Here's a picture of what is left of the bearings. TRASHED!!
07/07/2012, Back at Musket Cove.
We escaped from Vuda Point Marina about 1100 this morning. We finally finished all the project we felt we needed to get done with easier land access. The DuoGen is back on the stern and spinning nicely in the wind. We finally had good wind allowing us to actually SAIL to Musket Cove for a change. I thinks it's the first time Mother Nature as seen fit to give us wind and from a good direction so we could roll out the Genoa sail. Took about 3.5 hours to do the 15 miles over and that is just fine. NO engine to have to listen to.
As I said, the DuoGen is back on board and all re wired. Tracy scrubbed the decks yesterday getting a couple of blisters in the process. All the laundry(primary reason we went to the marina)got done. Water tanks got refilled. Installed a new 12 volt plug in the anchor locker so we can use our big flashlight if we need to. There had been a plug there but with different connections. The stainless ladder onthe stern got a hole welded closed so water won't go in there. Plus lots of other smaller projects.
Now we're back out at the islands ready to do some diving again and have some fun. the work(hopefully) is over for a while.
The picture at the top is the inside of the DuoGen. Lots of rust(BAD!).
07/02/2012, Vuda Point Marina
It's different out here. It's not the US, that's for sure.
Yesterday, while listening to the radio, I head a "public service announcement"(sort of any how) that everyone was to remember that pedestrians do NOT have the right of way when crossing any of the roads in Fiji. Even if you are in a designated cross walk, the people that are driving the cars decide whether to let you cross the street or not. Now I've come to some of the "designated cross walks" here in Lautoka. They're all nicely striped and are very obviously a cross walk. Some times, as you stand there, the cars may stop, but just as often, they blow right past you. In the US, it's drilled into you that pedestrians have the right of way. Heaven help you if you violate those rules and actually hit someone. Out here, well, good luck with that. Pedestrians beware!!! DRIVERS RULE!!
Back in May, I noticed a sudden slowdown in our internet service here at Vuda Point. I placed a call the Vodefone to see if they could find any reason(bad dongle on my computer, bad service, etc.). I was taken care of and after a few calls(mysteriously got disconnected a couple of times-hum?)I was finally advised that there was a technical issue with the "3G" service that is provided out here, but that they were working on it and would have it corrected soon. A couple of hours later, the service was back up to speed and all was well. Yesterday afternoon, I got an email that Vodefone was in the area and wanted to stop by to see what my problem was. Say what, what problem were they talking about? I hadn't called or emailed anyone at their offices about any problem. Being from the US, we have had it drilled into us to not trust anyone that just up and send you an email that they are coming out to help you. They MUST be up to something bad. I placed a call to the home office and was advised that yes, they did work for Vodefone and were finally getting out here to find out what was wrong. It's only been two months. How's that for service? Try that in the US and heaven help the company that waits two months to respond for a service call. The public would have their head on platter. It just so happened that yesterday, the internet slowed down all over again. To download the NBC evening news was going to take 3 hours instead of the 10 minutes it normally takes. I responded to their email and even called them and the men showed up about 30 minutes later--FIVE of them!!! Two guys sat with me in the grass off the boat(the rest just sort of walked around the area) as with the tidal rise, there was no way for them to come on board. I had to get into the dingy and go meet them. We sat for about 45 minutes trying all kinds of ways to figure out the problem. We did a test to see how fast the service was--slow. I used one of their dongles and it was still slow. It would go up and down in it's speed. They left perplexed, promising to contact the home office in Suva about the situation. Since it took two months for a service call, heaven only knows when I''ll hear back from them. I can't complain as the service sped back up as the afternoon wore on and is now running just fine. Hey, it's Fiji and we're on "Island Time".
07/01/2012, Vuda Point Marina
This morning I took in our DuoGen to have the bearings replaced. It has started to bind as the shaft turned around and around. We'd heard good things about an company in Lautoka called P. Kumar Electrical Services on Namoli St. I'd been in there before. Actually the first week we were in Vuda Point. I was looking for a step-down transformer and they carried them, along with just about any electrical component known to man. I brought the required bearings with me since I bought them yesterday. I couldn't find the seal that we needed but figured they could find it with little problem.
I dropped if off this morning about 0930 and was told to check back with them about 1500. Off I went, back to Zephyr after running a few more errands. We had a nice lunch of leftovers and I went back into Lautoka to get our ladder rewelded. It had developed a hole where one of the horizontal steps meets the vertical bars. I stopped in at Kumars(a bit early but what the heck). Well, they had the generator all taken apart and it was a mess. Inside the case was dirt and corrosion! It's not supposed to be in there--it has seals! They told me to come back after 1530 and met with the owner of the shop--the Mr. Kumar. He had been there when they cracked open the case and water has poured out! It was a mess inside. There was dirt all through the unit. The two resistors in the bottom of the case were shot(lots of dirt and corrosion). It was worse than I could have ever imagined. This was going from a simple bearing replacement to a total rebuild! Here's another instance of something that is supposed to be built to withstand what ever Mother Nature can dish out and it has failed miserably. The repair estimate is between $700 and $800! That's going to hurt the cruising kitty big time. Oh well. Having rebuilt is still cheaper than buying a new one.
