Guests in French Polynesia


As our regular readers know, Duet doesn’t have guests. Or at least we didn’t before Sean joined us on our Pacific crossing. After he left, we thought carefully about whether we wanted to have other guests on board. There are advantages, for example, guests mean there is someone else for Nancy to talk to, which gives Ron a break. Friends get to experience what our lifestyle aboard Duet is really like, rather than just viewing the pictures. They see areas of the world that they might not otherwise visit. In Sean’s case, we were able to do a crossing that we couldn’t have done without him to share the watch schedule.


There are also disadvantages. Duet is a big boat, but she’s not that big. So everyone has to make allowances for one another and learn to live together in a small, sometimes uncomfortable space. Guests also mean schedules, which we truly hate. But, all in all, after our success with Sean, we concluded that we ought to give this guest thing a try.


Our first set of guinea pigs were old friends, we’ve known Allan Field and Linda Field since the early 90s, when Ron and Allan worked together. They are sailors and had just moved up to a bigger boat on their home cruising ground of the Chesapeake Bay. We wanted to show them our new cruising life, as we had cruised together on our respective boats in the Chesapeake before we departed on our travels. They had dreamed about visiting the South Pacific. Most importantly, they actually wanted to visit us.


So, after much phoning, emailing, and Skyping, Allan and Linda landed in Papeete in early September. Wisely, they spent their first night ashore in a hotel, before joining us the next morning. Nancy went to fetch them by herself, as our tiny rental car definitely wasn’t man enough to transport Allan, Linda, Ron and all their luggage. They arrived around lunch time, we did the Duet tour and they settled in. A beautiful sunset over Moorea, seen from Duet’s berth at Marina Taina, was enjoyed by all, as was pizza and Hinano beer at the local dining establishment. 


Many of the photos in this blog were taken by Allan and Linda. We much appreciate their permission to share them with our readers.


Allan and Linda at Marina Taina


Sunset over Moorea


The first couple of days were spent provisioning and getting Duet ready to go. Linda, who speaks French, was very helpful to Nancy during the process of loading enough food for 4 people for 3 weeks. We bought all the usual stuff, beer, lamb, chicken, bread, etc. and took a few flyers on some unidentifiable but extremely smelly cheeses. The amount of food we purchased was an eye opener for Linda, who is used to the more convenient cruising ground of the Chesapeake Bay, where quality provisions are available at every port. Nancy must say, however, that the provisioning in the Society Islands is some of the best she has seen in a remote place. Given this, perhaps we didn’t need to load everything before we left Papeete, but doing so did mean we didn’t have to stop along the way unless we wanted to.


We also enjoyed catching up with Jerome and Karen on the Nordhavn 60, Daybreak, with whom we crossed the Pacific earlier in the year. They had guests aboard too, so there was a large and convivial gathering aboard Daybreak almost every evening. The Nordhavn 46, Starlet, with her crew Mark and Jennifer, and Jennifer’s sister Liz, was in port, as were the Nordhavn 78 Reliance (which recently completely a circumnavigation and has visited Antartica), the Nordhavn 76 Sirius (which is spending the summer in Papeete, like Duet) and the Nordhavn 56 Adworld. All these Nordhavns were at Marina Taina at the same time for several days. If we had known this was going to occur we could have had a rendezvous, but, as it was, we all said hello, traded destinations and admired each other’s boats.


Ron and Karen catching up aboard Daybreak



Daybreak was even able to help Adworld get her autopilot straightened out. The motor sailer was on her way from Mexico to her new home in New Zealand, and had been having some electronics problems. Fortunately, a friend of Jerome’s, with considerable Simrad experience, happened to be aboard Daybreak and he was able to help them get going again, twice.


After about 4 days of provisioning, boat projects (including cleaning 600 feet of moldy sea anchor line, for which we will be forever grateful to Allan ) we fueled the boat. One of the advantages of having friends aboard, especially those with their own boat, is that they can help. Allan walked around to the fuel dock to help Duet land there safely and Linda made sure everyone stayed hydrated during our slow process of filling up. This exercise was a bit of shock for Allan and Linda, as Duet took on nearly 1,000 gallons of diesel, which would probably fuel their sailboat for her lifetime.


