Posted by: procamnz | September 24, 2008

Dad’s 90th Birthday

Alleyn McCarthy b. 24/09/1918
A Yummy Black Forest Birthday Cake

From Left. Isabella, Naomi, Dad,Rowena, June (Nana) and Mary

It was very sad to see Mary’s Dad looking so old and lacking in heart. He is very tired now and does not have the energy to do anything except sit in his chair. But we all had a lovely lunch which was organised by Rowena. It was great that Naomi managed to get the afternoon off work so that she could come with us. Dad was in better spirits after we had all made a big fuss of him and June had a lot of fun too. She just loves Isabella. We hated leaving them as we can not guess how long Dad will be with us. We go back to Fiji today and will not be back to see them until sometime in Nov. June is managing very well and caring for Dad really well. She has a very hard row to hoe now but does it all graciously.
Stephen, Rochella and the boys are visiting them this weekend and so they will have some other visitors. Stephen had to cancel the trip he had planned for yesterday because we had a case in the high court which could not be changed. However it may word out better that they visit seperately.
We flew up from Wellington this morning and are now in the lounge awaiting our flight to Fiji at 1PM.

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Posted by: procamnz | September 20, 2008

Back to the garden of the sleeping Giant

Rowena

Beautiful Bella Playing with the stones.

On Wednesday Tony had to head back to NZ for work. We took the boat back to Vuda Point and Mary, Rowena and Naomi stayed for a further three days, flying out of Fiji on Saturday, Rowena and Isabella to Wellington and Mary to Auckland. We spent those days lazily doing some laundry etc, swimming in the pool at 1st Landing, shopping in Nadi and visiting the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. While at Nadi we visited the Hindi Temple. A number of years ago Rowena had spent some time in Northern India and so she was very interested in the temple. We were lucky because the priest there took a real liking to Isabella, playing with her for ages and explaining the paintings and his beliefs with Rowena. Everone there loved Rowena’s dreadlocks. Aparently very religious people have them in India and so they assumed that Rowena was one of them. We then did some shopping before catching the bus back to Vuda. Poor Isabella was exhausted after that expedition. On Friday we made a picnic lunch and took it to the gardens. It was a great day because it was a little overcast and not too hot. Isabella had a great time wandering around and picking up stones and leaves. She picked up a long seed pod and chewed it and was very angry when we took it away from her. It wasn’t until we were driving back to Vuda in the taxi that Abdul explained to us that the pods were tamerind and perfectly safe to eat. There are several trees at vuda and so Rowena and I tried chewing the pods. They were delicious, tasting of across between raisins and dates. No wonder Bellla loved them.
We packed up and left the boat at 7.30 on Saturday morning. Then Tony picked me up from the airport in Auckland. We stayed there until Tuesday afternoon and caught the plane to Wellington so that we could be there Dad’s birthday.

Posted by: procamnz | September 20, 2008

Bella Visits Fiji


Rusila, Staff member at Musket Cove with the small celebrity

Isabella enjoying the freedom of Musket Cove
Walking about the deck in safety
Bath and cooling down time
Bella in the lifejacket ready for her dinghy ride

