01/03/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Let's get caught up again on the last few days. OK, todays is Wednesday here while the rest of you are still enjoying Tuesday. On Sunday, I fired up the old(well sort of new) oven and made more of my Cranberry/Walnut Bread. I even braided it as I have done before and it came out great. Helps to have enough butane in the tanks so it doesn't go out in mid bake as happened when I made my last two loaves of bread a few days ago. So, now for breakfast, we have Cranberry/Walnut toast with butter(yes, real butter)and some cinnamon sugar on top. Our breakfasts out here, while they used to be cereal, are now either oatmeal(me) or Creme of Wheat(Tracy), or some rolls we pick up in town, or some of the different breads I have baked. We stopped having cereal as 1--Can't find one I would enjoy eating and 2--the price is so far up there that I might as well eat dollar bills instead of the cereal.
Monday, something happened that I have been avoiding for the last 3 1/2 years. Once Tracy was out of bed, she started digging under the forward berth and handed me bottles of liquids for hair permanents!! The day was finally here!! Now, let's set the stage for all of this. Before we left Denver, Brenda Hass set us up with all the equipment(thanks Brenda) we would need to not only give each other hair cuts, but also the things we would need so I could give Tracy a permanent. Well, I've been avoiding it ever since we left on Zephyr 3 1/2 years ago. I could just see(at least in my mind), all of Tracy's hair falling out once I did the job. There are lots of chemicals involved in giving a permenent(I have to wear gloves!). Now, let it be known that I will never cut Tracys hair as I prefer it longer rather than shorter but being out here where it can get nasty(let alone hot and humid) she prefers it shorter. OK, it's her hair. Last week, Tracy went into town with a friend and joined her as she(the friend)was getting her hair cut(not Tracy). Tracy asked about getting a permanent and from what I hear, the woman just stared at Tracy not understanding what she was saying. With a few hand gesturers and and more talking, Tracy got her to understand what she wanted done. Tracy even told her she would bring in all the equipment and solutions to do the job. No problem. She would do the job. Tracy took a look at her equipment and saw that her comb looked like it hadn't been cleaned in years. Once Tracy was back at Zephyr, she thought about it and decided that she just didn't trust the girl to do her hair. When I was in town on Saturday, I cancelled the appointment.
Well, Monday was the day. I'd put it off for as long as I could. Tracy had managed to get a permanent done before she left the states may months ago, but it just isn't done out here(in Fiji). Most of the women out here have naturally curly hair and if any thing, would need it straightened. Out came all the bottles and rollers and papers and things I had no idea what they were for. On came the computer and we got on You Tube and watched a video or two about how to do a permanent. Amazing what you can learn for the internet. We put one of our chairs(actually our only chair) at the table in the salon and off we went. Combs, papers, rollers and long white pins and we had what we needed for the job. It took a while just to get the rollers on but I managed. I've watched and given hair cuts to men but I've never seen a woman get a permanent. It's a long and involved job and I won't bore you more than I have already with the details(lots of mixing, squirting and messaging of the hair), but about 3+ hours later, it was done. I had given my first permanent and her hair has stayed attached(YEA!). She's not bald as I feared plus she has some curl and body in her hair.
