Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

first reports from Vuda Point

Well, first reports are in from friends who rode out cyclone Mick on board their boats in Vuda Point Marina, Fiji.  Winds in excess of 100 kts were recorded in the marina and very heavy rains.  John and Renee on Scarlett O'Hara reported that it was like being at sea, the motion was so rough within the shelter of the marina.  But in spite of this, no obvious damage to any of the boats has been found.  We are having them check to see if any of the heavy rains found its way into the interior of Toketie!  Others apparently were not so lucky.  A cruise ship was blown ashore, two local fishermen never made it home and at least one sailboat in Musket Cove was blown onto the beach.  Another sailboat in the Yasawa Islands group was reported to be in trouble but we do not know which boat or what the outcome was.
Meanwhile, back in Victoria, we have both found employment and will try to top up the cruising kitty so we can carry on with the 'real' life!
And as a special surprise, the Blue Water Cruising Association honoured us at the monthly meeting with a beautiful plaque recognizing our Pacific Ocean crossing!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

latest news...

and this just in....winds gusting to 130 kph......heavy rains and flooding....looks like an almost direct hit on Nadi Airport....Vuda Point Marina is very close.....

Tropical Cyclone 'Mick'

The first named storm of the season is now barrelling down on Fiji!  TC Mick with winds increasing to 55 kts or more is passing over Fiji on today.  

For a satellite image try http://www.met.gov.fj/aifs_prods/00sat.html  

Hopefully Toketie is securely tucked into the 'hole'!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The treadmill!

Well, we are back in Victoria, BC.  We both have found short term gainful employment so the cruising kitty will be replenished.  It has been below freezing for several nights now and they are forecasting snow this weekend.  The weeks are flying by with family and friends.  All is well and we miss our cruising buddies and lifestyle!  Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

brrrrrr!

Back in Victoria!  Caused quite a stir at airport security in my new duds.....they especially objected to my razor sharp samurai sword but I claimed religious freedom rights and threatened to cut off their heads.....currently hoping to make bail if any of my friends see this.....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seoul Tower

...not nearly as high as Toronto's CN tower but a lot more concrete stretching all around it.....

Seoul City

...the view from Seoul Tower...the tower is centrally located and the city stretches the same in all directions....

King's consort house

The king's retreat

...only the king can cross this bridge to be alone in comtemplation....

Roof detail at the Royal Palace

The figures on the eves indicate the importance of the building....always an odd number and eleven being the highest

Jogyesa Buddhist Temple

Three aspects of the Buddha.....

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Over 600 years of history here.  The king's primary residence.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Seoul, Korea

Arrived in Seoul after 10 1/2 hour flight with Korean Air.  They were very pleasant to travel with, reminded me of when airlines did not treat you like cattle!  Incheon International Airport in Seoul is huge!  Serving a city of over 22 million and acting as a hub to Asia, Europe and N America.  The efficiency was impressive.  We picked up our bags, cleared customs (non event) and boarded a modern bus for the 1 1/2 hour ride into town.  We found our hotel with minimum fuss, people are very helpful though English is sparse.  Leaving our bags behind and a bit weary, we wandered the streets in search of a late snack.  We found a wonderful little restaurant full of locals and had a pile of bar b q chicken and other things I'm sure we'll learn the names of before we leave.  Today we are off to see the town....no small feat!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Toketie to bed!

Toketie has been stripped of all her canvas and much of her gear!  She sleeps comfortably in 'the hole' at Vuda Point Marina in Fiji.  We have packed our bags and fly to Seoul, Korea tomorrow morning where we will spend four nights before flying to Vancouver and Victoria.  See you all (back in BC) soon!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

gecko!

this is the third guest from the lizard family we have had on board.....they are very cute and cuddly....if you can catch them...and they eat bugs!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vuda Pt Yacht Club Bar

A wonderful view of the setting sun, Sabrina the shiny black bar cat with the emerald green eyes (must be some Irish there) rubbing against your leg and very politely asking what you are having for dinner and whether you are willing to 'share'.....and the entrance to the marina, at low tide a 10' deep channel cut through the reef.....many happy hours spent here with the sound of the geckos chirping in the beams....

"the grave"

A view of the 'hole' that Toketie will be nestled into next month to sit out the cyclone season in Fiji.  The keel rests below ground and the hull is supported on piles of old tires....

Friday, October 09, 2009

kids on Waya Island!

We met these young pirates when we were walking the beach in the Yasawas!

Back in Vuda Point Marina!

