Posts Tagged ‘Fiji’

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.

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

Trying to Move

Friday, April 19th, 2019

We’ve moved, just a little. We moved to the Copra Shed Marina in Savusavu to clean the boat and load on final supplies. I took a taxi out to a friends container and picked up our old mainsail and old solar panels. We plan on donating them to a village in either New Cal or Vanuatu.

We washed the boat checked the weather and boom. W/ came down with a sore thoat and a cough. That mess has been traveling through the community. So far I’d been spared. Till two days ago. We expected to move today. Heading towards Vuda and boat haul out, more maintenance then west.

We scrubbed her good

With both of us under the weather and no real time constraints we’re sitting tight. We prefer all systems to be 100% when we leave. That includes us. Hopefully this coming week we’ll again look to go.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Invaded by the …Wasps

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Hidden up on our dinnette post.

And I am talking of the insect kind, not protestants. I guess we’ve been sitting in one place too long. I can hear our friends Dirk (in Mexico now) and  Lewis (in NZ)  saying “you figure”! 🙂 Yep! In the cyclone season and with a couple of good size projects we’ve been circumnavigating the same mooring for about 3 months now.

First; W/ and I are below reading and we keep seeing a wasp buzzing in and out of the boat. Once in awhile; oh well, several times in a day oh-oh! I pause to watch it and SHIT! up above on our dinette post she / he / it has built a nest. We wait for the I am now guessing; her, to disappear foraging for more mud or food, we jump up to remove the nest. Carefully we extract it and feed the nest to those in Neptune’s world. We clean up the area. These wasps build nest of mud and they are often referred to as Mud Daubers. Water cleans it up and we watch the rest of the day for any other fly bys and what they might be doing. She returns several times looking for her brood. Luckily she didn’t know it was us that removed / destroyed her nest so she never threatened us. After not finding her nest, shy she moved on.

Behind the dodger under the mainsheet was this nest.

A couple of days later I am lounging in the cockpit…. again. Yes, sometimes we cruisers just sit and think or even just sit. I see another wasp disappear behind our dodger. She crawls under a part of the main sheet we had cast there. I slowly moved the line and she decided it was time to split. Once she left, I looked a little closer. Wow! A much larger nest was being built. Again that nest went to Neptune. Water and a little elbow grease cleaned up the mess. This time she was persistent and all day I watched her return looking for her Larvae. Once I was able to discern her carrying some food. Wasps stuff the nest with anesthetized spiders. When the eggs hatch the larvae have something to eat. The young eat the spiders and grow to adulthood before exiting.

Later that day while waiting for my (not) friend to return I saw another wasp heading under the stay sail cover. I shook the cover and examined where she had been. A third nest was there! It too went overboard. I looked closer at the sail looking for more and found nothing. Whew.
Not to fear the following day I was again lounging. That isn’t all I do. 🙂 I noticed some Wasp activity again in the stay

These built under the staysail cover in Fiji

sail cover. They were further up the sail where the sheet runs to the boom. I shook the sail motivating a couple to leave. Once I felt safe from them I pealed the cover back to find yet a larger nest! This one not on the sail but built on the underside of the cover. Hopefully Neptune has need of a few more little buggers. Over the side it went and the cover snapped shut.

Everything I read indicates the Mud Daubers are not really harmful; unless provoked. And we didn’t want to accidentally provoke any. Neither W/ nor I however wanted to provide a residential area for them. Two days later, most of them seem to have moved on. Maybe it’s time for us to do the same.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Anchor and Chain….Found!

