Posts Tagged ‘Fiji’

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

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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

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Luck

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Yeah, I know I am lucky. I am living life to the fullest, born as a privileged American, worked for an organization that had a defined benefit plan, kept all my fingers while refurbishing a boat, knowledgeable and bold enough to figure I can fix and maintain most issues that crop up on a boat all  while exploring the world. And sometimes luck just has to hit you in the face to accept it.
While leaving Musket Cove for the big city, Denarau, I had a chunk of my tooth fall off. I was chewing a little ice or having a small piece of chocolate and felt a little pain in my jaw. Oh-Oh.  But as I continued on with the chocolate I didn’t feel any more issues. I drank some water and didn’t have any  cold spots so I thought it was only a warning sign.  So… I had another piece of chocolate.  Oh-Oh!  This wasn’t “Chunky Chocolate” but I believe there was a definite “chunk” in there. Gently I masticate until I came across the small solid piece. I removed it from my mouth and discovered a piece of my tooth.  Tongue exploring I went; and yep, the piece was off a back upper molar.
I was lucky, I had no pain. I was lucky, we were heading to the big city where I could find a dentist.
After checking in to the marina,  the first thing I wanted to know is where is a good dentist?  The attendants both said Shortlane Clinic in Namaka. While we could not find a phone number for their office I did come up with an address.
Monday W/ and I went to the dentist. Informed that if I arrive by 10 am I would get in to see him we made our way via public transport. From the bus stop we needed only a short walk to reach the office.  There I / we  waited. We had met some other cruisers whose daughter and significant other needed the same dentist and he was told to arrive around 9 ish.  We waited about 2 hours and he about 5 minutes.  Well, as I say “go slow” and that was the morning for us. Fortunately there was no pain and we waited patiently while at times chatting up the other patrons.  By noon  I was in the chair and speaking with the dentist. He agreed, a chunk of tooth had broken off. Too he didn’t feel I was yet in need of a crown for that tooth telling me to keep an open mind for the future.  Approx 3/5th of the tooth will now have been repaired.  He added a composite filling and sent me on my way.  Perfect… and the cost…. all of $45 F.  About $23 US.  The rest of the day went smoothly, I was singing because I had no pain with the loss,  no pain with the filling, and no pain with the cost.

My Tooth & Filling

My Tooth & Filling

The following a.m. I discovered no more filling. It had fallen out. I wear a night guard to keep from grinding my teeth away and obviously the two didn’t like each other.  Back to the Dentist. Luckily a cruising friend’s daughter and partner were heading back to NZ and had a ride to the airport which was passing right by the dentist’s office. I globbed on with them and by 9 ish I was back in the office awaiting the dentist. He confirmed the filling had disappeared and we couldn’t find it in the mouth guard. (W/ found it later on the counter in the head).  He replaced it this time adding a Dovetail in the filling underneath, acid etched it, tucked it in, cured it with UV light and then ground it to ensure that there was no more  problem with my night guard.  Bingo. All done.  I asked what the bill was today and he said….. get this…. NOTHING.  Where can we get service like that now a days?  Fiji!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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A Vacation

Friday, May 27th, 2016

We almost did not go. Adam (the Vuda Marina Manager) had some reservations about the trip. We had checked with him the week prior and he was enthusiastic; but now, as the time was upon us he began to waffle. We hope to leave tomorrow. He said he would still think about it. W/ was acting cruiser coordinator.  Six cruisers had committed to this and 5 already paid but we still didn’t have a final word. That evening 5 of us hung together during Happy Hour at the Boatshed and Adam was there. We thought if there was any issue he would stop by and let us know. The last thing W/ wanted to do was go knocking on boats the night before and say “it’s off”.  By the time Happy Hour was over Adam had not spoken with us. We thought we were in the clear.

30 minutes later Simon came a knocking on  our boat and said Adam wanted to talk to W/. Damn! W/ went to met Adam for a late con fab.  Returning to the boat later she was relieved and said the trip was still on. Simon is still our tour guide; but, as an independent agent and not as a representative of the marina. Ok… Whew!  No late night bad news for anyone!

At 8 am all of us were waiting for the van by the office. Simon, Niki, and Maria arrived all carrying coolers of food, drinks, and snacks.  I was still leery and wouldn’t yet swear we were going until we made the first turn out of the marina. The van arrived and we loaded up, ready to go. I held my breath and we began to move. A  couple of minutes later we made the first turn. Breathe in… Breathe out… Breathe in.. Breathe out! We are going.
Our itinerary was a rather ambitious one: Sand Dunes, two waterfalls, a swim on a notorious Fijian beach, shopping in Fiji’s capitol of Suva, the museum, tour through Fiji’s Salad Bowl farming area, and an evening in Simon’s village of Laselase. We knew everything would be too much to do in two days. Alas, we are cruisers and plans are made to be changed. No one in our group had any issues with changes.

