Archive for May, 2019

Completing the Puzzle

Friday, May 31st, 2019

Well…. we have a new headstay. New upper and and lower fittings. Now we need to get the Famet Furler back together. I had a local machine shop make 4 new pieces of the one I dropped in the water. Two look like they will fit. 🙂 I only need one.  The wx and seas for the trip Tuesday went sour anyway. W/ called immigration and they said to call them back two days before our Visa expires and they’ll make an adjustment. Thus, we’ve crossed the speed bump and we’re back on track. A few days later; but, back on track.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Oh-Oh!

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

I went up the mast today to check the rigging before we left for Vanuatu. Oh SHIT!  I found two broken wires on the headstay. Lucky and unlucky. We’re hoping to leave for Vanutatu Tuesday.  I called the only rigger around; Bruce.  He has 10 mm wire which is quite close to the 3/8 size but we won’t be able to use the HighMod fitttings. He actually indicated that the Hy-Mod etc fittings up top don’t do all the best with roller furling. I haven’t seen any of that info but that was his take on it. As of this am we have 95% of the roller furling down. We’ve sent him a length of clevis pin to clevis pin. I dropped one piece in the water (a few curse words were promptly said) and we have a diver coming to see if he can retrieve it. We can’t get the drum off the lower section but there is a machine shop here. So we hit a speed bump. We are getting over it. Hopefully we can still make the Tuesday departure. Cheers…

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Forwards and Backwards

Saturday, May 18th, 2019
Having completed much of what we wanted in Denarau we moved across the bay to Vuda Marina. Here we would connect with Kitty, the manager of Yuvee Marine, for some boat work. I found a couple of fiberglass tabs that had let go when we were struck but the ship in Suva. Who by the way never made good on their promise to pay nor did MSAF on their promise to fine them. We were stuck with the expenses. Anyway, we needed those interior repairs completed. We need the teak we purchased cut to repair the slats on the bow sprit. We need new bottom paint. And finally the wheel attachment for our Sailomat wind vane stripped and repainted.
 
Finding and keeping good contacts through the world is a real plus for cruisers. And Mr. Coreman of Altex in NZ is one of them. He provided us with the contact info for the Fiji distributor of Carboline SB-3000. We contacted them and while the process wasn’t that of a developed nation it all worked out.
 
We received a quote and they asked when we would come to Suva and pick it up! Lots of laughing occurred on our end. We don’t have a car and it is a long dinghy ride. We wanted it shipped. First, they indicated they would drop ship it with a freight forwarder. Opps, we needed to pay first for the paint. At home in the US the entire cost would be included. Ok, they sent us an invoice to pay. I went to Western Union to see about transferring the money to their bank account. First Western Union said yes but we need a copy of your passport. Back to the boat for the copy. Returning to the office I now heard: Opps, they can’t do it. Western Union provided some; IMHO, lame reason but I couldn’t finagle them to do it. I had to go to the bank.
 
That evening I thought I could pay them from our NZ account. I could, if only I had the banks physical address. The bank was BSP. The Bank of the South Pacific. While on the BSP website they didn’t provide any postal address’. The following day it was into town for me.
 
I was up early, Grabbed my wallet and headed to the bus stop. I had the cash. Stupid me; W/ had grabbed some cash from my wallet for more groceries. Off I went. I caught the dollar bus to town, found where the bank was and got in line. Less than 30 minutes later I was at the teller and ready to pay the bill. She filled out the paperwork and I opened my wallet to count the cash. Opps. I was $300 short. I asked if I could put some on my credit card. Sorry. She said there was a bank machine on the other side of the room but I had already taken money from it today and was at my limit. Hanging my head I left the bank with my money and the bill.
 
I called W/ and asked her to hop the bus; bring more money and met me in town. While I waited I eased my hunger and had lunch. She showed up an hour later and we both went to the bank.
 
In the morning I had a call from the Altex distributer in Suva saying I didn’t need to pay the Fiji tax. Yipee. We both went to the bank and this time I was able to complete the transaction. I expected the paint shipped tomorrow and I ought to get it in the afternoon. Sweet.
 
Two hours later; back at the boat I received a call from Altex saying I didn’t pay the freight charge. I thought they had said it would be freight forwarded and I would pay when the product arrived. Nope, I needed to pay for the shipping. With the paint paid for they said they would ship it anyway and trust that I would pay the extra $100, at my earliest convience.
 
At least, from Denarau getting into Nadi is not difficult. Roughly every 15 minutes the dollar bus picks up passengers and 30 minutes later you are in town. Not wanting anything holding over my head I went into town the following day. Same bank, different teller and paid the $100 FJ.
 
