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Category Archives: Suvarov
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.
Two days ago we arrived in Lami, a little village west of Suva. Here in the little bay, we finally met some more cruising families which is extremely welcome. The kids have endless fun and are messing up a different boat each day. ;-) In the meantime, the captain crisscrossed through Suva to get all papers, copies, photographs together and verified by the german consul. Now a pack of paper is underway towards Canberra where the (nearest) austrian embassy will hopefully issue me an emergency passport.
Suva being the largest city in the tropical south Pacific is home to 50% of all escalators – namely: two ! There is also three or four traffic lights and a cinema. And today I will wander off to see ‘Rio 2′ with the kids. Heh. After stocking up a little, we’ll probably be out on sea in a few days, visiting the island of Benga and finally arriving in Malolo Leilei where we plan to celebrate easter and (even more) Viola’s sixth birthday.
Also we made a huge decision and have changed our long term plans but more on that in an upcoming blog post.
Together with my two visitors we did a snorkel/diving trip to Namena. And today we’re back again with the usual set of underwater pictures.
Before leaving from the Costeau Resort, I had to go diving because the night before I accidentally dropped part of our barbequeue. My first attempts of freediving down to 18m were unsuccessful – so I went down again with proper diving gear and actually could find that little thing lying on the ocean floor. Second thing to do: to replace the lower shrouds that got damaged months ago in a storm when sailing towards Tonga. My brother brought the needed replacement parts with him from Europe.
Then – finally ready to go, we set sail and have a beautiful cruise towards Namena. The breeze is light but enough to let us glide along with five knots and we reach our destination an hour before sunset.
Next day we hop into the water and again we’re all amazed by the pure beauty of the reef here in Namena. The number of different animals seems to be without end – as is the form and color of the different hard and soft coral. During every single dive we run into some sharks (small white- and blacktip reef sharks) which is quite common. Usually the sharks come around for a short look and a few seconds later they disappear into the endless blue.
Quite different on the second day: a pair of little white-tip sharks start circling us and instead of being afraid, they come closer and closer while still circling us. I try to scare them off and actually put my fins in their face but they still continue to circle and their movements get more rapid and intense all the time. Needless to say: we don’t like that and although these sharks are usually completely harmless we jump out of the water and into the dinghy. Here we still can see the sharks circling us – sometimes close enough to touch them. Weird.
But it’s not all scary down there: We also run into some turtles with I follow with the camera for nearly a minute. Same thing: Usually the turtles are easily scared but this time I was quiet enough to be able to follow them and get really close.
Of course we see tons of little clown fish, huge giant clams in all colors, groupers, sweet lips, snapper and other species too numerous to count. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story…
After spending the first hours snorkeling around the anchorage, on the second day we sailed towards the outer reef where the ‘proper’ dive spots are to be found. We take Jason’s Yacht and tow two dingies in the back. Not far from the northern entrance to the reef we put the SY Bodhran on a mooring and use the dinghies to explore the reef.
The sea is calm and the visibility under water quite good. Sitting in the dinghy we can make out the dive spots and decide to go for a quick one at ‘Grand Central’ while Jason and Melanie are snorkeling with the incoming tide and drift over the reef back towards the yacht.
The second stop is at ‘Arkansas’ – a lonely coral column extending from -25m up to about -4m. While Bertel and Jason dive circles in the deep I’m free diving and again amazed by the sheer beauty of this site. The soft coral on the top looks like wheat fields (hence the name: Arkansas) and the rock is surrounded by colorful soft & hard coral, lots of ‘unicorn fish’ and numerous other species. We stay for quite some time and are all happy we made the decision to visit Namena.
During the next days we also explore the southern reef and the dive sites called ‘Chimneys’ and ‘Mushrooms’ as well as the ‘Four Sisters’. All of them breathtaking beautiful. Timing is important tough: the sites on the northern side should be visited shortly after high tide, while the ones at the southern side are best visited at low tide. The difference between slack water and out- or incoming tide is huge and the currents can get quite strong. If one got the timing wrong, it’s definately worth waiting in the dinghy for the current to change.
