Day 264, Year 1: Sadness Doth Prevail . . . Mary Ellen and Lee Fly Back to Tahiti
Date: Saturday, July 8, 2006
Weather: Still Sunshine Mixed with Clouds and Occasional Showers
Location: Bora Bora (Society Islands, French Polynesia)

Based on a calendar year of 365 days, we are now seventy-two percent into our first year of world cruising. Mark’s sister Mary Ellen and her husband Lee flew out of the Bora Bora airport this morning headed back to Tahiti. Tomorrow night they will fly to LA and arrive home in southwest Florida on Tuesday. What a wonderful two weeks we just spent with them. This is the third time we have had family visit us on this voyage, and each time it was been just fantastic. In addition to our visit from Mary Ellen and Lee, our kids joined us for Christmas in the Caribbean and then our daughter Heather and her husband Jed joined us in the Galapagos. I just can’t tell you how special it feels to share this experience with others.

We moved from our anchorage at the south end of Bora Bora this morning to be nearer to the town of Vaitape so we could get Mary Ellen and Lee to shore without getting them and their luggage wet. The wind was still blowing hard this morning and the lagoon waters were unsettled. Once we anchored near town, we were able to send Lee and the luggage to shore in one trip, and then Mary Ellen and I went in on the second trip. Mark and I hopped onboard the airport water shuttle with Mary Ellen and Lee and enjoyed a sunny ride to the airport which is out on a motu. The airstrip was built by the US Army during World War II and is still getting good use. The trip was delightful and we were finally able to get a few pictures of Bora Bora without gray clouds and rain. Mark and I returned to Vaitape and then headed back to Windbird. We had hoped to find a Laundromat in town, but no such luck. Mark saw Robin and John from Endangered Species on the dock while he was wondering through town and had a nice chat with them. They explained that they knew about my broken leg from a friend back in the US who checks in and reads our logs from time to time. We are constantly amazed at what a small world we live in. They told Mark that there was a washing machine at the Tahiti Yacht Club (no dryer), so we pulled up anchor, motored there, and picked up a mooring. With my broken leg, Mark now has more jobs to do than he can handle, so at least getting to wash sheets and towels in a machine that can spin things fairly dry relieves him of that responsibility. It was windy this afternoon, so most things are drying nicely. There is a constant threat of rain, however, so we have had to move everything into the cockpit. Thank goodness the sheets dried before the rains came.

Ready or not, we will leave Bora Bora tomorrow and make our way back to Raiatea. I should be there on Monday, Tuesday latest, for x-rays to see how my fibula is healing. We might stop at Tahaa tomorrow night and do a little touring there on Monday before going back into the city dock at Raiatea. The two islands share the same lagoon and are very close, so even if we stop in Tahaa, we know we can get to Raiatea by early Tuesday afternoon.

After Mary Ellen and Lee left this morning, I started thinking about our trip to date. What follows are a few of my thoughts.

First Mate Reflections
Saturday, July 8, 2006

We left Boston 263 days ago full of anticipation. We thought we knew what to expect, but there really is no way to fully prepare yourself for the wonderful things you experience out here. There is also no way to prepare for the “bumps” in the road. You just live each day to the fullest and take the good with the bad. All of us out here have learned to deal with boat problems. We knew to expect repairs, but still when something breaks or malfunctions, you wonder if this is happening only to you. Well, it is not. Every morning on the radio, I listen to different boats waiting in different ports for engine parts, watermaker parts, alternator and generator parts, new computers, etc. We have certainly had our share of repairs, but probably no more than most-except for the complete engine replacement at the start of the trip.

How are things holding up?

The new engine is doing great. Wires from the alternator seem to need tightening every few weeks, but otherwise, all electronics, with the exception of the more than 10-year old auto pilot, are doing great. Richard, the man we met on the dock in Raiatea, has the parts ordered to repair our auto pilot and hopes they will be in by the end of this coming week. The 4th of July holiday in the US held up shipment by a few days, so it will probably be the end of this week when the parts arrive.

Refrigeration has been a major problem for many, many boats, but so far, that has not been one of our problems. Of course, as soon as I say this, something will go wrong. But we have had no problems to date. The inside of the boat is fairly easy to maintain. We have one port that leaks during very heavy rains, but other than that, most everything inside has stayed nice and dry and mold and mildew free. There are many, many louvered doors that need dusting, but the invention of the Swifter has really helped with that job.

Outside, the varnish on our cockpit cap rail has had one refresher coat since we left home and it is time to put a maintenance coat on our wooden Dorade boxes, but the 15 coats of varnish I did prior to leaving has worked for the most part. It did not work on the rub rail and we are just letting it peel in the sun and hope that soon all the varnish will be gone. We will not re-varnish that. It is constantly in sea water and varnish is just not going to stick. The teak deck has been re-oiled once since we left and it is probably time to do that again, but at this point it still looks good.

Our sails have held up great so far, but the sunbrella UV protection on the edges of the headsail and staysail have had to be re-stitched. The dodger and bimini are holding up okay, but just a couple of weeks ago we had to take all the canvas off and re-stitch everything. The Sail-Rite sewing machine we bought for this trip is certainly paying for itself. We did not bring enough 3-M Fabric Guard with us to revitalize the waterproofing, so now in really heavy rains we get a few drops of water from the areas where the framing touches the canvas. But this is not a major problem. We know at some point we will have to replace the canvas, but hopefully not for another year.

The stainless always needs polishing, but we are actually surprised at how little maintenance is required. In fact, overall, we have been pleasantly surprised by how little time we do have to spend in up-keep. I know Mark feels like he is always repairing something, and he is, but the repairs are usually small things that don’t take a huge amount of time.

While Mary Ellen and Lee were here, we had constant trouble with our forward head. We are going to start sleeping forward for a couple of weeks and by using that head daily, we will hopefully figure out the problem. Our bed in the aft cabin is high and climbing up and down with this broken leg has been a challenge. I didn’t think I could get in the v-berth, but today when we took out the piece that bridges the two sides of the v in order to get me up there to flake the anchor chain, I discovered that it is much easier to get into than the aft cabin bed. So we are moving forward tonight. We have actually never slept in the v-berth, so now we will get to experience what our guests experience when onboard. That will be interesting.

Enough reflection for now. It’s time to fix dinner, so this first mate is signing off.

060708 Day 264 Society Islands, Bora Bora–Farewell to Lee and Mary Ellen