Monday, July 04, 2011

Two-fer Mechanique

It is possible... not necessarily true but possible... that we now have two functioning outboard motors. The Evinrude magically fixed itself, again. The Mercury/Mariner has a new carburetor and appears to also be humming along. It is difficult to trust this. Our experience is that outboard motors work really well when you are 5 NM from a certified mechanic. Outside that range, they thumb their outboard-y nose at you. Our plan -- such as it is -- is to test this theory by returning to explore more of Moorea. If the outboards continue to work, we can really and truly declare them fixed.

As anticipated, Papeete is proving to be the City That Stinks But Has Stuff. We're all working very hard to complete an aggressive list of chores. A good fraction of the work is simple cleaning. While I had considered the laundry and drinking water implications of limited fresh water, I hadn't really thought out what it meant in terms of boat cleanliness. What no fresh water means is you have a dirty sticky boat or a sticky boat, but you never have a clean boat. Cleaning with salt water leaves everything with a patina of stinky dampness. It's better than having every surface covered in dirt, dead skin, hair, and baguette crumbs, but only marginally.

The marina at Papeete, however, has a potable drinking water hose available at the dinghy dock. Since our arrival, we've hauled roughly 200 gallons of fresh water on to the boat with which we've cleaned every item of clothing, all the sheets, pillows, and blankets, as well as sluiced down every interior surface. The freezer is defrosted and the fridge washed down, while the pantries have all been emptied, wiped down, and restocked in preparation for reprovisioning. We've scrubbed down both heads, wiped off all the counters, ledges, and horizontal surfaces, scrubbed the stove/oven, emptied out the under sink area and scrapped out the spilled soaps, garbage sludge, and mold. We washed the throw cushions, aired out the salon cushions until they are bone dry, and shaken out all the blankets. Every clothes locker was emptied out, all the clothes either washed or hung up until bone dry and no longer smelling of boat, and the shelves damp washed and dried before putting everything away. The only big task left is the floors and deck. We probably won't do these until right before we leave Tahiti. As long as we're in a big city, we'll just keep putting the dirt back so we'll hold off on that one.

As for the boat, in addition to the outboards, we've been doing other maintenance chores. Fuels -- propane, diesel, and gasoline -- were a high priority. The costs here are insane. Propane is roughly twice what you would pay in Mexico, gasoline is roughly $8USD/gallon and diesel isn't much better. At these prices, DrC and I are utterly bewildered by the amount of traffic on the roads. Environmentalists take note: $8/gal does not seem to keep anyone off the road. It makes no sense whatsoever, but there you have it. However, it will keep Don Quixote on a strict "diesel for anchorages, power, and water" policy. For the most part, this has been our pattern since we left Mexico. As a result, we still have Mexican fuels on board. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding taking on some diesel here as the next fuel stop is Tonga. Even restricting ourselves to water/power/anchor uses, we have gone through roughly half our stores, so safety dictates filling up before we leave. We also may row a lot. So much for fixing the motor. At these prices, rowing looks really good.

DrC has completed one round of hardware store shopping. He came back loaded with bits of this and that which he plans to use to repair, upgrade, tweek, or otherwise screw around on the boat systems. I think I mentioned before that at least to date, we've been very fortunate with our breakage. Unlike many boats out here, we have no huge repairs to make. All those crossed fingers and positive thoughts sent to us over the last few months have apparently proven effective. This leaves DrC working on minor repairs or small issues we've been meaning to address for a long time. For example, our refrigerator does this odd repetitive cycling thing at low power which we think is caused by a power drop along the electrical circuit. He bought new electrical wire and plans to rewrite it today.

For my part, since all our cleaning chores are winding down, after school today will be spent on the Internet. There are the usual family, pictures, bank, credit card chores which are months behind. I also need to complete our residency applications for New Zealand and get the soft copies off to our advisor. Internet access in all of French Polynesia has sucked. Oddly, the best connectivity was in the anchorage at Rangiroa. Here in Tahiti, the connections are so bad I feel like banging my head against the desk every time I try to connect. Today, I'm going to try having a cocktail with an umbrella at the marina restaurant known as the Pink Coconut and see if I can finally get a break. With luck, this will mean new pictures on the flickr account. No pictures today and you can assume I have a large red welt on my forehead.


a progressive crank said...

Environmentalists take note: $8/gal does not seem to keep anyone off the road.

You don't say what they are driving or what options they have. I assume they're not all driving SUVs with n+1 cupholders (where n = the number of seats) or if there are other means of getting around. And it's not like they can shop around or expect anything to change: they just build the cost into their lifestyle.

Forming policy for developed environments around evidence found in less-developed ones is probably not going to work well.

Toast said...

So the mistake you might be making is in thinking of Papeete, Tahiti as a less-developed country. Except for the flowers in the ears, there is no distinguishing Papeete from Wellington or Vancouver or La Paz or any other well developed, highly modernized city. While there are a lot of small cars here and few SUVs I rather suspect that is more a matter of the cost of shipping the larger vehicles to this location than driven by a consideration of ongoing fuel costs. There are buses, mini-vans, and trucks all over everywhere and the public transit system is essentially broken since -- as we've heard from several Polynesians -- culturally folks don't 'get it' yet.

Until we got here, DrC and I were of the impression that $8/gal would make a huge difference in behaviors. It does not. I want that to work, I really do. But in and of itself, changing the price apparently results in the "build the cost into their lifestyle" bit. It's just depressing, frankly.