In The Yard in Tahiti

Sava in a sling on the hard in Tahiti

Sava is out of the water and in the yard in Tahiti. We’ve been having some issues the last few months and sailed to Tahiti a week ago to try to get stuff fixed. It’s taking longer than we thought but it’s okay because Sava’s getting better and we’re in paradise!

Sava in the yard in Tahiti
The ladder we have to climb to get onto Sava

Why We’re In The Yard in Tahiti

Initially, we hauled out to replace the stuffing box, which is where the prop shaft enters the boat. The stuffing box has been leaking seawater into the engine bilge whenever the prop moves, basically whenever the boat was moving. The leak began during our Pacific passage, and got worse the last couple months.

In mid-July our long stay visa was ready for pickup in Tahiti, and we were less than 2 days away! We decided it was a good excuse to visit Tahiti and get our boat fixed too. Tahiti is the biggest island in French Polynesia, with the best amenities and supplies, thus the easiest place to work on Sava.

It took a few days of arranging and scheduling while we hunted down a replacement stuffing box, but we hauled out early Friday morning. Almost immediately after hauling out, we learned she would be staying for more than an afternoon.

The Problems With Sava

Hauling out is a nerve-wracking experience for us. Taking a boat out of the water feels off, because it’s not where boats are meant to be, but sometimes you have to do it. We’ve also heard scary stories about incidents with boat lifts, but taking Sava out of the water in Tahiti was seamless.

The boat lift at the yard in Tahiti
The boat lift in the yard in Tahiti

Unfortunately, Sava was in worse shape than expected when we got her out of the water. The mechanic determined that the leaking was caused by the engine vibrating because it wasn’t mounted solidly and the prop shaft needs to be realigned. To remove the prop shaft, they needed to drop the rudder. When they dropped the rudder, it was full of water and the shaft was corroded.

rudder removed from sailboat
Corroded and wet, our rudder is being rebuilt.

Long List of Boat Jobs in Tahiti

Now we have a long list of projects so we’re staying in the yard in Tahiti. Here are the big jobs:

  • New feet for the engine so it’s attached securely to the boat
  • Realigning the prop shaft which involves straightening it out at a machine shop
  • Drying out and rebuilding the rudder
  • And while we’re at it, we’re repainting Sava’s bottom since it’s been almost 2 years, and giving her a polish

If we weren’t in the yard in Tahiti, we’d likely still be here waiting for a good weather window to head back to The Tuamotus. Despite spending our days in a boat yard, we are enjoying our time in Tahiti.

Black bottom paint job Bavaria 46
Sava’s bottom is now black, because the only available paints were blue or red

Enjoying Tahiti’s Benefits

Once we realized we be in the yard in Tahiti for a while, we booked an apartment through Airbnb.

The yard is hot, dirty, and noisy and aggravates my allergies, and our boat is a mess, so the apartment is a good place for us to live while Sava’s in the yard.

Inside our boat
The boat is a mess. Good thing we got an AIRBNB.

We also rented bikes to transit between the yard, the apartment, and everywhere else quickly and easily.

Road bikes
We rented bikes to get around Papeete!

As I said, Tahiti is the biggest island in French Polynesia and there’s lots to see and do! We’ve spent the last week exploring the big city of Papeete, and this weekend we’ll see more of the island.

Tahiti from the water
Tahiti from the water is mountainous

When we leave Tahiti, we’ll return to the more remote Tuamotus and Marquesas, where supplies are sparse. Papeete, the main city of Tahiti, has a bigger variety of restaurants, shops, and supermarkets than all the places we’ve been in French Polynesia combined. We are enjoying the abundance, while stocking up some of the things we’ve missed, for us and Domino!

tuxedo cat on a boat
Obligatory Domino photo

It’s been great! The apartment has air conditioning, a nice shower, wifi, a washing machine, and a dishwasher.

Hopefully Sava will be back in shape and in the water by this time next week. Until then, in between overseeing the boat work, we’re enjoying the shops, restaurants, and visiting with other cruisers. While we miss being on the water communing with the sea life, we’ll be back to it soon. And being in Tahiti is pretty cool.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, scuba diver, cat parent, cyclist, blogger, love the water and exploring new places.

3 thoughts on “In The Yard in Tahiti”

  1. Thank you for the update. Always love reading about your adventures. Sorry to hear about the issues to be dealt with and hope all goes smoothly and as inexpensively as possible.

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