Allan waiting on the fuel dock


The next day we set off for Moorea. Allan and Linda enjoyed the view from the fly bridge, while Nancy and Ron did their usual piloting thing to get Duet safely out of Tahiti and over to Moorea. Unfortunately, no whales were sighted. 


Obstacles in the exit


Allan and Linda enjoying the view of Moorea from the flybridge



Nancy and Ron doing their piloting job



Daybreak and Starlet joined us in Cooks Bay and we spent several days waiting for a weather window to Huahine and enjoying the surroundings.


Nordhavn 46 Starlet in Cooks Bay




Company in the anchorage


Locals pirogue racing. This is a very important sport in French Polynesia, there are sponsored factory teams and we saw people practicing and/or racing everywhere.

As is classic with boating, when the weather window came, Duet wasn’t ready. She was ready, but her generator wasn’t, the raw water pump was leaking. We had planned a late afternoon departure on a short overnight, to arrive at the entrance to western Huahine around 7AM. Ron spent most of the day replacing the pump. The generator is critical on the hook, it makes water, does laundry, charges the batteries and runs the air conditioning, so having it down wasn’t an option.


Once we were ready to go, Ron was exhausted. He’d spent a lot of time in a hot engine room getting the old pump off (not as easy as it sounds), putting the one on and putting the generator back together. So Duet declared a mulligan and decided to leave the next day. The weather was still good and leaving on a short overnight run where Nancy and Ron would get little sleep with Ron already tired didn’t make sense.


Daybreak and Starlet remained as well, to keep us company. Karen and her guests whipped up fantastic leg of lamb, everyone brought side dishes and a great impromptu cruising evening was enjoyed by all.


Nancy on Daybreak


Another evening in Daybreak’s convivial cockpit


All three boats pulled out the following evening and enjoyed a relatively uneventful trip to Huahine. Starlet left the fleet to visit the eastern side of Huahine, but caught up with us a day or two later. Daybreak and Duet arrived together at the western side of the island, negotiated the pass and anchored together about 5 miles south of the primary town, in a sheltered bay with a great muddy bottom.


Allan and Linda seemed to handle the overnight OK, Linda slept most of it, while Allan kept Ron company on his watch. The motion of a trawler is quite different from a sailboat, especially in the Pacific, which has more motion to begin with than the Chesapeake, so both of them took seasickness meds.


Ron getting us ready to go


Linda conserving her energy on the trip


We spent several days at Eastern Huahine, with a day in town for shopping and lunch out, and a day for snorkeling on the reef. We saw some good sized rays, none of which wanted to have anything to do with us while we were snorkeling. We were able to sneak up on them in the dinghy, however, by drifting in their general direction while they weren’t looking. Daybreak served as the host boat most evenings and we all enjoyed the cruising life.


Huahine is show below, the entrance pass is on the upper left and our anchorage is about 2/3 of the way down the island on the west side, the picture is oriented north up


Nordhavn 60 Dayreak


Local fishing


Lunch in Faha’a, Huahine

The fleet then set off for Bora Bora. Unfortunately, Daybreak had a hydraulic failure just before exiting the Huahine pass, so we all returned to the anchorage to ensure we were available if they needed assistance. Daybreak’s able crew fixed the problem on their own, we went snorkeling and then we all set off again the next morning, destination Bora Bora.


It was an easy trip. Daybreak caught a 200 pound blue marlin right beyond the Huahine reef, so we knew what we were having for dinner. We all anchored on the western side of the Bora Bora lagoon. The next day Daybreak moved to the marina, as she was preparing to depart for Tonga and needed easy access to land to get her exit paperwork in order.