Well, as can been seen from the photos, Isabella settled in to living the cruising life. She has been on the boat many times before and so the transition was fairly easy, although she did struggle with sleeping in the heat. Tony had to install a fan above her bunk to cool her down. Fortunately he had a spare fan and it did not take long to install. Poor Rowena did not have the benefit of such a luxury in her cabin, but she did sleep the furthest from Isabella’s bed and so that when she cried in the night, it was her Grandma or Oupa who got up.
Rowena and Isabella arrived on Sunday evening and were delivered to the boat by Abdul, our regular taxi driver. The next morning we all got up early and caught the 7.30 bus in to Lautoka so that we could stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. Rowena loved the market and shopping even though it was extremely hot. She and Tony took turns at carrying Isabella in the baby back pack. We had decided to catch a taxi back to Vuda, but while walking past the bus station, we found there was a bus just leaving and so we saved several dollars and caught the bus back to the boat. After settling Isabella down for a nap, we left the marina and set off for Musket Cove. We did not want to travel too far with Isabella but planned a holiday at Musket Cove. We had a mooring booked very close to the yacht club and that one was more sheltered than most of the others. The sea can build up there quite quickly and so it was great to be in good shelter and only a short dinghy ride ashore.
Isabella quickly built up her own fan club. Whenever she went to shore she was picked up and cuddled and sometimes taken away for a while, by the staff at the marina. Before long people would say, “Oh, you are Isabella”. She was certainly well cared for, even by the male staff. Fijians just love babies and make such a fuss of them.
We spent lots of time in the pool and Bella had a lot of fun. Tony and I tried to take turns of looking after her so that Rowena could have a lot of fun too.
We hired bikes and rode them around the island, went for walks, shopping and coffee breaks. One afternoon Rowena and Tony hired kayaks and went for a tiki tour while Bella and I went for a long swim and then a walk.
One day while we were in the pool, there was a huge downpour. The water in the pool was warm but not the rain. We had to stay in the pool until the rain stopped and we could then get out and dried.

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Posted by: procamnz | September 20, 2008

Belated photos

Caleb listening to the ipod
Ethan and Tony having special time together
Pool time at the Radisson
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Now that we have a decent internet connection I can finally post these photos taken while Stephen and Rochelle and the boys were visiting Fiji
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.

Posted by: procamnz | September 1, 2008

Denerau

This Blog has taken a very long time to get posted because we have had lousey internet service. But at least it is done now.

Well it is easy to work out when the Windspirit Mob are having fun. That is when the blogs don’t get written very often.
Before returning to Fiji, Mary flew to Wellington for two nights to visit her Dad and June, his wife. They are really struggling now. Dad turns ninety in September and June will be eighty one in November. But they continue to live in their own home, which is great. We worry about them but would hate to see them lose their independence. Dad has had a couple of blackouts this year resulting in falls which left him with a lot of pain and more importantly they have also knocked his confidence. It is always hard to leave them behind and head north again.
We returned to Fiji on Friday 22 August and it was so good to see Abdul, our friendly taxi driver, waiting at the Airport for us. We were really laden with luggage this time. We had brought our pushchair up, so that it could be available to use for the grandchildren when they visit. Also there were the usual boat spares that were bought and of course, wine, eleven bottles between us. Alcohol is incredibly expensive in Fiji. At the supermarket, a bottle of Gin which one can buy in NZ for about $40 was over $110 Fijian. An average bottle of wine which could be bought in the supermarket in NZ for $10-12 is about $25-30 here. Restaurant prices have an additional premium on this as you would expect.
Windspirit was sitting safely at Vuda but was as usual very dirty from dust and ash. We spent the weekend resting and then doing numerous jobs on the boat, including the normal boat scrub. Tony used the new stainless steel drills which he had bought in Auckland to drill holes in the bow fitting for the pin which is going to be made to hold the anchor snug when we are sailing. We had found that the new 33kg (73lb) Rocna anchor moves and bangs when we hit waves, even though it is well tied down. This pin will prevent that happening. It took Tony a lot of thinking, planning and measuring before he did the drilling. But it looks fine now that it is finished.
We had also bought some new rope which Mary spent a lot of time splicing and fitting it to the dinghy. Our old painter had lasted several years but was looking the worse for wear. This time we made up a bridle arrangement so that it is more secure, rather than just one line. When one does a lot of splicing, the job seems easy but when it is done just occasionally, the rope book, with diagrams is extremely useful. The other jobs which were done while at the marina were the replacement of the faulty capacitor for the genset (it works like a charm now) and gluing new foam on the lazerette hatch covers, which were leaking slightly.
Early on Monday morning we left Vuda and motored to Saweni Bay again. Then once were were sure that the anchor had set, we left the dinghy at the beach and walked to the main road where we wanted to catch a bus to Lautoka. Our fresh fruit and veg’s stores were low. We were lucky to be offered a ride by the Postal Delivery Van driver. He dropped us at the main road where we caught the 80 cent bus to Lautoka. We had a successful time at the market and with our bags loaded up, caught a bus which was heading for Nadi. We left the bus at the Saweni Bay turn off but were not so lucky this time and had to walk in the searing heat, the 45 minute walk back to the beach. By the time we got back to the boat we were exhausted but well stocked with food.
We stayed in the comfortable and quiet anchorage at Saweni for several days, the only excitement was when we looked up and noticed that a yacht, which had been in front of us, was now beside us and rapidly drifting towards the reef. We called them on the radio but got no reply and so Tony blasted them with our electric horn. That soon got a response and they let out more anchor chain. The only annoyance for us was that now we had a yacht closer to us than we would have liked. Also they had a noisy wind generator and a very noisy diesel generator and so our quiet anchorage became a loud one. However them’s the breaks.
Tony spent several hours reworking the circuit board for the spare auto helm to make it operate with the new hydraulic control system. After some more testing, it does work now but over-steers and we now do search patterns when that is operating. So back to the drawing board for Tony. It will eventually work, we know, and it is only the spare one. But after our experience of sailing from NZ we want to have spares of spares.
On Thursday we had a great sail from Saweni Bay to Denerau, the port of Nadi. The boat just loved the conditions and so did we. Stephen, Rochelle, Caleb and Ethan were due to arrive from NZ at 4PM but their plane was cancelled and they had to go on standby for the 8PM flight. That is pretty hard, sitting at the airport with two children under two and just waiting. They were lucky to get on the flight and had two very tired children but at least they arrived at 11PM. It took them all a couple of days to catch up on sleep though. They are staying at the Radisson Resort on Denerau.
Wow! What a beautiful place, with several pools, restaurants and right on the beach front. They have a two bedroomed apartment there and are staying until Thursday morning. We have been having a wonderful time with them, playing with the boys, babysitting and swimming in the pools. We are so lucky to be able to spend so much time with our grandchildren but by the time they leave we will look forward to a few quiet days before Rowena and Isabella arrive on Sunday to stay with us for two weeks.

