Thursday, March 28, 2013

Off to Also Island for Easter Weekend

We are off (by bus) to visit Jim Bandy, the Net Control of the Rag of the Air net. He lives on a small island, called Also Island, off the North coast of Vanua Levu in Fiji. We had originally planned to visit Jim & Kyoko by boat, but our Arch project kept us in Savusavu for too long. It's a couple of days to windward to get around to the NE side of the the island. So we took off by bus (a small twist on the old "Nothing goes to weather like a 747") from Savusavu early this morning.

It's not easy to get to Also Island by land... you have to take a bus to Labasa, but then... its either a 6-7 hour ride in their boat, or a 4WD truck ride out to the end of a muddy track. They have no cell or internet coverage out there, but at least they have a land line (that works most of the time).

Here's their website:

And their new business venture, Virgin Coconut Oil:

So we'll be "off the grid" for a few days. Meanwhile, Jerry on Challenger is keeping an eye on Soggy Paws for us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Off Season Sewing Projects

While not busy being Dave's "boy" (fetching tools, feeding wires, and holding nuts), I've been working on annual sewing projects--restitching sun-damaged awnings and canvas covers. It's been hot work--there is really no place ashore to do this here in Savusavu, and my outdoor sewing area on Soggy Paws--on the dockbox on the stern--is full of arch paraphernalia, plus it rains often enough that it's not a good place to set up. So I'm sewing down in the hot cabin. It rains off and on, and we have to close up. One day I counted that I opened and closed the hatches 19 times!! It gets really hot and muggy in the closed up cabin, with a pile of sunbrella laying my lap. :P

This year I'm using the new "lifetime" PTFE thread, and hoping my stitching will last more than a year. The Sunbrella seems to last almost forever, but the V69 and even the heavier V92 polyester thread lasts only a year or two before it just turns to dust. I had been resisting using the new thread, because it is very expensive, AND hard to sew with. But over time I've realized how good it is--worth the money and the effort.

When we had our Bimini/Dodger made by Canvas Connections in Melbourne in 2006, Dave specified that they use the expensive Tenara thread. Boy, that was money well spent!! Today, 7 years later, that thread is still in fine shape. Where the less expensive v90 that I used on an awning 2 years ago, is worthless. So I'm sold on the $120 spools of Lifetime thread from Sailrite, even if it is expensive and a pain in the ass to sew.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Still Working on the Arch

Well, Dave's "3 Day" arch project is now going into its 3rd week. Hopefully we are just about finished.

We did get the arch up and mostly mounted in just 2 days, but finishing the mounting (drilling and tapping screws, adjusting the height properly etc) took another 2 days.

The Radar and Solar Panel Support

Then we started re-assembling all the "stuff" that goes on the arch, and re-running the wiring. The radar is now up, along with the stern light, anchor light, VHF antenna, siren/alarm, new wind instrument vane, and 4 solar panels. It took 2 full days just to get the wires pulled up into the arch tubing for all that stuff.

Tying the Two Small Panels Together to Move as One Panel
First Panels are Up

Panels Fully Mounted

Our New Wind Instrument

Alarm Siren

The wind vane for our new Clipper wind instrument that we bought in the U.S. in November--is mounted on the new arch, but the instrument it hooks up to is not yet mounted in the cockpit.

Semi-Finished Wiring and Dinghy Davits

Today's project is to finish the dinghy davits. Yesterday we tied them in place with rope, to play with the exact positioning. Today Dave will drill the holes and mount them in their final location.

Nearly Done

Tomorrow's project is to put the wiring chases in our bunk back together (oak panels that hide the wiring). Our bunk cabin lights are mounted on them and we've been reading by flashlight for the last week. (I might have convinced Dave to finish the 'LED light conversion' project that we bought the LED's for 2 or 3 years ago, as part of this.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Week on the Tui Tai in Fiji

We're back aboard in Savusavu after a very rainy week.

This Weather Lasted Nearly All Week!!

We had a pretty good time on the Tui Tai, even though it rained more this week than it has all year (and the weeks afterward).

The "Sun Deck" in the Rain

Isoa, the Activities Director, Briefs us on Emergency Procedures

But we still got in some good diving out on Rainbow Reef and Budd Reef.

Awesome Diving
Our Album of the Diving

In the middle of the week, we spent nearly one whole day hanging out in the cabin reading and sharing travel stories, because the weather was too severe to go out in small boats. We had a really nice group of people who managed to find humor in our terrible weather, and the resulting poor conditions on the Tui Tai.