Bora Bora is shown below. The fleet was anchored to the west of the motu of To’opua, the picture is oriented north up



Sad sight in the anchorage


Another evening on Daybreak

The ladies of the group, except Nancy who must have taken the picture


Sunset over the reef in Bora Bora


We were expecting to spend more time with Daybreak during their stay in Bora Bora. The weather, however, had other plans. OMNI Bob, from Ocean Marine Navigation, whom both we and Daybreak use for weather routing, announced a window for Tonga two days after our arrival. So the farewell dinner was moved forward, and we journeyed, in the pouring rain, across the harbor to join Daybreak and Starlet’s crew for a wonderful evening. Our return journey, while not so wet, was made more interesting by a burnt out light on a reef marker. Ron had careful marked the track on our handheld GPS, but we still strayed into pretty shallow water while crossing over the reef into the anchorage. Fortunately, all was well, and we made it safely back to Duet.


Farewell dinner


Local artist painting during dinner


Daybreak departed around noon the following day and had an uneventful, if a bit bumpy in parts, journey to Tonga. They spoke highly of it and it’s on our list to visit this year on our way to Australia. Daybreak later continued to New Zealand, where she will be spending a year cruising those beautiful environs.


Duet’s crew, in the meantime, took a day long land tour of Bora Bora. This is another advantage to having guests aboard, they push you to do things you normally wouldn’t do. We’ve never taken a land tour anywhere in the past, but, given how much we enjoyed this trip, we will do so again in the future.


Tour transport


One of the US Army gun emplacements, our guide gave a great impression of how it worked


Learning to tie a pareo. The American in the picture, with her husband, joined us on the tour. They are from Reno and she works in medicine. She and Ron knew many people in common. We never cease to be amazed by how small a world it really is.


Duet’s crew



Soon enough the weather intervened in our journey as well. We needed to make sure that Allan and Linda were back in Papeete in time to catch their flight home, so we departed Bora Bora a few days after Daybreak, bound for eastern Huahine to position for a long day run back to Moorea. Starlet remained in Bora Bora, so our little group broke up. This is a common occurrence while cruising, groups coalesce and split apart on a regular basis, driven by weather, destinations and other factors beyond our control. But we do have a great time while we are together and we often see each other again, somewhere down the road.


Eastern Huahine was beautiful. Ron and I are looking forward to returning after Allan and Linda go home. Unfortunately, this time we had to push on immediately, as the weather was beginning to deteriorate. We made Moorea on a long but calm 13 hour day and spent some time there before returning to Papeete.


The cliffs of Moorea




More racing


Ron trying out the new paddle board


Allan getting ready to return to Papeete


Allan and Linda saying goodbye to Moorea

Once we returned to Papeete Allan was pressed into service yet again to help Ron unload our crate of supplies, which had arrived in our absence. It made it through customs untouched, thanks to Tehani of Tahiti Crew, and everything was intact.


Before Allan and Linda left we jumped in our rental car and toured Tahiti. Tahiti is actually two islands, a large one and a small one, connected by a bridge. We traveled to the ends of the earth, literally the end of the road on both the eastern and western side of the smaller southern island, Tahiti Iti. We found some beautiful beaches, and many whales. We also saw a temple, which was very well maintained, in the middle of a neighborhood.


Tahiti Iti, with the ends of the road marked on the south western and north eastern sides, the picture is north up.




Map of the temple


The main alter

Description of tiki gods

Linda and a tiki god

More temple

Ron and Nancy on black sand beach at south eastern end of Tahiti Iti

Local fish market

Allan and Linda on black sand beach

Beach before we descended on it

Mother and baby whale just outside the reef


Soon enough the time came to transport Allan and Linda to the airport for the overnight flight home. This time we managed to fit everyone, and the luggage, in the car, although it was a tight squeeze. We were sorry to see them go, but we now had a good understanding, thanks to their volunteering as guinea pigs, of how to handle guests aboard the boat.