Caleb and Ethan ready for a walk

Posted by: procamnz | August 16, 2008

Tripping around with NZ Visitors

The time with Naomi and Al flew because we were all having such a wonderful time. The weather was perfect all the time they were with us. They left last Saturday but before they left we had three days at Vuda Point so that they could spend some time visiting sites on land.

On Wednesday Naomi, Al and Mary took the bus in to Lautoka to see the market, shops etc. This very dirty city did not impress Naomi and Al and after a look about and a little bit of shopping we caught a bus back to the main road near Vuda and then hitched a ride in a ute, there being no bus for quite some time.





(Above) Naomi on the bus to Lautoka

(Below) Kava for sale at the Market



Spices for Sale at the market





The next day they were back at the bus stop at 7.30 for a trip in to Nadi. Mary felt that the town was even seedier than it had been four years ago on our last trip. But we did have a pleasant day, buying a few bits and pieces and vegetables from the market and visiting the Hindi temple, (which was extremely interesting), before returning to the boat and for a well-earned swim at the pool at 1st Landing resort.

The Hindi Temple

On Friday we all decided to visit The Garden of the Sleeping Giant, a glorious, mainly orchard garden near Lautoka, originally created by Raymond Burr, of “Ironside” fame, for those old enough to remember. We had to go by taxi but of course used our tame taxi driver, Abdul. We had taken plenty of water to drink and a packed lunch and were glad of the preparations because we would not have wanted to rush. Naomi and Mary took a huge number of photos because all the flowers were tremendous.

Garden of the Sleeping Giant

We were so thrilled that we had taken the time to go because we had nearly decided not because of the transport difficulties. The gardens were really well set out in a huge valley with beautiful walkways, pools and vistas. They are very well maintained too, which is quite unusual for this country. We returned to the boat tired but happy for the compulsory swim and a drink and that night for half price pizza at the resort.

