Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gunkholing around Ovalau

We spent several days exploring the island of Ovalau on our way to Suva. We approached from Namena through the Makogai Channel (regretfully passing up Makogai because we didn't have time) on a beautiful clear day without much wind. Because the conditions were so perfect, we decided to sneak inside the reef at the very north end of the reef east of Ovalau. (17-43.52S / 178-50.89E)

Approaching Ovalau from the North

This enabled us to travel south inside the reef, in calm water. We left our fishing line out and actually caught a small (but edible size) Walu (Spanish or Pacific Mackerel).

The Marker at the North End of the Reef at Ovalau

As we made our way south to our intended anchorage at Levuka (the primary town on Ovalau), we wandered between the reef and the shoreline, checking out possible anchorages, and sightseeing.

An Old Church on the Shoreline

The Levuka anchorage is somewhat exposed to the prevailing southeasterlies, and we were looking for an anchorage 'nearby' that would be better. We found several possibles--but since we had nearly no wind, it was hard to evaluate exactly how good (or bad) the anchorage would be if the winds were blowing 20 knots out of the SE. One possible we found, about 4 miles north of Levuka, is at 17-37.47S / 178-48.82E.

We eventually ended up at Levuka. Curly had told us to anchor close in, in 7 meters, a shade south of the "leading line". We looked around a bit and decided that this WAS the best anchor spot. The big pier for fishing boats and ferries, if you anchor close in, gives you a wee bit of protection from the chop and swell from the SE. So we dropped anchor at 17-40.97S / 178-50.15E.

Anchored Behind the Pier

While VERY convenient to town, and a spot at which you can check in to Fiji, this anchorage has two MAJOR drawbacks (besides it is slightly exposed in strong southeasterlies). First, the town generator is right at the base of the pier--right next to you. It is a very VERY noisy beast and runs 24x7. It was Sunday afternoon, and we didn't notice the second one until Monday morning--when the Tuna processing plant cranked up. Whew!! We were right downwind of the tuna factory.

From "Ovalau's primary attraction is the old colonial capital of Levuka, a community of 1500 or so inhabitants. Nestled at the base of steep bluffs, Levuka has the ambience of a 19th century whaling town, which is exactly what it was. With weather worn clapboard buildings, narrow streets, and ever-friendly residents, Levuka’s harbor and bars at one time welcomed vessels from every seafaring nation."

As soon as we got the anchor set, we went ashore and paid our respects to the Port Captain (there is a small dock at the base of the pier for dinghies and small boats--the PC office is right there). In fact the Port Captain had called us on VHF 16 as we were wandering around checking anchorages (wanting to know our boat name and intentions). We showed him our papers, and paid a small port fee (something like $10).

We had been out at Namena for a few days, so Dave offered to take me out to dinner in town. He had read in our Moon Guide about a couple of restaurants, and we had our friends on Java's recommendations, too. We walked the town looking for places to eat, but it turned out that only one place was open on Sunday--and not til 6pm.

Downtown Levuka on Sunday Afternoon

It was 4:30pm, so we had an hour and a half to kill. Dave had read about a nice walk up into the hills, so we decided to investigate it a little bit. Then we found there was a river was there, and Dave got hot on the trail of a waterfall. So we ended up hiking WAY up into the hill to the beginning of the town water supply, there was a tiny waterfall. Fortunately it was mostly paved (ending up being just a narrow one-person track at the end). But we got back to town at 6pm in our Sunday Best all sweaty from a hike.

The Main Church in Levuka

The Path to the Waterfall

Overlooking the Main Entrance to Levuka

We Finally Reach the Waterfall

Some Great Kids we Met on our Walk

The only restaurant was a Chinese place, and we were keenly looking forward to some Chop Suey or Stir Fry, but were dismayed to find that they had NO VEGETABLES. Apparently there were no fresh vegetables on the island at all at this time. Ovalau is a small island not far off the coast of Viti Levu, the main island. But everything comes in by ferry. Being Sunday, all the grocery stores were closed.

Unfortunately, this lovely restaurant, with a nice balcony overlooking the harbor, also overlooked the town generator. Un-airconditioned, it was too hot INSIDE the restaurant, and they had 70's music blasting at too loud a volume to talk. Outside on the balcony, it was cooler, but you had to listen to the generator. We were fortunate to get our order in first, service was slow, and we ate our chicken and rice with canned vegetables and left.