Duet cast off her lines several days later and returned north to eastern Raiatea, via Moorea. An easy trip, initially, but it got rather bumpy as we rounded the bottom of the island and headed north for the entrance pass. Naturally, Nancy was asleep when this occurred, having gone off watch at around 5AM, leaving Ron with calm conditions. She was awoken by the usual thumping, bashing and general rolling around that indicates a good size quartering sea, and that’s indeed what it was. Seas tend to build up around the “ends” of the islands where they meet the surrounding reefs, and this was accentuated by a series of squalls moving through the area.


The larger seas gradually abated as we moved north, and Ron slowed Duet down so she didn’t surf down them, but allowed them to pass gracefully underneath her. After several hours of this, during which Nancy lay on the pilothouse sofa and talked about how calm the conditions had been when she turned the boat over to Ron, we arrived at the pass.


Raiatea and Taha’a are shown below in a satellite image, north up. Passes in the Societies are well marked. This one is the primary eastern pass for both Raiatea and Taha’a, which share a lagoon, so the supply ships use it.

Video of our entry is available here. The pass where Duet entered on the eastern side is circled, as is our south eastern anchorage at the temple. 


We entered with little difficulty despite the rather boisterous conditions, and worked our way south to an anchorage off the most sacred temple in all of French Polynesia, Taputapuatea. Raiatea is considered the “center” of French Polynesia, as it is here that the nomadic sailors from the west first settled. The following description is courtesy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this temple is a UNESCO site.


Taputapuatea on Ra’iatea Island is at the centre of the ‘Polynesian Triangle’, a vast portion of the Pacific Ocean, dotted with islands, and the last part of the globe to be settled by humans. The property includes two forested valleys, a portion of lagoon and coral reef and a strip of open ocean. At the heart of the property is the Taputapuatea marae complex, a political, ceremonial and funerary centre. It is characterized by several marae, with different functions. Widespread in Polynesia, the marae were places where the world of the living intersected the world of the ancestors and the gods. Taputapuatea is an exceptional testimony to 1,000 years of ma’ohi civilization.


We recovered from our journey for the day and set off the next morning to explore the temple. We spent about half a day there, walking around and looking at various parts of the ruins. We also met a nice couple on a small yellow sail boat, who had arrived via the “wrong way”, namely run northeast from New Zealand into Gambiers and thence to the Society Islands. It sounded like a long bumpy trip. They were bound for Hawaii, also potentially a bit of a bumpy trip, but they had a sound boat and the right attitude, which makes all the difference.


Starlet joined us several days later and we had a nice catch up over a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated almost immediately so we all sought better shelter elsewhere. Starlet went around the southern toe of Raiatea to the western side, while we went around the top, to Taha’a in the northern end of the lagoon. Getting out of the anchorage tested Nancy’s boat handling skills, as we raised the hook in 25-30 knots of wind, considerable chop and heavy rain. The anchorage is quite deep, nearly 100 feet, so we had a lot of chain down, which slows the process even more.


One of the few problems with the N50 is that the chain locker is shallow, so, when we have a lot of chain out, Ron has to stop raising it every 100 feet or so and come inside to knock over the pile of chain that builds up. Otherwise the chain will “hockle” or jam in the chain pipe. This means that Nancy has to keep Duet in approximately the same place, without much help from the anchor, as it now has less chain to help it stay put, while Ron sorts the chain out.


Keeping the boat from hitting something or running over the anchor chain is not a simple task with high wind, chop, limited visibility and no room to maneuver when the anchorage is small, as this one was. Of course Nancy was better off inside driving than Ron was outside in the storm, he was soaked through and quite cold by the time we were done. Duet handled it all in her usual calm predictable manner, and Nancy’s confidence was considerably boosted by the experience.


In the chart below, Duet is shown in the red circle, the wind and wave came from the direction of the black arrow


We then spent several days anchored on the western side of Taha’a enjoying the hospitality of the Hotel Taha’a, which is friendly to boaters. The Hotel is located on it’s own private “motu” which is a sandy island reachable only by boat. We were given the run of the property and much enjoyed snorkeling the channel that runs north of the hotel. While the channel is quite shallow, so you have to make sure your tummy is tucked up or risk a coral cut, the current runs from one end to the other, so you can just float along, watching the large variety of fish and fauna.


