Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fiji to NZ Day 1

lat 20.28 S
long 176. 46 E
course 188T
speed -6 kts
wind 15-18 E
seas 1 meter

Happy Halloween - Get up, Get ready and leave - a day early! Is that a trick or a treat? Not sure, but we are underway to NZ - a day earlier than we thought we would be. Gotta love weather - or not.
So Yesterday (Thursday) at 0500 I was awake and stressing about things. I finally went back to bed around 0630. At 0715, Dennis wakes me up with "guess what honey...". And the mad dash began. First get the part for the stantion that they were welding (yes, number 2). Got that. Then check with the office that its okay to checkout -yes. Okay. All hands on deck. The tarp came down, the stantion replaced, boards tied on, decks washed, windvane rudder and vane on, chilli started, meat loaf put together, customs papers filled out, last emails (hopefully) for my nursing license sent, garbage out, tools put away, fan, tarp and chairs back into the anchor locker, contraband plant and last 4 bottles of beer to Moondance, cabin partially stowed. At 1030 - go to customs and wait in line, check out (easy, my papers were filled out in duplicate), pay, final showers, hugs goodbye to Moondance and undersail at 1230. Shit I think we qualify for the marines. Lord knows we smelled like marines - 89% humidity does that. Actually managed to leave Fiji with no fijian money. We spent some at the store, and the rest went to customs and the marina bill. Nice change.
After we got the sails up and settled, we had chilli for lunch (yum). Then I spent another hour finishing up on the inside of the boat. Whew! But all the crew is happy to be underway.

Around 1700 we passed through our final Fijian channel and into open ocean waters. Was quite bouncy for awhile, but finally after dinner we reefed to my favorite 3rd reef and it settled down some. The wind moved more northeast as the evening progressed and by the time I came on watch at 0300 (Dennis forgot to change his watch) we were running downwind. Sure was nice of Dennis to give me an extra hour of sleep! Paul came up with me for the 0300 - 0600 watch. The first day was kinda tough on him, but he seems to be getting over it now. Better living through applied pharmaceuticals as I like to say.

Today has been okay. We motor sailed until 1430 as winds were light from behind us. They have come back up and are more from the east now, so we are cooking right along. Looks like rain in front of us, hopefully we won't get too wet.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Evergreen Position report

Departed Vuda Point Marina per recommendation of Commander's weather at 1230 31/10/13 (Happy Halloween)

At 1700 hours local or 0400 UTC:
Lattitude 18 deg 00 S
Longitude 177 deg 10 E
course 188 M
speed 5 knots - motor sailing
wind 10-12 kts SE
swell 1 meter

4 people on board. All is well

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

A few days off

Wednesday turned out to be a very busy day.  We got lots done, and were feeling pretty good about our lists of things to get done and being ready to leave Monday.  Sewing the dogbone thing for the mainsail reefing points went well.  Paul was able to get the shackle open on the anchor bridle, so the bridle got rearranged and the raw end of the line whipped.  Dennis did the first stage of the stantion repair (epoxying the holes), filled both engines with antifreeze and checked oil, Paul bled the hydraulic steering lines, Josh washed rugs and tightened the rudder packing (a real head down, ass up, dirty project).  We also put my bike in Josh's room.  Again seems like there was more and I am sure there was.  There always is as boat projects are definitely no linear.

Thursday we tried to finish off the list, which we pretty much managed to do.  Was kind of funny to watch three men compete for tools to get their individual projects completed.  The fan in Josh's room died overnight, so he was replacing it with the old one from our room.  Dennis had just installed the new one on Wednesday.  Paul fixed the kitchen fan (I juggled it and broke a wire).  Dennis put the repaired stantion back together and I helped where asked and gathered laundry, washed a couple pillows and who knows what else.  Anyway, we pretty much called it by 1430, so we could be on the road by1500 to our mini vacation in Port Denarau.

Ahhhhh  civilization, central air, swimming pools, walk up coffee.........  The only real surprise is that we came back.  Okay, maybe not we, maybe just Josh and I.  The Wyndam Resort is beautiful and really no better way to spend 3 rainy days.  The sun came out yesterday and boy was it hot!!  The resort hosted a BBQ the night we arrived, free beer and wine and sausages.  So, we ate and drank our fill.  Nice of them to plan dinner for us.  Our place had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full kitchen and washer/dryer.  I lost track of how many loads of laundry I did, but I would say at least 12.  It was nice to be able to presoak all the smelly things, and not have to worry about somebody waiting on the machines.

