Friday, October 15, 2010

How to video on making bubbly in a far off island

We were having fun in Malakati. The wind howls about every fifteen seconds, but hopefully this rough video is watchable.

No animals were harmed in the making of this film.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A last minute reprieve

We did a skype chat with Roger last night. The latest news is that Nadi has been getting rain and that work on the boat stops whenever there is precipitation. Apparently, only topside varnish is left and it is vital to have dry weather.

So the final word is that there is no way we can leave by even Monday. 

I called Qantas and got my flight pushed back to Saturday, which gets me to Fiji on Monday at 0510. This saves me from a couple nights in the hotel and I get to be with the Spouse and kitties just that much longer. The Meezer's know that something is up...

This evolution is not unlike how it is in the Navy, although there is less wailing and gnashing of teeth. I remember how it was going to sea on a Spruance Class destroyer (Deyo, DD-989) that was in and out of mini yard periods while trying to perform the mission. 

Believe me, there was much screaming and yelling, and always some maintenance project seeming to keep us from departing on a planned date. But we always sailed on those dates ordered so I think much of the stress was self induced just because that is how the Surface Navy works.

Funny how memories from 18 years ago are so vivid. Believe me, I feel no stress about this trip other than dreading the 24 hours of travel. Cold beers and tropic sunshine await me, and when we do leave it will be the routines of sailing 24 hours a day in the blue Pacific Ocean. 

With flying fish buzzing about our heads!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Update on the Beaujolais in Fiji

T-minus 4 days until I am outta here. Here are some pictures sent to me with progress of paint job.

I should be underway for the West by Saturday, I wish I did not have to go back because the home front is nice for all the goodies and I like being with the loved ones. The kitties are going to be angry!

Beaujolais was sanded down, a filler used to smooth rough spots and then was primed for the two part paint which is mixed and sprayed. After the first coat, a blue paint is used to find any anomalies which are sanded and repainted.

Today, Beaujolais will be lifted from it's hole and placed on stands for painting the bottom with anti-fouling paint, two coats worth.

After the paint has cured, Beaujolais will be back in the water and heading around the point to Lautoca for final clearance out of Fiji. I will meet the boat there, get an afternoon and evening of rest and be off the next morning for Australia.

I'm hoping for fair winds and following seas, it will be fifteen days underway, unless we make some stops in New Caledonia or Chesterfield Reef. It will be a good time.

P.S. I am looking forward to seeing a new boat! Beaujolais has been getting a complete refit job which has been in work for the past four years. Everything from standing rigging to the heads has been replaced or completely redone.

Sanded with some filler in the flawed areas

Tented for spraying

Great job masking off. Makes all the difference.

Almost there

These guys are real artists.

Look at the sheen on that coating!

View Larger Map

As for last weekend, The Spousal Unit went home to visit her family (Planned before I suddenly came home), so I took the Barco over to the NAS Jax and hung out with my fellow retiree buddies for Friday and Saturday nights. This included a really nice trip up McGirts creek on Saturday afternoon, South of Timuquana Bridge with three passengers. It gets so dense with forest by RInghaver Park that you would not know the boat is only a quarter mile to the West of the NAS Jax runways. Plus; having friends aboard who haven't seen this waterway makes it a real treat.

It was strange, getting underway from the Yacht Club Marina on Friday evening and leaving the NAS Marina on Sunday morning with only me to pull lines and tie up. Good to see I can do all that alone, but it is not fun being on the river solo. I never could understand why anyone would want to single handedly cruise any kind of vessel, even though it is done all the time.

Any day on the smooth water in 80 degree sunshine is a good one,  right?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fiji Photo Dump

Well. So we come to this. Most of the story is already told and all that was missing is the rest of the pictures.

We departed Tonga for the three night run to Fiji and it was like the other times. Clear, a bit of squalls, here and there but mainly not as much wind. There would be a bunch of motoring. I don't mind, since motoring means heading on the right course but using the diesel costs about three bucks a gallon.

Two nights later we were in the Fiji group, but we still had another 24 hours before we could arrive a Savusavu, which along with Suva is a major check in city.

Unfortunately, we arrived on a Saturday so we had to pay extra for the check in process. And they made us wait about two hours before we could start.

Copra Shed was a great host. They helped us get the officials out to us and even did our laundry for $9.00 U.S.!

One funny story about Copra Shed; They have a nice Yacht Club (Click on this link to see a great photo of the club Savusavu YC), beer is cheap and all the cruisers go there and get good and loaded while socializing and playing chess. Sunday morning a radio call goes as follows:

"All cruisers monitoring this net, this is "So and So" (Boat Name unimportant), I have to report that my dinghy was stolen between 0200 and 0800. Anyone having any information, please call me back on this net. Out"

Roger and I looked at each other in glee. We knew that this person was probably one of the really hammered folks we left at the club. We snickered that he probably misplaced it.

About five minutes goes by and another boat comes up on the net with a question; "Where did you leave the dinghy?"

We hooted and laughed on Beaujolais.

Our victim came back and said that he had tied it onto his boat at 0200 and went to bed.

The reply to that was "Look on the dock. Your dinghy is tied there. Maybe someone borrowed it."

Naturally, the victim was super pleased that he got his property back. But I think the locals and a few others were insulted to be accused of stealing.

We think the guy got a ride back to his boat because he was so hammered and forgot that someone gave him a lift in his own dinghy. It was funny to us, at the time...