During the final dive at the mushrooms I dropped our camera which neatly sank into a depth of about 25m – which I guess it could survive – but despite wasting a full bottle of air on it, I still couldn’t find it again. So for the time being those will be the last underwater shots. Damn ! The Nikon AW110 was an awesome all-round camera and I’ll definately miss it a lot.
But good news for everyone who plans to visit Namena during the next months: When we arrived there was only one mooring at the anchorage and one about 0.5nm ESE from the northern channel. There are plans to put as much as five moorings near the island and numerous at the dive sites. That will make visiting those spots a lot easier for cruisers.
Thanks to Jason for many of those awesome photos. Please visit his blog to see more !
Even though the island of Namena lies only 25 miles from Savusavu it seems to be rarely visited by sailing vessels. I guess this is because there is not a lot information available about the island and (mostly) because there is no protected anchorage available. That means: ideally one should visit Namena in light easterly or with no wind at all.
We waited for some days and used the diminishing easterly to sail down to Namena, while during our stay we lie mostly becalmed and quite comfortable. ‘We’ that is the SY Suvarov, SY Odin and the SY Bodhran. Jason from Bodhran takes the mooring and we drop the anchor and 75m of chain in 23m of crystal clear water.
On the first day we payed our visit to the little ressort on the island and payed 30 Fiji Dollar for a permit to dive in the marine reserve – which is good for one whole year.
Even on the anchorage the coral are already quite impressive and the amount of fish is unbelievable. There are turtles, sharks, barracudas, groupers and endless little colorful tropical fishes around. During the first minutes I’m quite overwhelmed and don’t really know where too look… During the next days we will take the SY Bodhran and tow two dinghies towards the outer reef where the ‘real’ divespots can be found. Expect a lot more and even nicer pictures in the next posting.
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…
Good News Everyone ! This might be the last blog entry about engine cooling for at least a few weeks ! I know: you’re gonna miss the frequent posts on this really exciting subject. – I too will miss the excursions into the depths of the engine room every morning but it seems that new developments will shift my energy into different areas…
After I did a lot of testing, the final changes I made was to replace two more hoses, clean and polish the old waterpump, getting two new impellers (also for the bilgepumpe !) and finally connecting both pumps in parallel to increase the waterflow through the engine. And it seems to work as during the last test-trip from Savusavu to the Resort, the engine DID NOT overheat ! Ok. I was only putting along with 1500 revs but still. Also one has to take the water temperature into account and that settled at amazing 31˚C (!!) during the last weeks ! With that temperature, all watercooled gadgets will run into slight problems. I borrowed a nice infrared-thermometer from Dieter and now I could verify that the engine indeed doesn’t overheat: After running for one hour, the cylinderhead measured 62˚C and the water coming from the exhaust 52˚C. All good.
And as usual: when one thing is repaired, the next one will break. Our next patient is just beside the engine in the bilge: the watermaker suddenly wouldn’t build up any pressure. I suspected a seized valve which I took out and restored. Then the pre-pumpe wouldn’t start anymore so now I have to figure out how to get all the air out of the system. Well, well… next project.
In the mean time the rainy season went into action and the first cyclone ‘Ian’ (upgraded to category 5) missed Fiji and went over Tonga. Right now the storm is heading south where it will disappear over colder waters. The next one is just about to form in between Vanuatu and New Caledonia while here in Fiji the weather slowly returns to ‘normal’.
Sorry. I’m really too lazy today to do the english translation. But I copied some pics from the german version of the blog entry:
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 !
News on the engine front: After flushing the engine approx. ten times with 5% H2SO4, the cylinder head now looks like new. Also the sacrificial anodes are 50% gone. Heh. But the problem remains: when running the engine in idle mode the temperature is fine; when the engine has to move the boat, it will overheat after only three minutes. Ten minutes later we can already see a little steam coming from the exhaust.
