29 June 2019 | Denerau harbour Anchorage
25 June 2019 | Beqa island, Robinson Crusoe island, Noisali island
06 June 2019 | https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Ntombi
02 June 2019 | Suva, Fiji
02 May 2019 | Whangarei Marina
22 November 2012 | New Zealand
27 October 2012 | Tongatapu
28 September 2012 | Tahiti
09 September 2012 | Apataki
01 September 2012 | Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas
14 July 2012 | Pedro de Gonzalez, Las Perlas
20 June 2012 | Curacao Spaanse waters
20 June 2012 | We left Bonaire at 24h00 in order to arrive at Curacao during daybreak. The sail was very bumpy due to the direction of the waves in the strong wind. We did not sail with the main, but only the headsail with the pole. The wind was mostly from the stern
17 June 2012 | Kralendijk, Bonaire
23 May 2012 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
New experiences in the West updated 21/7/19
29 June 2019 | Denerau harbour Anchorage
Johan & Francina Botha | Various conditions
On Friday, we decided to move closer to civilization. There were no wind so we motored the 7 miles to the entrance of port Denerau. We put out the anchor in 4 meter water and heard on the radio a "mayday" call. A yacht was busy taking on water and requested help. The way it was handled by the local marina had us worried. They sent out two staff members to the yacht, but did not take water pump with.
This happened after another marina asked them explicitly several times if they were sending somebody to the yacht for help, and if they are taking a pump with. The crew on the marina boat stayed with the sinking yacht to help them to bail the water. We followed the progress of the yacht until they reached the marina closes to them. They were going to the travel lift to be hauled out of the water to attend to the problem. We then went ashore to feel the earth under our feet. First shore visit since Monday.
The shoreline of Denerau island is lined with lots and lots of hotels for people with very deep pockets. There is also gated communities on this island. If you are a golfer, you can enjoy the Denerau 18 hole golf course.
The harbour is built for tourists with super yachts. One of the superyachts currently in the Marina has its own helicopter on deck. The Marina office staff is very friendly. We are allowed to use the shore facilities like showers and laundromat, even though we are at anchor outside the marina. There are two dinghy docks.
The Port Denerau Retail Centre hosts a great variety of shops and restaurants. We would definitely safe a lot of money with our own cooking on the yacht. Every hamburger/veggie burger will safe us $35 and every toast with 2 eggs will add another $15 to our wallet. A friend from Church is on a cruise ship from New Zealand to Vanuatu via Fiji. She contacted us whilst we were at the shopping centre to arrange a quick chat. We waited for her and spend a few minutes before she had to depart back to the Cruise ship. We bought a few items at the grocery store and headed back to the yacht for a peaceful Sabbath. It started raining mid morning and continued the whole day. Sometimes it rained hard and other times it was a drizzle.
Just after dark the wind picked up to 20 - 27 knots. When we sat anchor on Friday, there was a gentle breeze from the North West and we put out 30 meter scope in 4 meter water. This is supposed to be a sand bottom. I backed up at full rpm and the boat did not move at all. We felt secure and left for the shops on Friday. The wind was however now blowing from the south east. I started watching the boats around us to ensure we are not moving, and they are not moving into us either. I observed that the wind direction kept on changing, especially through the 30 knot plus gusts. I told the crew something is wrong because it seems as if we are moving backwards. I asked crew to bring out the anchor rope for the second anchor.
I was sorting out the shackle for the spare anchor when somebody was calling out. I saw that we were moving towards an unlit boat at a very high speed. The guy was standing on the deck with a fender ready to prevent damage to his boat. We were heading straight at him. I jumped outside, dropped the spanner to loosen the anchor and called to crew to start the engine, but is was already running. I rammed the yacht into front gear. Luckily the Perkins is a trustworthy engine and it started immediately when the button was pushed. I was so close to the other boat that I could see the white of the scared sailors eyes.