Yesterday, the freighter(Southern Fleur) arrived at Lautoka with our anchor aboard. I'd fired up our navigation computer and watched the ship come in our our AIS program. She docked shortly after 0730. I grabbed our paperwork and headed out for the 1100 bus for town. Down to the docks I went and watched as container after container were off loaded onto trucks for distribution and unloading. I got all excited and tingly knowing that my new anchor was in one of those containers. I headed for Customs as I had no idea where the company was that was the transfer agents for our anchor. Now I'm not totally familiar with all of Lautoka and many of the smaller streets have no signs so the agents in Customs had to go by where stores are in town. It ended up being right around the corner from one of my favorite curry restaurants as well as the biggest liquor store in town. No problem. I knew exactly where to go(it's near the liquor store). I got there about 1230 and when I asked about my shipment(producing all the paperwork that I had), I was informed that while the ship(and my anchor)were here, the container was on it's way to Suva(capital of Fiji) and would be off loaded there. Say what??? Yes, that't right. I could wave at it as it left the harbor and headed out for Suva arriving there in a day or so. From there, it will be off loaded and unpacked, sorted, labeled and then re packed, re loaded and shipped by truck back to Lautoka for me to pick up. That makes sense doesn't it? Why bring it here even though the paperwork says it's for here. They had no clue as to why it was going to Suva, but it was. I have a feeling that this company doesn't get anything off the ships here in Lautoka, it only gets things sent to Lautoka by truck. As to when it will be here, they have no clue. But they did assure me that it will get here eventually. Meanwhile, they told me I needed to start on the import paperwork to get it officially into Fiji. They don't do that. They sent me to a company called Carpenter's. Now Carpenter's is a huge company(even an auto dealer and hardware store)that has many facets. Importing is just one of them. It's now 1250 and most of the companies shut down from 1300 to 1400 for lunch so I had to get there fast. Luckily, no place in Lautoka(second largest town in Fiji) is too far away and I got there at 1257. Just in time for the people behind the counter to tell me the guy I needed to talk to(Phillip) was out of the office. Instead, another young lady came to the counter and helped me out. She made some phone calls and verified that my anchor was on it's way to Suva. At least, while it was on it's way, they could handle all the paperwork needed to get it legally into the country. I handed over my Bill of Lading as well as a copy of the invoice. Since we have no phone(who would I call out here that I can't call on Skype?), they will have to email me with any questions they might have. Today, I got an email telling me to fill in a form and send it back to them. Now why they didn't give me the form yesterday(close to Lunch time and they wanted to leave the office?) while I was in their office, I have again, no clue. Since it needs to be signed, I figure I will be heading back to Lautoka tomorrow to give them the signed form. So, out there, some where is our new anchor. It should be in Suva by tomorrow. It's not that far(120 kilometers by road, several hundred by boat). As to when it will finally show up here, we have no clue. Since we still have a perfectly good anchor sitting on the bow, we plan on heading back to the islands on Saturday. Of course, I still have to go to Immigrations and get our clearance papers to go the whole 15 miles to the islands.
Today, I took everything out of the navigation station. Ever since we bought Zephyr, she has had a leak right over the nav station getting water on many of the thing that we store in there. Well, today, I cleared out everything. Lots of papers were soaked and many had lots of black mold all over them. We pitched a good bit since many things were just not salvageable. Oh well. Since I will be in Lautoka tomorrow, I'm going to give the station a day to dry out as I washed the entire insides with bleach water to kill the mold that was still hanging around inside. While I'm in Lautoka, I'll purchase a tube of caulk to seal up the back edge which is where the water appears to be coming in. With enough caulk, I hope to put an end to all the water coming inside. Sure hope so. It was a mess inside there.
So that's the way it's going here in Fiji. It's currently 92 degrees with a heat index of 109!!! Sure am glad we have the air conditioner. I took a shower a few minutes ago and was soaked with sweat by the time I did the short walk back to Zephyr. Still, it beats shoveling snow.
I'll let you know how Lautoka is tomorrow.
01/01/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Well, another year has passed. 2011 is now history and we start in on 2012. A year ago, we had just left Isla Isabella off the west coast of Mexico heading South to eventually arrive in Puerto Vallarta to prepare for our crossing. At that time, we were not sure where we were going. Perhaps down to Costa Rica or Peru. Perhaps across the Pacific which is exactly what we ended up doing. What made the decision easy was the relaxing of the bond required by all cruisers when they make it to French Polynesia. Latitude 38(a sailing magazine out of San Francisco) found an agent for all of us that were doing the "Puddle Jump" that would exempt us from the bond and get us a certificate for duty free fuel as well. A "no brainer" as far as we were concerned. So plans were set in motion and lots more equipment was purchased, much of it mailed to our son(Xander) in Oakland since he was coming to visit us in mid January. Lists were made of jobs, each checked off upon completion. It was a very LONG list but each had it's need. Tighten up this, inspect that. Replace this and fix that. All with the goal of having us as safe and prepared as we could be for the long--2900 mile crossing to Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas.