After two tsunami alerts and then the wind going round to the North making our quiet little bay a nightmare, we upped and made our way back around to the marina.....with all those amenities....like hot water, laundry, wifi, the yacht club restaurant....wow!  Now if only there was a bit of breeze and we could breath in this stifling heat!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

shakin, rattlin, but still rollin

October 8, 2009

Thursday here, Wednesday back home in Victoria! The rain had passed in the night, washing the decks off for us. So we dragged the dinghy up on the beach and started walking up the hot dusty road to the highway. We were soon offered a lift by the young local Coca-Cola rep. As he turned South at the highway, we flagged down a bus into Lautoka and while making our way from the market to an internet café, we were told by a scruffy looking individual on the street that a 'tsunami' warning had just gone into effect for Fiji. Ignoring him at first, we quickly realized there was something different about the rhythm of the town. Shops were closing down, lots of people on the streets, traffic jams. We were in the grocery store and soon realized that the warning was for real. I told Linda to abandon the cart and we flagged a taxi in front of the store. The radio was blaring with the news that an earthquake in Vanuatu, just 500 miles West of Fiji, had occurred below the sea and was expected to generate a tsunami wave striking the West coast of Fiji within an hour. The taxi crawled along as everyone tried to head for higher ground. Schools were closed and children bussed to safe locations. The wave was forecast to be as high as 8 meters! We had left the hatches open on Toketie and some portholes and were anchored in a shallow bay on the West side of Viti Levu, one of the most exposed and vulnerable coasts in this case. By the time the taxi was free of the town and the traffic jam, there was only 10 minutes left till the wave was expected to arrive on the shores of Fiji. Going down to the boat at this point would be too risky so we got out at a gas station on the highway overlooking the bay. We could not see Toketie from here but had a clear view to the West where a wave was expected to appear any minute now. An hour later, nothing had happened and the alert was canceled. We walked down to the beach and gratefully retrieved our dinghy from the beach and went home.glad to be safe and still have a boat.
Never a dull moment when you live on the edge.of the world!

Monday, October 05, 2009

boat chores!

One more porthole completed! Seems to take two days to get through each one...only two left to do! Weather has gone from bright hot sun to heavy humid overcast with no wind. Feels like just before a heavy rain! But it is quiet in this anchorage and the days slide by.....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

tsunami!

We woke up to talk of a tsunami warning in Fiji yesterday! It was cancelled a few hours later with no noticeable surge here. Have heard brief reports of death and destruction in the Samoas and devastation of a village in Nuatoputapu in N Tonga. Reminds us we are travelling in an area of geological instability where volcanos and earthquakes are a reality! By the way, how is that San Andrea Fault line holding up? :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sevu-Sevu

This traditional ceremony is still practiced in the remote villages. We were anchored in Yalobi Bay on the South end of Waya Island, which is part of the Yasawa Island chain in the Western part of Fiji. Some of these small islands are uninhabited, many now have rustic 'backpacker' resorts. Yesterday, on arriving, we rowed to shore and asked for the 'Tui Waya' which I assumed meant the chief or headman of the village. The children pointed us to an elderly man sitting on the beach under the palm trees lining the shore. We approached him and were invited to sit on the sand with him. He was sitting with a young woman named Tamma who operated a backpacker resort in the village. This was the first time since we have been in Fiji that we have attempted the Sevu-Sevu ceremony. We placed the bundle of Yaquona root before us on the sand. This plant, sold in most markets in the cities, is ground up and mixed with water to make kava, a mild narcotic that men, traditionally, though western women have been seen to participate, consume socially. Our brief encounter with it in Tonga found it to be very mild. Tui ignored the proffered gift at first and smilingly asked us questions about where we came from, where we had been, our families and Toketie. He told us the village did not have a chief at the moment but after sharing conversation for a while, he agreed to accept our gift, clapped his hands three times and welcomed us to the village. We were now formally under their protection and as guests could wander freely. Tui asked us what we would like to do while visiting and we mentioned hiking, as the island was mountainous, much like some of the volcanic islands in the Marquesas. He said there were many trails and advised using a guide.
Today the sky is clear, the sun is very hot and there is no breeze. It is very peaceful in the bay. We rowed ashore and decided it was too hot a day to attempt a hike. On seeing us, Tui and Tamma waved us into a grass hut with open sides with a long table. He asked if we were interested in any crafts they made and began to spread out before us an assortment of necklaces of amacite, shells, seeds, sharks teeth, as well as some decorative cloth made into sulus or wraps. We picked up a few gifts to take home and walked the length of the beach along the village. Several other families welcomed us, one young man knocking a coconut from a tree and hacking the top off for us to drink. Another older lady took us into her grass hut to show us her crafts, of which we bought a small blue beaded necklace, supposedly mother of pearl.
Later in the day, the wind came up from the South and was blowing directly into the bay. We swung on our anchor close to the reef lining the shore and the swells started to build, foretelling an anxious night on anchor watch and little sleep. Nature had once again intruded into our tranquil paradise.
By first light, we were bouncing in the large swells rolling into the bay and the anchor alarm was going off indicating less than six feet between our keel and the reef. We pulled up the anchor and motor sailed our way back to the big island for the shelter of Saweni Bay where we had been so comfortable before.
So we are back in our quiet little bay and the sun is shining again. We will probably stay here and work on the list of boat chores Toketie seems to endlessly acquire. It is peaceful and sheltered and good holding. There is only one other boat in the bay at the moment but last night several came in for the night and left early in the morning. We can swim here and there is a beach to explore and if really desperate, we could walk up to the highway and catch the bus into Lautoka. But for now we are relaxing and thinking of people and places far away. In November, we will be back in Victoria and that may be a shock to our tropically acclimated systems!
For the moment, we are out of wifi range so we can only be reached via winlink!

