4th August - Savusavu Sitrep
Friday, 19th July – Shivering in Savusavu
This entry was drafted a fortnight or so ago by the Dep Ed and Head Photographer but she failed to catch the attention of the Ed who was up to his neck in fighting off an absolutely ludicrous bill for re-winding the auxiliary generator. That kept us in Savusavu even longer. We’ll return to that tale anon and fill in the gaps but, as we now prepare to depart Savusavu today for the Lau Group, to the east, we thought we’d better get something posted.
So, the story as at 19th July is that the locals are definitely feeling the chill and donning coats and cardigans. We British think the temperature is wonderful! The skies are grey, the wind has been getting up to gale force and everyone is stuck in harbour. This is not the sort of weather in which one would attempt navigate through reefs into anchorages. Not only would it be incredibly difficult to spot stray coral heads but even with the protection of the reef the anchorages along the south coast of Vanua Levu would be pretty uncomfortable.
Since we last wrote we’ve had a few more challenges almost all of which have now been resolved (How little we knew then – Ed). Firstly, our freezer started behaving erratically with one of the compressors getting very hot – though according to the supplier back in the UK it is not uncommon for them to get so hot as to melt the labels. Nevertheless, we felt that wasn’t conducive to optimum performance, certainly it was drawing a lot more current than normal, so we called in the local “experts”. To cut a long story short it was a good few days before we all decided that the compressor was not doing anything useful but was gobbling up power. It needs replacing and because of the way in which it has failed that means that the associated evaporator (cooling )plate will need to be replaced as well. However, the freezer is managing to get by quite nicely on only one compressor and cooling plate so we won’t be reduced to eating out of tins for the next few months. Fingers crossed that it will keep working until we can get a new compressor and plate back in New Zealand.
Having overcome that difficulty, we went a few miles down the coast to anchor off the Cousteau Resort. Although it’s on the edge of the very large Savusavu Bay and close to the reef, it is very well protected from the prevailing winds. We spent a delightful three days snorkelling and taking our ease. Carol was able to practise taking photographs of fish and these and is was quite pleased with how some turned out.
Very striking black, white and yellow fish going by the wonderful name of Oriental Sweetlips
Little blue fish feeding off bobbly coral
Any thoughts moving on were dashed by the auxiliary generator having another trick up its sleeve. This time rather than arbitrarily cutting out it refused to run for more than 4 seconds before shutting down. So it was back to Savusavu, this time taking a berth on the dock so that we could have shore power. Initial investigation showed that no voltage was being generated. Hearts sunk, as this meant getting the beast out of the cockpit locker where it is very securely bolted and access is extremely restricted. The local electrical firm sent a couple of guys to who were not phased at all by the task and after a couple of hours the generator was ready to be hoisted up, across and on to the pontoon. Two more lads were called upon the carry the burden to the van outside the Copra Shed marina. (Note – marina here means about a dozen berths - don’t go away with the idea that we are talking about something akin to a main UK marina). Apologies for the poorly framed photos below – the photographer was also manning the main halyard!
Snug as a bug in a rug Hope this goes OK
Slowly does it Over the first hurdle
I’ve given it my best – your turn now! Phew! Safely on the pontoon
And away she goes – not a body as our neighbours on Bamboozle thought!
The extraction took place a week ago and since then Jon has been spending much time supervising in the workshop to make sure that not too many red herrings are being pursued. Currently the windings are being replaced and this should be finished early next week. He also wants to check that when everything is re-assembled no bits are left on the bench!
Whilst one get a surprising amount of stuff in Savusavu, there is no optician and Jon’s distance glasses needed mending. This gave Carol the opportunity to go to Labasa, the main town on Vanua Levu island. She and friend Sue from S/V Chiquita took the bus for the 70 kilometre journey. It’s quite a spectacular ride – the road winds up the mountain, down the other side and along the northern coastal plain. Progress is very slow on the first half of the journey – one could walk up the hills more quickly and it was very depressing to see after nearly two hours a road sign saying “Labasa 40 Km”! Arnamentia could have covered those first 30 km almost as quickly! Fortunately, the rest of the journey took only a little over an hour.
Inside the bone shaker bus
Labasa is the main centre for sugar cane processing and since that industry was developed by indentured Indians brought from the sub-continent there is a considerable Indian presence in the town. Every other shop seems to sell saris and other colourful outfits and those that don’t are blaring out Bollywood music at full volume! However, the optician came up trumps mending Jon’s glasses in about 5 minutes and charging the princely sum of $4FJD i.e. about £1.50! He also recommended an excellent Indian restaurant (what else!) for a cheap and tasty lunch.
Sugar plantation country
Sugar cane truck taking up most of the road
Very ornate saris possibly not displayed to their best advantage on 1950’s mannequins
Back in Savusavu, Carol got another pass out and spent a few hours walking with Sue and Avril (S/V Dreamaway). They toiled up the hill overlooking Savusavu and Namaka Creek, along the ridge and down through a somewhat overgrown track back to sea level. Whilst on the ridge they met a New Zealand couple outside their delightful summer home. Their main house is, coincidentally, only a few hundred yards from the place where we stayed whilst Arnamentia was out of the water in Whangarei, NZ.
The view from the ridge of Namaka Creek and Savusavu
Carol has been diving again (before the lousy weather set in) – this time specifically to see hammer head sharks but although dozens had been seen the day before, they decided to keep away and all she got was one sighting too far away to take a photo. She did however capture this monster from the deep blowing bubbles!.
Colin, proprietor of Koro Sun Dive doing his party trick
We hear that the weather should improve sometime next week - this is what it looks like now:
Wild and wooly in the Koro Sea just around the corner from Savusavu – taken from the ridge
Hopefully the generator will be sorted very soon and we can start our cruise of the outlying islands and we’ll be seeing rather more sights like this:
Celtic Castle moored in the entrance to Namaka Creek