Friday we went exploring Port Denarau.  Still looking for monster, but no luck at all there.  We did have an awesome burger at Hard Rock Cafe.  Definitely the best burger in a long time.  From there, Josh headed back to the room, and Dennis, Paul and I headed in to Nadi.  We did some souvenir shopping and then hit the MH.  Have to say overall Nadi is not my favorite place to be or shop.  Lautoka MH is better and the New World in Nemaka has the best selection of imported stuff and meat.  On the way back we stopped at South Pacific Meats.  Oh yeah! - the best butcher yet.  Too bad we were low on cash.  Once back at the room, I started on precooking ground beef to freeze for the crossing.  So nice to cook one pan after the other and not worry about making it too hot to bear inside.  Friday night we ate at the Mexican restaurant at the resort.  Was pretty good, and excellent margaritas.

Saturday I made 2 loaves of banana bread and cooked up the last of the ground beef.  Then Dennis and I went and hung out by the pool.  Paul went 'splorin' and Josh snuggled up with his computer in his nice cold room.  Oh and the luxury of watching TV in bed!  Not that there was much to watch, but still....its the ability to do it that counts. Below are some pictures.

Dennis relaxing by the pool
 This is one of the secluded areas at the adults only pool.  Both pools have swim up bars.
 Karmavu bar and bean bag loungers.  Not much beach when the tide is in.
 There is a walking path around all the resorts.
 Sunset seranade
 Walkway thru the resort
A little blurry (just can't get quality volunteer photographers these days!)
This is our patio, very close to the pool.

Sunday was sunny and hot.  With the time change - felt weird to spring forward in October - we were a little behind ourselves, but managed to get all packed, have a swim, have coffee, make breakfast and be in the lobby by 1130.  There was an email from Commanders (the weather routers we are using) saying Tuesday looked like the day to leave, so an extra day to get ready.  We had arranged for a taxi from Vuda Point to come get us and he was there waiting (Faid).  The thing I love best about taxis here is that they will make stops and wait for you for no extra charge.  So, we stopped at New World to pick up some final provisions.  We were pretty well cram packed into that taxi by the time we were done. 

Back at the boat it was sure hot after being closed up for 3 1/2 days.  And who is on our spot on the wall but Moondance!  Yay, good to see them.   Dennis went right to work on weather etc, while I put away groceries and clean laundry.  We took out the sea anchor and went thru it so we all know how to deploy it.  And finally went to the pool with Carla.  Nice to cool off, catch up and have a cold beer.

This morning's email from Commanders says no to Tuesday and is projecting Saturday as a good day to leave.  HMMMM!  the list is almost done - what will we do with ourselves all week?  Not sure, but hey, we live on a boat there is ALWAYS something to be done.  Meanwhile, my freezer is full, clothes are clean, internet is working, so again life is good.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monster hunting and other fun things to do at the dock

Sunday saw a few more boat chores checked off the list (primarily getting power to the boat - had to buy another extension cord) and a lazy afternoon by the pool at First Landing. Our reconnaissance mission to Lautoka on Saturday went well. The market is easy to find - right at the bus depot. And the MH is only about a block away. Once again Fijian friendliness was shown, as a very nice man gave us a ride to the main road and the bus stop - out of his way. The market was amazing! Not quite to Mexico standards, but still lots of all kinds of veggies and fruit (which we stocked up on), flowers (got some of those too), the ever present yongona (kava) and fish. Dennis remembered it from his visit in 1999. The MH was actually pretty good. We got chicken legs and lamb chops - both were good.

Josh is out of Monster. We have been looking for it all over Fiji to no avail. We did find some Rehab at New World, but it is green tea and that is not what he wants. I promised him a trip to Nemaka to go Monster hunting Monday afternoon. First though, we put the dinghy up on the deck - in the rain of course, but at least it wasn't hot. Then I changed the water maker filters. It was getting late, so I went for a quick shower (ok so it was long, but hot water is a luxury and then it is hard to dry off in all the humidity...). I got back to the boat in time to move into a slip. We filled up with fuel first (another thing checked off the list) and then into our new home. I did manage to slip getting off the boat at the fuel dock and instead of falling into the water, I fell into the boat, catching my inner thigh on the lifeline. Ouch! I have a big colorful bruise. But, no blood and I didn't fall in the water so no major harm done.
Had nowhere near the excitement getting into our space as the first time here, geez we had tons of room. By the time we were happy with how we were tied up, it was too late to go Monster hunting. Josh was a little disappointed, but I tried to make up for it with spaghetti and garlic bread and a promise to go the next day for sure. We are now tied up next to GIGI, close to the good showers, the restaurant and bar. We have power and water and internet - Life is good.

