So that now was our second to last trip with the Suvarov, ey ? It was a nice one, I have to admit. For the first time in a year we had pleasant, nearly perfect wind on that journey. And although the swell made the ride a bit bumpy in the beginning, we did quite well. We logged 131, 126, 122 and 127 nautical miles daily and the whole trip of 545nm took us just a bit more than 100 hours.
We also were quite lucky: we arrived in Port Vila at night but with good weather. The next day it started to rain heavily (we topped up the water tank in less than one hour !) and we had wind quite above 30 knots. Good timing !
So it seems we’re stuck in Port Vila for a few days since our next trip to Tanna is against the wind and I don’t want to head out into rough seas…
But right now I’m still waiting for the quarantine officer to come on board. It seems he’s busy with the cruise ship that entered that morning and keeps us waiting. Gui and the kids are on land, visiting the immigration office and later the Australian Embassy fur Gui’s visa.
Just an hour after sunset we took the leading lights into Port Vila. Now we’re anchored close to the quarantine buoy, near the town centre and wait for the officials to clear us in. Of course they will not come before tomorrow morning so we enjoy a beer on deck and imagine what the waterfront will look like in daylight.
After our hardcore antifouling session I was unable to stop: I got rid of some rust spots and Harald welded some holes – not from rust, but from gear that was mounted on deck before. After that I put a few coats of primer but didn’t want to leave the job half finished. And as we’re waiting for the wind to pick up – I again started painting and during three days I could paint the whole deck. Now it’s nice, shiny and white. And on the inside the boat is a lot cooler.
Maybe later on I’ll add some anti-slip paint but for now that will have to wait. Actually we’ll see on the coming voyage if that’s necessary at all. Speaking of: Yes, we’re ready to go out to sea ! Tomorrow, on sunday we’ll start the trip to Vanuatu. The destination is Port Vila where we will try to arrange our visas for Australia. After that we hopefully meet the SV Kira on the island of Tanna to climb the volcano together.
So tomorrow we’ll be out on sea again and probably do some posts via SSB.
After our short break in Malolo Lailai (aka ‘Musket Cove’) our friends from the Time Lord had to leave. They wanted to haul out at Vuda Marina to check the hull for defects. We stayed for one more night but were too bored without the lovely norwegian family and decided to follow. First we made a little stop in front of Denarau where we dropped the anchor in 3m water in front of the Hilton Hotel. Next day we drove via Nadi to the Airport where I finally could get DHL to pick up my passport in Australia and deliver it to Fiji. Next day we left already to sail towards the Vuda Marina just a few miles to the north.
So finally we found ourselves in a marina – for the first time in … two years ! And man is that crowded here !! No space to breathe ! But as there also were ‘the french’ from the SV Elhaz in the marina and all the kids had so much fun together, we decided to stay for a few days. But on the hard: there is more room between the boats :-) and of course because we wanted to paint fresh antifouling. So we ended up in the travel lift and found ourselves again right next to the SV Time Lord.
Our poor friends found they had a lot to do on their boat: Huge parts of the hull had to be cut out. The previous owners never took care of the rust and so it developed to a point where the only solution is to just cut out and weld new pieces in. But a few weeks of grinding, welding and a sand blast later and the ship should be in good shape again.
In the mean time we cleaned our hull, grinded the old antifouling away, put two new layers of primer and new antifouling. I used a pressure washer to remove all that loose paint our previous owner put on deck, then took care of some rust and finally put three coats of primer on top. But sadly my immigration permit expires on the 7th of May (yes, today) and so we have to leave Fiji…. More infos to follow in a few days.
These last few days we spent together with Thomas, Susanne, Ivi and Jack from the SY Time Lord at the island of Malolo Lailai. One of the better places we’ve seen in a long time. Not soo much because the of it’s beauty – although most people will agree that it’s a 100% awesome, tropical island. For our liking it’s a bit too much on the touristic side. But it’s because of the Muscet Cove Resort that is totally geared towards sailors, that we like it so much. The former owner of the resort supposedly was a keen sailor himself.
