Taking down sails
16 September 2021 | 17 46.369'S:177 22.935'E, Denarau, Fiji
17 46.369 S
177 22.935 E
Weather; Sunny, wind n/a, waves n/a
It wasn't as cool last night sleeping in the marina compared to being out at anchor but never the less we managed to sleep quite well. It's just a shame that we have USA power on the boat and the dock here is only geared up for "rest of the world" power, as such we can't plug in and have air conditioned splendour - one of the reasons that being in a marina is so good! At least we can run our fans on the solar power we manage to produce. The marina is small compared to many that we have been into and unfortunately it has been affected like the rest of the world by Covid in that half of the facilities which operate around the marina are all but closed down for the time being. However there are good engineering and sail / canvas type businesses which are surviving and which we will be making good use of. There is a travel lift here for hauling out but we think we would have to remove our backstay to make use of it and that just isn't going to happen. There is an in house, self-service laundry and an amenities block which is very nicely presented, the office has a book exchange but it seems very sparsely stocked - I guess more and more people have kindles on their boats these days. The dock surrounding the marina has a heap of small kiosks which sell trips, tattoos, and the usual tourist crap but for the moment they are all pretty much closed down as there is no tourism. Nearby there is a small minimart, bottle shop and a small chandlery (with nothing that we need in stock of course). Then there is Lulu's, a restaurant and bar which is open for takeaway business but you can eat your takeaway food at their alfresco tables, just not inside the restaurant and you can have alcohol but it is served in takeaway coffee cups to get around the regulations, sadly there are only a few people to make use of the facilities as the marina is currently half empty. On a different dock there are several cruise ships which have been "resting" there for the duration of the pandemic, these cruise ships would normally do 3 or 5 day cruises around Fiji and then there are a couple of dinner cruise ships which aren't allowed to operate for the time being - again the virus has caused no end of havoc and job losses for so many of the local work force.
Our day has been fairly busy, we needed to get all three sails down and bagged up ready for the sail maker to collect tomorrow. We started out with the main sail fairly early in the morning, it was calm and still so was fairly easy to drop, roll over the side of the boat onto the dock, flake and fold up and then push inside the sail bag. We were just finishing putting it into the bag when our agent appeared with a guy who was going to look at our hydraulic boom vang which has been leaking hydraulic fluid every time it gets pumped, so we stopped with the sails to give him the guided tour and thoughts about the way we would go about sorting this out (Gerry has been emailing the company to see what seals it requires and the availability of the same as he doesn't want to have the thing taken apart and then not have the correct seals on hand to put it back together once more). Once the guy had got all the details in his head and had left it was back to removing sails for Gerry and I. By now the sun was getting hotter and we were sweating like nobodies business as we began bringing down the stay sail, this one didn't go so smoothly. At about 15 feet off of the deck the sail wouldn't drop down any further as there are 2 grub screws in the aluminium extrusion and both had come undone and we couldn't get the top bearing to go past these screws. As a result Gerry had to be hauled / monkey climb up to the point where he could reach the screws and tighten them back in, adding lock tight to prevent them from unscrewing themselves again. By the time he had climbed into the bosuns chair, strapped himself to the inner forestay and climbed whilst I winched him aloft we were both exhausted so it was a good job that it was fixed in a matter of minutes and I could let him back down again. With that fixed we could now finish dropping the stay sail, drag it over the side of the boat, flake it and fold it up - second sail done! We stopped for a gallon of water and a brief sit down in the shade, or at least that was the plan, but we were again interrupted by the arrival of the guy who is sorting out our chain plate replacement. Fast forward about 3/4 hour, we had now discussed all manner of things that this particular guy is sorting out for us, the sun had risen even higher in the sky and now there was a bit of a breeze just kicking in and we still had the Yankee (jib) to get off. Dropping it was easy enough and then, as we began to drag it over the side of the boat, the wind picked up and tried to fill the damn sail and set us sailing in the slip! Gerry and I struggled to get the sail onto the dock and flaked, making a really bad job of it and only just preventing it from blowing into the slip next to us, (I think it did get a little wet but generally we kept it on the dock) Gerry quickly folded it as best he could and we tugged and pushed it into the sail bag - it's not pretty but it's in the bag and all 3 sails are ready for the sail maker to collect tomorrow! Next job was getting the main sail bag off of the boom as that requires some patching where the lazy jacks have worn holes at one end, we needed to remove the battens from that which took more effort than we really had left in us at that point but we struggled on with a few salty sailor words being bandied about and managed to get that sorted out. By now we were exhausted and badly in need of more water so we took ourselves below and chilled out as much as was possible in the heat of almost mid-day. Lunch followed and then Gerry decided to go to the office to sort out our dock fees, arriving back with our Blue lane flag to show we were cleared in and allowed to cruise around the Fijian islands. This all sounds pretty good but in reality it is a nonsense as the Fijian islands each have a colour distinction which relates to how safe the island is as far as Covid is concerned, Here in Denarau we are designated as being a Green area - the most Covid safe area, but if we want to go to another island and it falls in the Orange or whatever the other colour designations are, then we would have to quarantine again if we returned to here so essentially we are stuck in the one place unless we want to spend even more time in quarantine. The good thing is that with the repairs and maintenance that we are doing we had no intention of going elsewhere anyway. So after a short time back on the boat Gerry wanted to go and check out the chandlery and take the car traveller from the boom to the metal working guys to see if they could make new rollers as the ones we had were worn out and not rolling along the boom as they should. I needed a nana nap and Gerry set off by himself, when he returned he told me that he had done a round trip of the marina surrounds, found various places like the bottle shop as well as the chandlery and was a little disappointed to not get all the stuff he wanted but had managed to get a couple of things so it was all
good. Time out followed until the clock struck cocktail time, we didn't even go out into the cockpit as it was still to hot outside. As 5.30 rolled around we made our way to the restaurant to have an early takeaway dinner, the restaurants have to close the kitchen at 6.30 to allow enough time to clean up and shut up shop before the 8 pm curfew kicks in. We had a few plates of starters rather than a meal and all were quickly devoured, we asked if the chef makes curry (he is an Indian after all) as it isn't on the menu and got told that he would do it especially for us tomorrow so we will be returning there for a chicken curry tomorrow night put on especially for us!
I think tomorrow will be an easier day for us, nothing could be worse than a day of taking down sails in the heat and when the wind comes up!
It's almost time for bed now and I am more than ready for it!