During our stay, we eventually moved to the La Cruz Marina where more of the "Puddle Jumpers" were located. If one of us had a problem that was beyond our scope of knowledge, well, there were plenty more of us sitting in the marina. During one trip out from the marina(a tsunami was on its way in), our engine died. We limped back to the marina and headed into the engine room. Well, we worked on it till we figured we had it all fixed. We ran the engine at all different speeds while sitting at the marina. No problem. Worked fine. So, once we felt we were ready to leave, out we went to get our clearance documents from the Federales. A mile from the marina, the engine up and dies again. Back we go with an assist from a fellow cruiser that hitched his dingy to our side and pushed us right into a slip at the marina. After more work in the engine room and some help from a "professional", we found that the seal on the back up fuel pump had failed and was allowing air into our system screwing up our engine. With that fixed(third times the charm) we headed out for the south Pacific.
Well, 27 days and 3200 miles later, we pulled into Nuka Hiva harbor in the Marquesas. As we prepared to drop the anchor, it jammed up in the pipe that leads from the locker. Tracy went round and round in the harbor till I could get it all straightened out. The chain didn't like the long voyage.
Now, all the prep work we did certainly paid off. We got off easy compared to many of the other boats that made the crossing. We lost the top bushing from our Genoa(couldn't use it any more). Lost a nut off the bracket that attaches to the top of the mast that our spinnaker block goes on. If we put up the spinnaker, well, let's just say, it wouldn't have been pretty. A bit of chafe on some lines and an iffy battery for starting the engine and we did all right all in all. Some boats lost lots more equipment than that. Preparation is everything when you make a big(or even a small) crossing.
We rested in the Marquesas for a while(about 30 days) and then headed for the next island chain. The Tuomotus and their reef enclosed bays. A beautiful place for snorkeling and diving.
On to Tahiti and all it's wonders. It also cost a frikking fortune to be there. God help our bank account. We were only allowed 90 days in total to stay in the Marquesas, Tuomotus and Tahiti so we were off for parts west.
Next stop--Suwarrow Atoll. A beautiful nature preserve with amazing reefs and fish like we had never seen before. We stayed several weeks. Partially because it was so beautiful, partially because Tracy had come down with a bug of some sort and partially because the weather turned bad and high winds surrounded the island.
Once the weather had calmed down(and Tracy was well) we headed for Tonga where we had planned on spending the cyclone season. This season of rotten weather(winds over 150 mph and big waves) can last from early December to the end of April. We also wanted to attend the third annual Tonga sailing festival! What a blast it was with games and dinners and sailing races(sorry, not us. I can break equipment just sailing let alone racing). It was a week of great fun and seeing lots of our friends again. Unfortunately, we found that while we loved Tonga, there was just no reason to stay there as supplies were limited to non existent and there were really very little as far as workmen to help out with getting jobs done that we couldn't handle. Since we couldn't go to New Zealand(lacked one test for our two cats) we changed our plans and decided to head for Fiji(curry capital of the south Pacific).
After another journey of 6 days, we pulled into the city of Lautoka and checked in through Customs and Immigration, not to forget "BioSecurity". All was painless though expensive as our two cats require a bond on them in the amount of $1,500fijian per cat. About $1600US. It took a trip to the bank to get the necessary funds to make everyone happy. We were lucky enough to get a slot(not slip) at the Vuda(pronounced Vunda) Point Marina for the entire season. This is not your average marina. It's a big circle of boats all hooked to a mooring buoy in the center and then with lines led to railroad rails that have been pounded into the ground with holes for the line(or chain in our case) to be hooked up to. An interesting concept that has worked fine in many past cyclones. Now many of the boats that come here get "buried" in the ditches or trenches. It's literally a graveyard for boats except that the owners do it to take care of their boats and not abandon them.
