on the subject of separations. I have to say one of the things in life that I really dislike are goodbyes. Cruising provides a wonderful opportunity to meet many different people from all walks of life but at the same time also provides too many opportunitesto say goodbye. We have met folks that seem to have an unlimited cruising budget to people that are on a tighter shoestring than us. Big boats, little boats, new, old, one hull and two, there is always something/somebody new to meet. Thankfully other countries learn english, so we are able to communicate with people that we meet from all over the world - europe, south africa, australia, new zealand. It has been and continues to be a life enriching experience for all of us. Josh is meeting kids from all over the US and the world. The only downpart to all of this is when it comes time to say goodbye in a final sort of way, not in just a "see you at the end of the crossing" or "catch up to you at the next anchorage" kind of way. Today for example two boats we have known since La Cruz Mexico left for Hawaii and the end of their cruising experience (at least for now). I really hate this part. I guess it says a lot for the tightness of this community - especially among the cruisers with kids. We are a smaller subset of the whole. As parents we feel our own sense of loss at the goodbyes and as well as the pain experienced by our kids. There is no consolation in the fact that they have had more kid time than we ever dreamed they would, or that they still have friends to "hang" with. Josh wants his pack whole. So for me I am feeling my own discomfort but know from experience how small a world it really is. Josh and his friends just have to take our word for it - and how many teenagers believe that us grown ups understand their pain? So, Phambili and Calou we'll see you later, if only to prove to our kids that it is possible.
On generators. A totally different kind of pain to be sure. Dennis spent the whole day tearing apart the generator in order to replace the head gasket. After 10 hours, the gasket was replaced and only the putting back together to do.
Thursday July 14th - Bastille Day
Well, the polynesians have been celebrating their Heiva for 3 weeks now, so a major French Holiday is a good reason to shut everything down. Carrefoure closed at 1230, no buses, no restaurants or shops. Our plans were to take the bus downtown for the canoe races in the morning and then head over to the Tahiti museum in the afternoon to watch the polynesian sports. As I said, no buses. But, this day will be one we look back on and say "remember that time in Tahiti?" A toursist van came by the bus stop while we were waiting for the nonexistent bus and the driver agreed to give us a lift into town. He was a very nice gentleman from the Cook Islands. He dropped us off right where the parade was going to be. The parade was pretty much a nonevent, but we did get to see all the different types of military, the gendarmes and the pompiers (firemen). Very short and sweet, no floats or candy. From there we headed to the waterfront for the canoe races. Start time was supposedly 1100, but hey 11 or 1230 whats the rush? The first paddlers were kids in 6 man outriggers. The next heat was 16 person double canoes - women. We watched them, but did not want to wait another hour to see the men's 16 person race. So we headed to the bus stop (did i mention no buses?) and got a ride within 5 minutes. The man was going to the same place as us - the museum, so score - an airconditioned ride in a mercedes!!! I have to say that 70+ miles per hour feels fast these days!!! The competitions going on at the museum included Javelin throwing, stone lifting, coconut husking and copra collection.
The spear chucking (as Dennis calls it) was pretty wild. All the teams threw their spears at a coconut on a pole about 25 feet high. The ground around it looked like toothpicks gone wild. What is even more impressive, is that they actually hit the coconut pretty often. All the men wore pareos wrapped sort of like diapers - not my favorite look, - and one team had traditional headdresses and loin cloths - hmmmm not much left to the imagination.
Stone lifting makes my back hurt to watch. They were lifting a 100 kg rectangular stone from the ground to their shoulders. There is definitely a technique to it. When we were at the rendevous in Moorea there was a demonstation by the reigning champion. Very cool, but we decided we would save our back injuries for boat work.
The coconut husking is done on a sharp stick planted in the ground. Those men sure get to the nut fast Again the technique was demonstrated to us on Moorea. Carla and I tried it out - it isn't as easy as it looks. if I did it for a living I would probably be missing some fingers.
