01/31/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Well, it finally stopped raining a few minutes ago but it's far from over. Winds for the islands just west of us are forecast to have winds up to 80 knots over tonight and tomorrow. With this in the forecast, most of the tour boats have come over to our marina to hide during the storm. We have a sailboat we saw at Mana Island when we visited there 10 days ago. It's a 100 foot long boat used to take vacationers out sailing while they stay at the resort. They have also brought both of the "submarines" over for storage. These are boats that have a glass enclosure that people go down into as it glides past coral reefs. If it floats, it's been brought over here for the storm. Every available space is full and several of the boats that came over have been taken out of the water and put on tires for storage.
The rain has continued off and on all day and has now let up for a while before it resumes again. There isn't supposed to be any clearing till the weekend.
We finally got our delivery from Cost U Less a few minutes ago. It's like Costco only smaller and they make deliveries all the way from Suva across the island. We didn't get a delivery last week as we were in the midst of the last rounds of storms with flooding all around us. Now we have more food rations to get us through till the storms finally decide to leave. I guess we should be surprised by the storms since it is the cyclone season and that means rain. Mother Nature is holding up her end of the bargain.
01/31/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
And so the rains came and came and came. It's still raining on the third day. Yesterday, after getting delayed heading into Lautoka for the epoxy(on Monday), I finally decided that to heck with the rain, I was out of here. I'd waited long enough and wanted to find the dingy repair guy that I'd heard about that had a workshop about 14 kilometers south of here in Namaka. So rain or no rain--cyclone or no cyclone, I grabbed my umbrella,raincoat and water proof shoes and headed for the bus stop.
Heading out at 0735, I met the bus about 0750 and got dropped off at another bus stop to wait for the second bus needed for the trip. It's a two bus trip to get to Namaka. I stepped off the bus(in the rain) about 0840 and using the directions I'd been given by another boater in the marina, and found his shop about 20 minutes later. It was full of dingies and life rafts as he is certified to inspect, fix and repack some brands of life rafts(unfortunately not ours). I introduced myself to William(owner) and we chatted about what our problem was and how there were at least three other boats in the marina that needed his help. He explained that he was out of the glue needed to fix dingies and was waiting for a shipment from New Zealand to come in so he could get back to work. He hopes it will be in within a couple of weeks--a month at most! For the time being, he is stuck and can't fix anything. I promised I call him in a week or so to see if the glue has come in and took off back out into the rain again.
I hiked back into the center of Namaka and found one of the local hardware stores and bought the epoxy I'll need to fix my leak(once the rain stops). We've been in Namaka several times so I knew what shops were where so I continued my exploration(in the rain of course). I hit each of the four grocery stores(one bigger and three smaller) along the main road(all within three blocks of each other) looking for things we needed and other incidentals. Comparison shopping with stores so close is easy. One store had Philadelphia Cream Cheese(a big bonus for the trip) and another had Gouda Cheese(big score). I stopped in at a local spice store and finally found whole white peppercorns. We'd been looking for it since the first time we had it served on one of the pizza's we have on Thursday's Pizza Night at the resort next door to the marina. We'd not been able to find it anywhere in Lautoka(second largest city in Fiji) and here is was in this little out of the way spice shop.
I stopped at the veggie market to pick up some lettuce(for Tracy's great salads) and found the prices about where they were before the flood. A pair of small heads of green leaf lettuce runs any where from $2.00 to $2.50 Fijian($1.08 to $1.38US). We have learned to buy the lettuce from people that store and show the lettuce in small bowls to keep the base in water. It lasts longer(maybe two days). To get some that lasts much longer, we try and get some with the roots still attached(special order only). With four small heads and a bunch of other items from the grocery stores, I headed for the bus back to the marina.
