Posts Tagged ‘Makogai’

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

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