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 22, 2009 – Vuda Point Marina, Fiji

After 7 relaxing weeks at Musket Cove, we have finally slipped our mooring and motored in very light air the three hours back to Vuda Point Marina.  Our water tanks were getting low and potable water is a luxury on the outer islands.  Running out of beer and wine had nothing to do with the decision!

The last week in Musket Cove saw torrential tropical rainfall for about 12 hours straight, followed by brisk 30 kt winds.  We had a couple of movie and reading days on board and when the sun came out again, the dozen or more boats in the bay converged on the Island Bar to fire up the barbq pits and share stories about how none of us know exactly where we will go to next!  Musket Cove is a wonderful place and they make it very easy to stay.  A protected anchorage with plenty of moorings, most supplies readily available, reasonable drinks at the Island Bar, and of course the swimming pool.  Not to mention great hiking trails and friendly people.  Our favourite bartender, Vasiti, took these pics of an octopus right at the edge of the bar.  I had seen a larger one in the same area a couple of weeks before, but did not have the camera along.  And we saw the biggest turtle we have ever seen several times out in the bay, not to mention the small fish antics as they ruffle the surface of the water, probably running from barracuda or mahi-mahi.  

But now we are sweltering in the heat in the marina where very little breeze can penetrate.  Yesterday we rode the chicken bus into Lautoka and stocked up on supplies.  Last night was $10 pizza night at the resort next door so a whole gang of people descended on it.  Today, filling water tanks and tidying up!

Only 6 more weeks and Toketie will be 'put to bed' for 6 months while we fly to Seoul for a few days on the way home to Victoria.  Looking forward to family and friends and Mikey's wine!!!!

Octopus at Musket Cove

Our favorite Island Bartender, Vasiti, took these wonderful pics at the edge of the water! (remember that if you click on a pic, it will enlarge it)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Musket Cove Regatta Pirates Day!

After the 'rum' inoculation, things started to get 'out of hand', at least for those who still had their hands!  When this wench tried to steal me, well things just got sillier from there....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spectacular skies!

The sunsets have been performing well lately!  Weather is fairly settled right now with hot sunny days and a breeze if we are lucky.  At night it cools off comfortably.  Our daily routine of boat chores to swimming pool to showers to sundowners is mesmerizing us into apathy!  So we have signed up for the festivities next week when the annual Musket Cove Regatta kicks off.  About 80 boats have registered so there should be lots of partying with trips to outer islands and silliness all around.  As the only Canadian boat registered this year, we will have to represent the country!
Linda is off kayaking with a kiwi friend so I might get ambitious and clean the long green slimy stuff off the prop!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

another hike on Malolo Island!

It was an overcast day, threatening to rain, so perfect for hiking!  Tide was extremely low this morning so we crossed between the islands and followed the beach......this young fellow dogged our footsteps along the way....

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Monday, August 03, 2009

Relaxing!

Actually got into the water yesterday!  First time since Tonga last year.  The Island Cruising Association rally fleet were having a picnic on a sand bar, at least for a few hours they were, till the sand bar disappeared with the tide!  I drifted out to the edge and snorkelled over some beautiful clumps of live coral full of tropical fish.  Later we inflated the kayaks and spent a couple of hours drifting around the bay.
Today was a 'pool' day!  Hot sun drove us in to swim in the pool and lounge on the beach.  Tonight we will have Tom & Dawn from 'Warm Rain' over and say goodbye as they prepare to leave with the 20 rally boats to Vanuatu.
We will stay behind and struggle to maintain this hectic pace!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The view from our deck!

This is the Fiji we were looking for!  

Life's a 'Beach'!

Watch out for falling coconuts!  Lounge chairs all along the beach!  Hammocks galore!  And the sunset....every night!

The pool at Musket Cove!

This resort is very 'yachtie' friendly!  We have complete access to all their facilities.  Enjoying the pool!

