06/04/2012, Musket Cove Marina
Yesterday was our big adventure to see other islands. We decided to take a tour to see Mana Island(already saw it), Treasure Island Resort, Beach Comber Resort, and Castaway Resort. It was tough getting started as my dark glasses broke as we stood at the check in desk at Musket Cove. I opted to go back to Zephyr and get another pair as the sun is quite intense out here and there was still 45 minutes before we were set to take off. I zoomed back to Zephyr(easy to do if there is only one person in Puff). Once back at the boat, Dragon(our 8hp Mercury outboard )up and dies and won't restart. I pulled and pulled and pulled all with no success. I finally managed to get a tow back to the dock at Musket so I wouldn't be too late. I figured it might start when we got back or we would simply row back. Not a big deal.
We(10 of us) took off in a very powerful powerboat that zoomed out of the islands doing about 25 knots(I had my GPS on me). That's about 4 times our speed on a good day. We zipped out the channel we came in on and headed out to Treasure Island Resort. We'd heard it was quite friendly toward cruisers so we want to see what it was like before we took Zephyr there. OMG, these people have no idea what is going on when you get away from the normal tourist that shows up there. No one had a clue as to what we could do and what we could't do. We told them we thought to stay 3 to 4 days. They said they would have to check with the manager to see what was allowed. Ends up that there is a charge of $10.00 for a mooring buoy per night and that doesn't allow to use any of the facilities other than their restaurants and bars(spend money). Anything else would be additional. OH, and you can only stay ONE NIGHT! Say what? One night? It's not worth our time to go there for just one night.
Our next stop was Beach Combers Resort, about a quarter mile away from Treasure Island. We stopped just off shore of the island to do a bit of snorkeling on one of the reefs. While we thought it was horrible(dead coral and not to many fish) the rest of the people on board thought it was great. Since all of them were staying at either Musket Cove or the Plantation Resort, we clued them in on better places to snorkel in the area. Beach Comber is more geared to "back packers"and a bit younger crowd. What a difference a quarter mile can make. We had the chance to meet the General Manager Nevia and she filled us in. The mooring buoys are free(stay as long as you like) but there is a $5.00 "landing" fee when you come ashore. Your welcome to use everything on the island. Much cheaper food is available at the local restaurant(about the same prices or lower than the cafe at Vuda Point). Beautiful clean beaches with crews ever present to make sure they stay that way. There are bar Happy Hours between 12 and 1pm and again between 1700 and 1800. Liquor flows freely on this island.
Next stop, Mana Island for lunch. As I wrote earlier, we had already been to Mana back in January so we knew our way around(where to eat). We talked to the other folks in the boat and all ended up at the more laid back restaurant rather than the more upscale(more $ also) Japanese resort that cover the other half of the island.
Once done with lunch, we all piled back in the boat and took off for Castaway Resort. A very upscale resort on an island northwest of Musket Cove. Again, we were welcome to tie up to any of their mooring buoys. They were more concerned as to wether we were going to eat lunch and dinner there(where they can make lots of money off us). Again, they couldn't have been nicer giving us one of their cards so we can let them know if and when we intend to arrive.
It was then back in the boat and a swift ride back to Plantation(let off one person) and over to Musket Cove for the rest of us. I tried to get Dragon started but she just refused so out came the oars and off we went under human power. I needed the exercise anyway. Rowing an inflatable dingy isn't the easiest thing to row but we made good time and finally got a lift from Dave(same guy that helped me in earlier in the day)for the last couple of hundred yards to Zephyr. Once back on board, Dave took off for the marina. We off loaded our gear and I gave Dragon a couple more pulls of her cord and she roared to life. Of course she would once we were back on board. Should I have expected anything else. I untied Puff and I zipped around the anchorage with not a sign of a problem. I even stopped Dragon and she fired right back up. While she appears to be fine, I plan on changing out her fuel for newer gasoline and draining her carburetor and fuel lines. Pulling the spark plugs for a quick check. A general maintenance check if you will. I'd given her a cursory look over when we were in the marina and even following the rule of run the engine till all the gasoline is gone so there is no chance of any buildup or old gas being left in the engine. I'd done that at Vuda and poor Dragon has run poorly ever since. Maybe changing out the old gas for new will make a difference. I'll let you know.
