Where are we

Sunday, 20 November 2022

New Zealand bound tomorrow!


Finally! We’ve very glad to be heading out. We’ve been in Denarau Marina for three days to get the dinghy cleaned and rolled to be stowed belowdeck, our laundry washed and dried, do some final provisioning, fill the freezer with cooked meals and any ripe pineapple, banana and mango for smoothies and muffins.

There are strict rules and regulations as to what you can bring into New Zealand. For example no fresh fruit of vegetables at all, but you can bring in frozen.  

We are expecting a slow drama free passage, maybe a little rain a few days into the passage, and are hoping not to do too much motoring. Diesel is much cheaper here than in NZ and we’d like to arrive with as full a tank as possible.

We are looking forward to the drop in temperature. It’s about 30C/88F here and 20C/68F in New Zealand.

You can keep up with our progress on the blog via our Iridium Satellite Phone. Our position is updated hourly on the map at the top of the blog along with any posts we make to FollowSea.net.

Since the last post, we celebrated Thant Zin’s birthday at the beach bar at Musket Cove Resort. They have BBQ’s available for a small fee. The fee is usually money but in this case was a chicken and pineapple kebab for the bar staff.


From left to right Alistair, Tim, Nancy, Diana and Nigel, Colin and the birthday boy Thant Zin.  Dinner was chicken and pineapple kebabs with peanut sauce and one of Colin’s special salads, a lovely apple crumble and a chocolate cake for dessert.

Alistair is travelling down to NZ with Diana and Nigel on Panta Rei and they have just left Vuda Marina about an hour ago. We just checked them out on Marine Traffic.

Our Customs and Immigration checkout time is 10.00 tomorrow morning and we hope to be on our way by noon. Our passage should take around 8 to 10 days. We do have a great big High pressure between us and NZ that should eventually help speed up the second half of the passage.

All that’s left now to do is bake a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies. :)










Sunday, 13 November 2022

Not yet NZ bound and a look around Suva

We’re still waiting for a weather window and it might yet be another week or two.  

You’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘Oh for  heaven’s sake, get on with it!’ but we aren’t in any rush and plan, as always, to sailing conservatively.  We got it just right coming to Fiji in May. It took us a day or two longer than some boats but we had a uniformly pleasant passage. We also arrived early on Monday morning to avoid overtime fees for clearing in on a weekend.

We are looking to depart on a wind direction from Fiji that will carry us down to a great big slow moving High Pressure to the north of NZ, which we will ride to our destination, with a minimum of motoring calms. You could say, ‘We have High hopes.’ 

Just to give you an idea of what we look for in a forecast when passage planning I made a little video.

                                        

I apologise for all the ‘Ums ’ but I was holding my phone with one hand, using my pointer, talking at the same time and it was all a bit much.

We’re currently biding our time in Musket Cove, which is full of other boats waiting as we are.

We’ve had a mix of weather.  Today it is pouring with rain and we’ve had the excitement air horns blasting trying to get the attention of yacht dragging it’s anchor through the anchorage. FYI we have a very effect anchor alarm, which would let us know before anyone did that we were dragging.

Last week.


Reefs in the distance. Some with islands and some you can only see the waves breaking. Fiji is is very popular surfing destination.


We had a morning snorkelling at a small resort. They can’t stop you from anchoring and swimming but they can kick you off their island. And they aren’t shy about it. We left when the wind started to pick up and the clouds began to move in.

As we approached Musket Cove, Tim spotted a water spout that appeared to be heading into the anchorage.  It soon fizzled out. This is the first we had ever seen.


The last couple of days have been wet and windy, with great rain clouds slowly passing by.  We made the most of the rain we got by collecting water.


We collected the water through our deck drains. We have a series of two way valve in the aft head (bathroom) which allows any water collected to run over the side, into our shower tray or into our water tanks. 


The water runs through a mesh filtered for large particles and we test the water before it goes into the tanks. The rain washes salt, dust and debris off the sails and deck. We test for Total Desolved Solids before diverting the water into our tanks.  The reading needs to be under 500 ppm. Today it was 31. 

The jerry cans are used for laundry or emergency drinking water when on passage.