The Island Bar!

$2 drinks!  bar b q pits!  laid back folks!  jimmy buffet where are you?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Paradise found!

Today we finally arrived in Fiji!  At least it felt that way, the hot tropical sun, the white sandy beaches, the clear water and coloured fishies!  We left the Vuda Point Marina after our two day haulout and patch to the minor damage caused by the reef.  Shortest haulout this year, mind you it was also the third haulout this year!
We motored in very light air across a flat sea to Malolo Lailai Island in the Mamanuca Group.  I can see why people spend extra to fly here.  It is truly beautiful and that's not only because we spent the last two months in rainy Suva!
We are connecting with friends we have not seen since NZ, tonight we went in for the bar b q at the Island Bar where they fire up the pits and you bring your own to throw on the fire.  The climate here is very comfortable with a nice breeze to offset the heat of the tropical sun and it cools off enough at night to sleep!
In fact, we like it so much here we have decided to park Toketie for the cyclone season and fly home to reconnect with family and friends.  
Meanwhile it is time to relax and enjoy this incredible place!  Tomorrow is a beach day!  The first since Tonga last year and we are due, the list of boat chores can wait....at least another day!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Good news!

Today we hauled out to survey damage from going on the reef on Snake Island!

minor scratches to bottom of keel!

what a relief!  After pounding on the reef for almost an hour, this is the only superficial damage we sustained!  Now we appreciate why we have a steel boat!

Seke!

Seke works for Baobab, the only game in town.  Very professional, very knowledgeable and took care of us same day!  Also a nice guy eh!

primer coat

After sanding down the area with a grinder, Seke applied the first coat of primer!

epoxy coat

same day, second coat of epoxy applied....we are lookin' good!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Snake Island!

At high tide you cannot see the reef but this is where Toketie went aground at 3AM when a squall came through and broke us from the mooring!  No snakes in sight at the time fortunately!

The dock at Tradewinds anchorage

This is what we scrambled up and down on every trip to town.  It was much steeper at low tide!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vuda Point Marina

Toketie is now stern tied with two lines to moorings and bow tied with two lines to the concrete shore.  To get off, we pull one of the forward lines in and step off the bowsprit onto the stubby dock alongside.  We are scheduled to haulout and survey the bottom tomorrow to ascertain whether we were damaged on the reef.  It is definitely sunnier this side of Fiji.  Today the wind is up though with 30 knot gusts out of the SE.  We are safely sheltered in the marina though and spoiling ourselves with hot showers, boat washdowns and a laundromat!  Last night we even found half price pizza night at a nearby resort.  Feels like luxury after living on the hook for so long!  

Friday, July 17, 2009

Keep on the sunny side!

Another 12 hr day saw us around to the W side of Fiji. Even got to sail some of it! Anchored in Momi Bay as the sun set in the sea to the W of us with darkness close behind. Will relax here for two nights before going into Latauko to clear in. Much clearer sky and sunnier here than Suva. Last night a billion stars turned the sky to a magic canopy with the Southern Cross always hanging in the S.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

left Suva!

Toketie has finally left Suva! Almost 2 months gone by there. Now anchored about 40nm West and half way to Lautoka. Weather sun and cloud with 20kt tradewind pushing us along.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Toketie heading to Oz!

We just had multiple entry long term visas approved for Australia so have decided to bypass Vanuatu this year and head for New Caledonia before making our way to Brisbane, Australia or nearby for the cyclone season.  But first we still have to go around to the other side of Fiji and haulout to make sure we did not sustain any major damage to the hull.
If anyone reading this has contact information for John & Masumi or Ted & Helmie in Australia, pls email it to us or post it as a comment on the blog.
Sun shining today!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Still in Suva!

We are still in Suva!  One thing after another seems to delay us.  Getting close to ready now and looking at the weather for a chance to slip around the corner to Lautoka area.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

More tails from the snake pit!

Outboard motor is running again!  Finding pieces of dead snake daily as they come flying out the flywheel!  Still stinks in there so there must be more.  Gearshift no longer shifts so when you crank the engine, its off you go!  Speaking of which, we hope to be ready to go in a few days!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 1st – Canada Day Eh!

