Sunday, July 26, 2009

Birthday in Paradise

July 26, 2009--This past week has been pretty low key. Steve spent time on Monday trying to trouble shoot one of our solar panels that is working sporadically. Tuesday's weather was windy and rainy so we stayed on board that day as it was pretty rough to take the dinghy to shore.

Robinson Crusoe Resort on Likuri Island is located between the fringing reef and a bay created by the outflow of a river. We are anchored in the bay, and the currents run at an amazing pace when the water is ebbing or flooding. At three o'clock in the morning one morning we had the current actually pushing us against the wind, and this was causing the boat to actually move up toward our anchor. We have never had that happen before.

Wednesday was a very good day because it was my birthday, and Steve got me a "Pamper Package" at the resort. The package included a massage, manicure, and pedicure. The massage table was under a palapa on the grounds, and it was a nice cool day. Francis, my masseuse, was excellent, and she also gave me the manicure and pedicure. I loved it!

That evening we went in to dinner with Scarlet and Po'onio Roa. It was a dance night, and even though we had seen it before, it was still fun. In the middle of the performance, one of the young men (I will name him Joe) called me and another young woman up to the front. As I was walking to the dance area, one of the other dancers was carrying off a rather large sea snake. I stopped in my tracks to make sure that he was taking it away and not bring it in for some fun. Anyway, we both sat in chairs while the dancers and the crowd sang Happy Birthday to us, and after the song the eight young men performed a special dance for us. They had a birthday cake but the candle that each of us was supposed to blow out was a torch so, needless-to-say, I was not able to blow it out. Next we each cut a piece of cake and Joe made a nice little speech and then holding the piece of cake, he told us to close our eyes. He then told the audience that we would eat the cake the "Fijian way," and the next thing I knew, he was smearing (and I mean really smearing) the piece of cake in my face. Now I really didn't mind this except for the fact that some of the cake and icing went up my nose, and I had sugar on my face for the rest of the evening. All-in-all it was a very fun evening, and I was grateful to have had such an interesting experience for the occasion.

On Thursday I spent most of the day baking bread and cinnamon rolls, and later we put on a pork loin roast to cook. We enjoyed an excellent dinner and called it a day.

Friday was one of the best days as the salvage boat was finally able to pull Lisa's boat, sv Magia, off the reef in the morning. The boat had a third of its rudder broken off, the wind vane was bent, and it was taking on some water, but we thought that it looked pretty good for being on the reef for a couple of weeks. Lisa's was going to sell it for salvage, but she changed her mind and decided to keep the boat, so she will take the boat up to Port Denarau to have it pulled out and repaired.

We had planned to leave on Saturday to work our way further east; however, we decided that we didn't have the best weather window so we decided to stay put for awhile. Since we did not want to be bored, we spent the day re-bedding our life line stanchions on the starboard side. There were only three, but one had six bolts and the other two had four bolts each. Eight of the bolts went through the deck so we had to remove some cabinets down below in order to get to the underside of the deck to remove the washers and nuts. Then we had to apply a coat of Silkaflex sealant on the bottoms of the stanchions and to the bolts. This stuff gets on everything but comes off nothing very easily. We decided to leave the port side for another day.

Today we put the life lines back up since the bedding compound on the stanchions was dry, and we had planned to tackle the port side stanchions, but Steve is feeling a bit under the weather (a cold, we think) so we just took it easy today. I put the dish cabinet back together and did some cleaning up on deck. It ended up blowing a bit today, and we even had some rain, so it is a good thing that we decided to wait to head east.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Robinson Crusoe Island

July 19, 2009--We delayed leaving Musket Cove until Tuesday morning because of overcast skies on Monday. The weather showed another low coming through in about four days so Steve and I decided to change plans and head to the southwestern part of Viti Levu. We made our way back out through the reef and were able to sail part of the way to Lautoka. We had to go over to Lautoka in order to check out of that district and indicate that we were moving toward Suva. The checking in and checking out of the major ports--there are four of them--is not exactly convenient. We anchored in the bay and went in to Customs, where Steve had to fill out the same four-page form that he filled out when we came arrived from Levuka. After that was done we walked into town to pick up our cruising permit for all areas in Fiji and then stopped at the grocery store for some provisions. We returned to the boat in the late afternoon and decided to stay in the harbor for the night.

Lautoka is a big cane sugar processing location, so when we got up in the morning there was black soot from the sugar plant all over the boat. We left early in the morning in order to cover the 35 miles to Robinson Crusoe Island by afternoon. The winds were light so we motored for awhile, sailed for awhile, and then motored again. We had to go out through Navula Pass, which is basically an s-shaped cut through the large surrounding reef. Now we were back on the ocean side and the swell was noticeable. We still had our main sail up and were motoring along, and we noticed that the winds were slowly building. We called friends who were anchored at the island and were told that the pass into Robinson Crusoe was calm and would not be a problem.