Yesterday I again checked the impeller and replaced it (just in case) but that didn’t do anything. I also cleaned the seawater inlet and filters which means EVERY part of the cooling system now was checked.
My last hope is the following: I don’t think there’s enough water coming out of the exhaust. Maybe the whole system is flawed from the beginning and we just need a water pump with a higher throughput ? The manual says, it should pump 800l/h at 1400rpm which I will measure later. Any other ideas ? Anyone ?!?
With all the heat and without a breeze we’re not very motivated to do big adventures. But yesterday when it started raining again, we set out on a little trip with the dinghy. The kids wanted to explore the tiny island next to our boat. So we set out with cooling rain and paddled into the mangroves.
We zigzag through the maze of little channels, discover some hidden birds and try (without success) to catch some geckos from a half sunken bamboo jetty. We could definately use a few of those animals on bord to eat away those mosquitos that try to keep us awake at night. Our way is blocked by a piece of an old pontoon that must have drifted in here and we turn around.
On the way back we discover a little path that leads through the otherwise impenetrable jungle to the other side of the little island. Unfortunately I only have the small, waterproof camera with me – the big one would have done better shots. But at least there are some nice, colorful pics. Ey ?
And as I got started with the camera (and it stopped raining) I again went up the mast and took a few more shots. From up there the water looks surprisingly clear. From close-up that’s different and sometimes it also get’s a bit smelly. But I guess that’s just the mud that is exposed during low tide. On the pics you can see the Copra Shed Marina with the little jetties in front. There we spend some of the hotter afternoons when it’s getting uncomfortable on the boat. Well, here we will stay for the next months… Awful – isn’t it ? Also: don’t forget the mosquitos ! ;-)
Although we already are anchored at the next postcard island, I still have to post some pictures of Levuka, our first contact with Fiji. I mentioned the funny haircuts but somehow forgot to shoot some pictures of the beautiful ladies of Levuka… Well, those will come later, I guess. Also worth mentioning is that Levuka once was the capital of Fiji ! Hard to believe as it’s a quiet, little Village.
As we found nearly everywhere else too, there are numerous schools and plenty of kids everywhere. All dressed up in nice, colorful school uniforms. A treat for the eye !
When we picked up the cruising permit, I noticed the schedule of the authority. It has a seminar on climate change for the employees. Yeah – when the big polluters of the earth still are arguing whether or not it’s true, the island nations of this world are getting prepared for the worst.
Maybe the people of Levuka will also start thinking of getting rid of that awfully noisy Diesel generator located in the center of the village that provides power for the whole island. There would be more than enough sun to power all homes here on the island and as for storage, I suggest to use that huge fuel tank up on the hill. One could use the excess power during midday to pump up salt water and use a turbine to generate power during the night. – Just a thought…. But I guess burning fuel is (still) just too convenient.
Alright. Enough of the ranting. There are also some pics of our little hike up the hill to the little freshwater pond. On the way the kids got a little toy cooking set and when we were back on the ship they promptly openend a restaurant on the foredeck. Let’s see if someone can decypher Viola’s menu. It’s a wild mix of german, spanish and english but it shows promise and she’s definately not lacking inspiration. Also – she’s still just five. :-)
Before leaving Tonga we spent a few more days at a little, lonely island called Nuku. We were already cleared out so we shouldn’t have stayed but it was just too hard to say good bye. See for yourself…. It’s crazy.
The last few hours in Tonga and we spend it in front of the computer. Hehehe.
Nah – not really. We will putter down to the main wharf and clear out of Tonga alright but tonight we’ll still spend one more night around the corner in a quiet anchorage. Tomorrow during the day, we’ll set sails and go to Fiji.
So here are some more pictures for you, taken in the ‘main town’ of Vavau: Neiafu.
Also we’ll be without internet of course and have only our SSB connection. But we should be back online beginning next week when we arrive in SavuSavu.
