We returned to Papeete on April 12th, with a relatively short list of things to do before Barbara and Ken joined us in Bora Bora. Most of Ron's work was done, so he could help Nancy, which was not something he would necessarily volunteer for, but it definitely speeded things up. Nancy can only manage so many provisions at a time, whereas, with Ron's help, she can do several carts, all in the same day! Fortunately for Ron, his assistance was limited to one day of hauling heavy items, such as beer, wine, and cans of fruits and vegetables. Nancy did the tricky stuff, like croissants, meat, fish, exotic sauces, etc.
Beer, beer, everwhere!
Chocolate and butter croissants, the food of champions
The best tuna we've ever had, caught locally the same day
While Nancy and Ron were plundering the local markets, the Tahiti Crew team swung into action to get Duet ready for guests. The interior was cleaned, and the guest stateroom made up. The exterior was washed and waxed. We fueled up. Gear was tested, most of it even worked. It was time to go.
A creative new way to use Duet's bulbous bow
The trip north to Bora Bora was relatively easy, as the prevailing weather is behind you on that going in that direction. We stopped in Moorea for the first night, to check gear at anchor. After a day of testing the dink (working, thank goodness), the crane (ditto) and generally getting used to being afloat again, we departed Cook's Bay at 3AM bound for eastern Huahine. We had hoped that this would be easier than leaving on an overnight journey in the late afternoon, but we found it just as, if not more, tiring. It's harder, at least for us, to go back to sleep after getting up at 3AM, than it is to go to sleep at a normal hour of 9PM. Live and learn.
Rainbow over Moorea
During this trip Nancy got a great demonstration of the difference in power between our large and small radars. The large radar, on the left in the picture below, is putting out 12 kilowatts directed by a 6 foot wide open array. The small radar has 4 kilowatts directed by a 2 foot wide closed array. The large radar is set at 6 miles and the small one at 3, giving the small one an inherent advantage, which doesn't help it to locate the buoy seen passing two miles to the starboard of Duet's bow, on the big screen.
Bora Bora was right where we left it. We managed to arrive several days before Barbara and Ken, and settled Duet in her usual spot in the western lagoon. Tourist boats swarmed during the day, but the crowds died down in the late afternoon. By dusk, it was just us and a few other cruising boats, plus the occasional visit by the “love boat” which is run by an enterprising local. He brings a couple, plus a bottle of wine, to see the sunset, while he serenades them on a ukulele.
Soon enough, the day of Barbara and Ken's arrival dawned. We actually saw their plane fly over, which was a good thing, as we were still having breakfast and hadn't realized what time it was. We leapt in to the dink and zoomed to meet them, as planned, at the town dock around 9AM. We had a moment of panic just before the ferry arrived, when we realized that we had no way of contacting them, or they us, should something have befallen them. Fortunately there they were, walking down the gangplank just as we had planned.
Ken and Barbara are good friends from our home town. Nancy and Barbara met, some years ago, at our local swimming pool. They now spend every Monday together (when they both are in town) swimming, shopping and generally enjoying themselves. Barbara is blind, and while she does have an excellent (and very handsome) German Shepard guide dog, Rebel, he didn't come on this trip, so she was using her cane instead.
We had figured out a drill for guest arrivals, after some experimentation on Allan and Linda the previous fall. Our dinghy is too small to hold four adults and luggage comfortably, because of it's large center console. So the plan was for Ron and Ken to take the luggage back to Duet, while Barbara and Nancy did a little food shopping in town. This worked out well, Ken got a chance to see Duet and he and Ron got the luggage on board. Nancy and Barbara picked up various items, including a huge paper bag of a leafy green lettuce like item, which we believe was bok choy.
In due time, Ron and Ken returned to the dock, collected Nancy and Barbara and we all set off for Duet. Ken and Barbara had not seen her before, so this was a great chance to show her off. She is much more imposing in person than she is in pictures, and we hope she provided a safe, comfortable platform for them to enjoy their week in paradise.