That afternoon I received a call from the shipper, where was he to met me. Bingo! Fifteen minutes later he met me at the fuel depot and I had my paint. Tick another thing off our list. Next we can proceed to Vuda where we will have the work done.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

We’re Here!

Monday, May 13th, 2019
 
We were looking forward to three things: Washing the boat, a good wash of ourselves, and washing the clothes. Denarau is one of the nicer Marinas in the S Pacific. Sadly, they could only offer one out of the three things we wanted.
 
We had called ahead for a mooring. 🙁 This marina takes a lot of reservations and no deposits. Some yachties reserve the moorings for when they think they might be there. Then simply don’t show or cancel at the last minute. Thus the majority of moorings are booked 24/7. And today that was the case.
 
Lucky for us, they did have a few slips available. We took slip. That ensured that we could get the boat washed, shower and catch up on laundry. When I walked up to the office for registration I became lost. The office building I knew disappeared. The new one was in a makeshift container. Nice; but not the same. I registered and asked about the laundry and showers. Opps, they are not available yet. A new office “complex” is being built and they don’lt have any showers or laundry. Any discounts for the lack of usual services. Nope, sorry. Well, that is Fiji.
 
We’ll need to find alternatives. Showering aboard wasn’t an issue but lots and lots of hot water to shower was. And laundry, we’ll see. Fortunately Sue and Andrew (local sailors) came to the rescue with laundry saying we could use the machine at their house.
 
After a good boat wash and some libations we settled in for the week.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Arrived!

Friday, May 10th, 2019
It was a calm night and a wonderful day. After a light dinner we slept like baby’s and left in the am as the Sun rose. Today would be a motoring day. It was, 10 hours of motoring along the N shore in the wind shadow of Viti Levu.
 
Again we anchored where we knew the holding was great, the rocking and rolling minimal, and looked forward to a good nights rest.
 
Sun up we were moving. We called Denarau Marina for a mooring and told they were all full. Instead we took a slip at the marina. We wanted a good wash of the boat and easy access to supplies. We cruised by Latoka and rounded the point to head SW for Denarau Marina. Here we were no longer in the wind shadow and we had a fun 2’ chop to motor into. Once inside the breakwater the winds were on the beam as we cruised into the slip. Two staff from the Marina aided our arrival and we slid in (literally) to the slip. The wind pushed us towards the finger. Fortunately for us the rubber edge and the fenders protected out boat. We tied up and breathed a sigh of relief. New jobs and projects in readying for our big move west.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

On the Move….Still.

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

W/ scanning the water around Fiji

Early the following day I pulled the anchor and off we went. Luckily it wasn’t stuck on any coral and came up with a wee bit o bottom stuck to it. The bottom in this anchorage is full of coral and it is easy to get the chain wrapped around a bommie.

 
By the time the Sun cleared the horizon we had the jib up and were on a lovely broad reach heading west to Vote Lavu. The first approx 25 mile leg was a lot of open water and the second would be winding out way N through the reefs. While the reefs are not well marked; Cyclone Winston removed a few markers three years ago, we have two GPS tracks. We created them on previous trips and hope those will keep us out of trouble.
 
Still tired from the mess two days ago and wanting to get a better feel for the jury rig I did, we didn’t fish. The electronic auto pilot would steer this course and once inside the reefs we would alternate taking the helm. If we use the electronic autopilot here it to easy to be distracted and run Elysium up on a reef. We don’t have the autopilot connected to any chart plotter. Even if we did, as a sailor I”m to conservative to trust those auto setups. I’ve had cruising friends that plotted form marker to marker. Their boat was then steered to exactly where the marker is and they ran right into it. Others have followed a colored line on a chart. That line signifies deep water. They missed the part where the magnetic line is no longer accurate due to shoaling and storms. Nothing beats a good look out on a boat.
 
So….. we made it inside the reefs before noon and turned N ready to begin the “gutter crawl”. We will stay inside the reef now all the way to Vuda and Denarau. Luckily, the winds shifted to follow the coast and we had a wonderful, relaxed sail up the E side of Viti Levu. We wanted to be anchored before sunset at Nana i’ Ra. And we were…. with a bit of a scare.
 
We rounded the island and headed to where our usual spot. However, I wanted to move in a little closer. Otherwise we anchor in about 10 m of water. Being further away from shore we have a bit more wind as it cascades over the mountain and down. I’m forward and ready to drop the hook. As the boat continues to float forward I start to see the bottom, check the depth, 20’, 15’, check the water it’s clearer. I signal W/ to shift into reverse. Nine feet, I signal MORE power ….in reverse. And we begin backing up. It’s not easy stopping and reversing the direction of a 15-20 ton boat in the water. Our good ol’ 85 hp Perkins came to the rescue as water rushed past the bow. Water seemed to for the next minute or so. Stopping in deeper water; again, I dropped the hook.
 

