02/02/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Well, it's still raining. I haven't measured our bucket but will later when it stops raining. The storm is coming in from the northwest with a 100% chance of rain today according to the weather man out here. Gee tough call. We did see a bit of blue sky for a few minutes last evening and even three stars on our walk back to Zephyr after the cruisers Thursday night pizza night get together. Every Thursday, all the cruisers(or just about all the cruisers) get together at either "First Landing"(a resort next door to the marina) or "The Boat Shed, the main restaurant here at the marina for fun, food(and drink of course) and to swap stories. We tend to swap back and forth between the two restaurants. Fun to get out of the boat during the rain that just keeps on coming and to talk to each other. Being boat bound during these storms get old.
Yesterday afternoon, during a break in the rain, I had George(manages all the boats in the marina) come over in his dingy and we restrung line off the starboard forward side of Zephyr so we had one long line instead of a gaggle of three lines all tied together. The last setup had the line ending where it comes through the side at the bow. There was a knot there that wouldn't allow us to pull in on the line as the hole through the side was too small. Now we can easily put the line on the windlass and crank it in pulling Zephyrs stern away from the concrete walls of the marina. We will leave the lines a bit loose during the day so we can pull Zephyr back to be able to get off from the stern. Not close enough to hit the wall but close enough to allow us a way to get off. In the evening, once we know we won't be getting back off, we'll pull in the lines at the bow just to make sure we have plenty of clearance at the stern. We like our rudder as well as our Hydrovane and want to keep them in one piece.
So here we continue to sit waiting for a break in the weather. When we do get a lull in the rain, we have been leaving for at least a walk to get some exercise and fresh air. Cabin fever sucks.
Post script: the rain let up for a few minutes and I ventured out to check the rain bucket. Just about 9 inches of rain since Monday(it's Friday now here). better than two inches a day! Now that's rain!
02/01/2012, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
At 0600, just as I was about to get up(early riser), the wind started to blow in earnest. To make it that much better, Mother Nature added rain to the mix. As I was about to get up, we heard a "thunk" from right behind us(we sleep in the stern). Out Hydrovane(wind steering gear) had hit the small wooden ramp behind our boat that allows us to get to the marina. It had happened before during the last blow, but we had tightened the bow lines and thought all would be fine. Apparently NOT! I grabbed a pair of swim trunks while Tracy grabbed some shorts and we raced for the deck. The LAST thing we wanted(we maybe not the last thing) was to have our wonderful Hydrovane damaged. I grabbed a set of leather gloves along the way and we raced forward on deck. The wind was howling around us slapping us on the port(left) side as well as the bow of the boat sending us bobbing around in our slot(no slips here). I quickly undid the port line from the forward cleat and slipped it around our windlass(motorized gizmo that normally lifts our anchor). Unfortunately the chain for the anchor was still attached so I had to put a clip on the chain and tie it off so we could (A)--keep the anchor on board and (B) get the chain off the windlass). With the chain removed, I slipped the port bow line on the windlass and hit the button slowly pulling in on the line as rain pelted the two of us. In a foot and then two. Tracy went to the stern to see how we looked. We needed a bit more so I hit the button again. In another two feet. Now we were fine. The stern lines to shore were tight, so Tracy loosened them a bit on the port side and we were a good three feet from the ramp. The wind continued to howl around us and the rains continued as we sat in the cockpit(along with Blue-one of our cats) and watched as we swung around our slot missing the ramp as well as the boats on either side of us. I guess the tightening we did a few days ago(at 0100) wasn't quite enough though this was a much stronger blow. How come these blows happen in the night and not during the day when we're all awake? Mother Natures practical joke?
It's now 45 minutes later and the rains have stopped and it's calm outside. No wind at all. Just another of the fronts passing through from the tropical depression that swept past here yesterday I guess.
Hey, I was about to get up anyway. Tracy(always the smart one in the family) went back to bed. With an adrenaline headache but she's trying to get a bit more sleep. I'm sitting in the main salon typing this as the sun slowly comes us. At least we think it is. It's still totally overcast. We haven't seen the Sun in days. AH, the joys of the rainy season in Fiji.
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.