A day in the life of a cruiser!
Actually let's start the evening before.  Sitting in the cockpit at dusk, fortunately we do not have a problem with bugs here.  The sun has gone down and we are enjoying a glass of a blended dry French red wine!  Buying wine here is always a gamble.  Most of it comes from New Zealand or Australia.  Anything else costs an arm and a leg.  This particular blend of French is quite drinkable, though our standards may have changed somewhat from the days of storing hundreds of bottles in the cellar, all individually chosen and brewed to perfection by our own personal winemaker at Grapes to Glass Winery in Victoria!  But those days are long gone and now we get by on what we can find and what we can afford.  As we gaze off into the SW, lightning flashes illuminate the horizon, forecasting the thunderstorms we have been led to expect.  But today we had enough sun to keep the batteries up so treated ourselves to a movie.  We are adding to our collection from the street vendors selling pirated movies for $1 or $2 and that is Fijian $ so really only costing half that!  Tonight's treat, 'Nim's Island', a delightfully light family story with a bit of the S Pacific thrown in!
Morning brought overcast skies but the rain seems to have paused momentarily so I remove the shattered piece of glass from the dodger to take in as a pattern.  A small blue cloud can be heard overhead but fortunately is hidden by the large gray clouds filling the sky.  Cutting a broken piece of glass out of its caulking in the heat and 99% humidity proves to be a challenge but perseverance will out and what's left of it is bundled between two pieces of plywood for transport to the glass cutting place.  Yogurt and bananas for breakfast and just as we drop the dinghy into the water, the heavens open up and a deluge sets in!  So we abandon all hope of going to town and pick up our books again.  But within the hour, the rain lightens up so we make a dash for it and with our new umbrella over us, manage to make it to the dock in a light sprinkling and decide to take a taxi for all of $4f to the glass place.  We leave it and walk downtown, stopping at an internet cafĂ© to check the email as the wifi onboard was not working this morning.  We have also found an Acer laptop dealer in town and they claim they can get a new motherboard to replace the one we lost in the knockdown last fall.  So we are communicating with them to see if it is possible.  Its only about a 20 minute walk downtown so we dodge the rain, hiding under our umbrella and shuffle down among the hustle and bustle of the city core!
We find the narrow stairway going up to the small room that is Rainbow Jewelers where Linda left a pearl from Polynesia a few days ago to be mounted on a pendant.  Work like that is very inexpensive in Fiji.  The quality is a bit crude but I guess we can look back on it someday and remember how it came about!
By this time we are getting hungry and though we usually find a curry place full of locals, today we want something lighter and find some fish and chips in a mall.  A few items from the supermarket for dinner, a couple of bottles of wine and we walk back to find the glass cut and ready.  The heavens open once again and we hide under overhangs of building to hail a cab which takes us back to the dilapidated fisheries dock and our dinghy.
Shuffling carefully down the slippery ramp and around the holes and piles of rubble, we load our treasures in the dinghy and climb aboard under a light rain. We cast off and much to my surprise the pull cord on the outboard does not return and the engine did not start.  As we drift away from the dock and the rain begins in earnest, the little blue cloud can once again be heard to hover over me!  But I pull the cover off the top of the outboard and jump back as the tail of a coral snake greets me thrashing from within the top of the engine!  Seems one of the little guys has crawled up inside and when I pulled the cord, I must have wrapped it around the spring.  Now what?  I can't see the snake as he is now buried inside the pulley the starter cord wraps around to crank the engine.  Hmmmm!  So I poke the end of the umbrella along the edge trying to rewind it manually.  Remember these little coral snakes, though not aggressive, are one of the most venomous snakes in the world and this guy is probably not happy at the moment!  For more info check out 
I managed to rewind the cord, the tail of the snake disappearing in the process and give it a yank, hoping to release the snake and the engine but to no avail.  Once more, I rewound it manually and gave it a yank!  This time Linda, who likes snakes about as much as Indiana Jones does, lets out a shriek that has me jumping up and down in the dinghy in the rain, thinking the thing has gotten loose and is about to attack me!  Then I notice about 4 inches of snake, the tail end, lying in the bottom of the dinghy.  I guess cranking the cord ripped it up inside and it must be wound around the pulley.  At this point the rain is starting in earnest and the wind is picking up so we row our way out to Toketie and unload our precious cargo, leaving the poor Laticauda colubrina, or what's left of it, to fend for itself inside the outboard.
We are soaked to the skin but having replaced the hot water heater only days before, hot showers were in order.
This followed by a bottle of bubbly they threw in when we bought the wine and much laughing about how the day went.  So warm and dry and home again with a new piece of glass that might get put in tomorrow, weather permitting.
A stiff rum and coke, some wine with a fresh pasta dinner and cruiser's midnight sneaks up on us at the usual 9PM!  
As we drift off, exhausted, dreaming of snakes, we wonder what tomorrow might bring!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"On the Rocks!"