So yep, raining again on Tuesday. Again - at least it is not hot. More chores crossed off the list - primarily putting up the sun shade, figuring out how to fill water and checking the shower sump switch (head down ass up for me as it is in the bilge, under the stairs). Decided to use dock water in the tanks. We all taste tested and decided it was okay. So filled one tank and are using it now, as the water is chlorinated and our lines need a little chlorine action. Seems like we did a lot more than that, but always alot of small things associated with it. In the afternoon Josh and I went Monster hunting and provisioning. I decided to use the marina taxi as Ali said he would wait for us and didn't mind multiple stops. First stop New World. They had a few new things and didn't have regular mac and cheese - should have gotten it last time. Bought most of the dry provisions we will need for the crossing to NZ. Sadly, No Monster. Next stop MH in Nemaka. Okay, so I was not impressed. The one in Lautoka is much nicer. Picked up a few things, but not much. No Monster. Then Fiji meats - again not impressed. I hope the ones in Lautoka or Nadi are better. Final stop - Shop and Save, didn't buy anything there and No Monster there either. So a successful trip in terms of provisioning, but a disappointment of epic proportions in terms of scoring Monster for Josh. Our last hope is that one of the resorts will have it in Nadi. We are going to spend a few days this week at Port Denarau in my best ever friend's (you know who you are) time share. A treat to be sure, but also a way to get all my laundry done - at my leisure, and to precook some meals for the crossing without heating up the boat.

Today is supposed to have increasing periods of fine weather - I hope so, as I have to do re sew the dog bone for the reefing point back into the main sail. That is going to be a pain in my hand for sure. Since I have been awake since 0330, my list for the day is made and I am itching to get started, but definitely coffee first. I picked up some UHT cream for a treat - yum.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Complete the loop

Waya - So yes, we did our first "real" sevusevu. Chief Tom blessed our package of yongona (kava plant) and sent us on our way. Emphasizing we should stop and buy some souvenirs from the village ladies who were just setting up outside. Thankfully the whole blessing part did not include kava drinking. From our perspective it was somewhat amusing...mumble, mumble, mumble sevusevu, mumble, california, clap, clap, clap, clap clap, mumble, mumble done. Were we supposed to clap?? Who knows. But, we did our tourist duty a nd bought some souvenirs. And arranged for one of the villagers to bring us mangos (yum!). After doing our thing for the village economy we headed back to the boat and a quick snorkel. If I were a braver person, we would have had a lobster appetizer for dinner, sadly I was too chicken to stick my hand in his hole, so he survived another day.

Our mangoes were delivered as promised by a villager named Louie. We invited him aboard, but couldn't get him to eat or drink anything. The mangoes were amazing. Finally he headed home 10fjd richer. He was paddling a plastic kayak in pretty good shape, with a pretty nice homemade paddle. Very ingenious - instead of just using a stick, he had triangular boards attached to each end. Very efficient.

From there (Yalobi) we decided we would go to the west side anchorage by the Octopus Resort. The wind did its usual from the north thing, so we motor sailed mostly. As we wound our way thru the reef, we had our closest call as far as bumping the reef. Even with two lookouts. The water is so clear, it is hard to tell when it changes. So it got as shallow as 11 feet under our keel. We had a bit of a fire drill bringing in fishing lines and watching the dinghy and furling the sail. But we got it done, so continue to be in the second category of boats - the ones that will hit a reef (as opposed to the ones that have). I am okay with being in the will category still.

We arrived at the Octopus Resort anchorage, and decided that it was too rolly, and would be better to go around to the next anchorage at Nalauwaki. Yes, it was much better, and the chart showed a trail over to the resort, and I had also read that in the compendium. Josh joined us when we went in to the village for our sevusevu. Same mumbling and clapping (we didn't even try this time). Lots of little kids around - the chief's grandchildren. Cute, lots of runny noses and sticky (from mangoes) fingers. But they loved having their pictures taken and then looking at themselves. I could see where a polaroid would be a useful item here. We then asked about getting coconuts and bananas. Our guide turned us over to Manoa Lura (Max). I think we confused him a bit, as we wanted to walk over to the resort and wanted the fruit. In the end we gave him some money thinking the coconuts and bananas would be in our dinghy when we got back.

