Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Trip from Tahiti to the Cook Islands.

Day one. 09/11/11. Wednesday Afternoon 16:00. Exhaustion! thats all we could feel. Leaving an anchorage when you're ready to drop with exhaustion is not a good idea, but we had to leave, we'd already stayed one day over the limit and this morning we'd been slowly checked out by some officials on a small boat as they drove by. They could see that we were working hard at getting Puddytat ready so I suppose that's why they let us be. Finally at 15:45 we motor sailed out of the safe harbour area at Papeete, Tahiti.
Sunrise the next morning.
As soon as we were clear of all danger and we'd eaten our meal of lasagna, I went down to our cabin and crashed. David woke me up at 21:00.. groan groan groan I was still tired. He collapsed into the bunk and I sat upstairs trying to get some enthusiasm going. Nope nothing .. sigh... I sat my whole watch, gave David and extra hour till 03:00, like a zombie. Thank heavens for radar.

During David's sleep we were hit with a rouge wave and it found the half open porthole we'd left open in our cabin. David was woken, from a dead sleep, to a torrent of water cascading all over the place. He had to go and shower to get all the salt off him. All the sheets and things were dumped on the floor and towels draped onto the bunk and he want back to sleep... It rained and gusted and we flew along even with the main dropped... oh yes we decided that with both of us being so knackered, we'd drop the mainsail and only use the genoa. That way if we were hit with one of this areas infamous 70 knotters that spring up out of nowhere, we'd be able to furl the genoa till only a tiny corner was visible and run downwind with it. But lucky us, nothing happened and I handed over the watch to a slightly refreshed David and crawled into the damp bunk. Bliss!

Day two. Thursday. I came up in the morning and soon afterwards David went down to sleep. A couple of hours later he emerged, feeling much better. The day went along with alternating wind and no wind, but nothing over 20 knots, I rinsed all the bedding and hung it out to dry... a lovely calmish day. I baked bread and started to make a courtesy flag for The Cook Islands. It's a blue flag with a Union Jack in the top left corner and 15 white stars in a circle next to that. Again after our late lunch, smoked chicken roast and veg this time, (we eat at about 16:00), I slept and later that evening David woke me from a totally dead sleep, for my watch, then he went to sleep, in a much dryer bed this time :-) I wasn't so tired tonight, thank heavens. My body was catching up and getting into this new routine. I carried on with the flag and finished it just before my watch was over.. nice ;-D  We'd had hardly any wind the whole night, we were crawling along at 3 to 5 knots... in  5 to 8 knots of wind. Nice and peaceful.
The Cook Island flag I made.
Day Three. Friday.. 11th of the 11th of 2011.. ha ha nothing was written in the log book during David's watch... hmmmm.... I do remember that it rained and squalled pretty much all day. We were either dropping the main or lifting it again and catching water.. lots of lovely rain water.. what did we eat.... oh yes Kedgeree from some left over fresh caught Wahoo that we were given by another sailor... who's name is Ding.. true! :-) Everyone calls him that.

Day four. Saturday...Wonderful winds. 17 knots once for all of 7 minutes, yeah I was out there in the rain watching the wind speed and our speed wondering if I was gonna have to do some fast work if we were hit by a biggie.... then it died down to 12 knots and we went from scooting along at 11 knots to a more sedate 8 knots. The wind stayed pretty constant all day. So it was nice and uneventful. We haven't seen the sun for two days now... It's constantly overcast with occasional huge black rain clouds that make the radar shriek out it's warning.. then we look at the clouds and decide whether to carry on or drop the main.
A large storm ahead.
The center is where we are. This is the storm above as we see it on Radar. It is about 9 miles wide.
During this storm the wind whipped up to about 35 knots, David had dropped the main and he was furling the genoa when it hit. There was a lot of rain, we collected scads of water and then it was gone. The sails were reset and we carried on.