06/01/2012, Musket Cove Marina
Well, here we sit snuggly at anchor as the wind continues to blow outside. After arriving on Monday afternoon, we settled in on Tuesday to relax a bit and get a couple of small chores done(get both heads up and running again) and straighten out some of the mess we still had aboard.
Wednesday, we launched Puff and lowered Dragon(our Mercury 8hp outboard) and headed ashore. We've been here before so much of what we saw, we had already seen. We've decided to take a "tour" of some of the other islands. There is a boat that visits three other islands in one day. This way, we can see if we want to take Zephyr over and spend more time plus we can get GPS information to make getting in and out easier. We're currently set up for a trip in Monday. The folks at the counter tried to get us to schedule for Thursday but our weather info was that there were big winds and some rain coming. The lady at the counter looked out the wind and quickly dismissed our forecast. They have the tour everyday from 1000 to 1600. We stayed with Monday.
We walked around Musket Cove and over to the Plantation Island resort as we hear them every evening as it appears to be party central in the area. The Plantation resort appears to be better maintained than Musket Cove with a lot more people(younger)in attendance. Meals are quite expensive but then again, you are on an island where everything has to be boated out. While we were at the Musket Cove Resort, we made reservations for the bog pig roast dinner that is held every Thursday night. We've never been to one and felt it was time. We returned to Zephyr late in the afternoon and took off Dragon and hoisted Puff in case the big winds forecasted showed up. As we sat on deck in the evening, we noticed a fire on a adjacent island burning away and lighting up the island. It appeared that someone had started a trash fire and it got out of control. It was burning up the hillside. It was still going when I went to bed about midnight.
Early(0330)Thursday morning, I felt sprinkles on my hand as the rain started coming through the hatch. I dashed around the boat closing the hatches and ports. The fire was still going nicely on the hillside. The wind had picked up and was going about 15 knots(not helping with getting the fire out). The rain(sprinkles really) continued through the night but was gone by the morning as was the fire. Since then(rest of Thursday and Friday) the winds have continued to howl hitting the low to mid 20 knot range and allowing our DuoGen to make a few amps to keep the batteries somewhat charged. It's also kept us boat bound as any attempt to go ashore would have soaked us. We did call the restaurant Thursday afternoon and cancel our reservation for the pig dinner. Heck, it didn't even start till 1900 with entertainment starting at 2030! Cruisers just don't party that far into the night.
One thing we did find out on Thursday afternoon was we got an email from credit card company that an international charge had been place on our Visa card for $543.00 by some company in China. Now we had last used our card at Vuda Point Marina when I'd put in our reservation for next season(just in case we returned). I booted up Skype and called the card company. Apparently, someone had manually keyed in a transaction on our card. The Customer Service man pushed a few keys and cancelled the transaction. We were off the hook. On the down side, since there has been a fraud on our account, they will be sending us new cards to replace the old cards. I've had these cards for years and can tell you the number, date and security numbers without having to even look at the card. Now, I'll have to learn a new set of numbers. Being out in the boonies, the cards are being sent to the marina for us to pick up. The company normally uses UPS but they don't operate here in Fiji so they have to make special arrangements to use FedEX to get our cards to us. Guess we will be sticking around the area a bit longer(gee what a shame).
It's now Saturday morning and Tracy has just finished revarnishing the floor in the main cabin that we had to remove when we put in the water heater. It doesn't dry for 6 hours so she tented it in plastic to keep the hairy kids(me too) off it. Only problem is the "bungs" I used to cover the screws isn't taking on the color of the surrounding board surfaces. I'm guessing that there is so much old varnish on the boards that it will take a bit of time and applications to get them any where near the color. Time will tell.