So here we sit waiting. Being in the water allows us to take the occasional trip out to the islands to do some scuba diving and see the many faces of Fiji. We even have a pass all written in Fijian(not a lot of english spoken out there) so tribe members will know who we are. We have to take bundles of Kava Root as a present for the chief of the tribe that gets made into a liquid that we all get to drink. From what we understand, it's nothing like a Coke or Pepsi but will deaden the mouth.
Our new anchor is due in port as of this afternoon so I fired up our AIS receiver to see when the ship comes up the channel off the marina on it's way to Lautoka so we can go in and get it. We may need an import agent or we may not. I guess we will see once it arrives. Once it's here and on board, we plan on taking off for the islands again. More diving and fun out in the wind.
Any of you Puddle Jumpers that might read this blog, if you have any questions, feel free to send us a comment. We'll get back with you.
12/27/2011, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
We're both verging on becoming blog junkies. Everyday, we will view dozens of blogs looking to see what others are doing where ever they are around the world. Yes, we're viewing boating blogs from around the world. We view many blogs from boats that sailed with us as we crossed the Pacific and we like to keep track of where they are and what they are up to where ever they finally landed. We will routinely scan other posts on Sailblogs to see what others are doing. You never know what you will see from their pictures or what information you will pick up about a place you plan on going to or about a piece of equipment.
Yesterday, Tracy was reading a post for some old friends(Tom & Amy) that used to live on a sailboat called Sandpiper. We first "met" them over three years ago before we had even started this journey. We were still attending boat shows. Since that time, they stopped sailing when they reached St. John in the USVI(started their journey in San Francisco, CA) and bought a business(boat related of course) and sold their boat. Yesterday, while Tracy was reading me one of their old posts, she happened upon a piece of information that we could really use. Ever since we got to Fiji, when ever we try and listen to our FM radio, it seems that it just gets rotten reception. Sometimes a great signal with great reception and a moment later, all garbled in what we hear. Well, yesterday, when Tracy read the post we had an answer to our problem. While the US broadcasts FM in odd numbers--100.5, the rest of the world(or at least out here in Fiji) broadcast in even numbers--100.4. Our radio wasn't set up to receive the frequencies that every one out here was broadcasting! Well, I got right up and started playing with the buttons on the radio till I figured out how to set it for "European" stations and voila, problem solved!! We now have nice clear reception on our radio. It can get real frustrating listening to a station that is just off in what it's playing or what the announcer is talking about. Now we get nice clear music.
From what I have seen, it appears to me that what ever the US does, the rest of the world seems to do it another way. We drive on the right--most out here drive on the left. We use Fahrenheit, the rest use Celsius. Our power is at 120 volts. Everyone else uses 240 volts. What's with us? Do we have to be different or is everyone else just feel that what ever way the US does it, we have to be independent and do it another way? We alway have to watch out as we walk around that we don't walk out in front of a car coming down the street on the wrong side(at least for us). I've come close to being hit because I'm still in US mode for where cars are supposed to be driving. When ever I mention what the temp is back home, 75(ok, that was last Fall) means nothing to them unless I can recalibrate it into Celsius. And now we needed to buy a step down transformer so we can run everything on our boat since we are wired the American way of 120 volts. What's with us? Is it us or is it them? Heck, I don't know. Anyone have any idea why we are so different from the rest of the world? I'd love to know.
It's still cloudy with more rain last evening and more set for today. Yeah, I don't have to shovel the water that comes from the sky(unlike Denver) but it sure gets old and we both know it's going to get worse as the average rainfall in the coming months climbs to 10 inches and more. Get out the buckets, it about to pour!!
With yesterday being a hold over holiday, Christmas was on a Sunday so it got pushed to Monday as the day off. Monday was "Boxing Day" but since Mondays day off was taken up by the Christmas hold over, the official day off for Boxing day was moved to yesterday(Tuesday out here). This will be the first day since Christmas that businesses will be open and the buses start running again. I need to head over to the local butane filling station to get one of our tanks filled that ran dry on Monday. Like most of us out here, we carry two tanks(had four at one time) so running out was just an inconvenience. We'll be back to two shortly. We need the extra one for the barbecue grill. What would a boat be(at least by US standards) without a barbecue grill. Food tastes great off the grill and when it's 90 in the boat, the last thing you want to do is cook something.
