07/25/2012, Lautoka Harbor
Let's get caught up on the last few days. Here's the pictures of the rolls I made.
On Monday, the weather converged on our bay bringing more wind and a bit of rain to the mix. With the wind still out of the Northeast and it being overcast, we decided to spend another day here. Being pretty well boat locked, we decided to do an inventory of all the food in the boat.
We started under the starboard settee cushions and worked our way around. I pulled things out and Tracy wrote it all down. Her writing is far better than mine and if we were to be able to read it when it was done, it was far better for her to do the writing. We started about 0900 and other then a short break for lunch, we continued on till close to 1600. Boy, do we have food on our boat. We did come upon a few surprises. Two quart size jugs of actual maple syrup. Not the fake Log Cabin stuff, but real, honest to goodness Maple Syrup. Neither of us remember buying and bringing it on board so we don't know it that's simply age thing or maybe they were left by the last owner. We found them in an out of the way place stuffed into a deep corner. The other thing we found was five bottles of "$2 Buck Chuck"(Merlot). For those of you unfamiliar with fine wines, this is wine sold by a chain of"health food" stores called Trader Joes all along the west coast of the US. I think we purchased this when we were in Tucson before leaving for Mexico. It was buried way down in the bottom of the bilge. We uncorked a bottle yesterday and now we remember why it only sells for $2.00. Boy, it was a bit hard. I guess we have gotten used to the $6.00 bottles(cheapest wine available here) we can get here in Fiji.
It took all day, but now we have an accurate list of what we have and what we need to buy when we are back in Lautoka.
Tuesday, we upped the anchor and headed back to Navadra for a day or so. It was cloudy but the wind(still out of the Northeast) would push us along toward where we needed to go. We motored south till we were clear of the pass taking us south of Manta Ray Island and then put up the sails. Up went the main for the first time since we came to Fiji last October and out rolled the genoa at the bow. We took off doing 5 knots in a 6.5 knot breeze. That lasted about an hour and the wind died to maybe 2 knots. On came the engine and in went the genoa and off we went again with just the mainsail and the engine to move us along. We left our anchorage at about 0830 and pulled into Navadra at 1345 covering a distance of 27.5 miles. About 5 miles per hour. There was another boat here in the anchorage but as we were setting our anchor, he was pulling up his. We would have the place to ourselves!! What a treat.
We put on our suits and snorkeling gear and dove into the water. We took off for the reef that runs along the side of the island. A good snorkel beach with lots of fish(more than last time) and loads of coral. As we returned to Zephyr, another boat(Amigo) pulled into the anchorage. Rats! We were no longer alone.
Last night(Wednesday morning actually) it started to howl outside(about 0315) and then the rains came. Both of us were out of our bed and on the way up to the cockpit. Winds started in the high teens and grew from there. We had gusts up to 53 knots at one time with constant winds in the high 20s to mid 30s with horizontal rain lashing the anchorage. There was no moon and no stars and pitch-black outside on deck. The only reference we had were the lights from Amigo sitting about 200 feet from us and what we could see on our Gramin Chartplotter with it's GPS. With it being so dark and with so much rain, we couldn't see any of the islands around us. It can be VERY unnerving sitting in your cockpit staring out and seeing nothing but BLACK. When the night started, they were off our port side. Now, they were off either our starboard side or our stern. The wind had shifted from the Northeast to the South to Southeast. Mother Nature was ticked and she was letting it all hang out. I will never again complain about having a second boat in an anchorage. Amigo was our only point of reference as the storm pounded us. It was very reassuring having their light nearby. The rest of the island, even the big rock south of us was invisible due to the huge amount of rain we were getting. We even fired up our FLIR(new generation of night vision scopes) and it was of little help. We could make out Amigo in the lens but no islands. The rain had wiped out the view. Both of us sat in the cockpit(in different modes of dress) and waited out the storm. I finally went below and put on my foul weather gear and set up our DuoGen so it would "furl" itself if the winds got worse. It was screaming as the winds blew through it's blades on our stern during the big gusts we got. By just after 0600, morning light was getting better and we could see the islands and what was happening around us. Our Rocna Anchor had done what we had been told it would do. Hold us in place in all types of weather. Reassuring as we were surrounded by reefs on all sides
The forecast for the rest of the day is more rain and more wind not letting up till tomorrow(Thursday). We need to be in Lautoka by either late Thursday or early Friday so we can get on with procuring our Visa extension. It doesn't take long but, depending on the agent, it's either easy or a bit harder as to what paperwork they require. We'll let you know.
Update: At 0900, Amigo(second boat in the anchorage) pulled up their anchor and set off West. Only guess was that they were headed for Vanuatu. In the midst of a storm like what had just passed. Go figure. With them out of the anchorage and our only visual reference, we decided to pull up ours and head back to Lautoka no matter what the weather was. The forecast was for continued winds in the mid 20 out of the Southeast and more rain. The advise from the forecaster was that if you are anchored, stay there till Saturday. After what we had just gone through, that's not going to hold water. We upped the anchor(only stuck on a head of two of coral on the bottom) and headed out about 1030 for the 27 mile trip. As we rounded the headlands off Navadra, we got slammed with winds back in the mid+20 knot range and 4-5 foot waves right at our bow. We were getting slammed. Our speed dropped to 3.5-4 knots and off we went knowing that we had a long bumpy ride ahead of us. We'd made the journey before so we had good safe tracks on our chart plotter so we could avoid any reefs between the island and the mainland. We pulled into Lautoka at 1650 safe and sound. A bit battered but just fine. The winds when we got to Lautoka were just about zero. Go figure!
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.