Soon the winds were at 25 knots with gusts to 30 knots, and it was right on our nose. The waves were getting larger, and I was getting sicker. I had not taken any medicine because it was so calm when we left. I have definitely learned my lesson--always take the medicine. Steve had to fall off to port and go a short distance and then fall off to starboard for a short distance so that the boat wasn't pounding into the waves. We just did not see how the pass could be calm. When we arrived at the island large breakers were on rolling in on both sides of the pass. As a reminder of what can go wrong, Lisa's sailboat was clearly visible up on the reef just a short distance east of the pass. We reduced our sail to a triple reef and headed into the pass, and we found that it was much calmer. I went up on the bow to watch the reefs while Steve steered the boat. John from sv Scarlet O'Hara came out to the pass to lead us in so I took over the helm while Steve went up to the bow to talk with him. We made our way into the anchorage and dropped the hook in about 15 feet of water.

After we had quickly put the boat back together, I asked John and also Jerry from sv Po'oino Roa to take Steve ashore for a beer while I went below to sleep off my seasickness. That evening we went ashore to enjoy dinner and a spectacular fire dance at the resort. Renee from Scarlet and Kathy from Po'oino Roa were back from shopping in town, so they joined us. The food was good and the dancing was wonderful, and it cost us only $4.50 USD each.

The next day we stayed aboard and took care of chores. On Friday we all got into our dinghies and took a 45-minute ride up the river to the area where the Intercontinental Beach Resort is located. This is a beautiful new resort in Fiji, but we did notice that not many people were there. We walked around the grounds but then walked back to the smaller resort next to it to have lunch. By now it was 1:30 in the afternoon and time to head back to the boats. We went ashore once again to enjoy dinner.

Saturday we stayed on the boat again, but on Sunday the three boats got together on Po'oino Roa to enjoy a Sunday brunch. Renee brought muffins and orange juice, Kathy made the scrambled eggs, and we brought the fried potatoes and coffee. Since my birthday is on Wednesday and we had mentioned that we might leave before then, Renee and Kathy gave me birthday presents of scented lotions, shampoo, and conditioner. What a nice surprise! It was a great way to spend a beautiful morning.

We returned to the boat when it began to sprinkle rain and ended up staying aboard for the rest of the day. The rain would come and go, but we never got much rain at any one time. We had hoped to fill our water tanks again, but we will just have to wait for the next front, which may come through in the next few days. We plan to stay in this protected anchorage until we get a good window with LIGHT winds to make a move to the next anchorage. All is well.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Still Enjoying Musket Cove

July 12, 2009-After James left we took two days to deal with projects. I went in to do laundry, and it took me four hours to do three loads. The resort has three washers and two dryers; however, only one washer was working. I decided to hang the sheets up to dry on the boat, but I had to return in the afternoon and dry them because even though the sun was out, the humidity was too high for them to dry. While I worked on the laundry, Steve spent time on the boat charging the batteries, repairing the shore power cable, making water, and installing the new electronic barometer that James brought us.

On the 8th, we went in to work on the Internet. We had a terrible time just logging on. We then spent some time looking for flights home in October and were able to get that booked before the system crashed. We have also been battling PayPal over our renewal to Seven Seas Cruising Association. They took the money out of our account but would not release them to SSCA. We finally gave up on that one and will deal with it when we get home. The service became so bad that we went to the office to use one of their computers. An hour later I paid $15 USD for the privilege.

On July 9 we put a float on our mooring ball and motored a short distance to a sand bar that shows at mid to low tide. We dropped the anchor and enjoyed lunch. It was a sunny afternoon with just a few clouds so after lunch we loaded up our snorkeling gear and took the dinghy to the sand bar. We walked around it and were able to find some excellent shells, which surprised me considering the number of people that visit here each day. By now it was nice and warm so we put on our gear and snorkeled around a reef that was close by. The visibility was good and the fish were amazing because they were so used to snorkelers that they would swim right by us. After awhile, we were inundated with snorkelers from the resorts, so we packed up, headed back to the boat, and returned to our mooring ball.

On Friday, we went to the dock ashore and took the Malolo Cat II, which is a power catamaran, across to Port Denarau. The crossing takes about 45 minutes. A marina is located there as well as a small shopping mall, which includes a small grocery that stocks items that are hard to find such as A-1 Sauce, Jif Peanut butter, and Honey Bunches of Oats cereal but at very high prices.

We caught a taxi into Nadi. Jack's, which is the big tourist store here, was having a 50 percent off sale, so loaded up on some new clothes. By now it was lunchtime, so we located an Indian restaurant where we enjoyed lunch. After lunch we decided to walk to the Central Market to buy some fruits and veggies, and then we took a long walk up and down streets so that we would know what is available in the stores here. When we were done, we caught a taxi back to Port Denarau, stopping on the way at the Quality Meats butcher where we stocked up on excellent quality meat for our trip up to the Yasawas. We made it back to the dock just in time to catch the 2 p.m. Malolo Cat back to Musket Cove. By now the wind had picked up so the ride back was a bit uncomfortable, but, thankfully, it did not last very long.