I kept the nose of the boat into the wind, and manoeuvered past other boats at anchor. I thought the anchor was lost because it was dragging behind the boat without setting, or hooking onto anything else like other boat anchor lines. Crew fitted the shackle and rope to the aspare anchor and loosened it from storage at the bow. She is however not strong enough to release it into the water. At that moment the primary anchor got stuck, but I thought the keel was stuck in the mud. With the movement of the boat, I realized that it is not the keel but the anchor that was stuck. There is a difference between a sandy bottom and a muddy bottom. And this is muddy. It set itself after being pulled approximately 200 meters. Crew took over the wheel to keep the nose into the wind whilst I went forward to drop the spare anchor. When I dropped the anchor, I made sure there was enough rope and that I was not tangled in the rope. Not a good idea to be strangled in the rope and being pulled overboard with the dropping anchor. By splashing the anchor it went fast and I kept the rope in my hands. I know it is not safe, but I had to know when the anchor hit the ground and this was the only way I could think of in the dark. The wind forced the nose to starboard, but Immediately when the anchor touch the ground, the starboard movement stopped. I knew the anchor was set and I fed the rope whilst keeping it under tension. I put out approx 50 meter of rope. The scope on the new anchor was about 11 to 1. Crew came to help to tie the rope off, and I could let it go. The boat moved a meter or two to take up the slack, but the anchor was set. I was very proud of my crew member who kept calm, followed orders to the T without making any mistakes.
When back inside she made a hot drink to celebrate teamwork and the avoidance of a collision.
We continued to watch the boat movement on the chart plotter till after midnight. By that time the wind and rain disappeared into thin air.
Note from crew: I contacted a friend with a prayer request when I started getting nervous and prayed myself to be at peace and for guidance. Praise God for answered prayers
Sleeping was very difficult, even though we were exhausted.
We took turns to get up and check the movement of the yacht on the chart plotter. We went through the eye of the storm. On Sunday we pulled the Delta anchor (spare) in and reset is at an 45 degree angle to the Monson Supreme (main) anchor. The wind started building later in the day and by 4 o clock it was again blowing at a steady 35 knots. By 5 o clock it was gusting 45 knots. The waves at anchor was about 2 meters and the bow kept on dipping under the water. I was concerned that the anchor might be lifting due to the severe up and down movement of the yacht. I started the engine to release some of the pressure off the anchor, and also to be ready to motor out to safety in the event of a repetition of the previous night. We also increased the length of the chain and rope on both the anchors to 70 meters. Both anchors held and by 6:30 pm the wind eased to 16 knots.
On Monday we took the anchors in and replaced the main anchor with the biggest anchor we have onboard. It is a 80 pound Mantis. It is so heavy that we had to use the halyard to lift it over the lifelines and put it over the bow roller in the pullpit. We released this anchor into the water and let the chain out again. Hopefully this anchor will be able to hold this yacht in these heavy winds. The Manson Supreme is now the second anchor with the Delta the last option. Nobody told me that the wind was so unpredictable in Fiji but this is the way we learn.
Whilst we were working on the anchor, we serviced the windlass switches to ensure that it will not fail on us in an emergency.
On Tuesday we decided to visit the market in Nadi to stock up on much needed fresh produce. It was a week since we left Suva and we were getting low on fresh stuff. The market is much smaller than Suva and it does not stock everything that we were able to get in Suva. The prices are however the same and some products was even cheaper. We were told that some of the products are grown in this area which explains the cheaper prices.
On another day we took the local buses to Vuda Marina to see the haulout facilities. We also made a booking for September in preparation for the sail back to New Zealand. The evening was enjoyed with very good curry and very good company. On Sunday we explored Denerau Island in our dinghy. We found a very good supermarket whilst motoring down one of the rivers. It is hidden away in the commercial area, out of sight of the tourists. The prices was similar to other supermarkets, except the imported products aimed at the expats.
On Monday we took local buses to Lautoka. We were pleasantly surprised with the size of the city. The city centre was bigger than Suva and I found a very nice butcher. That is something that I really miss in Denerau and Nadi. I bought beef ribs that I struggled to find in Whangarei. When I prepared the ribs, it took me back memory lane to the dinners at Haruru Falls with Richard, also ex South African. We came back on the local bus without windows. What a pleasant ride with the hot air blowing through your hair and face cooling you down.
On another day we decided to explore the island from the land, going back to Suva. This round trip took 8 hours, but the trip was done in an air conditioned luxury bus. The trip was only Fj$14.80 one way. The bus to Suva screened two movies but we did not take much notice of it. We were enjoying the landscape, local villages, rivers, bays and a lot more.