We also ate lunch at the hotel, but had no real idea how much it cost until we got home and got the credit card bill. We had signed the bill without seeing the amount, as it was on a house charge since we weren’t hotel guests. This was a good thing, as lunch for two with two beers and two nice glasses of chablis, was $140USD. Worth every penny though, we had a great time and would return.


On the satellite image below, Hotel Taha’a is circled in the north western corner, the picture is north up.



Hotel Taha’a is shown below. Photo courtesy of Hotel Taha’a



Once the weather moderated, we returned to Bora Bora. Nothing much had changed, even Starlet was still there. We had a nice dinner with Mark and Jennifer at the marina where we had said bon voyage to Daybreak, what seemed like so long ago. Time on the boat seems to pass more slowly for us than time on land, we live in the moment much more when aboard than when ashore.


Evening in the lagoon at Bora Bora

Jennifer and Mark provided some great info on how to reach the eastern side of the lagoon, which is a bit tricky as it involves a narrow passage that was blasted through the rather complex reef structure. This passage was built for boats taking guests to the extremely expensive hotels on the motus at the edge of the reef. The key is to have the right light, as charts aren’t that useful in spaces this small. It does also help to clearly understand how the Cardinal system reef markers work, they are not complex but when you encounter one you don’t want to have to look it up in the guide.


Cardinal beacon guide courtesy of The Moorings



We decided to navigate Duet from the flybridge, as the visibility is much better up there. We do not, however, have much navigation equipment at that station. We do have depth, which is key, and we brought up Nancy’s iPad running iNavX and Navionics charts to give us some general guidelines on what to expect. Better still, we followed a sailboat through the most confusing part. Their draft was also 6 feet, so if they could go there so could we.


Chart of Bora Bora, oriented north up with the tricky bits marked. Duet traveled from the western to the eastern side, inside the reef. Her eventual anchoring spot is on the lower right.



Satellite image of Bora Bora, north up


Close up satellite image of the narrowest pass, north up. The vessels shown are probably less than 20 feet long, they transport visitors to and from the hotels to the east


The trip was uneventful, which is always good as it means that the time spent planning has been worth it. The anchorage was spectacular and we remained there for several days. We even picked our way, in the dinghy, around the southern end of Bora Bora, which shallows to less than 3 feet in spots. Given the vast amounts of sand and sun in that area, it is highly popular with the rays, who hang out everywhere. Nancy became quite good at telling the difference between a ray and a coral head from the moving dinghy, which was a useful skill, as the rays will get out of the way, while the coral heads are not quite so cooperative.


Duet in the eastern lagoon of Bora Bora, photo taken with Ron’s new drone, Dilbert.


Looking south east


Looking North West at the island of Bora Bora



Eventually we returned to Papeete, to give Ron time to complete at least some of his projects. The weather was starting to deteriorate into a lot of rain and squalls, as we were entering the Southern Hemisphere Summer, so it was time to go.

Perhaps the largest project was replacing the old starter with the spare, which we actually did in the marina before Allan and Linda arrived. After much study, Ron had determined that this wasn’t as difficult as it originally looked, namely he didn’t have to remove the heat exchangers and various other bits and pieces on the side of the engine. He did purchase a new tool, a metric 12 point socket, to remove the fasteners that hold the starter on the engine. He also needed to mount the socket on a wobble socket extension, to reach one of the fasteners. The wobbler was key, without it he would still be there trying to get the starter off.


Wobbler socket extension



The new starter needed to be painted before installation. There was also a rather tense moment when it became apparent that the mounting flange on the new starter wouldn’t fit the way it was aligned. Fortunately the mounting flange is rotatable, so Ron, with some help from Nancy, got it aligned correctly and all was well.


New starter going for a ride, we painted it in the parking lot of the marina



Looking at the alignment of the mounting flange, part of which is seen on the part of the motor facing away from camera.

