Sunday 21st September 2013 - OK, We Fibbed!

Jon & Carol Dutton
Sun 22 Sep 2013 10:51

17:40.84S 177:23.20E


Sunday 21st September 2013 - OK, We Fibbed!


You probably all knew we would – race that is.  We made it safely into Musket Cove – the pass through the reef was well marked and easy to spot and we had the benefit of tracks and waypoints passed to us by friends who’d been in before.   Once tied up, the pressure was on – “You have to race, you can’t come here in Regatta Week and not race!”.  So, we signed up for the Pirates Race on the first day on the grounds that it is a “Fun Event” and the only thing people take seriously is the costumes!  As it was we volunteered to take a few people staying in the resort as well as Californians David and Cathy from the catamaran Lightspeed berthed next to us.  The Australian land based contingent – James and Liz Hall with William and Olivia and their friend, Belinda with daughter Lily, had been holidaying in Musket Cove Resort at this time of year for a number of years.  Having the three children on board made it great fun.




                                                                                        Very Scary Cockpit Pirates


The organisers had taken the worry out of going back through the reefs by sending a lead motor boat for everyone to follow after the start.  This was a sensible precaution as at that point, inside the lagoon, the pirate crews on all boats were hurling water bombs at each other and taking aim with deck hoses.  Carol’s impromptu water filled latex gloves will probably be banned by the UN on the grounds that they are cluster bombs – a direct hit causes 5 squirts of water to erupt simultaneously – much to the surprise of the recipients!




                                                      Foredeck pirates showing off the five fingered secret weapons


As there was no wind it was rather a procession to Beachcomber Island but once there was a great party and even Arnamentia’s owners were persuaded onto the sand dance floor to learn the Bula dance – at 2 o’clock in the afternoon!



                                                                                                    Pirates Partying


Musket Cove had organised a full week of both shore and water based activities and since Arnamentia had already done as much racing as she was going to do, we signed up for the Hobie Cat challenge.  These boats are very much de-tuned resort boats –bread boards for rudders (to let you get over the reefs without the twin rudders falling off), agricultural steering arrangements and rigging and no trapezes (a good job as Mrs D has never done the flying bit).  Tacking in the ordinary way causes a complete stall – only to be avoided by backing the jib for a scarily long time.  The challenge took the form of a simple one on one boat knock out.  The start was Le Mans style (a sprint and dive aboard start from the beach with the Hobies already afloat) aided by a good push from the boat boys.  The first round was held in very light winds so it was only once round the circuit.  We managed to take the lead and win.  So, we were through to the next round.  That was held on a much windier day so it was two circuits this time.  Again, we managed to take the lead.  However, we completely blew it, when about 100m ahead, by tacking a boat’s length too early at the windward mark on the second round (Why, oh, why do we do these things?).  This we suspected might be death but confirmed that it was to be so by attempting to ‘shoot’ the mark and becoming entangled with the massive inflatable buoy we were trying to round.  So, that was us out along with all the other British crews.



                                                                                    All Aboard – that’s us in 02




                                                                    Tough stuff this - making these things go in light wind


Obviously the winning crew was from NZ.  The Americas’s Cup was on, after all, and practically everyone aboard those two yachts was a Kiwi.  OK, Ben Ainsley, calm down, but you are in a tiny minority and I think the bookies would be delighted were we to place our life savings on Oracle winning right now.  Let’s hope that, if the Kiwis win (which now seems pretty likely), they do something constructive to get this competition back to a contest that is not beyond the reach of all but the mega-rich (who, surely, might be doing something a bit more socially useful with such massive expenditure) and engineer some sort of connection between the nations the boats represent and the crews who sail them.


It wasn’t the end of racing at Musket Cove, though.  Whilst in Port Denarau we’d made friends with Russ Stewart from Whangamata, New Zealand and he kindly invited us to race with him on his boat, Bavarian Wave.  We took part in both the Reef Race and the Round the Island Race and although we didn’t trouble the scorers, as they say, we had a very enjoyable time and saw parts of Malolo Lailai island that we would otherwise have missed.




                      Waiting at the start – the course took us the other side of the spit but inside the breaking reef


There was a fair bit of partying and the cook did manage to get some time off.  Not only were there curry, pasta and roast nights but permanent barbecues surround the Island Bar for use by yachties.  And the icing on the cake was that plates and cutlery were provided as well – and washed up afterwards by the Musket Cove staff.




                                                                                        Tied up near the bar – again!




                The tractor taking away the empties the next day – the driver definitely needs to consult the tide tables




                                                                    And the view in the other direction at high water


The week sped by and soon it was time to leave.  Whilst at Musket Cove, the fridge started playing up again and the watermaker was reporting salinity being too high.  We managed to get the fridge fixed whilst anchored off Denarau (there were no berths or mooring available inside the marina).  The two engineers got a bit wet as it was quite a long dinghy ride into chop to get to Arnamentia!  Fortunately it wasn't a lengthy job - a small leak cured by replacing an O ring.  So, we’re now in Vuda Point Marina and Neil, the water maker specialist, who helped get things going last time, will be coming here on Tuesday.  Until we know what the problem is and how long it is going to be to sort we can't make any plans.  It's either a seal or the membrane probably so we don't anticipate that it will be a lengthy job for a man who can.


Two of the first people we met when we got here were Graham and Avril from Dreamaway.  We last saw them in Savusavu nearly two months ago, so there’s going to be quite a lot of swapping of salty tales over a beer or two over the next couple of days.