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The indestructible Coursemaster autopilot died 24 hours out of the Galapagos through no fault of it's own. I take credit with a little help from Dave (but that's another story). With the autopilot gone for the duration Dave & I broke the bad news to Esther & Elvira: they had to stand watch and help steer the boat. After a brief conference in Spanish, Esther asked what would happen if they didn't. I told them at some point Dave or I would get too tired and make a mistake. That mistake could be minor or it could get us all killed. Another brief conversation in Spanish.. They would help.

That began the longest days of our lives. We split up into 2 watches; Esther & I on one with Dave & Elvira on the other. Each watch lasted 3-hours and continued 24 hours a day until we reached the Marquises. Esther asked how long that would take and I told her the average listed in the cruising guides was 21 days with the longest being 28 days. The poor girl about passed out. She then asked how long if we turned back. I told her that was almost impossible since it was all up wind and there were no parts available until Panama. It was quicker to just keep going to Tahiti.

Esther & Elvira

Moorea by moped

Esther in Moorea

Esther and Elvira were incredible. Neither missed a watch the entire way across. Esther got seasick and puked 54 times in 13 days! I had to spoon feed her cabbage soup in bed but she got up for her turn at the helm. I contacted Commanders' Weather and told them to route us for speed rather than comfort. They agreed and guided us along the equator with a sharp left turn down to Hiva Oa. We made it 3100 miles in 13 days and beat one boat that left 10 days before us!

Esther & Elvira at a waterfall

Drying out the holds in Moorea

Esther in Moorea

Shimoda only carry's 120 gallons of fresh water so we had to conserve. 120 gallons for a 20 day trip works out to 5 quarts per person, per day; the safe minimum. Each day we would open both water tanks and everyone would look in. We no one cheated and because we made it in 13 days, we had water to spare.

We arrived on a Sunday and weren't supposed to leave the boat until we could clear in on Monday. The ladies hadn't washed their hair in 13 days and we all were a bit crusty. Without a word, Esther & Elvira opened the tanks, looked in, announced there was enough water for their showers and disappeared. They returned squeaky clean, happy and ready to enjoy the first Happy Hour since departing the Galapagos (we don't drink at sea). Everything you ever heard about drunken sailors is true! After 1 cocktail they were smashed. It was a combination of fatigue, lack of food and a release of stress.

Esther & Elvira at a Tahitian waterfall

Mark, Esther & Elvira at a festival in Papeete

Esther in Moorea

After resting in the Marquises. we sailed to Tahiti for parts and supplies. Papeete is a fun town but very expensive. Fortunately we had a floating hotel and restaurant tied up along the beach. Everyone had a great time. Dave, ever the social director, found all our old friends from Panama and Esther became quite the restaurateur. Several nights a week Dave would arrange dinner parties. Most days we would walk to the City Market for lunch and flowers. On the nights we didn't dine aboard we would venture down to the cruise ship dock where all the catering trucks from the island would congregate. You can find anything and everything imaginable to eat and its all fantastic.

Esther in a tiara

Esther loves her tiara

The very fashionable Esther

Esther Tiera
Mark & Esther
canoe races

Esther's Tiara in Papeete Harbor

Esther & Mark in Moorea

Esther & Elvira at the native canoe races

We shipped the autopilot to Australia and took a few weeks to tour around Tahiti & Moorea. Esther & Elvira took a day to have their picture taken with every waterfall we could find. We snorkeled, walked, wrote letters home and tried to find charts to New Zealand since Shimoda only had Australia charts.

Shimoda at anchor
hitch hikers

Shimoda at anchor in Polynesia

The Bookends

Hitch-hikers in Moorea

Esther at falls
Esther with flowers

Esther in Moorea

Esther's daily flowers


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