Thursday, May 16, 2013

Passage to Bora

We had closed the circle on Raiatea, and now we had to decide if the engine was good enough to go on to Bora Bora. It had run fine for the past 2 days, so after a final phone call to the mechanic, we decided to sail the 25 miles across to Bora. It started off to be a nice sail, right out of Paipai Pass, with huge breakers on either side from the 4-meter high south swell. A charter cat left about the same time as we did, and as they drew even with us, we were amazed to see it almost disappear in between the large swells. But these were long period swells, and we barely noticed our own movement. Unfortunately, the wind gave out and we had to motor again. About ¾ of the way to Bora, the engine began sputtering again. I bled the fuel line and all was well. We marveled at the huge surf breaking on the barrier reef, and continued around the southwest corner of the reef and up toward Teavanui pass. The engine sputtered again, and I re-bled the fuel line. We talked about what we would do if the engine gave out in the pass, where the current was likely to be strongly running. Sure enough, we entered the pass, and were fighting 3 ½ knots of current. And sure enough, the engine died, just as we had passed one of the channel buoys. We rolled out the genoa and fortunately had just enough wind to hold our own agains the current, even though we were tacking into the wind. After what seemed an interminable amount of time, we made it in to the calm of the lagoon. I bled the fuel line for the 3rd time, and we motored a short distance to a mooring ball next to the Bora Bora Yacht Club. It was great to be safe and sound after clawing our way through the pass! Although the scenery is truly magnificent here, we have spent the first few days heavily involved in projects. After much head-scratching, and a few good tips from Nigel Calder, I discovered the source of our engine troubles – a slightly loose bleed screw on the bottom of our fuel-water separator. It was letting a tiny stream of air bubbles into the fuel line, although there was no fuel leaking out. The air bubbles were so tiny, I had a very difficult time seeing them, but when I tightened the bleed screw, they had disappeared, and so, we assume, has the engine problem. Moving on, I patched a leak in the dinghy, and re-bedded the troublesome main hatch. Vicki busied herself with patching and sewing torn stitching on our cockpit canvas, and continued provisioning and meal planning for our upcoming passages. I also spent some time preparing for my graduate student’s oral exam, which will take place next Monday. Between now and then, we hope to explore some of the beautiful lagoon surrounding this fabled island.

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