When we sailed from Suva to Denerau, we saw that the island was surrounded by coral reefs. With high tide it was covered and uncovered during low tide. There was high breakers which made it impossible to see beyond the Reef. Riding in the bus, we could see all the coral from the land. As we passed the many bays, we saw that they had entrances. The water however looked too shallow for yachts to hide against strong winds. We were greatful for the decision to sail past Sovi bay. The bus stopped for 10 minutes in Sigatoka on the coral coast, also a big city. There was a lot of tourists from the surrounding resorts.
We are spending more time on Ntombi doing maintenance work. We are very fortunate to have a washing machine on board to save on the laundry costs. Because the West is in the Lee of the island, we enjoyed some of the best evenings in Fiji.
We found two Fijian ladies selling home made food in the parking area of Denerau shopping centre. The food is very cheap compared to the shops in the centre and very tasty. The locals eating there appreciate the fact that we are not attracted to the expensive Western food, but prefer to support the locals.
We went to Nadi International airport for Francina to make changes to her upcoming flight to China. She booked her flight for Thursday instead of Sunday and only discovered the error when her host asked for the ticket to ensure they collect her from the airport. The lady at Fiji Airways was very helpful and she is now booked on the flight that she thought she booked. On our way back, we stopped in Nadi Town to visit the market. We also went to Digicel for a new SIM card, and got rid of Vodafone. Vodafone was not only more expensive, but extremely slow. We stopped at our favorite lunch bar where good food is at a reasonable price. The star of the show is a liter of ice cold water. If you have not been to Fiji, you will not know the meaning of ice cold water. The samosas feed our memories from home.
On one of the days when the weather was unpleasant to go ashore, we decided to change the stanchions. Some of the stanchion holes had some wear on the inside, so we changed the starboard stanchions with the lifelines to the port side and vica versa. The worn part of the holes is now on the outside and it should last for another 20 odd years.
The waves changed and the dinghy ride back to the yacht changed into a wet bath. We decided to change from the 3HP outboard to our 5HP outboard engine. Obviously with it being out of commission for such a long time, I had to do some maintenance work. Took the carburetor off twice and was not able to find the problem. Eventually I found a hardened rubber, chewed it for a minute or so, put it back and the engine was working like new - it is almost new. It s amazing what a difference the 2 HP difference made to our comfort levels on the dinghy. No more wet rides.
With the frequency of the waves that changed, and the never ending charter boats and fishing vessels entering and leaving the harbour, our comfort levels inside Ntombi became unbearable. We were rocking and rolling worst than following seas whilst sailing. We were unable to stand up inside the boat without falling and that whilst there were no wind. We started looking at alternative places to visit that will be safe for me to be on my own whilst Francina is away.
We saw a yacht approaching from the direction of Nadi airport and he anchored next to us. When he left we followed him through the binoculars to see where he was going. On Friday morning we went ashore for the weekend shopping and lifted the anchor on our return. We started the engine to move to the new anchorage. Long years working as a mechanic taught me to always check the oil pressure and engine water temperature. Crew find it sometimes annoying to keep on checking whilst the engine is running, but that is part of the captains safety precautions on the boat. Friday was no exception and on the second reading, I realised that there was something wrong. When I turned to the back and looked at the water outlet I saw very little water and what seems like steam. I asked crew to switch off the engine and look for a spare impellor. My immediate thought was that the impellor blades were off. She returned with not only one, but two impellers! Whilst I went inside to start the work, crew put the anchor out. We were lucky that it happened at the time and place where we were able to stop, put anchor out and not have to worry about any traffic on the outside. We could focus on the problem at hand without distractions. The last time we had a breakdown was in Tahiti in the busy shipping lane and we were in the way of a big cruise ship.