Duet on approach from the dinghy
Once everyone was aboard, Ken and Barbara spent some time getting Barbara accustomed to Duet's layout. We must admit we were a little worried about whether Barbara, and, by extension, Ken, would be able to enjoy their time on Duet. Moving around a boat is a complex business, there are lots of things to trip over or get tangled in, and a set of steep stairs.
Watching Barbara “pattern” to the boat was an educational experience for us. Within 36 hours she was moving around without hesitation and without her cane. She did occasionally get turned around, but always figured it out and either asked the nearest person for directions or sorted it out on her own. Our anxieties melted away within 24 hours and we all settled down to have a good time.
Barbara and Nancy getting set for water activities
Essentially, we spent our time swimming, paddle boarding, beach walking, talking, resting, and feasting. Boredom was not a problem.
Breakfast on the flybridge
Barbara channeling Katherine Hepburn
Ken enjoying a quiet morning
We spent the first night on the western side of the lagoon, and the next day we moved Duet around Bora Bora to the eastern lagoon. Ken did an outstanding job of describing the scenery to Barbara, while Nancy and Ron managed not to bump Duet into anything. The weather was outstanding, sunny and warm, but cool in the evenings. Once we got to the eastern side, there was very little boat traffic.
So where's the entrance anyway?
Navigating around to the eastern side of the lagoon
Past the tricky bit
Food is always a good idea
Barbara pitching in
We all spent a lot of time in the water. Ken is almost all solid muscle so he sinks like a rock, just like Ron. He started off with a float belt to make sure he came up again, but after some time he ditched the the belt and chugged around on his own. Everyone floated around, some folks actually did some aerobic exercises and swam laps around Duet, and Barbara taught Ron to paddle board. We did get a lot of sun, Barbara is much more careful than Nancy and protects her face with hats, glasses, etc. Nancy is now sort of doing the same, although she isn't a big fan of hats.
Ken and Ron floating around
Barbara, Ken and Ron
Ron having lessons
Ken and Barbara setting off
Barbara doing paddle board yoga
Barbara doing a few water aerobics
Nancy, on a break
Late one afternoon we took a walk on the beach. We anchored the dink in very shallow water, using our anchor buddy, which we haven't used since Alaska. In French Polynesia, people build houses right on the beach, so we were walking through folks' back yards. The sun was setting, children were playing in the water and everyone was very friendly. We saw lots of happy dogs, and one very large sow, who advanced rather enthusiastically in our direction, until brought up short by her leash, which was attached to a tree.
Captain Ron sorting out the anchor
Gassing up the dink
Ken requested an engine room tour. He got the deluxe version.
Too soon, it was time for Ken and Barbara to leave. They were flying back to Papeete to join the Aranui V,
the local supply ship, which also has cabins for cruise passengers, on a two week tour of the Tuamotus and the Marquesas. Barbara was also planning to get a tattoo from Hermann
, who worked on Nancy and Ron. We dropped them off at the ferry, and off they went for their next adventure. They were wonderful guests, Barbara is an excellent fruit and veggie chopper, while Ken is game for anything. We look forward to seeing them again at home later in the summer.
A group picture, taken by Dilbert the drone
Barbara and Ken had a great time aboard the Aranui V. It visits places not on standard cruise ship itineraries, and is a working vessel. So not only did they get to do the usual cruise ship tours, but they also got to participate in the real activities of island life.
The Aranui V itinerary
The Aranui V offloading
Barbara and the ship's chief of the deck
End of a 10 mile cross island hike
Just before Ken and Barbara arrived, the generator had begun to spray oil out it's ventilation slots. This was not a good thing. The amount of oil was increasing and Ron wasn't happy. Much consultation with experts indicated that the most likely cause was the rear oil seal on the “prime mover” was failing.
Generator sets have two parts, the prime mover, which is a standard diesel engine, and the generator, which creates electricity from the energy provided by the prime mover. Changing the oil seal meant removing the generator from the prime mover. This is not an easy task and probably not one Ron could do alone, or with just Nancy's help. The biggest issue was the sheer bulk and weight of the generator end and the limited working room.
