05/30/2011, Nadi, Fiji
So sorry for the delay and thanks for the concern for us. We have indeed made it to Fiji it was a long and difficult passage. It took 10 days and the weather was totally against us but we fought through and arrived in Suva, Fiji last week. Unfortunately Cye missed his flights and had to reschedule them and didn't have a chance to see Fiji. I'm not sure we turned Cye into a sailor but he did survive the crossing. We spent last week in Suva. For some reason whenever we do a really long passage my eye seems to get really irritated and so we stayed in Suva this week so that I could see the Dr. and let it get back to normal again. I've completely stopped wearing contacts on passages so we aren't really sure what is causing the irritation. We thought it was just to many hours with my lens in but apparently not. Anyhow, I'm all healed again and ready to see some of Fiji. At least Suva had a nice private hospital with good Drs. Much better than I expected. The town was nice but definitely not the tropical paradise that most people dream of. On Saturday we headed out for an overnight around to the west coast of the island to Nadi. We were supposed to pick up Mark's nephew Eli but when we got in we got an e-mail that he is having a bit of a passport issue so hopefully that will be all settled this week and he will join us next week. We are really looking forward to him getting here. In the meantime, Mark and I pulled into Port near Nadi. We were pleasantly surprised when we took the dinghy in and found a really nice restaurant and shopping area. A perfect place to celebrate our 1st anniversary. Yep we were married Memorial Day Weekend last year. I was craving some good italian food and low-and-behold when we walked into the restaurant we ran into two of our favorite sailors Dave and Mary Margaret from LeuCat. It also happened to be Dave's birthday so we got to celebrate our anniversary and Dave's birthday over a nice italian dinner and tonight we stopped by their boat for some birthday cake.
Basically that's the update. Hopefully we will have lots to write about in the coming weeks and I will try to be on top of it now that we are back to land and done with that crappy passage. Please no more long hard sails like that!
We were about to cast our last lines off yesterday to head out of New Zealand when the oil pressure alarm on our engine went off. Dana shut the engine off immediately and we tried diagnosing the problem briefly before calling the Yanmar tech to come over. Turned out nothing was wrong the engine, just the sensor had failed, but it took all afternoon to get a replacement and by then it was too late to get to our appointment on the customs dock.
Now we have an appointment early monday AM and possibly can check out Sunday when a customs agent is coming for the boat next to us. Problem is we are nearing the cut-off point for our friend Cye that has been visiting the last couple of weeks.
We always warn our guests that things can happen out side our control, but this is the first time we have really been affected. The worst part is we had a Yanmar tech go for a seatrial just the other day and declare the engine was in great shape. Our fingers are crossed that we can get out Sunday morning and Cye will be able to join us for the passage to Fiji.
05/04/2011, Auckland, New Zealand
I know I promised some more Bento but two nights ago at dinner we made the final decision that Friday we will set sail.
While Mark and I were in the South Island we realized that having a flagon is the way to go. There are a few places in Christchurch that will fill them with beer or spirits and the further south you go you can pretty much get one filled in many of the liquor stores. It's a much cheaper way to buy beer and well it's kinda fun. Anyhow, ever since we got back to the North Island we haven't been able to find anyone to fill them. Until two days ago. I found a bar called Galbraiths that serves great food and will fill a flagon. Apparently the only place in Auckland that will. So the we gave Cye a little "southern man" experience.
Yesterday I set out for my final shopping day. I had heard about a tornado that hit the day before but it wasn't until I got to the shopping mall that I realized it actually hit the mall that I have been shopping at. I like leaving the city to do my shopping because I don't have to pay for parking. When I got up there all the entrances were closed, police standing guard, and new reporters everywhere. I would have taken some pictures but there just really wasn't anywhere to park seeing as the parking lots were blocked. The damage didn't look to bad but they are saying it'll be in the 10M to fix it all. Pretty crazy since it hit the only day I haven't been out there. So yes Mark and I have experienced/had to deal with the effect of both an earthquake and a tornado in NZ. Lord please no more natural disasters!