Saturday, June 16th, 2018
It was the third or fourth time we’ve looked for Elysium’s anchor system. The final two times I was invited out to look. I brought my tablet so we wouldn’t repeat any areas we had dragged in. The Royal Suva Yacht Club and Charlie’s Divers have been instrumental in removing the 5 lost anchors. Ours was the last and we were getting worried that it might not be found.
One huge issue is that I didn’t have the location where I dropped it. If you read the previous post you know that we had moved an hour before the storm arrived, it was calm and I wasn’t a bit concerned about where were were lat / long wise. Lesson Learned. When moving the boat and anchoring; have the charting program on!
So what I had been using was some common sense and the coordinates of other boats effected. What I was missing a bit was that we never dragged anchor. Princess Civa never forced the anchor out while pushing us downwind. I’m not sure the anchor would have come out considering how difficult it was to get out once found. I have a difficult time imagining the damage that might have occurred then!
It had been a week and with only one anchor left to be found there didn’t appear to be much impetus in locating it. But like the Bull Dog W/ sometimes becomes, I kept visiting them and asking when they would go looking…again.
Finally Friday pm Charlie (the owner) said we would go and I could come. I brought along my tablet with iSailor installed. Based on where the other anchors were found I thought we would be in that area. We dragged for about an hour picking up a another nice mooring line, a fishing net and lots of plastic. Charlie had another dive to do so we headed back and he said about 10 tomorrow we would look again.
That evening I sat and thought about where we were. I looked at where we had dragged already. Considering where I now thought it might be we never covered the correct area. It must be about where we anchored. Knowing where I thought we were and where we saw Princess Civa ram right into Sahula I put a new anchor on the chart. You can see it in the image posted.
Ten in the morning I was at the Yacht Club and no Charlie. Luckily I found someone that had his personal cell number and called. I didn’t get a hold of him but got his wife who would pass the message on to him. Thankfully he received the message and called back. He suggested a new time 3 pm same day. Ok. I’ll be here and back to the boat I went a little disappointed but glad he called and I wasn’t “stood up”.

iSailor instrumental in locating the anchor.

Three o’clock came and he showed up! I was ready. We headed out and I explained my new thinking. I showed Charlie where I thought I was anchored and the way we were when the wind was blowing. We started dragging the grapnel. Overboard the grapnel went and line paid out. We towed it from the bow, slowly moving backwards while iSailor charted where we were. Charlie watched the display and we picked up a couple of chunks of plastic. Stop, haul in the grapnel, clear the flukes and keep going. After we were far enough away we picked it up and moved again to where we could drag across the expected lay of the chain. Our main anchor system has 300’ of 3/8” High Test chain.

We’re going along and snag something… again. Stop the boat and haul it in. Francis (a friend of Charlies) was along to help. He’s pulling and it’s not easy. Charlie and I join him and we can’t get it up! Maybe? As we are lifting what ever it is higher and higher it is getting heavier and heavier; like chain would. Charlie decides to buoy it and get his dive gear. Back we go to the shop and 15 minutes later we return to the spot.
We pull it up as far as we can on the boat and cleat it off. Charlie is in the water to check. Yep, it’s chain and he’s concerned it’s not shiny. Nope; we don’t have SS chain but galvanized. Ok. He moves the line with the grapnel to the end of the chain and we haul it aboard. It looks like ours.
As we pull it aboard I see the white paint I have signaling the end of the chain. I see the line that blew apart when I let it go. I see the markers we added to know how much chain is out. Oh happy day! It’s ours!
We get all 260’ aboard and are stuck, the anchor is still set in the bottom. Charlie cleats it off on the work boat and pulls. We almost pull the bow of the boat under trying to break the anchor free. There is the possibility we might have to put the chain back in the water and bring Elysium over to retrieve it. He decided to reverse directions and pull from the opposite side we set the hook. Getting a bit of way on and giving it some hp, before the bow of the workboat swamped, the anchor broke free. Yippee!
The three of us haul the rest of the chain and anchor aboard. Luckily as we lift it off the bottom and get more chain in the boat the system gets lighter. We secure the anchor on the bow and the entire setup delivered to Elysium.
There we drop the anchor and chain in the water saving the bitter end for Elysium. Francis hands me the end and I drop it over the windlass making sure it doesn’t end up back in the water. W/ and I are aboard and we haul the rest of the chain and anchor up. Yeah! We can now move to get the rest of Elysium put back in order.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


Sunday, November 20th, 2016

In academia 97% is a great score. On a boat, sometimes it’s not good enough. We keep quite a few spares aboard. You never know what you will need and where. Since we have over XYZ of spares we keep an inventory of them. The inventory is; I would guess 95-99% accurate.

Preparing to leave Denarau from Musket for our prep to NZ W/ noticed our house batteries were low. I didn’t understand how that could be since we run the generator twice / day. We use it to primarily to keep the refrigeration / freezer at the proper temperature. The by product of this procedure is the batteries stay close to fully charged.

