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Anthem Adrift
Levuking
09/22/2011, Levuka, Ovalau Island

Levuka Waterfront

21 September 2011

Beautiful off-the-wind sail to Levuka, first capitol of Fiji until convicts from Australia turned it into a den of iniquity and honest folk moved to Suva in 1882. British officials are apparently teetotalers and lack a sense of fun. Current residents are quite laid back and seem unfazed by MH market selling dairy fresh milk powder.

Arrived sufficient time to clear customs (required in and out every entry port) buy groceries and replenish lamentably depleted wine stock with tolerable Broken Shackle Red for a meager $6 US a bottle. Last each of Taylor Cab Sav and 7 Deadly Zins had induced incipient anxiety. Wind and sun kept amps flowing for batteries and movie night.

22 September 2011

After embarrassingly lazy morning, meandered into town for fish and octopus lunch, respectively, before clearing out for tomorrow morning's departure, visiting museum/library and buying more cheap red swill. Matching lethargic afternoon ended with grilled lamb sausage dinner, full contact cribbage and another classic cinematic extravaganza on 15 inch big screen TV.

Jack

Rooting Out Snags
09/19/2011, Gau Island

Sawaieke Village at Gau Island

20 September 2011

After leisurely breakfast and a game of cribbage (card game with pegs where your partner most often squashes you like a bug), dropped dink from davits to offer sevusevu to assistant chief as head guy is elsewhere. Only made a few mistakes as we brought powdered kava instead of roots, Jan wore pants, I wore shorts and we both wore sunglasses around our necks. They seemed friendly in any case, but didn't insist we stay for or as lunch.

Heading to Levuka tomorrow as Customs guy in Suva said we had to (and called ahead so they're expecting us - later learned we could probably have just stopped en route, not told any customs people and avoided hassle of unprotected anchorage). At least we can buy plants there and drink the bagged kava ourselves.. maybe. Then probably sail Koro Island before heading north to Savusavu on Vanua Levu. Ought to snorkel here as reported exceptional, but it's overcast and we're currently otherwise disposed.

Speaking of which, alternator ceased alternating. Can't seem to keep exciter connection exciting as it tends to fatigue at terminal. Contemplating additional foot of wire to offer option of breakage elsewhere. Thus constitutes strategy, other than sloth, for balance of day.

Expensive, US Coast Guard approved, night activated, efficient, sealed, LED masthead anchor light still draws amperage. One wonders what mischief those little electrons are provoking as result is other than emitting light. By the way, has anyone else noticed a severe paucity of maintenancelessness (not a real word) over the previous, oh, say, three weeks... eight months? Should one wish to define cruising as boat work in exotic locations, we be there.

Jack

Late for Dinner
09/19/2011, Gau Island

Broken Dock at Uninhabited Nukulau

19 September 2011

Remained anchored in 20 meters of steeply descending bottom with stern tied to a pole on Nukulau's lovely beach. If we go around the world again, may venture ashore here instead of spending entire visit testing, rebuilding, testing, rebuilding, testing... autopilot ram and eventually replacing clutch bits from new unit. Despite low voltage indicated at control box, remounted ram (and as a consequence crew) have regained happy.

Windlass took to being cooperative, as well, during preparation for 45 NM sail to Gau Island our first opportunity for sevusevu. This is where visitors present island chief with a gift of kava root and no one subsequently eats them. Once properly known as the Cannibal Islands, this referenced highly rude practice has generally been replaced by more sociable deportment.

Although hard on an 18 to 20 knot wind using tiller pilot attached to Voyager wind vane instead of newly operative autopilot ("If it ain't broke, don't use it" - Don Irvin) sail to Gau didn't suck and Westerbark was delightfully silent until called upon to deliver us through a pass into the lagoon.

As it's too late to go ashore to say hi, will remain aboard abusing adult beverage tonight with prospect of becoming delightfully mellow. Trust that presenting ourselves in the early(ish) morning to appropriate kahuna will be OK with potentially carnivorous, local inhabitants.

Jack

Goodish
09/17/2011, Nukulau Island

S/V Ivalu in Suva

13 September 2011

Beautiful day in Fijiland. After a less than auspicious start (didn't clear in until late yesterday afternoon) got a pant load of stuff done today. Honda generator is in for repair, laundry is in for repair, quarantine and yacht club fees paid. Have a cruising permit for everywhere we're going, a phone number (anybody really wants it, let me know.. free for me if you call!), internet service and groceries.

14 September 2011

Suva's pretty stinky. Did stuff.

15 September 2011

Still stinky. Did more stuff.

16 September 2011

Yada yada.

17 September 2011

Honda generator ran fast, ran slow and held light, but not heavy, load. Yamaha generator guy fixed it so now hard to start, only runs fast and carries no charge. Net result less than that to which aspired. Jacob has enlisted outside help. Has until high noon before this parade ventures to more pristine locale. Not that the fragrance of burning garbage isn't delightful, but a week's enough.

- Later

No help. Left anyway.

Boat is clean(ish), solar panels and inverter have regained productive enthusiasm, life is good(ish).

- Even later

We were having such a good day before autopilot stopped piloting. Said it was.. wasn't. Liar, liar, pants on fire. Best part, after toilsome removal of old unit, is that replacement spare is wrong one. Should have noticed.. didn't. Contemplating dismantling recalcitrant unit manana and/or return Suva (about a two hour sail) for repair. Oh, was anything mentioned about windlass solenoid again sticking? We were having such a good day.