When I opened the first floor board, I realised that I am in for a steam bath - hot air punched me in the face. Whilst still in Whangarei, I inserted a trap between the raw water pump and the heat exchanger. When I opened the trap I found pieces of the impellor blades in the strainer of the trap. It confirmed my initial diagnoses of the problem. It took me about an hour to open the raw water pump and remove the broken impellor. You have to work flat on your stomach and you cannot see where you are working. You have to use a mirror and a torch to see where you have to work, and then feel your way through memory. If you drop anything it disappears into the bilge and hides under the engine where you will not be able to find it. There is no space to put your hands through and it is too deep also to reach underneath the engine. It is especially difficult when you work with stainless steel where the magnet will not be able to bring it up either. We hope the new impeller we fit is made of neoprene and not nitrile. The advantages of Neoprene is that it is hydraulical better, it is softer, it's easier to fit, it is cheaper and because it is softer, it will have less friction. Nitrile is a harder type of rubber, because it is harder it is more difficult to fit, it has a memory that causes it to crack, it melts at a slightly higher temperature than neoprene, it is ideal for bilge water because it is oil resistant. Nitrile feels cold in your hand whilst neoprene feels hot. One of my 8 mm sockets disappeared into the bilge never to be found again. And I was very sad to find that my Mi band (fitness band) disappeared into the bilge when I fastened the last nut of the raw water pump. Francina and I tried for an hour to recover the missing items. We gave up and decided to rather pull up the anchor and continue our journey to our destination. When we arrived at the anchorage we found the charter yacht from the day before. There are actually two yacht for charter, Fantasea and Gibsea. There was also a couple of yachts with young people and live aboards. We dropped the anchor at Wailoaloa beach in shallow water and very calm seas. The beach looks like a lake without any waves. We enjoyed a very comfortable, quiet Sabbath but the winds gusts close to 30 on Sunday afternoon. Luckily we learned in Fiji, always put out your best anchor and enough scope.
Suva to the Western islands updated 02-07-19
25 June 2019 | Beqa island, Robinson Crusoe island, Noisali island
Johan & Francina Botha | Overcast, Sunny
We woke up this morning (25/6/19) in Suva harbour and it was wet. Raining off and on and we considered postponing our sail westwards. At 9:30 the weather cleared slightly and we let go of the anchor. I am unsure of the type of dirt in the Suva harbour, but I can tell you that a piece of the anchor chain is stained like gold. The anchor chain was very dirty and covered in mud. It was a time consuming process to clean the anchor chain whilst lifting it into the anchor locker. Finding our way out of Suva harbour was fairly easy because we knew what to look for, and we bought charts for the Garmin chart plotter. The wind was very light to start off and we motorsailed all the way to our Anchorage. The wind came up to 15 knots gusting @ 24 whilst inside Beqa lagoon between the coral heads. On our way we passed two wrecks on a Reef. The one is a fairly new and quite big yacht. We were wondering what had happened to them. Did they try to enter the harbour and the wind pushed them into the Reef, engine failure, negligence, or what was the cause?. Was this also their home like Ntombi is to us? The entrance to Beqa lagoon was also quite tricky. I will not trust paper charts to guide me in. The bearing is a conspicuous mango tree on a cliff. One lonely tree that God preserve to lead sailors safely through the pass, like he kept us safe on our journeys. We had to dodge the bommies (suspicious looking poles sticking out of the water) and coral heads once inside the lagoon. Luckily the chart plotter was fairly accurate and we could navigate to our Anchorage in Malumu Bay, a valley of Beqa island. In the valley is a resort and a few new houses that they are still busy building. One of the villagers came to visit us. I suspect he wanted kava, but we did not offer any. The rule is that you do not need to pay the chief with kava if you anchor at a hotel or resort. During our conversation it came to light that his uncle is working at the resort. He is using broken English with a very heavy accent. Maybe my accent is just as strong to him as his was to me. I realised that Fiji still has very remote areas and I wondered if the practices of a few centuries ago was still part of the current day. He eventually sold us 4 green coconuts. We laughed because he took a very long time to deliver them. Suspect that he went to his village, climbed the tree and cut them off for us. He might have spend more on fuel to deliver to us than what we paid for it. He left us all smiles and very happy. I struggled to open it at first, but my skills improved and the last one was fairly easy. The juice is apparently rejuvenating and very healthy. We had a quite night at anchor in the well protected Bay.
Early on the morning 26/6/19 we woke up to a beautiful view of lush green vegetation and some exposed rocks. There might be waterfalls during heavy rain. The wind forecast was for very light winds the first two hours, so we lifted the anchor to get out of the lagoon before the wind stars blowing to strong. We plotted our route out of Beqa lagoon the previous night and it was an fairly easy navigation. We exited into the Beqa channel, which has a very wide entrance.