12/26/2011, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Well, Christmas is now past and we look forward to the New Year coming with all it's surprises.
Here's our Christmas day. As Tracy needed to make a pecan pie(mandatory), I took off for the laundromat here at the marina. Both of us were running out of clothes as it has been several weeks since we(Tracy) did laundry. It was my turn as she was busy in the galley. It took just over 3 hours for it to be done--4 loads of wash and three loads(cost of $22.65US) of dry(1.5 per every two loads work out just fine). I was back just after noon. Tracy had finished the pie so we had a light lunch and waited for 1800 when we were to go to another boat for Christmas dinner. Tracy also made one of her marina famous salads and a bowl of rice to have with our dinner. Paul and Star(off Starstruck) had brought in a loin of pork(precooked) from Fiji Meats on the previous Friday so all it needed to have done was reheat. Along with potatoes(cut in small pieces and cooked in a french onion soup mixture)artisan bread and Jalapeno jelly for the pork, we were set. Dessert was an ice cream pie followed by the pecan pie. Heaven help my waist line.
On the 26th, I figured it was time for more bread as what I had baked a week or so ago was just about gone. I changed the recipe a bit and added a bit more sugar and a bit more yeast(let it ferment a bit longer too). I took a spoon and stirred up the flour to get it unsettled from the lump it had become in the bag. The last flour I had used was truly a brick after many month of sitting vacuum packed down in the cabinet. With the yeast, sugar and water properly fermented, I added the fluffed flour and went to work. Once every thing was mixed, it had to rise(or proof). I set the bowl in the engine room(the perfect place for dough to rise) and we took off for a quick lunch at the marina cafe. An hour later, it had more than doubled in size and was unlike any dough I had made before. Big and pouffy. I pounded it down and kneaded it a couple of times and put it in two loaf pans(one silicone and one metal) and let it rise again in the engine room. Again, it rose like never before. I preheated the oven to the 350 the recipe called for and put them in turning 180 degrees at 20 minutes. The heat didn't seem quite right--not hot enough. Surprise, surprise, we had run out of propane half way through the baking. Heaven only knows how long it they had sat in an oven not at the right temp. They looked fine. Bigger than any loaf I had ever made before. Out I went to the propane locker and switched out the tanks(always carry at least two) and fired up the oven again. Ten minutes of preheating and back in they went. Fifteen minutes later, out they came as beautiful as any two loaves I've ever made. Light brown all around and far lighter(in weight) than what I had done previous. New flour, plus having it "fluffed" I think made all the difference. We had two great loaves of bread. Slices of it ended up being our dinner that night. Yeah, I know, not the most health of things to eat for a meal but it sure tasted great.
We planned on heading out to the islands to do some more scuba diving so I grabbed our cart and two gasoline tanks and headed for the fuel dock here at the marina. It's still a holiday here even though it's the 27th so it is only open for half a day. I bought 40 liters or just over 10 gallons of gas. The total was $100 fijian or about $54US. That makes the price at $5.40 per gallon of gas. Let's not hear any more complaints about what you are paying for gas back home. The picture above is of Zephyrs fuel truck. It get stared at every where we take it. It folds up to a relatively flat piece that stores nicely on one of the front bunks. Hauling 10 gallons of gas or a big tank for Propane(tomorrows task) is made a bunch easier with it. We used to have one from West Marine but it rusted to death long ago after only a couple of years of use.
It is continually overcast with showers every day. Some heavy and some light but after 1600, all bets are off as to wether it will ran or not as normally it pours. We even had a small squall come through just after 1100 this morning and it's totally overcast now. Rain is coming. And every day for the for seeable future in the weather forecast is for rain. Each day--88 degrees, 70 percent humidity and 60 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms. Sure glad we put tarps all over the boat. It has kept several of our more major leaks down to next to nothing. Always looks bad having buckets scattered around the boat. Sure glad we have those micro fiber cloths around. Sure do absorb lots of water.
