Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Port Villa, Vanuatu

After a relatively short and interesting crossing (5 days), we arrived at the quarantine ball in Vanuatu's capital city of Port Villa at 2150 on the 5th of September.  During the trip, managed to hook our first Dorado fish, only to lose it during a failed attempt to bring it aboard.  Sure was a pretty fish.... getting to a place to anchor near the quarantine buoy was a challenge, to say the least.  It was dark (no moon), it seemed the entire shoreline was lit up, making it almost impossible to see the boats anchored in front of us (most without any lights on).  Finally, after a couple of close calls, we dropped anchor, shut down motor, and were greeted by a cacophony of noises from shore, mostly loud music from the local night clubs...went below and most of the noise was blocked by our wood hull.  

The following we got on the VHF radio and called the harbormaster for customs clearance.  They came out by launch, boarded, had us fill out forms, asked appropriate questions, and cleared us in.  Told us we would have to go into town to get immigration to stamp our passports.  We hung out on the boat, getting it changed over to "in-port" condition.  That evening, Rainbow's Shadow pulled in after dark, and we talked them in so they would not have to go through what we did.

The following morning, we got mooring ball assignments and headed into the actual harbor where we would through the entirety of our 28-day visit here.  In company with Adrian and Christina (Rainbow's Shadow), we drove our dinghys to the dinghy dock, hiked downtown and found (after asking a number of locals) the building that housed the Immigration Office.  We finally realized why hardly anyone knew the building....they don't have to immigrate.... More forms to fill out, got passports stamped.  

The mooring field (Shakedown about center of photo)

Hiking up the hill towards the supermarket.

The National Museum (which was closed for unspecified

Walking around up the backside of town (town and harbor
off to the right)

Got to top of the hill.  Building on left is the women's
correctional center

The beginning of the "big box" stores (as opposed to
the million tourist shops along the harbor road)

The local equivalent to Home Depot....very big and full
of building materials and tools

Always something to fix!

Adrian standing by to catch falling bodies
Behind Rainbow's Shadow is one of the numerous now-
deserted boats that did not avoid disaster during Cyclone
Pam, two years earlier

Another view of the mooring area and downtown

More views of moorings and shoreline

One of the sunsets viewed from Shakedown

Night life in the harbor

The commercial wharf area. 

More of the mooring area looking back towards entrance

The Waterfront Bar & Grill (thatched roof) is also where
the dinghy dock is located.  Spent some time there....

Some local fun to be had if adventurous

Rainbow's Shadow and Shakedown resting comfortably

Adrian leading the way up the hill to supermarket

View from the top
The time had come to move on once again.  We spent the last few days provisioning and some last minute logistics.  We got our mizzen sail back from a local sail repair shop after ripping out some slugs (over half of them) on the short journey from Fiji.  We found out that one of the local pubs were going to show multiple screens worth of the Australian Football League (AFL) (like the USA's NFL) Grand Final (Superbowl) on Saturday, the 29th.  We all left together in great anticipation of a good time.  Which it was.  The locals and expats were super friendly and we all cheered (even though Nancy and I had never seen this type of game being played.  

We returned to Shakedown to find most of our things on deck and in the cockpit had been stolen.  Were were only gone about four hours!  Talk about disappointment!  Best we could determine, it was a simple snatch-and-grab, since no break in had occurred.  Missing were a 5 gallon jug of diesel fuel, our Honda 2000 generator, the "dinghy bag" containing tools, spare propellers, etc. for our dinghy, and other smaller items which would require replacing.  Pretty dismal way to end our otherwise enjoyable stay.  Now it was time to get out of here.  When weather seemed appropriate, we departed Port Villa, and lifting our spirits, we knew next stop would be Australia!

Pulling out of Port Villa harbor

We encountered the ferry, which we hadn't known existed

A last look back at Vanuatu

Rainbow's Shadow leading the charge 

Getting ready for our first of thirteen nights at sea....

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Fiji Part IV

Forgot to put in a few photos of Cousteau's Resort (owned by son of famous Jacques Cousteau) where we spent two nights at anchor and had a bit of fun....

The anchorage outside off the coast of the resort

The pier that gave us access to the restaurant/bar area

Just another day at the beach,,,

Our route from Cousteau's to Vuda, Musket Cove, back
to Vuda, to Lautoka, then westerly direction


Vuda Point, 

After spending a few days making our way south along the western side of the big island, we spent a night outside the entrance to Vuda Point to take the dinghy into the small harbor (and boatyard) to make arrangements to haul out and get the hull made pretty again.  Our friends Adrian and Christine had already departed for Musket Cove, and we let them know we'd catch up the following day as there wasn't room in the boatyard for us just quite yet.  We were scheduled for about a week out.  

