze it. It was clear that with the wind coming straight from the east (090) and my desired track of 115 to Tahuata I’ll have to add a lot of distance for tacking. It seemed that my best option was to leave for Tahuata at 1400 and sail through the night to arrive at first light. I decided to wait in Ua Pou bay which I wanted to see anyway. I motored there and dropped anchor in 11.5 meters; the anchor made the typical noise of dragging on rock but then held. A young man on a pirogue came by to say hello and after some small talk he went ashore.

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                                              Oa Pou bay

I went into the starboard engine room to check add a little oil and check the belts tension. As I was putting my tools back in the cockpit locker, a strong gust of wind was felt and with it the anchor grumble, we were drifting; the depth meter already showed 16.5 meters. I jumped into action, turning the key for the starboard engine to activate the alternator in order to operate the windlass. Surprise! Starter did not turn, engine not started. By then the wind abated; I was running scenarios in my head while opening the engine room cover again. “There must be some fuse” I thought and immediately saw it and remembered a similar case almost ten years ago.

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Having the right spares on board can save the day. I replaced the fuse and the starter came back to life.

So what now? Shall I re-anchor to wait for 1400? The idea was not very appealing. It was 1030 or so and I decided to GO. I’ll deal with the arrival time later. Once out of the island’s influence on the wind, gusting up to 30 knots went down to the forecasted easterly and stabilized at about 20 knots. With main at first reef and full jib we could make good a course of 135 degrees, 20 off the desired one, which was not bad at all. The sea, though, was not so pleasant; short waves made for hobby-horsing and slamming of the bridge-deck. Being a little tired I took a few 20 minutes naps, first in the starboard aft cabin and then, when the sea became calmer – in my cabin.

As my target waypoint I put Hanamoenoa, a popular enchanted bay on the northwest corner of Tahuata; the distance to go was 65 miles as the crow flies but probably 20 to 25 miles more for the future necessary tack. Evening came, the few clouds above dispersed and a sickle of new moon said “sorry I won’t be there for your arrival”. It was turning into a very dark night… I was thinking of approaching the bay carefully and if I could see any lights of yachts at anchor I would be able to find space for Two Oceans. If that would not be possible – I’ll enter a “holding pattern” at a safe distance from shore and wait for first light.

Around 2100 the wind started fluctuating and decreased to 10-12 knots; with the waves and a bit of contrary current our progress became ridiculous. Time for the iron sail – the engine. I took all sails down and continued motoring to my waypoint. It became clear that the ETA would be around 0100.

20.3.18 – Tuesday – Even before midnight I could see lights on shore to the south of my target. Those were the lights of Vaitahu, the largest village on the island (the whole population in the island’s two villages is less than a thousand). Vaitahu bay is 0.4 miles wide, twice the size of Hanamoenoa’s. I occurred to me that this fact plus the lights of the village would make it a safer choice. I had the Vaitahu anchorage in the plotter and added a point 1.5 miles from it which would be the point of final approach. When teaching flight students take-offs and landings we used to say:”A good final approach will give you a good landing” It was the same here. These last 1.5 miles I motored slowly, jumping from one side of the boat to the other, trying to figure out that whether what I was seeing was sea and not the rocky shore. As I got closer I was shining my torch around and identified two yachts; I passed between them and dropped my anchor in a way that would keep us* clear of both. The time was 0145, I was on an Adrenalin rush and fully awake.

* I use the word “us” even when I’m single-handing, meaning “Two Oceans” and I…

As is my custom after any challenging trip – I had  a wee bit of Scotch, called Gili to report that I had arrived and went to bed. 

I woke up four hours later, did my morning rituals and went out to look around. The village as seen from the bay is very small; perhaps many houses are hidden in the forest that covers the mountainside. The prominent building is the church. For me there was no reason to stay here, especially since the place is known to have katabatic wind “bullets” of up to 40 knots coming down the mountains. After a quick breakfast I started engines and motored two miles to the north to Hanamoenoa. There were already four boats at anchor when I arrived. Hanamoenoa is a very pretty bay with a sandy beach and lots of coconut trees. There is supposed to be a man living there growing fruit and veg – I’ll check that tomorrow. I snorkeled to check the anchor, the waters were crystal clear and I could see two big stingrays burying themselves in the sand just below my boat.