We started off motoring, but the wind picked up to 18 knots whilst still inside the lagoon. We rolled out the headsail and started sailing. The wind was east south east at 17 to 24 knots gusting to 30. The crew somehow got the main halyard loose and it eventually wrapped itself around the furled headsail. She managed to use the boat hook to get it down. We hoisted the mainsail and when she hoisted the staysail, the boat hook landed in the water. The only casualty thus far and the lesson learned to safely stow away equipment before moving onto the next task. I thoroughly enjoyed the sail today. The wind was strong, but Ntombi sailed like never before, reaching up to 8 knots. When we approached the entrance to Sovi Bay, I did not feel comfortable with the Bay. It is basically a beach surrounded with coral. With the strong wind blowing, we might be blown onto the beach, because there is no space for sufficient scope. We decided to change our plans and continue to the next Anchorage, planned for a visit on Thursday. I am grateful for that decision because Likuri harbour offers a well protected Anchorage in front of the Likuri island. Robinson Crusoe resort on this small island greeted us with two boats with Fijian singing. As the evening progressed, they entertained their guests with folk songs, drums and Western music. The music is very load and can be heard on the yacht a couple of miles away.If you close your eyes and you think of the movie Jumanji, you will know what I am talking about. African drums, etc.
We had a very good nights rest. The water was flat and calm with no movement at all. The sound of the waves breaking on the Reef was very load at high tide in the early hours (2:00 am) of the morning. It reminded me of the sounds we heard from our flat in Richardsbay. After a light breakfast we winched in the anchor. And guess what? The anchor came out clean, no mud, except the golden stain from Suva harbour still on the one section of chain.
Although following my tracking line from entering the harbour was still scary. It was low tide and you realize how little space their is where the water has sufficient depth for Ntombi to pass through safely. The wind was 17 knots with .5 meter waves which made a very pleasant sail. I was even surprised with freshly baked pancakes. We planned to enter through the pass and sailed into the bay at Korobalavu. We however changed our plans and sailed to the next bay closer to Noisali Island. We dropped anchor and enjoyed a lovely afternoon, eating fried bread for dinner. Crew went for a swim in the warm water. She cleaned the rudder of the wind steering. It is unbelievable how much green hair were growing on it after a few weeks in the water. Once the rudder were tied outside of the water, she swam next to the yacht on the starboard side, cleaning some spots above the waterline. Suddenly I heard a very load " help me out" and she was at the back already out of the water. It was a blue jellyfish the size of a dinner plate swimming past her. A spectacular sunset was a very special painting from God to end our day.
Suva, Fiji updated 12-6
06 June 2019 | https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Ntombi
On Wednesday when we arrived, I chatted to the safety guard at the Royal Suva Yacht club. He told us where the bus stops are, how to use the taxi, safety at the market, etc. On Thursday morning whilst we were on foot to Health Quarantine office to make the fist payment, we followed a gentleman crossing a very busy street. Francina made a remark to the gentlemen that she did not observe the red traffic light because she was following him. He recognized us and volunteered to introduce us to all the locally owned shops. I bought a very colorful Shirt made in Fiji, distributed by one of the villagers where they manufacture these shirts. "Bula" is good day in Fijian, and that is written on the shirt. He took us to the market, showing the different grades of food, and he also took us to the youth craft market. We live on a yacht and does not have space for any of the crafts. we then went to the Health office to pay our duties. Tom is a chief in his village, and he managed to get the staff to serve us whilst it was officially their lunch hour. Normally you would need to pay extra for services delivered during lunch hour. Tom told us that the prices in Fiji go up when the Passenger tour ships arrive. He suggested that we avoid buying on the days that the ships are in the harbour. When we left these offices, we asked Tom to take us to a place where we can eat local food. The food was very very good, but a bit on the pricy side. We parted Tom when he arranged for a taxi to take us to the next office to get our cruising permit. He went home to his kids.
The Suva harbour is a bit dirty with all the ships in the different shipyards. We had a big diesel spill on one day. Some of the ships in the harbour are running generators right through the night whilst working on the boat. We had to move our anchorage due to the unbearable noise. There is also a lot of small boats traveling passed the yacht on their way to the various boats at anchor. During the day you will also see the locals fishing. On one occasion we saw two woman on something that looks like a big Wooden block drifting in the harbour, trying to catch fish. The guys on the small boats kept on towing them to shallow waters, but they kept on drifting back to the deep. It is amazing on what type of floatation device some people will bet their lives.
