ready to explore Moorea

Things are going well here, it’s a fine Friday at Tahiti. Today is the Big Shop – putting on board food and drink good for a couple of weeks. The wind has backed off across the area and tomorrow morning I should be hopping over to Opunohu Bay on the northwest edge of Moorea. It’s not very far, about 23 miles from anchorage to anchorage, and it ought to be a pleasant sail over.

Yesterday I went for a long walk up towards Point Venus, and I turned around about half way there after climbing well up a hill – there was a lot more hill to go and it was getting hot walking along under the sun, particularly when walking over black asphalt that reflects the heat back up at you. An interesting walk, the amount of graffiti on the shoulder high walls that line the roadway is amazing – clearly there’s been a fair number of people with spray paint cans and too much time on their hands.

I’ve been under the boat and cleaned the hull (looks good) and the prop (looks good, too), that bit of work is done. Interior is sorted out and stowed, only thing left to do is clean the interior of the ice box and put new things into it. Carrefour has things that will be happy in the fridge. I’ve also been following Jack’s lead in that I’ve been using the ice cubes in water to keep the water in the glass cold (I usually just drink room-temperature liquids), and have found that it’s much nicer to have a cold glass of water than an 80 degree glass of water, particularly when it’s hot.

Cinnabar told me they were heading to Opunohu this morning, the goal is to hook up with them tomorrow afternoon when Beetle arrives. Their visitors, Mike and Linda from the SF Bay Area, are on board and I’ve known Mike for a rather long time, going way back to the Ocean Yacht Racing Association sailing we did – I was sailing my Newport 33 and Mike had his Cal 20. It will be fun to visit with them.

I’m looking forward to getting underway tomorrow, hopefully the winds stay down and it’s a pleasant trip!

– rob

Cinnabar is in town

It’s been a busy social calendar here on Beetle, what with a dinner onboard Alycone while on the hook at Arue (they are right next to me in the anchorage), and a wonderful visit with Tom & Sylvia on their boat Cinnabar in the Papeete City Marina – a 30 minute dinghy ride through the reef and under the bridge from the anchorage.


Cinnabar is a Schumacher 52, the big red boat that goes fast. Tom and Sylvia have sailed from San Francisco, cruised Mexico, and this is their second year in French Polynesia – they are having a great time out on the water! Just to prove it’s not a race boat they do have a bimini that helps to keep the sun off the helmsman that they leave up when sailing.

The prior time I got together with Cinnabar was way back in La Paz in 2014.  They’ve been roughly one year ahead of me in their adventures, which makes it difficult to catch up to them unless they stop for a bit – which they did in French Polynesia.  This is their second season in here, and Beetle finally pulled into Tahiti just about the time they moved from Tahiti over to the island of Moorea.  Dang!  Just missed.

A couple of weeks later they are back in Papeete as they have guests arriving from the States today and then are likely to head back over to Moorea, which is a short hop across the water.  It worked out that yesterday afternoon was a perfect opportunity for me to run the dinghy over to visit with them and we spent two hours hanging out in the cockpit of their Schumacher 52 and catching up on stories and thoughts and generally having a fine time reconnecting.


The folks from Pangea were walking down the dock and stopped to take a picture for us – yes, I was there too. It can be warm, and Tom is modeling the standard cruiser apparel of swim trunks sans shoes.

The hope is that Beetle will meet up with Cinnabar over in Moorea when Kristen arrives next week, and we can do a little exploring and snorkeling and things together while Kristen is here.  Kristen, Sylvia, and friend Synthia have all worked on the Women’s Sailing Seminar put on by Island YC in Alameda, and friend John New is part of the gang that puts together the two-day event.  It will be fun to have part of the gang together at Moorea if we can pull it off.

Down the dock from Cinnabar is a big wide black & gold boat: Assa Abloy, the Volvo 60 that raced around the world in the 2001 Volvo Race (took second in the race, I believe) and we had to go take a look – that is one serious machine.  The only changes we could see to a life of ‘cruising’ are an inflatable dinghy on the expansive foredeck and a small outboard perched on the starboard stern rail.  Otherwise it looked to be the same boat that went blasting around the world.  The boom is massive!

The prior evening Alycone hosted a sundowner with dinner on board their Beneteau 52, with the couple from Ednbal (an Australian Aboriginal word for a particular type of green tree frog, thus explaining the frog on their transom), and Birgite from Pitufa (which is a Smurf if you are from Austria, explaining the Smurfs on their bow).  A nice time was had there and the gathering went on late – which out here means past 9pm.  Alycone is waiting for autopilot parts, and therefore is relaxing in the Arue anchorage as it is significantly more quiet than Marina Taina or the City Marina in Papeete (plus you aren’t paying slip fees while swinging to your own anchor).

