07/22/2012, natuvalo Bay
A lesson learned.
We started up our generator this morning to put some more amps back into our battery banks. The DuoGen has been spinning on the stern in all the wind we have had but it just can't keep up with our demand(about 4 amps per hour). Once started, we turned on our battery charger/inverter(Heart Interface Freedom 20)and put her to work. I fired up our Spectra Ventura 150 watermaker to put some water back in our tanks. We also had two computers plugged in so they can get recharged. I could have left it at that, but we wanted to make some hot water for showers later in the afternoon, so after the charger had run for about 90 minutes, I turned on the water heater. Well, the Freedom 20 just didn't like that and up and rebelled about 20 minutes later. It shut off and then tried to restart. We knew something was wrong by the sounds that our generator(Honda EB3000) makes as it runs on deck. With the Freedom 20 off, it runs more evenly without the sounds of it straining to power it. I took a look at our Link 2000 and saw the lights for the inverter going on and then off. We'd pushed it to far by trying to run the inverter, watermaker and water heater as well as power the outlets in the boat. I shut down the generator and took a look under the settee where we have the Freedom installed and she felt a bit hot to the touch. It was time to give her a rest.
About three hours later, we fired up the Honda and turned on the switches again. On came the charger/inverter and it started putting amps back where they belongs. I turned on one of the switches that turns on the outlets and the inverter shut it self off all over again. Once it was up and running again, I flicked the switch again and all was well. Power came to all the outlets in the boat. We hadn't fried the system!!! A lesson learned. Don't push your power system to hard. It will push back and not in a good way.
I keep trying to post pictures on these posts but the internet is so slow out here that while I can download pictures, I can't upload them. Go figure. Once back in "civilization", I'll get them posted.
07/21/2012, Natuvalo Bay
We launched Puff yesterday in the morning and took off for one of the local reefs to do some snorkeling and try to get to the beach to do some walking. We dropped our small anchor in a patch of sand and slid into the water. Quite cool at just 79 degrees but we quickly adapted to it and made our way along the shelf and wall that protect the shoreline. It took us a while, but we realized that there was really no way to get to shore by dinghy. When the Sun was out, the colors were great with lots of plate coral, staghorn and soft coral with clown fish amongst them.
The wind was still(and still is) blowing so we returned to Zephyr a bit chilled but the Sun came out from time to time during the afternoon. And still the wind blew. About 1700, we climbed back into Puff and went from boat to boat(Kittywake, Catwagon, and Dana) and organized a get together at the bar on shore. We got there early enough(1730) that there was no "bartender"at the bar. We had to hunt one up. With drinks in hand, we took over one of the tables and had great conversation. Eventually, the chef(J.T. or JoJo)for the resort(Korovou Eco-Tour Resort)stopped by to visit along with two of the locals. We listened to J.T. as he told us all about himself. He apprenticed at the Sheraton Hotel in Denarua for 11 years and has been at the resort for the last 7. He's competed in numerous cooking contest and had won several medals. Trips to Singpore, Beijing, and to the United States for more training. A quite accomplished chef. He wanted to know where we had all come from and what we all used to do. He talked about his trip to Walmart and how he tried to describe it to his friends here in Fiji. His first experience with snow and building a 6 foot snowman in Cleveland where he was staying. He's going back to the US in six months for another stay.
We found out that you need to make reservations for both lunch($13.50) and dinner($50.00)which is a three course meal(soup, main course, and desert). Everyone we met welcomed us with open arms and there were "Bulas" all around for us.
We had planned on going ashore for lunch but it's totally overcast and raining so we figure to stay on board and read and relax in the wind. I did get Puff all cleaned out from the sand we put in her last night as we left the beach so she's all ready for her next adventure. Rain is in the forecast for the next few days so we will probably be here till Tuesday or Wednesday and then work our way back to Lautoka for our Visa extensions.
07/20/2012, Natuvalo Bay
Well, the wind has continued through the night and still rips through the bay. East winds are forecast in the mid to high20 knot range for today and tomorrow. Then, it is "supposed" to drop into the low teens and bring in some rain with it. That's if you believe the weather forecasters.
I got up this morning and decided to try out my baking skills again. I made some quick(and easy) cinnamon rolls. Here's my recipe:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees(takes a while on a boat)
Dough: 2 cups flour
4t Baking Powder
3/4 cup of milk
Filling: 4T Butter
1 cup of either brown sugar(impossible to find out here) or white sugar
In a bowl, mix the soften butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Put half the mixture in a 9 X 9 pan.
In a big bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Cut in the butter
Stir in the milk to form a soft dough.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangular shape about 1/4" thick.
Spread the rest of the filling on the dough and roll.