In the am I checked the battery charge as the generator was running. Oh-oh! There was no charge! Damn!

No big deal just a PITA. I’ll pull out the spare and put it on, then get the older one rebuilt in NZ. We check the inventory. We carry over 1,000 different items on our boat spares inventory. This does not count tools, or fasteners. Nor does it count daily supplies for living such as food, clothing, books, etc. I ought to have two spare alternators listed (the 200 amp for the generator and the 100 amp for the Perkins. Neither are in the inventory! Damn! Now it is time to hunt through the spares in our lockers. We locate the smaller alternator we purchased in American Samoa. I have included an example of inventory one-locker in that locker in this post. We correct the inventory by adding the alternator and keep looking for the larger one. We have not yet found the alternator. I remember ordering it and paying for it. I can not for the life of me remember putting it on the boat and storing it. Oddly, I have believed for the last three years we had it as a spare. But I (we) can’t find the alternator. We pulled out, cleaned and replaced gear from most every locker in the next two days. and we still can’t find it. Plan B.

So… fortunately we are where there ought to be a place to repair and rebuild them. I took it to a shop in Lautoka recommended by another cruiser. The windings needed replacing, it needed new brushes, and a couple of other little things. Cost is about $200 ish US. Well, At least we will have it working for our trip to NZ! Once there I will get another replacement and make sure it ends up in my dirty little hands and stored on the boat.

Monday I take the alternator to Lautoka for repair. By Wednesday I have it back on the boat. Thursday it is on the generator and working…. not as it should. The shop indicated that the alternator needed to be rewound. Ok, rewind it. They had a machine to rewind it. Great. When I went to the shop I had him show connect the alternator up to make sure it worked. I didn’t want to make the trip for nothing! But the shop is not what I am use to. The employees were pleasant. The equipment was marginal. They didn’t have a dummy load to dump the current into. All they could do was connect it to a battery with a small light to act as regulator and a battery to read the voltage. The shop didn’t have the equipment to tell me if the alternator could put out it’s full amperage. There was charge and the battery voltage rose to 14 v. It took me a 1/2 day to get to the shop and return to the boat. In the end I have paid for an alternator that isn’t 100%. But, it is easy to reinstall and will keep the batteries up as we make our way to NZ. Hopefully soon. We are getting itchy feet.

And yeah, the database has been updated. Now it might be 99% accurate. What is missing? I don’t know. An old friend liked to say “You don’t know what you don’t know”! I believe the same applies here.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Fiji Time

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

At the end of July we went to Fiji immigration in Nadi.  Our Visa was up  August 26, and we wanted to stay until November (ish). We could always fly out of the country and return. Many cruisers do a round trip to Vanuatu all in a day. The cost for W/ and I would be almost the same as applying for an extension.  We felt the hassle of leaving the boat, packing, traveling to the airport, getting stamped out of Fiji, getting stamped into Vanuatu and out on the same day; often catching the same plane back, would have been a PITA.  We opted for the extension.

At the immigration office we had to fill out more paperwork. Once completed we discovered the immigration officer gave us the wrong paperwork not understanding how long we were staying. We filled out a few more pages. Then with copies of our Passports, boat papers, a bank statement (showing we have enough money to not be a burden on the country), and about $500 Fijian dollars we walked out with a receipt and a nod to return to any immigration office after two weeks for our new visa stamps.

We worried that we would need to hang around Nadi for two weeks. But;  the officer assured us we could continue enjoying Fiji and receive the passport stamps at any immigration office.
It took us 3 weeks to travel to Savusavu.  We were a week past our Visa but we had our receipt. In the US I don’t know what they would have done. Hell, with some of the current vitriol we may have been shot being illegal immigrants! 🙂  Fortunately, Fiji is understanding and intelligent in these matters but they are not nearly as timely as much of the western world.

Upon arrival in Savusavu and getting settled with the boat we took our documents to the immigration office for our  passport stamps. About 15 minutes later the officer said the extensions had not yet been approved and to come back next week.  She DID NOT  say “oh-oh, you need to leave”!  We had our receipt and that seemed to entitle us our continued cultural experience.
Roughly tens days pass and we decide to check again with the immigration office. We are thinking of heading out Monday for anchorages unknown. With that trip in mind we need to know if we must stop by other immigration offices or not.  By now we are approximately 6 weeks after our application and 4 weeks past our visas.

