01/26/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
I'm sure we have some people back home that don't understand some of the "nautical" terms I use in our blog. Here's a picture of a "cutter" rigged sailboat. The wire coming down the right side from the mast is the forestay. It helps hold the mast up and a big sail, normally called a Genoa is attached to it.
The next wire to the left of it is the the forestaysail stay that I just replaced the halyard(raises the sail) for. A smaller sail runs up it to the mast. We use it a lot when there is a storm out there as it give you good power yet is a smaller piece of canvas at your bow.
You can see, it you look closely, the spreaders on the mast(big pole in the center of the boat). They keep the mast straight on the boat and support the mast so it doesn't fall off the side.
This boat(not ours) has it's mainsail stowed in the mast. It rolls out when the line at the bottom of the sail is pulled. Ours stows on top of the boom(long horizontal pole attached to the mast). Less chance of it getting fouled when you want to deploy it(plus it costs lots of money to put in the type of rigging.
At the stern(left side of the photo) is a wind powered generator. Ours is similar to the one shown. Some people like them and some hate them as they can make a lot of noise when running. Ours is quite quiet.
As you look at the photo, you are seeing the starboard(right) side of the boat. The opposite side is the "port"(left).
That's about all there is to the rigging of a sailboat. At least picture wise. If you have any questions, let me know. I know this site is planned around sailors, but there are a few of you out there that aren't so here is some information about what you may have read in mine and other blogs that might help you better understand what it is we are writing about.
01/26/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
The photo above is of Ba, a town north of us that suffered the worst of the flooding during the storm. Roads were washed out and several people were killed. One entire family died when a landslide wiped out their house burying the home and family under the slide. Two more died trying to cross rain swollen streams that had become raging rivers. We got notice from the US State Department on Thursday morning about the floods(they had been over for a day or so) and to make sure we notify our friends and family back home about what was happening here. Consider yourself notified. I'm sure there was no mention of the flooding in the news back home. Heck, this wasn't even a cyclone, just a tropical depression. I'm in no hurry to see what a cyclone is like if this is just a "depression".
Well the rain finally stopped and forecasts were revised so we are actually starting to dry out for a change. The towels I used to soak up the water in the nav station are finally dry and ready for the next downpour. Roads are still out in some areas of the island and there was no buses running yesterday morning.
We took advantage of the lull in the down pour to get some jobs done. We filled our water tanks just in case the water system for the area fails in the next storm. It has in other sections of the island. Yesterday morning, while it was still some what cool, we hooked up the bosuns chair and up the mast I went. I had three jobs on the list.
First, change out the forestaysail halyard. That's the 3/8 inch line that was used to pull up the smaller sail at the bow of the boat. It had started to chaff during the crossing and since it was too small to fit the winch we use to raise the sail, I brought back 1/2 inch line from the US to replace it. That's the one I put the eye splice in a couple of weeks ago. I sewed the old line to the new and up it went, over the sheave wheel that is in the mast and out the base and into the cockpit. All nice and neat. I later cut the two apart and whipped the end of the line. Nice and nautical you know.
Next, up to the top spreaders to replace the "boots" that are out at the ends. For those of you non boaters, the spreaders are the rods of metal that come out horizontally from the mast that wires run through to keep the mast straight. They are normally fitted with covers so if the sails come in contact with them they won't get ripped. We had lost the one on the starboard side so since I'd brought new ones back from the US back in November, it was finally time to get up there and replace them. Easy job. Cut off the tape that was left up there. Fit the new ones in place and then use a product called "Rig Wrap" to bind them to the spreader. "Rig Wrap" is a tape that stretches and binds against itself and, in time, will become one big mass to tape. It has to be cut off as once it is on, it doesn't like to come off. So once I was at the right height, I swung off to the left side away from the mast and did the first one, then swung off the right side and did the second. All the while hanging on the wire rigging and wrapping my legs around the wires so I could stay in place. It's like being a tether ball in the end of the line.
Third, up to the top of the mast to remove the wind gauge so it can be sent back to the US for repair. It shows the direction of the wind but no longer reports the speed which is nice since it give a boat bragging rights as to how bad it gets out there. I was very careful taking it off and taping over the fitting where the electronics connect. We don't want water getting in there and corroding the connections while the gauge is off. I put it carefully in the bag I had making sure to not brake one of the small cups off the rod and slowly came back down the mast stopping repeatedly to inspect all the fittings and wires. About an hour after I started, I was back on deck, all safe and sound with a big job done.
Once I was down, we put up the tarps to keep the Sun off Zephyrs decks as well as some of the water that pour here regularly. It will help keep both off Zephyr.
After the tarps were up, we walked over to the local cafe and slugged down some drinks to replace all the water we had lost in perspiration during the jobs. Back at Zephyr, we had a nice salad for lunch and then sat around in the heat of the day and watched a movie(Swing Vote). After that, I took off for the showers as we were set to go to the "Boatshed Restaurant" here at the marina for drinks and dinner with friends. By the time everyone was there, we had 13 people so we made quite a group. Drinks and dinner and good company made for a very enjoyable evening. Most of us had suffered with cabin fever during the rains so it was nice to get out again. With the rain, the mosquitos were out in full force for the evening. All of us came away drained a bit of blood.