The bar and restaurant for the hotel and harbor

The harbor is circular and everyone med-ties after grabbing
the red mooring ball to await small craft assistance to aid
in backing in and securing the mooring lines fore and aft

Our friends on Terrapin had just sold their sailboat and
are now in China teaching high school 

Musket Cove, 

Here's the island (Malolo Lailia) Musket Cove is located,
some 20-odd miles west of the big island

We purchased a membership in the Musket Cove Yacht
Club (for $10), good for our lifetimes.  Membership
Numbers:  19,012 and 19,013
One of the hotels on the island

A draw bridge to let the occasional tall boat to pass

Lots of room to roam during low tide

The mooring field where just about every boat on the
island hangs out

Another hotel nearby to where we land our dinghy

Had lunch here, and enjoyed the quiet and the view

Yes, you can get hamburgers and fries even in
 exotic islands

Luckily, it is so quiet here, you can hear forever...

The runway....to the right is the third and last resort

Time to leave Musket Cove behind and head back to Vuda Point to haul out on the 14th.  Back in Savusavu, our diver Ezra had warned us of the numerous holes in our keel board, so we made that issue a priority for the haul out, as well as new bottom paint so we would into Australia with as little fuss as possible. Little did we realize that having a few worms would cause such a crisis when the local bio-inspectors were informed (by some unknown individual(s) which resulted in quarantine and  a shutdown of all work for four days).  Turned out that the culprits were indeed just ordinary sea worms, and we were permitted to resume operations....we also replaced the bob stay, which is a length of chain attached at front end of bow sprit and front of the keel, very near the waterline.  Also had time to get the carpenters into the aft head and replace the floor (sole).

Shakedown hauled out

We found out that our Norwegian friends Halvar and
Ann-Helen (s/v Wilhelm) had "lost" their dinghy, having
split at all the seams and not repairable. 

Since we had an extra 8ft. dinghy that we'd probably
never use again, we gave it to this young couple, who
were ecstatic to say the least.  But forced $200 on us.

Discussing some finer points of progress

Lifting boat and moving supports to gain access to
more of the keel board

Watching the relocating exercise

How to balance a boat on the hard

Ripping off more of the keel board (worm board...so named
due to its sacrificial nature...let the worms eat it, and leave
the remainder of the hull alone)

Ladder up and ready for use again
Always test the ladder, boss

Ladder test successful!

The old worm boards (two 1x6" mounted in Mexico)
 finally removed and single new board (3x6") replacing them
Two 21-ft. boards end to end completes project

The pulpit boards (also installed in
Mexico) had rotted away at both
ends and need replacing
Adrian and Christine's boat, m/v Rainbow's Shadow
keeping us company at the bar and restaurant most days,
awaiting our return to the water so we can move on west

Path around the ring of boats
Hull is getting close to final inspection of primer
coats (silver/gray) before bottom painting (black)

Finishing up the pulpit installation

First coat of paint applied..
almost done

Bottom paint (black) being applied

The last few feet and rudder awaiting bottom paint

"Splash" Day.  Back in the water, time to head out.
Heading out of the harbor at 0840

Passing, and saying goodbye to our relaxing spot and
outdoor movie theater
Vuda Point in the rear view mirror on the 30th

We headed north and dropped anchor near the (second largest) city of Lautoka and next to s/v Rainbow's Shadow.  The morning of the 31st, we moved nearer the commercial harbor, anchored, joined Adrian and Christina to get supplies (mostly food stuffs).  After dropping our goodies off at our respective vessels, took the dinghy over to the Customs Office to clear out of Fiji.  Unfortunately, the process took a bit longer than expected, as we (Shakedown crew) learned that we had overstayed our Fijian visas by almost 30 days!  It's now 1600 on a Friday afternoon.  The office at the harbor cannot fix it.  A cab was quickly arranged by the office staff, the skipper was driven to the downtown Customs office, only two people left therein.  The head of the office had (luckily) been notified of my imminent arrival.  She spent more than 20 minutes attempting to contact someone in the capital city of Suva to obtain an authorization number to create a document to keep me out of jail and get me out of the country!  Having failed to obtain said "approval", she asked me if I could leave Fijian waters today, to which I replied affirmatively.  She further asked if she could email me the document on Monday, after she got approval for issuing it.  Again, same response.  She sent me on my way, taxi having waited for me, and after returning to the harbor, getting our passports stamped, they started locking up, and we skedaddled right the heck out of there, got back to the boats, took a deep breath, started engines, and took off in a "cloud of dust, and a hearty Hi-Ho Silver, AWAY!"  

Vanuatu....here we come!

Rainbow's Shadow leading the way out of Fiji, with Lautoka
 in the background