On Saturday, after Naomi and Al left, we sailed out to Musket Cove for one night and the next morning, as soon as the light was right to see the coral, we headed through the narrow channel, past several small islands and resorts, one of which was Castaway. Then once past Mana Island we headed for Navandra Island just to the south of the Yasawas’.

Navandra Island

This uninhabited island is a favourite for the boaties’. Is is a rolly anchorage but very beautiful, although trying to land the dinghy was a wet and exciting experience. The dinghy was swamped and the beach so steep that we had trouble pulling it up on the shore to drain all the water out. We then had a pleasant walk on the sand over to the other side of the island. The next morning after not a lot of sleep, Tony decided to do a bit of snorkelling while Mary stayed in the dinghy. Although the coral was quite pretty there were not a lot of fish. We then up anchored and had a pleasant sail back to Musket Cove. We trailed a line behind the boat on the way. The sound of the line screaming out was a great sound until we saw the size of the fish jumping and thrashing in the water. We were both quite relieved when it managed to jump free of the hook because we really would not have been able to bring it aboard. It was not a happy fish. Later, we did manage to catch a very nice mackerel which made very good eating for tea that night.

On Tuesday, we had a make and mend day on the boat. Then later in the afternoon we went ashore for a well-earned swim in the pool at the Musket Cove Resort. The water in the lagoon is often not very pleasant to swim in due to the huge amount of floating weed. This is worse on the outgoing tide.

Sandy Cay off Musket Cove

On Wednesday morning we wanted to catch the low tide and visit a sandy cay, which is only visible then. We left the yacht on the mooring and zoomed out to the cay with our snorkelling gear. We anchored the dinghy to the cay and walked out in the shallow water until it was just deep enough to swim. We were amazed at the amount of beautiful coral and the number of multi-coloured tropical fish in the shallow water. It would have been great to have an underwater camera to record the experience. But we don’t.

On Thursday we headed back to Vuda Point, where we left the yacht for a week because we needed to go back to NZ to see the family, enjoy Ethan’s Christening, and for Tony to do his usual stint of monthly meetings. Someone has to earn the cash so that we can do this.

Rochelle, Stephen, Caleb, Ethan and Father Bernie

It was wonderful to see the grandchildren again. Caleb and Ethan have changed so much in the two months since Mary had seen them. The christening went very well and not one baby out of the six baptized, cried. Then we went back to the house for a family and friends’ gathering. Unfortunately the plane that the Wellington gang were supposed to arrive on was cancelled at the last moment and so none of them were there. Rowena and Isabella finally did arrive at about 3PM after managing to get on another flight. They were both exhausted when they arrived but quickly picked up after some food and drink. Isabella has also grown a lot and is now walking well and chatting all the time. Some words are recognisable but others are not. It was a tiring but very successful day.

Rowena, Isabella, & Ethan


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Posted by: procamnz | August 4, 2008

Vuda to Musket Cove

White Bougainvillea

Vuda Point Marina

Tony arrived back from NZ on Sunday 20 July. Mary had spent the time he was away doing small jobs on the boat, repairs to the varnish work, washing etc. and also frequenting the pool of the resort which is next to the marina. First Landing allows the yachties to use the facilities for $5 per day. It is lovely and refreshing after the windless heat of the marina. We spent the next couple of days after Tony’s return doing odd jobs, swimming, laundry, and internet travel bookings. These bookings took a whole afternoon because the connection is so slow.

On Wednesday 23rd we arose early to be outside the Marina and catch the 7.30 bus to Lautoka and then another bus to Suva, a journey of about 4 ½ hours. Three other couples from the yachts joined us. Fortunately this was a modern, comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle. The bus stopped for 20 minutes at Sigatoka, another small city near an area where a lot of foreigners have built homes. We have experienced many toilets over the years but these were the worst we had ever used. But one needs to go, so no use complaining. There were plenty of touts trying to make friends and take you to their stalls at the market.

