Thursday, September 6, 2012

Update on Jerry

All our time since Monday has been mostly taken up trying to arrange logistics to get a delivery skipper out to Challenger here in Fulaga.

Jerry is still in the hospital in Suva receiving recompression treatments. He is getting better--walking and in good spirits--and expects a full recovery, but progress is frustratingly slow. Fortunately, Kennedy on Far Star has been there helping Jerry (extra food goodies, laundry, friendship), and providing communications with us via radio.

Jerry has contracted with Curly Carswell, a local delivery skipper, to take Challenger from Fulanga to Suva. The problem is getting Curly here... there is no airport, and the supply ship only comes once a month, and it just left about 10 days ago. The villagers told us that sometimes people fly to Lakeba, the capital of the Lau Group, 60 miles away, and take a boat down to Fulaga. Sounds simple, right? (NOT!) The Lau Group is not a normal tourist destination, so information on services and travel options are really sketchy.

Using our local contacts in Fulaga (who have phone and radio contact with Lakeba), we finally got a quote for the boat ride from Lakeba to Fulanga, and it came in at $1,800 FJD (about $1,000 U.S.), almost 4 times more than the total cost of Curly's flight from Savusavu to Suva and Suva to Lakeba. Sheesh. We're just not doing that.

So Plan B, just hatched yesterday, is for us to sail the 60 miles to Lakeba to get Curly and bring him back to Fulaga. Complicating things is the weather. We have had pretty relaxed weather patterns over the last month, but in the last week, things have become less relaxed. We have a marching succession of highs and lows pushing each other, and trying to find a couple of days of nice weather to go to sea has become a lot more difficult. We either seem to have squally frontal weather, or reinforced trades in the 20-25 knot range, with only a half a day of relaxed sunny weather in between.

We just had a front go by last night--rain all day yesterday, with squally weather with gusts to 40 knots overnight. Fortunately, our anchorage here is really secure. All 3 boats here are fine, but Far Star in Suva spent the night on anchor watch--boats there dragging all over in the squally weather.

Curly is flying to Lakeba today on the weekly flight, and our current plan is to sail up tomorrow or Saturday to get him. It's a 60 mile trip, so the plan is to leave here just after the crack of dawn (need to go out the narrow cut in the reef with enough light to see) and arrive at Lakeba just before sunset, pick him up, and turn right around and slog back (upwind) to Fulanga. As soon as we get Curly on Challenger, we'll turn right around and head off on our own on Monday, as we really need to get moving back toward Savusavu. We need to get there by the 15th to get ready to leave the boat there and fly back to the U.S.

With most of our 'easy downwind cruise' time taken up hanging out here in Fulaga helping Jerry out, we'll have to push it back to Savusavu, between weather systems. Fortunately, it's only 180 miles, mostly downwind, so if push comes to shove, we only need one 36 hour weather window.

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