This however was not the traditional with two cubes of ice!  
I have been procrastinating reporting this adventure partly not to concern people and partly because it affected us more than we would care to admit.  About a week ago, at 3AM on Monday morning (these things always happen in the middle of the night) the mooring we were on broke at the bottom and we woke up with Toketie hard aground on a reef.  Fortunately it was at the inside edge of Snake Island, a small island in the bay we were in.  The wind had been up off and on all night, and I had been up off and on with it.  But during one of my naps, we drifted across the bay and struck bow first into the reef.  The wind, of course, had picked up again and was now pushing us sideways as we were jammed between two high spots below us.  It was an extremely unnerving experience.  We both scrambled out, got the engine going (luckily we did not have a fuel pump in pieces) and put it into reverse and gave it as much power as we dared.  The rudder was jammed in the rocks and we did not move at all.  The tide looked to be very high and that meant if we did not get off soon, we would be high and dry in a few hours and lying on our side!  We then got on the VHF radio and placed a Mayday call to anyone listening, hoping to get a power boat to help pull us off.  A local Fijian boat came back and was too far to assist but phoned the police on a cell phone and relayed that they were heading to their boat at the yacht club in the next bay and would make their way over to us.  This did not sound like it would help us in time.  Another local cruiser in a catamaran heard us and responded as well.  They were anchored at the yacht club and could not navigate the reefs to our bay in the dark but offered to assist at first light if necessary.  We thanked them and signed off.  I then went back to trying to budge the boat using the engine.  I could manage very small motion forward but since that was driving it up on the reef, I put her in reverse again and left her running at high revs.  By the grace of Neptune or whoever looks after fools, children and sailors, a big gust of wind came along at just the right time, heeled us over enough to break free and we slowly crawled backwards away from Snake Island and into the howling wind.  In darkness we anchored somewhere in the middle of the bay, dug the hook in, breathed a huge sigh of relief, cancelled the Mayday call and made a pot of coffee!
If bad things happen in threes, this would be the third for us!  Our knockdown last fall out of Tonga, the recent storm and losing the engine, and now going on a reef so hopefully its all sunny skies from here.  Fiji has been rough on us in some ways.  On the brighter side, we have actually enjoyed our forced stay in Suva!  The engine is now repaired.  Today we found a place that can make us a new panel of safety glass for the dodger (did I mention that falling out on the passage?), the people are very friendly.  
Yesterday I dinghied over to the owner's home to meet him.  He was aware of what happened, as I had talked to his brother the next day when they were repairing another mooring in the bay.  Tony Philp is an Australian businessman who owns several marinas and chandlery shops in Fiji and we had been told that he is very approachable.  So after a brief chat, he offered to lift Toketie for free at Vunda Point Marina so we could examine the bottom more thoroughly.  We know we have scratches to our new paint job on the keel but further than that we cannot tell here.  Vunda Point is about two days away (depending how many stops we make) and on the West side of the island.  We have decided now to skip the more remote Northern areas we wanted to explore and head around to the West side where there are more resorts and tourists but supposedly it is sunnier there as well and the water will be clear enough to swim in some of the anchorages.
This cruising life can be trying at times!  Will try to have something cheerier to report on the next episode of the trials and tribulations of the Toketie and crew!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New fuel pump!

Well, the fuel pump arrived today!  All went smoothly through customs with no duty or taxes for a yacht in transit.  And the good news is, it fits!  So today's job was to remove the old one and replace it with the shiny new one that does not leak.  Then the fuel lines had to be bled and primed but all is well now and our engine is back on line.  So we have a few errands to do while in the city and now we are thinking of skipping the Northern section and just going around to the West side of Fiji, the sunny side apparently!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mooring!

This kind Australian businessman has generously allowed us to use one of his moorings while in the bay!

Waiting for Godot!

That is Godot, the fuel pump…with apologies to Samuel Beckett!

Hard to believe we have been in Suva for 2 ½ weeks now. The Eastern side of the islands really is the rainy side, although we did have a few nice sunny days recently. The village of Lami is nearby and it is a short walk in for bread and eggs. The Fisheries dock where we park the dinghy though is falling apart. That does not seem to deter the workboats that are crowded around it. But it is no longer connected to the wharf and two planks with boards nailed across them allow access between the semi-submerged, somewhat afloat section of dock and the concrete wharf. One treads carefully up and down this slope that varies with the tide, trying not to step into the holes that would easily submit your entire leg to the murky waters below. Our neighbors on the only other yacht moored in the bay tell us they have found small black and white banded, highly venomous sea snakes in their dinghy several times now. We have not been so fortunate yet!

Water is available at the wharf. Our hose fittings do not fit so we cannot use the filter. On asking if we could fill some jugs with water to carry back, the workers on the dock directed me to the Fisheries building about 10 minutes down the road and said to talk to Saresh. Well I found him and he was a very busy looking official with piles of paper on his desk. Once he realized we did not want to pull Toketie up to the dock but only wanted to fill some jugs with water, he was quite relieved and directed us to Captain Liga (pronounced Linga) who is responsible for security at the dock. Liability was his major concern!

