12/08/2011, Vuda Point Marina
I've added a new gallery of some of our underwater dive photos from Plantation Pinnacle. You'll see a "photo gallery" listing on the right side near the top of the blog. Hit it and then slide down past the thumbnail pictures in the "Main Gallery" and you will see Plantation Pinnacle listing. Click on any of the pictures and it will bring it up to a full size picture. Enjoy.
More to come.
12/07/2011, Vuda Point Marina
Well, we're back in Vuda Point Marina after a lovely 6 day stint at Musket Cove. It's only a short 15 mile trek over just about still water I'm sure we will be going back often. It was a just about perfect vacation getting away from any kind of work(well sort of) on Zephyr.
Here was our normal day. Get up about 0730 and have breakfast. Lower Puff back into the water(security though no thefts have been reported) and put on Dragon(outboard). Load all our diving gear into her and set out for Plantation Pinnacle about 1015. Get there about 1045 and get in the water. Scuba dive(anywhere from 30 to 80 feet deep) taking pictures and watching all the fish and live coral around us. We have never been to a reef with so much live coral. Much of what we have seen as we crossed the Pacific has been either dead or dying. It was a delight to see such life on the coral bommie(tall pillar of coral). We'd dive for an average of 55 minutes and then climb back into Puff and head back to Zephyr We'd drop off most of our equipment(except the tanks) and then head for the marina. We'd take the tanks in for refilling at Subsurface Diving and head for the showers. Then on to lunch at the local cafe. A meat pie with salad($10.00), or a hamburger with fries($18.00). Maybe a steak sandwich($18.50) and a coke($4.50)--all prices are in Fijian dollars(about .55 to the dollar) so lunch was quite reasonable. On to the new ice cream counter. It just opened two weeks ago for a $2.00 cone. Now these people never attended the Baskin Robbins school of how to do a single cone. These people first filled the inside of the cone then piled another scoop on top of that and then to top it off, added a third scoop to the top. All for $2.00($1.10US). Wow, what a deal for something that has to be brought over by boat from the main island. Back to the Subsurface Diving to pick up the tanks($10.00Fijian) and then back to Zephyr. By now, it's about 1500. Settle in for the afternoon. Movies started aboard at about 1900 with a nice bowl of Orville Redenbacker popcorn. With internet, we watched back episodes of Big Brother from last Summer. Internet is fast enough to allow us to see it quite well with little interruptions. Off to bed about 2200 and the day starts all over again. So it went for the six days we spent there. A wonderful time away from jobs aboard Zephyr.
Tuesday, we dropped the line to the mooring buoy and headed back getting in about 1230 and backing back into our old space. Moe assisted with the lines off the bow getting them attached to lines from the center buoy and then we backed in. We'd already gotten lines ready for the stern but since none of the staff came to help, Tracy jumped to shore and pulled back on Zephyrs stern. Moe finally came ashore and assisted with the final lines. We were back at the marina again. Electric lines were lead ashore and plugged in and we had power to recharge the batteries and run our air conditioner.
Once we were set, we walked over to the marina's cafe and had a late lunch and then finished getting Zephyr back in marina mode. Yesterday, we got up early before it got hot and got our tarps back up to protect Zephyr from the searing heat of the day. Amazingly, there was no rain in the forecast. First time we've not seen rain in the forecast in several weeks. At 1100, we took off for Namaka, a small town just south of us for a trip to the big hardware store. We still needed the chain to affix us to shore should a big cyclone head our way. The lines are all ready, now we just need the chain and shackles. Chain they had but no shackles so with a very heavy bag full of 20 feet of BIG chain, back we came to the marina. Busy, busy, busy. Today, off for Lautoka to get checked back in with Customs since we had to check out to visit the islands. Paperwork is the life blood of Fiji. Think of a form and they have it.
The picture at the top is one I took while on our dive. More of them to come.
12/01/2011, Musket Cove Marina
Being prepared--also known as getting lucky.
Well, the day started out with us putting on our new diving gear(buoyancy compensators--jackets that hold our scuba tank) and getting into the water to try them out. Our last BC's lasted close to 30 years before the bladder seals blew. We'll chalk that up to having them left in the boat during the hot Summer in San Carlos, Mexico. It could have gotten over 120 inside the boat with no problem. It's hot down there. I brought back two BC's when I returned from Colorado last month. These are a large improvement over what we used to have. Lots of pockets, straps, buckles and even pockets to hole the weights that used to be attached to a belt we wore around our waists. Now it's all self contained in one very nice jacket.