Some advisors recommended just letting it leak until we got to Australia, where expert help (Northern Lights certified technicians) was available. Others were in favor of fixing it now, before it failed completely. There is also a theoretical fire risk from oil spray contacting very hot engine parts.
The generator is critical to Duet because it runs our water maker. Without it, we would have to make water by hand. Our hand held water maker can only produce enough water for 4 people's drinking needs per day, so it's obviously not a long term solution. Given this, Ron decided to change the seal, rather than run the risk that the generator would quit sometime in the next 8 weeks while we were moving the boat to Fiji.
Our good friend Gale, on the Nordhavn 57 Worknot, had just changed the rear seals on both his gen sets, and sent Ron a great guide on how to do it. Unfortunately, Northern Lights doesn't provide much technical documentation on this process. They build the prime mover and bolt the generator end on, so there was plenty of info on how to change the seal but not much on how to get the generator end safely out of the way so you can accomplish this task.
The trickiest part of all this was figuring out exactly how to move the generator end out of the way to get at the prime mover. On Gale's boat, he was able to slide the generator end away from the prime mover on a temporary rail he constructed. This was not possible on Duet, because the pan that the gen set sits in has a high lip that obstructs movement of the generator end. We clearly needed to lift the generator end to move it away from the prime mover. It weighs several hundred pounds and can easily be damaged if mishandled, so this effort isn't to be undertaken lightly.
Given the complexity of all this, Ron decided to return to Papeete and work with a local mechanic there, whom we had met and been impressed with. Adrian had done this job on other generators, although not on one as big as ours. Adrian also had a 10 ton chain hoist that was essential for accomplishing the project. We could even get a Northern Lights replacement oil seal from the local parts supplier, which clinched the deal.
So off we went, back to Papeete. This is a journey against the weather, and so requires careful timing. Time, however, was not something we had, as Sean and Celia were arriving in three weeks. It took us a week of dodging various systems to make it back to Moorea. In the meantime, Tehani had been moving heaven and earth to find us a place at the marina, since we required dock power to operate while the generator was in bits. She also coordinated ordering the parts we needed. Adrian promised to be available when we arrived. All we had to do was arrive.
We broke the journey down into short runs, first from Bora Bora to Raitea, then Raitea to the western side of Huahine, then onward to eastern Huahine, and, finally, a long bumpy day to Moorea. Duet did her usual competent job, while Nancy and Ron gritted their teeth and hung on. Most of the trip was uphill, namely into wind and sea, neither of which was cooperating in the slightest, so it was a rather bumpy experience.
Getting into the marina was also a bit of a challenge. Nancy called Philippe, the manager, as we were crossing from Moorea to the pass just south of the marina entrance. The conversation went something like this:
Bonjour Philippe, this is Duet
Did Tehani tell you we were coming?
Do you have anywhere to put us?
Can you find somewhere in 45 minutes?
Will it be a side tie?
No, it will be a med moor, watch for the chase boat and call me on channel 9 when you see it
For those not in the know, a med moor means that we back Duet down onto the dock stern first between two other boats. We have never done this. The space Philippe had was very tight, on one of the smaller docks, for boats of about 45 feet or less. There were lines in the water everywhere, as all the moored boats have bow lines, from both sides, going down to concrete blocks underwater in the fairway. The wind was on our beam, as was the current.
Med moor map
Ron did a masterly job of getting Duet lined up, but he couldn't keep her straight enough to back her stern in the narrow opening planned for her, given the wind and current pushing him sideways. He could possibly have gunned her into the opening, but gunning Duet's 40 plus tons isn't something we do in close quarters, regardless of the situation. The results are much too unpredictable, as she is very difficult to stop quickly, once she gets going.
To make matters worse, the fairway was narrow, with bow lines in the water on both sides, so we had to be sure to keep her bulbous bow out of the ones in front of her and her stern out of the lines behind her. Philippe was on the dock and called to Nancy “use your stern thruster”, Nancy called back “we don't have one”, Philippe yelled “merde” and started shouting in French to the chase boat, which rapidly maneuvered around to Duet's downwind side to give her a timely shove into the opening.