The Original Morris Hedstrom Store

The next morning, Monday, we spent about 10 minutes in the tiny M&H grocery store--getting a couple of things, but no fruits and veggies. Dave was keen to see the Levuka Museum across the street, housed in the old Morris Hedstrom building. So we spent an hour looking at the combination Museum and town library. It was interesting reading about how the European traders had injected themselves in local politics between chiefs in Fiji, and ended up owning the country. Typical story we have experienced all across the Pacific islands. And of course the Europeans brought diseases that the islanders were not immune to, and wiped out 2/3 of the population. And the Missionaries, who followed the traders closely, attacked their culture, stealing their souls as well as their country. Oh, I mean SAVING their souls, right?

We Perused a Few Dusty But Interesting Exhibits

We inquired about taking a bus around the island, but found that there was no bus that GOES around the island. There is an old decrepit bus that goes one way, about a quarter of the way, and another bus that goes the other way, a quarter of the way. But the road is bad, and the trip is not cheap. The other half of the island has no road.

Levuka Buses, Built for the Rugged Roads

So we returned to Soggy Paws, hauled up the dinghy, and left Levuka to do our own exploring.

We spent the rest of the day gunk-holing counter-clockwise around Ovalau, checking out anchorages and sightseeing.

Lush Countryside

We were keen to check out a place that Curly had showed us, labeled "Hurricane Hole". We eventually found the place and agreed with another cruiser, Mr John IV, who said it was a snug anchorage, but isn't quite protected enough to be a Hurricane Hole. (but it was way better than remaining off Levuka in a blow). The best spot was saw was about 17-44.09S / 178-45.99E.

Even though it was getting late in the day, we decided not to anchor there, but press on south to an anchorage off one of the two islands on the south end of Ovalau that supposedly had a "Backpacker Resort" on the island. There are reefs all over in this area, and we'd certainly ignored AGAIN Curly's advice to only travel between 10am and 2pm so you can see the reefs. GoogleEarth Charts are our friend. It also helps a lot that the regular electronic charts (CM93 C-Map charts dated 2010, and our Garmin charts dated 2008) are reasonable detailed and reasonably accurate in most places.

A Caqalai Bure

We ended up at tiny Caqalai Island (anchorage: 17-44.15S / 178-43.80E). On our chart, there is no island there--just a reef. But this island is owned by the Methodist Church in Ovalau, and has rustic accommodations for about 20 people. Caqalai is pronounced Thang-a-lie in Fijian. We went ashore and talked with the people there. There was only one guest and she was leaving tomorrow. The 3 Fijian caretakers on the island apologised for the messiness of the island--they had not yet properly cleaned up after getting blasted by the edge of Cyclone Evan in mid-December. (But weren't working very hard on cleaning up, either). We asked if we could get dinner there, and ended up paying $15FJD per person for a small whole fish and some cabbage and rice. But it was interesting hanging out.

Caqalai Staff Cleaning the Grounds (NOT!)

The next day, we headed further south into the reefy areas south of Ovalau. Dave wanted to check out another possible "cyclone hole" Curly had pointed out, down along the coast of Viti Levu. However, we never got that far--it was dicey getting in, and didn't look like we could get far enough in shore to get any real protection in bad weather.

So we stopped instead at Toberua Island. (anchorage: 17-58.58S / 178-42.17E) Toberua Island Resort is another resort on a small island in the reefy area between Ovalau and Viti Levu. What a difference from last night's stop at Caqalai. This resort is owned by Kiwis and is an extremely well manicured family resort. The buildings were nicely constructed, and everything was in its place. The Fijian staff was impressively friendly.

Immaculate Grounds at Toberua Island

We introduced ourselves and asked if "yachties" were welcome ashore (sometimes they are, sometimes they are not). The owners happened to be in attendance, with brand new managers, one of whom was a former sailor/cruiser. So they said, "Yes, we welcome well-behaved yachties ashore."

The Workout Bure at Toberua

We got a grand tour of the island, besides some 20-odd "bures" (thatched guest quarters), there was a sort of barracks at the back for the Fijian staff, a huge generator, a workshop, and water storage. There is a dive shop and "water sports" building out by the beach. And the place was full...

Dave Gets a Briefing on the Route Out the Reef to the Southeast

We talked with the dive shop operator, to get a little coaching on getting out of the reef toward the southeast tomorrow. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Wished we could have stayed a couple of days, done some diving, and hung out.

But tomorrow... onward to Suva.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Diving in Namena Marine Reserve

Read about the Namena Marine Reserve.

