Mother Nature is a PITA

June 7th, 2019

We’re ready. We’ve been watching the weather and the sea conditions.  Why is it that 5 days out everything looks good. As we close in on our departure time things start turning to crap. There is a (L) that has popped up just N or us and reforms S. But (L)’s can be problamatic. They spin off weird crappy microsystems.  Then there is the sea state. In the Tasman there is a huge (H). That is churning up some rather large seas. In general large seas are not an issue except when they are on the beam.  Then they can mess up a boat pretty bad.  A cruising aquaintence rolled his boat on this trip. Not fun, not in our plans.  Right now the swell is predicted to be 3-4 m and on top of that we would have  any wind blown seas.  Not our cup ‘o tea. So like any good sailor; we wait. And I can’t say we patiently wait. W/ is ready, I’m ready!  Come on Mother Nature; give us a break!

Red is Bad!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Packin N’ Moving

June 6th, 2019

The headstay repair is completed. We loaded the dinghy on this am. It is all tucked in on the aft deck. W/ for the most part has been moving things around in the boat preparing for offshore. I’ve been checking the wx. It looks like Monday or Tuesday we will exit Fiji. We love this country and the people. The life here is not for us. Tennis is minimal and supplies are often hard to come by and expensive to import. The food is great and the anchorages quite excellent. The water gorgeous with an abundance of tropicals. But; there is more world to see, more people to met.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

The Cruisers Bane

June 4th, 2019

As long distance cruisers one thing is patently obvious. The worlds division in fastners is a real PITA!

We’ve replaced our headstay. They don’t have imperial wire here so we opted for metric. Ok, no big deal. Then we needed a metric fitting on the top and either a metric fitting to imperial screw for the turnbuckle or a new turnbuckle. We choose all new.

Next to  replace the headstay we pulled down the furler. While I really like our furler it is no longer made anymore. Parts are unavailable. I have a bunch of spares and a spare short Famet Furler for the staysail we’ve never put up; but that’s it.

I dropped one part overboard (into water I don’t wish to submerse myself).  To the machine shop I go. One out of four lost.  I have 4 new machined up. Two out of the four actually look like they will work. One definitely does and I secure the drum to the foil. Now on to the foil and the rest of the drum.

When we pulled off the foil I twisted off some screw heads. The studs were still in place. One I was able to remove with heat (the riggers had a torch) and the others I left in place.  Some of the screws I stripped the Phillips so I used a dremel to cut a slot. The blade on the impact driver removed them the rest of the way. That worked for the bulk of the screw removal. However, those screws were toast.

While I have a large inventory of fastners it is not infinite. When in a port with hardware or yachting stores I usually pick up what I need from them.  Store one; we don’t carry imperial anymore. Damn! Store 2; we don’t carry imperial anymore. Double DAMN!  Luckily I found some longer bolts that I could cut and use. Somewhere along the way I also lost my tap for the screw used. I was using it to clean out any corrosion in any of the fittings. Again, no one carried them here. And again; luckily, I had a second tap.

Cruise and carry or not,  supplies at your own risk.  Imperial vs Metric. It is pathetic that the US didn’t have the humility and courage to adopt all metric decades ago. As cruisers; when traveling to exotic lands we pay for that spinless choice.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Unexpected

June 2nd, 2019

The head sail foil for the roller furling is up. And because the new fittings set the bottom higher the top  block (I refer to them as Elephant ears) is closer to the halyards. This caused a serious problem when we made the passage from the US to the Virgin Islands.  At that time the Elephant ears caught and jammed  one of the other halyards keeping us from furling the sail. Thus, tomorrow I expect to pull one section and shorten it three inches. That would be about the height it has been for the last 8 years. Then I need to shorten the internal halyard that the Famet Reefurl uses. After that we hope a brief sea trial and then watch for another weather window heading West.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Completing the Puzzle

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!

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

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!

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!

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.

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.