Saturday 7th September 2013 - Done and Dusted in Denarau

Jon & Carol Dutton
Sat 7 Sep 2013 07:49

Saturday 7th September 2013 – Done and Dusted in Denarau


So, we’ve now been in Port Denarau for just over three weeks and we think we’re sorted.


The auxiliary generator is back in its home and appears to be behaving itself tolerably.  Bl**dy thing it is.


The watermaker is sorted and Neil Towner (our local watermaker man) was able to let us have a new 40’” membrane (which we don’t yet need but we’ll carry as spare) for around £230.  That’s about a quarter of the cost from Mr Spectra who makes the watermaker.  But the membranes all come from the same place in China.


Replacing the service alternator turned out to be a bit of a game.  Having ordered the relevant 24V one from Golden Arrow in Southampton, specified precisely the make and model number, sent them photos of it and asked them to do a commonsense check against those photos before they despatched it, we took receipt (for about £630 incl carriage) of a replacement for the much smaller 12V alternator that charges the engine start batteries.  Excellent.  If we’d wanted one of those we’d have fitted the one that’s been in the engine spares locker for two years.  An interesting discussion followed with the guy we’d dealt with in Golden Arrow.  He graciously offered to refund the price of the alternator once we’d paid for its carriage back to him and (apparently obviously) we would get no refund of the £150 or so for its carriage to Fiji in the first place.  That didn’t quite seem right to us and a brief exchange of e-mails with his general manager sorted that out.  Moreover, getting it back to Southampton became Golden Arrow’s problem – not ours – and the refund became effective upon collection of the alternator by Golden Arrow’s chosen carrier from the marina office in Denarau.  The general manager also managed a qualified apology – which was, in itself, a bit of a result.


So, we’d lost about a week so far.  Detailed discussions with Ashdown-Ingram in Australia followed and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing over specifications and measurements we took receipt a few days later of two (one for spare) 24V, 110A alternators that would fit, with a bit of modification to both themselves and the mountings in the boat.  The total cost of the alternators was around £650 including carriage.  It was clear from the invoice that the retail price of these things was approaching double that which we’d been asked to pay and we’d got two much more expensive alternators for the same price as we’d been invited to pay for the one wrong one from the UK.  That was another result.


Actually fitting the alternator to the boat was a little fraught.  Apart from a bit of drilling and grinding on the alternator housing, it involved the cutting out and re-welding of the brackets that hold it in place in the engine bay.  We’re dealing in 3D here with a large lump of machinery being offered up in free space.  The axis of the alternator has to line up pretty well perfectly with the axis of the crank shaft whilst the pulley wheels on the alternator have to line up fore and aft precisely with those on the crank shaft.  Otherwise you’ll be changing your fan belts more often than you ought to change your underwear.   Baobab Marine seemed to think it was a two hour job.  We doubted it.  Once two guys had spent a whole day welding brackets into the wrong positions/orientations, Jon got the workshop manager to come to the boat the next day and supervise the operation.  That sorted it.  Suddenly there was a plan and a method.  That morning it was installed perfectly.  Yet another result; plus, at Baobab Marine’s instigation, no charge for Day 1.


There hasn’t been much time for sightseeing whilst we’ve been in Port Denarau.  Excursions have focussed on provisioning and tracking down such items as ¼” socket spanners (there’s excitement for you).  However, we’ve spotted the odd thing which the Dep Ed felt was blog worthy.  First, and far removed from the plain Methodist chapel architecture hereabouts, is the Hindu Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple.  It is one of the few examples of Dravidian architecture outside India and which clearly uses every colour in the paint box.




After one shopping expedition to Nadi we rested our weary feet in a bar overlooking the river where some local lads were having great fun with a large block of polystyrene.  It could well have floated there from Denarau marina.  All the pontoons were destroyed last December by Cyclone Ivan and it was only a month or so ago that new ones were put in.  Which is kinda why most cruisers don’t hang around in Fiji after about late November and don’t come back before about May.




One of the pleasures of the cruising life is meeting up with people you haven’t seen for a while.  One such was, Mark the Dutchman from Aquamante- he of the “Since it’s far too rough to launch the dinghies off the quay at Niue let’s just hurl ourselves off the jetty and swim out” fame!  Fortunately, this time the encounter didn’t involve anything quite as startling.  All Mark wanted was a hand getting his Douglas Fir mast removed from Aquamante.  As long as 5 strong men are around who needs a crane?  But, whoa – that’s a heavy bit of timber.




                                                                                    Team work at the top of the mast




                                                And down it goes – good job the Health& Safety police weren’t around


All sorts of yacht services are provided here but Carol was bit surprised that the UAE were making their presence known in the South Pacific and branching out into unlikely territory in more ways than one – perhaps the oil really is running out.




There is a great variety of craft to be found in the marina including a few seriously big mega yachts.  This one clearly belongs to somebody who is in a serious hurry.  At least there would appear to be job opportunities for excess Fleet Air Arm pilots.




And finally, as a née Finch, Carol was heartened to see that someone in the Cook Islands had had very good taste when it came to naming his yacht.




On Monday morning we’re off to Musket Cove, a yottie haven snuggled in amongst the reefs about 12NM away, for about a fortnight.  We’ll be there for Regatta Week and so there will be a lot of amusing stuff going on.  WE ARE NOT GOING TO RACE.  WE NOT GOING TO RACE.  Finish.  End of discussion.  Arnamentia racing around the cans with a crew of 13 is one thing.  With a crew of two, 14 deck winches, twin pole gybes and all that stuff it’s a nightmare.  WE ARE NOT DOING IT.  Honest.