So as a yottie you can anchor, pick up a mooring or go into the little harbor where you moore stern-to. There’s a little shop, showers, toilets and a bar on the little island at the end of the jetty. At the bar one can use the two gas barbequeues and the resort even provides for dishes – as long as one consumes an occasional beverage at the bar.
The resort has a nice (saltwater) pool, there are lots of other kids around and in the evening the staff organizes a childrens dinner, followed by a cinema evening. So while the grown ups have a good time on the BBQ-island, the little ones have endless fun at the resort and in the evening all four kids sleep together on the Time Lord.
With the Suvarov we made a little excursion towards the outer reef where the bar ‘Cloud 9′ is to be found. A floating, little heaven for surfers who enjoy the close by surf spots. Today our friends from Norway had to leave, to haul out at Vuda Point marina and do maintenance on the ship. Hopefully they can finish the work in time so we can sail out together in two weeks…
A few days ago I mentioned big news and I guess now it’s time to let the cat out of the bag: We’re in the last weeks of our voyage. Soon – probably sometime in July we’ll return to Berlin. Back into the concrete jungle, yes. Well. Now it’s out.
Of course some of you will try to encourage us to stay and I really appreciate it but be assured: It was not an easy decision. And somehow we wished we could continue. But the time is not the right one. We’ve been sailing three years, crossed two oceans, lost one yacht, had many adventures, met wonderful people and were able to see and live in the amazing beauty of the South Pacific. It’s a good time to stop.
We also searched for ways to continue our travel or fast routes to sail back to Europe but nobody on board really wants to cross the Indian ocean and even less the Atlantic from south to north with very few and short landfalls in between. We all miss our family and friends a lot and – it has to be mentioned: Since our shipwreck we always have been very short on money which sometimes complicated things.
Soon we’ll try to go back in our previous lives but not quite yet: We still have some weeks left and want to visit Tikopia in the Solomon Islands and climb the volcanoes of Vanuatu. Later we probably will end up in Australia which seems to be the best place to sell a boat in the Pacific.
And just as we made up our mind, the South sea throws this unbelievable gorgeous island called Yanuca in our way. Together with the family from the SY Time Lord we’re the only souls around. The kids wander off and disappear for hours looking for crabs on the beach and investigating a lost resort hidden by the palm trees. We snorkel in the crystal clear water, see turtles and sharks. Dolphins swim and jump in the bay and in the evening we have a wonderful camp fire on the beach. And to top it all off, we experience a rare ‘blood moon’ as we return to our boats.
But still, today in the afternoon we’ll pull the anchor out of the coral sand and sail through the night towards the western islands. We try to reach Malolo Leilei (what a name !) in the morning and probably stay there for a week to celebrate easter and Violas 6th birthday.
The day before yesterday we said goodbye to our friends from the SY Elhaz and sailed on to the tiny island of Leluvia. It was only for a stop-over during the night as we’re constantly sailing through reefs and badly charted waters and navigating is better done during daylight only. On our last stop at Leluvia we were amazed that they offered a free internet connection – but (you guessed it) that was history. We didn’t even bother to put the dinghy in the water as today in the morning our journey continued towards Suva.
Again, the trip would have been too long to make it in one day and arrive during daylight hours, so we decided to stop in a river entrance that gives some protection. Even here the charts were quite off and we were glad to have some easterly sweel that showed us the reef and an uncharted patch of corals right in the entrance.
It’s quite a funny way of sailing: although we’re in the vincinity of land we don’t really set foot on it; makes it feel like an ocean passage somehow. But tomorrow we should arrive in the bay of islands, a bit west of Suva. There we will stop for some days to get my passport problem solved. Otherwise all fine on board, the kids are watching a movie right now and the capitana seems to have found her sea legs as today she was cooking while out on sea (that’s a primer !)
Ewig ist es her, dass ich via Kurzwelle einen Blogeintrag gesendet habe. Nun, gegen Ende der Regenzeit ist es also endlich mal wieder Zeit.
