08/11/2012, Robinson Crusoe Resort, Likuri Harbour
What a day(and night) it was.
We dropped the lines to the marina just after 1000 this morning and headed for the fuel dock. Our good friends, Paul and Karen off Gigi were there to take our lines as we came in. It's great to get help when you need it. We finally headed out after taking on 48 gallons of diesel at a cost of $228.00US. About $4.78US per gallon. High I know by US standards but cheap around most of the rest of the world. We finally headed out of the marina at 1030 and turned South. We were headed for Momi Bay, just inside the passage out through the reef where we planned to go tomorrow to start the trip to Suva,the capital of Fiji. Winds were next to nothing so we pressed on under motor power. It seems that what we did to the motor may have solved the problem of air in the diesel lines. Once we got to Momi Bay, it was still calm and only 1300 so we decided to press on for the Robinson Crusoe Resort in Likuri Harbour about 15 miles farther than we had planned. We made our way through the reef that surrounds this side of Viti Levu with waves crashing on either side of us as we passed. Once through, we turned left and headed around the south side of the island. Waves continues to crash onto the reefs all along the south side of the island. We're not talking small waves either. These were big rollers that could swallow a boat whole if you got to close. We had finally escaped the pull of the western side of Viti Levu after almost 10 months here in Fiji. Around we went in almost calm winds and barely 3 foot seas.
There is a narrow channel through the reef that surrounds the island that leads you right into the resort. It's on a river so there is no coral to dive on but the countryside is beautiful down here. We dropped the anchor at 18 03.153S 177 17.043E about 1530, five hours after we left the marina covering just under 30 miles.
The weather really surprised us as the forecast from Fiji Met(the countries weather service) had called for 15-20 knot of wind and 3-5 foot seas. We got less than 5 and maybe 2-3 feet of swell once we exited the reef. We haven't gone ashore yet but the views of the countryside are just great. The resort was putting on a show for it's guests tonight and we could see the fire dancers on shore putting on what appeared to be quite a performance.
What was really fascinating about today was the nighttime sky. It's rained a bit recently(big time in Nadi today)and so the air is extremely clear. The night sky was incredible. Add to that the fact that there was nothing but still water around us at the anchorage and we could see the reflection of the Milky Way and all the stars in the water around our boat. Stars by the tens of millions were bright above us in the heavens and reflected in the water below us. This is what cruising is about for me. Spending time under the stars far from city lights and experiencing the beauty of our universe. It's great to spend time in the cities and meet the local people and experience their culture and heritage, but don't get me wrong, tonight was SPECIAL!
08/10/2012, Vuda Point Marina
Well, it's been 9 days here and the ugly weather has passed(we hope) and it's time to set off again. We're going to be heading south and make our way around the island to Suva, the capital of Fiji. If the weather holds, we will jump from one cove to the next till we get there. Normally, the weather around the south side has prevailing winds(and currents) from the east so it may take a while to get there. From there, hopefully AMerican Samoa. We have till the end of September to finalize our plans and with Mother Natures help, we can get there.
Stick around, I'll post more as we head out. Internet is supposed to be available around the south coast.
08/04/2012, Vuda Point Marina
Well, this morning dawned with total cloud cover and the possibility of rain and that's just what it did. Not a lot but still more rain. With that in mind, I made more cinnamon rolls for breakfast. A little treat on a cloudy day.
Once breakfast was done, we started in on more jobs. We need to make the most of our time here at the marina. I washed off the deck and got off some of what the rain didn't last night and today. Lots of sand out of Puff since she is inverted on deck. We filled the water tanks again finding a leak in the valve that directs the water between our two tanks on the port side. Not around any seals as we would have expected but out the end of the bronze fitting that controls the valve. The original valve had a square head on the shaft so you could put a wrench on it to direct the flow to the proper tank. Sometime, one of the four sides got either broken or cut off and it has left a small pin size hole that water would come through when we were filling the tank. I mixed up so water proof epoxy putty that I crammed into the small hole and that should take care of that. With what I had left(made too much), I crammed it into the small hole in the frame on our Honda generator.
I hooked up the hose to our out board motor and turned on the water. Started up the motor and flushed it's systems and let it run for a while since I'd installed a new fuel filter on Thursday. I wanted to make sure there would be no surprises when we started her next time.
On to the fuel line for our Ford Lehman engine. For those that have followed our blog for a while, you'll remember our problem of the engine just up and quitting when it got air in the diesel fuel lines. This time, I went for simplification eliminating most of the connections in the line and adding lots more hose clamps and even some caulking to one of the connections.
I smeared caulk on the metal tube that goes all the way back to the fuel tanks and then slid the proper size hose over the tube and clamped it on with three hose clamps. It had only had one! Up the the auxiliary fuel pump(helps bleed the system) and added a new fitting(again 3/8 inch) and used Loctite on the threads to the fitting. Two more hose clamps and then did the same to the opposite side of the pump. Over to the Racor filter where I changed out the fitting to again 3/8 inch so all the hose is the same size. More Loctite to seal the threads and two hose clamps and it was done. Simple and efficient. No more fuel line switches or reducers. Just one hose to the pump and a second to the primary filter. Here's a picture of it. We eliminated 12 connections, all of which could have been the problem.
We also found a water leak at the raw water pump. I switched our the seal on the plate that covers the pump and once we started the engine, no more leaks. Big jobs done!!!
Now we're going to take a couple of hours and walk over the the bar/restaurant where there is a games session going on. All work and no play is bad for the sailor.
08/03/2012, Vuda Point Marina
Yes, I know. I didn't think we would be back here again, but the Mother Nature had other plans. The forecast was for wind--25-30 knots from every direction including from the west and rain--up to an inch possible.
