Bula Fiji- Day 6

Wednesday April 21, Last week I mentioned the connection I made with another boat that was in Papeete also heading to Fiji this week. We’ve been in contact with them via Iridium text messages. They departed 2 days before us. This morning we can visually see them, Mike and Sue on s/v Ocean Sapphire, a 45ft catamaran, they are 2 miles away. We are both heading to the same port. Always nice to have a buddy boat.

Our buddies are sailing slower than us this afternoon. With 16-19 knots of winds, we reefed our Main and Genoa to stay a reasonerably close distance from them. We’re cruising at 5 knots, with full sails we’d be over 7. Reminds me of Top Gun ”Never leave you’re wingman”. Don’t think I mentioned Maverick and Viper are back but with their entire squadron. They are loud at night squawking as they occasionally circle our boat.

For dinner I made Wild Rice, Cabbage and Chick Peas.

*Iridium Go Notes*

The Wild West

Wed 21/Apr 08:54 GMT-10

17º 32.215 S  160º 07.752 W

Course: 256° true, 6.3 kts

Neither Marlene nor I have never been this far west before… there’s a whole new world out there!

s/v Ocean Sapphire and us are staying close to each other. As in TOP GUN you never leave your wing man.

Completely Enclosed

Thu 22/Apr 00:54 GMT-10

17º 54.028 S  161º 39.581 W

Course: 274° true, 3.9 kts

All the cockpit enclosures are zipped-up now in order to keep the rain outside. Winds have been up-n-down, and the direction has been back-n-forth. Yet, we keep her pointed west.

Bula Fiji- Day 5

Tuesday April 20, Day-5, Distance to Fiji 1319 nautical miles

The sails were un-reefed this morning, for more speed to power through the waves they are full and flying great.

For dinner we had left over bow tie pasta in a marinara sauce with onions and peppers then I wilted 1/4 of a cabbage adding it to the mix.

*Iridium Go Notes*

Steady as She Goes

Tue 20/Apr 15:02 GMT-10

17º 28.583 S  158º 18.109 W

Course: 266° true, 5.6 kts

Good sailing today with winds 15-20 knots. Maintaining a course almost directly at Fiji. We are sailing a little up into the wind, rather than directly downwind, to keep the boat speed up and manage the waves better.

Absolutely no projects accomplished on the boat today!

The solar panels work done back in Tahiti provides more power, yet it seems still not enuf… back to the drawing board.

Figured-out the Moon’s Motion

Tue 20/Apr 15:02 GMT-10

17º 28.583 S  158º 18.109 W

Course: 266° true, 5.6 kts

I finally grasp the motion of travel, the dance, between earth and its moon. It’s easier to understand out here with no mountains, buildings or trees in the way.

Okay, the moon pretty much orbits around earth’s center equator about once a month (actually 27.32 days).

Meanwhile, earth spins around once a day, so like the sun, the moon appears to rise in the east and set in the west every day, but at different times each day, about an hour later than the previous day.

What’s interesting is the moon spins on its axis as well. It spins much slower than earth, only one rotation a month (actually 27.32 days). The moon’s spin is synchronized in such a way that the same surface of the moon always faces earth. We never see the other, the far side of the moon.

Meanwhile again, our distant Sun is shinning on both spheres, and depending on where the moon is on its monthly orbit, either all or only part of its surface can be seen lit-up from our vantage point here on earth.

Good thing we only have one moon, not like Jupiter having 63 moons!

The ocean is about 16,400 feet deep beneath us out here.

Oh… smooth sailing tonight. We now see s/v Ocean Sapphire, 5 miles ahead. She is a catamaran that left Tahiti before us, also going to Fiji.

Bula Fiji-Day 4

Monday April 19, Day- 4

The Garmin InReach was reset, as it appeared to be not working. All is good now.

Blueberry Pancakes for breakfast!

Light winds in the morning, as the day progressed the forecast was 15-20knots of wind. As the waves started, they come before the wind, we took down the pole from the Genoa and stowed it in its place against the mast. The Staysail was deployed, the Main and Genoa were trimmed in a bit, then came the wind. Cruising at 7-8knots speed over ground.

It rain quite a bit on my watch, the cockpit enclosure was zipped up except for one panel. The wind was 22-26knots.