Luck was with us. The Immigration officer said our application had been approved. However we needed to return Monday. They needed a fax/email from the head office and we needed to pay another approximately $200 F.  Still a better deal than flying out and back in one day.
When you talk of accomplishing tasks in Fiji one often hears “Fiji Time”.  The understanding is that the task will get completed but not in the time you expect. It may be later today, tomorrow or next week. Often the follow up to Fiji time is Siga na liga.  No Worries.  What a pleasant way to travel life’s paths.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Elysium’s Hip

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Hip tied in Fiji

Hip tied in Fiji

Most evenings you will see Elysium’s  dinghy tied securely to her hip.  The only times she is sleek and trim is for passage making; offshore. That is when our dinghy (car) is packed and flipped upside down on the aft cabin top.

We use a Wichard Dinghy lift strap that attaches to two points on the stern and one on the bow. The strap is adjustable.  If we lift the dinghy with the 15 hp vs the 2 hp verses sans engine the angle sets are all different. The nylon strapping does tend to stretch. We want her to hang a little bow high allowing any rains to wash and drain. We’ve had the dinghy hanging safely in over 30 kts of wind.

Some boats haul their dinghy up higher than we do and set them against their stanchions. We avoid the stanchions feeling that they do not provide a solid continuous support for the tubes. We also don’t see any reason to bring it up higher out of the water. Other cruisers hold the dinghy off the boat with a whisker pole. The farther off the beam you hang the more heal to the boat you have.
We find storing our dinghy about midship, securing the transom on to our boat ladder mount and the bow to a mooring cleat up forward ensures that it is stable. Further, with the dinghy out of the water over a meter it becomes it a bit more difficult for anyone to board the boat.  Swimmers are not able to “grab and go”.  Without the dinghy in the water to climb on the deck it is too high for an easy reach or step up.

Hip tie Stern

Our Hip Tied Dinghy on the stern.

We hang it not just for our security but the security of the dinghy. As far out of the water as it is makes the easy removal of the dinghy more problematic.  I don’t say impossible because thieves that really want something will find a way. With the dinghy out of the water, tied fore and aft it would take an individual a few minutes climbing around on our boat to free the dinghy or engine and they first must get on the boat. If a thief wanted only the outboard it too is difficult.  Lifting and moving 100 lbs over your head while standing on another boat in the water is a feat for Superman.

We tried trailing the dinghy for a year or so behind our boat at night. Most nights we could hear the water slapping up against the dinghy hull. If something wakes me up and I don’t hear the dinghy water slap  the dinghy may well be missing.  This necesitates getting up and checking on it. On super calm nights I would be checking more than sleeping!  Too, hanging off the stern invites an easy theft.  Chains don’t ensure safety either. Another cruiser lost theirs at night while they slept. The dinghy and motor had been chained to the boat. The thief cut the boat chain, floated away and then stole the engine. The dinghy was recovered early that am. The motor was gone forever. Earlier on we lost our dinghy in the Bahamas (fortunately we recovered it and the thief was arrested). The dinghy was trailed astern for the evening. If the weather isn’t optimal the line(s) you have cleated may come free. Tension cycling might well loosen the lines from the cleat. Attachment points could well chafe through.

Hip tying eliminates all these issues. For us this method of protecting the dinghy is the smartest move we can make.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

8 Miles High

Friday, September 16th, 2016

We made it. We wanted to stop at Makogai on our return from Savusavu. Our goal:  bring some “goodies” to the village that was so decimated by Winston. We had stopped on our way  to Savusavu and  spent a day assisting in the building of the local school. There we met some wonderful residents and cruisers.
W/ had an idea what to bring but talking to Jolene at Waitui Marina she changed our minds. She told us what locals would most need and we went to the store in search of those supplies.  With lighter wallets and heavier stores we returned to the boat. There we prepared to leave the following day. We moved out to the Cousteau resort where we

