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Anthem Adrift
Peerless Passage Positively Presumed
11/04/2011, Robinson Crusoe Island

04 November 2011

Devilishly clever plan to avoid pitfalls of Lautoka by anchoring 3.5 NM away in Saweni Bay came a cropper as mud and mosquitos were joined by permeating aroma of burning garbage manifesting after wind shift at dusk. 0815 arrival at customs this morning due feckless alarm clock (which was subsequently a deserving recipient of several muttered expletives) put us last in que delaying departure for Robinson Crusoe Island until after 1000. Onshore breeze filled in early before eventually dying for delightful sail until afternoon enabling daylight arrival.

Previous two weeks of sailing have been beautiful, but placid in light winds and calm seas - sailing for non-sailors. A tad too tranquil frankly, Jan & I being sailors and all. For foreseeable future this appears also to be forecast condition of great swatches of ocean between here and New Zealand. Almost certainly, however, by departure in two days the environment will have adapted to our wishes for a perfect 1150 NM broad reach passage to Port Opua.

Jack

Clean and Jerk
11/03/2011, Vuda Point Marina

3 November 2011

So where were we? Oh yes. Left Denarau to anchor Lautoka where customs is regrettably officious, sea bottom gooey and itch provoking insects particularly aggressive - probably doesn't have anything to do with nearby mangroves or sewage outflow. Have decided to clear out tomorrow, hide a day or two at Robinson Crusoe Island, 35 NM south, then bob off toward New Zealand Sunday or Monday. Resultant sluggardly pace should set us up for next big low coming across Tasman Sea limiting unnecessary ennui on passage.

Vuda (voonda) Point Marina, about 7.5 NM south had space last night and was a lovely experience. Yacht Club bar on the water allowed a cooling breeze, beautiful view and darned decent wine. Spent most of today with laundry, fuel, coffee and catching up with friends from Ivalu and Ogo Pogo. Next stop Saweni Bay just close enough to Lautoka to allow sail in and earliest departure clearance sans previously mentioned inconveniences. Barring pointless requirement for visual of boat from customs office, short bus ride into customs from marina would not have sucked. Planning minimum time and short scope for least muck.

Jack

Itinerancy Availability
10/31/2011, Port Denarau Marina

30 October 2011

Exhaust manifold fabrication will be completed tomorrow for fourth morning in a row. Feeling lucky this time. Spent day of rest screwing off. Same as resting? Going with that.

31 October 2011

Exhaust manifold was completed (miracle of the first order) for my installation. Since new flange piece was relocated, of course, all bracing had to be re- engineered. Fortune smiled as 2 hour job only took 4 instead of more typical 6 to 8. Additionally, neighbor with superfluous Honda generator offered a deal so we now own two. This one even works. Box-o-Honda will live in lazarette until disposition in New Zealand.

Sail to Lautoka tomorrow for clearing out before customs and immigration closes will follow major clean-up and settle-up here. May even arm alarm. OK, that was a bit rash, but also expect cafe brekky. Concern remains muted as weather window currently painted closed.

Jack

Mince, Not Just for Sissies
10/29/2011, Port Denarau Marina

Exotic Exuma

29 October 2011

C dock at Port Denarau Marina, where we inhabit slip 32, is super yacht land. At 38 feet (11.5 meters) we are a nit compared to neighbors Georgia, Noble House and Exuma. The latter, at 164 feet with amphibious jeep and hovercraft besides diverse other cool toys, was recently chartered (1 mil a month US) by Prince Albert II of Monaco and his gorgeous young bride. As an aside, rumors of light loafers were dispelled by revelation, just prior to nuptials, that 53-year old, lifetime bachelor Al was the proud daddy of two. Prospective princess was narrowly prevented from escaping. Whatever, they were here and in some of our same anchorages at different times. Did he attempt to coordinate our locations? Did he come by to say hi or even leave a message? Royals can be so thoughtless.