Suva



Sir Ratu Sukuna Park

We arrived at Suva in time for lunch and found a very nice restaurant selling Mary’s favourite, Pizza. Next was the job of finding somewhere to stay. We found a block of apartments with rooms to let. They were not bad but air-con. Ha! Ha! Yes there was air-conditioning but of course it did not work. Fortunately our room had a ceiling fan, which did help to move the air about. It was very central and we had a great view of the harbour.

Shoe Shiners in Suva

The city of Suva is a mixture of very modern and very old and dilapidated buildings, but was very interesting. We wandered around the shops and early in the evening. Tony, Mary and Heather and Hugh (from the NZ yacht, Pau Hana) caught a taxi to the Royal Suva Yacht Club. The name appears grand and in its hey day would have been THE place to be seen. It is still a fun place to catch up with cruisers and drinks are reasonably cheap. Alcoholic drinks are generally very expensive in Fiji. There was a Chinese Restaurant adjacent and a group of about 12 of us enjoyed a good meal and good company there. We spent the next day on a walking tour of the city, guided by our Lonely Planet book and that night had dinner with friends at a place which would compare favourably with restaurants in NZ.

Dinner in Suva

It was call Bad Dog and the pictures on the windows were exactly the same as our Red Dog restaurants. Wouldn’t get away with that in NZ!

Catholic Cathedral Suva

We caught the bus back to Lautoka the next morning. This was an old rattle trap affair, no air-con and the passengers were packed in like sardines. It seemed a very long trip with a few turn-offs through small villages. We were very pleased to get back to the comfort of our own home.

Naomi and Alastair’s visit

The next day, Saturday, we took a bus in to the big Saturday market in Lautoka for a stock up of fruit, veg and beer before Naomi and Al came. We were concerned they would not be able to fly due to the severe storms battering NZ but luckily they were on a direct flight from Wellington and the storm had not reached there yet. We were thrilled to see the taxi arrive with our special guests. We chatted long into the night. We did have one minor disaster. While Naomi was struggling to climb on to the boat, her glasses slipped off her face and disappeared in to the water. Next morning, good old Dad put on his snorkeling gear and dived into the disgusting brew under the boat and actually found them. She was a very lucky and happy woman. Although it is referred to as a marina, there are no floating pontoons.

Musket Cove (yachtie heaven)

On Sunday morning, between rain squalls (perhaps brought up from NZ by you-know-who), we scrubbed the two weeks worth of bird poop and dirt from the cane fields off the boat and filled the water tanks before packing up and leaving the marina. We headed out to a 4-7 knot breeze and had to motor about ten miles to Musket Cove, where we entered that idyllic place and knew that our real holiday had begun. Work on the boat and Tony’s business still had to get done but interspersed with rest and relaxation.


Cycling Through the Coconut Plantation

We spent seven nights at Musket Cove. As lifetime members of the Yacht Club we had full use of all the facilities at the resort. There is a glorious swimming pool where we spent a lot of time. We hired bikes twice and cycled around the island taking in all the sights and getting some much needed exercise, before collapsing into the pool again. We also went for several walks, especially where it was too hard to cycle up the hills, and did some good snorkeling off the reef.

Island Cruising Association

The Island Cruising Association regatta fleet left on Saturday morning for Vanuatu and so there were several days of fun and games and dinners planned for the members. As members of ICA, although not going on the regatta to Vanuatu, we were invited to partake in these events. They arranged a 9-hole Ambrose golf tournament, which Al and Tony entered with another cruising couple. The course was par 34 and they achieved 40.

Alastair playing a perfect shot

We had dinner one night at the Island Bar with the group. Here, people bring and cook their own meat and you buy a salad, baked potato and garlic bread for $7. It was really good too! The BBQs are available every night and drinks are about $4 each.

The Island Bar

On Thursday night we all went up to the restaurant and had pig-on-a-spit roast (Naomi had fish and made a very good choice). We had a lot of fun and after dinner the Fijian’s put on a song and dance show.