01/24/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
The rain has finally slowed to a stop. More is in the forecast so I guess we will see what happens. The bucket I put on the stern on Monday morning(it's now Wednesday here) reads 9.5 inches in water. If memory serves me, that would translate to 9.5 feet of snow if the same thing happened back home in Colorado. Much of the western sections of Fiji are under water with whole towns evacuated and many of it's homes under water. BA, just north of us is under as much as 10 feet of water. Several people have died trying to cross what used to be small streams that are now raging rivers.
The picture at the top is the weather picture from Fiji Met service as to the location of the fronts around us. As you can see, one is right on top of us. The forecast is for only a 60% chance of more rain so we will see what Mother Nature has in store for us. At least our house floats.
01/23/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
And so the rains came and came and came. We're now into day 3 of rain. It started back on Sunday afternoon with a good dump of heaven only knows how much water. It cleared off for a bit in the afternoon(oh my goodness, the humidity) and that was the last of the sunshine since. The clouds came back after only a few hours and rain started again early Sunday evening. It has rained virtually ever since with just a few minutes of let up while it gains more moisture to start again. Roads have washed out and even some banks in the smaller towns have announced that they would be closed since the roads have gotten so bad. One thing we did get accomplished before the rains came was our laundry. Nice to have clean clothes again.
We, on the other hand, took off for Lautoka yesterday, rain or no rain. We needed to pay our Vodafone internet bill as the last day for payment was yesterday. We waded out to the bus stop and waited standing under umbrellas. We now each have one. It arrived just a few minutes late but at least it was running. Much of Lautoka sidewalks are covered as a great deal of rain falls in this lush green country so getting between stores along the street was no problem. Up came the umbrellas when we crossed any streets. We ran numerous errands to store to get resupplied since we had run out of many of our staples when we were out at the islands. I'm just glad we decided to come back on Saturday, the last sunny day.
It's still raining and I'm continually changing out the towels around the boat as water slowly leaks through the assorted holes in the deck. The worst is behind all our electronics at the navigation station. I change out the towels inside that cabinet about every 30 minutes as they get filled with water. I've been using "Shamwow" towels and they seem to absorb the most water. The micro fiber towels do well but are too small to do a great job. Ah, the things you learn while boating.
So here we sit, waiting for it to stop raining so we can get back to projects. I know I started this flood by writing that I had planned on going up the mast on Sunday to fix and install some things that needed attention up there. Once that was out, well, Mother Nature was set to slow that down. If I had known all this was coming, I'd have gone up on Saturday when we got back. Oh well, there is always tomorrow.
Floods are rampant around this side of the island with Nadi, just south of us is flooded with roads washed out and homes flooded and people evacuated. The radio news just reported that all roads to Nadi are now closed due to the flooding and that the rain is expected to continue for the next 24 hours. Well, this is the rainy season. Glad we have our umbrellas as well as good foul weather gear for when we venture out to escape "cabin fever". We stuck out our bucket on the stern yesterday. As of now, there is about 5 1/2 inches of water in it. How's that for a downpour. No wonder everywhere is getting flooded.
More to come as the rain continues.
01/21/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fijiu
Well, we're back at Vuda Point Marina after finishing our ten day trek back to the islands. We spent several days at Mana Island having a good time doing a bit of diving though we're not sure we were in the right spot. We had heard lots of great reports on a place called "Supermarket"(no idea why it's called that). We got the Lat/Long from a dive site called wannadive.net that gives lots of info on sights all around the word. I'd plugged the coordinates into our portable GPS and once Puff was loaded with all our gear(including an anchor), we took off around the west side of the island only to be greeted by a big thunderstorm with lots of lightening and thunder. Seeing what was coming, we reversed course and returned to Zephyr. Better safe than fried by lightening. It poured shortly after we got back to the boat.
The next day, we reloaded Puff in the morning(before the storms came) and took off again. We worked our way around the west side of the island and out over the reef through a narrow passage that's marked with a big stick coming out of the water. Buoys aren't big out here. Once past the stick, we turned left and worked our way around the outside of the reef that protects the island. We found the GPS position and carefully dropped the anchor in about 8 feet of water. I strapped on a mask and went down and repositioned it in a coral free crevasse on the bottom. The last thing we want to do is damage coral when we are out diving. We put on the rest of our gear and plunged into the 84 degree water(yippee!). We worked ourselves down the side of the reef. This was a "Wall" dive since the reef drops off where we went in. While it was pretty, and had some fish, it was no where near what we had seen at Pinnacle Reef back in December. It was fun getting back in the water with our tanks and gear but no where near as beautiful. After an hours dive(8 to 65 feet deep)we climbed back into Puff(glad we have a ladder) and went back to Zephyr and in to get our tanks filled and have some lunch.