One of the tanks had a good bit less air in it as it had been used before when I was diving on Zephyr to clean the propeller. It took a while to get all the straps and buckles adjusted and set just right for the dive, plus Tracy needed a few more bricks of weights(4 pounds in each brick)added to her jacket so she could get under the water. Once in the water and with everything adjusted to our liking, down we went checking the hull to see how much growth we had accumulated over the last few month of crossing the Pacific. Not bad really. Just a bit of slime and a bit of green growth at the water line. The propeller has some barnacles on it that will need a good scraping and the zinc on the end of the prop looks to be in good condition after many month of submersion. I guess we really have straightened out the electrical problems that kept eating our zincs.
We headed for the bottom next to see the block of concrete that our mooring line is attached to. About 3 feet square with lots of chain coming off it and up to large heavy line to the buoy. We were 40 feet down as we surveyed the equipment. It looked just fine though I wouldn't trust it in a big blow as the chain looked quite worn. We glided along the sea floor looking for anything interesting. Pure sand with a few critters in shells making their way around. Look but don't touch.
After about 25 minutes, we headed for the surface and back to Zephyr. Tracy climbed the ladder on the stern with all her equipment just to see if she could. It's about 60 pounds on her back. Not an easy climb but she made it just fine. I climbed up after she was safely on deck. We rinsed off the equipment with fresh water and headed for shore for lunch.
When we arrived here on Wednesday(Musket Cove), we signed up to join the Musket Cove Yacht Club. It costs a whole $1.00 for the Captain(me) and $5.00 for the Admiral(Tracy). We'd gone ashore yesterday to have lunch and get our membership cards. "Sorry, not ready yet" was the answer. We tried again today and got the same response. I guess we will try again tomorrow. No really hurry. One nice thing about having the membership card is that what ever you buy goes on a central computer no matter what store you are visiting. At the end of the stay, you just pay one bill!! Slick. One drawback is that they add on a 3% fee if you use your credit card. Add on the charges from the credit card company for making an international charge and that 3% can end up at about 10% before they are done. We prefer to simply pay cash. Lots less headaches.
As to the "getting lucky" in the title of this post, here's the story. About 1600, as I was fixing something below decks and with the generator running up above, we heard a loud horn blast right behind Zephyr. I rushed on deck prepared to the worst--lost dingy or about to run aground, only to find the Fijian Government BioSecurity boat right off our stern. They were having a training session aboard with several men learning what to ask for when coming up to a foreign boat. First, they wanted our "documents for checking out". We'd been told by the folks on Tera Nova that a clearance document was required if you had planned on cruising the islands. It was what we had traveled to Lautoka last Monday to pick up. Here was an official asking to see it. Thank heaven we had gotten it. If we hadn't talked to Teka Nova, we wouldn't have known. We had our "visitor pass"(all in Fijian) that allowed us to visit all the islands but we also needed the exit documents clearing us out of Lautoka. Then he wanted our pass from the BioSecurity Department when we cleared into Fiji. Since all our paperwork goes in one big pouch, while it took some searching, I found it and headed it over. As each piece of paper was handed over, everyone on board the other boat took pictures of the papers so they would know what to look for when they do it. The picture at the top is of the men on the BioSecurity boat. They took our picture so we took theirs. Once we showed all the documents they wanted, they all thanked us and motored off for another boat here in the anchorage. Thank heaven we had talked to Teka Nova as the office at Vuda Point Marina didn't know anything about needing the clearance documents to leave the island. Another boat(Aeolus) had checked with Customs and had been told that they didn't need the clearance documents. A clear case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Just glad we had the necessary paperwork to make the security officials happy. Like I said, we got lucky!
Musket Cove is nice resort with lots of Australians and New Zealanders in residence. There resort next door(The Plantation) has lots of teenagers there this week as graduation presents from their parents. Imagine a resort with a couple of hungry, hormone filled teenagers running rampant. The shear thought of it boggles my mind.