Vor ein paar Tagen sind Gui, Bruno und Viola aus Argentinien zurueckgekehrt und die LosLocos sind wieder komplett. Zwei Tage spaeter haben uns mein Bruder und Julia verlassen, die knappe zwei Wochen mit uns Fiji genossen haben.
Nun geht ‘der Ernst des Lebens’ wieder los. Wir segeln nach Suva, wo ich mit Hilfe des deutschen Konsulates einen neuen (Not-)Pass fuer mich beantragen kann. Dieser wird dann von der Botschaft in Canberra ausgestellt. Wie das alles genau klappen soll, bleibt erst mal noch etwas ungewiss.
Wir sind also auf dem Weg in die Hauptstadt Fiji’s – Suva: ihres Namens die groesste Stadt in der Suedsee und laut Augenzeugenberichten soll es dort sogar eine Rolltreppe geben ! Wir sind gespannt… Unterwegs sind wir mit der zweiten Seglerfamilie, die sich die letzten Monate in Savusavu aufgehalten hat: die franzoesische crew der SY Elhaz. Gemeinsam verbringen wir zwei Tage im traumhaften Namena beim schnorcheln und heute geht’s weiter nach Makongai fuer einen kurzen Zwischenstopp. Dort trennen sich dann auch unsere Wege. Die Elhaz segelt im Norden Richtung Lautoka, wir im Osten erst mal nach Leluvia und dann in die Bay of Islands (ja, toller Name: gibt’s sonst nirgendwo !) gleich neben der Hauptstadt. In ein paar Wochen wollen wir uns zu Viola’s 6. Geburtstag dann wieder im SW der Insel Viti Levu treffen und dort gemeinsam feiern. Grosse Plaene fuer zwei so Chaotenschiffe.
Soweit alles gut. Windtechnisch tut sich nicht viel. Laut Wetterbericht sollte es auch in Stroemen regnen aber wir hatten die letzten Tage blauen Himmel. Heh. Die Crew ist unterhaltsam und lustigerweise ist keine meiner Landratten seekrank geworden. Also alles tip-top auf der Suvarov.
No, no, no ! Don’t you be worried ! Although having been seperated from my loved ones for more than a month now, the psyche of the skipper is still in good shape. Turbulent was the weather which got affected by a tropical depression during these last days. That’s why I’ll do another post with pics of wind and rain.
After being at anchor out at the reef for more than two weeks, a few days in Savusavu are a welcomed change. Because of the forecast I took down the big sunroof and gave it to a local tailor to stich up a few holes. Then we wait for the wind. The weather prediction was spot-on and despite being well protected behind the little island, we still had a constant 30 knots with gusts reaching into the 50ies.
It wasn’t too easy doing pictures with the rain coming in horizontally and the light being only slightly above candlelight-level while working mostly with maximum zoom. It was a lot easier on the next day, during the ‘golden hour’ when the water level was at it’s high and we could watch as an australian yacht was pulled out of the mud.
The Beneteau somehow got the mooring line around the keel and shaved through it after which the boat was adrift and ended up close to the mangroves. That was pretty lucky – as there is enough coral around to split the thin fibreglass hull. But the lucky boat got stuck in soft mud and could be towed out at the next high tide without any further damage. Two dinghies and a boston whaler from the local perl farm pulled on the mast to lift the keel out of the mud and a dive boat with 500hp pulled the yacht into deeper water.
Uh ! And I’ve even got more good news: After waiting for eight weeks, yesterday my christmas parcel finally arrived !! After months I’ve finally got a decent computer again. Yay !
My old MacBook Pro died in the caribbean when a glass of water was spilled over it. The replacement, a MacBook Air killed itself when the internal (SSD-) harddrive got knocked out. So I had to use the ship’s navigation computer, an old Asus EeePC. It’s a nice little laptop that draws nearly no power but for working with pictures and videos it’s the wrong equipment. That’s why I’m as happy as a child on christmas day to finally have a decent laptop that won’t lag behind when I’m typing my blog posts. Maybe it also has positive influence on the frequency of updates. Only two posts duting the last month ?!? That’s an all-time low, I better start writing again…
With all the work on the engine I completely forgot one of my favourite blog topics: the weather !