We then got her main prop tangled, twice, in the bow line of the boat downwind while getting her backed into the opening. Fortunately, it wasn't turning at the time, as the chase boat was doing the pushing, so we were able to float her off. Finally, after much shoving, helpful advice in French and general uproar, we got her settled safely. How we were going to get her out again was a problem for another day. We had med moored!
Honestly, if we had been able to refuse the slip we would have. But we needed dock power, we couldn't do this repair on the hook. The downtown marina had space, but there had been some problems with thieving and boardings, so we wanted to avoid it. Also, Adrian was based at our marina, he lives aboard a sailboat on a mooring there. So we moored her, and learned some useful lessons for the next time.
Packing into her spot
Getting on and off meant extending our plank
Just a few lines scattered around
The next morning, Adrian and Ron laid out the strategy. Ron would ready the gen set for work, namely remove the sound shield and all the peripherals that were in the way, like the wiring harness, the exterior control panel, fuel hoses, etc. We would also find, somewhere, a good sized piece of timber to span the opening in the salon floor where Adrian would mount his chain hoist. The chain hoist is critical, as it will lift the generator end out of the way, as it is much too heavy to move by hand. Then Adrian and his helper would come, hopefully just for a day, remove the generator end, change the oil seal, put it all back together and, voila, a working, non leaking generator. That was the plan.
Actually, things went relatively according to plan, which is, as our regular readers know, not the usual outcome of this kind of thing. Ron removed all the extraneous bits and consigned the sound shield to the dumpster, where it was went to a new home with some enterprising boater within minutes. Ron has been on the fence about the sound shield for years, as we have sailed further and further into the tropics.
The temperatures inside it have reached 140-145F, using an IR temp gun on the black inside sound shield material. This is way way too hot and very bad for the gen set. Ron believes that a number of the problems with the gen set, such as the failure of the high pressure pump o-rings, possibly the failure of the fuel lift pump and probably this problem of the rear oil seal, which failed in less than half the time it's supposed to last, are due to excessive heat inside the shield. He's now waiting for the voltage regulator to fail, and we are carrying a spare against that eventuality. So off went the sound shield.
One sound shield on it's way to a new home
Dismantling the wet exhaust
Adrian and his helper, whose name we rudely can't remember, showed up right on time, at 8AM and work commenced. The first part went relatively easily, until it came time to pull the two sections of the gen set apart. Adrian's experience to date had involved literally pulling the generator end off the flywheel housing, after the bell housing bolts were removed. Ron's info from Gale indicated that there was another set of bolts, between the generator rotor and the prime mover flywheel, that needed to be removed first.
At the beginning it looked like this
Setting up the chain hoist
Chain hoist support beam
Setting up the chain hoist
Initial try at pulling on the generator end
So, after a try at pulling the generator end off, a confab was held and a new direction set, namely to remove the flywheel bolts first. These are very tricky to get at and took some creativity on Adrian's part, plus some significant support from his helper, who ended up almost literally holding the generator end up while the final bolts were removed. This was all very hot work, even with all the floor hatches and both the engine room and laz doors open, so everyone made a major effort to stay hydrated and take frequent breaks.
Finally, the units came apart. This was a high stress moment, as the generator end is fragile. It consists of a rotor which spins inside a stator. Normally, the rotor is supported by its attachment to the flywheel on one end, and by a bearing on the other end. Once unbolted from the flywheel, the rotor loses part of its support. If it falls out of position, it damages the stator and you get to buy a whole new generator. Needless to say, Adrian and Ron carefully placed shims between the the rotor and the generator housing to prevent this mishap from occurring.
Two units coming apart
The generator end
Prime mover end
Once the generator end was safely out of the way, changing the seal was a relatively simple matter. Getting the flywheel off took a little doing, but it surrendered eventually, and the old seal was removed. It was in poor shape, a replacement was definitely called for.
