Posts Tagged ‘SeaMercy’

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