The previous evening, we had a group of three brothers come out to see us in a small very old, beaten up kayak to see our boat and ask questions about us and our boat. We were the only boat in the cove. While we may be out in the out islands, they still teach english to all the Fijians. The eldest(about 12) spoke more than his brothers did so he acted as an interpreter. I told him all about our boat and where we had come from. We took their picture(at the top of the post) and we promised them I'd bring them a copy the next day. After about 30 minutes, off they paddled to shore. We later printed some copies of their picture and I took them into shore the next morning. With the help of one of the native women they led me right to their house(a small primitive shack built of corrugated metal roofing. About 10 kids came running over, including the eldest child. It was like I was Santa and had just come to town. I handed him the pictures and he said "You are a true friend"(wow). As primitive as this half of the island is, I'm sure they don't get many pictures of themselves.
Here's the scoop on Mana Island. The West section of the island is a resort owned and operated by a Japanese company. There was apparently some conflict with the native Fijians when the resort was built so the company put up a high chain link fence down the middle of the island with a small gate as the only easy way to get across the island. One side is all resort(not the nicest)and the other side are all native people living in a state of poverty making what money they can from tourists that venture onto their side of the island as well as "back packer" hostels. Other than lunch the first day we came in(a can of coke(330ml) was $5.50($3.00US), we spent the rest of our time on the native side of the island. There, at least, a bottle(600ml) of coke as only $4.00 Fijian and the food was better. We even got our dive tanks refilled there for 25% less than at the resort. Not a way to encourage cruisers to come their side of the island.
After a couple of days at Mana, we had planned on heading over to Treasure Island(not it's real Fijian name) for a couple of days before returning to Vuda. We'd emailed them and they were expecting us. There's even a charge of $10.00 Fijian to come ashore. Not sure what you get for your $10.00 but figured we'd find out. When we got up in the morning, it was totally overcast. Not a good thing since there are numerous uncharted reefs between Mana and Treasure Island. We decided it was a smarter move to simply go back to Musket Cove since we knew the route and would not have any chance of hitting one of the reefs. I emailed Treasure Island of our change of plans. When you are cruising between islands out here, you rely on sunshine to see the reefs as they stand out in sunshine as a lighter color of water(light green-bad versus a dark blue-good). With no sunshine to assist us in seeing the reefs, we upped the anchor(full of mud and sand) and headed back to Musket for a couple of days of relaxation and showers and good food.
Yesterday, we upped the anchor again and headed back to Vuda as we knew we would need help getting into our slot. Our bow lines have to be attached to the spiders web of lines that all the boats are attached to out near the middle of the circular marina. When we arrived back at the marina, we found that the boat Tequila had vacated the spot we had wanted to go into back in December. With the help of one of the yard men in a dingy and two on shore, we backed into the space with little problems. Each time I back up Zephyr, I get better at it. Three years ago, I would have hit what ever was behind us as I backed down. This time, I placed Zephyr right where she was supposed to be not hitting anyone. Our 50 foot bow lines are to short so I'll be looking for some new lines this next week. I had no idea that the rope I brought back from the US would end up being no where near long enough. We had to tie several lines together to make up the difference. Once in and tied up, we hooked up the electrical and turned on the air conditioner and every fan we could find in the boat. It was 99 degrees inside Zephyr and with about 80% humidity, both of us were sweating like stuck pigs making our clothes soaked with sweat(yuck). We slowly cooled down and headed off later for the showers and something to drink to replenish what we had sweated away.
So now we are in the spot we have wanted for quite a while as it has some shade in the late afternoon which will help cool off Zephyr's decks. We have a slight electrical problem as while the slot has two boats in it, there is only one outlet! We'll be trying to work that out with the office on Monday. Luckily, the boat next door is unoccupied at the moment though he normally runs an air conditioner to keep the moisture down inside while he's gone.
We gathered with friends later in the afternoon for drinks and dinner at the marinas restaurant well into the evening. It's nice being back in the marina again. Blue and Snowshoe are really enjoying being back in air conditioned comfort. The last ten days have been tough on them.
Tomorrow, we head back to Lautoka to pay our Vodefone internet bill. It's the big reason we came back. Out here, it's your biggest source of entertainment. I'd planned on going up the mast this morning to get a couple of jobs done but we woke up to rain so it may have to wait for a while. With luck, it might clear up this afternoon.
Stay tuned. More coming.
01/15/2012, Mana Island, Fiji
We changed our mind and made for Mana Island where we will be for a couple of days. Very tight channel getting in and we're glad one of the tour boats was coming in in front of us and lead the way. Out here, the buoys are "left red heading in" not "red right returning" as it is in the US. So it can get confusing.
We'll be here a few days before we head over to "Treasure Island"(not it real Fiji name). Then back to Vuda Point. We have to be back by the 22nd as our Vodefone internet bill is due. Oh the pressure of civilization.