Unstable Dunes, Fiji

Unstable Dunes, Fiji

Our first stop was Fiji’s only National Park and our ranger was…. Simon. Not our guide Simon but another Simon. He took us on a 45 minute expedition that lasted closer to 90. We crested the summit of a stable dune; we were at Sigatoka Dunes after all, and had a great view of the unstable dunes as well as the Pacific shore.  Here some of the earliest Fijians settled. Burial grounds have been uncovered by the moving dunes as well as large amounts of pottery. The pottery is made

Decending a Stable Dune

Descending a Stable Dune

from the the rich clay in the river valley. Greg; our cruising potter found some shards  and we ooo’ed and awww’ed over his descriptions of the firing and quality of the pieces. There are so many pottery shards there Simon had no issue with Greg keeping a piece as a souvenir.

Wendy checking out the raw Pandanus Flower

Wendy checking out the raw Pandanus Flower

From the sea shore we moved inland through an old growth Mahogany forest. Simon collected a Pandanus plant for us to take a whiff of. Pandanus is often used in Perfumes, scenting coconut oil, and spicing local food dishes.  While enjoying our walk in the shade under the canopy we came upon some of the tree huggers from ages past. College  students each year visit the park and assist in the maintenance and research of the forest. They like to create

Tree Huggers

Tree Huggers

these human formed tree hugging sculptures. Everyone loved the huggers.  A short distance beyond we returned and Simon; our tour guide, had cold drinks for us. A brief rest and we were again on our way.
Lunch was at a park along the Pacific shore. We were heading to Suva; Fiji’s capital,  on the Queens Highway.  We wound through the various villages, across rivers and

Picnic On the Pacific Shore - Fiji

Picnic On the Pacific Shore – Fiji

past many parks. For lunch we sat on benches and watched the birds fishing in the shallow waters of the bay.  With full stomachs we made our way to Suva where everyone wanted to see Baker’s shoes -those with the teeth marks. Baker was a missionary who tried to convert the local chief to Christianity. In Fiji  he found the path to heaven much sooner that he had expected and the legend is that the locals cooked him; who knows maybe spicing him with Pandanus 🙂 . Not having the luxury or curse of living in a western culture they didn’t realize his shoes were NOT part of him.  They cooked the shoes as well. Upon attempting to consume the shoes the Fijians found them to be for the most part inedible and after gnawing on them for a bit they gave just gave

Albert and the Residence's Guard

Albert and the Residence’s Guard

up. The shoe soles survived; he didn’t. The shoes are now in the Museum which was our next stop, or so I thought.
We swung by the President’s residence for a brief visit and while he never made time for us we spent a few short minutes annoying the guard. He was as well trained as anywhere else in the world and never even flinched as we “checked him out” and shot a few photos. Albert wanted his picture taken too so we snapped it. Albert is the town “Head Man” for Simon’s village; Laselase, and we picked him up on the way into Suva for more local lore as well as some extra laughs. He has a deep throated voice and a conviction of the Fiji history that boarders on the absolute. We listened to his stories, asked a few questions and laughed a lot.
The museum’s exhibits were quite eye opening ranging from the islands natural history to the Fijian cultural history interspersed with art and archeological finds. We found the exhibit which included Bakers shoes but the lighting there was not the best. None of  us could identify teeth marks.  After we closed up  the museum we loaded into the van and headed back to Laselase where we were to have a lovo created dinner, a Kava ceremony, and discover our accommodations for the evening.

Our accommodations were at Simon’s Uncle’s home.  Our room for dinner and the Kava ceremony is more like what we might call a Great Room. More of the local history / family history was talked about while waiting to eat. Family members came and went, never knocking, but announcing their entrance much as I remember it in my neighborhood growing up. Mom would peek in the neighbors door and say “Hello” as she walked into the neighbors house  looking for a response so as to know which way to go.

Cooking Large Meals in Fiji

Cooking Large Meals in Fiji

That evening we met close to 40 people whose names I have no recollection of. All I can say is everyone was most welcoming and wanting to exchange information between our two cultures.  Fiji time; an hour or two later we began our lovo Dinner. All of it was prepared in a pit of super hot rocks covered with banana leaves, and topped with piece of corrugated Tin and earth.  The food was all prepared to perfection; nothing burned, and no one ended up hungry. There were a couple of types of fish, Chicken, Breadfruit, and salad.

