Today was the day we have been putting off for a little while now. With so many small repairs to be done, we knew it was going to be a busy day for everyone. We were finally at the boatyard in Raiatea where we had been waiting to some repairs to our engine, rudder and other items. After an initial inspection on Friday, we were advised that the rudder would not need to be removed and repaired after all, but rather some underwater putty could be used instead.
Fred the person assigned to help us informed us that he would stop by our boat around 8am on his way in to work. He commutes to work by motorboat from his home on the neighbouring island of Tahaa. When he arrived I informed him that I believed our engine starting problem was due to a bad battery. We came up with this conclusion after discovering that not only would the starboard engine not start but also the generator that is located in the same engine compartment. This was a bit of a relief to me who had feared it could have been the starter or the engine itself.
After testing the battery, he zipped off in his boat saying that he would return a little bit later with a new battery. Sure enough he did and it didn’t take long before we were finally able to get our starboard engine going. I felt a little nervous about going into the small boatyard with only one engine working and so this was a great relief for me.
We motored into the little boatyard that is only big enough for about 8 floating boats and about a hundred that have been hauled out of the water for seasonal or permanent storage. Fred was on the wooden platform motioning for me to motor straight in while they had someone in the water ready to tie our stern lines to buoys that were floating in the water and tied to other boats to either side of us. The boat to our port side had a family on-board that looked a little nervous as we approached. They where frantically adjusting their fenders on the side of their boat that they had neglected to drop not realizing that neighbours were on their way in to fill the small gap on the wharf to the edge of the rock wall.
We tossed the lines that we had prepared on the four corners of our catamaran and the two on the bow were quickly anchored while the stern ones took a little bit more time as the person in the water had to swim from one side to the other to fasten our boat. With about 8 feet between us and the wooden platform over the rocks in front of us Fred grabbed a long 20 foot long 2 by 10 and laid it out so that we would be able to easily get on and off the boat. Due to the boulders in the water we didn’t want to get much closer to shore than we already were.
Although we had not come in at 8am as originally planned it was 11am and we still had plenty of items on our list to check off. Fred got to work resealing the slightly leaky window, I got all of my scuba gear ready so that I could get started on molding our rudder back together. The small hole that had been chafed into the rudder by our stern anchored chain in the Marquesas left a two inch gap that needed to be filled in and reshaped. For the next hour I went down under the boat as Dailin passed me gum sized pieces of putty style epoxy. I jammed it into the edge of the rudder as best I could before starting to shape the missing piece of the rudder with the quick dry epoxy that was suitable to be used under water. It wasn’t until I was nearly completed that the epoxy started to actually harden into a stiff board like material. The shaping really was only for aesthetics as it was simply sealing off the edge of the rudder that was important. The small missing piece was really not critical to the navigation of our vessel.
By the time I popped out of the water, I was looking like a raisin, Dailin was tired of sitting at the edge of the boat to feed me pieces of epoxy. After a short break, Dailin worked with Fred to replace the hatch window that had broken a few months earlier and Jaeden was working on replacing the membrane in the water-maker tube. Each of these projects were thanks to my mom who had brought the replacement piece three weeks earlier from Hawaii. Jaeden had to take a few breaks to play his guitar as he found the experience rather frustrating and difficult. In the end however he finally did succeed in putting it together and passed it off to me to install.
Orin in the meantime used a hex key to remove the steps over the front windows of the boat. He then went on to untangling the lines we use to hoist the flag for the country we are visiting. To do this Orin happily had Eli hoist him up in the bosun’s chair so that he could swing around on the mast. Eli worked at securing the netting on the side of the boat that was starting to break in a few spots that had been pulled up by some of the pulleys meant to hold the Jib out to the side of the sailboat. Alyssa brought some laundry to a friend’s home and helped Kirsten organize our front outside locker before helping to clean the wooden trim that was glued and had come off from around the helm seat. Teyauna just kept everyone company with her ongoing chatter.
The day was exhausting but it was rewarding to see all that we had accomplished throughout the day. It was fun to see the kids all busy on their various projects (as frustrating as it may have been to try to get the kids started on them). We couldn’t complain after all. It has been many weeks since we have had to do any major repair projects on our boat, and we needed to be ready to head off on the next stint of our voyage within the next few days. We are sad to say goodbye to French Polynesia but excited for the new adventures that await us in the islands we will see next. We are leaving French Polynesia a bit earlier than expected assuming the wind calms down slightly but we have so much more to see and do so we feel the need to get underway once again.