The new starter then did it’s job perfectly, namely it started the main engine, and another project was checked off the endless list. Starters are unsung heroes, they deliver considerable energy to the main engine over and over and over again, until they don’t. When that happens, the jig is up, until they are fixed or replaced. We hauled the old starter off to Dieseltec to be rebuilt. They didn’t have the right parts, so Ron will get them while we are home over the winter and it can be done when we return in February.


Nancy at Dieseltec


While we were working on Duet, a boat just down the way sank. This is a little disconcerting to say the least. We didn’t realize what had happened for a day, although we did notice a lot of diesel in the water. The vessel was raised and later hauled away. At this time there had been an awful lot of rain, and the local scuttlebutt was that her bilge pump had given out.



Ron also continued his work on the Naiad stabilizers. He replaced the vent valve and the pressure relief valve before we left again in October, after we dropped off Allan and Linda. The latter required rotating the oil reservoir/cooler, which weighs over 100 pounds, or nearly as much as Ron. Sorting this out required the usual brains over brawn approach. Also, as usual, Nancy pulled on the block and tackle while Ron did the tricky stuff.


Chris Fonteneau, of Fonteneau Yacht Services in San Diego, sent along detailed instructions on how to change the valves, reproduced below



Suspending the oil reservoir/cooler

Dinghy tie downs pressed in to service to hold unit

Turning the unit once we got it up in the air

Getting the valve out



Changing the o ring 


Neither of the valve replacements have completely solved the Naiad’s pressure drop problem, but it has definitely improved. The drops are less dramatic and less frequent, even at low RPM in big seas. So, when we returned in November, Ron tested the rams for internal oil leakage which could create pressure drop. We had brought a manual hydraulic ram pump to Papeete on the plane, in checked baggage. Each ram has two hydraulic ports, one for each direction of ram movement. The ram position was mechanically locked and each port was pressurized in turn. Measurements were conducted for 5 minutes to see if the pressure fell. Both rams tested normally.


Spare ram


Setting up the pump


Pump pressurized


Hose hookup

Nancy inspecting the situation


This left us with the pump as the possible culprit. Testing it is a much bigger deal, it requires a hydraulic shop. Given the language barrier for us in French Polynesia, and the fact that the pump is nearly new, so the chances of it being the culprit are less, Ron decided to hold off on this step, at least until he could talk to Chris again when we got home.


After another strategic discussion with Chris about what level of transient pressure drop is acceptable in a system like ours, Ron has decided to declare the Naiads fixed, or at least fixed enough to stabilize us safely to Australia. We do not plan any long low RPM runs, although never say never. Even if we do that again, the system is not alarming or showing signs of stress, now we are using the Kevlar belt on the overhung load adapter and the valves have been replaced.


Part of this decision was driven by the fact that, if we were to go down the road of testing the pump, Ron would probably just upsize it to a 7GPH from a 5GPH. That would require a double belt system to drive it, which, while doable, means the pulley on the main engine would need to be reconfigured. Again, doable, but not in French Polynesia, unless we absolutely have to. Since we don’t have to, we aren’t going to, Ron’s got plenty of other things to do before we leave.


The plus in all of this work is that Ron now really understands how the Naiads work and what their operating parameters are. Our current conclusion is that our 252 system, with the biggest fins the system can handle, namely 7.5 foot square, is pushing the edge of the envelope of the 5GPH pump at low RPM in big sea conditions, even though the 5GPH pump is, according to Naiad’s specs, the right sized pump. It isn’t pushing it hard enough to cause it to fail, but it is producing the transient pressure drops.


Ron also continued work on the never ending electrical system upgrade. On this trip, he installed the second stand alone charger, and installed the switching and wiring so the salt water A/C pump can run off either 120 60hz or 230V 50hz. This means that we can now run the master stateroom A/C at night without having to use the generator, which is a major blow for freedom. The rest of the system will be completed when we come back for a month of boat work in February.