Yesterday, we began the morning by hearing on our VHF radio that a sailboat had gone up on the reef at the southwest passage of Viti Levu. It turned out that we knew the woman, who was a single hander. Lisa on sv Magi had been at Riverside Drive Marina with us, and she had done major work on her boat only to lose it on the reef. They were trying to salvage as many items from the boat as they could; however, the most important thing is that she was off the boat and okay. That now makes three boats that we knew personally that have been lost-all since the beginning of June-but all persons on board have been rescued.

I went in to do my last load of laundry, and that took just three hours. Steve was wondering why our wind generator was not producing more power, and he found that two connections had worked lose. After tightening them, the generator was working
very well again.

Yesterday afternoon and through the night the wind was blowing pretty steadily at 20 knots. Early this morning it began to rain heavily, so Steve set up our deck to funnel the rain water into our water tanks. We also had lightening and very loud thunder. The good news is that it rained enough for us to completely fill our tanks.

We plan to leave Musket Cove tomorrow and head north up into the Yasawa Islands. This, as always, all depends on the weather.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Musket Cove Marina/Resort

July 7, 2009--James arrived on June 29 at 5:10 in the morning. Abdul #1 took us to the airport that morning. He was a very good driver and a quiet guy. His brother Abdul #2 drove us into Lautoka one day and is talkative and is a much more aggressive driver.

We returned to the marina to drop off James's bags and relax for awhile. We then went in to Lautoka to pick up our cruising permit to the Yasawas. We walked through the market and bought some vegetables and kava and then ate lunch at our favorite Chinese/Thai restaurant. When we returned to the marina, we went over to the resort next door to take a swim and relax. James was quite good at climbing on and off the boat. That night we returned for a pizza special--$10 Fijian, which is about $5 U.S.

On Tuesday we had planned to leave; however, the rain set in and continued all day long. Around 2 o'clock we decided that the visibility was just not good enough to sail to Musket Cove so we went back to the pool for the afternoon. We enjoyed chicken quesadillas for dinner and turned in--jet lag finally set in for James.

Wednesday was beautiful so we checked out of the marina and headed out through the breakwater. We raised the sails and enjoyed a lovely 5 knot sail with 10 knots of wind. Unfortunately, half way across the wind died, so we decided to drop the sails and motor. James was up on the bow helping me spot the reefs along the way. Right before we headed into the channel through the reef to Malolo Lailai Island the wind piped right back up. We continued to motor and entered the channel leading to Musket Cove Marina/Resort and had no problems spotting the marks leading us around the reefs. We had called the resort on the radio and were told to pick up Mooring #9. When we arrived, we had some trouble finding the correct mooring ball, but we received some help from a fellow cruiser, who pointed out our mooring. That night I made Sauerbrauten for dinner, and we watched the movie Wind.

On Thursday we took a walk around the resort and over to the other side of the island and then relaxed on the beach for awhile. In the evening, we took Mahimahi and veggie packs rolled in foil to the bar on the point. The BBQ pits were going, and we cooked our fish and veggies and then joined some of our cruising friends for dinner.

Friday we joined four other cruisers for a trip over to Malolo Island and the Funky Fish Resort. Our guide Joe led us up to Uluisolo Peak, which is 220 meters high. This was not an easy hike because it was a very hot day. At the top the remains of a World War II bunker that served as a lookout point for the U.S. during the war still exists. We took some great pictures and then headed back down to enjoy a fish and chips lunch at the Funky Fish Resort. When we returned to the boat we enjoyed a nice swim and then cooked some steaks on the BBQ grill.

Saturday, the Fourth of July, we walked across the reef at low tide to the main island to visit the villages there. We met some of the locals and stopped to purchase a carved mask and a bracelet. The people were very friendly, and we enjoyed talking with them for some time. We walked back across the reef and returned to the beach for a short while. We took a swim out at the boat and then went back to shore to enjoy an unlimited shower. In the evening the resort put on a large BBQ for the Americans that included hamburgers and hot dogs along with apple pie. There was a large group that attended, and we enjoyed the evening very much. They even flew the American flag for the whole day.

Sunday was James's last day so we began by hoisting him up the mast so that he could take some pictures. We swam for a bit siince it was a very warm morning. After lunch we took the dinghy in to the Plantation Resort, which is next to Musket Cove Resort. We took a ride on the Banana Boat, which is a long, yellow, inflated tube being pulled behind a power boat. James did his best to dump us off; however, Steve and I held him off and survived the ride. We returned to the boat and grabbed our snorkeling gear and went for a quick snorkel at the reef in the anchorage.

Now it was time to get James's luggage to the Pacific Sun stand so Steve and James took the dinghy to drop off two bags and then returned to the boat. We went ashore to enjoy another shower. Then at 4:30 we walked over to the air strip and waited for his plane. At 5:30 James boarded the twin-engine, eight-seater airplane for a 10-minute flight to Nadi Airport. He was the only passenger on board so he had the plane all to himself.

After his plane took off, we decided to eat dinner at the restaurant and were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset that evening. We were so pleased that the weather was beautiful for most of James’s trip, and it was really fun having him on board with us.