We’d like to use an finer filter for water going straight into our tanks.  The water is gravity fed and flow isn’t strong enough for it to pass through a carbon filter fast enough to make it worthwhile, so we started experimenting. 

It isn’t very elegant and the water needs to be poured into the funnel, and it’s a little slow, but it worked. We really had a lot of fun doing it. It was right up there with diverting streams and building dams at the beach.


This is the carbon filter system we use for filtering water whenever we fill up from a hose pipe on a marina or dock.


There were beautiful days as well and we were treated to watching kite surfers in the distance and  wing foils zooming past us.  Tim was much taken with the latter.


Wind Foiling? Not completely sure that they use that term but I can’t think of a better one.

Lastly, Suva the Capital of Fiji. 


We were expecting something very grand. From the sea we could see reefs, mountains and the odd skyscraper.


Up close you could see the effects of being in a cyclone area.


The anchorage off the Suva Yacht Club. From right to left- Larus, Burmese Breeze, and a raft of scrap boats permanently anchored in the bay.  


I thought this was a very jolly laundry photo despite the ominous clouds.  We always start laundry at the break of day so we’re in with a chance of getting it dry.


Suva has a very crowded water front. At the far right there is a cruise ship in port for the day.


Suva Marina and Yacht Club.


Colin, Alistair, Thant Zin and Tim and I supporting the Yacht Club bar.


We needed to pick up provisions so Tim and I decided to walk into to town so as best to see the sights.


What we saw most of were road works.


Across the marina is the Suva Correctional Facility. The place looks pretty dire, but there were small houses, a medical centre and a support centre on the grounds around the high security core of the prison.


The high ground in the distance looks like the more affluent part of Suva.


The construction work went on and on. They seemed to be replacing the drains. I’m not sure what the state of this building was before the work started, but the makeshift roof supports weren’t particularly reassuring.


A food stall at the bus station.


Some of the buildings had a colonial feel to them.


The canal through the city centre had restaurants lining both sides.


A wonderful variety of mangos glowing in the sun.


An entrance to the Suva market.


A flower stall. Diwali was imminent and I’m sure floral displays play a big part the celebrations.


Lunch in one of the many food courts.  


I had the Fish Thali, which is meal made up of rice or roti bread, a really lovely dhal, a potato and spinach curry and a fried vegetable pakora sort of thing.  It was SPICY but absolutely delicious.


Our ‘pimped’ taxi back to the marina. The little dots do look nice.

All stocked up, we left Suva for Denarau and then Musket Cove to begin our wait for a weather window for New Zealand.

***News Flash*** Just this morning, it looks like we might well be able to leave in a weeks time. We will keep you posted.







Sunday, 30 October 2022

Arthur’s Cove, Rabi Island, Paradise Resort and what we’re up too now.

Arthur’s Cove was a destination we’d heard very good reports about, so when a southerly wind arrived we took the opportunity to make the short sail north to Rabi Island.

This extract concerning Rabi Island is from the ‘ Fiji Compendium’, a cruising guide created and updated by various cruisers over the years. 

‘Rabi Island (pronounced Rambi) has four villages populated by Micronesians originally from Banaba, in Kiribati. Their homeland was ruined by phosphate mining and influx of settlers and more so during WWII when the Japanese invaded Banaba and massacred many villagers. Rabi was purchased for the Banabans by the British Government with Banabas own phosphate mining royalties. In 2000 the survivors were resettled here.’ 

You can find out much more about the Banabans at their website - Come Meet The Banabans.

‘The forgotten story of the Banabans is a very special tale. One which in today's society would cause a world outcry and would never have been allowed to happen. It's a lesson we should tell our future generations to ensure that these tragic events in history are never repeated. It's also a wonderful story of courage, determination and hope as the Banabans come back from the very brink of extinction.’

It is a shocking history that affects the Banabans to this day. 

We were able to use wifi for the whole of our passage up to Arthur’s Cove. Once we passed between the outer then inner reefs into the anchorage, the wifi disappeared completely.