The resort was (is) nice. They happily took my credit card and opened a tab for us. The compendium talked them up as very yacht friendly, no dollar signs in their eyes, but that was not my perception. Yes, they were willing to let us drink at the bar, but needed a guide if we wanted to go any other place and worse than usual service. Oh well, it was different and the beer was cold. On our way out, we made reservations for dinner the next night and I made the poor decision of leaving my credit card. So we hiked back over (an easy hike even though it about killed me). Interesting that from the resort to the top of the hill was all nice concrete walk or steps, but from the top to the village was mostly dirt, but did have steps cut it to it. It is a busy trail as many villagers staff the resort. On return to our dinghy we found no coconuts, but lots of sand. The children used it as a play ground. Sigh...... Dinner was spaghetti, as the cupboards were almost bare, or at least the fridge and freezer.

The next morning after multiple calls to Vuda Point, we decided to clean the bottom of the boat. I figured if they didn't know what I was talking about, then the marina did not do bottom cleaning in the water. Whew!! hard work. It took the four of us about 3 hours to get it all done. Max came with our coconuts, then went for bananas and mangoes and papaya. He brought some very nice bananas back as well as 2 papayas and a big bowl's worth of mangoes. By the time we were finished with the bottom, the wind had changed direction to blowing on shore. Our anchor depth alarm started going off. By 1700, we had pretty much decided to leave Dennis on the boat while Josh, Paul and I went over for dinner and to rescue my card. Was an exciting ride in - the swell had come up and we all got a little wet getting the dinghy safely to shore - reminiscent of Mexico beach landings. We took off past the pig farm (they have tons of pigs) up and over to the resort. I think we have gone more native than I thought, cuz we all did it barefoot.

Dinner was okay. According to Josh they should stick to fish, and I have to agree, that most of the meat was overcooked. The chicken wings were good and the salads were excellent, so except for the fact that Dennis wasn't there - it really was nice. After dinner we collected my card, put our shoes on and hiked back over the hill. Launching the dinghy went well and we made it back to the boat not much wetter than when we started out. Then came the fun part - anchor watch. Paul and I relieved Dennis so he could eat and relax. I saw gusts up to 37 knots and we were being blown towards shore - hence the anchor watch and extra stomach acid (for me at least). I finally went down around midnight to doze on the couch. At 0200 Dennis got up and decided that if we were going to drag we would have done it, so we all went to bed.

0700 wake up the next day and on our way by 0800 ish - straight into the wind. "It will be downwind as soon as we turn the corner", said Dennis. Alas, the wind had other plans - directly on the nose, and then it died completely. Gave myself a bit of a firedrill with the watermaker. We were trying to get two full tanks, so had been running the watermaker steady for 24 hours, and still had room in the tanks. I had to turn it off at one point when we were bashing into the waves -also had to close the sink drain (remember, that floods things if left open). Well, things flood if you don't reopen it after restarting the watermaker!!!! OMG total senior moment. I kept hearing the bilge pump going, checked the packing gland it was dripping pretty steady. Dennis checked it out, was fine, and still the bilge pump. So, up come floor boards, the cupboard under the companionway emptied, finally I went forward to look under the floor there. Yep, and discovered the waste salt water from the watermaker was overflowing the sink! At least it was an easy fix....... Only took me 1/2 an hour to put everything back together. I then made lunch and took a nap (thanks Dennis and Paul for keeping watch).

We made Vuda Point around 1430. We had to wait outside of the channel while they figured out where they were going to put us. Finally around 1500 we came in and rafted up on the wall with s/v Mala. Another small world event - they left Koolina at the end of April, had met Doug from Moondance there, caught up with them in Savu Savu and now here we are - cwazy!! Great neighbors. Anton and Visna are from Slovenia (between Italy and Yugoslavia). And have sailed all the way here from there. Interesting folks - and love their accents.

So we are all settled in and Dennis has already started us on projects (which is good) and we did a little provisioning and provisioning reconnaissance in Laukota today. The market there is pretty amazing, it is nice to have fresh veggies again. Will continue to whittle away at the prep list in the coming days as well as do some more provisioning. Bought samples of corned beef hash and cereal today. If they are satisfactory we will stock up. We really like being out on the wall. I think we get a little more breeze. it is kind of a pain having to walk across Mala to get on and off, but they are great sports about the whole thing. We will be keeping an eye out for a weather window and fill out our NZ pre arrival paperwork and find a weather router - all kinds of fun stuff....