Since the mall was closed I headed back into the city for my final shopping. The major stop of the day was the Aussie Butcher. They did a fantastic job packaging up my meat into double portions for Mark and I, putting them in my containers, and deep freezing them. When I got back to the boat all I had to do was pop them in the freezers and they are going to make life so much easier because I won' be digging in the freezers. If I want something that is lower I can just take out a layer or two and I can put the empty one's at the bottom so I don't have to bend over to much. We are really lucky because not only do we have a regular "office" sized refrigerator but we have two deep freezers so we can carry a lot of cold goods.
Today Cye and I will drive up to Opua to sell back our car and Mark will try to get as much as he can stowed. I'm sure I'll have plenty to finish when I get back but customs will be here at 11:30 tomorrow and then we will return to the big blue sea.
05/02/2011, Auckland, New Zealand
One of the things that drives me crazy about living on a boat is that there are so many little nooks and crannies that it's often hard to remember just where you put something especially if you've moved it. Or to even remember whether you still have it on board. Since everything in Bento can be related I've been working on a number of databases to help us remember where stuff is. All of our cabinets are getting numbers and descriptions in one database along with a photo. We can then link them to the appropriate items. For example I have my food inventory, Mark has a spare parts inventory, and we now have a book inventory. You wouldn't want these in the same excel spreadsheet but you may want to be able to see what is in every cabinet on the boat or front cabin. This is where Bento comes in. All three inventories are separate but linked to the appropriate cabinet. This way if you have a cabinet that has some books, some spare parts, and some food items (we don't really organize like this but it could happen.) You don't have to look at three spreadsheets to see what is there. You can go to the cabinet and see the full list. It's also really easy to reassign something to a different cabinet because you don't have to rely only on numbers and try to figure out which cabinet is which number because there is a whole description and picture available. If you like to keep stuff in multiple places (1 filter easy to get and 3 down deep) it can like the item to multiple locations so you only have one record. In excel you would have to have two separate lines or columns.
I've also decided with our book inventory to keep check boxes for items "to take home" or "have been taken home." We have definitely wondered if we actually took something home or if we just couldn't find it.
Tomorrow I'll let everyone see what I've done with my quilting fabrics...
05/01/2011, Auckland, New Zealand
I simply cannot say enough about Bento. It has/is changing everything on this boat in a good way. If you're a Mac using sailor (or quilter) trust me you want to get this program. And if you are aren't - well maybe you should become one. I'm building a database that covers pretty much everything in our boat and Mark has switched all of his spreadsheets into it as well. What's great about it is that you can have multiple databases that all link into each other. I'm probably going to spend a couple posts explaining what I've done or am in the process of doing and hopefully get a few screen shots up here.
First and most important is my food inventory. I've set up a form that contains an item. At home I probably would have used specific item names but because I can't always get the same items out here I've chosen to use generic names and group items. For example instead of having Ritz and Saltines I just have crackers. I also give the item a category and subcategory that I might use to find an item. For crackers the subcategory is the same as the item but if the items weren't grouped it wouldn't be so that is why it is repeated.
The next important thing is that I have two slots for how much I want to maintain on the boat. The first is a unit quantity (30 packages). This is usually easy to calculate. The second is a weight quantity (3kg). I'm coming up with these numbers as I go. As I'm entering my purchases I'm entering the weight and this is giving me an idea of what weight is good to carry. This will help for countries that sell smaller packages and items I'm not used to. The weight is also important for items like rice and flour that are typically always sold based on weight. There is also a pull down menu (Kg Liters Units). The first row of input items is always units. 1 jug, 3 boxes, 4 packets etc. The second can be weight or units depending on your needs. In some cases I have no weight and just put units into both rows. We can get into that later.
