Cruising the South Pacific with Tackless II
Tackless II, along with her two captains, Don and Gwen, cruise from Fiji to Australia
Thursday, June 12, 2008
11 June 2008 – There's Paint!
The last time we checked in we were playing hookey from the boat yard with such success that you might well wonder from the intervening silence if we either were still out at Musket Cove or if, in the end, we did take off as crew with Jim of FLIGHT. Well, tempting as either might have been, neither is the case.

We came back to Vuda Tuesday morning on FLIGHT with four of our friends hitching a ride to the "mainland," which gave Jim more than enough hands to set the main, genny and mizzen of the beamy 49' ketch making for a very nice motorsail in the light breeze. It was a perfect cap to our getaway weekend, reminding us of how grand it could be to be moving under sail and reassuring Jim and Bob that all FLIGHT's sails were in working condition.

As we pulled into the marina, we got our first glimpse of Tackless II with her coat of primer. On her stands on the hard at the head of the marina, she looked blindingly white and huge in the midday sun! Everyone congratulated us on how well things were moving along and then dispersed to their own errands.

Has it really been almost three weeks since then? Until yesterday, very little changed about how Tackless looked to the passerby since that day. This is not to say that there hasn't been plenty of work done – endless sanding and patching and re-sanding done by Willie's guys, several more coats of primer, even some bottom work – but none of it the kind of work that jumps out and says, we're making progress here! It is hard to point proudly at a boat flecked with green speckles (of fairing compound) and say proudly, "That's ours!"

Don has spearheaded a huge amount of work inside the boat, including new varnish for the aft cabin, aft head, galley, and starboard side of the salon (so far). Even that has had its frustrations as it seems we ordered in the last can of gloss varnish in all of Fiji and had to wait for more to come from NZ! We have polished hinges, marked chain, had canvas and dive gear repaired, run weekly loads of laundry and swept up countless dustpans of fiberglass dust. If you have any doubts, this is NOT the fun part of cruising.

It doesn't help that many or our friends have come and gone. Our friend Marjetka of Little Mermaid pulled in and made a fast exit to Tonga by airplane to restart her Fiji visa, leaving us in charge for a week of the wonderful Cheri, a Caribbean canine of ancestry suggestive of a wolfhound. Although she slept on her own boat, Cheri's joy at seeing us twice a day or more, definitely lifted our souls, and by the end she was pretty much spending the whole day with us. "Mama" Marjetka is back now, but Cheri, full of wriggles and joie de vivre, still comes to find us, and we still take her for the odd walk.

Another highlight was the return from New Zealand of our young buddies Tricky and Jane of Lionheart. But after orchestrating a few repairs from their boisterous trip up, fixing us a fine dinner of sausages smoked in their new aft deck smoker, and leading Don down the path of way too many beers, they took off in pursuit of kite-surfing venues, their newest hobby. Ah, youth…

Also back are Steve and Rachel of Apogee, which brings us to a look at the latest political move affecting cruisers. Last November, the government issued a surprise ruling that cruising yachts would only be permitted to stay in the country six months. This produced quite the hubbub among the stored boats until we were assured that we were all grandfathered in. However, now that our year is running out, the government has come up with a new rule: boats can come in for three months, extendable to nine, BUT they then must stay away nine months before they return or else be liable for duty and the ruling is retroactive to March 08!

Now, in places like Mexico, we paid for a temporary import permit (good for 10 years!!!) for a reasonable fee (something like $150 US, if I remember correctly). Fiji, however, wants duty of 27% of the boat's value with VAT tax of 12.5% of the valuation PLUS the duty on top!!! Yikes! They will give you five years to pay it in installments, and you can pay for a year and then leave, but still....

Apogee was on the same junket to Futuna that Tackless made last year, so Steve and Rachel are pretty much on the same countdown to August that we are. However, Apogee is sitting in her cyclone pit without an engine. The engine is here, but not yet installed, and, to complicate things, Steve is enmeshed in a project for his company that will tie him up for another year. His and Rachel's hope was they would be able to arrange an extension in order to keep Apogee in this safe boatyard, have the engine and other work completed, and then be able to cruise this part of the world when the project finally ends…all worth a great deal of money to the local economy. The new ruling makes that a very expensive proposition.

Fortunately, this is not an issue we have to cope with (although we could easily have spent more time cruising Fiji). The issue we have to cope with is getting Tackless II back in the water. So, here's this week's exciting developments:


And it happened pretty fast, too. At 3:15 pm yesterday, Willie started spraying oyster white topcoat. We thought, as we assembled chairs and cameras (and beer) to watch him, that he was just going to spray the deck. This turned out to be Willie pulling Don's leg. Willie (thank goodness) seems to really enjoy Don's sense of humor, and dishes it right back, such as telling Don, just before the painting was to begin that he needed him to go up the mast…and stay there…to act as a scarecrow to keep the birds off! So, after that chuckle, we settled in to watch as Willie proceeded to put on three coats of paint, wet-on-wet on the deck and then, without stopping, the topsides, all in just about three hours. It was quite a show. The sun was setting as he finished and his eye lashes (the man shoots without goggles!) were fringed white!

And the boat looks gorgeous! Imagine a three hour shoot with virtually no drips!

His motivation for this superhuman effort was, unfortunately, a lousy weather report. A tropical depression is heading our way from the equator with lots of rain and wind forecast for Thursday night through Saturday (work-days, of course). Today's plan to get the non-skid areas done fell apart because the winds would have blown the non-skid granules away. And there is still the hardtop to re-shoot in the color I like to refer to as Latte (Willie missed a patch on his first effort) as well as color on the "timber" (the local word for wood, in this case referring to the caprails,)

So we are still a ways from being done, and wouldn't you know there's another holiday Monday! Fiji is really something for having good weather on weekends and holidays. But Don and I will have plenty to do getting the boat ready for us to move back aboard.

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