Working on the prime mover
Old damaged seal
Reassembly commenced around 2PM, and went slightly more easily than disassembly, although getting the flywheel bolts back in took some doing. The biggest problem is with access to the bolts that hold the rotor to the flywheel. Gale had warned Ron about this and those warnings were well justified. Eventually, the bolts were in and torqued back to spec, allowing everyone to relax. Adrian and his helper went home and Nancy and Ron had a well-deserved drink.
The next day Ron put all the peripherals back on. The big moment came, the generator started up without a blink, and has continued to run. It did need new engine mounts, but that was something we could do further down the road, on the hook.
Generator mostly back together
Amazingly, a new oil leak presented itself some weeks later, but this time from a different source. Ron was initially quite disappointed to once again see oil spraying out of the generator ventilation slots, but our able crewman Sean suggested that the rocker arm cover could be the culprit (he had had a similar problem on his own boat). In fact, he was absolutely correct. The cover gasket was worn out, allowing a thin stream of oil to drip down between the prime mover and the generator. Once inside the generator, the spinning flywheel and rotor sprayed the oil out the ventilation slots, mimicking a worn rear seal. As luck would have it, we were carrying a spare gasket. Since the rocker arm gasket change, the generator has not leaked.
So was the original oil spray problem just the rocker arm cover gasket, not the rear seal? We'll never know for sure. What we do know is the rear seal had hardened and cracked, and if it wasn't leaking, it would be soon. A hardened rear seal can also score the flywheel shaft, but fortunately this had not yet happened. One way or the other, the oil spray problem seems to be solved.
Anyway, back to Papeete. Now that we were ready to go back to Bora Bora, the weather wasn't. We remained at the marina for another 5 days waiting for the wind to settle down, before we pulled out, fueled again, and took off for Bora Bora directly overnight.
During that time we got the chance to spend some real quality time with the crew of the Nordhavn 76, Sirius. We had seen them in Bora Bora, but they had their owners aboard. When owners are aboard we don't intrude, the crew is working. Due to our generator issue, we had to turn down a post owner party invitation, which we much regretted, so it was great to see them again when they arrived in Papeete a few days after we did. They really rolled out the red carpet for us, we ate dinner on Sirius, at the outside dining table, which is usually reserved for owners. Judy is a superb cook, we had some great wines, and a wonderful time was had by all.
Sirius from the stern
Sirius waiting to be shipped from the factory
We also took a shot at fixing some air conditioning problems. Duet has 5 standalone A/C units and two were broken, the one in the guest stateroom and the one in the galley. Both appeared to have the same problem, namely poor coolant water flow. At least that was the diagnosis of the local A/C expert. So we retained his technicians to flush the coolant loops with a weak acidic solution, to clear out any debris. The first unit, the guest stateroom, did just fine and has worked well ever since. Unfortunately, the second unit, the master stateroom didn't go so well.
Nancy was supervising these technicians, as Ron was working on the generator. She went down to see how things were going, and found the master stateroom floor and carpet soaked with the cleaning solution, as the hookups to the flushing system were leaking like sieves. The technicians spoke no English, but they understood Ron's “STOP”, although they didn't seem to get the same message from Nancy when she tried to shut them down prior to fetching Ron.
Regardless, we got them stopped and off the boat. The flushing system was consigned to the master shower and the carpet dragged onto the dock. Ron rinsed it while Nancy mopped the stateroom floor. Fortunately there was no damage to the teak floor, but the carpet turned a rather interesting shade of purple where it was soaked by the acid solution. Extensive rinsing reduced the staining to the point where you can only see it in certain light.
The A/C company was fired, and Nancy and Ron flushed the units themselves while waiting for the weather to improve. The galley unit still refused to work and resisted all attempts by another, much more competent A/C company, in Fiji to fix it, so it may need to be replaced in Australia. In the meantime, the saloon unit does pretty well cooling the space, except in very hot weather.
Nancy flushing salon A/C
Ron servicing the windlass
Cleaning up at the end of a long day
While we were waiting, Barbara and Ken returned, as their cruise docked in Papeete. Nancy met them at the tattoo parlor, where Herman was just putting the finishing touches on a beautiful design for Barbara. He was pleased to see Nancy and asked after Ron, who was, naturally, working on the boat. Nancy stay for an hour or so, until Barbara had made it through the first few minutes of actual tattooing and then she headed off to pick up more croissants. Barbara and Ken flew out that night and arrived home safely the next day, tattoo and all.
