Reunited back with Ondular

After a long time of dreaming and waiting for the moment to arrive, it was here and we were all packed and ready to go back to Ondular. We thought this time wouldn’t be that bad going back (weight wise), considering that we’d already lived on the boat for almost two years; what other things could we possibly bring back with us?… I was so wrong! Mick’s luggage was packed full of boat parts, fishing things etc, it was so heavy and we were stopped so many times on the way to Tahiti; they must have thought we were real weirdos. Who travels with a coffee grinder, a pressure cooker and 100 or more fishing hooks and lures? We were also carrying with us, 4 new boards and a stand up paddle. Quite a bit of weight.

Anyway, after almost two days of travel and 500 us dollars in overweight luggage down, we made it to Tahiti with all our belongings, that’s always a plus! We spent a couple of days in Tahiti, we rented a car and went around the island, checked the supermarkets for future food stocking and went to see a local insurer for our boat. We even went to check the port from where our cargo boat would be leaving the next day to make sure there wouldn’t be any problems. We had booked this cargo boat called Hawaiki Nui months in advanced as we’d found out this was one of the only options to get to Raiatea from Tahiti to avoid the expensive airfares. It would take longer than a plane as it would travel  overnight but we were saving lots of money by doing that.

When we arrived to their local offices, there was a sign on the door that said something about jeudi (Thursday in French) but reading it quickly we thought it said that the office was closed today and will open again on Thursday. We left the premises very satisfied with ourselves, thinking that French wasn’t that hard after all and continued touring the island.

Next day came and we went early to the dock to leave all our luggage and have enough time to return the rental car. When we arrived, we saw that the office was still closed and read the message again, this time a bit more carefully and realised that it said that the normal trip to Raiatea was cancelled this Thursday and would resume back next week. We screamed, kicked and almost cried, felt pretty silly …what to do now? We went back to the hotel and asked a nice girl at the reception to help us calling all the other cargo boats or shuttles around. It seemed that there wasn’t any other boat going to Raiatea and that the Hawaiaki nui was our only option.

But then we found out we may have another shot with a different cargo boat called the Tapooro, that apparently didn’t take any passengers but maybe we could send our luggage with them and even see if they could fit us in somehow. We went to their office and found out that this trip they were travelling with diesel and gasoline so definitely no passengers but we were able to send our heavy luggage with them for 50 dollars then rushed to the only airline and managed to buy two tickets to Raiatea that afternoon. It wasn’t cheap but it got us there. We arrived around 6.30 pm and because we were supposed to arrive with the boat the following morning we had no accommodation booked for that night. We decided to rent a car and drove to the Carinage where Ondular was stored. We got a glimpse of the outside of Ondular and spent our first night in Raiatea sleeping in our tiny rental “the panda” outside the marina.

The next morning came and with light we were ready to open up Ondular and have a look inside of her to see in what condition it was in. We were happily surprised to see that all our hard work before leaving her, really paid off. There was a bit of mould especially in our front cabin but nothing like it could’ve been. So for the next few days we cleaned and cleaned and got our boat ready to be liveable again.

We spent the next two weeks in the boatyard, cleaning first and then fixing a few things that we thought were important to do before getting her back in the water , like the boom , setting all the sails and of course doing the antifoul.

Finally the day came when we were ready to do the splash in. Ondular was carefully picked up and put in the slip. We tried the engine but it didn’t start. Tried a few times and nothing happened and figured it might be the starter battery. Because they needed the space for another boat, they moved us and tied us to a stationary old ferry nearby and full of disappointment we left the starter battery charging all night to see what happened.  In hindsight it was the best possible outcome to be tied to the Ferry that night because we had time to test everything else that couldn’t be tested when out of the water, like the anchor , the toilet, etc and even though we weren’t quite ready yet, it felt so good to be back floating in the water.

To avoid making this post too long I’ll just name all the new problems we’ve encountered after storing our boat for over a year and being put back in the water.

The starter battery wasn’t really the problem, but it was actually fuel related and once the fuel got treated we were good to go.

The fridge wasn’t cooling, and the water maker wasn’t working properly: Mick thought of possible solutions and tried the water maker without the little pump that was failing, and it now seems to work fine. With the fridge, once we realised that the evaporator plate had several leaks, we had two options: order a new one from Papeete or try to fix the one we have. Which one do you think Mick chose?

The evaporator plate has an aluminium tube which was the one that had suffered from electrolysis and was full of leaks. Mick being Mick, decided to replace that tube with a copper one and joined it to the plate using fyber glass and later on fusing it properly. We are still in the process of fixing our fridge but I can honestly say that we can survive just fine without one. Our lives would definitely be a bit fancier with one and the fridge saga isn’t over yet but we’ve made sure to not only be stuck here trying to fix everything without enjoying ourselves.

