A day out in Papeete, Tahiti

We’d been at Marina Taina on Tahiti since last Tuesday and, apart from a couple of trips to the giant Carrefour just down the road, hadn’t seen anything of the island. Saturday’s plan was to get to Papeete to try to find a replacement motor for the autopilot (which keeps failing on us) and to check in at the police station. Quite excited to be heading ‘off site’, we were up bright and early. Friday’s brunch on the boat with Janice had left us with some pancake batter to use up so Doug got to work making us breakfast, and we sat out on the deck with mugs of tea, ready to tuck in. One disgusting mouthful in, we realized something in the mix was as unaccustomed to the tropical heat as we are. Oh well, bananas and papaya it would have to be. We headed off out into the already burning sunshine, returning once for the water bottle and a second time for the camera with photos of the motor and parts we needed. We were already getting sick of our day out and it was still only 8.30am.

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Ḿeeting Illusion

Dinghy waiting to take us to Illusion
Dinghy waiting to take us to Illusion

After three flights (Vancouver to LA, LA to Tahiti, Tahiti to Raivavae) it was pretty amazing to arrive at the tiny airport and see Doug, complete with an amusing amount of hair, waiting for me. Henriette, whom Doug had met a couple of days earlier, sorted us out with a ride to the other side of the island where Illusion was moored, and I was glad I’d made time for a practise French session with my friend Cristina the day before leaving Vancouver. Our hour of chatting had slightly prepared me for the first significant French-speaking experience since finishing my A-levels, seventeen years ago. (Aaaaack! I can’t believe that was 17 years ago!). Then we were alone, at the quay, and there was the dinghy waiting to take us out to the boat. I guess I hadn’t really thought about how we’d get there – that was a pretty cool moment. So we headed off onto the water, for my first meeting with Illusion and my first experience of living on board a sailboat. Continue reading “Ḿeeting Illusion”

Trauma in the Night – Rapa style

The engines (both main yacht and dinghy’s outboard) have had more trauma than any engine should have in a lifetime. Fortunately, the outboard engine has proven very resilient: the latest survival challenge was to be dumped upside down in the water when the crazy winds here flipped the dinghy over in the middle of the night. We went out only a few minutes later (hard to tell something happened, except the bumping noise of the dinghy against the main hull was slightly different), but we lost everything that wasn’t attached (3 oars, a bailing bucket & sponge). The fuel container was floating a few meters behind the boat, still attached to the engine, which was secured to the dinghy, which was secured by a line and a cable to the main boat. No problem, just flip the dinghy upright in 80+ km/h winds and ~1 meter “seas” — in the anchorage! Absurd. Very few days here have not had high winds and choppy waters. This is not a normal South Sea anchorage. Even now it’s howling outside, but the winds have settled down to about 50km/h; gusting as I write this to 65! The Rapans have a legend about not cursing the wind…
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Choices – Starting an Epic Sea Journey

Strange thoughts run after being in uncomfortable sailing conditions for most of the 8 days we’ve been away from Auckland. We’re 35 degrees south of the equator, 162 degrees west of London…  Which reminds me that I’m half a world away from Sara… and prompts me back to OpenCPN, the charting program we’re using to track our progress.  Surprisingly enough, we’re on a direct course to where she is in northwest England!  But it’s 9500 miles away and the “directness” of our course is challenged by the “S”-curve of a great circle route that has been plotted on a Mercator-projected chart of the globe.  Strangely enough, the route would take us through San Francisco, about half way on a journey to northern England.  Across Hudson Bay, too.  And Greenland.  Then through the western isles of Scotland.  I really miss her, but for me this is the distinctly “not-fun” part of cruising, so perhaps it’s a good thing it’s not her introduction to the “cruising life”…
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A good test in patience – post by Janice

“So… when are you leaving?” It’s the question we’d all like to be able to answer accurately, but invariably unexpected problems and uncooperative weather continue to make liars of us all. In the last few weeks, we’ve been traipsing about the Hauraki Gulf of northern New Zealand, sailing when wind and weather have been decent, and hiding out at various anchorages on the days between, fixing up the boat.

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A bitter-sweet visit

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This has been a difficult visit to New Zealand for me… and not just because of the sleep deprivation and the stress of assuring the boat and its systems are ready for the four of us to trust our lives to for the next few months.  I’m so focused on Illusion and our trip to Vancouver, that I haven’t taken extra time to visit friends (or even write blog posts!!).  I feel strangely disconnected from NZ, as though I’m not really here, since I’m not really connecting with this country as I have in the past.
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Remembering to talk about the birds

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Just before Doug and the Illusion crew left the boatyard, we discovered Google Talk. Skype had been letting us down, and we’d been relying on WhatsApp messages. While that’s great for speedy interactions and sharing photos*, nothing beats a (free!) voice call, or even better a video call. It didn’t always work, but if he went to just the right spot in the yard, and managed to time it so the lawnmower or some other engine wasn’t running, and nobody was stopping to talk to him, we could just about manage a proper conversation. Yay! Continue reading “Remembering to talk about the birds”

Crunch Time – post by Janice

She's sailed before, she'll sail again!
She’s sailed before, she’ll sail again!

It’s here at last: our last day on land! Illusion has been “on the hard” for over a month now, and she’ll be going back in the water first thing Monday morning. Eeeep! An incident in which the boat was going to be moved yesterday, and then wasn’t, led to it being lifted and then dropped back down onto stands that were no longer aligned – damaging our beautifully painted hull in several places. We’ve repaired the dings and repainted, and Doug took it all in stride, but there’s no doubt that that gave him more than a few gray hairs. A couple more touch-ups though and the hull should be fine. But the problems aren’t over yet, so today’s the day when the biggest problems need to get solved….

The story so far – post by Deb

It’s been an exciting and hectic six weeks in New Zealand.  Getting Illusion ready for the journey has been a journey in itself. We’ve come a long way, with many milestones to show for it: Continue reading “The story so far – post by Deb”

“That’s a big boat.” – post by Janice

The folks at the boatyard really like to remind us of this fact. Yup. We know. It’s a big boat. We know it intimately, now that we have sanded its 65-foot hull repeatedly for nearly a week. Those of us with back problems really felt it. Those of us without back problems no longer exist. But even the pain and tedium of sanding came to an end at some point, and that point was when Doug said “Okay, that’s enough sanding.” If our arms were not already frozen in overhead positions, we would have thrown them up in jubilation. Denied our gesticular glee, we celebrated instead with a bit of bubbly later that evening. Continue reading ““That’s a big boat.” – post by Janice”