Posted by: procamnz | September 7, 2008

The Port of Denerau has changed a lot since we were there four years ago with the addition of a big shopping mall. But apart from that, the area has the normal signs of neglect. It is very expensive for berthing. Little maintenance is done and no rubbish facilities, despite a $5 per day rubbish disposal fee. There is a security service operating but in my mind, fishing off the wharf is not a security chore. It is very noisy and this makes sleeping on board very hard. We made the most of our time there, doing some shopping, eating out at a couple of the restaurants and also viewing the local free cultural show which is on three nights a week in the town centre. It was very enjoyable as there was dancing from around the Pacific. The hula dancing was incredible. Wow! Those women can really shake their hips and it was amusing watching the faces on the males in the audience. There was also fire and knife dancing. They had a good repertoire and involved the audience. The children had a great time.
We left Denerau on Friday morning and sailed back to Saweni Bay for a few quiet days and some boat maintenance. We had a pleasant sail down to the bay but when we furled the mainsail before entering the bay we heard something drop to the deck, which happened to be a long screw. One does not like finding screws lying around because then one has to find where it came from. After a lot of searching, we found another boat part tucked in to the mast. How lucky is that? They had both come from the top of the mast and were part of the swivel for the mainsail. We thought we would need to send Tony aloft but after some consideration, we realised that we just needed to drop the sail and screw the part into the fitting above the sail from deck height. We did this on anchor in calm weather. Tony made sure that he did it very tight.
Tony spent the time here installing the AIS system which we want to have in place for our return journey to NZ. This is a gadget which recognises big ships and lets you know the name of a ship, its course, speed and direction, how far they are from you and whether they are a danger to your course. It interfaces to the newer model Navman chart plotter and needed wires threading etc. Well I can report that it definitely works because I saw a big tanker coming in to Lautoka and we checked out all its details. It is quite frightening when off shore to see a ship on the horizon and not know where it is heading. The radar does help of course but doesn’t give all the details. Tony has also spent time catching up on all his work emails. They take a lot of time because the internet service is so slow. He uses a system called UUPlus which get the emails through a lot quicker.
One continual problem with anchoring near the land is the amount of dirt and ash which is in the air and lands on the boat. At the moment our boat is covered in black ash from the smoke stack of the sugar mill at Lautoka as well as all the fires which are deliberately lit to burn off all the weeds and rubbish in the sugar cane fields. We wonder how much these fires are damaging the ozone layer. Some days the whole area is covered in smoke and at night we can always see the red glow of several fires.
Yesterday we had a bit of excitement when a front passed over us. The wind suddenly accelerated to 25-30 knots and the wind turned to an onshore breeze with the waves increasing in height. Two boats in the anchorage dragged their anchors and after several goes at re-anchoring and close encounters with other boats they headed out to sea. We shut all the hatches, tied everything down on deck, checked anchor chain and strop and then kept watch for the three hours or so until it passed. We have only 1.7 metres of water under our keel and are quite close to the beach and so it would have needed quick work to get the motor going if we had dragged. But our trusty Rocna anchor held firmly. After a brief period of heavy rain, our first in about six weeks, the wind did a 180’ shift and we were again facing in to the bay. The waves took a while longer to settle but by night all was calm again. At Saweni Bay there are protective reefs from each side of the bay so you have to be fairly close to the shore to be inside the reefs.
Today we will head in to Vuda Point to receive our special guests, our daughter, Rowena and her daughter, Isabella. They fly in from NZ to Nadi at 2PM. Tomorrow we need to go to Lautoka to stock up of fruit and vegs before heading out to the islands.

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