Not to put too fine an edge on this, but not all parts finally received from New Zealand were usable. One-piece cast aluminum exhaust manifold requires welding, machining and more welding, an undertaking that has been inhibited by our relative job size priority. Good news - weather window is jammed shut for several days. Bad news - weather window is... Dismantled parts that once comprised a Honda generator will be boxed and returned to us. Hope repair fee includes most of them. Voltage regulator has been fine. Love it when a plan comes together.

Unable today to finish boat repairs, we braved bus ride to Nadi for best coffee in Fiji. Since there, restocked provisions for eventual, forthcoming attempt to sail 1100 NM south. Freezer now full of meat, including beef mince (hamburger), from butchers where pet mince was also available. Didn't ask. Didn't want to know.

Jack

Love It, Let's Leave
10/25/2011, Navadra Island

Anthem at Navadra

26 October 2011

Finally found a terrific place to hunker for 2 or 3 weeks just as necessity forces us back to Denarau, Nadi and Lautoka for parts, food, fuel and clearance as prelude to casting off for points south. Snorkeling and diving the reefs at Navadra are best since Tuamotus. Walking along an isthmus of sand between one large island and a small island rock that has surf crashing over from opposite directions was way cool, somewhat difficult and slightly schizophrenic. Contrary to enlightened expectation, bailing wire and chewing gum continued to hold exhaust manifold together allowing at least a little exploration of Mamanucas and one day in this lovely place.

Felt like a poor stepchild as privately owned motorboat, 249 foot "Ocean Victory" and her permanent complement of 20 crossed our bow toward a deeper channel into the same island. Following owner's departure previous day, crew had taken the big toys out to play for a couple before their own 4-day (as opposed to our 10 or so) sail back to Auckland for dry-dock. Invitation to the evening's beach bonfire, potluck and party resulted in our being forced, forced I say, to choke down proffered tenderloin and wine before waddling and stumbling back to Anthem well past cruiser's midnight.

Any temptation to remain until tomorrow morning was resisted due windless oppressiveness of heat and humidity after a night of ocean swell induced roll interrupted alcohol infused sleep. Today's promise of overcast and rain also imparts a certain allure to Port Denarau Marina with air conditioning, full-flow showers and pizza. Bula vinaka. Make mine a large cholesterol-lovers thin crust and tankard of Fiji Bitter.

Jack

Solomon of Sailing Speaks
10/24/2011, Wayasewa Island

Sunset at Wayasewa

24 October 2011

Trimming and coordinating sails requires an aptitude and time-won skill that differs between racers and cruisers.

A sail may be trimmed very efficiently for a moment, but requires constant attention to remain so. While this level of attention, even for a relatively feeble mind, is possible in the course of a 2 or 3 hour race, it is an impossibly formidable task for short-handed crew over several days. In addition, coordinating trim for 3 or 4 cruising sails makes demands significantly greater than those for the typical racing sloop's 2. While time to mark is virtually the only consideration in racing, goals for a cruiser are more diverse and consequently solutions more difficult. (Although time to destination is a variable adding complexity to cruising it is not directly related to sail trim and outside the purview of this short monograph) On passage, even should one assume speed as the sole goal, the intrepid adventurer must develop a feel, over varying conditions without constant ministrations, for best set to maximize this criterion in addition to a sense for when ambient change is of a degree and persistence to warrant adjustment. As is obvious, cruisers must develop multifarious skills that demand preeminent flexibility, intelligence and talent.

As all racers no doubt agree cruising is exceedingly complex compared to their simplistic environment and requires knowledge and skills far eclipsing theirs.

The foregoing conclusion was, of course, complete bull squeeze, is not an indictment of those poor, benighted souls who have nothing better to do than sail around in circles (triangles, whatever) to end up where they only recently began and intimates the danger of allowing ones mind to wander while gliding through a gentle afternoon, gazing out upon sun-sparkled, softly rolling sea en route to a new destination and compelling adventure, eschewing more repetitive and wearisome activity.

Jack

P.S. In order to engage the greatest response, please direct hate mail to the J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, DC. Depending upon mood, expect further even- handed treatment of monohulls vs. multis and sail vs. power.

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