Fixing A Boat in French Polynesia

We spent a year in French Polynesia, exploring beautiful islands, communing with marine life, and meeting amazing people. We also dealt with lots of broken equipment. From sails to machinery, something was always broken on board Sava. Sometimes it was easy to solve, sometimes it wasn’t. Here’s what it’s like fixing a boat in French Polynesia.

Location Location Location

One of the cliches and constants of life on a cruising boat is fixing your boat in exotic locations. At least we have nice views while we’re dirty, tired, and frustrated. In French Polynesia, the views are beautiful. That’s an excuse for a scenic shot!

Fixing the boat in exotic locations, Ua Pou, Marquesas
A beautiful view in Ua Pou, Marquesas

papeete is best for fixing a boat in French polynesia

The best place to be when fixing a boat in French Polynesia is Papeete, Tahiti. Since all the stores selling marine hardware, and regular hardware, are in Papeete, you almost always have to source from there unless you get very lucky. In our three different stays in Papeete over the year, we visited every possible chandler and hardware store. Multiple times. And a machine shop. Living the glamorous yacht life!

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We Aren’t Going to Galapagos

We aren’t going to Galapagos on Sava. We thought we would go but plans change. Fortunately, we flew and ferried to some of the islands in 2015, and loved our time there. The photos in this post are from that memorable visit.


It’s a new rule but Galapagos doesn’t allow cats, and we have Domino. Galapagos is a protected National Park with endangered indigenous animals, so they won’t admit potentially invasive animals.

Blue footed booby
Blue footed booby in The Galapagos

Since Domino is a respected crew member on Sava, we have no choice but to skip it and sail somewhere else. Domino is 13 years old, and she’s spent more time on the boat than we have since she doesn’t leave it.

cat lying on freezer on a boat
Domino is very comfortable on Sava
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We Made Our Boat Nicer To Live On

After almost two years sailing and anchoring in the Caribbean, Sava and her crew needed some TLC. Sava moved to Curaçao Marine for bottom paint and more while we moved into an apartment in town. We only took two weeks away from the boat, but it made a world of difference! During that time, we made our boat nicer to live on, which is good for all of us.

Improving S/V Sava

We’ve done a lot of work on Sava over the years, but we didn’t focus on cosmetics. Fixing the engine, batteries, watermaker and everything else was more important, but since we know how that stuff works now, we can make life on Sava better! While in the yard at the marina, we prettied her up inside and out! Since we made our boat nicer to live on, she’s like a new boat to us and we love her all over again.

S/v Sava
Sava didn’t look terrible when we took her out of the water
Getting a new coat of bottom paint on our sailboat
But the new bottom paint on S/V Sava is an improvement!

Cleaning Sava

We rented a one-bedroom apartment while Sava was in the yard, which meant a thorough boat clean. First on our list was emptying the boat: we took out all the food, defrosted the fridge and freezer, and scrubbed all the cupboards and storage lockers. We vacuumed the boat multiple times since we had shore power and did such a good job cleaning Sava I was almost sad to restock her!

Staying in An Airbnb

While Domino took a few days to get used to living on land, she eventually made herself comfortable.

Domino our cat on the pillows in the airbnb
Domino liked the bed in our Airbnb
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Quarantine On A Sailboat in Bonaire

We knew what we were getting into but it’s still a challenge. After arriving in Bonaire, our requirement was 2 weeks quarantine on the boat. Currently on day too many, here’s what it’s like to be in quarantine on a sailboat in Bonaire.

Our Surroundings

Sava is docked in slot B52 at Harbour Village Marina in Kralendijk. It’s our first time in a marina since last November when we bought new batteries in Martinique.

I can’t talk about the marina because I can’t see or explore it being stuck on the boat since the moment we arrived.

The amenities include water, power, and wifi. The wifi is the best part because we haven’t had lengthy access to that since before the pandemic lockdown in Antigua. That explains the profusion of blog posts since I’ve arrived.

I am sure it’s a fine marina, but all I can see are some rental villas behind our boat, water, and a few other boats on our dock. We are next to the end of B dock with only one occupied boat near us. The couple on that boat are very nice and have even loaned us some boat equipment. They’re kind of keeping us sane too. Quarantine is lonely so it’s nice to have some interaction with other humans.

Our other marina friend is the very nice guy who works here. His name is pronounced Eeedee, but I don’t think that’s how it’s spelled. He comes around a few times a week to check on us and take garbage. He’s been great to us.

We have a little dock next to our boat which we are allowed to walk on but not for more than a few minutes. Each of us goes on the strip of wood at least once a day just to turn on the water. It doesn’t feel like freedom, but it’s all we’ve got.

Boat at a dock during quarantine in Bonaire
Our little strip of “land” access
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Sailing from Antigua to Bonaire

We made it to Bonaire safe and sound. We made a successful multi-day passage which was a huge relief since it was by far our longest sail yet. It wasn’t a perfect sail but sailing from Antigua to Bonaire went much better than expected.

Leaving Antigua

Brian and I love Antigua, but after five months in the country, we were ready to go. Checking out was so easy but a little sad too. Over our last weeks in Antigua I realized what a special time we had there and I’ll always cherish the memories.

We checked out of Antigua!
Checking out was easy
Ready to Sail

We received our approval to enter Bonaire on Friday, June 26th, with an entry date of July 1st. Our provisioning was already done except for a few last minute foods which we bought in Falmouth on Saturday afternoon: hummus and pitas, and peri-peri chicken. Otherwise, Sava was packed up, filled with gas and water, and we were ready to haul anchor and set sail for our longest trip ever!

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