So here we sit. Taking in the wind(died down some) and enjoying the partly cloudy day and relaxing. I'm going to do some baking in a few minutes. Add something different to our diet.
As to Blue, she is doing much better after her claw incident and is well on the way to a full recovery(thank you Janis on Tomboy). She wants to get back up in her throne(top of our cat tree) but we're still not letting her climb for a few more days. No reason the stress her claws yet. She's doing just great and is even going back on deck every once in a while. She hasn't gone up for a while. I guess falling overboard will tend to make you stay inside.
05/28/2012, Musket Cove Marina
First let me say that we have finally left the marina and are back at Musket Cove for a while.
Second, we had a death at the marina on Saturday afternoon. Carolyn off Tuaki suddenly collapsed while working with Tony, her husband, redoing their boat. From all that we have heard, it appears that she had a cerebral hemorrhage and collapsed. People rushed over to help her. There were several cruisers with extensive medical training but there was no way to get her back. An ambulance was called but it was already out on another call and ended up taking almost 90 minutes to get here. By that time, there was nothing anyone could do for her.
Everyone at the marina is pretty much in shock as she was only 52 and was such a great person. We'd had dinner with them a few days before and had been at their boat chatting just a few hours before. Just goes to show you that it can happen here as well as back in "civilization".
We finally felt our time at the marina was coming to an end and finished up what other projects "needed" to be done(change the engine oil and transmission oil) and so we pulled in the lines yesterday, late morning and motored over to get the fuel tanks filled. We ended up taking 97.2 gallons at a cost of $467.50 or $4.81 per gallon. Not bad really considering where we are in the world. It is one of the nice things about having the prices of gas controlled by the government.
One of the reasons for our delay was that I came down with another sinus infection. I'd had a sinus infection a few weeks ago and even after going through an antibiotic regime, I still had a bad cough. Well, that cough kept getting worse and worse the sinus infection returned. I headed for the doctor again for more drugs and now, a week later, I felt well enough to get out of here. At the worst, we could always go back and get more drugs. Another reason for our delay was we both wanted to go see a dentist while we were here. No teeth problems, but a simple checkup and a cleaning. It was like going back 40 years. The old fashioned slow speed drill stuck in the mouth grinding away the buildup. At only $50.00($26.00US), that's not to bad though a bit of torture.
Blue, our accident prone kitty, is doing much better thanks to Janis aboard Tomboy. She's a retired vet/ vet acupuncturist, that just happens to be traveling around the world aboard a boat. Great lady along with her husband Tom. Blue was lucky to have here nearby(as were we). She made the treatment much easier. Blues pretty much recovered though doesn't go outside as much as she used to and has stayed away from the lifelines(smart girl). Snowshoe just keeps sleeping and enjoying the good life. As long as he has a place to sleep and plenty of food, that's all he cares about. Of course the occasional scratch on the head is a perk.
So here we sit at anchor riding out the small swells and wakes of passing boats. A few projects have presented themselves since we left the marina. Both the forward and stern heads(toilets) need overhauls. Having been quite a few months since they were last used(storage tanks were full), there are parts that will need replacing to get them back in usable shape again. That's todays project. Well, at least get one back up and running right.
Stay tuned. We're away from the marina and will have more to say and pictures to show.
05/18/2012, Vuda Point Marina
When we first bought Zephyr(almost 5 years ago) I had long conversations the the last owner, Bill. I'd asked him what the switch that said "LIGHT" was on the panel that has the key to start the engine. He had no idea.
Jump forward to today. When ever we run the engine at night, the lights on the instruments(oil pressure, water temperature, voltage, and tachometer) didn't work. You had to use a flashlight from time to time to see if everything was alright. Today was the day to see why they didn't work.