In the spirit of boats growing bigger and bigger, my neighbor on starboard was a Lagoon 52 foot catamaran.

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As the day wore on, more boats came in until the number reached thirteen, six of the yachts were participants in the “World ARC”, proudly showing the flag of that endeavor. In spite of the great number of boats for such a small bay – it stayed absolutely calm. I decided to stay here another day, paddle my SUP and go ashore with the dinghy – maybe climb one of the mountains…

21.3.18 – Wednesday – As planned; paddled the SUP for 50 minutes, did some work on the boat, read my book and relaxed. Some time before midday I saw a yacht passing across the bay; the familiar shape of the Wharram cat told me it was “Pakia Tea” whom we met in Easter Island and also the Gambier. We spoke on V.H.F and will probably see each other again in the Marquesas. I swam ashore in the afternoon – a sign said: “Private – stay in (sic) the beach” I could see no one near the few huts there and no trail going up the hill, so no walkabout from this bay.

22.3.18 – Thursday – I motored to Atuona on Hiva Oa, no point in battling the elements against 17-20 knots from straight ahead. I reached the anchorage at 0900 and guess who was there? Pakia Tea with Tom and Keano waving hello.

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A yacht just vacated a place I could anchor at without a stern anchor, which is the norm in the interior of the port here and is difficult when single-handing; I quickly took it. I’ll stay here a day or two and then go to Hanaiapa, a bay on the north of the island and maybe some other bays close by, until my crew, Michael Ben-Eli, comes on the 30th.

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Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 17, 2018

Polynesia March 18

1.3.18 – Thursday – On with maintenance jobs: fuel filter assembly installed – engine run for sufficient time showing that it is in serviceable condition. Next, Kevin, with me helping, spread and adhered the PVC sheets on the cracked window; the outside was relatively easy, the inside a bit difficult because we had to work over the stove and sink, which was awkward.

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I do hope this arrangement will hold until I get a new window.

Just as in the other islands in the Marquesas, there is no dock to which you can tie the yacht and fill water and fuel. Theoretically you could go stern-to to the ships jetty, alongside not possible due to the enormous ship fenders. That could be difficult with any swell running and the hose they use is huge and has tremendous pressure – not suitable for yacht’s receptacles. So the solution is to use jerry-cans. I have three cans on board and Kevin gave me three of his. I went there with the dinghy and took 124 liters of diesel and a small can of gasoline for the outboard. The station is quite far from the jetty. “Do you have any trolley or car to take those to my dinghy?” They only had a small two wheel contraption on which I could put only two jerry-cans. I was ready to do the rounds, but then a young woman, accompanied by three young men, who were filling up at the station, said they would help. Very quickly they hoisted the cans onto the back of their truck, drove to the dinghy and lowered the cans into my waiting hands. Good people!

2.3.18 – Friday – More jobs: transferring the fuel to the tanks; the fuel I bought filled both tanks to the brim plus 25 liters left as spare. Next – replacing the broken float switch for the starboard shower discharge with a new one. The third job I deemed to be important. The alternator on the starboard engine, the one I took home for repair, is not working properly and we don’t know the reason for it. Now since that engine was not in operation for a long time and has about 350 hours less than the port one, I want to use it more, for charging as well as for propulsion when needed. Solution – replace the alternator with the port one and see what happens. Once installed – I started the engine and the alternator worked just fine; the one I took off will stay in a locker, I’ll have to decide whether it is worth repairing or perhaps better buy a new one.

Another job – repairing a broken batten. Kevin gave me some of his West System epoxy glue, which is very fast and with which I have never worked before. In the middle of the work, which was done on the trampoline, I went to the cabin for some more fiberglass, as I came back I found the epoxy seething in the mixing cup, heating up big time and emitting vapor. I let it cool off before disposal. I was waiting for Kevin to call me and say the sail is ready but the call did not come. I went ashore for some more water and internet and found out he went home. Tomorrow is another day!