A wonderful sail from Savusavu to Makogai, Fiji

A wonderful sail from Savusavu to Makogai, Fiji

anchored with John on Ichiban. He wished to see Makogai as well and was heading back to NZ at the end of the this cruising season too. Ichiban and Elysium thought they would leave at first light, however Ichiban couldn’t wait.  We found out John had left at 2 am!  Fortunately leaving Cousteau is easy as open water is due West with minimal dangers.
After a delightful sail we entered the outer reef at Makogai. 30 minutes later we were  anchored and received a call from Quxiotic on VHF (the hurricane yacht Lewis and Allyssa refurbished in Savusavu). They were returning from Suva and planned to anchor for the night at Makogai.  They offered to share their luck. The had just caught a nice Mahi-Mahi, and they invited the American Samoa boats for drinks and dinner. John on Ichiban, Louis and Allyssa on Elethurea – now on Quixotic, and Elysium were all in America Samoa at the same time last March. We shared some drinks, lies, and great food in just about that order.  Quixotic was returning to Savusavu the following am and we were planning on a hike across the island. I was ready to deliver our supplies.
In the am we talked John into accompanying us and then called Liberate to see if they wanted to join us.  Liberate is

Wendy and John following the road? Makogai, Fiji

a sister-ship of our last boat Principia (a Westsail 32). The more the merrier. We met ashore about 11 ish and began the trek across / around the mountain.  At one time there was a road / path and while much of it is still there, there is a great deal of growth. The tropical forest never rests.  I carried our supplies in a large dry bag. No, I wasn’t planning on getting wet but it was the best back pack like bag we had. Elsewise it would have been impossible to carry 70 lbs of supplies. Off we went, I as quickly as I could figuring the faster I hiked the sooner I could rid myself of this load.
As with most of W/s and my hiking we didn’t bring enough water.  One liter between us barely  provided adequate hydration in which to make the village. Once there we hoped to refill our container. If not,

One can still see the ruin after Cyclone Winston, Makogai, Fiji

One can still see the ruin after Cyclone Winston, Makogai, Fiji

I’m not sure what we’ll do.  When we worked there a couple of months ago they had good drinking water from the new school’s catchment system. I hope all is fine. With only a couple of stops I soldiered on. I was so goal oriented I didn’t stop for any photos but I did stop to beg W/ for more than my share of the water. The views are magnificent and I doubt 300 tourists in any one year may cross this island.  From a few 100 meters up we looked down into an ocean that appeared to be glass with colors from deep blue to aqua. Reefs and shallow areas were various shades of orange to  brown.  And near our anchorage we saw a fish weir ( a manmade  trap created out of rocks using the tide to trap fish in).