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Musket Cove to Waya

Musket Cove was nice, and turned out to be good that we moved and got there when we did. The weather turned a little, got windy and overcast. Wednesday was nice though, we checked out the Marina and resort at Musket Cove and the Plantation Resort next door. They had some activities planned for Fiji day too. We also checked out the dive shop and dive spots. Decided we would do the Plantation pinnacles. The moorings at Musket Cove are 15FJD per day, seem to be pretty solid, good thing, because we saw some sustained 27-30 knot winds that evening.

Thursday (Fiji Day) started out sunny, but windy so no diving for us. Josh and Dennis did homework, Paul and I went in and walked around. Not much going on at Musket Cove, and too lazy (me that is) to walk back to the Plantation Resort to see if they had anything going. So we read our books. By then it had gotten overcast to go with the wind. Friday was more of the same, sunny but pretty windy. Dennis and I did a walk around Malolo on the beach. We decided to complete our circle at the golf course, and as we were walking through, one of the maintenance workers headed over on his mower. We though for sure we were gonna get kicked off, but instead he offered us a drinking coconut! Nice. Just what we needed after our walk. A little further on I asked another maintenance guy to cut it open so we could eat the soft nut - yum my favorite.

Everyone has now used the paddle board. It works kinda for Dennis - the paddle is way too short though. Josh took it out for another really long paddle while we were there.

Saturday turned out to be the perfect morning for a dive. Dennis, Josh and I were off in the dinghy by 0745. Finding the place was not as straightforward as we thought it was going to be. We were just about to give up, when a panga from the Lamolo resort came by and pointed us in the right direction - easy to find if you know where it is! Was a nice pinnacle dive to 70 feet with a swim thru tunnel at the base. Cool! We saw a school of bigger (read shootable by Josh standards) fish, some moorish idols the size of dinner plates and at the top of the pinnacle (apporx 25 ft) there were lots of anenome with the clown fish (? or anenome fish?) hiding in them - I love those. So it was a nice dive. Dennis snorkeled some, but didn't dive. Right at the end of the dive, my BCD started to leak, so was good that only one set of us dove.

Back at the boat it was waffles for breakfast, plus eggs and sausage. Diving works up an appetite. We took my BCD in to the dive shop and were told "very old gear". No kidding, I figure it is about 24 years old. Bob and Nancy - remember helping me choose it? My regulator is still in good shape, no problems with it. We decided not to refill the tanks as there is enough air to do another dive or retrieve an anchor. Picked up a few things at the marina store and back to the boat.

Sunday we took off for our next destination which turned out to be 3 islands close together, the only one whose name I remember is Vanua Levu (not the big one). We wound our way thru the reef, past what would have been a great lunch spot if it hadn't been over run by tourists from a small cruise ship. Nice little sandy atoll surrounded by snorkeling reef. Oh well. Instead we anchored next to a 138 foot catamaran. Had lunch and a snorkel then onto our anchorage, which we made by 1730. A little late, but it was still daylight. There was a big motor yacht (at least 100 feet) named Dragonfly and 3 other small boats like us. In the morning we were joined by a beautiful 153 foot ketch, and a cruise ship. The cruise ship inundated the snorkel area by us. We figured they would be there about an hour then leave, then we would snorkel. Turned out to be a true prediction, but... No sooner had the original cruise ship left, then the big ketch moved to their place and another smaller cruise ship came. It happened so fast that Dennis didn't even realize the cruise ships were different. So, we had breakfast and then did our snorkel and walked on the beach. I took a picture for the group from the cruise ship as they all hung out in the water with their sodas and fiji bitters. On the way back we chatted with them (from KiriKiri in Northern NZ) nice folks. Maybe we will catch up with them again.

Another 2 hour hop and now we are anchored on the southern shore of Waya. Officially in the Yasawas. It is another pretty anchorage and better yet - internet. I think we will do our first real sevusevu here. I will let you know.

Hard to believe it is the middle of October already. We will probably head back to Vuda Point within a week, and start prepping for the jump to NZ. Guess there is a good weather window even as we speak. Hopefully we can time it just right to be ready for the next one.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Vuda Point to Malolo

Sunday turned out to be a pretty nice day. It rained a little bit, but then cleared up. We went and listened to the music at the bar - was good. Dennis was a bit disappointed that they didn't play any local music, but I guess they play what the majority want to hear. And they played quite a range of US music. I had a good laugh at all the men. It is good to know that the country and the sport may change, but men are men. There we were, beautiful setting, nice music, inexpensive drinks......But it was Sunday and there was a big screen TV with rugby.... so where do you think the men were gathered?? You got it, in front of the TV. I took a picture, cuz it was so, I don't know US I suppose.