The bustling downtown city of Suva is only a 20 minute bus ride away and at $1.60Fijian (about .85Cdn) for both of us, it is fast and easy to ride the noisy, diesel fumed, public transport filled with easy going Fijians, East Indians and a pot pourri of Melanesian culture. Riding home last night as the sun was setting, the whole city was alive with people looking forward to a long weekend. We thought NZ drivers were aggressive! Here, they are crazy! But its all done lightly and no one shouts at anyone, the horn honking is carried out with big smiles and a complete lack of competitiveness or at least a general acknowledgement that it doesn't really matter who gets there first. The whole city reminds me a lot of India, the smell of street vendors preparing cheap food for the workers mingled with the faint odor of raw sewage in the humid tropical air.

On board Toketie, we have managed to completely remove, disassemble and strip down three of the portholes, a project we meant to do in NZ but never had enough dry weather to carry out. The metal behind the portholes was worn over time and rust was seeping out the edges. It was a bigger job than anticipated, always is somehow, but they are all re-sealed and re-painted inside, with new rubber gaskets and should hopefully last another 20 years. Only 7 more to go! The sandy beach on the island around the corner beckons. Maybe today we will take the dinghy around and explore it. A local told us it is municipal property with a caretaker living on it and it costs $1F to use the beach.

Thunderstorms forecast for later this evening, then more sun and rain tomorrow. Meanwhile time is drifting away as the rhythms of Fiji blend one day into another. Looking forward to getting out and exploring some of the more remote islands, swimming in crystal clear coral lagoons and meeting the locals!

Friday, June 05, 2009

A day in the country!

Our friend, Rakesh, had to drive out to a resort to fix their generator and offered to take us along for the ride.  It was a very pleasant day and we got to see some of the interior of Viti Levu.  An hours drive or so saw us take a winding gravel road over a hill and down to Waidroka Bay where a beautiful little resort was located on a beach inside the reef.  We wandered the grounds and had a very nice lunch.  The resort caters mainly to surfers as nearby are some of the primo surf destinations.

Tradewinds Hotel

We are moored near the old Tradewinds Hotel which is partially open and mostly under renovation.  The bay is pleasant, though not clean enough to swim, and the people are very friendly.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back....

We have moved to Draunibota Bay, the next over from where the yacht club was!  Still in Suva, the capital of Fiji but now on a mooring ball in front of the old Tradewinds Hotel which is under renovation.  The bay is more sheltered, cleaner and the little town of Lami is about a 20 minute walk down the highway.  A bus can take us into Suva for pennies.  Might try that today!  There is one other cruising boat here and they have been here for three months.  We are the first other boat they have seen in that time.
The good news with the engine was that we cleaned the tank and fuel lines and got it running again, only to discover that the fuel pump was leaking.  No luck sourcing one here so had a friend back in Victoria locate one.  Now all we have to do is get it here from California and hope it fits!  Meanwhile we are on the rainy side of Fiji so it is overcast most of the time with occasional rain showers.  When we get the pump installed, we should be able to head off to some of the Northern Islands and see some of the 'real' Fiji.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Suva, Fiji!

May 29, 2009 and we have now had our first good nights sleep in two weeks!  After the 50 kt winds and big seas that struck us as we approached the Koro Sea, and then losing our engine, we are relieved to be here safely.  We did have to be towed in but that is working out well as the engineering firm that ran the salvaged tug also lent us one of their mechanics to help diagnose the engine problem.  Seems the cork gaskets they used to seal the access hatches to the fuel tanks in Mexico disintegrated and clogged the fuel lines.  The good news is that no damage was done to the injectors and the fuel pump did not fail, either of which would have been expensive to repair.  So the engine is running again and we only have to clean out the tanks and replace the gaskets.  Another post-Mexican poor quality of work symptom!
So though we are anchored in a dirty busy commercial port in Suva, the capital of Fiji, we actually really like it here.  It is very 'real'!  The little yacht club is friendly and the Fiji Gold beer is cold and cheap.  You have to watch for hustlers and pickpockets if you go downtown but most people are very pleasant.
We will get the engine sorted out and think about exploring some of the more remote islands next week!  Sorry for the delay in communications!  Had very low battery power after attempts at engine repair at sea!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The camel's back!

Toketie is diverting to Suva. The best efforts of the skipper to get the old diesel engine running were defeated. Becalmed and adrift for over a day in the Koro Sea, we are now underway, slowly to meet a tow that will take us into the port. All is well on board, though if pressed we may admit to a bit of fatigue!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Twas a night!