Cut into 9 rolls(recipe originally called for 18 but give me a break. I don't want bite size rolls).
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Invert onto another pan and scrape out the rest of the filling and apply to the rolls.
Enjoy in the cockpit on a nice sunny morning.
There you have it. The recipe I snatched from the internet sitting here at anchor. Hope you enjoy it.
07/19/2012, Natuvalo Bay
And we have moved on. After a rather uncomfortable night at Qaracuva off Drawaqa Island(just south of Naviti Island), we upped our anchor and took off. Here's how last night shaped up. We dropped our anchor in about 75 feet of water off Drawaqa Island and settled in for a breezy night. Wind was still howling past us out of the northeast and the swell was coming from just about every direction. When we anchored, our bow faced the northeast. As the evening wore on, we started shifting at anchor. We had dropped right in front of a channel between two islands that have lots of water coming and going depending on the tide. When the tide is flooding, water pours south through the cut taking our stern south with it. When the tide ebbs, it flows north and so did our stern pushing itself against the wind. Half the boats were lined up one way and the rest went the other(those affected by the water flow). Through the evening and into the night, our anchor alarm kept going off as the tides changed. Up and down, all night long. By morning, we, along with Lene and Henrik on Dana had had enough. We were trying to find a place to sit out the rest of this wind.
North of us, were a couple of small bays we could hide out in. The first, Vuata, we decided was too small. A couple of miles farther was Naatuvalo Bay. A nice anchorage that would protect us from the winds. We upped the anchor after having a conversation with Lene and Hernik and took off. It was less than 5 miles so a nice short hop.
We arrived in just over an hour and still the winds blew, hitting 35 knots in some places. The bottom was reported to be sandy and depths of 8 to 10 meters. Shallow for what we have been used to. Last night was 75 feet deep. As we came in, there was a catamaran(Catwagon)anchored south of where we expected to stay. When we hit 44 feet, we dropped. We could have gone in farther but the charts we had showed two or three coral bommies(big tall stands of coral)that were allegedly between us and shore. We let the wind push us back and do the preliminary anchor setting and once that was done, I let out more chain and we powered backward and set it well in the sand on the bottom. We weren't going anywhere. Dana pulled in a couple of minutes later and dropped their anchor about 100 meters to our port side. About an hour later, the catamaran that had been anchored south of us pulled up their anchor and came farther into the bay and dropped between and in front of the two of us. About 1500, another catamaran(Kittywake) passed by our little anchorage coming down from the north under a very small job sail and took a quick turn to port and headed in once they saw the three of us at anchor.
As the day has passed, the Yasawa Flier(tour boat and tourist shuttle) has come and gone twice. Picking up and dropping off guests at all the resorts throughout the Yasawa Islands(long island group with many islands and resorts). It's bright yellow so you can see it a long way off. It's in and out of here in about 10 minutes so it can make it's rounds. In the end, it picks up and drops off the tourists in Denarau so it has quite a few miles to make in a day.
So now there are four of us sitting out the 25+ knot winds waiting for them to pass. It's sunny and bright(for a change) and the wind is powering our wind generator so we are making some power. I just made some more hamburger buns(still baking in the oven) and we are having a nice afternoon, much more comfortable than we were yesterday and that's a good thing.
Surprisingly, we actually have internet out here. There is a transmission tower right beside the anchorage so we have the luxury of having internet. Now it's not fast by any means but we're happy to have it. Beats trying to connect on our SSB radio. Unfortunately, it's too slow to allow us to add a picture to this post. We'll add more photos once we get back to Lautoka next week.