My second favorite (after spear chucking) was the women's competition of harvesting copra. Copra is the meat of the coconut and is a major export of Fr. Polynesia. The way it works is one woman has an ax and chopps the whole coconuts in half (husk and all). Let me say right now, that the coconuts you see in the grocery store are the "nuts". The nut is encased in a thick fibrous husk when it is on the tree. You probably knew that, but just in case. Anyway, the first lady halves the coconut, and the other two use a curved heavy metal spatula- type implement to peel out the coconut meat. Each team had about 20 coconuts, first one done wins. To be finished, all the coconuts had to have the meat removed and all the meat had to be then put in a burlap sack. What hard work. Those ladies are tough. There was coconut milk flying everywhere. Again, i would be the one chopping the coconuts that had no toes. Pretty amazing to watch.
The copra harvest was the last event and then it was time to figure out how to get back to the marina. Once out at the road, Carla and I spotted the guard we had talked to last week about the games. His english is pretty good, so we asked him about a bus. He just shook his head and said "no bus". Then to our amazement he started flagging cars down and asking them to take us to the marina. The fourth or fifth car was a small citreon with a youngish french driver named Frankie. We crammed in like sardines and were off to the marina. Frankie spoke pretty good english as well, so we were able to invite him to come to the boat (Moondance) for a drink. Very nice young man - here from France to work at the airport installing atutomatic blinds and lighting. We hope he enjoyed meeting us as much as we enjoyed meeting him.
So, I ask you, what would be the chances of 3 rides to exactly where you wanted to go all in the same day? And that is if you dared to try to hitchike at all!! What a great day.
Friday July 15, 2011
Back to generator work. It started off well, but in the end we still had bubbles in the coolant. So in we went to make phone calls. Dennis got a few more ideas to try. After the calls we walked to Carrefoure to pick up distilled water. In the automotive section if you are ever looking....... Picked up frozen pizza to do on the grill and came back to the generator. Dennis decided that the bubbles are probably from the water pump, as they continue when the engine is off and just the pump is running. So hey - seems like all is good to finish up in the morning. Had pizzas cooked on the grill, so we wouldn't heat up the inside of the boat. I burned the bottom of the first one because the grill was flaring up from grease on the bottom. But, the top was good. The second one was slightly undercooked. The grill had tipped forward during cooking. Number three was perfect, and Josh got home just in time to eat it. Impeccable timing huh?
Saturday July 16, 2011
Plan for today was to put the generator back together and do final provisioning in preparation for leaving on Monday......Well, that plan went to shit pretty fast. One of the bolts/studs that holds the head onto the engine gave as Dennis was torqueing it down. Well hmmm. What to do? Back in to make a call. Fortunately Dennis was able to get hold of a mechanic willing to come out immediately. They got the stud out and yes it is stripped at the end and no we won't be able to get the widget (helycoil) to fix it until Monday. So that is where we stand. I guess Dennis will spend the rest of the day taking the generator out of its compartment.........Suffice it to say that the frustration level on Evergreen is pretty much at capacity. The ramifications of no generator are painful. Not dire, but definitely require a major change in habits on board. We have to run the big engine to charge batteries (which isn't really good for a diesel to run on no load). The solar panels generate some power, enough as a rule to make water, but not charge the batteries enough to maintain the rest of the boat. The big engine uses a lot more fuel as well. So, we will continue trying to fix the generator. I'll keep you posted.
Well the generator has been out and is back in its compartment waiting to have the bolt fixed. It only took all day. Just goes to show, shit happens just about everywhere. We turned on the main engine to charge the batteries and pumped diesel from the generator into the generator compartment - about 2.5 gals. worth. Man!!!!! So, the soundproofing on the bottom of the compartment had to go as it was totally saturated with diesel. We pumped and mopped and pumped and tore out soundproofing and pumped and transferred to disposable containers, mopped and pumped and finally cleaned out the generator compartment. Then Dennis worked on the engine. So 3 hours on the generator and 4 hours on clean up. Yeah, Evergreen has seen happier days. But, on a positive note no fuel got into the bilge and our cabin does not smell like diesel right now. If the mechanic actually gets the part tomorrow and is willing to install it on Tuesday, we may be out of here by Thursday - hey it could happen...... meanwhile I guess we will be spending a few more days in Tahiti.