After the meal the men gathered in the Great Room  and one of the elder teens brought a beautifully crafted bowl of hot water and a bag of finely cut Kava.  He dipped and squeezed, dipped and squeezed several times tasting every so often to make the mixture just… right. After the mixture was perfect Albert gave what appeared to be a standard Fiji welcome and described how the circular bowl shared by all in the group brought us to a common place –  all as family. The cup, dipped in the peppery  liquid was then dipped and passed, dipped and passed to each member in the room. While one could refuse to drink the Kava and from what they indicated it would be ok – none did; however as outsiders we were offered three different amounts in the coconut cup; high tide – a full cup, medium tide – half full cup, and low tide – just a wee bit in the bottom of the cup.  John being the eldest of the group; thankfully no one ever asked our ages, was offered the second coconut cup. Albert was the first to imbibe. John having done a few ceremonies before chose High Tide and thus set the president for the males in our cruiser group.  There is a clapping ritual that goes with the drink and maybe W/ will chime in here when she edits my post. (3 claps, followed by 2 and ending with three more claps) Everyone had some and because there was a great deal left the cup went around again. W/ this time abstained and I had one more medium tide and finally a low tide. The peppery drink is said to effect our emotional state creating a slightly euphoric feeling; but for me, mostly what I felt was a burning on the lips and a bitter, bitter taste in the mouth. Practically speaking I felt I was drinking warm dirty river water although in my years swimming rivers, and lakes I’ve never gotten a mouthful of warm water.

As the evening progressed and stories told, questions asked and answered we were assigned our sleeping quarters. As already mentioned they shared their home with us. W/ and I were lucky – I have no idea why but we received a mattress on the floor of one of the children’s rooms in which the only light was a blue bulb!  It had to be a teenager’s room. Greg and Danielle had a room next door to ours with a single bed. But John – the eldest, was given the bed and Greg and Danielle had the floor. The ceilings were not attached to the roof so everything said in one room was clearly understood in the next and with all 5 of us sleeping in close quarters snoring became our white noise.  The doors were framed with patterned sheets. Christina was given the great room and luckily she had more experience with the expected accommodations and had brought a backpack mattress and sleeping bag. Albert, Simon and the other men moved to the kitchen to enjoy more Kava. There they stayed up well past midnight sharing tales and adventures with each other.

By the am having slept at least 4 hours I was seeing light in the outside sky so I decided to take a shower. Often in tropical climes showers are not heated and here was no exception. I was completely awake by the time I finished and upon return to our room W/ was stirring .  Soon the entire group was up and discussing last evenings events and experiences. Before breakfast we had a tour of Simon’s village and everyone knew Simon, knew we were there and welcomed us all. The experience reminded me of small town America.

Back at Simon’s uncle’s we had Fijian pancakes, a folded over donut is the best way to describe it, bananas and lemon tea. I opted for water.  At 7 am our driver Joe was to arrive and already it was getting on to 9am when he appeared. Fiji time is about the same as latin time or as I like to call it … elastic time. Siga Na liga – Fijian for “No Worries”.  We hear that phrase often in Fiji.

Toga - Tonga Sign

Toga – Tonga Sign

First on the days adventure was to visit a Tongan fort. Notice the sign “Toga” . In Fijians pronounce it “Tonga”  but it is not spelled that way.  It was quite some distance up the mountain; overlooking the river valley; the salad bowl of Fiji. We again found more pottery shards and the community where the earliest Fijian settlers had lived.  Oddly enough, all the paths were strewn with clam shells. The river is full of tasty clams and the archeologist surmised that the clam shells were spread around the village so no one could sneak up on the residents and surprise them. A fascinating method to ensure safety.

Our Group with Fiji's salda bowl behind us

Our Group with Fiji’s salad bowl behind us

From here we visited Sigatoka; one of the larger towns in Fiji and home of the winningest public soccer team; at least that is what were were told. W/ picked up fresh food in the market, I added data on our phone and the rest of the trip was a quick ride back to Vuda Marina. Again pronounced Vunda Marina. Tired, all of us went to our various homes; oops boats. We began again to schedule our projects so we might  be able to leave the marina some day and swing to the breeze!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Stasis

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

We’re now in the water and slowly working on bringing the rest of our systems online.  Mostly the refrigeration. And silly me; I look for the easy way.

While both systems; the DC and the engine driven compressor, have lost refrigerant there is still some pressure in each. Unfortunately there was very little in the engine drive system and in hindsight I would have been wiser to simply evacuate it and recharge, but I was trying to keep things simple and figured I will just add R-134a till it all works right. Silly me.

I added, I removed. I hadn’t put my professional gauges on and was using a wonky car AC gauge to read only the Low Pressure side.  I ran the system. My sight glass showed bubbles; low refrigerant. Finally, I dug out the gauges and connected them. Whoa!  I was still way low. I added another can. Still low. I ran the system and I was still low. I added another can of refrigerant and watched  the sight glass.  Finally after the can was empty the sight glass foam disappeared. But the glass was still a bit foggy so I finished the refrigerant in the can. The system ran fine and the pressures looked good.

The following run time the HP went up to about 200 lbs. Real close. Oh-Oh!  Now I have appeared to have added too much refrigerant.  Luckily  the high pressure switch did not shut down the system and as the temperature on the plates cooled the system down everything looked good. The refrigeration compressor still made a bit of a grinding noise; like rust on the clutch, but over time the noise was diminishing so I felt it best to leave well enough alone. On a boat my philosophy is simple, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Right now it “ain’t broke”.