*Iridium Go Notes*

Wind is up this afternoon

Mon 19/Apr 14:36 GMT-10

17º 30.688 S  155º 24.166 W

Course: 274° true, 5.8 kts

Earlier than expected, the wind speed increased to around 13 knots and shifted a little south, allowing us to point the boat right towards Fiji, at a speed of 6 knots, wind at 105 apparent.

Got the spinnaker untangled, but left the bad girl in her bag today. Now using full genoa, staysail and mainsail on port tack.

Cleaned-up dock lines that were drooping in the water at the Tahiti marina, and also cleaned-up ourselves by taking a shower. Life is good… every day is a Saturday!

Note to Self: Install Seatbelts

Tue 20/Apr 00:36 GMT-10

17º 28.426 S  156º 38.191 W

Course: 272° true, 6.4 kts

When wind increases, so do the size of the waves. At times, waves toss the boat around and you feel a desire for seatbelts. Luckily, seasickness has not been an issue with us yet.

Nevertheless, we use harnesses, tethers and jack lines in the cockpit, always at night and during the day if it’s rough. Thus, we remain attached to the boat.

Our Garmin InReach device that we use for communication, tracking and weather (in addition to the IridiumGo device) decided to suddenly take a vacation two days ago, the screen went blank and stopped working, after being reliable for 18,000 miles. So I’m on the phone (on hold) with Garmin Techincal Support, all of a sudden it starts working again?! and has continued to do so… strange.

A few intense rain squalls passed by while Marlene was on watch and I was sleeping. They brought some squirrely winds and horizontal rain causing her to zip-up the cockpit enclosures. Since 1:30pm yesterday, when the wind increased, it’s been from 15 up to 25 knots… so we’ve been moving fast pointed directly towards Fiji.

Bula Fiji-Day 3

Sunday April 18, Day-3 Forgot it was Sunday, Dan made eggs for breakfast. We’ll have pancakes tomorrow.

It’s a spinnaker kind of day. Wind 8-11 knots. We took her down at sunset, it’s safer not to fly a spinnaker at night with one person awake. We did leave the pole up and attached it to the clew of the Genoa.

*Iridium Go Notes*

Asymmetrical Spinnaker on the Pole

Sun 18/Apr 12:34 GMT-10

17º 01.548 S  153º 31.337 W

Course: 283° true, 4.6 kts

Sailed/Motored 123 miles during our second 24 hours.

When the sun came-up this morning, the Asymmetrical Spinnaker went-up too, tacked on to the end of the Spinnaker Pole, which is pulled back, since we are sailing at 150 degrees apparent (broad reaching). If we had a symmetrical spinnaker, then it would be up instead. We should be able to sail the spinnaker until nighttime, then we take it down for safety, since it’s a little complicated to take down at night.

Winds are calm 8-10 knots, seas are also calm … yet rough enuf to make the mainsail bang back-n-forth annoyingly!

We are clear of all the islands now, only wide open water 360 degrees around us. Nice to see the sunset into the ocean in front of us, then later rise-up out of the ocean behind us.

Cleaned-up all the boat fenders (bumpers) today, which dangling along the side of the boat while at marinas… now they look new again!

You can’t take your eye off her

Mon 19/Apr 00:32 GMT-10

17º 11.259 S  154º 21.376 W

Course: 246° true, 4.6 kts

So we’re having a nice dinner in the cockpit and afterwards we planned to take down the spinnaker, which has been flying beautifully since sunrise.

Apparently there was a slight wind shift, the spinnaker silently collapsed and wrapped herself several times around the furled-up genoa. Ugh… you can’t take your eye off her!

It took about 20 minutes to get her down and stuffed in the bag. She is still all tangled-up in the bag, which we’ll sort-out in the daylight, and maybe put her back up to work again.

We jibed the mainsail over, now on port tack and unfurled the genoa for the night. Sailing downwind along nicely, the wind speed building up to 13 knots.

Another dark star filled night with patches of clouds, but no rain in sight.

The radar on the boat has been

working well for detecting rain showers around us. Typically, if there’s rain, then there’s an increase in the wind speed.

Bula Fiji-Day 2

Saturday April 17, Day-2

Light winds, 5-8knots true, code 65 sail is flying.

By late afternoon the the wind had dropped to 2 knots, the sails were rolled in and engine turned on. We motored through the night.