Robinson Crusoe Island

Mary on Fiji Time

We had a prediction of calm weather for a few days and so early on Sunday morning we dropped the mooring and headed out of the sheltered waters of the harbour, through Navula Passage and out to sea. We motor-sailed, eight miles East to a break in the reef which was the entrance needed to visit Robinson Crusoe Island Resort, aka Likuri Island.. We called the resort up on the radio and a long boat came out to guide us through the reef to where we needed to anchor. At low tide we have one metre under our keel, such a change from the deep anchorages that we are used to here in Fiji. It is sheltered by the island from the prevailing South Westerlies. This is a back to nature, back-packers resort, not at all like Musket Cove, but a fun place to be, especially for Naomi and Al.

Bure Accommodation at Robinson Crusoe

One of the directors, Kaz met us and showed us the ropes. It is $1 for lifetime membership of the boat to the club and all meals are $10 per head. Naturally we had lunch and after the lunch the local Fijians put on a show, with dancing, knife-throwing and fire-dancing. It was very impressive. However, we found out later that instead of using Kerosene for the fire, they were using two stroke premix petrol. No wonder it worked so well but how dangerous. That night Naomi and Al went back to the island for songs over a bonfire. They had a lot of fun and quite a few drinks before coming back for a well earned sleep.

This morning we went on the resort snorkelling tour (free) in a boat outside the reef. We were quite disappointed though because the water was too deep to see very much other than about six sharks down deep. Nonetheless we could not complain about the price. We have had much better snorkelling in other places.

Tomorrow we are hoping for a good breeze and we will head back to the Nadi-Lautoka area. Naomi and Al fly out on Saturday and we want to take them to Lautoka and Nadi to see the towns before then.

Posted by: procamnz | July 17, 2008

Vuda Point Marina 17 July

Entering Vuda Point Through Reef


Looking out of Marina

Looking in to Vuda Point Marina

On Monday we reluctantly up anchored from Sawini Bay and motored the few miles around the corner to Vuda Point. This is a land-locked marina and a great place to safely leave the boat. Tony was leaving for his usual monthly trip to NZ and Mary, who needed to stay in Fiji, wanted to be in a safe anchorage. Vuda is unlike any marina to be found in NZ. Basically it is like a giant, circular, swimming pool dug out of the ground and concreted. Then the external reef has been blasted and the whole area flooded. So it is tidal. The boats are placed bow in to the wall and tied with mooring ropes, which need to be adjusted so that they are loose enough for any state of the tide. Then ropes are attached to mooring buoys at the stern. The boats are only separated by fenders and so the inhabitants of the boats have to be friendly to each other because they are so close. There is a wooden platform at the end of the concrete wall. This is not floating and so it can be quite difficult getting on and off the boat, depending on the state of the tide. However, it is very sheltered from the prevailing winds and no waves. It is also a convenient place for getting to and from the airport and for shopping in Lautoka, a F$30 roundtrip.

Moorings. Windspirit in Foreground

The problem here is that there are flying cockroaches which need to be kept out of the boat. The other is that there are some cheeky little birds which live in the sugar plantations and fly right in to the boats to steal fruit. So insect screens need to be kept in place. We are pleased that we bought sun filter sides for our bimini and that keeps a lot of the pests out. But we have to close up the boat when we are not inside.

Tony spent the day working on the boat and removing the offending steering pump so that he could take it back to NZ. Mary did loads of washing and washed down the boat. It is great to have a unlimited water supply.

Just before Tony left to catch his flight, he went to get his trousers out of his wardrobe and found to his dismay that everything in there was covered in mildew. What a bummer!. So after he left, Mary spent the day washing all the wet weather gear, which must have had some salt on them and held the moisture, and also washed out the wardrobe with bleach. The dampness is a real problem.

There is a resort next to the marina, First Landing and for F$5 per day, casuals can use the swimming pool. This will be well utilized over the next few days by the 1st Mate. Also lots of reading shall be done.