Another problem that cropped up was in the health department. In the last few days I had this cough for which I used a medication bought in Ecuador. I hope it would do the job; otherwise I’ll use some antibiotics I have on board or seek medical help ashore.

3.3.18 – Saturday –  We brought the sail on board but the wind was too strong to open it and attach it to the mast and boom. Kevin went back ashore and I waited for the wind to abate. I was well aware that managing the 50 square meters sail by myself would be difficult but I did not want to wait until Monday and decided to give it a try. About one and a half hour before sundown I started work on the sail. I spread it along the boom and trying to insert the long lower batten I got stuck. As time flew by I understood I needed to put the sail into the lazy-bag before dark and postpone the work for the next day.

With all the exertion I felt very tired. I started the starboard engine to charge the batteries and after a few minutes it shut itself down. Looking into the engine room I found a puddle of fuel in the bilge, its source the Racor filter. The Racor filter housing has a pump in it which one uses to bleed air from the fuel system. It seems that after Kevin did it he forgot to screw the pump handle back into place enabling air to go in and disable the engine. It took but a few minutes to purge the air and tighten the pump handle; engine started and working fine. By then I was really bushed, the cleaning of the fuel in the bilge will wait for tomorrow.

4.3.18 – Sunday – I woke up feeling lousy; my cough got worse, it looked like I had bronchitis. Time for antibiotics! I spent the whole day mostly in bed, dosing, reading a little and not having the appetite or energy to prepare and eat food. Just like a storm at sea you have to give it time and it will pass. There is a Tiki goddess on a hill above the fishing boats and dinghy dock; I’ll ask her to help me regain my health.

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5.3.18 – Monday – Woke up feeling better, had breakfast and went on resting and recuperating. In the afternoon I had enough energy to clean the starboard engine bilge of the fuel spilt there. Looking around the anchorage I saw that quite a few boats have left; I’ll have to wait until I’m better.

6.3.18 – Tuesday – I am getting better every day and this morning felt I would be able to tackle the mainsail job. This time I started from the top of the sail, easily inserting four battens; when I got to the lower batten, after some trials and errors, I found the way to put it in place. I worked for two hours and then went ashore to the market. I love this place for its products but also for the ladies at the stalls. The place is a haven of color and calm.

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Back on the boat fatigue took over, I am not strong enough yet. This is my third day  on antibiotics and I’m supposed to take it ten days. I think I’ll stay here tomorrow and maybe leave Thursday.

7.3.18 – Wednesday – After the cracking of the saloon port window I put in a query on the Facebook page of Maxim 380 owners asking whether anybody knew where an item like that could be found. There were a few replies and one of them was especially interesting; Sean Delange gave the contact info of a South African company which made the windows for the Maxim boatyard when it was in operation. I sent an e-mail to the company and am waiting for their reply.

8.3.18 – Thursday – Made the final preparations to leave, shopping, fishing rod and reel serviced – I miss catching fish!

9.3.18 – Friday – Come morning I went ashore with two aims. One – take the latest forecast; it showed winds from the east at about 20 knots, to which one has to add at least 5 for what happens in reality. Second task – find the pharmacy; I found out I had no pain and fever reliever on board. A lady in the market gave me the general direction saying it was “one kilometer away”. Just before I started walking I saw Kevin going out with his car. “Are you going in the general direction of the pharmacy?” Yes, he did and hearing that I did not know the exact location, he simply took me there. It was really far and out of the way and in my estimation at least four kilometers from port. Kevin also needed some stuff there so I could ride back with him. On the way we discussed the weather. He thought the forecast meant it was going to be squally. The next day would be much calmer, winds max 15 knots, so a decision was quickly taken – delay departure to Saturday.