Right now I'm putting in numbers for provisioning for the next 6-8 months. I plan to track when we actually run out of stuff. How much more we buy and what we actually consume. Then I will calculate how much we use in a month. Later I plan to change the numbers I've put in down to a months consumption worth so that I can then input the number of months we are going out for and it will give me the appropriate quantities. This way if I'm only shopping for two weeks I can put in a .5 and get an appropriate shopping list. This will also be helpful because you can leave needing to have provisions for 6 months but as the months go by you can lower that number and see if you still have enough or you are dropping to quickly in an area. Giving you the opportunity to keep your eyes open for the products in a store before you actually need it. But that is a step that won't happen for a few months. Or maybe I may work on that a little now?
Second step was to make a purchases database. This is where the type of item (Ritz), quantity (3 rolls), weight, expiration and purchase location are entered. It took me a while to realize that this was the best way to do this. Initially I tried to do everything in one database but then I needed to make all these crazy cells and it just didn't work. There is also a used column so that as we go I can keep the number that we bought in tact and still know how much we have consumed. I basically say the item is consumed as soon as I open it. If I take a roll of crackers out even if there are some left it no longer exists. This is where one area where the weight comes in handy. If you have a couple of large cracker rolls and a couple small cracker rolls your units go down by 1 no matter which you take out but your weight goes down proportionally so you have a better understanding about what you have on board.
I also enter the expiration date. When I'm shopping I try to pay attention to the dates on the packages I'm buying. First, I want to find the furthest date out I can. Second, I try to buy as much as possible with that same date. This way I only have to do one or two entries and not 10 and it is easier to track because I don't always have to check the dates when I take the items out. I just like to know when and where I've bought something. One good reason is if I were to get bugs in some of my grains I would know where it came from and could check other items from the same location. I usually just add the location to the pull-down menu so I don't always have to type it out.
The data from the purchases is automatically calculated and pull-up into the Provisions database and the amount needed to buy is then calculated. The great thing about this is that if my units or weights to buy goes above 0 the item is added to my shopping list via the smart collections options. You can set this at any number. I also have a smart collection in my purchases that pulls items that are expired or close to expired so that I can use them first or replace them. This brings up one shortcoming in Bento. You can't search related databases or see related databases in the list view therefore in the expired collection I can't see what the item is. I have to click on it. But that is probably a pretty minor concern in the grand scheme of things.
Okay that is probably enough for today. If this is interesting to anyone let me know and I'll keep going. If not well I'll probably keep going anyway but not for as long or detailed.
04/29/2011, Auckland, New Zealand
Yes I have to admit that we did indeed go and watch the wedding. We don't have cable on the boat so yesterday morning I looked online and found that Monarchy New Zealand was having a watching party at a hotel just around the corner from the marina we are in. We thought it'd be a pretty good time but I'll have to admit it was a little lacking. They had a few decorations (a poster of the palace and cardboard cut-outs of Will, Kate, and the Queen) but not many. There was a cake but it was dry and the bar was pretty high priced. I actually expected the event to be set up a lot more like the election results party that Mark and I went to on our fourth date a few years ago. It was a huge room with lots of decorations and round tables so people could mix and mingle. Last night was set up in rows so that you didn't really have the opportunity to chat while you waited. Maybe the idea was to set it up like a church? The large screens were good but you couldn't really hear anything which made it very frustrating. People were just talking so loudly and only quieted every so often. When people were arriving at the wedding there was a guy siting in front of us who kept getting excited but I have no idea why since I couldn't hear anything.
I was surprised when the organizer of the event actually toasted "to the future King and Queen of New Zealand." I'll be honest and say that I never really thought of the Queen as being NZs queen. I've always thought of NZ as its own country but it is still part of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth countries are still tied to England. We also got a dose of English tradition when about half the room stood and sang God Save the Queen. I didn't expect the room to burst out in song.
Overall it was nice to watch since it was a historical event. The bride was beautiful, although I'm not really sure about the ruffles she had on her backside. And of course every princess should get to ride through town in a horse drawn carriage.
A little tip for today: Somehow I ended up with Mark's red wine on my white pants. No worries. I found a secret about 6 years ago that works wonders. A little palmolive dish soap and hydrogen peroxide. Mix it up, put it on and scrub. If it doesn't come out right away add a little more peroxide. This also works great on blood stains.