For the next couple of days we watched it. I now have enough refrigerant left to do a complete recharge but that is it.  I do have a new compressor to install if I need to.  That would mean dumping what is in the system, evacuating, and recharging the system with the end result that I have no more

Refrig Comprssor on Generator

Refrig Compressor on Generator

refrigerant for spares. Oh, I can buy refrigerant here; but not in the small easily stored cans, only in 10 kg containers. That makes storage a bit of an issue.  The other issue I faced is that of evacuating the system.

While I have a vacuum pump, it runs on 120v 60 cycle electricity. The electrical system here is 240 volts 50 cycle.  Which means I need to run the pump on ships power for about 3 hours and that is near the extent of my battery bank. My minimal solar will not keep up with the power drain of evacuation.  As I would be evacuating the system attached to  the generator I don’t want to use the generator to charge the batteries. Too many spinning belts too close to where I would be working.  Now, if push came to shove I could do it; but right now I’m being nudged and not shoved. Patience, I will be patient. I WILL BE PATIENT! 🙂

While working on the refrigeration systems we were talking to Simon (the activities directory – sort of for the Boatshed Restaurant).   Simon presented a couple of  events that we attended.  During the Fijian History lesson we brought up the idea of visiting some of the places he had mentioned.  He was all for creating a tour and we tentatively  cleared it with Adam the Marina manager. Simon set about scheduling transportation and accommodations for  8-10 cruisers.  W/ signed up 8, one ended up with an infection from of all things gardening. and so we were down one couple.  Six of us went on a unique tour from Vuda to Suva and back.

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Stay Long

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Relationships

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

We’re back in the water. Yep; the boat floats and now we begin to work on the systems that make our cruising life possible. From the time of our arrival till in the water was 15 days.

From the time of our departure to the time we arrived to put the boat to bed was 10 days. We have a few more left till we are ready to move out of the marina into the cruising life.
All in all; I figure it takes about twice the time to deconstruct compared to construct. For example; lee cloths.  To remove them I used a pair of dykes, cut the wire ties and untied the end tensioners. Threw out the wire ties, rolled it up and stored it below. Total time; approx 30 minutes.
To put them back on; I dug out the wire ties and put 15 on each cloth. After retying the tensioners I needed to cut the tails of the ties. Finally I threw the tails out. Finished! Total time a little over an hour.

Bare Gell Coat Bottom

Bare Gell Coat Bottom

We didn’t do the bottom work choosing instead to hire the young bucks.  We’ve worked enough boat grunge jobs in our life and continuing to expose our bodies to toxic chemicals is not our idea of looking to a bright future. Purchasing anything in most cruising destinations is oft times problematic. I have NO IDEA where to find a Tyvek suit. Besides it’s hot here and wearing one would be detrimental to my attitude. We needed Denatured Alcohol, not found in the marine store.  Mineral Spirits; they had to order it, #10 crimp on wire connectors – only in a kit, a pencil zinc – NOPE.  Some of this is just basic supplies for any working boat yard. Not here. I am damn glad we had most of the materials on board.  But whew,  we were running close to out in some

Second coat of Barrier

Second coat of Barrier

departments.
Which brings me back to time. I am not saying that the supplies are impossible to find in Fiji. I understand that denatured alcohol is available in town; a half day round trip away. Somewhere they might have the zincs, I could order them and they might well be in next week; maybe. 🙂

Bottom Finished

Bottom Finished

Yet; for the most part -if you plan on leaving the boat for any length of time consider this formula:  It takes two – three times the days required to put the boat to bed  to wake her back up again and give her new life. Two to Three times.
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We’re Back!

Friday, April 29th, 2016
sunsetvuda-min

Sunset from the Restaurant

Yep after spending an enormous amount of time on the dirt we’ve returned to Fiji and our floating home. Except; we’re still on the dirt. The boat spent the last 6 months in a pit surrounded by tires to weather any storms and she did well. Not 100% perfect but pretty damn close.

After a long flight with 3 legs we arrived in Fiji 10:37 minutes after leaving LA and roughly 30 after leaving New Port Richey.  From LA to Fiji was night and I don’t care what anyone say’s “flying is NOT fun”! Yes, you will arrive quicker than with other forms of transportation but even in first class those seats are not Barca Loungers and don’t offer any reprieve for the derrier! We arrived sore, tired and ready to have the quiet majesty of the sea surround us.  Our taxi guy missed us and we picked up his cousin to gather our bags and drive us the final leg.  There we hand delivered an impeller to JeanMarie and spent a bit of time with Jackie and Walter before they headed out to Musket Cove.