Bye, Bye, Savusavu

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Well, we left. We’ve waited long enough. My faux brother, Dirk, likes the phrase; Analysis Paralysis. And it seems to me while we look at the wx, look at the predictions and wait for the “perfect window”, all we do is wait longer. The perfect window never comes and pointoint in time we’re tired of waiting and we leave.

It wasn’t a bad window. Or so we thought. Winds were the right speed out of the NE turning W later in the day. By then we hoped to be in Makogai. Our course put us 25 nm SW and then WSW. Unfortunately; I overlooked how even a small contrary breeze against a current can mess up water. The end result is a wet ride. We were never in any danger. We were uncomfortable for a few hours.

The NE wind was lighter then hoped for. Often with wx predictions the offshore winds are greater than stated. Sometimes forcasters are getting right on. Anyway we sailed for bit with a full main and Yankee jib. Then the winds started to increase and we put a reef in the main. As we turned for Makogai we couldn’t hold enough Westerly. We did sail the course as long as we could but eventually dropped all sail to round the top of the island and head for the anchorage. We couldn’t round the bottom of the island as the reef extends for about 20 miles further S.

There was a minor / major discover while sailing. The shaft lock didn’t function. This is the item that locks the shaft and allow the propellor to feather creating less drag. I ended up having to put a vice grip on the shaft to keep the propellor from spinning and to let the prop blade furl.

We tried out some new stuff on the boat. In NZ the drone landing pad we had made was to carry the dinghy for day hops. It’s actually an arch with two big solar panels on it. But; carrying the dinghy on the arch means that we can’t use the wind vane as a wind vane. So we use an electronic autopilot. While off the wind where the angle of attack isn’t all that important, it works fine. When on the wind the sailing angle is critical and an electronic pilot is a PITA. A few degrees smaller wind angle and the sail wants to stall and the boat will luff. A greater angle the boat will simply heal more and work harder. With a wind vane we would have taken advantage of the lifts and no doubt cleared the top of Makogai. We would have gotten to our anchorage a couple of hours earlier.

But; it takes less than an hour to use the arch to haul the dinghy up and stored, it takes roughly three hours to deflate it, cover it, and store it on deck. And the reverse is about an hour to put the dinghy back in the water, on from the davits. The engine and fuel tank only a couple of minutes. From the deck it is a 2-3 hour job. That is with the electric air pump we bought to inflate it and deflate the dinghy.

We were looking forward to nice calm anchorage. By now the winds had clocked to W NW, the exact opening of the anchorage. And while there is a fringing reef at Makogai, it was not large enough to break all the waves. Many made it through and in the anchorage we we spending a lot of time going up and down. Neither of us were happy.

W/ warmed up some food she had prepared ahead of time and Mother Nature must have felt sorry for us. She put out a beautiful Sunset. By the time evening was upon us the up and down motion was abating. Sleep was near and by the am we were in a calm anchorage.

A Treat after a Rough day

The following day we chose as a rest layover day. Yesterday took it out of us. We cleaned up the boat and emptied the locker out that is over the shaft lock. Bingo, I found the spring and the Nylon nut that tensions the lock. Put it back together and we’re ready to go… again. Just one issue, Something is still missing.

By all appearances it seems that only a shim is missing so I fashioned one out of a piece of hose and things seemed to work. Put it back together and re packed the locker. The rest of the day we hung out, read, Watched a movie and went to bed early in a nice calm anchorage.

Go Slow
Stay Long
Sail Far

Why…. We Cruise

Saturday, May 4th, 2019
A simple verb with a plethora of meanings. Some people think of the Atlantic Rally Cruise or the World Rally Cruise. Those rallies spend approx 3 years traveling with a group of boats on the trade winds route around the world. In roughly 18 months on the water from port to port they will spend another 18 months in port seeing the sites and partying with others of their group. They will meet a few locals who most often are hired. They show them the sites and get a small taste of the countries’ cultures. They might see wonders that other tourists have a very difficult time getting to. And before one settles in they rush off to another port.
 
Some friends of friends of ours we met in Panama were with one of the rallies. They spent 3 days in Panama City and thought that was long enough! On to the Los Perlas (Islands just off Panama in the Pacific) for 3 days and then checking out for the Galapagos. They were through Panama so fast we never had a chance to ask them what they thought of Panama. We found Panama a wonderful country with a vigorous culture. There is one real advantage to a rally, the paper work is usually handled by the group organizers.
 
Other rallies are more laid back. Those don’t have a fixed schedule and still ease the paperwork. Some rallies as well provide support for those in their group. Those rallies we keep in the back of our mind as we reach an area of the world that has a deep seeded love of paperwork. And you thought you had it difficult back home.
 
