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Sailing to Fiji: A False Start and Abandoned Mission

Just after 1pm on Tuesday, with some excitement - and a little trepidation - we lifted the anchor, ready to leave Tahiti for a new adventure in Fiji. We had barely gone 300 metres out of the anchorage, when we realised something was badly wrong. The port engine sounded like it was auditioning for a Formula One race, making some very throaty, unhappy sounds.
We turned back and put down the anchor - in the same place it had been lifted from minutes previously.

Time was of the essence. We had agreed our departure time with Immigration but more importantly, you will remember we had PCR tests on Saturday, which had to be done no later than 72 hours before departure. With an hour and a half to go before our tests expired, we were totally against the clock to sort out the engine issue.

No pressure then Skipper!

Ferg was quickly into the engine bay, where he’d been only 24 hours previously, doing a full service and maintenance check prior to departure, so was more than a little miffed to find we had a problem.

When the issue couldn’t be resolved from inside the engine bay, he jumped into the water to see if it could be rectified from the outside in; but to no avail.

Our boat neighbour saw we were in trouble and popped over to see if he could offer any thoughts. So glad he did, as between him and Skipper, they discovered there was an engine cooling problem. Just in the nick of time, their fix worked and, quite literally, with minutes to spare, we lifted the anchor again and got underway before our PCR tests expired.

We are so aggravated by these PCR tests and what relevance they have for sailors on passage. Since we had ours done – and got negative covid results – we have been in the capital of Tahiti doing last-minute jobs, such as fruit and veg provisioning at the market; we’ve been to supermarkets and also mixed with people at the airport when we checked out of the country with Immigration. We will be doing a PCR test when we arrive in Fiji, which is more appropriate than one 72 hours before we left Tahiti – putting us into a potentially dangerous situation by enforcing a departure time.

Anyhow, after a false start, we were finally on our way, complete with a dolphin escort, sailing away from Tahiti for the last time.

With confused seas, it was a rolly night as we battled with getting our sea legs, the rocking motion and adjusting to night watches. Now this should have been the end of the first blog, however, it was not the end of 24 hours of challenges…

Breaking News…Houston, We Have A Problem!
24 hours after our false start, and 110 miles into the journey, a large wave caused the boat to unexpectedly gybe, forcing the boom to move sharply. The boom had a preventer line attached to stop such a motion being fatal, but sadly the violent jarring caused one of the two starboa rd diamond stays to snap. In a nutshell, this is an important piece of the rigging that stops the mast from bending.

We instantly had to drop the sail and abort our trip to Fiji.

Fate has an odd way of working, and we were lucky that this happened so early on in our trip, and just 35 miles off the coast of Ra’aitea, which is where we headed into for essential repairs.

We have let the authorities know of our dilemma and can sign back into the country on Thursday, a procedure hopefully made easier as we retained our Carte de Séjour residency cards. Our next job will be to get a rigger out to inspect and hopefully repair the damage quickly.

For now, we are nursing our disappointment with a very serious G&T at anchor in Ra’iatea. We will post photographs and updates in the next few days, once we get a local internet connection. But, for now, it appears our adventure in French Polynesia is not yet over!

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Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

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