Oh my the stars, the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.

*Iridium Go Notes*

A relaxing sail so far

Sat 17/Apr 12:34 GMT-10

17º 12.876 S 151º 28.604 W,

Course: 305° true, 4.5 kts

Day #1 average boat speed 4.7 knots, 113nm… only 1,675nm to go! Today, winds steady around 8 knots from 50 degrees. “Cody” the Code 65 sail has been out all day, along with a full staysail and full mainsail. Again smooth sailing. We almost have our sea legs back.

Smooth Motoring

Sun 18/Apr 00:40 GMT-10

17º 03.194 S  152º 27.606 W

Course: 270° true, 5.9 kts

The wind stopped late afternoon, so we are motoring along now at 5 knots or so. The forecast indicates breezy conditions approaching.

Another star filled sky tonight. In early evening, the Southern Cross appears on its side, then traces an arch throughout the night. It’s at the highest and upright position around midnight. Thus as we look to the left, we see a giant clock.

We are doing our long lookout night shifts again, with Marlene on watch until midnight, then Dan takes the “graveyard shift”. We nap anytime during the day if desired. We seem to remain well rested this way.

No boats or fish in sight. Yet, we are communicating with a sailboat that left Tahiti a day ahead of us. If not before, we’ll meet-up with them in Fiji.

Bula Fiji-Day 1

Friday April 16, Day 1, mailed a couple boxes off to Ben, Tahiti souvenirs for all the adult kids. Departed Papeete 12:30pm, sailing past Moorea.

The distance from Tahiti to Fiji is about 1800 nautical miles. It should be a 12-16 day passage depending on the wind.

“Bula” is ubiquitous Fiji greeting, a simple “Hi”, it translates to “Life”.

Oh my the stars, the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.

*Iridium Go Notes*

This passage I’m sharing blog is notes added by Dan to our Iridium Go GPS tracking map. He typically post at 2am and 2pm, Boat time. Each post is “real time” (GMT) stamped when posted. You can track us here:


We are off to Fiji

Fri 16/Apr 14:16 GMT-10

17º 28.402 S 149º 43.232 W


292° true,

5.6 kt

After successfully completing all the required paperwork to leave French Polynesia, a dinghy ride over to the Customs House, a bus ride to the Immigration Office, passing our COVID Test… at 12:30pm we cast off the dock lines and pointed the boat west.

We really enjoyed our stay.

Beautiful weather! Mostly sunny, Winds around 10knots, on the beam… smooth sailing.

It’s good to be back out on the water

Sat 17/Apr 00:15 GMT-10

17º 25.605 S  150º 33.285 W


276° true,

4.2 kt

The east to west “Trade Winds” are pushing us along gently at 4-5 knots boat speed. Mostly clear night, the sliver of a moon is gone now, so the galaxies are out tonight. All is well!

Nana Tahiti!

Monday April 12, we are beginning preparation for leaving French Polynesia. As in most countries we’ve visited, the process is tedious with several places to visit, get papers emailed to the Harbormaster, go to customs, immigration, get a PCR COVID test. And of course they are not all in the same location.

We were visited in the afternoon by Sue and Mike from Australia, arriving in their dinghy, they are headed to Fiji this week also. I connected with Sue via Facebook.

Destination Fiji. We are participating in the Bula Fiji Rendezvous, an organized event to cruise around Fiji. This required filling out 9 documents for entry.

Sundowners with Kate and Graham (also from the UK) on their boat s/v Barracuda of Islay along with Alison and Andy from s/v Venture Lady. They are both participating in the Fiji event, will meet up with them there in a few weeks.

Tuesday April 13, unfortunately our 30 day extension request was denied.

We had lunch with Cindy and Mark at the Urban Cafe then walked to Institut Louis Malarde to get a required PCR COVID test for Fiji.

Wednesday April 14, went to customs office by dinghy this morning, it was maybe 5-10 minutes by boat, would have been 35 minutes walking one way.

Our world traveling FedEx package still stuck in Paris, with us leaving Friday, hopefully we can get it to Fiji.

In anticipation of our Friday departure, we fired-up the engine to ensure it would start. The engine started and worked just fine. However, afterwards the bilge pump continued to cycle once every 5 minutes or so. Uh Oh… water is leaking in the boat! Likely, the propeller shaft seal, which we’ve been keeping a close eye on since we’ve owned TRANCE.