Now using the buses here in Fiji, timing is everything. Buses that come all the way down to the marina are few and those that do have a set schedule. They leave Lautoka at certain times and pass by the bus stop where I caught the bus to Namaka about 30 minutes later. I needed to time my arrival so I didn't miss the 12:45 bus(left Lautoka at 12:15). I caught the 12:00 bus in Namaka and got to the stop at 12:35 for a short wait. I got lucky and the rain let up during my wait. At 12:45, along came the bus and I was off for the last leg to the marina. If I had missed that bus, the next one was at 1540! I'd have had a long hike down to the marina.
I got back just in time for the next set of squalls to come through and the rains started all over again. We've been watching all the weather sites on the internet we can find that give us info on what we are in and what may be coming. We even listen to the local radio stations for updates on the hour. There's a tropical depression west of Vanuatu(group of islands west of us) and a second just south of Fiji. The one near Vanuatu is on course to become a cyclone. The predictions is for the two of them to join south and west of Fiji and head back southwest away from the island. The governments biggest concern is the rains that will be coming with this storm. The west side of Fiji(where we are) hasn't dried out from the storm last week(over 10 inches of rain in three days)when flooding and landslides took over and forced many families from their houses and isolated entire villages. The radio just announced that the cyclone over Vanuatu is heading our way but will be turning south before it reaches Fiji so while we will have lots more rain and some higher winds, the full brunt of the storm will go south of the island. With higher winds coming, we will be taking our tarps down this afternoon. No reason to let them get torn up should the big winds come. Last evening, as we sat here with the air conditioner off and the companionway doors open, the rain and wind suddenly stopped. A few minutes later, large gusts of wind descended on the marina blowing all the boats around. We went forward and tightened the bow lines making sure we had plenty of clearance at our stern. No reason the slam into the concrete walls of the marina. We've had a good 6 inches of rain since Monday(it's Wednesday here now) and it's still pouring with hopes of it letting up by Friday.
So here we sit and wait it out safe and sound heading out for walks during the lulls in the rain. Cabin fever sucks.
For any boats back in Mexico planning on heading out here, stock up on laundry tokens. Those that look like coins with opposite sides cut off. A load of wash here runs $6.00 Fijian or about $3.30US. If your tokens are cheaper than that, grab as many as you can(yes, I know that's cheating). I've seen prices of laundry vary all over not only Mexico but the entire Pacific. At $6.00 that't not that bad out here. We ran into much worse even back in Canada and Mexico. Just food for thought.
01/29/2012, Vuda Pt. Marina, Fiji
It's back!!! The rain has returned and is going to get worse over the next three days with Wednesday being the worst. It started early this morning and is still sprinkling.
The repairs I'd planned in the Nav station(stopping a leak) have been delayed. I found the right wood(Mahogany) on my trip into Lautoka on Saturday and stripped out the old caulk yesterday morning to make the surface all smooth and ready for the epoxy. First board went in fine but I was running low on the 5 minute epoxy I had once the board was in. I even clamped it in place to make sure it well attached. I opened a new container of Loctite two part Marine Epoxy only to find that one of the parts had just about solidified in it's tube. A bit surprised as this was a new container of epoxy I'd brought back last year from the US. I didn't know that they have an expiration date(maybe they don't). Any way, that set me back. I didn't have enough epoxy to put in the third board that covers the biggest leak. I'd have to go into Lautoka on Monday(today) and get more. With it raining when I got up, and the leak already leaking, there was no point of me going to town especially since it was only going to get worse over the next few days. I'd hoped to get all this installed before this set of rain showed up. Afraid not. Oh well. It has to stop sometime.
There is a "tropical depression" over Vanuatu that is thought to have a chance of developing into a cyclone in the next few days. The forecast is for it to travel south to southeast away from Fiji but only time will tell(and Mother Nature).
So here we sit waiting out another set of showers. If it slows down, I'm hoping to make a trip to Nadi to see a man that fixes dingies. With ours leaking water into the boat, we need to get it fixed. I'm not the only one here in need of his help. Four other boats want to talk to him about theirs. It will be well worth his time to come see all of us.
I'll let everyone know how this storm works out. It's not supposed to be any where near as heavy a rain as last week. Thank heaven as the island is still recovering from that flood.
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.