On our way in to Namena, we checked out the area around the North Save-a-Tack Passage, and found a good spot to anchor Soggy Paws, so we could take our dinghy out for the dive. But Tobi recommended that we dive the areas on the south side of the thumb-shaped reef, and save North Save-a-Tack for the next day, when high tide would be later. The North Save-a-Tack dive is a drift dive, best done on a good incoming tide (for clearest water).

A Giant Sea Fan on the Side of the Bommie

So we headed for the anchoring spot that Tobi recommended, near the 2 dive sites we wanted to see first, Chimneys and the Tetons. The conditions were perfect for diving--about 5 knots of wind and flat seas. Sure enough, Tobi's anchor spot was a winner--a small patch of sand next to a big bommie (Western Pacific lingo for 'coral head'). We carefully placed our anchor and backed down slowly, making sure we didn't get into any coral. It was about 50' deep, but the water was clear enough to see sand vs coral on the bottom. 17-06.74S / 179-03.83E

Clams This Size are Rarely Found Outside a Preserve

Then we loaded our dive gear in the dinghy and dinghied a short distance over to the "Chimneys" (aka 2 Thumbs) dive spot. 17-06.79S / 179-03.82E. We hand-placed our dinghy anchor on the top of the pinnacle, and snorkeled a little bit to get the lay of the dive site. Here, there are 2 pinnacles coming up from about 80 feet to the surface, ringed with all kinds of fish, invertebrates, and hard and soft corals. He did our typical half-a-tank dive. Because Dave and I are easy breathers, we can get a pretty good 35 minute dive on half a tank. That's normally enough to see what there is to see. When we got down to a third of our to go, we headed to the second pinnacle and circled around it a couple of times, before heading back to a safety stop near the dinghy. At 15-20 feet (the safety stop depth), there is a huge amount of sea life, so the 3 minute stop passed quickly. This was truly gorgeous diving.

Beautiful Soft Red Coral

We went back to the boat and had a nice lunch, and then dinghied over to the dive spot known as The Tetons for a second dive. Again, very nice coral diving.

The next day, we got going reasonably early, and headed for North Save-a-Tack. We anchored Soggy Paws in about 35' nice sand, behind the reef near the drop-off (17-04.38S / 179-06.51E), and proceeded in the dinghy to the Grand Central drift dive start location (around 17-04.26S / 179-06.59E). This is right off the end of the shelf, on the south side of the pass--where the depth goes from about 50 feet to 100 feet in a sheer drop.

We put on our gear, repositioned the dinghy to the correct spot, and hopped in and descended quickly, with the dinghy in tow on a long line. We were being swept in with the current (not bad in deep water, but runs pretty swiftly on the tops of the shallow bommies). We picked a spot right on the drop-off and placed the dinghy anchor in a rock cleft, and spent about 10 minutes swimming around on the edge of the drop off. As promised, we saw lots of big fish and a few sharks. The conditions were good and the water was clear. But we couldn't stay down long at that depth, so we eventually picked up the anchor and drifted in with the current. (Other divers have gone NNW along the face of the drop-off). There are a couple of big canyons where the bottom goes from 50' to 20' rapidly. One such dive spot is called Kansas (17-04.32S / 179-06.42E). But we thought the best part of the dive was along the drop-off.

Just as we got out of the water, the Cousteau dive boat pulled up with a load of divers. Those suckers were paying $150 USD each for that dive!

After lunch, we went back to the west side of the Namena reef and dove the Mushroom dive site--another big bommie rising up out of the 100-foot depths. (17-06.35S / 179-03.59E). We picked out a nice sand spot near the bommie to anchor Soggy Paws (17-06.35S / 177-03.63E).

Another Great Sunset

The weather was great and diving conditions were perfect. We would love to have stayed a lot longer and done some more diving, but we got a call from our agent in Suva--our shipment had already arrived!!! (it was not due for another week). Since they were going to charge us storage fees if we left it unclaimed for longer than 3 days, we needed to hustle on down to Suva to take care of business.

We have barely scratched the surface of the diving at Namena. It is close to Savusavu and we hope to get back and do some more diving before we leave Fiji.

Lots More Diving in Namena

(Now I'm only a month behind in my blog!!)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Escape from Savusavu, Act 2

Sorry, been a little negligent in keeping up with the blog lately.

We finally got our Cruising Permit renewed and clearance for other ports completed, and finished our provisioning.