We had yummy steaks on the boat for dinner, then I remembered I needed to do laundry, so I got 3 loads washed and partially dry. So I prayed for a dry night so it wouldn't get a second rinse. Luckily it was dry, and the laundry was all dry by the next afternoon. Surprisingly, you are able to do your own laundry here. The machines take tokens - 6FJD (roughly 3 US) per load wash or dry. A little more expensive than it has been, but still not on the scale of French Polynesia where it worked out to 10US per load.

Monday was provisioning day, and also when I realized we had both totally space our anniversary. Not sure what that says about us, and not sure I want to know.... So after breakfast we were off to the bus stop. We were able to hitch a ride to the main road, skipping one bus and a 30 min. wait. After a short wait at the main road we caught the bus to Namaka, our destination - New World Foods. OMG I think the driver has aspirations of driving for NASCAR. That had to have been one of the scariest rides I have ever been on. At one point he took a turn wide a missed a truck carrying sugar cane by millimeters. It was my side too - I ducked, sure that I was going to get poked by a sugar cane stick. We survived it though and managed to get off not too far past our stop. Mr Nascar bus driver forgot that we had asked to get off at New World Foods, and it wasn't as if we knew where we were going.

First thing was to explore the non food store next door. They had everything from dishes to high end sound systems, furniture and cool sewing machines, ipods, computers and sporting equipment. Dennis bought Josh a rugby ball. Then on to the food store. It is a nice store, has many US type foods, but not as good as Cost u less. Sadly, that is in Suva. Bummer, cuz i wanted to go there but it is 5 hours by bus, so we will just have to make do. We took a taxi back, and stopped at a fresh fruit and veggie stand. So provisioned for the next little while. As we were unloading the taxi at the boat, Dennis realised the rugby ball was still at New World (you know leave you packages etc before going in - only no claim check.) So, off he went back to Namaka - major bummer. After stowing the food, Paul and I did boat chores - washing down decks, cleaning the cockpit, and cleaning the grill. Then I went in search of a place for Dennis and i to have an anniversary dinner. Turns out that the Marina is right next door to First landing resort (yes Colleen I finally figured it out LOL). Marina guests are allowed over there at the pool etc. So, I made a reservation for dinner. When I told Paul (our waiter for the evening) that it was our anniversary, he showed me a really nice private table that we could reserve, so i did. From there I went to hang out by the pool. Which is where Dennis found me. We chilled for a while, then back to the boat for a drink and clean up for dinner.

Dinner was excellent! Pretty darn romantic too. They also had live music going. After we finished eating the musicians came over and sang to us and Paul brought us a yummy chocolate dessert with "Happy Anniversary" written on the plate (pictures to follow). All in all a fantastic evening and although a day late Fiji time - on time US time.

We had decided on Monday to go ahead and leave Tuesday. Lots of reasons. As much as I like the amenities of a marina, the noise and the heat eventually overshadow the good stuff. We will return there to prepare for the crossing to NZ, so was time to explore what we can in our remaining time here.

For folks not in a rush, we were payed up, out of our "slip", fueled up and under sail by 1030. Not too bad. We were headed for Musket Cove, but Dennis got tired of bashing into the wind, so we stopped on the northeast (ish) side of the island. It reminds me a bit of Isla San Francisco in the Sea of Cortez. You can see the anchorage at Musket Cove from here. The isthmus here dries out at low tide. And the tidal range is big. We dinghied in around 1500, and had to walk the dinghy over the reef and haul it over sand to finally tie off on mooring ball that was high and dry. yes we forgot the anchor (eye roll). Dennis and Paul walked the boat over the reef, lucky me I got a ride. Sadly it was very uneven and Paul stepped into a hole and cut his foot on some coral. Lots of blood. Once the little piece of coral came out it slowed down and stopped, so we decided to press on.

The walk to Musket Cove really isn't that far, so yes I am so out of shape. I was beat by the time we went there, walked around and walked back. We will head over there this morning. There are mooring balls and think we will stay at least until Friday as Thursday is Fiji Day (their independence day) and will be interesting to see the festivities.