Then then there are the type A cruisers. They rush from port to port, anchorage to anchorage; trying to see it all. I often chuckle as I see them move into and out of an anchorage. They drop the hook, often in some ludicrous spot, run ashore and seek info on the biggest waterfall, the longest zip line or the fanciest restaurant. They’ll meet a couple of locals and pick their brains for what to see and do. And…they’re off, two days later or maybe three, they’re heading to a new anchorage. I whisper into the wind; you can’t see it all!
 
We have some cruising friends; she’s from the Philippines, and I loved when she bragged that there are over 7,000 islands in her country. Visiting each island every day means 20 years worth of cruising! 20 Years! You can’t see it all. We pick and choose.
 
Our choices however are quite different. We love to share in others lives and cultures as much as possible. This means we must spend time in one area. No one is going to invest in a relationship when they know you are leaving in a hour or a day.
 
Don’t get me wrong, we love to do some of the tourist stuff, love waterfalls, love hikes, and beautiful vistas. We enjoy local restaurants (provided they are clean and bug free), and above all, love meeting and getting to know the people.
 
For us; the number one reason to cruise is to share with others ours and their lives. In the Chesapeake we met some fellow Westsailors who have become wonderful friends. Jenny even came and traveled with us through the Panama Canal and when traveling in the US we hung with them at their new home. Mickey and Lil were neighbors at our dock in Annapolis and their friendship is a bond worth keeping. We pick up cruising friends all along our route; some like Dirk and Silvie we’ll keep forever (well; at least Silvie) LOL. Dirk is like a brother to me; our ideas and methods in yachting so common I joke that somehow we have the same parentage even though our births were continents away.
 
Then there there are the locals; some expats and some not that are frosting on the cake. In NZ we joined two tennis clubs, and a fitness center. In Panama we shared in an expat sailors group in Isla Linton. In Savusavu, Fiji we did yoga 3 times / week with a varying size group of expats, cruisers and every once in awhile a tourist. The relationships we cultivate sustain our souls.
 
In Fiji at Savusavu Marina we’ve shared much time with Bev and her two daughters. Bev is the Marina manager and full of vim and vigor. For most people she is quite the politician. For us I think she let her guard down and we see the real her. She’s not afraid to share her frustrations and joys, she not afraid to let her two daughters attack us. Cathlyn and Ashley will trot down the dock yelling Uncle Dave; Auntie Wendy! Then they throw themselves through the air right at us; wrapping their arms and legs around each of us.
 

I asked Bev if I could help in Cathlyn’s education. I took it upon myself to work with Cathlyn in learning her multiplication

Such a fun girl.

tables. Cath is a gregarious 8 year old and I wish we could all love life as much as she. When she and her sister learned their multiplication tables to where her schools required and as fast as I or W/ could repeat them, W/ and I took them for a small reward. Cath wanted a thick Milkshake from Snowy House (the best Milkshakes in the S. Pacific) and Ashley wanted to go snorkeling. Ashley is a through and through water rat!

 
I also acquired the first Harry Potter book to read to Cath as well as the audio book so she can read and listen to it on her own. Harry Potter is pushing her limits a bit. So W/ and I added some Dr. Seuss books to their collection as well. Before we shower at the marina each day we’d spend time with them.
 
Often when we’re finished reading or playing “hang women” they escort W/ and I to the store to fill up diesel jugs or our ice bag. They carry them over there and the sap that I am; they sucker me into getting them a treat. Unfortunately the diesel is too heavy and I must carry it back. But Cathlyn is strong and she’s able to carry the ice bags back. Don’t worry, she’s makes sure it is quid quo pro.
 

Time to take funny pics on mom’s phone!

W/ has tried to co-opt Ashley into the reading, math work, and learning games. Ashley is 7 and if there ever was a continual motion machine in a human body it would be hers. She must be a lot of what I was like as a child. She never wants to stop. She’s always wanting to talk you into something. She pushed so hard and so often that she wanted a boat ride I finally had to give in. But! I did set some parameters. It would only be on Sundays and it would be one ride each or together. So Sundays if they are around we go for a ride in the harbor.

 
We putt putt through the anchorage and between anchorages I kick it into high gear. The dinghy rises up on plane and each girl hoots and hollers like children at Christmas. That routine was boring for me so I started to teach them to (wo)man the helm (steer the boat). Again, just idling along they both picked it up quite fast and had a great time telling the other which way to go. That is when either was a bit off course which was quite often.
 
This is why we cruise. To meet new people from different countries, to share in their lives and share our lives with them. We are enriched by these experiences and only hope that this sharing of our lives is enriching their lives too.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long