We normally walk to town and the market where we buy fresh produce. Almost everything costs $2, it is only the amount that varies. Once we have our backpack laden, we use the taxi to get back to the yacht club. We bought a bus card and are now traveling by bus instead of taxi. We explored the next suburb, called Lami and again used another bus to visit Lami bay. The shore bus that we used does not have any Windows. There are people living in shacks on the banks of the river, and there are people living in beautiful wooden houses. Some are very poor whilst it looks like others have more money. In the end, they are all very friendly, irrespective of their financial status. Do you measure wealth by the amount of money in the bank, or by the happiness that you convey. It is very hot and humid. It is overcast for most of the day, but only a few drops of rain every so often. It is stil 30 degrees inside the yacht at 9 at night.
To make use of the facilities at Royal Suva yacht club, you need to be a member. We took out membership, which costs fj$75 until the end of 2019. No fees to be paid for the hot showers, access to fresh water , diesel and petrol. Diesel cost fj$1.82 per liter.
We took our empty lpg bottle to Fiji gas for a refill on Monday. We arranged to collect on Wednesday, but it was not ready yet. Everything works on Fiji time. Maybe the delay is because we are using a 9kg bottle, where they are selling 12 kg bottles.
We took the bus to Laucala beach. We passed a number of motor spares shops, as well as a scrapyard or two. I need some parts and we made a note to take the same bus again for some shopping. We passed the International School where our friends teach. It was a very good outing to see a bit more of the island life in Suva's inland suburbs. We went back on the same bus, but got off at Nabua settlement. It turned out that we selected a day where the rain did not stop. We were walking kilometers from one shop to the next, without finding the needed spares. Eventually we got back on a bus in Samabula. Although it was raining and we got soaked, it was a pleasure walking in the rain.
We took a bus to Laucala Bay and the University of the South Pacific. USP has 14 campuses across 12 Pacific Island countries, with the main campus in Suva, Fiji. They welcome international students to enroll. There is apparently only one other University like this and it is the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. They serve 17 English speaking countries in the Caribbean.
When I woke up on Sunday, I felt that one of my k9 tooth were very sensitive. It is a tooth with a root canal treatment that was done last year in South Africa. I realized that it must mean that there is an abscess. I had some antibiotics on the yacht and started with the treatment right away. On Monday, I went to the first dentist who could only help me on Wednesday. I found a second dentist at Bright Smile Dentists and he was able to extract the tooth after they checked my blood pressure and sugar levels. I walked out of the practice with a tooth in my pocket, a Kiwi smile and $50 less in my wallet.
02 June 2019 | Suva, Fiji
Johan & Francina Botha
We finally got the yacht ready for an ocean crossing. It only took 6 years to reach this point. On the morning of 17 May, a small group of friends helped to loosen the lines. It was with mixed feelings that we left Whangarei Marina and our familiar environment behind. We motored down the river to Marsden Cove marina for customs clearance the following morning. Thanks to a dear friend who gave us a chart plotter - it helped that we were able to enter Marsden Cove Marina at low tide. I found the boats original jack lines whilst sorting through the pack of flares. The stitching was however UV damaged. When we arrived at Marsden Cove marina, the captain sewed the jack lines, whilst the crew stowed away all the remaining loose items.
On 18 May, we met customs officer shortly after 8 o 'clock to complete the formalities leaving New Zealand. Fellow yachties cancelled there appointment because one of the weather models predicted strong winds with high waves at the time we would reach Suva. We decided to continue with the voyage and trust on God for a save passage, as we had done in the past.
We left around 10:30 am in low winds. It gave us ample time to redo the reeling lines. By reefing the mainsail, you reduce the size of the sail to suit the strength of the wind. The stronger the wind, the more reefs, or the smaller the sail. The stack pack is a sail cover with a zip at the top. It is held up with ropes and the sail will be stowed away inside the stack pack whilst not in use. The starboard top rope on the stack pack broke when we pulled the mainsail up. It was necessary to go up the mast to put a new rope through the block on the mast. The captain felt sorry for the crew member with weak muscles to pull him up the mast. So, I had to get up the mast in the middle of the ocean to pull the new rope through. I was very glad to be back on deck after this ordeal. With my part accomplished, the captain had to wire the new ropes through the various wheels and blocks to secure the stack pack. The job was done just in time when the wind came up. Luckily, the crew could focus on installing the jacklines. The jack lines are ropes, or rather webbing that is strung from the front of the boat to the back. We were wearing safety harnasses every time we went outside, clipping onto the jacklines to keep us safe on the boat.