Jerry from Challenger, Reading in the Main Salon

My favorite fellow passenger was Allyson, who's theme song was "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!" Always accompanied with a big smile. But everyone tried to stay upbeat--there were no whiners, thank God.

Allyson's "upper deck" ($$) cabin floor sloshed with all the rain seeping under the nice big sliding glass doors. But she and her husband, Steve, who had just spent 6 months camping in Australia, just told wry Brit jokes and kept smiling.

Allyson--Always Smiling

We spent one afternoon kayaking in the rain.

Setting Out on a Kayak Expedition

Dave and Jerry Head Off

Exploring Viani Bay in the Rain

Our Faithfull "Minders" Keeping us Safe from Sea Monsters

A Little Horse-Play After We Return

We managed to hike to two Taveuni waterfalls, and stand on both sides of the International Dateline.

The Taveuni Waterslide

We hiked up here and then slid down the "sluice" on our butts. Then we went and stood on the Dateline.

The Meridian Sign

The Meridian Church--Typical Fijian Contrast

Later In the Week, We Hiked to the Big Waterfall

A Big Waterfall & Long Hike

Dave LOVES Waterfalls

We did make it out to Budd Reef, where we had visited in Soggy Paws in July. We had snorkeled then, but had not gotten a chance to dive. We did 3 dives at Budd Reef--it was really nice having dive guides and a dive tender.

The non-divers did a snorkel and then a hike up to the crater.

Heading for the Crater Hike

On our last day, Dave arranged for a tour of the Engine Room.

The Guys Take an Engine Room Tour

The morning we left, the whole crew assembled in the lounge to sing us the "Farewell Song".

The Farewell Song

Monday, March 4, 2013

Arch Update

Dave and Jerry spent a whole nother day drilling holes in the legs and the connector piece to put the bolts in. Then we fitted it again, and drilled a couple of holes in the deck. But it became obvious that we wouldn't get finished before we had to go play.

So we left it bolted together and barely bolted on deck, and spent yesterday preparing to leave Soggy Paws for a week.

We have signed up on a last-minute deal for a week aboard the Tui Tai, a live-aboard "adventure cruise" and dive boat. The cruise leaves today from Savusavu, and we cruise east in Vanua Levu, stopping and visiting villages (hiking, snorkeling, kayaking) and diving.

More later...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

New Arch Going Up

I do still plan to fill in our adventures around Viti Levu, which include:

- Taking delivery of our shipment in Suva
- A brief cruise from Suva to Vuda Point Marina
- Haulout in Vuda Point Marina
- Whitewater Rafting in the Viti Levu highlands with Rivers Fiji
- Cruise up the Yasawas
- Cruising back to Savusavu via Nanu-i-Ra
- Back in Savusavu

However, we are now at the Copra Shed Marina dock in Savusavu putting up our new arch. And I know there are a number of people anxious to share this experience with us.

We bought this "Arch in a Box" back in October at the Annapolis Boat Show (see post). It was part of the shipment we received in Savusavu in January. We've been carrying it around on our deck for a month, and we're just now getting around to putting it up.

New Arch on Deck, late January

Once we were settled in at a dock from which we could work around the stern, the first step was to disassemble the old arch. This took a whole day.

Disassembling the Old Arch

All This Wiring Has to Come Out


Almost Down

Now the fun part starts!!

Unpacking all the Small Pieces

Dave and Jerry Watching the Assembly Video

Assembling The Two Halves and Rough Sizing

First Fitting (Held Up by Main Halyard)

Once we got the arch in place, we found that our stern pulpit interfered a little bit with the arch (something Dave had worried about all along). At Jerry's suggestion, we "adjusted" the stern pulpit a bit.

Adjusting the Stern Pulpit

After a bunch of whaling away at it, we had moved it some--enough on the starboard side. But the port side, which was mangled in Cyclone Cyril last year, was still an inch or so too far in. We ended up deciding to cut the port railing--it needs to be replaced eventually anyway.

Final Cutting to Adjust the Height

Once we had it more or less in place, we could then see how much the legs needed to be cut off to get the height right. We cut about 8" off the front legs and 5" off the back legs. It's still plenty high, so we can get our dinghy hoisted up over the Monitor Wind Vane when we need to. (And well up out of thieves reach and waves reach).

Final Fitting

At the end of the first assembly day, we had the arch pretty much fitted... now we have to drill and tap all the screws, drill the holes into the hull, mount all the stuff (solar panels, stern and anchor light, wind instrument, outboard motor brackets and dinghy lifting gear), re-run the wiring, and patch the holes for the old arch (another 2 days of work at least).

We've sold the old arch pieces to another cruiser, who plans to assemble something similar on their boat.