06/07/2012, Musket Cove Marina
Over the last few years, I've developed a talent that I wish I hadn't. If I touch any cord, line or rope, I guarantee you that it will end up in a knot. Doesn't matter what I do as I come in contact(just holding it in my hand will do it), when I try and flake it out for use, it will have some type of knot in it. Sometimes several just to make it that much more fun. It doesn't matter how much care I have taken when I coiled the line either.
Now, while the majority of you out there may not think this is such a problem(maybe even a benefit), believe me, it's a pain in the behind. When you need to use a line, the last thing you want to have to do is get knots out of it. During emergencies, it's extremely frustrating. Even bringing in Puff to the stern of Zephyr, I'll get the line tangled so I have to float away and try again. Or it will ruin my concentration as I'm coming along side and I'll lose control of our outboard and either slam into Zephyr or miss the stern totally. Tossing dock lines ashore when we enter the marina is almost a joke as they will fall short since they are suddenly tangled together.
I have no clue where or how I came about having this "talent" but I sure wish I didn't . Maybe someday(when we are back on shore) it will go away and life can return to more of a state of normalcy(as long as I don't touch a line or a rope or an extension cord).
Anyone else out there suffer from the same "illness"? I'd love to hear from you. Especially how you overcame this malady. I need help!!
06/07/2012, Musket Cove Marina
Yesterday, we started in on our poor Mercury 8hp outboard called Dragon. Ever since we got to Musket Cove, she's been a bit touchy as to wether she wanted to work or not. Monday, she up and died and refused to start requiring me to get a tow into shore and a row back out when she again refused to start. Of course she did start after we got back to Zephyr. Work needed to be done! Out here, your dingy is like your car back home. If it doesn't work, you can get stranded real quick and might have a long row home.
Off came the cover and in we went. I pulled both spark plugs and they seemed fine. I checked the gap and again, all seemed well. I followed the fuel line and again, all appeared fine. All the connections to the carburetor were good. Next step, replace the gasoline. We emptied out what was left of the old into a different tank and once it was almost all out, took a look inside the Mercury's tank. It was a mess with small bits of something on the bottom of the tank along with a good bit of water. You could see what fuel was left as it floated above the water. Now we were getting to the bottom of the problem.
While we were in Vuda Point Marina, I'd used the same tank and fuel when I serviced poor Dragon and she had run fine. The long 6 month stretch of having the fuel tank sit on deck(even though it was under Puff) had taken it's toll on it's purity. The constant temperature and humidity changes during the days and nights had trashed the fuel. So with it gone and sticking a towel attached to a dowel into the tank to get what was left out, we filled the tanks with new fuel. Just to be sure most of the bad fuel was gone, we drained what fuel was in the fuel line to the motor. Back on to Puff she went. I pulled the cord(a few times) and she started up. I disconnected from Zephyr and spent the next 20 minutes or so zooming around the cove. Dragon was doing just fine as I zoomed around. I headed for shore and got rid of the old fuel and git rid of some garbage. Dragon started back up just fine. We were done by 1100.
Since the Sun was shining(and Dragon was working again), we decided to go out scuba diving in the afternoon. After a quick lunch, we loaded all our gear into Puff and headed back to Pinnacle Reef. We'd been there before and loved it. Beautiful clear water and tons of fish. I'd put the coordinates into my old GPS and I let it guide us back to the reef. We'd been assured that there were "markers" on the reef. Well, we were within about 75 feet before we saw the "markers". They consisted of two(yes, that's right, TWO)600ml empty coke bottles! That's it. Two little bottles! We tied Puff up to the "mooring" line and geared up for the dive. Once in the water, we found there to be quite a strong current(against us of course) coming by the reef. The water was quite a bit cooler than last January when we were last here and the water was full of "things". Might have been silt, might have been small sea critters passing us by. We followed the mooring line down to the reef and set about exploring the pinnacle reef. It rises from 80 feet up to 35 feet. Again, tons of fish but with the floating things in the water and the current continually trying to push us off the pinnacle, the visibility was not as good as it was the last time and we cut the dive short at just 25 minutes and headed back to Puff. With a few pulls of the cord(and some prayers), Dragon started up and we headed back for Zephyr.
Once back, we took a short dive on Zephyr. Tracy brushed off a good bit of growth on the hull while I took off for the bottom, following the anchor chain brushing off what rust had been attached to the chain while it had been in storage over the last 6 months. It was so bad, it tore my gloves. Once at the bottom, I followed the chain around till I found the anchor nicely buried in the bottom muck. It's not sand and it sure isn't mud. It's a combo of both and a bear to get off the anchor when it comes up.
Once back aboard, we gathered our shower things and headed for shore taking our two dive tanks with us to get refilled($10.00fijian). Once showered and clean, we each had a Coke($4.40fijian each) at the local cafe and picked up the tanks and headed home after a long day of some work and some fun. That's the way it is out here. Some work and some fun.
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.