Plan for today is to fill up the diesel tanks as I’ve used something like 40 gallons of fuel since departing Nuku Hiva and Papeete is a good place to fill up with duty-free diesel (the gas is not available duty free, but diesel is for yachts in transit provided you have the duty free fuel certificate from French Customs).    The breeze is forecast to build up later in the week, current GFS model is calling for 25 knots out of the SE; if the breeze comes up that much then I’ll probably hang out in Arue and let that wind go through before popping over to Moorea.  We shall see what the wind decides to do.  The folks on the radio net are reporting 20-25 justing 30 out of the SE breeze out in the Tuamotus; it sure is nice to be in Arue hiding behind the island of Tahiti – it’s completely calm here this morning and the canoe paddlers are out and about.

All is well here, enjoy the day!

– rob


Monday morning, thinking of heading to Moorea this week

Good morning, it’s Monday, Beetle continues to hang out and enjoy Arue. Friends Tom & Sylvia aboard Cinnabar popped over to Papeete yesterday, and after several years of bopping around various anchorages in Mexico and French Polynesia Beetle and Cinnabar are finally close enough to go visiting – that will be fun!

General plan for my day is to stop by STH Marine and see if they have a French courtesy flag (mine has decided to unravel at the trailing edge), some 10 gauge wire, and a tube of 3M 5200. These are all fairly typical things to have in a marine chandlery, I hope they do have them. Alycone has invited the local boats (Ednabel, Pitufa, Beetle) to their boat for sundowners tonight, that should be pleasant and I’ll get to meet the folks on Ednabel. I’ve also heard there is a holiday tomorrow and that might make getting fuel from the Coconut shack interesting – fuel might get delayed until Wednesday. They sure do like their holidays here.

The Papeete City marina is where Cinnabar has a slip, and there’s an invite to visit with Tom & Sylvia tomorrow (Tuesday). I do want to get back to Arue before dark as it is a 3-1/2 mile run in the dinghy through the reef and I want to do that while I can see where the reef is. Looks like a busy social calendar in the works.

The docks at the City Marina are floating, which is nice – not all docks are floating as the tidal range is so small. And there are even fingers that allow the boats to side-tie to the finger rather than med-moor – even better!

The superyacht Felix demonstrates med-mooring. At 230′ this is a big boat, they have both bow anchors out and under tension to hold the boat off the stone quay, and a series of stern lines run to bollards ashore to keep them from drifting too far from the quay. The long extending passerelle is the gangway that gets you from the boat to the shore.

I did hear on the radio net that Liz on Swell was on a mooring somewhere in the Societies, that mooring broke and Swell went up on sand (good thing they didn’t go up on a reef). Swell was assisted about 2AM by a couple from another boat and pulled off the sand, so all is well other than the loss of some bottom paint. At least that’s the story that went out over the net.

As a follow up to the catamaran that was lost on the SW reef of Huahine, the folks on the boat blamed the Navionics charts as not having the reef in the correct position, or of having the charts shift the reef around as the charts were zoomed in/out. Several of us out here have inspected our own Navionics cartography and we haven’t been able to duplicate their experience. The reef is charted, it does appear on the charts at the position indicated, and we cannot replicate what they reported. None of us know exactly what hardware they were running the charts on, nor do we know specifically which set(s) of Navionics charts they were using. There are multiple cartography datasets available depending on which hardware is in use. We’re scratching our heads a bit on this one; we’d like to nail down the problem as nobody wants to hit a reef.

Round-abouts are popular in Tahiti and there are very few stop lights. The drivers are amazingly courteous and put Berkeley drivers to shame: if it looks like you might be thinking about crossing the road, the drivers stop and wait for you to cross.

On my end, I went for a walk on shore and wandered from here over to Papeete. It’s about an hour walk (twice the time it takes in the dinghy) and I got to see what’s happening on the shore. All you do is land at the Tahiti YC and walk down the main road and you fetch up at the harbor in Papeete. Lots of large fancy newer buildings with a sprinkling of much older coral block houses in between. Car dealerships, used car dealerships, and a lot of pizza places along the road.


When there is no parking on the street, why not park on the sidewalk? This seems to be a popular thing to do, the drivers are good at squeezing up against the fence and leave no room to walk around the car without going out into the street. Do look to make sure nobody is coming at you at high speed before stepping out.