While coming though Customs, Immigration and Biosecurity we were told that if we had any food to make sure we declare it, else you could end up paying a fine or end up in jail!  The fines would be up to $400 F. At the last minute W/ remembered we had some Boetje’s Mustard she had bought so we changed our dot from NO Food to YES food. And it was a good thing too. After running our bags through the customs machine the guy picked out the bag with the Boetje’s mustard. I showed them the mustard and they said no problem; enjoy Fiji. While telling Walter and Jackie that story we found out Walter had inadvertently put a Banana in his backpack and forgotten to eat it. They ran his bag through the machine and picked it out, opened it up, and because he said he had no food, charged him … you guessed it $400 F, plus they took the banana. I would guess that is the most expensive banana never eaten!

Maria knew we were arriving in the am and came in early to give us the key to the cottage we will inhabit till our boat gets launched. We drug our bags inside, changed and walked out to see how Elysium had done without our constant supervision.  Well, she was supervised by the people we hired; Mr Bharros and Kiti the manager of Yuve Marine, and of course Walter too had helped to keep her in fine shape. Mr Bharros had the awnings back on and everything tied down with Magic knots.  A magic knot is where lines are wrapped around multiple times and run through themselves multiple times hoping to magically keep in place what they are tied to. Since most of the gear was off the deck the magic knots held. That and the fact the Mr. Bharros checked often to ensure all was fine.

There were some places I would have liked to add chafe protection and maybe  it was I who didn’t, but the staysail boom chewed through some paint on the deck about 2 sq cm, and the dinghy engine was in a place I didn’t put it and it chewed through a bit more in the cockpit. Two lines were wrapped around the foredeck light and the third halyard had the antenna messenger wrapped around it necessitating a trip up the mast – twice to free them. The main halyard had some chafing in the middle of the line necessitating a replacement. All in all, better than we could hope for. A Halberg Rassey near us was on stands and had fallen over punching a hole in the hull. Upon breathing a huge sigh of relief we are now in the process of reestablishing Elysium as a boat and not a sunken home.

It is still quite warm in the day here, just finishing the summer season. And having just arrived after a long flight we work for a few hours and then crash for the remainder of the day; attempting to reset our internal clocks. There is 13 hours difference between now and when we left the dirt, our clocks are upside down.

Up the Mast W/ hauled me.

Up the Mast W/ hauled me.

A couple of days later we’re starting to get the boat cleaned up a bit, lines organized and gear stowed. I borrowed a hose from Yuve and we washed the boat removing the leaves and other debris that has found a home where we don’t wish it. W/ is chasing down various colonies of sugar ants, our poisons having done a superber job- where they were. Obviously we didn’t have enough spots we deployed them.  All in all, life is good and we’re on our way back to the cruising lifestyle.

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Sail Far
Stay Long

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In The Pit

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

I don’t know why, but it seems every yard likes to wait to let you know what is going on, then rush you to the haul out for hauling. We knew it would be today but the time was questionable. Early afternoon they showed up and there appeared to be some urgency. Maybe it was me. maybe the yard.

A push boat came by and Joe from the security office. He helped with the bow lines while the push boat cleared the mooring bouys that held us off the dock ensuring we would not end up with any of them tangled in the prop.  To start with all went well.

We backed out with all lines cleared and I was moving fenders and lines for tying in the slipway while W/ was aligning the boat to just pull in. Oops!  We had thought we would be entering the pit bow first but the push boat indicated we were to go in stern first. W/ began to adjust, reverse, forward, reverse, repeat while attempting to turn the boat in her own length. The push boat assisted by gently pushing on the bow turning us quicker to align

Hauling Elysium, Vuda, Fiji

Hauling Elysium, Vuda, Fiji

us. Soon we were in the slip and with the boat tied while they moved the lift over us. I gave Mo (the lift operator) the photos of Elysium’s bottom for when we had lifted her before and explained that yards like to carry her a bit bow down.  They adjusted the straps and he lifted the boat slightly when his son went into the water to attach the lines for the straps. That’s when I learned a new lesson.

On the port side he had successfully tied the straps together and was working on the starboard. The waterline was about 40 cms out of the water and he was working on tying the bow straps and swimming in the water. The head exhaust is now right at the water line and until the end clears the water any effluent in the hose stays there. You might be able to guess the next part. As air enters into the hose any waste product that was still in the hose will exit. . Well….as he was moving along the water disturbing the water air was able to enter the hose and the effluent that was left in the hose came rushing out. Needless to say he was not a happy camper. For the next hour he coughed and choked and complained about the potential for getting sick. A 6 pack of beers eased the complaints some but we were concerned for his concern, not that he would become sick. After all that head is on a LectraSan unit.  Lesson learned. Before hauling, pump the head several times to ensure there is no waste is left in the system.  We have a sewage treatment system on the boat so I wasn’t concerned about any diseases but still, anytime I can keep workers on the boat more comfortable the better off everyone is.

