23rd June 2013 - Sweltering in Savusavu

Jon & Carol Dutton
Sun 23 Jun 2013 04:57

16:46.69S 179:19.83E

23rd June 2013 – Sweltering in Savusavu

Wow!  It ain’t ‘alf ‘ot Mum.  And very humid.  So, there’s been a bit of battling to get acclimatized again.

Having spent a couple of days up-creek at Savusavu Marina Village (not much of a village or a marina but lovely surroundings and amusing people) we were offered a mooring at Waitui Marina much further downstream and nearer the centre of town.  It’s also below the scary reefs around which we manoeuvred without too much damage to either us or the coral.


                                                Looking up-creek from our new mooring


And looking ashore – Waitui Marina building and dinghy dock at left and left centre                                                                                                                     

Yesterday we witnessed a baptism service conducted by the local Seventh Day Adventist Church, it being their Sabbath.  That was fun.  The pastor, dressed in long sulu, white shirt and tie waded to waist depth into the water just off the Waitui dinghy dock (above).  The congregation of around 80 assembled on the beach and each of the dozen or so candidates (again dressed in long sulus and white shirts) was led to him in turn by a minder of the same sex to receive a few words of welcome and a proper dunking.  No messing.  As soon as each person had been half drowned, the congregation broke into that wonderful soaring spiritual hymn singing heard throughout the South Pacific before the whole process was repeated with the next candidate.  It now being Sunday, we’ve been treated to the usual sounds of a local church whose denomination we have yet to discover.  Whatever denomination it is, that congregation needs to watch out.  At this distance it was impossible to make out precisely what was being said but the preacher sounded really pretty cross with them all and was not sparing in either the volume or length of his address.  They get value for the money they put into the collection, it must be said.    

Jack spent a week - until the 21st - with us and departed that morning by air to Nadi (Nandi’s the pronunciation – like Bebi is pronounced mbambi - but so much is obvious).  Thence to Christchurch on NZ’s South Island to babysit his godfather’s twin daughters.  They are apparently of an age when the term ‘babysit’ is likely to meet with serious censure.  We wish him well and are sure that he’ll cope admirably!  We’ve loved having him aboard and he has set to with a will in helping to sort out the various maintenance niggles that are the lot of the long-distance cruiser.  He developed quite a skill at finding precisely the right thing in the various hardware stores despite protestations by the owners that they stocked no such stuff, had never done so and had no intention of doing so in the future.  Why there should be 3 reels of it at the back of the shop was a puzzle that defied attempts at unravelling.


                                                                Foredeck crew off duty

For reasons that were not entirely clear to anyone – including Jack – by the time he left he could not walk more than a hundred yards down the main street without being greeted enthusiastically (“Hey, Jack, bula, bula”) by several locals whose identity was and still is a total mystery to him.  Ah, the trials of celebrity.

Spelling here is always a bit of a challenge.  The restaurant that used to be called ‘Decked Out’ – you know the one, just opposite the ‘gabbage’ bins entrance to the Copra Shed – is under new management and trading as ‘Dinner’s Paradise’.  That’s a slightly intriguing name whether interpreted as a noun or a sentence.  However, it seems to be ticking over and it does occupy one of the better locations to catch yotties in Savusavu.  The food is still pretty decent and very reasonably priced.

Carol and Jack went diving the day before Jack departed.  Jack had completed his certification only a couple of months previously in Thailand. The excellent principal, Colin of Koro Sun Dive, took him under his wing whilst Carol enjoyed experimenting with her new camera in its underwater housing.  She’s pretty pleased with some of the shots of coral but hasn’t yet cracked the art of photographing fish – they just won’t keep still – apart from the anemone fish that is.  Far from hiding, these “Nemos” clearly wanted to be found!  A few grey and black tipped sharks were spotted just to add to the thrill but were, sadly, too far off to photograph.


Three Clark’s Anemone Fish above a Carpet Anemone – tho’ it looks rather more like a sheepskin rug!


                                                Centre – a Purple Rimmed Anemone


                                                                        Red Fan Coral


                                                Well Camouflaged Scorpion Leaf Fish


    Blue Green Crinoid – a very ancient form of marine animal prolific in the Palaeozoic era

There have been ongoing battles with the Whisper 3.5 auxiliary generator.  It persisted in telling us that it was overheating when it pretty obviously wasn’t.  We hope we’ve solved the issue now but it was by a pretty circuitous route and involved eventually changing the only sensor on the set (exhaust temperature sensor) that couldn’t possibly have been at fault given the messages displayed on the control panel.  It would be tedious to describe in detail the preceding hours (days, in fact) of hassle in sweltering heat on a series of wild goose chases pursuing wrong diagnoses.  Now we live in hope. 

It’s a bit of a nonsense for such an important bit of machinery.  At its heart is a single cylinder Japanese diesel engine.  There is nothing much simpler or more mechanically reliable than that.  This one is used by mini-diggers worldwide.  Mr Perkins is a lot more complicated mechanically and electrically but he’s more straightforward to diagnose.  That’s because each of his sensors is connected directly to a light and an analogue meter on the engine control panel.  He wouldn’t, as Jon’s Irish grandfather would have said, know a printed circuit board (PCB) from a bull’s hoof.  But the aux genny’s engine is connected through a variety of (expensive to replace) PCBs to a digital display which purports to tell you what the problem is (in Euro-English).  But, because the digital display system is designed to support all Whisper gen sets – most of which are larger and more complex – it is not bespoke to the model we have.  So, the messages are not as precise as the straightforward “Sensor A thinks there’s a problem” which the bog standard, dirt cheap, lamp and analogue meter solution gives you.  Moreover, you get the garbled message (the translation of which in the Users’ Manual is sometimes off-track - as in this case) but don’t know which sensor sent it – if indeed it did and it isn’t some PCB glitch or gremlin.  So, here we have a good bit of kit that is marred by over-engineering by geeks who assume that if it goes wrong you’ll easily get it fixed when next in port – like tomorrow.  So, all done by the time you want to take the boat for another potter next weekend.  That doesn’t actually work even in NW Europe let alone in the South Pacific. 

So, you guys flogging stuff to long-distance yotties, would you please keep life simple?  We want value-engineered kit.  That is to say that it has no bells or whistles.  We’re manual, analogue interventionists.  Our primary means of travel relies on rags we hoist and bits of string we pull.  That’s what we like doing.  Unlike some, we do not revel in the alternative challenge of fixing unnecessarily complex electronic systems.  We hope that some of your employees do.  We, on the other hand, are your market.  Do try not to muddle us up.  We don’t mind not having a remote control panel at the bedside; we don’t need the thing to make the tea or do the ironing.  We just need it to get on with its job and bother us only when there is actually a problem.  Then we’d like it to tell us, straightforwardly, where to start looking, armed with a big bag of spanners. 

Could you also please employ someone, who can actually write in some recognised language and knows as little as possible about technical matters, to edit your manuals and someone else, who is a practical engineer and knows precisely what he’s talking about, to ensure that they are comprehensive and accurate?  By comprehensive I mean that you don’t say stuff like “This gen set is based on the Kubota OC60 diesel engine but we’ve messed about with it quite a bit so you can’t just follow the OC60 workshop manual – with which we’ve just provided you.  However, since you ask, there isn’t any other workshop manual we are in a position to let you have.  Please contact your local agent for further assistance”.  Guys, do you know what I’m saying here?  Good, thanks for your attention.