Jack

Lie in Wait
09/11/2011, Suva

Royal Suva Yacht Club

12 September 2011

Suva looks like a boat surrounded by other boats. The $200 weekend clear-in overtime fee may have contributed to that observation. We're twelve days afloat and land beckons. Not all our clothes are salt soaked, some are saturated from condensation in lockers. Ameliorative shoreside efforts are anticipated. Meantime, Quarantine scheduled for 1000 or possibly 1400 (or today?) to extend pratique and direct further official activity has missed initial opportunity.

After windlass ran away Friday night upon arrival (this is a figurative term as it actually remained in accustomed place atop chain locker) enforced incarceration was joyfully spent rebuilding nearly inaccessible solenoid. Process was enlivened by initially incorrect rewiring. Confinement also used to diminish tornadic aspect of cabin to mere untidiness. Lovely semi-dry salt- encrustedness has returned to cockpit and cushions. Further enterprise to replace broken dinghy brace, re-incentivize masthead anchor light and re-energize negligent solar panels are, perforce, being contemplated.

Monday has dawned clear and dry. Crew anxious to see Royal Suva Yacht Club's laundry facilities and partake of restaurant prepared victuals. That second thing for sure. As unable to begin extensive project due potential boat relocation, we wait expectantly, recumbently, somnolently.

Jack

Suva
09/09/2011, Day 9 to Fiji

Suva Harbour

09 September 2011

Who remembers expectation (assuming predicted wind shift) to arrive Suva before end of work week today? Show of hands. Spectating speculator speculated spectacularly spuriously. Poop (seldom used meteorological term).

Going to bed. More later.

Jack

Wrong or Rite of Passage
09/07/2011, Day 8 to Fiji

Racor Fuel Filters, Water Separators

8 September 2011

Approaching front sent wind speeds to 30 - 35 knots and seas near 5 meters. Not sure this was forecast by weather weasel. Perfect timing was achieved when conditions deteriorated as engine quit with one of us on deck furling mainsail. Figuring it wasn't our day hove to and had hot dinner with wine (first in a week). This worked great until 2300 when wind left, but waves didn't. Sleep is probably over-rated.

Finally got engine going early AM by draining water from Racors and replacing filters. Wind, forecast to go light and veer north then west by morning is still from northeast at 18 - 20. If, ref. revised forecast, wind does that north then west thing sometime in the near future, may get to Suva before end of official clear-in workday Friday to avoid getting trapped on boat all weekend.

The adventure continues. Crew highly impressed with first passage on Anthem. Can't wait for next.

Jack

Romance in the Air
09/06/2011, Day 7 to Fiji

7 September 2011

Foolishly thinking environment would get better we approached the evening with light hearts and uplifted minds. It was a cruel hoax. Generally dry cockpit (even with full enclosure) and all clothing are soaked. Not only are conditions still rambunctious, but now appears wind may veer north (our direction of travel) presently. (By the way, for northern hemisphere winds, 'veer' means clockwise and 'back' means anti-clockwise. Since shifts around a front are opposite down here, meanings are reversed. Tell a friend.)

Weather guy says at least wind and sea will subside somewhat as norther kicks in tomorrow night. If he were any good we would have a 15 knot beam reach in calm sea. Hey, after four days of this, killing the messenger seems like a perfectly sane response. He lives in Maine. I'll pay. At least there's fuel to motor- sail rest of distance if necessary. Currently expect arrival tomorrow night, Friday morning or sometime prior to heading back to New Zealand.

OK admit it, you're overwhelmed with the romance of cruising.

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx

Jack

A Tun of Fun
09/05/2011, Day 6 to Fiji

Old Wive's Tale

6 September 2011

One of those days that makes one appreciate the others. Four and a half meter sea with up to 30 knots of wind. Boat's jumping around like an elephant in a herd of mice. Jan, who is OK, rolled across the cabin to hit her head and already sore knees. Wind generator keeps overheating so periodically someone has to climb out to the aft deck to wrap a line on the blades. Cabin looks like aftermath of a tornado. Great fun. Why wouldn't everyone want to do this?

Only thing to do is wait for the end (of the rough weather), so we both took showers, had Irish stew for dinner and went to bed. Jan gets to sleep in pilot berth all night as Captain has to stay in cockpit anyway.

Best part is that arrival in Suva will probably require hours of clear in rather than long, hot showers at the Royal Suva Yacht Club, a tun (does it weigh a ton?) of wine and serious bunk time.

All good. It beats playing shuffleboard all day.

Jack

Sunday, Not Mundane - Monday?
09/04/2011, Day 5 to Fiji

Bunny

4 September 2011

This was one of those good news, better news kind of days. Looks like the boring segment of passage is over as sea has reached 2 to 3 meters in 25 of knots wind and is still building. By AM may be 3 to 4 meters in 30 knots, expected to last at least 36 hours. Wheeee!

Just to confirm, that was the good news. Otherwise, ride under triple-reefed main and staysail is sufferable so far (with very careful attention to hand holds), we're making reasonable progress toward Suva, late autopilot has found new life after a little nap and nobody is puking. It doesn't get much better.

Now for the best news. Expect primary occupation next couple of days to be hanging on, clutching Bunny and whimpering like a baby, so don't look for great volumes of blather in the interim. Relieved smiles are OK, outright cheering would be indiscreet.

Jack

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