Peanut(local dog) loved his new squeaky toy we gave her for Christmas. She's afraid of loosing it so instead of playing a nice game of fetch, every time I throw it, she picks it up, plays with it for a bit and then rushes back to her sleeping space under the concrete wharf. I have to get under it(not all that hard) grab it and we start all over again. If I take it far enough away from the wharf, she will play a bit better sometimes bringing it back to me. We got her some tennis balls and it's the same thing. Run after it and take it back to the wharf. Afraid of loosing it I guess. We're still working on it. All in good time I guess. I'm doing a better job of fetching than she is.
And that about it for us for the last few days. The ship bringing our new anchor is supposed to be leaving Aukland, NZ today. We're tracking it on a program we found that shows every AIS signal in the world. Go figure. Amazing what you can find on the internet.
12/23/2011, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Well, Happy Anniversary(December 23rd) to us. Yes, that's right, it's our 40th anniversary. And here we are in Fiji celebrating it. Not bad for an old married couple. It was a quiet day with not much happening(other than lots of heat and humidity). We planned dinner for a steak and potatoes with a nice bottle of wine to top it off. If I don't have curry, a steak is a great replacement. Christine off Teka Nova brought us some chocolate cup cakes for a celebratory dessert. We got notified(at 1400 the same day of the party) that the marina was putting on a "thank you" party that night to thank everyone for a great season(and too encourage everyone to eat at their restaurant rather than the resort next door(First Landing). The previous evening, a group of ten of us gathered at the restaurant for a pizza dinner. Normally, we have gathered at First Landing but they stopped having "Pizza Thursday" with specials on some pizzas so we decided to move it over here. Heck, the pizza(even when not on special) is $4.00 cheaper and the beer and coke is about half of the price of over there. The gathering, both "Pizza Night" and the "Thank you" party were great. Lots of conversation between all types of locals and cruisers. There were at least 18 people at the "Thank You" party as all the food and drinks(alcohol included) was free. Wave free booze at a cruiser and they will follow you anywhere. Our steak dinner just got moved up a bit and with the barbecue running, the steaks came out great. Nice to have a solid piece of meat again, especially if it's beef.
We have become part time caretakers of one of the local dogs--"Peanut". He belongs to one of the locals that lives on a two story house boat here in the marina. Well, he left Peanut in the hands of Star off Star Struck and she asked us if we would help. No problem. Here was a sorely neglected dog that was down to skin and bones when we came into the marina. Dogs out here are rarely "pets". More likely, they are for protection. I don't know if they teach "barking 101" but most dogs around here are good at it. If you see a dog with a collar, he is normally treated a bit better but not much. There are no pet stores in Fiji so the huge selection of pet products is not available out here. It's hit and miss in the grocery stores. We went down to Namaka to pick up some lettuce(with the roots attached) from one of the local vegetable peddlers we had met a few days ago. While there, we found a grocery store that had some pet products(toys and chew bones). We bought some and brought them back as Christmas presents for Peanut. When I gave them to him, he had no idea what they were for. He has never had a toy or a chew stick. He has no idea of the concept of "fetch". We throw a stick and he just looks up at us with a bit of bewilderment on her face. We will try with a ball tomorrow but I fear that we will have the same result. I've never heard of a dog that can't fetch!! Being under the care of Star and us, she has put on some weight and is looking much better. With me spraying insecticide, the ticks are getting fewer. We're down to two or three a day on her(yuck). Let's hope her real owners don't come back anytime soon.
