Saturday, July 4, 2015

Time to move on.

Ive been back in Fiji for nearly three weeks. As you can see in the Photo, Sapphire Breeze was sitting in her Cyclone Pit looking out to sea, waiting, and the wait is nearly over. My Fiji adventure is almost over as well, because in a couple of days we are leaving for Vanuatu, 550 or so miles to the west.

The Instructions I had left for Bharos
Since getting back Ive done all the usual checks and fixed a few things that I could, and decided to ignore  a few things that I couldn’t, or that weren’t a priority such as cabin lights, only one of which is still working. But with the help of a very friendly Kiwi neighbour John, in Fancy Free I have finally reversed all the damage that BaoBab Marine did when they removed the motor last year. You will remember they took weeks and weeks to decide they didnt  know how to repair the broken end of the cam shaft so I sent it to Sydney and had it repaired in no time at Witchard marine. BaoBab then put the motor back in but left a hose so long that it was touching a v-belt, which then snapped as we motored north, creating a minor drama for me drifting without  wind or power near a reef as I fixed it. The other problem they left was to incorrectly reattach wires to the Alternator so that my battery wasn’t being charged when the motor was running. Ive ignored that till now because the solar panel does such a good job of topping up the batteries, and because to get at the wires one has to remove the alternator, a job which is incredibly fiddly, having to reach around  behind it and free a bolt that is almost inaccessible. But I decided to go ahead and remove it, and after much testing and fiddling with Johns help, taking the alternator to Lautoka to get bench tested to see that it still worked ( For $10 !! ) and threading an entire new wire from the alternator back to the Control Panel in the cockpit, its all working again. I also got new covers made for the storage compartments under the seats in the cabin as they were all broken and split, had a cupboard door reattached and the swing-down side to a bunk reattached - all their hinges had rusted through or seized. There was of course the usual total internal scrub down, but Bharos had kept the boat well aired and dry, so the mould was minimal.

I also went to the nearby Health Center and got the Doc there to excise a skin cancer from my right arm. He said it would be no problem to do it, sounded confident but when I looked at what he was doing, using a tiny sterile blade without a scalpel handle, and doing it all wrong I had to use my free left arm to show him exactly what he needed to do. Fortunately he had made the area very numb! Unfortuantely, a few days later I had to dive under the boat to free a mass of plastic sheeting that was tightly wrapped around the prop, and in doing so I tore all the stitches out! However its healing up OK now.

That unscheduled dive happened out at Musket Cove,  a beautiful island with a Marina and some resorts on it  12 miles out near the reefs edge. I sailed there in gusts up to 27 knots to test that I hadn’t forgotten too much about how to sail the boat - it was an exciting sail using the tall thin Hydrovane instead of the stubby one that I have been using till now, the change happening because I don’t use the noisy Air Breeze wind generator on the stern - its blades would hit the tall thin Hydrovane but not the stubby one. I got to really dislike the noise it made, and found the increasing  pitch as the wind speed increased added to my stress. Again, the wonderful Solar Panel made it redundant anyway.

Out at Musket Cove I was greeted by someone I had first met in 2009 at Lord Howe Island, Alan on Cool Change. He and Tony had provided me with moral support, and Beer when I had returned there after losing the headsail on my first night out. Their encouragement was what made me decide not to give up but to keep heading for NZ...and all the wonderful adventures I have had since. Tony did a lot of talking at Lord Howe, and had great  sailing stories to tell, but Alan was the skipper of the yacht, a rather smart Catamaran that Tony was helping him take to New Zealand. So I got the impression that Alan was a bit of a novice like me. Out at Musket I heard Alans stories and he turns out to be a wonderfully accomplished, but very modest sailor who has sailed many ocean races including Sydney to Hobart more than once, and done his own sailing all round the Pacific and across the Atlantic. He told a story of being rolled between NZ and Tonga in the 1970’s, making Tonga on Jury rig. I stayed at Musket a couple of nights then returned in the strong winds that have been persisting for weeks out here, but which are now finally abating.

Today I will go on the bus to the Markets in Lautoka and get my fresh fruit and veges, tidy everything up on Sunday and hopefully clear Customs for Tanna Island on Monday . Tanna is  famous for its active Volcano. To clear in there you have to get special Permisson from Vanuatu Customs - and that arrived by email today.

Sailmail still works but the reception of late has been poor. As usual I will try to Post to the Blog from the Ocean but if the Sailmail connection is bad it may not always be successful. I expect it will take five days to get to Tanna.

I will miss Fiji. Though poor, its people are warm and friendly, the lifestyle laid back and easy, and they love Rugby.


  1. Yeah! Something to look forward to! Safe sailing David. xx

  2. Great to see you back again David. Enjoy the sailing.