Kitti, (the Manager of Yuve Marine) checked the bottom and saved us some $$’s After he saw the bottom he said we didn’t need to have the bottom pressure washed. Wow, with all my cleaning of the bottom, besides aiding in our boat speed by keeping it clean I actually saved some money on the haul out. 🙂

Bottom Paint Barrier Coat Removal

Bottom Paint Barrier Coat Removal

Once the boat was up she was moved into the work yard we prepared for shutting everything down, Yuve began their jobs while we were packing, moving, and storing gear. Fortunately the Marina has 4 cottages for rent and again we are able to be off the boat while work ensued on Elysium. Living on the boat and doing projects aboard is frustrating enough. Living on the boat on the hard and doing projects aboard is beyond what we have always envisioned cruising as. Luckily, everywhere we’ve hauled we’ve had a place to stay off the boat.

The following day Yuve began to attack the bottom as any good crew ought to. An avid reader might well remember we touched a rock pinnacle in the Perlas and put a rather nice scar in the bottom about 2-3 cm up from the keel.  That needed to be repaired. And in NZ and Australia they are not happy with the bottom paint we used throughout the Caribbean and mostly in the Pacific. So the best bet is to remove the paint. Besides, we were getting to the expected life of the barrier coat and I was somehow getting paint bubble between it and the bottom paint and in a couple of places between it and the gel. They began by attempting to scrap the paint off and found it too difficult. They ended up tenting the boat and sanding the paint off – better them than us. Also the sanding added some gouges to the gel that will need to be addressed when we recoat, but for now we are on the right track.

Work progress’ smoothly, we’ve hired three things done, two of which I prefer not to do, the bottom and waxing the hull. The third; W/ and I were just to lazy to do, clean and polish the stainless. Seems we would do parts of the stainless polishing but would never finish the entire project.

We’ve moved into the cottage, we’ve been packing up gear and organizing everything. We’ve even made it to Latoka and Nadi with Jackie from Jean-Marie as our guide. Latoka is the largest town we’ve been to since Papeeta and I will say; having choices was quite nice. We paid for our internet and picked up some fresh food for the rare times we are eating in house. With two very good restaurants nearby; Vuda Point Yacht Club and First Landing, we’ve been indulging ourselves.

Bare Bottom

Bare Bottom

Our plans were to move the boat Monday to a cyclone pit and then do the final projects. Yuve had asked to have the boat moved early in the am so they could easily finish the hull waxing and I had arranged the move with the front office 3 days before. But as in many projects cruising, plans are not always implemented as expected. The yard crew had other ideas and Elysium was not moved until early in the afternoon. But too as in much of life; most things work out. As we were not leaving until late Tuesday we had some time in the am to complete our final tasks. I had Yuve install a lightning ground and we discussed what we would have completed upon our return. We contracted with Mr. Bharros to keep an eye on the boat and we covered Elysium with two tarps securing it the best we could. Hopefully they will last the entire season but I don’t have much confidence in that occurring.

While Yuve was doing the boat work we made a trip to Nadi, the larger town in the area. I had found a store that did iPhone repairs and needed a new on / off switch on our older iPhone 4s and a new power port on the iPhone 5 I had purchased from my nephew. Again as with many of cruising’s adventures there is good and bad. The 4s was fixed and is working perfectly, the 5 power port was fixed but the screen didn’t work. It did when we brought it in but as the battery was flat when I took it in they couldn’t verify the working screen. In all honesty I couldn’t say if I was being scammed or not. The screen worked before I took it in, I didn’t bang it around but who knows. They could have put a bad screen on and/or been trying to sell me my own replacement, it could have somehow been broken, it wasn’t cracked but when I had the phone looked at in the states the guy said you could see there was an issue on the underside of the screen. I couldn’t but he could. In the states I had it replaced for less than it was quoted at in Fiji and now I have a phone again. We plan on upgrading in the states anyway but on a boat one of the keys to successfully cruising is having backups, backups and more backups!  You never know where something is going to fail and how long something is going to last! Never.

Da Cyclone Pit

Da Cyclone Pit

We left our home and the marina at 6 is for the flight to the states. Our first leg was 10 hours long and the plane was packed but quite comfortable. Fiji Airways is still a quality airline providing blankets for each of us, more room in the seats and we ended up having two quite tasty meals. The down side was we were only allowed one bag each plus carry ons. Fortunately, traveling this direction that was not an issue and when we booked our tickets we were informed that the first carrier set the baggage allowances and all after would follow. Thus on the return leg we would be able to carry more.

The entire trip was comprised of 30 hours travel time and we had a 10 hour layover in LA. Who the hell wants to hang out in an airport for 10 hours? To make the time bearable we joined the Admirals Club for AA and what a gift to ourselves that was. We had a comfortable lounge in which to hang, TV’s galore, internet everywhere, a nice restaurant, free chocolate chip cookies, free beer, free wine, free sodas. The Admirals club was definitely worth the entrance fee. We will keep an eye out for that option in any future flying we need to do. While the trip back to the land of instant everything was uneventful, it was very, very tiring. We arrived to a smiling family; little did they know what the future held with us, and a wonderful rest from the hours of traveling at light speed.