The concept of ‘sidewalk’ seems to be missing here, in that there are raised sidewalks and they are treated as parking lots by the locals. This means that as a pedestrian you have to step out into traffic to get around the parked cars – not the safest way to get around. There are a lot of high end shops that sell the French Polynesian black pearls, set in a various ways. The pearls are ‘cultured’ using a sphere of some kind (most likely a machined spherical piece of shell) that is placed inside the oyster by a person and the animal then goes into self-protection mode and coats the foreign object with nacre.


My favorite sign from the walk. This fellow must know how to de-termite things.


The roads are good and the sidewalks and gutters are clean. For a really busy downtown area Papeete is kept tidy.


Just outside of the downtown area are lots of apartment buildings, with a lot of laundry out air-drying. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between the beautiful greenery and the drab structures and the ever-present metal corrugated roofing.

The internet just started working , I’ve been able to upload the photos I have from my walk. That was nice.


The amazing Intrepid, a 69 meter yacht *support* boat – it’s not even the main yacht. This boat drives around and carries all the toys that don’t quite fit on the big boat, such as the helicopter. The helicopter can land on the aft pad (which extends well outboard from the boat) and then be lowered into a below-decks hangar for protection from the elements.

And I heard that Condor, the Class 40 in San Francisco, went up on the sandy beach in Drakes Bay – seems like they had difficulty getting the anchor to set and somehow went onto the beach. I read this morning that they were able to get the boat free and as far as they can tell there was no damage to the keel or rudders. Some impressive pictures up on Erik’s pressure drop sailing web site.

So that’s what’s happening at this end.  I’m thinking to head over to Moorea later in the week, perhaps Thursday or Friday.  Cinnabar will be over that way as well, and Opunohu has good snorkeling.  I need to find out about grocery stores over their, put some diesel on Beetle, and go do some more exploring.

Have fun today!

– rob


Friday morning in Arue

The last couple of days I’ve been running laundry through the washing machine at Tahiti Yacht Club, and have been lucky in that each time I’ve been there the machine has been not in use.  You get machine tokens from the yacht club ofice (800 XPF eaches – so washes are $8 USD), someone from the office walks across from the office to the laundry room and unlocks it for you, and you’re in business.  The wash takes 45 minutes and the machine is a full size 10kg top loading machine, which is nice.  And bring your own detergent.

The Tahiti YC has a small closet between the restrooms that houses a hot water heater, washing machine (the one on the right), and the dryer on the left. It is convenient for the visiting boats, but with just one machine you don’t want to get in line to use it!

While the machine is doing the wash it’s a good opportunity to review postings on the club’s bulletin board – lots of people looking for rides on boats in varying directions, mostly headed west towards Samoa and Fiji.

Once done it’s time to put everything back into the bag and stroll across the parking lot to the dinghy landing.  The folks at the club are very nice, and the office folk have enough English to figure out that I wanted to do the laundry and they helped me make that happen.

The dinghy landing is the concrete sea wall at the Coconut shack. They’ve got a series of concrete-filled pipes set into the concrete that sort of form bollards, and then stretched between the bollards is a secured chain – the dinghies can be locked to the chain (and most people here are locking the dinghies).

And then it’s off to Beetle with the laundry, which gets clipped to the lifelines and hung on hangers that are in turn hung from the nylon mainsail cover clips.  With all the laundry out the next thing to watch for are squalls – it’s no fun to have mostly-dry laundry that then gets a new dousing of fresh water rinse.  When there are a lot of squalls about it’s pretty funny watch boats put out and take in the laundry as the rain travels through.

There’s an active fishing club adjacent to the yacht club, and they are going in and out all the time.  The boats are painted in bright colors and are set up with one (sometimes two) gigantic fishing reels on short rods.  I haven’t seen them come back in with anything huge, and I’ve heard that the fishing has put pressure on the game fish to the point that there are very few larger tuna here; if you want a big fish then you go out to the Tuamotus and work the outside of the atolls.


The boats for the fishing club are kept up on trailers with their noses way high in the air and sterns quite low, and I imagine the drain plus are all pulled out so the squalls don’t fill the boats with water. There is also a set of mooring buoys arrayed around the club – the boats that stay in the water overnight tie the bow to the mooring ball and then back down to the sea wall so a crew member can leap ashore with a stern line to tie off. When all is done the stern line is slacked a bit and the boat is pulled away from the sea wall by the mooring ball.

It’s Friday morning now, I’ll be making another short walk over to the Carrefour today, along with last load of laundry at the club.

And a fun thing I was able to do – visit the library on Orcas Island electronically, and check out five books; the convenience of internet access is sometimes amazing.