We're here for a few more days. Tomorrow, I'll be diving on the propeller getting it all cleaned up for the next few months. Stuff grows fast out here. The water is 85 degrees. Nice for diving and swimming. We'll get out tanks refilled after that and head for one of the reefs on Sunday for some serious diving. That is if the weather cooperates. To make it enjoyable, we will need some nice sunshine so the coral will be lighted for the dives. Yesterday, it was cloudy all day but there was no rain for the firs time in several days. Today, it was bright and sunny in the morning and it's now cloudy and a nice breeze to keep Zephyr cool. As I sit here typing this, I have Christmas music blaring our of the speakers of the radio right behind me. Tee shirt, shorts and no shoes and Christmas is right around the corner. I did see that Aurora(home town in Colorado) got 5 inches of snow over night. Not really sorry I missed it. It may be hot out here, but no shoveling is required.
11/29/2011, Musket Cove
We finally dropped the lines at Vuda Point Marina this morning at 0930 and headed out for a few days to Musket Cove about 15 miles southwest of the marina. With no wind, we motored the entire way. There was a bit of a breeze as we left so we unrolled the Genoa and tried catching a breeze that just kept shifting more a more toward the bow of the boat making it impossible to take advantage of the wind to speed us along. In the end, we rolled the sail back in a d just let the motor do it's job. Three hours later, we grabbed one of the buoys and made ourselves at home.
Since we got here, about an hour ago, the winds have picked up a bit and the clouds have settled in with rain heading our way. Though the forecast was for only a 20% chance of rain, it has already started sprinkling. Yesterday, the forecast was for 90% rain. We got a bunch from that storm.
So here we are, hooked to a nice buoy getting ready to head ashore to explore this new island and do some relaxing. It will be nice to see something new. We were told when we emailed Musket Cove that all their buoys were full for the cyclone season. We see 4 boat here on moorings and lots available. Don't quite understand them saying they were full but Vuda Point Marina is just fine with us.
11/28/2011, Vuda Point Marina
While out cruising, you don't get much news so you tend to listen and read what you can once you get shore(at least I do). We heard yesterday on the radio that Fiji is out of passports for the rest of the year and won't have any till the first quarter of next year. Now you can still get an "Emergency" passport but you pay through the nose for that(just like the US). But alas, no regular passports are now available. Not sure what they plan on doing about it but it should be interesting to follow the outcome. Can't imagine how you run out of passports.
I found the following article in the Fiji Times newspaper from last Saturday:
COW URINE DRINK WILL BE CREATED
NEW DELHI: A company in India is working in a soft drink made from cow urine.
The Cow Protection Department of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS)is hoping to create the beverage-which is known as "gau-jal", which means "cow water"-by the end of the year. Despite concerns about the drink, Om Prakash-the head of the department in charge of the beverage-insists it will be tasty.
The RSS have claims cow urine can be used to treat a number of ailments such as cancer and liver disease.
With a great deal of Fiji having originally come from India(where the cow is sacred), I can understand why this story might be of interest to the locals. Unfortunately, it may be a hoax started by another company as an April Fools Joke last year though I have found it listed all over Google as a real product. To each their own I guess but I can't imagine it ever replacing Coke or Pepsi as the drink of choice.
We're just about set to leave Vuda Point for Musket Cove out at Malolo Island for a few days to just get away. I know, get away from what? Being in the same place day after day, seeing the same thing day after day gets old so it's time to explore more of Fiji. We hoped the bus into Lautoka yesterday to get clearance papers to leave the main island of Fiji. We have to check out of Lautoka in order to cruise out to another island even if it is for only one day. If you plan on sailing around the south side of Fiji heading for Suva(the capital) you need the same documents. When you return, you have to go back to Lautoka and check back in all over again. You have never left the country but the "feds" want to know where you are(foreigners)at all time. Military coups will cause that. So we are all checked out and will be taking down the tarps later this afternoon(between rain storms) so we will be all set to go. It's all of 14 miles to the island but it will be fun to get out exploring again even if it's for just 4 or 5 days. By US standards, it like having to get a permit from the US Gevernment to leave Denver and go to Colorado Springs and having to check back in with them upon your return. I don't think that would sit well with the US people. Out here, it's just another hoop to have to jump through.
The picture for todays post is of the burial field for boats in storage for the cyclone season. Each was lifted out of the water and then had it's hull pressure washed and then slowly lowered into a pit having it's hull supported by tires along each side with the base of the keel no longer supporting the rest of the boat. It's the safest way to go through the cyclone season Not much will affect your boat. It sure as heck can't fall over.
Here is the photo of the eye splice I worked on yesterday.