The morning we left, the wind predictions were still for very light winds. We opted not to put our genoa back up. If we got a chance to sail, we could always use our Code Zero. But in less than 10 knots of wind, the relative wind is either on our nose, or from behind and almost zero.

We headed straight for Namena, about 25 miles SW of Savusavu. We planned to hang in Namena for a few days to do some diving.

Namena is a Marine Reserve, surrounded by a thumb-shaped reef, and a tiny island with a small eco-resort in the middle of it. We had heard great things from friends who had dove there. And we met an underwater photographer in Savusavu who raved about how good the diving and marine life was.

We Buy our Tags to Support the Marine Reserve

Note They Still Say 2012!

The weather was absolutely gorgeous--almost no wind and seas, and beautiful sunny skies. We had tracks and waypoints from other people, and in the conditions, going through the reef at North Save-a-Tack Passage was a breeze. As we went through the reef, we scouted for a likely anchoring place, so we could come back and go diving the next day.

We continued on to the single mooring on the NW tip of the island, provided to keep boats from anchoring on the fragile reef.

Nexus Anchored Just Inside of Us in a "Coral Free" Spot

About 5pm, Tobi from Nexus (our u/w photographer friend) came back from diving and taking photos out on the reef, to find us on 'his' mooring. He declined to make us move, however, saying that he knew better where to anchor so as not to damage the coral.

We spent an hour or so with Tobi getting a briefing on where to dive. We already had a pretty complete set of waypoints from commercial dive operators (Korosun, and Naia), but Tobi told us where we could anchor to dive safely from our dinghy.

Tomorrow: Diving Namena!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Escape from Savusavu, Act 1

As soon as we got a break in the weather and our busy social schedule, we escaped Savusavu to go out to the reef near the Cousteau Resort (about 5 miles away).

We enjoyed 3 gorgeous days, anchored at "Misty's Spot".

The View of Cousteau from Misty's Spot
(at high tide with no beach showing)

The main purpose for getting out of the harbor (besides our sanity) was to scrub the bottom of the boat. For those non-sailors, when we sit in a 'nutrient rich' harbor for very long, all kinds of marine life attaches itself to the underwater portion of the boat. The boat watcher we had hired scrubbed once while we were gone, but because of Cyclone Evan, never got around to doing the 'pre-arrival scrub'.

So Dave and I spent most of one day gently scrubbing the bottom. We hooked one dive tank up to 2 regulators and did it the easy way. (using a modified "Brownie's Third Lung" arrangement made for kayak diving). The tank stays on the boat, and we've got 2 50-foot hoses down to us. Since we are only diving to 6' deep, one tank is sufficient for the two of us to scrub the whole bottom.

It wasn't bad, actually. In Fiji what's growing is mostly soft corals, easy to scrub or scrape off--not like the honking huge barnacles you get in places like Cartgena, Trinidad, or Panama. We also had some silver-dollar-sized clams, but the only place they were hard to remove were the unpainted surfaces like the prop and lighnting bar.

Our maintenance work done, we spent the next day diving on the reef. The Cousteau Resort that we were anchored off of has about 4 dive buoys within dinghy distance. We went in to the resort to talk with the dive shop and ask permission to use their buoys when they weren't. We talked to a very helpful member of the Water Sports team. He offered to come out and show us where the buoys were on his next trip out (which was in a half an hour). So we got a guided tour of the buoys.

Another cruiser had come out and anchored near us the day before. They were divers also, so the 4 of us did 2 dives on the near Cousteau dive spots. I think we dove the two spots called Golden Nuggets and Black Beacon. They were, in a word, terrible. Though we see the Cousteau boats going back and forth to these dive sites a lot, I suspect they only use them for checkout and training dives. The coral is mostly dead, and visibility was not very good. But it was great to get in the water anyway, and at $3 per person a dive (the cost of the tank fill), it was worth it.

It was also great getting out of Savusavu--there's almost no breeze in the harbor this time of year. But out on the reef, there was a nice breeze.

The South Pacific Convergence Zone "Acting Up" Again

We had planned to stay out 4-5 days, but bad weather coming forced us back into Savusavu early.

Unsettled Weather Makes for Amazing Sunsets

We are looking forward to diving Namena Marine Reserve next week. Our friends on s/v Pandion said that was awesome diving.

Misty's Spot: 16-48.93S / 179-16.85E 12' all sand behind the reef

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Get Me Out of Here!!

