What a day we had today! We had a big list of things to accomplish today
and we miraculously accomplished every one of them with some degree of
completeness. In the morning we went straight to Immigration, then to
Customs and finally to the Port Captain to complete formal entry
procedures into French Polynesia. Technically, when you enter Fr. Pol.
anywhere EXCEPT in Papeete you are only granted a temporary entry permit.
They send the paperwork from your first port of call (Hiva Oa for us) to
Papeete and when we arrived they had a folder with our boat name prepared
already. The process was easy and fast, but Immigration could not tell us
the status of our request for a visa extension. Visitors are granted a 90
day visa upon arrival to Fr. Pol. (4/23 in Hiva Oa) and need to submit a
written request to the High Commissioner for an extension, which can be up
to 90 days more.
But first we needed to get some money changed to Francs. We stopped at
several banks but all had long lines. Finally we just picked one and
waited on line - for 30minutes! Yup, we're in a city.
Next went to the DRCL, the department which administers visa issues to
inquire about the status of our request. As expected, we were told the HC
had not made the determination yet - of course they need to drag it out as
long as possible so they can justify their jobs, but no matter. The clerk
who spoke English well told us the decision would be made by the 18th and
we should contact him again then. We got his phone number and name. Of
course, on the 18th we will be in Moorea (with my dad who will be visiting
that week) and after we are told on the phone that we are approved (we
hope) we then need to go back to Papeete and fill out forms and pay a fee
for the visa extension! It's a good excuse to check out the super-fast
catamaran ferry! The distance from Moorea is only 12miles and the ferry
moves at 40+ knots! That's about 50mph and if you stick your head out the
car at that speed you may get some appreciation for how fast it really is.
Anyone who owns or uses boats will know that for a boat this is really
fast. It only takes about 30 minutes from dock to dock. Perhaps we can
make a day trip of it with Dad and Barbara and have a nice lunch at one of
the outdoor cafes overlooking the harbor.
After the DRCL we made some phone calls to inquire about the status of our
order for a replacement generator end. Its been so long without a working
genset that we hardly believe there is any chance it will ever work again.
But in fact the distributor (in Minnesota) reports that it was shipped
Friday and should be in Papeete on Wed. or Thurs.!
Next we made our way to the industrial part of town to speak with Carl
Svennson at the Poly Industrie machine shop about having a new bow roller
made. I should say here that I have asked a friend from Seattle who works
at a boat yard to have one made for me. He is going to send it to my
father who will bring it to Tahiti. But our need is so great right now
(the broken bow roller makes anchoring difficult and dangerous) that we
decided to see about having one made here, especially since there is some
possibility that our Seattle connection will run into complications and
fail to get it shipped to my dad in time. Not that I am saying it will
happen, but we were worried and this item is so important we cannot afford
to take the chance when a machine shop is right here and there won't be
another for a few thousand miles - and dozens of anchorings.
After that we stopped at an Ace Hardware store and bought a shower head to
attach to our sink in place of the faucet head which (Jonah) broke last
week. Its better then an open hose in the sink but being a shower head it
cannot do a solid stream only a shower pattern!
Phew - we also went to the sporting goods store and bought some more
fishing hooks and lures, another gasoline jerry jug and found a guy at an
appliance repair shop to come out to our boat on Wed. to try to fix our
washing machine! All that was before noon!
After a nice lunch we went back home for a nap - Jonah, Kate and I all
needed one - and after nap we took the bus to Maeva Beach to find the
elusive dive equipment shop we tried to find on Saturday! We had great
difficulty again but we felt we were getting closer! We stopped in at the
Maeva Beach Hotel - which is supposed to be very close to the dive shop -
and Jonah was whining about being thirsty so we made right for the
poolside bar and got some cold cokes. That was when Jonah noticed the pool
and started begging to go swimming! So we stripped him to his skivvies and
in he went while Kate and I sat poolside sipping our cokes. Too bad we
didn't have bathing suits!
We finally did find the dive store, with the help of some people from
another sailboat who gave us a ride in their dinghy - seems it can't even
be seen from the main street and is much easier to find from the water. We
got most of the things on our list! New booties for me (mine ripped) a new
mask for Kate (her's is uncomfortable) some spare hoses, o-rings and a
pressure gauge for checking tank pressure. We didn't find a Dive Skin to
replace the one I lost at Makemo (a lycra one piece suit of extreme
thinness designed to protect against chafe not to keep you warm, though it
does help a little there) nor did we get a weight belt for Kate (they only
had weird weights - the sporting good store had better ones she says). But
a very productive day it was so far!
Next it was back on the bus to town. We stopped at the supermarket (as
nice as any in the USA, though the prices are double or triple US prices)
and got food for dinner and a few extra items we need. Dinner has now been
cooked, served and eaten and Jonah is in bed. Tomorrow should be slightly
less strenuous. Kate will be taking the laundry to the local Laundromat
while I take our propane tanks to the tank farm across the harbor (in the
dink) to be refilled. A mellow day to be sure!