Of course, there have been some frustrating times trying to sort all these different boat problems when we were so eager to go out and explore.  Being out here in a tiny French speaking island adds to the difficulties, especially if our level of French is saying good-morning and good-afternoon not even at the right time of the day sometimes. But anyway google-translate is our new best friend and we are using duolingo to try and get better at it as we go along. There’s still hope for us and we are definitely learning to be more self-reliant, to persevere and to work on our patience big time.

I guess this is life on a boat. There’s a lot of hard work and it can be really testing at times but that’s what makes the good times even better. I have to say, the Pacific is showing to be so much more challenging than any other place we’ve cruised before. Now that I think back on our time in the Caribbean or Panama and Ecuador how easy it was, everyone spoke English or Spanish, there were all kinds of shops and access to parts and things all around, the cruising books made everything so easy; you knew where to anchor, how to anchor, what to expect, most navigation was straight forward and apart from strong winds there wasn’t much to worry about.

Here is a completely different story; shallow waters filled with coral heads so no more relying only on the charts but keeping a close look on the depth sounder and using our eyes to spot corals and show the way.  A weather, that as our new friend Tom described it, is nothing short of schizophrenic , one minute is calm, the next is stormy then rainy, then sunny, windy, calm.. And in general it feels like a more explorational kind of cruising; it’s not all given to us in extensively researched cruising guides but it’s more dependent on us, where we decide to anchor and how to navigate certain areas. So yes, definitely more challenging.

So far I can tell you I’ve been so very happy to be back on Ondular, the closeness to nature, the sunsets, the rocking while sleeping, the underwater world, the quietness and other days I’ve missed land so much, the safety, the stability, the known.  But what is life without a bit of challenges? They say difficult and unease times are what makes us stronger. Welcome to a new season on Ondular. We hope you enjoy our tales and join us on another go at living free in the sea.







Problems in Paradise

Friday 14 November

These last few days have been a bit tough. I think we definitely felt like children getting a present and later having to return it because it wasn’t theirs.

First, was the Friday when we had finally received our boat and we were ready to move onto it, but  it rained and rained and it didn’t stop for two days; so we had to go back to Majel’s house with all our boxes and bags and accept that we had to postponed our move until a drier day.

Once we finally moved to the boat, got it all cleaned up and organized and were feeling settled and at home, we started finding some little problems here and there. First was the inverter that keeps the fridge going and a few days later, the engine. We were like deflated balloons when we heard the news that they needed 3 to 4 days to work on the engine ..3 to 4 days of hanging in the marina, with nothing to do and not even a home to sleep in because of course the boat, our home, was going to be worked on.

But it wasn’t all lost. Moorings, the company who we are buying the boat from, had a back-up plan. They lend us a 46 feet catamaran to stay at while our boat gets fixed. It’s all modern, with air-con and all, so it feels like we are staying in a fancy apartment. Mick and I don’t really like air-con that much but it does help to come back here after a hot day under the sun and cool off.

The last few days we’ve been hunting down tool shops on the other side of the island, going on dinghy rides to the nearby marinas for a bit of excitement and writing down innumerable job lists that start and end on the same day.

So it’s all good…if everything works well, which I’m sure it will, we’ll be leaving the marina sometime next week ( I don’t want to name days anymore!) with a completely functioning boat; better to find these problems here in the marina that in the middle of the ocean..hence it’s all for the better.

Tuesday 18 November

I wrote this post a few days ago and didn’t have time to upload it on the blog. It’s now Tuesday afternoon and the boat isn’t ready yet. The problem with the engine continued after we tested it again, so now we have another mechanic having a look at it and see what comes out of it. His nickname is “yellowman” and apparently if he can’t fix it, no one can!

We are trying to find things to do, but it’s getting harder and harder. The longer we stay in this marina the more money we are spending and the more frustrated we get. But that’s life. Things don’t always go the way you want them to go, but Mick and I are always of the belief that things happen for a reason and although we feel terrible at the moment, in a few weeks time we might have an “Aha” moment and understand what these delays happened…or not.

It’s definitely funny being stuck at this marina. Out of boredom we have become watchers of all the charter boat customers: arriving pale as ghosts, coming back after a few days, red as lobsters;  with incredible fashion statements and a compulsion for buying water bottles, cans of drinks and alcohol. We see them go, we see them come back..and we are still here!

The saga continues with our engine. They are still working at it today (Wednesday morning), we’ll see if it’s all fixed by the end of the day. I’ll try and post this today if I have time to go to the nearest wifi hotspot and hopefully the next time I write will be from one of those islands that we have been dreaming about for the last few months, drinking a virgin Pina Colada and laughing at our long lost days at the Moorings Marina.