Dan has always been nervous about this component. Yet, the adjustment and fix was much simpler than expected. During the fix, he thought water would gush-in all over the place, but only minor dripping when he released the existing set screws. Dan just needed to push the SS collar back/aft about 1/4 inch to squeeze the rubber bellows more (which was easy to do with the tap of a hammer), and then insert new set screws (We purchased two replacement kits before we started this trip). Now everything is dry again!

We understand some people don’t like these types of propeller shaft seals. Yet, now that we’ve had an issue with ours and understand its mechanics better, as well as how easy the fix was… it’s a keeper! http://www.shaftseal.com/pss-type-a-seal.html

Thursday April 15, Dan did a trial run to airport to Immigration, in the morning, by bus, so when we go on Friday we know exactly where to go. He took photos and we shared them with the three other boats here that are heading to Fiji also, and will be checking out of French Polynesia in Papeete.

Improving the quality of the boat’s watermaker… our last project before the passage to Fiji. Our watermaker was not producing quality drinking water. So, we decided to change the membrane cartridge. Another project easier than expected!

Friday April 16, bus trip to the airport to immigration, passports stamped. Thanks French Polynesia it’s been a wonderful 120 days! Off to Fiji!

“Let the Sunshine“

Monday April 5, walked around Papeete a bit today just abut everything is closed for Easter Monday. We did stop at Les Reves de Lucie and shared a delicious chocolate croissant.

Tuesday April 6, our new solar panels were delivered. They were partially installed, as we needed to get plastic washers requiring a walk to Ace hardware store. There has been an Ace hardware store in every country and city we’ve visited!

Sundowners on our boat with Andy and Alison on s/v Venture Lady, from the UK. They are a couple boats down from us.

Wednesday April 7, finished the solar panels install today.

Thursday April 8, decided to keep one of the older panels, and connected it in parallel with the two new panels. We walked a good 6 miles today. First to a solar panel store that sells parts, for a connector to combine the 3 solar panels, then to Maxi’s the store that has Costco and Sams Club’s products. Of course we pulled our wagon with us all day!

For dinner we went to the Urban Cafe. Great food, live music. We sat outside on the patio under umbrellas with lights and banana trees.

Friday April 9, I baked a loaf of sourdough bread today. It’s been awhile since my last bake. Bread here, well baguettes are subsidized by France and cost around 65 cents. Much cheaper than the cost of baking. Dan likes the bread in a loaf pan compared to a boule, better for sandwiches, which is a matter of opinion.

It took most of the day to mount a frame for the third solar panel to sit. We had to cut a couple holes in the Bimini as this one is attached to the pipes that support the canvas. There is a small shadow certain times of the day from the boom, but the added amperage going into the batteries out weighs that.

Saturday April 10, Happy First Birthday Cora!

We left the boat at just after 7am to get in line for our second Pfizer COVID shot, arrived at 7:20, they opened at 8am, left at 8:21am. They had 6 stations set up with 2 people giving shots at each station. It was quick and very organized. First shots were also being administered to others.

Afterwards we went to our favorite bakery/coffee shop Les Reves de Lucie and shared a chocolate croissant.

Sundowners with Graham and Janaki on s/v Leela.

“More Power Scotty”

Monday March 29, sundowners on our boat with Janaki and Graham from s/v Leela, she is originally from Australia, he’s from the UK. They had lived in the USA for about 20 years, in Texas and New Hampshire, as well as in Canada.

Tuesday March 30, our friends Didier and Magaly left for Raiatea this morning. We hope to meet up with them in the near future.

It was a walking day. Only 4.2 miles today but I don’t think I ever mentioned the temperature. It’s been in the low 90’s (for all of walks) with sunny skies little cloud cover.

Wednesday March 31, our DHL package arrived! We had to pay an additional $150 USD for DHL administration fees to get it.

This package is the new windlass gear box. The box was opened on the dock, as it is never good to bring corrugated cardboard on a boat. Roaches and other bugs have been known to lay eggs in the layers of the cardboard.

And of course the new part, same model number as the old is two inches longer. Fortunately it fit in the space with some effort.