Switch box




This trip also revealed a possible weakness in our preparation routines for leaving the boat. In the past, we have added SaltAway to the sea strainers and pumped the salt water/ Salt Away mixture through all the salt water systems, namely the main engine and generator raw water cooling systems, the air conditioning salt water cooling system, etc.


During this trip the seals on the raw water cooling pump for the generator failed as did the low pressure raw water pump for the water maker. We had a spare generator raw water pump, so Ron installed it. We did not have a spare low pressure water maker pump, but we did have a spare seal kit, so Ron removed the old seals, cleaned up the shaft with emery cloth, and installed the new seals. The usual cause of seal failure is corrosion from salt water, which shouldn’t have happened if the Salt Away did it’s job.


The generator’s exhaust elbow also developed a pinhole leak, so it was replaced with the spare. Our generator works very hard, and Ron likes to keep it in tip top shape all the time.


New generator stainless steel raw water exhaust elbow


After some thought, Ron concluded that the seawater in French Polynesia is so hot that the Salt Away is overwhelmed. This trend was borne out in the main engine pencil zincs, which have required changing more frequently than when we were in higher latitudes. Ron did extensive testing of the bonding system and all is well, so it is probably the water temperature.


Duet’s main engine is even running a bit warm at wide open throttle, which it has not done before. The raw water cooling system appears in good condition, so we figure it is because we are operating in hotter water than the system is designed for. Ron will tear down the cooling system when we reach Australia and have the heat exchangers cleaned, just to be sure. In the meantime, we run at slightly less than wide open RPM on our daily wide open exercises to avoid stressing the engine. 


New engine zinc versus old engine zinc


When we left the boat this time, Ron flushed all salt water pumps with fresh water, and then opened up and drained the impeller housings, leaving them open to dry. We are hoping that this approach will provide better protection. We’ll see when we start off again in mid April.

For our technical readers, Duet’s Lugger 6108 engine requires a water flow of approximately 18-20 gallons per minute to flush it while it’s idling at about 750RPM. This is equivalent to one standard garden hose, with the water saver installed by the marina on the dock end removed. We did try two hoses, but that wasn’t a big success, although it did wash the engine room and Ron pretty well when one of the hoses burst. Nancy could, fortunately, hear his screams to turn the hose off, so the flood didn’t last very long.


Our primary bilge pump also failed on this trip. Naturally, this happened during cocktail hour, but at least we were tied to the dock, not in the middle of the ocean somewhere. The high water alarm did it’s job and went off with an almighty noise. It kept going off as Ron worked to figure out what was wrong. Fortunately, this didn’t take long and the replacement pump fit exactly. Replacements usually don’t go this easily, dinner was only an hour late.


Changing out the bilge pump


Ron started the usual parts list, including some a new stator for the big dinghy engine mount, as it’s was looking a bit long in the tooth.


On the personal front, we took up scuba diving again on this visit. We had given it up some years ago, after diving in the Caribbean for several years. The diving in the South Pacific is some of the best in the world, so it seemed a pity not to give it a try. We took a refresher course at home and then did a check out dive with the local dive shop, Fluid. We were lucky to draw Baptiste as our instructor for our check out dive. He did a super job getting Nancy through the mask removal test jitters, which are a real problem for her. The key is to close your eyes, who knew.


Once we passed the basics again, Baptiste showed us around the underwater world of Tahiti. We visited sleeping turtles and sharks, both of which nap during the day. Turtles tend to stick their heads behind rocks, operating on the theory that if they can’t see you, you can’t see them. They still need to breath, but they can slow their breathing rate way down to catch some zzzs. Sharks sleep floating about a foot above the sandy bottom, and, yes, their eyes are closed.


We then did the well known White Valley shark dive, just outside the reef, off the airport. It’s a drift dive and we had a tough day for it, with strong wind and swell. The first trick was to roll backwards off the boat as the captain tried to hold it in one place. Once Nancy got that figured out, after a false start, we all met at about 50 feet and began to drift, courtesy of the current, through the White Valley. This dive is known for it’s shark sightings and it didn’t disappoint. Baptiste felt that there weren’t that many sharks, but the several dozen we saw were plenty for us.