I unscrewed the cabinet and easily found the wires that went to the four lights in question. Attached to the fitting was a pink wire that disappeared into the boat. I unscrewed the ceiling panels and Tracy found the correct wire. I pulled on it a bit just to be sure. Across the ceiling it went and down into the starboard wall cabinet. Under the settee and into one of the cabinets in the galley. Down to the floor and under the floor boards and back to the engine room. Into the engine room and across it and up the far wall. Through a hole cut in the forward firewall and right into the cabinet that has the switch to start the engine. It was attached to the switch that says "LIGHT". Amazing. All these years and no one knew. Unfortunately, the other wire that conducts the current wasn't attached to anything. I found a positive current wire and screwed it on. Tracy grabbed a blanket and headed for the cockpit to check out the instruments. She needed some darkness to see if they worked. Once covered, I threw the switch and we had light. Three of four light worked. The one on the tachometer didn't light up. I pulled out the bulb and it looked like it was burned out. I quickly changed clothes and headed out for the 1300 bus to town in search of a new bulb.
Seven stores later, I had the replacement bulb and headed back. The new bulb didn't work either. For some reason, the socket for the bulb only reads 9 volts and not 12. Tomorrow, I'll try and figure out why and get it all fixed. It will be nice to have lights on the instruments when we are out at night. A bit of security when the engine is running.
05/15/2012, Vuda Point Marina
Early this morning as Tracy and I sat below having breakfast, we heard this rustle and a thump or two on deck and then quiet. Not being a sound we have heard before, Tracy(closest to the companionway) headed up on deck. I suddenly hear her calling out to Blue and looking down. She was in the water!!!!!!!!!!!
Apparently, while touring(outside the netting) along the cap rail, she toppled into the water beside the boat. Not sure if she was trying to jump to the next boat, but she was in the filthy water of the marina swimming along doing a pretty decent doggy paddle. Tracy looked for the large fishing net that we have on deck for just such an event and not seeing it, immediately climbed down the ladder and into the water and set off to rescue her. I, meanwhile on deck, called out to her and grabbed the missing net but by that time, she was well away from the boat. She was heading for the concrete wall of the marina.
At the same time, one of our friends(Doug from Yacht Help) was walking along the marina dock so I handed him the net as I climbed off Zephyr. Blue had now reached the wall and was hanging on by her claws. Slowly, she started her climb up the wall digging her claws into the cracks. She did not look impressed with her situation. Once at the marina dock, Doug slipped the net over her but she was not about to move even when Peanut(the local dog of the marina) came over to see what was going on. She huddled in a small ball and just lay there. Tracy, meanwhile had returned to the ladder and climbed back aboard(also looking a bit soggy and dirty).
I took the net off Blue and picked her up in my arms. One of the claws on her paws was badly torn and bloody. She was in shock from her dunking. She's never been in water all the years we have taken her out sailing with us. Even back in Colorado, she never hit the water. I guess now she knows what happens when you go where you aren't supposed to go.
I slowly handed her back to Tracy and came back aboard and rushed below to get a towel, and some baby shampoo. Up on deck, I connected and turned on the hose from shore and started water running into a big bucket we keep on board. In she went all the time with her paws out stretched trying to stop going in the bucket. We washed her well trying to get the filth from the marina off her as well as the saltwater out of her furr. A few minutes later, she was wrapped in a towel and sitting back in Tracy's lap still in shock.
Luckily, we have a vet on one of the cruising boats(Tomboy) at the marina so I rushed over to get her to take a look at poor Blues claw. They just happen to be coming to our boat at the same time to return a couple of charts and books we had loaned them. Janis(the vet) came on board and soothed poor Blue as best she could. She has a great "bedside" manner with cats. Blue, who normally hates just about everyone, had no problem with her scratching her head and chin.
The torn claw was inspected, coated in corn starch(to absorb blood and dry up the booboo) and then bandaged(see the picture of the very ticked off kitty above). We took her below and put her on the forward berth but not to be out done, she then tried to climb up to her "throne" on the top of the cat tree. Unfortunately, only having three of her four paws(with claws)to be used, she slipped off the cat tree and hit the floor. We picked her up and put her in her "throne" where we let her rest and start doing her own version of kitty cleaning. It's going to take a while to get her furr back to how it was.