07/18/2012, Drawaqa Island, Fiji
Yesterday, we piled into Puff and motored to the far side of Navadra Island to a beach that is rarely visited by other cruisers. It's not anywhere near the anchorage and has quite a reef off it's shore keeping most boat away. We'd taken our small anchor with us and dropped it in a patch of sand(don't hurt the coral) off shore and swam into the beach. This beach should be called "Plastic Beach". Everywhere we looked there were plastic jugs, bottles, tubs and one of a kind shoes. I'll bet we saw at least 50 one of a kind shoes. Some reason, no one ever looses both shoes, just one. Dozens of them were all over the beach. In my opinion, the number one destroyer of our environment(visually at least) is plastic. It's everywhere on every beach we visit. We even found a beach ball as well as a large line float. Tracy came upon a Chambered Nautilus shell with just a bit of it broken. She's been looking for them at every beach we go to and finally scored big time yesterday. It's now well packed and carfully in storage on Zephyr. The beach we unusual in that is was made of of lots of sand but it was overlaid on a rock shelf(probably volcanic in origin). Instead of large areas of coral off the beach, it was spotty here and there attached to the rock shelf. We found rocks along the beach that had small bits of coral inside the rock and encrusted on the outside of them. First time we have seen such a thing. I'll post a photo or two once we have internet. I'm posting this via our SSB radio. It made for a fun afternoon. When we returned to the anchorage, we joined Dana for some drinks and a discussion of where would go to next. With their weather forecast, we decided on heading North while it was to be light winds. We upped the anchor again this morning and took off with Dana to head off to anchor off the Manta Island Resort on Drawaqa Island. Dana took off ahead of us(about 0830) but by the time we reached the anchorage, we were side by side. Since they left first, we gave them first shot at dropping their anchor. Once they were done, we came in and dropped ours a good ways farther out from shore than the rest of the boats(3 +Dana in the anchorage). While the weather forecast had been for light winds, we ended up in 25 knot winds with gust hitting 35 knots(out of the North east). Anything but what the forecast had been for(gee what a surprise). It was pretty much overcast but since we had Google Maps overlaid over our charts(thank you ChartAid program), we knew exactly where we were with spot on photos of the area we were sailing through.. Far more accurate than just looking at electronic charts on our computer screen. We easily bypassed all the reefs in the area. We pulled in about 1330 and were safely anchored shortly after that. About a 5 hour trip for the 23 miles it toke to get here. The big draw of the area is being able to swim with the Manta Rays that frequent the passes between the islands up here. You can paddle out on one of their kayaks or they will take you out in one of their boats to see them. We've been down with them when we were at Suwarrow Island last August. An amazing experience. For those of you that are thinking of setting out across the Pacific, one piece of advise is have at least 325 feet of chain. We're back in 75 foot waters and that requires minimum of 220 feet of chain. I added about 90 feet before we left Mexico and am very glad I did as that now makes our total at 320 feet of chain. With our 40 kilo Rochna anchor on the bow, we aren't going anywhere(at least so far). It's still cloudy and we are getting hit with the occasional gust of wind so again, the DuoGen is spinning well on the stern. Not sure about tomorrow. If the weather is bad again, we may stay another day. If not, we will head up toward the Blue Lagoon Resort to explore up there. We're not allowed to go ashore at the resort but we can swim and snorkel in the waters off their beaches. Chicken Curry salad on crackers for lunch. It doesn't get much better than that(OK, steak and a baked potato beats it). We'll let you know tomorrow about what we decide and where we end up. We have to be back in Lautoka by Friday the 27th as our visas run out again on the 29(Sunday). Stay tuned. more travel and adventure is coming.
07/17/2012, Navadra Island
Yesterday, when we came into the anchorage, we dropped anchor a good ways from the other two boats in the cove. The wind was from the North North East blowing about 8 knots(maybe). We set our anchor(read the last post)appropriately and set in the relax a bit. Two hours later, the wind shifted to come out of the South. Again, about 8 knots. About that time, another boat entered the anchorage and dropped and set their anchor with the prevailing winds from the South. By the time the sun began to set, it had shifted to the South East and increase to about 10 knots. After sunset and darkness descended on the anchorage(almost a New Moon), it shifted again to come out of the East. Only now, it increase to about 18 to 20 knots with gust a bit higher. This shifted our anchor so that it started coming in contact with a coral bommie that had been about 20 yards West of where we had dropped our anchor. All would be quiet and then the sound of the chain as it road over the coral. A hard to describe sound. The light grating and rasping of metal that reverberates through the hull as it transfers the sound up the chain becomes a bit unnerving after a while and certainly after the Sun goes down. Toss in the 20 knot wind and it was a bit troublesome night. As of this morning, the wind is back from the North North East all over again. At 0230, the drag alarm on the chart plotter went off. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the steps to the cockpit only to find us in just about the same spot we had been in. No problem. At 0333, off goes the alarm again. Again, out of bed and up the stairs. Again, we were right where we were supposed to be. So this time, I reset the alarm(turned it off and on) and went back to bed. That was it as far as the alarm goes for the night. As the Sun come up in the morning(over cast again) we were still where we were supposed to be. The forecast we had for yesterday was for clear skies and winds less that 8 knots. The forecasters that put out the information are guessing from what we have found. Look at the local weather GRIB files and then throw a dart at a special dart board and here comes your forecast. We've had the same thing happen to friends a couple of weeks ago that showed for lovely weather and light winds. They got hit by overcast skies and winds into the high 20 to 30 knot range. I guess it comes down to just taking a look around and making the decision--Go or don't go. With luck, I'll catch up on some nap time today to make up for what I lost last night. But, with all that being said, it's nice to be back out at the islands again and away from "civilization".