Enjoy the day!

– rob

Wednesday and sunny in Tahiti

It’s turned out to be a really nice day here, the grey cloud cover drifted off this morning and left behind a nice open clear sky. A relatively strong SE tradewind is due to kick in over the next day or so and I’ve got to say that it was nice to not be the ones out in the atolls discussing where they are going to move to to manage the building waves. Here in Arue it is flat calm as the island of Tahiti blocks the southerly winds.

I went ashore early this morning and talked with the Tahiti YC folks, I can use their washing machine at 800 XPF per load, and the trash cans are at the end of the dinghy storage area and please to use them. I did a quick trip up to Carrefour and have a bit more food and drink on board, and now I’m back out at Beetle. I shall be going back to the club shortly with a bag of laundry and I can knock out some of the washing that needs to be done, and much faster than doing it by hand on deck in the big orange tub.

Yesterday was a good day, wrapped up on board chores – I can go play tourist when I feel like it and not worry that something needs to be done for the boat.

Not much else to report, it’s quite nice to hang out on the hook and simply enjoy the peace and quiet here. I’m sure glad I’m not in the downtown marina as it’s set right along the main drag and there is a lot of traffic on that road – which makes everything there noisy and visually busy.

Enjoy the day!

– rob

Stuffing box all tightened up

Yesterday was a fun day, got the engine cleaned up with a wire brush in the Dremel tool, underside of the transmission is cleared of salt build-up, stuffing box nuts backed up nicely without resorting to all sorts of high forces on the wrenches. After all that I slowly tightened the stuffing box nut in small fractions of a turn, wiped off the area, and left a paper towel underneath the nut. If a drop appeared in the towel then I brought on the nut compression slightly and repeated until the towel remained dry.

The engine box is really a frame with a series of removable panels, and since I got to build the frame I set the openings to (hopefully) provide access to specific parts of the engine – fuel & oil filters, alternator, things that require adjustment or tightening. With the panels removed access to the transmission is reasonable. To get at the stuffing box requires working *under* the transmission, which isn’t so easy. The stuffing box wrenches need some room to turn, to get that room I need to pull out bilge pump hoses – the dark pipes on the right side of the image. Having an LED bulb in the worklight means I have lots of lumens for very few watts (10.5 watts for a 1000 lumens). Took most of the day, but the work is done.

The internet was out in the anchorage yesterday, seems I could connect through to the antenna at the Coconut shack but the shack’s system was disconnected from the island’s network infrastructure. As the shack is closed on Mondays the resolution will hopefully happen some time this morning – and yep, this morning the network connected through.  No new Kindle books for me!  I should be able to download one today.

One fun thing I did was to read through Captain Bligh’s 1788 account the mutiny on the ship Bounty. It was an interesting read as it brings forward the difficulty and uncertainty of knowing the simplest thing: where are you located? These guys paid enormous attention to the longitude timepiece, and were even issued a specific one just for them upon departure. That’s how important a clock was to solving the navigation problem (without a clock it’s not easy to work out which longitude you’re at). His ship was actually anchored for quite a while right where Beetle is, though the beaches he describes are long since covered up with water front houses and docks.

While I was reading the radio came on and it was Pitufa asking if anyone was missing a dinghy as there was one floating past Tiger Beetle and headed on out towards the reef.  I poked my head up and sure enough, there went a decent size inflatable dinghy with no motor, drifting on by.  I shouted over at Fara and yes, it was their dinghy.  I launched mine from the foredeck, got in and motored out to fetch their boat.  They were very happy to have it back!  Turns out they had pulled the boat for a repair, launched the boat afterwards and tied it off not too well and then got involved in other projects and forgot about the dinghy.  Good thing Pitufa has sharp eyes!

For today I’m thinking about playing tourist and going for a walk along the road towards the east; normally I’ve been walking towards Papeete to go to the store, and I wonder what’s in the other direction?

Enjoy the day.

– rob


Monday on the hook in Arue

Good morning – it’s a grey overcast start to the day on the water here at Arue, Tahiti; the winds have shifted to the NW and W, this would be the leading edge of the moderate front passing through today/tonight.

Yesterday was mostly reading and relaxing on board, which was a most pleasant way to enjoy a quiet Sunday.

Did some more work on the hull beneath the floor board, and the boat chore to complete is getting the stuffing box tightened so it stops dripping.

I did notice this morning that the internet service has gone out; I can connect to the shoreside WDG antenna, but the connection from antenna to the network is not working. Nice to have the Iridium connection to keep email access going.

Elsewise nothing much to report.

I hope today is a good day.

– rob