Fili and his Grandchildren, Makogi, Fiji

Fili and his Grandchildren, Makogi, Fiji

Dropping off the dead weight at the school porch I was newly energized for about 15 more minutes.  Thus W/ chose me to hike up to the village to find Fili.  I found Fili working and re introduced myself. I also said we had brought some supplies for the villagers with us. Those supplies included the traditional Kava which is the principal drink of Fijians.  He commandeered a teenager who commandeered her younger siblings and cousins to bring the wheel Road from Research Station to Village, Makogai, Fijibarrow.  The teenager; like many in the US would have, never made the walk preferring instead to let her siblings do the work.
We took a few pictures and shared a brief tale of our walk with Fili and his grandchildren. Then the youngsters  hauled off the supplies back to the main part of the village. We chatted with our cruising friends on the school project while resting in the shade. After drinking our fill of water and filling up the water bottles we began the trek back.  I felt born again Vistas-Makogai, Fijiwalking like I had just dieted and lost 70 lbs. Light on my feet I eased along the trail. How sweet it is. The vistas were still gorgeous, the company grand and the hike hot.  We are in the tropics. 🙂 But, by the end  the km’s wore me down.
Makogai, Anchorage, FijiAs we made the final bend; 8 miles later,  we were joyous at seeing the  Fiji Research Station; the old Leper Colony. After descending the hill I went in search of our dinghy.  I couldn’t wait long to get back on the boat, wet my whistle and shower. With a rising tide the path to our dinghy was through thick forest and the easy ways blocked.  I left my valuables with W/ and waded  into waist deep water around fallen trees. 15 minutes later I located the dinghy floating securely tied to a tree.  I untied it, climbed aboard and started the engine. I know this will sound funny, after freeing the painter I lifted the wheels. We had installed the wheels so we could haul the dinghy as far up on the beach as possible.  After lifting the wheels I picked up John and W/. John had not put his tender in the water so we were the chauffeur today.  Later, most likely after a shower and a nap I would  chauffeur Jon back so we could add our list of lies and adventures.
That evening we let John know we were staying another day because I wanted to see the giant clams. One of the locals had told us where they were in the harbor. Bingo. And they were within snorkeling distance of the boat. John was going to take off. He didn’t like the wx recently (we had one low pressure system move through while we were in Savusavu) and John was looking for a window to head S towards NZ.  Tomorrow was looking like a great sailing day to head over the top of Viti Levu. We would follow a day later but head S to Suva.
The following am, once all the boat chores were completed we don our snorkel gear to visit the giant clams. l grabbed the GoPro and we jumped in the water. Oooo~ a little cool.  What?…. we once lived in Iowa…. whats a little chill! We snorkeled to the clams and I fidgeted with the GoPro.  I prefer electronic gear to be intuitive and the GoPro was more than enough confusing to me. There are …. three…. buttons.  I thought I got it working and we marveled at the size and colors of the Giant clams.  A couple of openings taking water in… filtering the food out and expelling water. As well as the size I loved  the variety of colors.  Back to the boat for more study and to download my great pictures.
Before we left the water however we spent some time cleaning the bottom of Elysium.  While we had a freshly painted bottom when we left Vuda Marina it has been 3 months in the water and slime always is attracted to boat bottoms.  We had a bit more than slim than I would have guessed and we cleaned what we could while snorkeling.  Aboard with a shower and some refreshments I went to see what the pictures looked like. Oh-Oh!
None, nada, zip.  I am not yet a GoPro expert.  While there are only 3 buttons I have not spent any time reviewing the manual nor really understanding what each button does.  Dummy me.  Had I been 19 and my eyes of their original excellence I would have been able to read the fine print on the camera underwater. Just playing with the buttons did not work. Unfortunately I am no longer 19 and screwed up.  Ah… not to worry. We are not the first to  come across the Giant clams and I’ll link to  pictures from the internet to show you.  Tomorrow we head S. to Suva with a stop at another World Heritage site, Ovalau.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Say Long

Cyclone Winston – Ground Zero

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

We wanted to get to Makogai and we did. The trip took longer than we had hoped but we made it in time to at least put in a good days work.

We hung at Nana-i-taki for a few days awaiting weather. It blows like hell there 24/7.  To make matters worse we were heading SE- straight into the trades.  We don’t like going E at all, we don’t like motoring, and we don’t like salt spray.  Everything we don’t like was looking us in the eye.  Hoping to ease the negatives we waited till the winds calmed down…. a bit.

Finally the day arrived and it was time to move.  We motored about 10 hours, weaving our way through the reefs for the first 5 hours and then bouncing in the short chop again for another five. But arrive we did, tired, hungry and ready for a good break.  We anchored in what I hoped was sand but feared not.  I could tell the anchor bounced a bit on the bottom as we pulled back on the chain waiting for it to catch. I could hear and feel the chain dragging over rock. Finally the anchor caught on something. We were good for the night and then some. Now my concern was that the anchor might be “wedged” in a crack or coral.  We had anchored in 20 meters and  right now that is beyond my free diving depth.  As the saying goes, “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”.

Heading to Work

Heading to Work

During dinner Hanna and James stopped by to let us know the volunteer work schedule. Daily at 8:30am all dinghies go to Ian’s and Wendy’s boat. There we board a long boat that ferries us to the village. And it is that simple.  We became part of the crew building the new school. Buildings on Makogai

Village Makogai, Fiji

Village Makogai, Fiji

were 80% destroy by Winston. The school 100 %.

Winston happened  6 months ago. While the kids were still in school….  they were in tents as were the majority of the villagers.  One resident said “ I am thankful for SeaMercy, everything I now own, everything was donated by SeaMercy”.