We met up the boat near us at the restaurant next to the marina for drinks in the evening, Paul and Suzanne on s/v Rubis. They live on their boat here in French Polynesia. He is from France, she is Canadian.

Thursday April 1, we purchased two new solar panels for the boat today from a local company. They are each 320 Watts Monocrystalline, which will give us 50% increase in power. They will be delivered next week.

Friday April 2, today starts a 4 Easter day holiday in French Polynesia. Stores all closed by 11am today. We finished the windlass installation, putting back together the winch on the bow attached to the gearbox.

Saturday April 3, trip to grocery store, lunch at the ferry terminal, hung on the WiFi for a while, downloaded a movie and a few TV episodes.

Sunday April 4, Happy Easter. Went to Tahini Tourism, then to the ferry terminal to video chat with the kids. it was a very untraditional day for us, we made spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner.

Friends, Wine & Waiting

Thursday March 18, breakfast at the ferry terminal for free WiFi. Later purchased a new SIM card for my phone, $80 USD for 10G of data, that expires after 30 days. AT&T is supposed to work here through their International Day Pass, but it doesn’t, it’s only one bar of service, can’t even text.

For dinner I made smashed sweet potatoes, so good!

Friday March 19, chocolate day#16! The last one!

Tahiti is not a very big island. We’ve seen just about all of it. If our boat part was here we’d be off exploring other islands. So we wait…

It’s tough writing about everyday life on a boat, but it’s the memory we’re going for.

Saturday March 20, recently we connected through a closed Facebook group, sailboats that are going west the same as us. It’s looking like possibly 4 boats to buddy with crossing the Indian Ocean. We’ll coordinate later in year where to stop, which countries have opened up.

Sunday March 21, reading and sewing day. Dan also washed his clothes.

A little excitement last night. A boat was towed into the marina with engine troubles, they put it between us and another boat. We are are in a catamaran slip so it’s really wide. This boat had to be tied to us and the other boat on the adjacent dock. Not a good situation, hopefully they can fix it quickly.

Monday March 22, The boat next to us was fixed and they’re gone now.

Still waiting…Package update, the FedEx one went from LA back to hub in Memphis, now it’s in Paris! I’m thinking this is a good thing, as there are weekly flights from Paris to Papeete. Just wish we could collect frequent flyer miles from this package! The DHL box left LA went to New Zealand then back to the hub in Cincinnati. Wonder if it’s going to Paris also?

Tuesday March 23, I found DMC embroidery floss! Never thought I’d find that here. I only needed one color, so I picked up 2 skeins of it. Finished my cross stitch project with the exception of the metallic threads, those I left at home.

The small chapel is Chapelle de l’Évêché, Capel of the Sacred Heart, built in 1877 by Brother Théophile, remains one of the oldest buildings in Papeete. The grounds surrounding it are Gardens of the Bishopric, gardens of the bishop. It is very lush with many plants, flowers and trees.

On a sad note, friends we met are leaving Thursday on a medical transport evacuation plane. He is currently in the hospital. They hired a captain to sail the boat back home. Hope all goes well for them.

Wednesday March 24, had sundowners with Didier and Magaly on s/v Falbala, they are from France, also on a 2.5 year circumnavigation like us. Served were traditional French hors d’oeuvres, Cod liver pâté on baguette slices, with and without a dill pickle gherkin, and a really intense Brie spread also on bread. They also shared two exceptional white French wines. If plans work, out we’ll cross the Indian Ocean with them to South Africa, then north up the Atlantic Ocean.

Thursday March 25, Magaly and I went clothes shopping. We both purchased a few of dresses. Dan helped Didier tune the standing rigging on their boat, as we have a large loose gauge.

Friday March 26, went to JoJo’s for pizza, this time we did take out and went back to the boat.

Saturday March 27, we had lunch at Miri Miri Tea House, it’s next to Tahiti Tourism we can pick up their WiFi there.

For dinner we cooked a Duck breast that friends gave us. I thought it tasted like the dark meat on pork chops.

Sunday March 28, pancakes for breakfast, then walked to the Champion grocery store for a few items.

In the afternoon we fixed the spinnaker pole. The release line broke months ago.

In the evening sundowners on our boat with Didier and Magaly. I made a Buffalo chicken dip served with chips (an American dish), accompanied by red wine from California.