Friday, April 19, 2013

Sewing with Mark and Vicki

We've decided to rename the blog, based on our latest "favorite" boat maintenance activity. While there is not much we can do about the bits of plastic and rubber that are disintegrating all over the place, we can repair the stitching that is steadily giving way on our sails, covers, and other fabrics. We took the genoa to a sailmaker for repair, but the other repairs we do ourselves, one stitch at a time. A good sewing machine is just another of the many tools that we weren't able to find room for on this boat.

We are back in Papeete, and besides repairing canvas, we have just replaced our failed Navtec hydraulic backstay tightener with a short length of wire swaged to toggles and a turnbuckle. After waiting most of the week for assistance from a professional rigger, we finally turned for help to Michel at Tahiti Yacht Accessoire, a small shop here at Marina Taina. He walked me through the steps of taking pressure off the backstay with the main halyard and topping lift, and measuring the correct length for the new assembly. While he attached the terminals holding the wire to a toggle on one end and a turnbuckle at the other, I removed the old backstay. I had to saw through one of the toggles due to a clevis pin that had jammed up.

Although Michel was excited about how much money he had saved me by not replacing the Navtec unit, I was astounded that the turnbuckle, toggle, and terminals cost over US$400. He kindly did not charge me for the wire nor for the labor of attaching the terminals. Now we have a simpler and hopefully more reliable backstay to keep the mast up!

Cruising boats from Europe and North America are starting to appear in the harbor one by one as they make their way across the Pacific from Mexico, Panama, and the Galapagos, but we rarely find anyone who speaks English.

One of the most entertaining parts of the day is near dusk when dozens of traditional outrigger canoes (vakas) stream by in both directions. Some are singles, some carry teams of up to six men or women (we've seen very few co-ed teams so far).

We hope to depart within the next few days for Huahine, 100 nm to the west northwest. At that point we will be in the last major island group in French Polynesia, the Iles Sous le Vent that include Bora Bora.

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