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s/v Sand Dollar
Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - Musket Cove
10/24/2007, Musket Cove, Fiji

The anchorage at Musket Cove serves as a staging area for boats heading to New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Australia. Talk at the Island Bar centers around one topic: weather windows. Everyone is looking for the ideal time to make their passage to avoid getting caught in a "squash zone", where a high pressure meets a low pressure and winds kick up to gale force for a couple of days. There is also the threat of an early season cyclone but this risk is minimal. The consensus is to wait for about a 1020 mb high just beginning to cross from Australia to NZ and head out hoping the trailing low is minimal. Despite all the planning and research it is really a crap shoot. You take what you get.

All else is well onboard. Today we may head to another island.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - Outer Islands
10/23/2007, Musket Cove, Fiji

Sand Dollar finally escaped from the marina after completing repairs to the anchor winch. We left at noon and arrived at Musket Cove Resort around 3 PM. The anchor went down in 60 ft. over sand in the neighborhood of some 20 other boats, most of which I do not know. The resort is upscale and has a small marina for very large boats. The restaurant prices are exorbitant. We will hang here for a couple of days and check out the snorkeling and fishing before venturing to some other outlying islands.

All else is well onboard.

Monday, October 22, 2007 - Anchor Winch Repaired
10/22/2007, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji

The anchor winch was reinstalled today and seems to be operating properly but I will only know for sure when I am in 60 ft. of water trying to bring home the anchor and chain. The mechanic did a poor job of the installation and required lots of supervision by both me and his boss. Several steps had to be repeated and the whole process took twice as long as it should have. Such is often the case when having boat work done in undeveloped countries where standards are much different than back home. Ultimately, the price is about the same.

All else is well onboard. We hope to leave here tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 - Getting Hot
10/21/2007, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji

I don't know what the temperature is but it is getting uncomfortably hot. There has been no wind for the past week and the marina is like a sauna. More and more boats are departing for the cool weather of New Zealand but many are being slowed by adverse wind. Sailors experienced with this passage tend to depart later than most of the fleet to take advantage of more favorable winds but then there is the risk of an early cyclone. This risk, however, is extremely small.

All else is well onboard. Sand Dollar is still awaiting repairs to the anchor winch. Maybe we will be able to leave here tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2007 - Marina Projects
10/19/2007, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji

Radio transmission has been poor as is typical in marinas where there are lots of tall masts and shore-side structures which cause interference. These reports may be late or altogether missing on some days. The wifi service at the marina has been very disappointing in that it is unreliable and extremely slow when working. I have found it necessary to take the bus to town and connect at internet cafes which are plentiful and cheap.

Sand Dollar is undergoing repairs to the anchor winch system which has been almost useless the past three weeks because of the chain becoming jammed in the apparatus. I have had to weigh anchor by hand which is o.k. in shallow water but when I have to lift 85 lbs. of chain and anchor off the bottom in 50 feet of water I get a little sweaty. The repair job is on hold until some simple little $2 retainer clips can be purchased. They may have to be flown in from NZ. Trapped again in paradise!

All else is well onboard.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - Bus Ride to Lautoka
10/17/2007, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji

Lautoka is the second largest city in Fiji and is the major port for the export of sugar. Today I rode the bus into town for provisions and sightseeing. There is not much to see but the public market is the best in all of the South Pacific. Besides the regular tropical fruits and vegetables there were apples from New Zealand and paw paws from Hawaii. Some fruits I did not recognize but bought them to sample. The people are friendly and helpful but not as much so as in the smaller towns like Savusavu.

All else is well onboard and I am slowly getting accustomed to marina life again.

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Sand Dollar
Who: Don Pratten
Port: Beaux Arts, WA
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