Posted by: procamnz | July 14, 2008

Makongai to Lautoka

Makongai



Our overnight trip to Makongai was not pleasant. The wind varied in strength from 20-25 knots, and direction, from on the nose to up our stern. It was impossible to sail and though we tried, we ended up motoring most of the way. It was a very dark night, with no moon, punctuated by lightning in all directions and quite a bit of rain. We were very pleased to finally get in to the glorious bay at Makongai. But before having a well-earned rest, we had to visit the leader of the village and make our Sevusevu (offering of Yangona/kava). This offer was accepted and fortunately we were not asked to partake of the kava, which has a slightly muddy taste and leaves a numb feeling on the tongue and lips. Tony was asked if he could fix a light in the house. That was not too difficult for Tony.

This island is government owned and was, until 1969, a leper colony, when it was closed down and then became a government research facility. We took a tour of the old ruins but there is not much left except the jail and graveyard. However it was interesting. There are only four families in the village but there were a very large number of children. So the fertility rate must be high. The villagers all seemed pretty healthy. We wished we had taken our camera ashore because we saw a man pulling a baby along the ground in what would appear to be a trolley. However, it was a rectangular plastic container cut in half with no wheels pulled by a string, much like a sled. The baby looked perfectly happy. We have not seen one pram or pushchair since arriving in Fiji. We also saw a giant clam nursery and a tank with five baby turtles in it. Once the clams and turtles get to a decent size they are released to the ocean. Very little money has been available for any of this work since the Fiji coup and so the facilities are very neglected.

We had a great time snorkelling in the bay. It is amazing the size of some of the clams. Apparently the Japanese are very partial to the muscle, which sometimes weighs about five kilograms. Not far from the shore we saw several old hospital iron beds under water. Guess that is one way of dispensing of unwanted items!

We had planned on leaving that day and travelling to Levuka but with a wind warning out and rough seas, we decided to stay put. Levuka is the original capital of Fiji and is said to be like Fiji was fifty years ago.

The next day, Monday 7 July, the weather was worse with predicted winds of SE, 25-30 knots average, with gusts to 40 knots, which was forecast to get a bit worse and last at least a week. Given the deterioration of the weather we had to regretfully forsake our visit to Levuka and plan a rough but largely downwind sail over the top of Ovalau (the island where Levuka is situated) and head westward. We contacted the catamaran, Emmanuel, which had left a couple of hours earlier and they informed us that the forecast was correct but that they were coping OK. After an “exciting” trip we reached the island of Naigani where we were able to get shelter from the worst of the wind and also the seas were calmer inside the reef. The skipper was finally enjoying the vacation but the first mate was struggling. We had decided to have a swim but the sea was still rough and did not look inviting. So we had an anchor dram and a rest. We set the anchor watch and did not get much sleep that night.

The next morning, Wednesday we set off early into much the same conditions as the previous day in the company of Clint and Adair on Emmanuel (47ft catamaran), but the time in unsheltered waters was less and after about two hours we sailed in to the moderately sheltered reef area which surrounds the main island of Veti Levu. The trip across the top of Veti Levu is a little over 100 miles. We did this over three days as it is necessary to travel between 9:30 am and 3:30pm in order to be able to see the reefs, finally arriving at Lautoka on Friday 11 July, in time to clear customs. We were very appreciative of the many GPS positions which gave clear runs for us through the reefs on our trip which we supplemented with visual navigation as the clearance from some of the reefs is not much! The charts are not accurate and these positions helped us tremendously. Apologies to all those traditional sailors.

Millionaire Territory North of Lautoka

Lautoka, with a population of 43,274 is the second largest city in Fiji and is not a very pleasant place to anchor, but regulations must be followed. The sugar mill, which has been operating there since 1903 belches smoke and soot continually and makes a terrible mess on the boats. We were pleased to leave there as soon as we could and headed five miles SE to the beautiful, sheltered Sawini Bay where we dropped anchor. We slept so well after our long and stressful passage.

Lautoka


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