Our blog has been updated about every two weeks since we began almost 8 years ago. For the time in the states I will continue to update it but expect them to be closer to once / month. I will not be relaying much on family unless of course it effects information on cruising and as much of our time here will be with family and friends I don’t expect a lot of writing. However, we will be attending boat shows and purchasing / returning boat gear I will report on any new findings, information, ideas I might have related to ……cruising.

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Sail Far
Stay Long

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Hell VI

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

W/ isn’t feeling well. She is getting sick. Upper respiratory, some cough, some congestion. She helps….slowly.  Rarely do we both come down with being sick at the same time. I plod on. I’m getting stuff installed, checking things out, aligning the engine, alternator and water pump. Attaching the refrigeration compressor and tightening all the nuts and bolts. She’s still able to hand me tools when I’m flat out in the engine room working upside down attempting to tighten the nut or install a washer. But she’s working slow and so am I.

The next day I begin to feel sickly. The new Kubota still isn’t running but we need to get it functional and move off the dock. While we like Savusavu Marina; it’s a cruisers marina – where we can actually work on the boat without anyone getting upset, in the last 3 days there have been a couple of grab and goes by someone. The boat at the end of the dock lost their cell phone to sticky fingers and the boat immediately across from us lost a fishing rod and reel. The boat in front of them Amosea had a boarder but nothing was reported lost. We’ve started to lock ourselves in the boat at night but there is still plenty on deck vulnerable to grab and goes. So we’re working as frantically as two sick people can.

We are not debilitated, just under the weather and coughing more than we would like. We swig Robitussin like shots of whiskey, we suck on cough drops like candy. While sick we believe it is nothing aspirin and decongestants will not solve. But we know we can’t work at full capacity and we do plod on.

By days end I have everything attached and we rest. I like to sit on finished projects for a bit just to let my thoughts ferment and maybe identify something that I forgot. The last thing to do is purchase the correct engine oil. The book calls for a mono weight 30 cc/cd oil. In Panama mono weight 30 was IMPOSSIBLE to find.  I’m told I can find 30 mono in town so in the afternoon I walk; slowly,  the 2 km looking for it.  As the engine is brand spanking new I want everything to go well. I can find mono 30 but nothing with CC/CD in the specs. I find CF-4 which by some accounts is equal  to or better and one account I read said it was too good and wouldn’t do the job needed.

When cruising you make do. You do the best you can and hope it is good enough. I buy the mono CF -4 and put it in. Tomorrow we will start it up and begin our 25 hour early break in period. After 25 hours I will change the oil and continue with light loads (but not too light) till 50 hours. I’m waiting a day to start her, understanding that with the extra time thoughts may percolate up in my widened mind and remind me of something I’ve forgotten.

New Kubota Installed

New Kubota Installed

Fortunately everything appears to be a go. My biggest issue is how to keep the loads on the generator light. The alternator is like all alternators and starts out at high amps and drops down. At first I have the batteries charged to 100 %  so I can load it quite lightly and run it for an hour at a time varying the rpms and moving up to the working speed of 2800 after a few days. By about 6 hours I’m running it under more load but not fully loaded. I wish manuals were more specific but I’m told I need to do this so the cylinder wall does not get “varnished” and will mate well with the rings ensuring excellent lubrication and little to no oil burn with good compression and power. Man do I want that; especially after the mess on the last engine.

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Hell IV

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Gotcha, Gotcha, Gotcha.

I’ve started to put the new motor in. The old is out, the new in the engine room and I’ve begun. But before I get very far I discover some changes that have been made between the two engines.

First, I try to put the power take off hub on the new one. Three bolts, should be no problem. The bolt holes are the same and the flywheel looks to be the same. NOT!  While the bolts fit, the hub will not sit down on the flywheel. Upon closer inspection I discover the Kubota has a larger nut on the wheel than my earlier engine ensuring that the hub will not sit flush. Ok, I need to get to a machine shop and have the opening lathed out to match the nut size.

Since I’m greasy I might as well continue. Next I attempt to change the oil pressure switch. This switch senses the oil pressure and also turns on the raw water pump when the engine comes on.  This engine came with an adapter. I take out the adapter and test the switch to see if it fits. It doesn’t fit.  Upon closer inspection I notice that the port on the engine is straight thread and my switch is pipe thread. Now if I was crazy I could just tap the straight thread that is in the block out to pipe thread but I don’t want to risk getting any even small metal particles in to the oil so I choose to add another part to the list. Take the port to the machine shop and have them tap it out to pipe thread female and leave the straight male thread alone. There is a squash washer with the male thread. That should work.

The last item I knew I was going to have need a machine shop for. A new plate for the coolant tank and on that would be the connection to attach the compressor to.  Time for a meeting of the minds. W/ and I talk and since we don’t know the area well we figure to call in the pro; Sanjay.  He has worked on some cruising friends boats and everyone has been satisfied with his work and his fair price. Everyone! We’ve used him for a couple of really, really small jobs and they were done on time and reasonably.  However; as it seems most things on the boat happen on Sunday, and Sunday is when most islands shut down and today was Sunday all we might be able to do is get an appointment with him for Monday.  Early afternoon I call and arrange a time.