We slowly descended to about 80 feet, all the while watching the parade of white tips, black tips, lemon sharks (which, while large, are particularly scared of the air bubbles from our regulators so we were all breathing as slowly as possible), and other members of the species. They were indifferent to us, even if we weren’t indifferent to them. We didn’t see the apex predator, the tiger shark, which is apparently quite common in White Valley, but we plan to go back on our February visit so we live in hope.


Finally, on the paperwork front, we received our Carte de Sejours, which are our 12 month long term visas, or temporary residence permits, for French Polynesia. These greatly simplify our scheduling, as normally one can only spend 90 days in French Polynesia and then must be gone for 90 days. With a Carte de Sejour you may stay up to 12 months and come and go as you wish. The application process is long, but not complex. We did have to make a visit to the French Consulate in San Francisco when we were home over the summer, and submit all our paperwork in French.


Essentially, they want to make sure you are self supporting, do not work while you are there, have health insurance which will cover you if you get sick, are a citizen in good standing in your own country (which in our case required a letter from our local Sheriff) and have a good reason for wanting to remain. We managed to pass all those criteria and, with a lot of help from Tahiti Crew, are now the proud owners of our own Carte de Sejours. This was a good thing, as on our last trip we were in country for 96 days. The astute immigration official picked this up during our departure check out and, without the requisite paperwork, we would have been deported, imprisoned or at least given a stern talking to.


The paperwork requirements for the kind of cruising we do are considerable. Nancy spends a lot of time dealing with the various authorities in every country we visit. To make matters more complex, we and Duet are considered completely different entities. Duet, for example, has a 3 year permit for French Polynesia, while we can only stay a year without renewal. Funnily enough, most countries seem happy to have the boat visit, but the people less so. The boat is a positive contributor to the economy, money is spent on local services wherever she goes. Perhaps the people are not viewed the same way. Regardless, we make a point of always being in compliance with every requirement to the best of our ability.


Prior to our departure we deployed our new ProStock fenders. These fenders are huge, but fortunately they are inflatable, so they are pretty easy to handle. We also took marina management at its word when it said we could move some cleats around, we even removed some from a nearby dock and redeployed them to hold Duet. We figured they weren’t doing anything over there and we could really use them. While we aren’t happy about leaving her in the cyclone zone, although Tahiti is on the edge and usually only gets brushed, we were determined to do our best to protect her from the elements. 


New fender


Rigging additional lines for the marina, just in case they need to pull Duet off the dock and secure her to underwater concrete blocks in the fairway on her port side.



Duet all set to go, except her rear awning hasn’t been removed yet. It does a great job keeping the heat out, so we leave it up until the last possible minute.

Soon enough it was time to go home, we closed Duet up and left her in the competent hands of the Tahiti Crew team and flew home to Tahoe, where it was cold and snowy. We wish our readers a happy new year and will write again after our next visit in February.


















































































































3 thoughts on “Guests in French Polynesia”

  1. SUBJECT: Re: Guests in French Polynesia

    Thank you so much, Nancy, for this DUET journal. I read almost all of it
    and enjoyed the photos very much. We are in awe of your knowledge, strength
    and capabilities. Extraordinary!


    On Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 3:26 PM, ( <
    blogcomments-O6PVK@[…]> wrote:


  2. Thank you for sharing your travels and stories. I look forward to each new post. I enjoy the mix of great photos, bits on the practicalities of cruising and boat work, and storytelling. Please keep it up and safe travels!

  3. SUBJECT: Re: Guests in French Polynesia

    Great report sounded wonderful by our favorite scribe
    Pictures are great and your friends just as nice as their hosts
    Sounds as though it is a most enjoyable voyage
    The scenery is not quite The Chesapeake but pretty good
    Mark Deb and Bravo

    On Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 6:26 PM ( <
    blogcomments-O6PVK@[…]> wrote:


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