For a while, she will have to "walk" around Zephyr with the bandage on her foot to make sure that kitty litter doesn't get in the wound(bad). She is certainly not impress with the bandage. Meanwhile, once she got off the cat tree, we piled pillows on top of her "throne" and the next level down to make sure she doesn't hurt herself trying to climb back up there.
Another life lesson learned! Down to 8 lives(probably less actually).
05/14/2012, Vuda Point Marina
We finally got back in the water yesterday, six days after they brought us out. If they had taken us out on Monday(scheduled) we could have gone back in the water on Friday but since we got delayed till Tuesday, while we were done by Saturday, boats don't get pulled out or put in once you pass Friday(Heaven only knows why). Instead, we had to wait till Monday afternoon for our time. One got put back in the water ahead of us(smaller boat). We needed at least an hour in the slings so we could paint the bottom of the keel and give it some time(not much time though)to allow it to dry. The boat that went in ahead of us was lifted, painted and put in the water in less than 30 minutes.
Once in the water, we slowly backed into the "slip" we had come out of and got tied back in. We hooked up the electrical(still works just fine) and got poor Zephyr cleaned up a bit. We did more of the same today getting all the sand, mud and debris off the decks. With it raining just about every day since we got pulled out, we were tracking lots of sand back on Zephyr every time we came back aboard. Now she is nice and clean and looks far more ship shape.
The sailmaker came by this morning to pick up the Genoa sail to have new webbing put on two of the three corners of the sail. Since the sail was made in 1998, it's been exposed to sunlight and the elements ever since and that is hard on any thing. It was time to have them replaced.
I sat up the other night thinking of all the things we have worked on or fixed or had fixed since we got here. Here's the list so far:
Straightened the stem fitting on the bow and had two rounded stainless steel pieces welded to the top of it to hold the anchor.
Bought a new anchor(Rocna 40kg).
Took out and had the windlass serviced and rebuilt.
Took out all the anchor chain and remarked it and added new markings to the chain we added in Mexico.
Had the Data Marine wind instrument repaired and rebuilt.
Inspected all the rigging.
Installed new bushing on the roller furling cars.
Had the dingy serviced and leaks in the fiberglass bottom and inflated tubes fixed.
Installed new forestaysail halyard and put an eye splice in the end to hold the shackle on it.
Replaced the bale for the boom vang.
Flushed and serviced the outboard motor.
Installed a new 40 liter water heater with new fresh water hoses.
Installed new hose from the engine to the water heater.
Changed the engine coolant.
Replaced the old diesel filter with a new Racor filter housing and filter assembly.
Had new copper diesel lines made from the tank to the manifold.
Cleaned the bilge.
Cleaned up the stern bilge where oil had spilled.
Patched the holes in the walls in both stern and forward head.
Repainted the stern head.
Took everything out from under the stern berth and reorganized.
Tried to stop the water leak through the deck on the port side(failed).
Installed a new propane sensor unit in the galley.
Checked and refilled all batteries on board.
Epoxied a hole in the port side outside locker(leaked inside the boat).
Replace burned out light bulb in stern Alpen Glow lamp.
Scraped and painted the bottom of the boat.
Serviced the MaxProp and replaced the zinc.
Replaced two zincs on the rudder, starboard side.
Filed down a bolt on the port side Forestaysail track(stood up to much from the track).
Installed a step down transformer(240 to 120 volt).
Installed a new 12 volt outlet on the binnacle.
Rewired and installed a new light bulb on the binnacle compass.
Installed new lights in the cockpit(don't work well as they drain the batteries quickly).
Installed a new bus bar in the navigation station for all 12 volt outlets.
Restitched many broken and Sun degraded threads on the Genoa sail.
Replaced the spreader boots on the mast.
Replaced the swivel fitting on the anchor with a stainless steel fitting.
There area few more things still to get done but tomorrow is another day.