Lunch with the Volunteer Cruising Crew

Lunch with the Volunteer Cruising Crew

We didn’t have a lot of time here and would have liked more. W/ was assigned  to work on a crew scrubbing floors. I started out as a mule and moved a scrap wood pile from A to B.  Later I was tasked to rebuild / modifying two teacher desks. There were about 12 cruiser volunteers that day

School Building 2

School Building 2

cleaning up and preparing for the hand over ceremony. During the last two months there have been close to 30 cruising boats and their crews participating. Two days from now the school was to be dedicated to the community and open for business. 300 people were expected to attend the event. Alas, due to our weather window we would be moving on to Savusavu Wednesday. Tuesday we prepared the boat for our passage the following day.

In preparation we pull the dinghy engine off and put it up on the stern rail. Deflated, flip, moved it and, covered the dinghy storing it upside down on the aft cabin top.  We removed the sail covers readying them for use. Knick knacks are stored so we don’t play pinball in our cabin and W/ prepares easy to handle food so neither of us starve. Total time to ready for a passage, about 4 hours.
The final task was getting my fishing gear ready. I hope to bring in some nice fish – so far fishing in  Fiji this year has been a bust and I am looking for a little luck. We’ll be sailing about 50 nm, leaving at first light and hoping to arrive in Savusavu before dark. Should the trip be slower than expected we can always anchor at the Cousteau Resort.

We rise early and begin to haul up the anchor. Luck was with us. For a few seconds the chain caught on some rock / coral outcrop but then broke free. A few minutes later the anchor was stored and we were on our way. As we rounded the fringing reef I deployed three fishing lines with three different lures. Two diving lures and one surface lure.  Fingers crossed.

The breeze was light and out of the right direction; the SE. We were moving at the awesome speed (not)  of 2.5-3.5 kts. At that rate we wouldn’t make our destination till the bewitching hour. Winds are predicted increase as the day goes on but W/ is not happy. Truth be told I’m not jumping up and down with joy either but “I DO NOT WANT TO MOTOR”!   I add more sail area and we increase our speed almost a knot. At this rate we will reach the Cousteau Resort by sunset and be able to anchor there. For once however, the GRIBs are right.  GRIBS are computer prediction files for wind. The wind continues to build.

As the Sun crossed the Zenith we are moving along nicely at 5 to 6 kts. Sometimes a wee bit faster, sometimes a bit slower. I am anticipating the zing of the fishing lines…. any minute now. About an hour after our last course change, heading now for Savusavu it begins to rain. We don rain gear and hide in the dry spots in our cockpit.  Still no fish; but I am…still… hopeful! Often during rain there is little to no wind but fortunately here we are still sailing. Our wind vane handles the hard work for the majority of this passage and of course the vane never complains.  W/ would say the wind vane is the best crew we have abroad! 🙂 The steering vane Never, NEVER, argues with her!

By the time we reach Cousteau we have not even had a nibble on our fishing gear.  As we make the final turn for our run along the coast to Savusavu I sadly pull in the lures. The winds begin to abate and the sails need to be adjusted and finally furled. That’s my job while W/ handles the helm. With sails furled, rain, no fish, we call Savusavu Marina inquiring about a mooring. For the most part, if you want to hang in the most comfortable part of the creek you need a mooring. Savusavu Marina is a spartan, friendly, cruiser oriented marina that is on the other end of town…. for us much quieter.  Benny (a marina employee) meets us in the dinghy to guide us to a mooring.  While the year before we had been in and out many times I’m glad he came out in the drizzle.  As we rounded one yacht I could see the sea bottom and W said we were in about 8’ of water! We ought to have been in 30′ !  Benny arrived and was assisting in our twisting trek through the two reefs entailing a big S turn to reach the bouys.  The first time we explored this section of the creek last year in the dinghy I ran aground 3 times. Touching the bottom is not something I want to do with the big boat.  Benny helped with the mooring attachment and promptly ran out of gas, in the rain. Fortunately I keep a small reserve tank filled for the dinghy and we had enough fuel to give him. With that he could make it back home.  Ah… we have arrived …. we can breathe a sigh of relief. We’re here, we’re safe, we’re tired, we’re hungry and we will sleep well tonight. Except for the lack of fish, this was a good day.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long