The marine weather report here in Fiji is quite funny: although there was not much wind during these last weeks, we were continuously warned of foul weather and heavy rain. When we had 15-20 knots, the marine weather warned of ‘rough seas’ sometimes even mentioned ‘very rough’ seas – even when the wind in this area wouldn’t even exceed 25 knots. I guess, the boys and girls from Fiji’s weather bureau don’t get out to sea much – otherwise they would know that it takes waves of four to six meters with breakers to qualify for a ‘very rough’ sea. Don’t get me wrong: I really appreciate them sending meaningful warnings out to the people cruising the oceans but if you shout ‘Fire ! Fire !’ all the time – no fire brigade will show up when it really burns. I know this analogy sucks but I guess you get my point.
A related story might illustrate it further: When we were cruising the Canary Islands in 2011 some overeager employee of the local authorities sent two DSC-alerts in front of *every* marine weather bulletin. This means that six times a day the whole crew is startled by the intense alarm of their VHF radio just because they send weather info. This resulted in most of the yachts turning off their VHF ! Fortunately we could revert to our handheld radio which doesn’t support DSC. Hopefully this dangerous and silly practise since has ceased.
Well but now back towards the actual cause of today’s posting. One of the most important tasks of the local weather bureau is to alert the population in case of a cyclone. And right now there is no such warning. Although in my opinion, the situation is quite critical. Wikipedia lists six requirements for the development of a tropical cyclone:
- Warm ocean surface of at least 26.5°C. – check
- Atmospheric instability (tropical wave north Fiji towards Tonga) – check
- High humidity in the lower atmospheric levels. – check
- sufficient Coriolis force (always given near the equator) – check
- Preexisting low level focus or disturbance (two lows north of Fiji) – check
- Little vertical wind shear (hard to tell but likely)
Two additional factors are left out: El Nino, which has influence on hurricane activity – but this year is no El Nino event. And the Madden-Julian-Oscillation which seems to have massive influence on the frequency of tropical storms. In a scientific study done in 2009, the area of Fiji-Samoa-Tonga was investigated and the study came to the conclusion that in case of an active MJO there are five times (!!) more cyclones forming than during the inactive phase. The MJO develops in a 30 to 60 day rhythm in the indian ocean and then travels east. According to current observation, the MJO will reach our area during the next days. Although it’s not extremely active, it still enhances my alertness.
Let’s hope, Fiji’s meteorologists know what they do. I’d be happy if I’m proven wrong.
Every now and then we excape the anchorage and get some fresh air out at the reef. Only four miles away there is the Cousteau Resort at the very end of the strip of land that encloses the Savusavu bay in the south. Out there, closer to the open sea the water is a lot nicer (although still far from clear), there is wind and the insects are less annoying.
A little trip like that brightens the mood and once we hop into the water and have a look around in this big aquarium, the day is safed. The difference to the more eastern parts of the Pacific are big and the diveristy of fish and coral still amazes me. Especially as we’re not in a proper dive- or snorkelspot. For that one shoud go out to the smaller islands or visit the neighbouring Namena, only 25 miles from here. The diving there must be one of the best in the pacific and we will check it out sometime.
As you can see in one image, the Suvarov already got decorated and ready for Christmas. The kids had a lot of fun engarlanding the whole saloon, hanging stars, balls and little angels. Viola spent hours cutting colorful stars out of paper and decorating the cockpit dodger. Otherewise there is not much reminding us of the year’s top consumption fesast. There are no huge masses running around on the streets, trying to get some last-minute gadgets, no decoration on houses or in shops and best of all: No stupid christmas songs !
To that effect, I want to wish all our readers and friends a verry happy christmas and a beautiful 2014 !