We got notification that our Christmas present should be arriving here on January 2nd instead of the 18th. We've ordered a Rocna anchor for Zephyr. It's a big step up for us weight wise as this baby comes in at 88 pounds. Our current one(a CQR) is only 65 pounds. This baby is highly regarded by every cruiser we have talked to about their anchors. Not one has had anything bad to say about theirs. Now our CQR has been great in just about every situation we have dropped her in. We just wanted a bigger anchor that sets quickly and digs in deeper. Having seen our same anchor(on a different boat) brake while we were at Suwarrow Island gave us a good bit to think about during the last part of our cruise to Fiji. Having talked to so many cruisers about their anchors, when we got to the marina, I got on line and sent emails to several dealers in New Zealand as no one carries these types of anchors here. I got all kinds of prices. One wanted $1699.00NZ plus $578.00 to ship it here. YEOW!!! That's $2277NZ($1763US). Another could get us the anchor and have it shipped here for $1440NZ or just $1115US. A great price. If I had purchased it at West Marine in the US, it would have cost me $1299!!! I got it from a place called "All Marine" and worked with the owner--Bob Broome. They are located in Whangarei,NZ with two stores. I called him(God bless Skype) and placed the order. He has arranged to ship it right into Lautoka so it will be an easy taxi ride getting it back to the marina. I just hope it fits on the bow. Guess we will see when it gets here.
Here's picture of our restaurant today. Tracy had the chicken pie. Similar to a chicken pot pie with no pot, just crust and lots of chicken and veggies. I of course had the chicken curry. Lots of chicken but sure gave my tongue a serious work out finding all the bones that it comes with. Don't just put it in your mouth and chew. You will get an ugly surprise.
Here's the Namaka vegetable market. Lots of veggies I've never seen before and it doesn't get much fresher that right off the farm. One stall gives out their business card so you can phone in special orders(lettuce with the root still attached). Great stuff at great prices.
12/21/2011, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
The project is done--sort of. I grabbed the bus into Lautoka yesterday in search of a fitting to either cap off the pressure relief valve on the water heater or find a replacement valve to really fix the situation.
I stopped in at Hydrolink, probably the best place in town to find any kind of good fittings for any kind of work that has to be done, either for water, diesel or gasoline. It's where I found the fittings I'll be using for the new diesel filtration system I'll be installing shortly. Before I left Zephyr, I'd taken off the floor boards that cover the valve trying to put on the end cap I'd bought when we were in Namaka the day before. In my typical fashion, I'd bought not only the wrong size fitting but also one made of the wrong type of metal. I needed brass and got galvanized steel instead but of course that didn't matter since it didn't fit any way. On first glance, I thought it was a 3/4 inch fitting(sure looked like it). The end cap(had the bleed nipple on the end was actually just a 3/8 inch fitting. I took a wrench to it early in the morning to dismantle the valve. What I got was just the end cap. OK, I could still screw a cap onto it. All I needed was a cap. The actually pressure relief valve as farther in in the assembly. If I could avoid tampering with it, there was less chance of be trashing the entire water heater. After 30 years of operation, it's on borrowed time. Heck, even one in houses far away from what this poor thing has been exposed to only last normally about 20 years. This poor heater has more rust on it than my knees and they feel like they have plenty in them many mornings(age sucks). I took in the end cap just to make sure I got a cap with the right treads. Hydrolink came in like the champs they are and had the right fitting. I talked to them about a valve to replace the bad one and they talked it over and came up with where they felt I could find it---Digital Valve. With directions in hand, I took off to further check out the town. Tracy had stayed on Zephyr awaiting a delivery from Cost U Less. They tell you the day they will be coming but no estimation of time(worse than the cable guys back home).
As I rounded the corner, there in front of me stood the Madras Curry House. A sign out front told the specials of the day--curry, curry curry. All types of curry lay in front of me. I looked to the left--chicken curry. I lode to the right--lamb curry with the goat curry right in front of me. My pulse quickened and my knees got weak. Which should I choose? Decisions, decisions. In I went, chicken curry won. I added a bottle of Coke and then took a seat. The entire restaurant is maybe 15 feet by 20 feet with a half dozen tables crammed into the space along with the serving counter and a refrigerator for the drinks. One of the tables had 5 Fijian girls having lunch(I got stared at). I was the only other person there. As time passed, other men came in, got their lunches and either took it with them or sat down and ate quickly. This place is off the beaten path so I wasn't surprised at me being the only non Fijian(Pa'longe is what they call us white folks out here) in the place. I'm sure they don't get many off islanders during the day. Now for those of you new to my postings, I LOVE curry! It's one of the reasons I love Fiji so much as just about every where you go, you can find a restaurant that serves curry in one form or another. When my plate came, it was loaded with a nice bowl of the curry(bones included), rice, a small side salad, a bowl of soup, and some type of bean dish that I had no idea what it was. If you want curry with no bones, it cost lots more but as they say, "when in Rome". OK, so you eat a lot slower having to search out each mouthful to see what surprises await your tongue. I just piled up the bones along the side of my plate. After your first few times in restaurants like this, you get used to searching for bones no matter if it's chicken, lamb, or goat curry. It's a cheap way to feed the masses. The curry flavor was excellent. I just dumped the entire bowl of curry(bones included) onto the heaping pile of rice and dug in(slowly). With the bottle of Coke(no ice), my entire meal came to $7.00 Fijian($3.78US) and I left stuffed.