With the winds that were coming and the fact that they were coming out of the west for a while, one of the last places we wanted to be was Musket Cove where you are totally exposed to a western flow and it wouldn't be pleasant.
With that in mind and the fact that our engine had decided to gulp some air in the diesel lines, we decided to go back to Vuda and get it and other things fixed. The list isn't that long and we hope to be out of here early next week.
So far, I've changed out the seal on our fresh water pump(found out it was leaking on the way into Vuda Point. Changed the fuel filter on our outboard motor(maybe she will run better now). Ripped out the entire fuel line that was in the engine room. Hey, I'll find out what is wrong one way or another. I figured I take it to our Hydrolink store in town and get some new ideas on how to fix our problem(air in the lines). In the way into town, I spoke to the folks off Silver Ruffian and he looked at our lines and made some great suggestions on how to get rid of 3/4s of our connections. Once at Hydrolink, I bought the necessary fittings to get the job done, hopefully once and for all. I'll post pictures once I get it installed. Meanwhile, here's a picture of what it looked like before I ripped it out.
We went into town with Paul and Karen off Gigi to have lunch and get "stuff". Parts and food and stuff. What every cruiser picks up when they get to civilization. Tomorrow, we're off for Nadi and Namaka to get more things. It just goes on and on.
07/30/2012, Muskvet Cove
One piece of equipment that we carry on Zephyr is a "Spud Wrench". Last year, when we were in Tonga, as I brought up our anchor, the chain jammed in the hole in the deck that leads the chain into the anchor locker. It was in good and tight and wasn't about to budge. I tried assorted wrenches and pliers. Screwdrivers of all sized and nothing would budge the chain. I even tried letting out the chain to start all over again, all to no avail. I was struck with the anchor set on the bottom, yet not set as I didn't have a great deal of chain out. Bill Teasdale on Dilligaf zipped over from his boat and handed me a "Spud Wrench". Never saw one before but this baby looked awesome. It looks like a crescent wrench but the opposite end ends in a point so it can be jammed into the links of the chain. A couple of pushes and pulls and out popped the chain, free of the hole. We were good to go again. I added a "Spud Wrench" to my list of things to get when I was back in the US.
A few days later, I got an email from one of the folks that reads our blog(sorry, I forgot your name). He had one and would be happy to give it to me when I got home. As it happened, he lives about 20 miles from our house in Colorado. While there, I drove up to meet him and pick up the wrench. It's now a very valuable part of our tool kit. Even Tracy knows what it is.
A few days ago, the same thing happened. Our chain got jammed in the hole all over again. As I stood at the bow, Tracy zipped below and grabbed the wrench and with a simple push on the wrench once it was jammed in the links of the chain, we were again free!
For all of you out there that have a boat and do any kind of anchoring with chain, pick up one of these babies and keep it handy. It's not so much if you're going to need it, it's when you are going to need it. It may not be soon, but eventually, you will and it's great to have one on board.
07/28/2012, Musket Cove
Well, we upped the anchor in Lautoka on Saturday morning after completing our provisioning run late Friday afternoon. We'd picked up our Visa extensions so we were all set and we wanted to get away from the soot from the sugar refinery. It left lots of black particles all over poor Zephyrs deck. A pain to wash off every morning and sometimes during the day.
Henrik and Lene from Dana had the same thought so we both headed south to Saweni Bay(17 38.402S 177 23.685E) early Saturday morning. A nice place to drop the hook but there is nothing there. Not even a grocery store. Just one small restaurant and a "resort" compound fenced off from the "beach" by barbed wire with signs out the there is no picnicing allowed. We figured to leave after the first day. We had things to do and Musket Cove was where we needed to be. We said goodbye to Henrik and Lene on Dana and headed out early this morning.
As we crossed over(no wind to sail) our engine died about 90 minutes into the trip. Air in the fuel lines again. We thought we had it fixed. Guess not. I bled the fuel lines and she started right back up. Now I'll get to play around with the fuel lines again once the engine cools down. I've gotten it down to under three minutes to bleed the diesel lines to the engine.
We pulled in to Musket Cove about 1215 and dropped the hook. Five minutes later, Paul off Gigi came by. We've known Paul(and his wife Karen) since we were back in Mexico before we left to cross the Pacific. They had spent the cyclone season down in New Zealand and arrived in SavuSavu(on the North island) about two months ago and just made it into Musket Cove a few days ago. We'll be having dinner with them tonight at the barbecue in at Musket Cove and get caught up on our trips. Great to see them again.
Oh, I forgot to tell you about the attack of the killer Krait snake. On Friday morning, we lowered Puff back into the water. She had been suspended from our starboard side for the night. As I climbed down the ladder to Puff, I saw a new piece on line sitting on the bottom of Puff. Really cool looking line with black bands around it. As I reached down, I suddenly realized it was Black Banded Krait snake. One of the most deadly snakes in the South Pacific!!!! It was stuck in our dinghy and couldn't get out. How it got there and how long it had been there are anyones guess. I just knew I wanted it out of the boat!!! I called to Tracy to get me a set of the tongs we use in the galley and the camera. She couldn't find the camera but came back with the tongs. I'd wedged him(or her) under one of the oars and then grabbed him (or her) with the tongs and over he(or she) went. Apparently, their venom is 10 times more powerful than a cobra, but it's regarded as a snake that "rarely" attacks unless threatened. I figure having his(or her) head crammed by an oar provocation enough so that it might consider itself being attacked and would want to fight back. With it being pinned under the oar, I could grab it and throw it overboard really quick. I watched it swim away from poor Puff(and myself). Ah, the joys of traveling in the South Pacific.