Well, I can't blog about what we're up to now until I cover some of the other things that have been happening in the past few weeks (besides Spider Wars). (It's the law of blogging, doncha know, and what's killed more blogs than you can imagine). Besides, this blog isn't for YOU, my dear readers, but for ME. If I don't cover the mundane, then how on earth will I REMEMBER the mundane 10 years from now?

First off, probably time to mention that I've somehow let myself get elected to the Board of Directors of the Seven Seas Cruising Association. (Mary from IWanda... you are a silver-tongued devil!) The argument had mostly to do with making sure that (a) Real Cruisers and (b) Women were represented on the Board for SSCA.

Well, even though we're 10,000 miles from "HomeBase", I'm volunteering for SSCA... are you??? Have you even renewed your membership this year?? Even for cruisers out actively sailing, SSCA is still a great organization and a great deal. And if you're part-timer or a "wannabe" full time cruiser, if you're not an SSCA member, you are REALLY REALLY missing out. It really is the best cruising organization in the world. (Visit and join today--I'm serious--you'll never regret it). What a great organization!

One of the really great benefits of membership is the SSCA Equipment Survey, where cruisers, both coastal and OUT THERE DOING IT, weigh in on what gear works best for them... what things are essential, and what the failure rates are on essential and non-essential gear. In the past, SSCA produced a paper Equipment Survey every 4 years or so. But in 2008, with the help of a number of volunteers (thank you, especially, Mark Cain s/v Magic Dragon), the Equipment Survey was put online. The results have been outstanding, with over 1,000 members responding to the survey in the first year.

The only problem is, when Mark Cain wanted to turn management of the survey over to another Volunteer, no one was there. So though 600 surveys have been taken since August 2009, the survey results on the SSCA website still reflected the last report that Mark did. So, at the Board Meeting in December, after the Melbourne Gam, in a moment of extreme insanity, I volunteered Dave and I to take on the "Equipment Survey". Both to make it live again, and to undertake, with the help of lots of other SSCA VOLUNTEERS (yes, YOU!) massive task of revamping the "2008" survey--tweaking a few things and adding in new equipment and manufacturers. We've been spending a lot of time on this. I'm happy to report that the Survey is live again, and the 600 accumulated surveys that have been taken since 2009, are now online at SSCA. SSCA Equipment Survey

We also managed to "attend" a Board Meeting last week by Skype... from Fiji. Pretty cool. For those of you wondering about logistics and costs.... The Board Meeting lasted an hour. My internet connection was good enough that I could follow the whole thing and contribute where appropriate. For people wondering what it costs in Data to Skype for an hour... the 55 minute Board Meeting took 80MB of Data. At Fijian Pay-As-You-Go rates (~$15US/GB), the call cost 80MB, or about $1.20 USD, plus another $1.50 in Skype fees. Not too shabby considering it was an hour phone call, from my boat in Fiji.

The second thing occupying my time is that our good friends in Fiji--Jim and Kyoko of Also Island (formerly s/v Also II) have asked me to help with their website. Check it out at (still under development). They are into producing Virgin Coconut Oil in a big way now, and want some help marketing what they are producing. Jim has just invented a "coconut dryer" which seems to be revolutionizing the Virgin Coconut Oil business in Fiji. They also have sponsored one Fijian child through high school and college, and now he's headed for Medical School in Suva (with some major sponsorship from another cruising boat). A second kid who wants to be a teacher is up and coming and some sponsorship too. So I'm helping them revamp the website, and set up a second site just for the Virgin Coconut Oil. Coming soon... More on this as it develops.

I am really feeling fortunate that Fiji has decent internet (we're using Vodafone cellular data). Most of this wouldn't have been possible in Tonga, and may not be feasible in places down the road. Though I am retired and plan to stay that way, it's fun and stimulating to do a few things in my spare time.

And of course, I'm still the "go to" computer person among the Savusavu cruisers... that also takes a fair bit of time... installing OpenCPN and updating charts. Teaching people how to make "Google Earth" charts for those seldom-visited and poorly charted areas.

There's also the plain mundane... shopping, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. It all happens in 3/4 time here in Fiji in the middle of summer. Savusavu is a great "cyclone hole" and a great hidey hole during the "tradewinds" months, but it really sucks in the summertime heat... hot and sticky and wind-less. Think Florida, mid-summer, no A/C, and no swimming.