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Naigani to Vuda Point

Naingani was pretty - compendium was right,the anchorage didn't look like it would be protected, but it was. Beautiful beach, looked like it would be good snorkeling, no internet. We didn't want to take the dinghy down, and Dennis and I were kicking around the idea of a swim to shore the next morning, but brrr it was chilly. So, we decided to wait until after coffee and get the generator started. Well, the generator decided that the dinghy motor had been getting too much attention. The alarm went off. Oil or water? hmmmm. Turns out it was a fuse on the fresh wgater pump. Second fuse to go in less than a month (the other was on something different). Easy fix though, hopefully that will keep the generator feeling loved and not taken for granted for a while. So that pretty much nixed the swim as we needed to get going. Our next destination? Viti Levu Bay.

We had a good sail winding our way thru the inner reefs. Curly's waypoints and our charts were good. No surprises. Sailing with the big jib only. Viti Levu Bay is a deep bay with several villages and great internet. Actually the internet got better and better as the day progressed. We anchored on the 10 - 15 meter shelf. Note that it gets shallow VERY quickly and the visibility in the water is poor so be happy with 10 meters. The holding was good - dark mud that took Josh about half an hour to wash off in the morning. Again, quite cool in fact downright cold at night. It appears that we have entered the "burn your fields/forest" zone. WOW! Might as well be in California or New Mexico during fire season. Josh said it looks like that Alta Mont pass by Tracy, right down to the burned patches. Definitely hard on our allergies and breathing. So I cooked the beef sausage I got at Maravu's meat in SavuSavu - don't do that. Yuck they were awful! In fact we threw more than half of them away (yes, Dennis Morrison said to throw them out, so you know they were terrible) Not even covering them in beans and rice made them palatable. Nasty! You know, cooking 3 meals a day for hungry men is not my favorite thing on a good day - Sure hate it when the food itself conspires against me!!!!

Up and at em early (relatively) the next day (friday). Headed for the anchorage by the pass out to the Yasawas. Another day of winding through the inner reef with the big jib only. We were racing the weather, so after lunch Dennis checked on it and we decided that maybe the hop to the Yasawas was not the best choice for the next day, so we went another 10 miles to the anchorage at Vatia Wharf. Again, good holding in mud (be patient Josh says the anchor will sink in and catch) we were in about 5 meters and put out 150 ft of chain. Again Josh had to rinse it in the morning. First times we have used the anchor wash since Mexico was the consensus. Pork fillets from Fiji Meats for dinner - major success!!

Up and at them really early on Saturday. Josh asked me what time it was at 0645 - and we were underway. It started off overcast and the visibility was pretty flat. It got better though as the morning progressed. We passed mega yacht number two (Virago - US flag 98 feet). Mega Yacht number one (Koo 148 ft) on Friday afternoon. I guess that means we are on the west side of Viti Levu - burning land and mega yachts! The sun came out as we approached Lautoka (52k people, busy port, sugar cane mill spewing more smoke). No promising anchorages, or at least any we were willing to take, so on to Saweni. got there and decided the current wind situation (from the North) made it a poor choice as well. That left Vuda Point Marina as our next option. So I called (really glad to have that phone!) and they said they had a space for us. The surprise on Josh's face when he figured out where we were/are was priceless! This is one place, that doesn't actually live up to its picture in the Fiji Marina guide. But it is still very nice. We got permission to enter the channel and headed in. It was low tide, so the 25 meter wide channel seemed pretty narrow, especially with all the exposed reef surrounding us. Dennis said he saw 8 feet on the depth reading! There is a nice bar/restaurant overlooking the channel, a fuel dock (cash only) and many other amenities. Our instructions were to moor on the orange ball and someone would come out and guide us into a slip. Well, the space they showed us seemed like wishful thinking, but hey who are we??? so with all the fenders out, boat hooks ready and lines for the stern and bow we as slowly as possible headed into our space. OMG I am fairly certain I sprouted a whole new crop of grey hair!!! We are literally a fender's width apart from our neighbors. We bumped the stern of the cat on the port side and just missed hitting the arch with our anchor on the starboard side. Talk about a chinese fire drill. I think even Josh got some grey hairs. Good to know he is not cavalier about his home - very worried about it all. But, here we are safe and sound. May have to spray WD40 on the fenders to slide us out of here, but we will worry about that when the time comes.