Most wind we have ever been in (so far)! Seems a small High Pressure system developed locally and no one forecast it. We clocked 47 knot winds but rode it out under trysail fairly comfortably. Seas were very large with spume blowing horizontally off the tops! Quite impressive really! Now back down to normal and making our way to Savu Savu. Have not had a chance to figure out why the engine quit a few days ago!

Friday, May 22, 2009

last leg

Still 200 miles to go through the Koro Sea among the islands of Fiji. Forecast is for headwinds so we will have to work for it!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day 10 NZ to Fiji

330 nautical miles to Savu Savu, Fiji. Steady 20-25 kt winds from SE for days...making good time but hanging on in big seas is tiring! Reading lots of books...Agatha Christie to Sir Walter Scott!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wonderful sailing!

The milky way spills through the night sky, alight with a billion stars! The seas are kind and one could wish for naught but that tall ship, the fair wind and a GPS to steer her by!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 8

Passage from New Zealand to Fiji! We seem to have finally picked up the tradewinds. Nice steady 20-25 kt from the South East. Great sailing overnight and still holding today. Making better progress on the rhumb line to Fiji!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rockin n Rollin!

Wind came up in the night! Gusts to 35 kts! Had to go out in the rain and reduce canvas. Seas building. But we are now heading in the right direction and making better progress. Love that trysail! Mate is in the galley making pancakes...she is a keeper! :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Distance!

We have now covered about 50 nautical miles and have about 800 to go to Savu Savu, Fiji. That takes into account the extra 120 or so we went West to avoid a low pressure system. We are now back on track and at least pointing towards Fiji. Of course the wind has been coming from that direction but has just clocked around to the South and is behind us again. It is forecast to stay South and East of us now for the rest of the way! We can only hope!

Snailing along!

Very little wind at the moment! Motor-sailing way too much. Eating well though and getting more sleep. The passage rhythm has taken over.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

S/V Elusive

Sad to report that last night S/V Elusive reported to Pac Sea Farers that they were taking on water. Within 2 hours she was abandoned. Steve, Wendy and son Allan are all safe on board S/V Scarlett O'Hara who were nearby to assist. We are now sailing on the S edge of a low that is giving us strong winds and big seas. We hope to go around it by tonight and then get back on course for Fiji! All well on board Toketie...though somewhat tired!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Birthday Greetings!

Not quite what we planned for Linda's bday but seems we cannot control the weather! Beautiful sunny calm day out here! No wind and motoring West! Yes, West! Fiji is NE but we are going West! Why? Because all of a sudden their seems to be a very deep low forming directly ahead of us with with strong winds and big seas. The boats ahead of us have actually turned back and are headed south! So this must be the calm before the storm! Expected to hit us about midnight tonight but by going West we hope to stay on its 'good' side! Say your prayers tonight eh! :) Oh for a life on the bounding main...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

3rd day out

Had a great overnight sail! Clear sky, half moon, gentle breeze! We are in passage mode now and forecast ahead is light winds.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Toketie en route!

We cleared customs early Wed NZ time and are now about 130 nm offshore en route to Savu Savu, Fiji. Good winds all night, lumpy seas but we are sailing and making good progress. Looking forward to warmer weather!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Adieu NZ?

The large very disturbed low pressure system that has been bringing strong winds and heavy rains to most of NZ is predicted to move off on Wednesday (Monday today)!  And about time too!  So even though it may leave a trail of sloppy seas and unpredictable winds in its wake, we are tired of 'provisioning' for the last time so unless they forecast a tropical storm, we intend to clear out and head North.  Meanwhile we left the mooring in the bay today for a couple of nights at the dock.  We can plug in and charge the batteries, plug in the electric heater and Linda can even use her hair dryer!   The dinghy is hoisted and stowed on deck.  The anchors are lashed down.  Time to get the TV out and watch another episode of 'The Tudors'!!!!

Monday, May 04, 2009

wither the weather!

Missed a pretty good weather window but were not ready!  Another low pressure system on its way so might have to wait for it to pass and try to ride the back of it out of NZ...maybe by the weekend!  

Putting the fire on at night and in the morning to take the chill off.  Heavy fog yesterday!  Fall in NZ!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Ship Trak position reports

Check this out!   Seems Pacific Sea Farers that we maintain radio contact with when on passage also update this site with a google earth background.
 
Enter our callsign VA7DXF in the callsign box and watch Toketie's track across the Pacific!
 
 
Yotreps and Winlink Position reporters will be active again when we leave NZ but they drop the record if you do not report for a week.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Provisioning!

....one of many loads....now where to put it...and more importantly...how to find it again!

Tucker Thompson under almost full canvas!


The local square rigger on a breezy reach!  Derek....we should be on it!

last night at anchor!

glow of the sunset off the rocks in Otaia Bay