We decided Friday that since we were going to have to wait till probably Wednesday before the DuoGen as fixed, we'd go down to Vuda Point, see some friends, do some laundry and get a few more projects done. We called ahead as we had heard that it was jammed since the World ARC(a group that goes around the world together) were now starting to arrive in Fiji and many had hit the marina to get jobs done and their bottoms painted. We showed up just about 1600 and got shoved out to the very last slip in the marina. It's right beside the entry. The same slip they wanted to put us in last October. We have no ledge to get off the boat so we have to row ashore! A nice place to tie up but no way to easily get ashore. Oh well. It's only for a few days.
06/26/2012, Lautoka Harbor
Above is a picture of the Hindu Temple in Nadi.
Yesterday, I we headed for Nadi to look for some fabric to cover the folding seats in our cockpit. West Marine first generation thin foamed folding seats. The fabric after the years that we have had them has got numerous holes in it so it was time to find some fabric and make a sort of slip cover to go over them. Easy to put on and take off when they need cleaning. We looked high and low and just couldn't find what we were looking for. Most of the clothing stores in Nadi sell fabric by the yard and so that you can custom order shirts, dresses, etc.
With that chore out of the way(failed) we headed for the biggest grocery store in town--M & H. There were some things we were looking for that we just couldn't find in Lautoka even though it's a bigger city. Nadi is more of a tourist town and typically has more of a selection of "tourist" oriented foods. We've been eating potato chips made by a company called Spuds out of New Zealand. All the stores in Lautoka were out of them. In Nadi, we found whole racks of them. So ten bags(grab them while you can find them and they aren't that big a bag) we had that off the list. We added more things--soup, powdered drink mixes, salsa(Old El Paso), horseradish sauce and a few more things. We have gotten into the habit of taking cloth bags with us even though the stores do provide plastic bags. With two fully loaded, we headed for the bus stop to get back to Lautoka. At a cost of $2.85 fijian($1.56US) for a 30 mile ride back is a bargain and they dropped us off right beside the entrance to the docks.
Today was Nobeltec Day. I'd scheduled an appointment with the head of Nobeltec(make navigation software)Customer Support to call in and have him take over my computer to find out what the problem is with our running of their program. Has to do with the dongle I wrote about in an earlier post. I called in just after 0800 our time(1300 his) and he went at it. About 90 minutes later, he had the program at least recognizing the dongle(YEAH!!!). When we looked at what charts he had freed, they were a mess. We got the west half of Viti Levu(biggest island in Fiji)but not the East. He looked some more and finally announced "This really sucks!". At that point, he told me he would upgrade me to the latest bunch of charts since these were not set up well for the South Pacific with entire regions missing or miss charted. He added a program or two and set us up for a massive download of the new chart packet(1.6 gigs). Download time--3 hours 50 minutes!! We disconnected with the agreement that we would come back on line tomorrow at the same time and get this resolved once and for all. We haven't used this program since we left Mexico because it was so bad. Now we will see what it can really do.
With the computer doing it's thing, we took off for the gas dock at the commercial docks. Amazingly, they don't sell straight gasoline(petrol). They sell diesel, kerosene and premix of 50 to 1 gasoline. None of which will work in our outboard. So with 5 cans in hand, we grabbed a taxi($3.00 fijian each way) and headed for the closest gas station. They filled the tanks while they sat in the trunk of his car. Back to the dock and back to Zephyr. Now all of our tanks are filled and we're good for another 5 weeks or so. Unlike many sailboats, we don't have a built in generator(run on diesel). We have a Honda EB3000 that sits on our back deck. Works great and can recharge our batteries and give us nice hot water in about 3 hours. Uses just over a gallon(give or take) per day to do so.
We had a quick lunch(file still downloading) and I headed for town to get more things taken care of so we can get out of here. I prepaid our Vodefone(internet provider) for the this month so we don't have to rush back like we did this past week. I bought 2 kilos of Kava. The roots of the plant are given as gifts to village chiefs when we drop anchor off their village as we tour the islands. The chief then grinds the roots up. These ground up roots are then put in a cloth rag or bag and then soaked in water. Once properly soaked, the wet powder is then squeezed inside the bag and is mixed with the water and everyone sits on the floor mats and we all drink it. It's a ceremony called SevuSevu. It's a mild narcotic that deadens the nerves of the mouth and "relaxes" you". It's customary to present a bundle to the chief when you come on shore. Once drunk, you ask permission to visit their village and walk about the island and catch fish(not that we do much fishing).
