Facebook keeps sending me messages…. Apparently the people who follow the Sea Raven sailing page have missed me, sweet of you, but I suspect it may be secret code for “you haven’t written anything in a while”.
In the last post I wrote, I was working on relaxing with the girls, we were spending as much time as we could just hanging out, eating lunch ashore, wandering along the waterfront and generally enjoying having the boat back to ourselves after a slightly disappointing crew and crossing experience.
Before we could leave the murky waters of the Marquesas and head to the clear coral and sharks of the Tuamoto archipelago, we needed new crew. And after a couple of near misses, we picked up Moose, a young guy out of the states who needed a ride to Tahiti, sweet. Where our last crew showed up with matching waterproof gear bags and a set of digital turntables, Moose rocked up with a backpack and a surfboard, and after only a night or two hanging out on board, we knew more about him and what he’d been doing and wanting to do than we did about the last crew after a 5 week ocean crossing, so things were starting to fall into place. Next we needed fuel. Sea Raven being the beast that she is, decided that it was easier to hold course with an engine running when we hit mushy seas, so we chewed through a lot more diesel on the crossing than expected. No problem though, I sorted out a duty free fuel deal and headed over to the fuel dock… rations. Some big super yacht drank all the diesel and with two more on the horizon and a week or so till the supply boat showed up, we were only allowed to buy 200 litres per boat… we needed closer to 500. Fine. We’ll just head around the island to one of the other anchorages to check it out and pass the time, then come back and leave in a week. Or not.
It seems that despite repeated reminders from the government and such, the locals decided that they didn’t really need to fix the ladder at the dinghy dock, and one morning, said belligerent French ladder ate our dink. We were in the fresh produce market when a friend came up and said “I think your dinghy is sinking!” WTF! I ran over to find it torn almost completely on one side, full of water and our outboard was taking an unplanned swim. With some help from other boat folk, we got the out board off and up onto shore, and I paddled the dink around to a spot where we could drag it up and I could stare at it a while.
Needless to say we didn’t make it out of the anchorage as planned. It took 4 days for the local guy who fixes dinghies to come by and say “sorry, can’t fix that”, and leave me scratching my head wondering which sea god I had upset to have this happen to us…. Dozens of dinghies a re tied up to that spot everyday, and ours usually isn’t, I always parked around the corner where it was easier for the girls to get out and I could unload the stroller with less gymnastics, but on this day the tide was low, so followed the masses. I asked around if there was anything for sale, but short of paying new prices for an already heavily repaired tender, I was shit out of luck apparently….
It took another day of head scratching before I came up with a plan of attack. I grabbed an oversized fender that was on the boat and a tube of 5200 I had saved for emergencies, and set to work. The problem with 5200 is that is takes 48hrs at least to cure, and the repair needed and inside patch (hence the fender to give me something to press against) and an outer one. With allowances for rain and waiting for it to harden up a little at least, it took about a week of an hour a day sessions to get the thing back together. It ain’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but it holds air… it’s letting in water now, but that can be bailed out easy enough until I try and stop that too! Oh, and I’m now a Yamaha 4-stroke outboard carburetor expert, (they don’t usually like swimming) tell your friends!
By this point most of our friends had left Nuku Hiva, and we were pretty over the place, there’s nothing much to do, and we definitely didn’t have the money to rent a car and explore, so we just figured we’d fuel up while the dinghy was setting in the sun… The fuel dock in the bay is kinda like the dinghy dock – not set up for cruisers. It’s a big cargo and cruise ship dock that you basically have to back up to and have them pass the fuel nozzle to you. The hiccup with this is that you end up beam to the swell and getting rolled all over the place. Most boats I watched ended up staying 3m off the dock, and using their dinghy to get to the nozzle and go to shore to pay…. Hmmm, seems we have a problem… After looking at the dock as we approached, we decided we would try tying up side to, like we would at any other “normal” dock, this went very badly…. After much tying and retying and moving of lines and fenders, we decided it was too much and somehow managed to peel off again with only one bent stanchion (piece of handrail). The big rubber fenders they have hanging off the dock had no give in them at all, and were there for massive steel cargo ships not fiberglass sailboats, and, as the tide was just right, we couldn’t keep one of our fenders between us and them, and lost a little paint before we got off… no biggy…
Alrighty then, looks like we were going in stern to somehow, and we started to set up for that, waiting for the other boat there fueling to finish. Then I noticed I had no starboard prop. It hadn’t fallen off, just worked it self loose and broken the key that is supposed to stop it from spinning all by its lonesome. Yay! I am now at the helm, stb side to the dock, getting blown into it by the perfectly timed increase in wind with one engine, that by default, wants to push me into the dock as well… I don’t know how I didn’t end up with more damage…. Some fancy work with a fender and constant creeping back and forward with the port engine, and I somehow managed to get us off and away from the concrete and rubber wall of death…. We re-anchored, still with empty tanks, and I set about figuring out the next repair – I luckily had a spare key onboard for some reason, and managed to get the prop polished up and back on with out too much hassle. I guess it was better it happened in port than in a narrow coral pass somewhere…
Once the dinghy was feeling better, it was time for the repairs to Sea Raven that I needed the dink to take care of, a little bit of glass work on the underside of the bridge deck, basically a repair of a repair that I had done in Mexico by an idiot, the fact he was an idiot I found out too late of course, and now I find myself trying to fiberglass overhead with a few inches to spare while getting thrown into the bottom of the boat repeatedly by the swell rolling through the anchorage, not ideal conditions, but it needed to be done.
While in the anchorage I also – fixed our broken headstay attachment, fixed the holding tank pump out… twice, replaced the automatic switch on the port engine bilge pump, removed our broken vhf antenna (snapped on the crossing) and figured out I’m not smart enough to fix our freezer….
Finally all fixed up and ready, we had a good (enough) weather window to break out of the Marquesas and head the 550 miles south to the next group of islands, the Tuamotos, still no autopilot though… fun times!