Repairs & reunions in Papeete

June 2016

Sailors are enticed to major urban ports for four reasons: airports, repairs, parties, and clearance procedures. We were lured to Papeete, the main city in Tahiti, by the first three: the impending arrival of friends, Mark and Helen; the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous; and our desperate need to resolve our battery problem. Our batteries had been a serious stressor since April when it became clear during our 1,600-mile passage from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to the Gambiers that our batteries were not going to last the season. We were relieved to identify an expensive but viable solution while in Mangareva, but had been limping along for more than 3,000 nautical miles, using our Honda 2000i generator as a crutch. Those woes would finally conclude in Papeete.The day after we made landfall, we wandered down the dock toward town, off to see about tracking down our batteries and other parts for the boat. Sweat beaded on our skin and the glare of the sun blinding. We hardly noticed the brilliant smile of an old friend rushing toward us, her colorful skirt sashaying in the sunshine, until the moment she embraced us. Jude!! Our dear friend from s/v Sarita hugged us tightly. The saying that cruisers don’t say goodbye, they say, “See you later” rang true again… we’d last seen our dear Saritas at the anchorage in Chamela in January 2015. Seventeen months and thousands of ocean miles later, our paths converged again at last! It’s too damn hot to give a hug in the tropics if you don’t really mean it. We meant it wholeheartedly. The Saritas are favorites among our cruising family, and this reunion was long overdue. The sacrificial lamb to commemorate our reunion would be a bottle of scotch… It felt like a bit of a miracle that just days before we made landfall on Tahiti, so, too, did our new AGM batteries. Glory hallelujah! Our joy was tempered by the daunting process of removing our old batteries and replacing the new ones. Thanks to the team at Nautisport, the batteries were delivered to the marina, but the task of swapping them loomed. Red Thread has 3 45-amp hour AGM batteries, each of which weigh roughly 70 kilos. Richard from s/v Sarita kindly offered to help Neil with the job, which ended up requiring about 10 hours and a massive rewiring to make some changes to the configuration. They also installed a new Xantrex battery monitor. When we first met him, Red Thread’s prior captain, Glenn Maddox, told us that long-distance cruising is “all about managing power.” He was right, and for the first time in months, we could finally rest easy knowing that we’d no longer have to rely on our Honda 2000i as a lifeline to keep our key systems operational.The next order of business was re-securing the boom vang connection plate properly to the mast, a potentially catastrophic problem that had miraculously revealed itself in calm waters just miles outside Papeete. The reason for the problem was galvanic corrosion between stainless steel screws and the aluminum mast. We would transition from screws to a more permanent solution. Sven from s/v Randivåg offered up his rivet gun and generously donated the necessary supplies. Two major items were completed. Mark and Helen would arrive soon, but before they landed, we had a couple final to-do items on our list…to meet up with Brian from s/v Prince Diamond and his wife who was visiting from Toronto and to memorialize our South Pacific Stitch in ink

5 thoughts on “Repairs & reunions in Papeete

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