Monday am he calls back; he’s at the marina and wants to know which boat we are on.  We talk about what I need; I’m also paying him to remove the other engine and he can do with it what he wants.  After discussing the 3 needs we head to the nearest machinist shop about 5 km away.  There we discovered that they could do the work but they don’t have any stainless steel and their machinist is out till Thursday.  Sanjay exchanges numbers with the owner / manager/ boss, and he tells me he will look for some SS and expect a call Thursday from the machine shop.  As in many non western countries I don’t receive a call on Thursday. To cover my bases, I call Curley.

Curley is the SSCA contact for Savusavu and also runs the am cruisers net.  He’s lived here 40 years and tells me of a good machinist in Labasa  (pronounced Lambassa). I call Ibrahim and get directions to his place. Ibrahim informs me

Our Savusavu Taxi Guy

Our Savusavu Taxi Guy

his son or employee is currently out sick and while he’ll be able to look at the job and most likely be able to do it, it will take a few days. We also call Mahendra for a taxi ride to Labasa.  For the day taxi the cost is $150 F. But the alternatives are to take a mini van for $20 F per person,  they arrive at 10 am and leave at 2pm. If something goes wrong and we need to stay later we would have to take the local bus; and while many say that is a Disney Land adventure it’s not one we would look forward to while attempting to get the boat back in ship – shape.

While we wait W/ finds this an opportune time to break off a chunk of her tooth. Oh! Oh!  Luckily she has no pain. Luckily because living with her and a constant pain is not my idea of adventures in paradise – if you know what I mean.  It is one of the knuckles on a molar and we take pictures and she looks at it and she’s worried. Again we call Curley and he tells  us of a great Dentist in; you guessed it Labasa.  Now we get to kill two birds with one stone and W/ makes an appointment for Friday.

Mahendra picks us up at 8 am and we drive to Labasa. He knows right where Ibrahim’s is and we go there as we are 30 minutes early. I explain to Ibrahim what we need. Three things, the power take off lathed out to 4.5 cm, the straight thread in the adapter re threaded to pipe and the plate made. I took the coolant top which had the exact bolt holes to match up and explained it to him, also I took the pattern with bolt holes off but the size and placement of the bracket for the compressor. After a few minutes he marked the pattern and everyone seemed to understand. He told me it would be ready by Wednesday. Next we drop W/ off at the dentist and I go in search of some new metric studs to attach the new coolant cover.  After stopping at about 5 places we find one where they have bolts but no studs. There is no place here like in Panama which has every size and type of bolt you need.  But the bolts will work. I’ll get some longer ones and cut the ends off, clean up the cuts and then I’ll have studs the length I need. With those supplies purchased Mahendra drops me off at the dentist and I wait while he runs some of his own errands.

W/ comes out all smiles. After paying the $50 F for the repair we head out to the street looking for Mahendra and

Advertising in the Hindo Templ

Advertising in the Hindo Templ

thinking about food.  Fortunately Mahendra knows Labasa and we head a couple of blocks away to a Chinese place. There we have wonderful luck with good food and some cool refreshments. With the afternoon free we figure to visit the

Labasa Market

Labasa Market

Hindu Temple and see one of the local tourist religious attractions.   The drive is only about 15 minutes away and we wander the grounds; no tour, but we still find it interesting.  From there we head back to Savusavu looking forward to some stops along the way for pictures.

Fiji is comprised of two large islands. Savusavu is on a S finger of Viti Lenua and Labasa is on the N. It is roughly a 2 hour trip by car covering about 80 km over the mountains. And they are mountains!  Our ears continue to equalize as we traverse the terrain and wonder at the lives of people living in land, from small farm, to large ones, harvesting cane or growing fruits and vegetable for export. Fiji is a fascinating place with only the resort tourist industry built up. Ironically; as much as they encourage tourism, there are no hostels that I know of here, no camp grounds and few if any trails for the weekend adventures of either Fijians or international tourist. Maybe some day but not now.  We pass a couple of waterfalls that shoot out to the middle of the mountains, we pass the National Park which is huge and all rainforest. We pass though rain, into sun shine and into rain again.  The road is in quite good shape and while some grades are steep and winding it is nothing like the adventures traveling in Guatemala or the back roads of Panama. We feel quite safe and Mahendra is an excellent driver.

Pano Vanua-Levu, Fiji

Pano Vanua-Levu, Fiji

With W/’s tooth back in working order her spirits followed suit we arrived back at Elysium before night fall. Mostly now we get to wait, clean up a bit, have a massage from Una 🙂 , and call Wednesday to see if the part is completed. Once we know then we will again contract with Mahendra and travel the mountains to pick up what is needed for our boat to be ship shape.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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