Day Five. Sunday.. No wind... we motored last night till almost 01:00 then it came up.. 11 knots yay. better than what we'd been having. I set the sails and switched off the engine. So when I handed over the watch to David at 02:00 we were sailing. It seems though that at 04:18 the engine had to be switched back on as we were going nowhere. From then on he was switching the engine on and off dealing with gusts of wind and dead calms. The log book has this note : "Wind 10 to 3 to 10 knots. The drizzle is now set in. The water is calm - just 6 inch ripples on the 3 to 4 foot ocean swell. The unsettling part is we never KNOW what the wind is going to be. We have a radar that shows us the size of the system, we have eyes to see the wave conditions and the darkness of the clouds and wind instruments to keep track of the wind changes.... But I can't tell, yet, when we are about to get clobbered by a 30 knotter, in the back of my mind is the capsize of the Chris White Cat last year... they didn't see it coming either."
So there you have it. This weather is sure keeping us on our toes.
It's now 22:00 (10 pm). I've just had a look outside and seen stars. The moon is rising and for a change I can see it. SO lets hope that we are done with all those storms for a while.

We expect to reach our destination, Aitutaki Island, at about 07:00 tomorrow. So I'm on watch till 01:30 instead of 02:00, because I'll have to be awake just before 7 to take the boat into the pass. I always get the job of taking the boat into our new anchorages. David stands point and scans the depths for coral heads, especially in places where we are going tomorrow. It's reported to be very shallow so we're going to have to be really careful. The Island's GPS position is 18 deg 54'S and 159 deg 47'W according to the guide book. If you have "Google Earth" you can have a look at it.:-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Putting the mast back on Puddytat

Puddytat looks so forlorn without her rigging.
A sad Puddytat.
Somehow she just doesn't seem very happy. But the good news is that soon she will be getting it all back. Yup they have finished the work on it and have booked a date and time with the crane. They have had the mast for 5 weeks, the crane was booked for Friday, but on Thursday it was cancelled and the date moved to Monday. They had not finished the swaging and were now going to leave it till Monday morning and quickly do it before the crane arrived! David went to them and got angry with them, they'd promised to have the job done and were now slotting other work in front of ours!  They then they knuckled down and finished the swaging on the rigging. He wanted it done in his presence so that he could make sure it was done correctly. It's awful to have to get angry to get a job done that you have waited 5 weeks for... especially one that takes a few hours to do.
So early Monday morning we release Puddytat from our anchor rode and tie it to Limo, the dinghy, to our anchor rode and off we go to the commercial docks. We didn't want to haul the anchor up because the crossbeam was unsupported without the crossbeam in place. By nine am we are ready and waiting. David has gone off to see what is happening.

The mast is pushed into sight on trolleys and here comes the crane. They tie a fat webbing to it and start to haul it up.
Up she goes.
Over and onto the boat...
Settling it down..
Attaching the forestay and roller furler.
The strap is still attached to the crane.
Alex goes up to detach the strap.
It's nerve wracking it is! But all goes smoothly and soon the mast is sitting in place. It seems though, that they are having a bit of difficulty attaching the turnbuckles on either side. Everything seems a bit short. They haven't left much room to loosen the rig if it needs it!
The rigging wire is too short in the turnbuckle.
David is not happy about this! But, the mast is back on. Our genoa sail is still being worked on, it should have been finished weeks ago. They promise to deliver before we leave the dock... but our time is limited .. They've finished the work on the main.. We get our genoa back and where there was a metal ring at the tack, there is none now...just two straps of webbing.. Another thing David is not happy about. We cannot argue though, our time in this country runs out tomorrow and we have to get the boat sorted to leave. We wondered later, if API works the deliveries of sails and such to boats just before they have to leave the country so that we don't have time to argue or demand work to be redone.

Anyway, what's done is done but we're still not happy and will not recommend this company to any of our friends.

We motored back to our anchorage and worked solidly for the next day and for most of Wednesday, getting the sails back on, the davits refitted and all the electrical equipment re-wired.

Finally at about 15:30 we lifted the anchor and motored out towards The Cook Islands.

Personally... neither of us are in a hurry to revisit Tahiti. Our time was very limited, definitely not enough to see anything of the surrounding islands, and our boat problems were genuine, the powers that be were reluctant to extend my visa and then when they did,  I was limited to the boat and the Marina, so I couldn't even do any grocery shopping for us. David had to do everything! Also each time David had to beg for an extension on the visa it took two or three days out of his work schedule. He did say however, that the lady in the front office of the High Commission was very helpful.
We may visit Bora Bora and a few other islands though... maybe.....