10.3.18 – Saturday – Waking up early, even before breakfast, I went into the starboard engine room. I checked and tightened the water pump and engine alternator belts. I was a bit anxious about bringing the anchors up, being sure their chains became tangled during the long stay. Once the shackle connecting both anchor chains was on deck, I tied a line to the secondary anchor chain, opened the shackle and turned that chain around the main anchor chain at least five times until they were separated. All that time I had to take care not to let go of the rope thus losing my second anchor. To lift it out I used the rope winch side of the windlass. Of course, had there been another crew member on board everything would have been easier…

Anchors up I started motoring out. Anahu is on the northeast of the island; I motorsailed with main at first reef to the southeast corner of the island and turning north opened the jib and shut down the engines. It was so good sailing again! I was trolling a line hoping for a fish. Sea birds were flying above and a pair of boobies showed interest in my lure. Before I could do anything at all, one of them dive bombed it and was caught. I tried reeling the bird in but the reel became clogged when the line went out too fast. It took but a few minutes and the bird freed itself. Now that we were not fishing I could raise the main fully. By the way – I need to replace the main halyard but that is something I need help for because I have to climb to the top of the mast. On my previous boat I had a gadget I built myself with which I could climb the mast; perhaps I need one again. (Climbing the mast alone at 76 years of age – is that wise?).

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                            The entrance to Anahu

I entered the Anahu bay, finding six other boats there, including two big Catana catamarans. Anchored in a place that was supposed to be sand bottom but there were some rocks. Too tired to relocate! For dinner I made the Jewish grandmother’s ultimate cure for all health issues: chicken and veg soup.

11.3.18 – Sunday – Preparing some fruit for breakfast, I threw some papaya peels overboard and was surprised to see a large number of red snappers attacking it. Snapper is normally a good eating fish but is it not containing the Ciguatera poison here? I used pieces of chicken on the hook and in seconds had two meal size snappers. I’ll ask ashore whether they are OK to eat.

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Next – washing the cockpit area. No like but must do. Then went ashore; the village is small and there is a trail leading all around the bay. I walked for about 75 minutes meeting some people on the way. I asked about the fish, showing its picture on my cellphone; “not good” was the verdict. Back at the boat I threw them into the water and their tribe members jumped on them with great enthusiasm.

12.3.18 – Monday – I started the morning with a climbing trip. I wanted to speak with Gili and since the cellular reception in the bay is barely good for text messages, the only way to get good communication is to climb up the mountain on the trail to Hatiheu, up to a saddle where a relay antenna is located and a good signal is available. To reach the trail you walk left from the dinghy landing, past the church and then, just before the next house you’ll see the trail on the right by what looks like a drainage ditch. It was a 40 minutes ascent on a trail zigzagging to negotiate the steep mountainside; when I reached the saddle I climbed a rock on its north side which afforded a magnificent view of the bay.

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I the spirit of the time we live in and to commemorate the moment I took a “selfie”.

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I was told that going down to Hatiheu would have taken about 20 minutes. Going back was much easier and I was on the boat two hours after leaving it.

My next job was installing an electric conversion kit for our toilet. We (especially Gili)had enough of the manual unit with the difficult pumping and leaks. We had those kits when we bought the boat but they went bust and were thrown away. The kit replaces the manual unit and is relatively easy to install; it took me about an hour and twenty minutes. Gili will be happy.

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13.3.18 – Tuesday – The morning was unusually very calm; all boats were pointing to the west instead of to the prevailing wind direction – the east. I took the SUP and paddled all around the bay. I thought that the conditions would be ideal for my planned main halyard replacement and on my way back to the boat I approached a yacht near mine to ask the young man, who turned out to be from Belgium, for help in winching me up the mast. He said they were just leaving to go to Hatiheu so maybe later in the afternoon. Another yacht, Cinco, had a young man named Jed on board, but he was taking care of their baby – wife gone to Hatiheu too.

I decided to start the project by connecting the new rope to the old one and passing it through the top of the mast back down to the sail. When help would become available I’ll climb the mast and tie the rope’s end to the appropriate point. As I had finished coiling and placing the ropes it started raining. I put on my swimming trunks and installed the water-catcher. I was thinking about the Belgian couple who would have to walk the trail from Hatiheu in the rain; They did arrive close to sundown but I didn’t think the time was right to ask them about it.