Drawing for Barbara's tattoo
Ron evenfound a little time for some personal maintenance. We had bought a new hair clipper, which is very powerful. We found this out when Ron did Nancy's hair, fortunately, her hair is very thick and grows fast.
Finally, Ron gave us the office to start off again. First, though, we needed to fuel. It's easier to fuel in Papeete than Bora Bora, so we decided we would fill the fuel bladder before we left. We made a reservation, as the dock was very busy, this being prime season with many boats arriving from the Americas.
We got out of the slip much more easily than we got into it, the guys in the chase boat removed all the blocking bow lines, so we just slid out, turned and were on our way. Sirius blew her mighty horns in farewell as we passed, deafening all in earshot, including us. We waited our turn on the fuel dock, tied up and began the long process of tanking up. Nancy stands on the dock during fueling, so she can see the total on the fuel meter and let Ron know when he is nearing the top of a tank. During her stay this time, her tattoo caused some comment, including a spirited debate over what one of the symbols actually meant.
The fuel dock only has two diesel hoses. One side had a mega yacht taking on 20,000 liters, which would take all day. We took the other hose to tank about 2,500 liters, but gave it up to the local fishing boats whenever they arrived, as they only needed a few liters. This meant our fueling took longer, but it also made us popular.
About halfway through our fueling, we were accosted by a sailboat hovering off the fuel dock, whose captain kept shouting “when will you be done?”, or, once, “why didn't you get a sailboat”. After a few minutes of this, which Ron ignored completely and Nancy tried to ignore mostly, one of our fishing friends, a substantial French Polynesian gentleman, shouted “this is French Polynesia, lighten up”, which effectively silenced the sailboat. The fuel dock is very busy at this time of the year, and reservations are required, which our sailboater obviously didn't know.
Eventually, we finished fueling, thereby cheering up the sailboat. We said goodbye to our friends on the fuel dock, which included one of the guys who had cleaned Duet's bottom for the last year, and set off, again, nonstop for Bora Bora. This trip was long, but uneventful, with calm weather. We arrived about 24 hours later, and got set for Sean and Celia's arrival.
Nancy, planning meals
We followed the same pick up drill with Sean and Celia that we did with Barbara and Ken. They did, however, have a lot less baggage, since Celia was only staying 5 days, whereas Barbara and Ken needed gear for over 3 weeks, including their cruise. Celia actually made it with one small carry on bag. We were most impressed. Sean, on the other hand, was not only carrying enough stuff for 3 weeks aboard, but also several parts for Ron, so he had a large duffle.
We did manage to fit everyone into the tender on the first try. We had a similar first day, some swimming, a nap, early dinner and early to sleep for everyone to recover from the trip. It was great to see Sean again and wonderful to get to know Celia better.
Sean, happy to be back on Duet andeven happier to have Celia aboard too
We also followed the same itinerary. We moved Duet to the western side of Bora Bora for a few days, and spent our time snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding, napping, talking, and eating. Celia even volunteered to clean Duet's boot stripe, since Nancy tweaked her neck doing something somewhere along the line, so things were looking a bit neglected. This was the first time that Sean and Celia had been away together without the children since their daughter, who is 8, was born, so we also tried to give them some time alone.
Sean and Celia making breakfast
Nancy and Ron, ready for breakfast
Dilbert flying lessons
Duet on the eastern side of Bora Bora
Far too soon, the time arrived for Celia to fly home. Sean took her to the ferry dock, she made all her connections and the family was very pleased to see her. Duet, on the other hand, was sorry to see her go. She was a great guest, she cooked, cleaned, told funny stories, and, even better, listened attentively to other people's (read Nancy's) funny stories. We missed her immediately.
Another group photo, courtesy of Dilbert
Soon after Celia's departure, Duet set off westward for somewhere. This journey will be detailed in the next blog.
Cruise ship departing Bora Bora for somewhere