Zephyr has always been a "boat magnet". Where ever we anchor, other boats try and get as close to us as they can. Now Lautoka's harbor is quite large and yet, we have a boat beside us no more than 50 feet away. He pulled in on Monday while we were off the boat. If we had been here, we would have asked him to move(proper boat etiquette). At about 1700 yesterday, when there was just about no wind, he drifted even closer. I called out to him asking how long he intended to be in the harbor since we were so concerned about him being so close. He said he would be moving Wednesday. We talked about his closeness and he said he would watch and I responded that we would also. He then heads for his cockpit and starts his engine and puts it in reverse and backs away from us. Does he raise his anchor to do so, nope, he just drags his anchor through the mud on the bottom(actually setting his anchor they way it was supposed to be set in the first place. He is apparently one of those that goes into an anchorage and just drops his anchor and a bunch of chain and that's it. No backing down of the boat to set it on the bottom. Well, we didn't care what he did as long as his boat was farther away from us, which it now was--Yeah!. We'll sleep better having him farther away from us.
I'm back on line with Nobeltec, still working to get the program up and running. Wish us luck.
06/23/2012, Lautoka harbor
Having been away from "civilization"(city life) for the last 5 weeks or so, our trip into Lautoka today was an assault on the ears. Every where we went, there were loud speakers blaring out music or special announcements of a sale that some store out there was having. Why retailers think that putting a big pair of speakers right at their front door and blasting out music(normally music from India) will attract customers is beyond me and I was in the retail trade for 35 years in one capacity or another.
Horns honked and car alarms wailed down every street we walked. There didn't appear to be a quiet place in the city. We rushed past loud doorways just trying to escape and it wasn't just us. I saw several locals(Indian women in particular)wince as they passed doorways to store. Oh, our poor ears!!!
We spent the morning trying to get a navigation program we have from Nobeltec up and running. We've had it ever since we took off three years ago. When we were still in Mexico, I bought the unlock codes for the South Pacific. What the charts looked like on the computer screen could have been drawn by a child in third grade(no offense to you third graders out there that might be reading this blog). Charts they were not. Odd shaped blobs they were. I tried for hours and hours to get it fixed while we were still in Mexico all to no avail. Now that we are in the land of the killer reefs and knowing where you are at all times, in relationship to reefs becomes critically important, we wanted the program up and running the way it is supposed to. After over an hour and a half on the phone(thanks you Skype)with only about 25 minutes of it on hold(listening to the "don't worry, be happy" song over and over again), I was helped by a very nice knowledgeable support tech who worked me through several fixes. None of them made any difference(no fault of his). I downloaded and installed an update to the drivers for the program-- no good. It seems that the "dongle"(a USB plug in "key" that allows you to open the program)wasn't being recognized by the program. While in Mexico, they had suggested that I buy($150.00US please) another "dongle" and that would fix my problem. Once I got the dongle(yes, the mail actually worked for once in Mexico)and plugged it in, low and behold, nothing changed(except my bank account was out $150.00). Since we were leaving Mexico in a couple of days, I shelved the program(saying nice things about it to everyone I talked too of course) and got on with the voyage across the Pacific and life in general. To make this story shorter than I could, Kyle(tech rep) is going to log into my computer at 0800 Tuesday(1300 US time on Monday) and try and fix the problem. He did tell me, before he hung up, that I had even befuddled the more senior tech reps that had gathered around his station. With luck, we should have the problem fixed sometime on Tuesday(I know about this bridge in Brooklyn that's for sale.)
We dingied into Lautokas main dock just about 1130 and hiked the 20 minutes onto town and headed for the towns central fruit and veggie market to find fresh veggies. Radishes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, onions, potatoes were easy to find. After the 8 months we have been here, we have favorite vendors we return to over and over. Most vendors price their goods either as singles or as bundles or in a pile or heap at about $2.00 for what ever you need. Bell Peppers were not to be had unless you were willing to pay a huge premium for them(not us). Most item we bought were either $1.00 or $2.00. Over to the "Hot Bread" store for a small loaf of "whole meal" bread($1.05 Fijian government subsidized) and were were just about done.
Fiji has no $1.00 bills, just $1.00 coins. Paper money starts at a $2.00 bill. Sorry, no pennies, just nickels, dimes, 20 cent pieces(no quarters), 50 cent pieces and $1.00 coins. Stores simply round up or down once a total is reached.
We had lunch at a new (three months old) restaurant that is thoroughly Western in it's look and appeal. Tracy had a chicken salad while I had a chicken burger with fries. More expensive by a bit but good quality food. Brings back a bit of memories of being back in the states.
Once done there and with arms loaded with food, we grabbed a cab and took off for Fiji meats to pick up a nice set of pork ribs. We ordered them a few days ago but since we wanted them frozen(less work for our dinky freezer) we had to wait an extra day to get them. Back to Zephyr to unload and work some more on our computers and run our generator to recharge our batteries(about three hours each day). Tomorrow, I expect that I'll be working on the computers installing some more Google Earth overlays for one of our nav programs. Sounds like fun doesn't it? It's just another day here in paradise.
We've been joined by several boats that are participating in the "World Arc" sail around the world as we sit here at anchor in Lautoka. These folks take about two years out of their life(and about $35,000 entry fee) to go around the world. They spend just a few days in each port they stop at all the time chaperoned and cared for by Arc management. They get a whole month to see Tonga and Fiji. a very tight knit group of cruisers that travel together and take care of each other should any boat get in trouble. They are even having a special rendezvous at Musket Cove over the July 4th weekend(I think I'll pass).