After our last sailing voyage we spent five days getting all the saltwater out of our boat and everything washed again. As we don’t like to repeat this experience, the newly found leaks were on the top of my ToDo list. And as the beach is too beautiful and the coral too colorful I look the other way grab screwdriver, hammer and chisel and start attacking the rust !
My starting point is the little vent in the kitchen. Sometime ago there was also an electric ventilator installed but corrosion has eaten it away probably years ago. The Vetus vent itself, I replaced back in Moorea as the old one didn’t even close properly. But somehow water still found it’s way in – so I remove it completely and discover some realy nasty stuff: The leak probably existed for many years and not much is left of the 4mm of steel that our deck is made of. So I start the old game: first hammering the loose material away, then brush the metal until it looks somewhat stable. After cleaning it, I soak everything with phosphoric acid. Half an hour later the acid has done it’s magic and converted all the rust to black ferric phosphate. Now I clean again with freshwater and let it dry. The epoxy primer appears on stage and gives the ugly spot a nice, watertight cover. During the next days, I will paint additional layers of white polyurethan paint. Time will tell how that combination works out….
But as I’m already at it, I crawl around on deck and open more and more rust spots. Some are easy, others quite nasty. The always leaking bathroom window was missing a fitting underneath the handle and the window itself wasn’t glued to the deck with Sikaflex or 3M-50200 but instead sat on a 1cm layer of filler (the one that is used for fixing bumps in cars *rrr*). In general I usually uncover two or three generations of household silicone which if at all is only to be used inside the ship. – Well it’s an amateur construction, one can tell.
Like this I work for five days on my knees with chisel and power drill in my hands.
We discovered that the hatch on the foredeck also leaks water *underneath* the frame and onto our children’s beds. So I take the whole hatch off and again ramove three layers of silicone and cheap one-component paint. I polish the aluminium frame and after painting everything in the above mentioned manner, I glue it back in with Sikaflex. Also I turn the whole hatch a 180˚ so it now opens to the front. That will let a lot more air into the cabin and make our life more enjoyable in those hot regions we’re cruising in.
My last item on the todo list ist the tiller, which I dismount to put in nice, water resistant marine grease and again glue everything together again. Now all the leaks have been worked on - if they really hold up against the waves only our next trip can tell…
Our second stop in Vava’u was anchorage no. 7 in the west of the island Kapa. (Yes, the anchorages here are numbered so the local Mooring base can find it’s ships again.) The was anchorage even more quiet than the one before and the beach absolutely stunning ! We went snorkeling every day and were impressed that there is at least twice the amount of different corals compared to French Polynesia. That gets us even more excited to go further west where the coral is supposedly a lot more diverse than here.
We again stayed four days and enjoyed ourselfes (more on that in the next post). When leaving for Neiafu we made a stop after about 1.5 miles on the western extreme of the island. Located here is the Swallows Cave that can be accessed by dinghy. One has to stay on the sailboat though as the water is way too deep to anchor in front of the cave. Inside the cave the colors play with the water and as the name suggests, the ceiling is covered with swallow’s nests. A thing not to miss when visiting Tonga.
Our first stop outside of Neiafu was at the anchorage No.16 on the western side of Vaka’eitu. A very peaceful little island inhabitated by only one family. We arrived there last saturday just in time to participate in a traditional Tongan feast with a pig roasted over open fire and many roots and vegetables baked in an earth oven. Veeery nice !!
Next day we took a hike together with Harald and Veronica from the SY Tagtraeumer – the one other austrian sailboat currently in Vava’u waters. It took some time for us to discover that we actually met before. That was in Mindelo, Cabo Verde in December 2011.
The walk over to the other side of the island leads through beautiful lush tropical forest and the beach on the eastern side is amazing. Unfortunately it was too windy and the sea to choppy to go for a swim.
We stayed for four days and then finally said good bye (again) to our friend Dan from the SY Red Sky Night. He took off towards Fiji to press on towards Australia.