The rain brought about two different phenomena: one was a temporary waterfall on the mountain opposite  the anchorage, the other a swarm of small insects attracted to the lights in the cabin. This has actually also happened yesterday and this morning I had to wash the saloon and cockpit from hundreds of the pests.

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                                     The new waterfall

14.3.18 – Wednesday – In the morning I was waiting for signs of wakefulness on Cinco, hoping to lure Jed over early, to beam me up the mast. The moment I saw them in the cockpit I swam over just to remind them of my request. At 0830 Jed came by; after a short briefing he winched me up. Standing on the upper crosstree I cut the old halyard and tied in the new one.The whole operation did not take more than 15 minutes.

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                                        Jed of Cinco

Now it was time to leave. I wanted to go to Hakaehu bay, on the northwest of the island, where the village of Pua is located. The wind was light and from the stern, so I didn’t even bother to open sail. I needed to charge the batteries anyway. The Pua anchorage is well protected except from the NNW, I dropped the anchor on the sandy bottom at 8 meters. After lunch and a nap I took the dinghy ashore, pulling it up to what seemed to be the high water limit. The village itself is a very modest one; I only saw two houses that had people living in them plus one that was abandoned. The main occupation in the village is copra and there were a lot of cattle and horses. The interesting thing in here are the ancient ruins, a road bordered with big volcanic boulders and several Marae. This was obviously a big and important settlement in the past. I relied on my smartphone’s camera but forgot to check the battery status; hence no pictures from Pua.

On the way back I had a reminder of the power of the sea. Bad timing in pushing the dinghy out it was hit by two breaking waves and filled up with sea water. I worked furiously with the small bailer that I have ( a cut 1.5 liter water bottle), pushed the dinghy out again and was quick enough to start the outboard and escape another incoming waves attack. 

15.3.18 – Thursday – Today’s plan was to try fishing with a new contraption I acquired – the bird. To this bird you attach some lure and drag it behind the boat where it splashes on the surface and supposedly attracts the big ones.

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Going out with a friend in Eilat on the Red Sea it worked perfectly, taking out two bonitoes in one strike; here, after hours of no results, I reeled it in only to find that all the lures have disappeared… By then I was close to Baie Marquisienne, on the southwest of the island, where I wanted to spend the night. There is not a lot of information about the place and as I approached it it didn’t look nice at all. I decided to go on to Taioha A.K.A Daniel’s bay for the night.

16.3.18 – Friday – Early to rise – I motored over to Taiohae and was at anchor by 0800. This is where I can do some shopping, laundry, fill water and go on to other islands.

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 1, 2018

Polynesia–February 18

Flying back to the boat was accompanied this time with mixed feelings. The trip from Nuku Hiva to Israel took four days and both of us, Gili and I, came to the conclusion that we were not comfortable with such long distances. The original plan I made at the end of 2016 for the Pacific voyage called for staying in Polynesia during 2017 and 2018, then in 2019 – with me reaching the ripe age of 77 – sail to Australia and sell the boat. Now the idea of trying to sell her in Tahiti this year (there is a yacht brokerage here: Raiatea-yacht.com) and perhaps buying a cat in the Med has crept into our minds.

The plan for me now is to sail in the Marquesas until the beginning of April, leave the boat in Nuku Hiva, fly home for two months and come back in mid June. During June and July sail the Tuamotus and then leave the boat with the broker in Tahiti. Gili will only come for that second period; a friend named Michael Ben Eli, who sailed with me from Polynesia to American Samoa in 2010, will join for ten days at the end of March.

22.2.18 – Thursday – Flew into Nuku Hiva via Hiva Oa. Kevin took me to the boat; work will start tomorrow.