On to Carpenters Hardware looking for more things. I needed to find a small hand held garden sprayer to spray the Diazanon we had bought a few days earlier. It's a great bug killer and still available out here. Not so much in the US. I found a small 3 liter sprayer. Perfect for the small spraying job I had in mind. All of the boats in the marina have a problem with ants crawling out your dock lines and taking up residency looking for a meal. Add in what appears to be small flying cock roaches(still not sure they are cock roaches) and the boat can come alive some nights. As no rain was forecast for the night, I started spraying after dinner. A few slips down from us is a houseboat(two story no less). They have a dog(Peanut) that has had a problem for several years with fleas and ticks. The owners have gone away for a few weeks and left her in the care of Paul and Star off Star Struck and we volunteered to help take care of her also. When I came back from the US, I brought Peanut a flea and tick collar. They are very hard to find out here. So far, while she may have fewer fleas, the ticks are on her in full force. Every day, we are picking a couple off her. With the sprayer and Diazanon, once Peanut was on her chain for the night, I took off for the docks. I sprayed behind our boat as well as the dock lines and then over to Star Struck and did theirs. Over to Peanuts boat and I sprayed everywhere I could behind her boat. Extra heavy where she normally sleeps during the day. I'll spray again in a few days just in case more hatch out. Star came by this morning to ask if I had sprayed as they had no ants this morning for the first time in a long time. This stuff works great!
I continued my trek around Lautoka and finally found the valve company that I had directions for. I described what I needed and he came forth with a new pressure relief valve. Cost---$300 fijian($162US). YEOW!!! I could buy an entire heater for that amount. I had the brass cap in my pocket that should solve the problem so I passed on the new valve. I can order one on the internet and have it forwarded at a later date.
On I went buying this and that till 1500 came up and it was time to grab the bus back to the marina. The next one was at 1620. A short 40 minutes later(lots of stops), I was back at the marina. Once in the boat, I removed the floor boards, wrapped the threads of the cap with teflon tape and screwed it on. Perfect fit. With a bit of tension on the wrench, no a drip came when I turned the water pump back on. We were in business again. Hot and cold running water with the turn of the handle on the faucet. Problem solved at least for the time being.
Off for my late afternoon shower and back for one of Tracy's great salads for dinner. As I grew up, I hated salads and would never eat one which upset my mother as she felt everyone should have a salad from time to time. Tracy makes a great salad that's a joy to eat. Lettuce(not Iceberg), carrots, radishes, bell peppers, onion, pecans and avocado if available, then a bit of home made dressing. I tend to add a bucket load of pepper on mine just to spice it up. If it's not spicy, it's just not right. I figure I burned out many of my taste buds long ago eating jalapenos and fire hot red and green chilies when we lived in New Mexico. Now avocados are new to me. I never ate them when we were back home. Guacamole had never touched my lips. I had no idea what it tasted like but it sure looked like what my son used to produce after eating when he was a small baby and that was just not appealing to my eyes. Once we took off on this voyage, I vowed to try just about anything that was presented as if others eat it, it must be good(or at least passable). Since we left the US(even in the US), I've tried many new dishes and am still alive to write about it.
OK, this rant has gone on long enough. I'll end it here. Oh, it started raining and looks like it will either rain or sprinkle through out the rest of the day. BUT, I don't have to shovel rain!!!!!