We met with several boats from the past voyages, most notable was Sojourn. They came back to Beaujolais where they asked if we had a guitar on board. We did. There was a great sing-along where we slaughtered Jimmy Buffett songs until the wee hours. I have video, but am unsure if it should see the light of day.

I wonder if we were bothering the other boats with our bad singing? Since we departed Savusavu the next day, we shall never know...

Last look across Vava'u Harbor

We borrowed some charts from this boat. What a beauty!

Customs Wharf

Heading electronically out of harbor

We looked forward to rain. It would mean adding water to tanks.

I never tire of looking at these odd limestone islands.

Notice how the sea dissolves the lower edges

The blue line is our intended track. The green is our real heading!

The rains never came. But we still had about a hundred gallons of water.

Land Ho! Fiji.

It was exciting to be in such a large island group. We still have one night to go.

On our approach to Savusavu, the biggest squall yet welcomes us.

It was a real soaker, we got at least twenty gallons of fresh water.

The Copra Shed

Nice little harbor.

Sojourn is on the left. Good friends, there!

Sojourn's Crew who serenaded us with a big sing-along.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I really need this toy.

epic fail photos - Toy WIN
see more funny videos

Stolen from the "Failblog". No doubt; The manufacturer will have many questions about child safety issues from the Narwhal Tusks, not to mention the Koala.

Don't mention the koala and the Narwhal sharing the same environment.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tonga photo dump

Upon arrival at the Customs Wharf in Vava'u, we began a wait and see period that lasted about four hours. We would have to wait to see about four various officials each of which expected a "Present" for doing his f&*(%ing job. In this case it was a bottle each of Beaujolais wine.

Otherwise the veiled threat was a full search of the boat for pornography (none on board!) unauthorized alcohol (Only about 45 bottles of wine, six of rum and at least three cases of beer) and anything else they can think of. In fact, we noticed that there were extra officials as the day wore on. Word about goodies gets around, oh yes.

Finally through, we were allowed to visit any part of the island group as needed. So we went over to the mooring field and called the Aquarium Cafe to arrange for a mooring. We were assigned a nice one near the dinghy dock and we proceeded to get ourselves ready for some shore liberty. Read: Beer drinking!

We spotted the sailboat, Aliisa and I looked forward to meeting up with Laurie and Annina, nice people I had read about in their sailing blog. How cool is it to meet friends like that? Read their blog and check out what a real sailing couple is like.

So, we headed out to find some repairs for some zippers and in search of refrigerant for the fridge.

And beer.

After a few days of hunting and gathering, we left the mooring for Barnacle Beach, where we had signed up for a Tongan Feast.

It was a brief trip of about an hour and a half, we had a bit of difficulty setting the CQR anchor so we gave up and used the danforth. This and about a hundred meters of chain set in thirty meters of depth. We would suffer when the time to depart would come but we were definitely moored.

We went ashore for the feast which was held in a long house on the sand. Kava was offered to all but I declined; It looks and smells like dirty dish water, Roger says that is how it tastes, too.

There was a great table set and the food was pretty fair. After we dined the Feast Hosts had their 14 year old daughters come out in cultural garb and had them dance for us. AS the girls danced, Grandpa was passing a basket around for "Tips" for their education. Now, we paid $46.00 Tongan for the feast, I have no problem with tipping 18 year old pole dancers but this was not nice. The girls looked like they were unhappy and uncomfortable with dancing for us and I felt the same. I do not approve of exploitation of teenagers, so I took no further interest in watching these charades and also took no photos.

The party was over at 2200, so we piled in the dinghy and went back to Beaujolais where we got rid of a bottle of rum mixed with homemade cola.

Sunday was a wreck as I was completely hung over. We dinghied over to the Swallows Cave and got some great afternoon photos.

When we left a few days later, back to Vava'u, we needed to refuel and check out. The officials were much nicer and they let us go quickly. But fuel was another issue.

The only mobile fuel tanker truck was inoperative. Fortunately, the fuel company sold us two fifty gallon drums of diesel for 300 bucks. So we had to decant the fuel manually without a pump. Not too bad when the boat was at low tide below the dock. As the tide came in, we had a problem siphoning. It took four hours and a huge mess to get the fuel into the tanks and our jerry cans.

If it was easy, everyone would do it, right?

Ok, the rest of Tonga was fun, too. Another great destination for your bucket list!

Swallows Cave is to the right, we will be back to this one.

On the way to Barnacle we had to pass these two islands

View to the West of Barnacle. All uninhabited.

Swallows Cave, again

View to North, Vava'u 

Raining, watching some unfortunates dinghying to Barnacle Beach

High and dry at Barnacle Beach on way to feast

Pretty nice set up for the guests

One of the cruising ladies

Kava ceremony

Guest of Honor, Suckling Pig. By the way, pigs roamed freely on the islands.

This is where they brought out the teenaged girls to do the Cultural Dances. I turned off my camera.

Everyone going back to their boats.

Swallows Cave, the next day

Unfortunately, everyone felt obligated to deface the cave with graffiti. Not me.

This is an entrance to a dry cave within Swallows Cave, where feasts used to be held in the past.

Panoramic view from anchorage. I was barbecuing chicken on grill.

Some of our fellow anchored boats at Barnacle.

Time to go back to Vava'u for fuel and checkout

We use Klim for our coffee and milk needs. Outstanding stuff!

Barnacle Beach in distance.

Tonga is a first rate group of islands. I must return...