A lot of time was spent getting our little underwater camera found and charged as the snorkelling in the bay was very good, we hid from the heat of the day on Burmese Breeze playing Mexican Train Dominos and I did a lot of cooking.  We were planning to stay more than two days when the weather forecast took a turn for the worse and we had to up anchor and move to the south of Riba for a well protected anchorage with good holding. It was a nice change to be anchored in 10 metres of water in nice sticky mud.

Alistair, one of crew on Burmese Breeze provided some photos as I hadn’t taken any. Sometimes you’re just doing and it’s easy to forget about photos all together.  We plan to visit Riba again when we visit Fiji again in 2023 and I will do better then. :)


The cove is quite large with small beach areas. Thick foliage gives you only hints of the buildings behind. We saw boats full of people going out to fish on the reef to whom we waved. We took their waving back as a encouraging sign though that was all the communication we had. The anchorage is quite far from the beach as much closer is rife with coral heads/rocks.


The beach where they go ashore.  


Larus anchored in 30 metres.

We left Rabi Island to shop and the  stop at a halfway point on our way to Suva.


Larus and Burmese Breeze anchored off Paradise Resort, a very nice stop between Riba and Suva.

The resort provides moorings for visiting yachts in the hope that they would use the restaurant. Tim, Colin, Thant Zin and Alistair went ashore to the bar to ‘pay’ by buying beer for the use of the mooring.  Witney weren’t the only ones taking photos of our boats at anchor. Many of the clientele at the bar did as well and they will be appearing in quite a few holiday snaps.


The water here was the most astonishing blue and very clear. 

Tim and I snorkelled a sloping wall just to the west of the resort. It was quite deep and as the wall disappeared into the depths, the colour got darker but the blue was even more intense.

We also swam through thermoclines, where warm surface water and cold water from the depths meet. I’ve felt them before but had never actually seen them. The water actually became blurry.  You felt that blinking should clear your vision, but nothing changed until you moved out of the thermocline. It was quite disconcerting. 

From a website called BoatSafe/thermocline - 
  • Swimming through it: While this might not be the most practical method to recognize one (since thermocline depths vary from water body to water body), there are instances where you can swim through a thermocline. I go back to the “jumping in a lake” example. If you feel the water suddenly becomes much colder than it just was, you have just hit the thermocline or swam through it.
  • Seeing one: You can actually see the thermocline in some waters. You will recognize it by the kind of light refraction that suddenly occurs. This is because there are two water bodies with differing densities in the same location. This creates some kind of light refraction, which in turn creates a visual distortion. Scuba divers have been known to describe this as a shimmering in the water, frosted glass, oil on the water, or something similar to the kind of hazy heatwave you see just above the road on a hot summer day.

So today, we are once again in Musket Cove and just beginning to look for weather windows for our passage to NZ.   On out way here, we stopped in at Vuda Marina to get the zipper replaced on the bimini.  It’s an important zip as it attaches the infill between the sprayhood to the bimini.  Without the infill there is the potential to get very wet from rain and rogue waves. The thought of sailing to NZ without out it was not very appealing.

It would have been nice if the sun damaged half of the zip had been on the infill, a single panel that unzips from both the sprayhood and the bimini, but it wasn’t.  It was the bimini side, which has the solar panels bolted on top of the bimini.



It looks very strange with the solar panels visible from below. It also doesn’t give much rain protection and anchored off Vuda Marina, on Diwali - the Celebration of Light - there was constant heavy rain all night. As a side note the plastic panels supporting the panels was Tim’s design.  The poles supporting the bimini are curved, which makes fitting flat, though slightly flexible, panels a challenge.  My contribution to providing support for the panels was to sew a long tube, into which we inserted swim noodles halves, cut length wise. The tube was was then attached to the middle support and secured with cable ties to the panels. 

To removed the bimini canvas you have to undo the fittings at the front, slide the canvas toward the back of the bimini, refasten the forward fittings, undo the aft fittings, slide the canvas out and redo the fittings. Without being attached to either the canvas or the solar panels the frames just collapse.  It’s a long a fiddly process, which you have to repeat to get the canvas back on.

The was a very good sail loft near the marina that did the repair, for $100 Fiji  while we were shopping in Lautoka.