And of course the social life. One of the best things about Savusavu is the bar at the Copra Shed. Where all and sundry can afford to hang out and have a drink or two. (Note to people in Ecuador... NOT as good as Puerto Amistad in Bahia de Caraquez, but almost). It's a breezy spot (when there's a breeze), drinks are reasonable, and they have both a gourmet and "budget" restaurant. And steps away are 4-5 more restaurants with offerings in the $4-$6 range.

We usually head ashore around 5:30 for a hot shower and a drink, with possibilities for a reasonably-priced meal out.

We obviously love Savusavu, but we are here in Fiji during cyclone season for the DIVING, not the socializing.
Sherry & Dave
In Namena Diving

At 01/17/2013 6:16 PM (utc) our position was 17°06.73'S 179°05.56'E

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Great Spider War

When we got back to the boat, I anticipated a big clean-up due to mold. You just can't leave a boat closed up in a tropical environment and not have mold develop. Heck, it develops in the boat even when we're aboard.

Icky Spiders in My Cupboard

Amazingly, the mold was not too bad. What I didn't expect was that the spiders would move in while we were gone. Every cupboard had several spider webs. And each web had a large female with an egg sac and a smaller male hanging about. Yuck!!

Mommy Spider Is Very Protective of Her Egg Sac

(Size perspective--the female's body is about the size of a pencil eraser, so they are not huge. Just icky).

It appears that they have been feasting on the small "pantry moths" I already had in my cupboards. Every louvered door had a pile of moth bodies underneath the louvers.

So I spent the last 2 weeks emptying all the stuff out of each cupboard, checking expiration dates, throwing out old or contaminated stuff, cleaning things up, killing the spiders, wiping up the moth bodies, and laying down a light film of RAID. I also bought a few more plastic storage boxes in town, to keep all my dry goods from becoming a moth feeding/breeding ground. Ziplock bags don't seem to keep them completely out of the things they like.

I marked all the cans in Magic Marker with the expiration year on the top of the can, so it's easy to see the oldest cans. And then re-loaded them into the can cupboard with the oldest ones--only a little expired--in the front. We'll use these up in the next couple of months before we reprovision for our trip through Kiribati to the Marshall Islands.

THEN I attacked the mold with a rag and a spray bottle of white vinegar. I am just about finished, and the boat looks pretty good. This has reminded me how much I hate housework!! (My motto: Dust if you must, but don't let life pass you by while you're doing it).

I'm not sure we've totally eradicated the bugs, but we've made a big dent in them. We do a "moth patrol" inside the boat every night with an electric mosquito-zapper (looks like a racketball racket). We get a satisfying sizzle out of every moth we kill.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Years Eve Flare Report

We had a nice low-key New Year's Eve at the Savusavu Yacht Club, with our fellow cruisers and a bunch of local Fijians and ex-pats. Apparently nothing formal had been planned until our friends on s/v Mambo (our designated social organizers) started asking the marina if we could have a little cruiser get-together.

Sofie from s/v Equinox Examines the Bar Rules

24 hours later, the Copra Shed Marina (aka Savusavu Yacht Club) had a "barbecue" organized, a band promised (didn't materialize).

Jerry and Dave Eating (Dave is already asleep!)

After we ate, and had a few drinks, the music on the sound systems started getting louder and louder. The bar got crowded with people we didn't know. So, I have to admit that Dave and I and Jerry from Challenger sneaked out and went back to our boats at about 10pm.

Jerry Shooting Off A Cheap Flare

Dave had dug out a batch of very old expired flares. So we had fun on trying to shoot them off. They all EXPIRED between 1998 and 2003 (and yes, we've been hauling them all over the South Pacific). We had 10-12 of the small inexpensive hand-held flares, and 3 of the big Paines Wessex SOLAS-grade parachute flares.


The small cheap flares were total duds. With these, you take a cap off, pull a metal chain, and the flare is supposed flare in your hand. We pulled the chains on 12 of these expired flares and absolutely nothing happened.

Dave Gets Ready to Shoot a Big Flare

The SOLAS grade flares (originally costing about $60 each) are rocket flares that shoot into the sky, and the flare goes off, a parachute is deployed, and the burning flare drifts down slowly under parachute--remaining visible for a long time. The rocket part of our expired flares worked OK, but the flare/parachute part never ignited.

So, the moral of the story is--if you're serious about being seen in a rescue situation, make sure you have GOOD FLARES and that they are IN DATE.

A Great New Years Day Breakfast

We had a very nice New Years Day breakfast at the Copra Shed, with a bunch of the cruisers. We had cruisers from Holland, Austria, Germany, Italy, and the US, and Canada.