When the wind finally came up, it was gusting up to 40 knots. We fell in love with Ntombi's ability to handle strong winds. She sailed like a swan.
Early on day 2, we started the generator to run the watermaker. There was no wind, so we did all the washing. The stainless steel clothes pegs are fabulous to hold the clothes on the line. Although somewhat expensive, the bonus is that it will not rust. On day 4 we observed the clouds with a message of strong winds. Captain secured the floor boards in case of a roll. At night of day 5 we decided to Reef down in anticipation of the change in wind. The port stackpack rope broke. There was no way that captain or crew will risk going up the mast in 3 to 4 meter waves. We tied the sail with stackpack down. The wind came up, gusting mid 30 and once 40 knots. The sail was too small and it caused a very uncomfortable sail. The captain got a brainwave on the possibilies to pull up the sail and secure the stackpack. That is what we did and the sailing was very good. On day 9, the wind died down and the sea was like glass. Crew went up the mast to fix a rope for the port stackpack. Captain replaced all the stackpack ropes to prevent any further incidents. Somewhere along the way, we realized that the waves were too big for a save entry to Minerva Reef. We made the decision to change our course for a direct sail to Suva. The wind changed to be on the nose on the last night. The wind kept on pushing us towards Beqa island. Crew got on her knees to ask for guidance. We changed tack to sail towards Kadavu island. After about an hour, a cruise ship came past us on the course we were on previously. God is great and saved us by forcing us to change tack. When we arrived at the entrance to Suva, we were unable to find the leading lights that help you to navigate past the coral reefs. Crew was also unable to make contact with port control via VHF radio. The phone calls via the satelite phone went through to numbers that is not in service. Again crew were on her knees to ask for guidance. Suddenly the Port Control officers voice came over the radio. He informed us to wait outside the harbour for a fishing boat to exit. We were able to follow the route the fishing boat was taking. Once the fishing boat were outside the Port Control officer suggested that we follow the pilot boat back into the harbour. The pilot boat accompanied the fishing boat to exit the harbour safely. The first thing you see when you enter Suva harbour, is a shipwreck. Inside the harbour is another two shipwrecks and a few very shallow patches. It could be nerve wrecking if you do not have electronic charts on your chart plotter. Electronic charts of Fiji became top on our list of things to buy in Fiji. We anchored in the area where Health quarantine officers visit the yacht to ensure we are safe to enter Fiji. It is a very small island and they cannot afford for viruses to be spread to the island nation. We had to fly a yellow flag to indicate that we are not cleared for Fijian Waters yet. The officers at the Royal Fiji Yacht Club make arrangements with the necessary officers to visit the yacht, at a fee, of course. The first to arrive was the Health officers. The were lovely woman who were very friendly and helpful. When the left shortly after 1 o'clock we were cleared to remove our yellow flag. After lunch, we were honoured with the presence of the bio security, customs and immigration officers. There was a lot of paperwork to deal with, and again, we received a very friendly
service. When they left at 4 o'clock, we were cleared to set foot aground in Fiji. We lowered the inflatable boat, fitted the Yamaha and went ashore. We could not wait to feel ground under our feet. It was however a very interesting experience. The world were moving, or was it us moving and ground standing still? There was no time left to go to town, so we settled for a cold drink at the yacht club before returning to the yacht for an early night. The following day was spent walking to the various offices to make the payments, and to get a cruising permit. This permit allows us to sail in Fijian Waters for the next 5 months.
02 May 2019 | Whangarei Marina
Johan & Francina Botha
C'est la Vie has undergone a total transformation. She was redecorated in green to suit her new name. New sails were added to the outfit. New gadgets were installed and she is seaworthy at last. The authorities allowed others to use her name, which forced the renaming of C'est la Vie to Ntombi. The young girl has grown a couple of feet, and the height increased with the breadth. She is not as young anymore, but her experience sailing from South Africa back and forth in the Atlantic to Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, Panama channel and crossing the Pacific to New Zealand give us confidence that she will be able to sail to Fiji this season.
Ntombi to Darwin
23 September 2018
Johan en Francina
Sadly we upgraded to a much needed bigger yacht. Life was getting a bit difficult without the needed headroom to stand up.
We bought C'est la Vie as a project boat and are almost at the end where we can sail her to Great Barrier island and others. Exploring the seas around New Zealand.
Ntombi was handed over to her new owner who planned to sail her to Darwin. She should be in her new home by now.