November 14th, 2013
I know it has been a little longer than promised for this update but it has been a hectic couple weeks. This might be a novella length summery of the last three weeks, if you spend too much time on the internet and have a short attention span or just want the important stuff skip to paragraph three.
First off we finally departed Tonga, after five and a half months. It was a sad departure; we had made friends ashore and had such a fun season that we could have delayed leaving for almost ever. Alas weather and prior commitments were pressuring us to leave. Our passage was bumpy, as was expected since it had been blowing 20-25 kts in Tonga for two weeks before we left, and even though the wind had calmed it takes a longer for the seas to lay down. We sailed south, with just the headsail flying, wanting to skirt all of the eastern islands of the Lau group in Fiji, and made good time. We ended up cutting in between a couple of atolls, entering Fijian waters through the Bounty Boat pass then dipped south of the capital Suva and around the western side. Of course we found a little too much wind our last night out and spent a wet and wild night holding on while Kate galloped along at a steady 7.5kts with a reef in the main and headsail. And then the next morning the wind died completely and we were forced to make a decision; drift and spend another day at sea or motor, hoping to find wind closer to land. Normally this conundrum wouldn’t even come into consideration but since we’d spent last season in Fiji doing major engine work we thought we’d spark up old 3PO (3 Pistons Only) and see how far we got before we either found wind, couldn’t stand it any longer, or had a problem with the engine. Low and behold, 10.5 hours later we pulling up in front of Vuda Point Marina having motored the whole way without rattling a filling from our smiling mouths or having any complaints about our engine. It seemed like a miracle! Something we’d spent time and money fixing actually worked. It was dusk when we picked up the mooring ball and while we tidied up fireworks flashed ashore. I am sure it was to entertain the guests at a local resort but we like to think it was to welcome us back.
We had a few other bits of excitement underway, our wind generated claimed his second victim when a tern tried to mount him at 2am. Poor little bird must not have seen the black blades spinning in the dark. And the 1’X6’ mirror that is in the main cabin fell of wall. Thankfully I woke from a dead sleep just below it moments earlier. I heard a strange metallic BONG noise and went into the head to see if it was coming from the mast (the mast extends through the deck and into the head and often you can hear things inside the boat you can’t hear outside). No, not the cause of the strange noise. Then as I was about to settle back into bed I noticed the large glass mirror swaying slightly, touched it and it came free from the wall in my hands. We both shuddered to think of the results had it fallen off the wall and onto me sleeping below. Hopefully this is the last of the previous owner’s half assed fixes…but probably not.
On Monday, October 28th we cleared into Fiji at Vuda Point Marina, a new service offered here. We received a great welcome back, smiles and hellos from the whole marina staff and the boys who work in the yard. I was surprised that even the gardeners and housekeeping staff remember us. We had enjoyed our time here last year but the end of stay was sullied by frustrations and complications with all work on the boat we were doing. It was nice to return and experience the “Bula Spirit” that the Fijians are so famous for.
Tuesday morning we hauled Kate, putting her safely in a cyclone pit for the season. It was then a busy couple days pulling down sails and rigging and making storm preparation decisions before Steve flew out on Thursday afternoon. Yep, no rest for the wicked, Steve picked up some relief engineer work for the next few months. There is still lots to be done if I leave the boat, desalting and packing her up for storage, but nothing I can’t handle on my own with a little time. For now I am knee deep in boat projects, well boat stuff as I have started refinishing drawers and cabinetry below decks and so the contents are strewn about the cabin.
Our cyclone pit is in a nice location, Kate and I are surrounded by boats but as of tomorrow the last of their owners will be departing, meaning that I have some privacy from the everyday yard traffic and protection from the wind if it should really blow. I can see the ocean through the tangle of boats and on a quiet night can actually hear the surf breaking on the reef outside the marina. I am also close to two water faucets and the electrically outlets, I really can’t ask for more. The mosquitos have been horrible so far but I found a mossie net for the bunk last week and since then have been spared any major attacks and have been able to sleep through the night. The only drawback here is that I am directly beside a florescent light, which makes it easy to find my way home, but means the boat is never dark. The marina is very safe, the security guards not only do regular rounds but all know me by name, which is sometimes Heather but is often Kate. And that is just fine with me.
So that is the news from Fiji, I have attached a few small pictures, hope you like them!