On the local flora…

Mangos and pineapples are at the height of their seasons. Mangos are now sold ripe and go off in an instant. I froze some for smoothies (Tim is VERY fond of smoothies, particularly the ones they make ashore with ice cream, which is a bit of a cheat.) and made another batch of chutney.  The pineapples are now 4 for $5 and I’m looking for new ways to use them. They last longer than mangos but that’s still a lot of pineapple and the freezer is only so big. 

On the local fauna..
Eep!

A small White Ribbon Eel of the conger eel family. 

Burmese Breeze has a light on the aft deck, which attracts little fish, which attracts various predators. This type of eel is sold for tropical aquarium. It really was very pretty.

Double Eep!

Colin and Thant Zin have been doing a lot of work on BB’s outboard. It’s been very badly behaved and yesterday they stripped it down, changed the spark plugs, etc, etc,finally gave up and climbed out of the dinghy. As they gave the engine on last look of disgust, they saw this black and white Banded Sea Krait right where they’d been working for the last couple of hours. 

The Sea Kraits preferred food is eels. I can’t help but wonder if it had slithered onto and into the dinghy to digest a small White Eel the previous night.

Even Thant Zin, who is far more used to things found in the sea than anyone I have met before, was rattled by the Krait, but was bold enough to scoop it out of the dinghy with a boat hook.

Thant Zin is an expert fisherman. Catching a fish has always been a piece of cake; getting it on board is a different thing all together. The trick, apparently, to landing a big Mahi Mahi like the one below is to grab the line and swing the fish up and onto the deck. This was caught and landed on the way to Paradise Bay.


They gutted the fish en route but saved the filleting for my arrival.  I am very out of practice. 


Thant Zin was surgically precise and hardly a scrap of flesh was left.


We had dinner with them that night. Sashimi to start, followed by very lightly pan-fried egg-battered Mahi with bok choy, blanched then sautéed with thirty cloves of garlic and oyster sauce. Yum.

After leaving Paradise Cove, we pushed on to Suva, making a 14 hour over night passage to arrive in daylight. Suva was not quite as expected and I’ll more about that in the next blog.







 











Sunday, 23 October 2022

Viani Bay

Viani Bay was  nice change from the hustle and bustle of Suvasuva. We arrived during a period of holiday to celebrate Fiji Day.  The local school is by the water front, which we could pick out because that was where the singing was coming from.  

White clad students grouped by age marched in orderly lines around the field behind the school. After a few passes around the field they formed up in lines at attention.  There was then a burst of shouts and movement and all ran helterskelter around the field. It was fun to watch.


The anchorage here seemed to be either 15ish metres deep with lots of rocks that catch your chain as the boat swings making quite horrible scraping noises, or 25 to 30 metres, which leaves you with less scope than we are used to.  After one horrible night listening to chain on rock, we opted to anchor in 30ish metres.  This meant less scope than we are used to but in settled conditions, with good holding and the knowledge that if we did drag it would only be until we snagged on a rock, we chanced it.


Once ashore, the local canines try their luck. Even the adult dogs have adopted a puppy type of submissive begging when first you meet. They must have noticed how well it worked for actual puppy.  Once they realise no food was forthcoming they contented themselves with charging up and down the beach as we walked.


Tide’s out!


There is something both elegant and surreal about mangroves.

We signed up for a dinner at the German run restaurant/bar and Dive Centre along with all the other yacht crews in the Bay. The food is baked in a pit and are very much local fare.


Though I did get a look at the cooking pit, there really want anything to see. I had planned to watch the food being uncovered but a squall with torrential rain and wind swept in and settled for staying dry instead.


From top to bottom - There was a huge Grouper, that was the centrepiece of the meal; roast chicken which is hidden by the mixed salad; the things that look like bread is actually baked taro root;  next is taro leaves cooked in coconut cream; and finally cooked papaya or pawpaw. 

The Grouper and taro in coconut cream were my favourites.


The village not only has dogs, it has it’s fair share of cats as well. This one jumped onto Tim’s lap of its own accord.  Tim was more than okay with this.

With favourable winds from the south east forecast the next day, we decided to up anchor for Arthur’s Bay on Rabi Island.