23.3.18 – Friday – Before lowering my dinghy into the water I noticed that the aft plug disappeared, I put a wooden plug as a temporary solution and lowered it. Only after I finished installing the motor, fuel tank and oars I noticed water coming in from the rear starboard side. I took everything out and lifted the dinghy back on board. This dinghy is seven years old and is literally falling apart at the seams. I glued one open seam with Sika-Flex; it will have to wait until tomorrow for the glue to cure. Kevin brought the new batteries and windlass, their installation will have to wait for Monday.

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These batteries are AGM 105 amps by Dynac and being bigger than my old ones I decided to buy only five. Looking at the battery compartment I am not so sure we’ll be able to squeeze them in.

24.2.18 – Saturday – Dinghy lowered, I went ashore to do some shopping. surprise! it still leaks! Up on deck it goes again. I fill it with seawater and find another open seam. finished all my glue for that; let’s see whether this is the end of that story. Kevin came by to install the injectors he sent to Dieselec in Tahiti for service. So now I have two operating engines.

25.2.18 – Sunday – Like every day I take some time to clean some part of the boat. Number one priority – the galley. When I finish the all boat it’ll be time to start again. Cleaning is a Sisyphean job and although I do not like it at all I still have to do it. I changed the fuel filter on the port engine, started it up and let it work for a while; after a few minutes it shut itself down. I bled the fuel line once again but still the engine would not start. I’ll ask Kevin to check it for me.

26.2.18 – Monday – I tried taking the dinghy ashore; guess what – there is another leak from a newly opened seam! I called Kevin and asked him to bring some more Sika-Flex when he comes to work. At 1030 the man arrived. We decided to start with replacing the fuel pre-filters (Racors 10 microns) and make sure both engines operate as they should. Kevin toiled and sweated but both engines refused to work! Installing the new house batteries took priority and we started working on that. The engines would wait for tomorrow. Once we disassembled all the old batteries my concerns about the limited space were realized. The only way we could put the new ones in would be putting one of them on a “second floor”, on top of two others. Kevin says it’s O.K with AGMs and I believe him.

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It was past 3 p.m when all the batteries were connected in parallel and my electrical system was restored so we called it a day.

27.2.18 – Tuesday – I woke up very early, before 0500; spent some more time in bed and then got up, ate a piece of pamplemousse and paddled the SUP all around the bay for 45 minutes. After breakfast I lowered the dinghy and this time there were no leaks. Kevin could only come at 1300 and started work on the port engine. He bled air out of the fuel lines very thoroughly, I started it and it worked like a charm. Working on the starboard engine was not so successful. Kevin discovered that a thread on the casing of the fuel filter assembly was ruined and the bleed bolt just turned and could not be closed properly. He’ll call the Tahiti Yanmar agent to see whether they had the part in stock; if not we’ll improvise something – rethread, new bolt etc.

“Do you want me to install the new windlass?” Kevin asked. “No, thanks, I’m confident I can do it myself” I answered. In hindsight taking his offer would probably have saved me a lot of money and heartache. I was taking the heavy windlass, a third of my body weight, from the cockpit to the foredeck through the narrow side passage, stumbled and fell. Gladly the windlass did not fall into the water but it hit the side window resulting in a spider-web of cracks.

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I hope there is some material I can stick on both sides of the pane to keep it from disintegrating. Getting a new one for a yacht type years not in production would be certainly expensive if not impossible. BAD LUCK! I’ll have to investigate the South African marine market. Installing the windlass was relatively easy; a small step forward.

28.2.18 – Wednesday – At 0600 I was at work disconnecting the mainsail from the mast and boom, taking out the long battens. A few small tears sustained in a storm on the way to Pitcairn last year need to be repaired. Kevin came to take the sail and look at the window; he said that they had some PVC sheets which they use to make signs and advertisement, those sheets are thick enough and if we stick them on both sides of the pane it may be sufficient. He said the Yanmar people in Tahiti did not have the fuel filter part and importing it would take a month (!) so he took my part to improvise a repair; later in the afternoon called me on VHF to confirm that job was successfully concluded.

While not so happy with having to deal with all those maintenance issues I still keep my calm. I do hope to be able to go sailing in three days.

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