So, yeah it is nice here. Paul and Karen on GIGI (last seen in Fr. Poly) are here, Southern Cross is on the hard - dug in AND drum roll please........ Far and Away pulled in around 1700!! So yes, all is right in our little world at the moment. The batteries are getting electrons, Josh is getting a kid fix and a long shower and Dennis Paul and I are doing adult things like sitting at the almost beach bar and going out for Indian food. The staff here are friendly and helpful, the restrooms are nice and the store has just enough variety to keep everyone happy. There is a chandlery here (closed til Monday) and an ATM and taxis readily available. It looks like a bit of a hike to get to where the buses run, but certainly doable. Mohammed introduced himself and gave us his card. he is who we called to take us in to dinner last night, he was busy so his cousin Abdul One took us in. We laughed, cuz initially when he said his name i thought he meant Abdulwan - seemed different, but then he said something about his cousin Abdul Two and we understood. He has been driving from the marina for 18 years!

Today was a sleep in day, but sadly was wide awake early. A good thing though as the lady at the store said that bread came at 0700. We were there at 0710, and if we had been much later would not have gotten any bread!! Slice whole wheat too - yum and yay! So today we are going to relax for the most part. There is live music at the bar/restaurant starting at 1400, so we will probably head over there around then. Josh says we should clean up so he can invite the Far and Away kids over for a game of Risk.... I am thinking lots of popcorn. And really clean up????!!! Brat! I think it must be his turn to do dishes. He went over there last night and being the bad Mom that I am, I sent him with eggs and brownie mix. He wanted to go right that second, so what else was I to do???

Our dinner last night was interesting. We were expecting a restaurant, and what we got was a small market with a togo buffet. Fortunately it was also had a place to sit down and our food was made fresh. No alcohol served, but the food was really good. I had chicken chow mein, and Dennis and Paul had chicken and lamb curry respectively. We shared a side of chicken fried rice. It was all good, my only complaint was too much cilantro in the salad and fried rice. I certainly didn't go hungry though.

The expected weather has arrived - it is overcast and has rained a little. It is comfortable though. It is supposed to clear Tuesday, so we will plan to leave here and head to the closest islands for a couple weeks and then return here to prepare for the crossing to NZ. I hope to do some provisioning tomorrow, kind of get a jump on thinks before we come back. We have one or two projects that need to be done before we leave for NZ, including cleaning the bottom and repairing the leach on the main (again).

Well, caught up again. More later

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

makogai and beyond

We did get up the next morning and head out to Makogai (Makongai). Had a quick snorkel first though. Tried to get some pictures of the reef and fish. Some of the pictures turned out okay, but the ones of the big brown spotted sweetlips didn't turn out very well. Note to self - the waterproof camera really is leaking/condensing don't use it in the water... sigh..... Oh well, at least it still works. The sail over to Makongai was uneventful, getting out of the south pass from Namena was okay, felt pretty narrow but the visibility was good and really there was plenty of room. We anchored off the Ag (Agricultural research) Station on Makongai - and did our first sevusevu (not). Actually just asked for the "boss", handed him our yongona - he said thank you and asked if we wanted a tour.

The Ag Station is on the site of the old Leper colony. Our guide (whose name is just too hard for any english speaking person to remember after only one repetition) told us people from all over the pacific used to come here. First though, he showed us the tanks with green turtles and where they grow the giant clams. There were several tanks of very small giant clams and the last had bigger ones and one ginormous one - picutes to follow. After that we toured the remains of the leper colony. They had a movie theater and finally the graveyard. Pretty interesting.

I think Makongai has been my favorite stop so far - even if there is no bakery or internet. We did a bunch of snorkeling and yesterday Josh, Dennis and I did a tank dive on one of the coral heads - very nice. I had forgotten how much I enjoy being able to go down and look at things and not have to hold my breath. This particular coral head had like a zillion little fish at the top, it was as if we were in a giant aquarium. We pretty much took out all of the toys. Dennis and Paul got the paddle board and paddle in working order (Crystal I will post a picture!) and we all tried that out as well as the kayak. Dennis and Josh tried spear fishing with no luck one day, and the next they made a target to practice on. The anchorage was pretty active and our neighbors on Gyspy Lee filled out tanks after our dive yesterday.

We left Makongai today. Thankfully only a short 16 miles to Naigani (Na ing ani) because it took all of two hours to put all the toys away!!! So we are here now. Internet still not useable, so not sure how long we will stay. Josh had hoped Far and Away would come thru Makongai, but they screamed past and are now around Musket Cove (SW side of the big Island of Viti Levu), while we are still here on the NE side. bummer!

Not much else to report.

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