Beez Neez Sets Off from Fiji for Aneityum
Bear walked round to the Customs Office to log us out at half past ten. I set to chores and an hour later Bear was back with tales from the queue. One chap – who had just bought his boat, had left on Friday bound for New Zealand on the weather advice of the boats previous owner. He had got a hundred miles in twenty foot waves only to break his boom and the engine played up. He was back in this morning to log back in, very disheartened. Others who had gone further east had managed to miss the horrid stuff. Bear was just finishing off washing the bird do-do off the deck and filling the tanks when he called down to me “better come out with the camera the staff are getting ready to sing”. Oh no, I had just put a Fijian ‘farewell’ on Facebook that we had seen at one of the resorts. I had just watched to check it was OK and had come over all unnecessary. The boat next-door-but-one were leaving and the chaps said they would stand mid way between the boats but the ladies said a resounding NO, they wanted to stand firmly in front of Beez. I videoed it, bottom lip waggling and after each of the group had shook our hands went back to work. We had never seen them sing for any other boat but as they had sung for us they re-grouped half an hour later to sing for our neighbours. I hadn’t quite done with sweeping so they gave us another hour. I deleted the Fijian farewell to Beez own one on FB and let it load while we went to pay our final marina bill and say ‘farewell’ to the cafe, chandler, general store and office. The tall chap in the singing group then came to deal with the girls ropes. We were off for the four hundred and seventy three mile journey to the southernmost island in Vanuatu.
We left Fiji with some wonderful memories having met some of the sweetest, kindest people. Never once did we pull the girl in to climb off without a passing worker’s help, never once did we load any shopping without someone helping pass things from the shore to the girl. Soon as they saw Bear limp they were on hand with a trolley. Always smiling, always joshing with one another, no sooner than eight am passed than we heard laughter that went on throughout the day.
Soon out through ‘the door’ I took the picture, at the top, of Bear sorting ropes before putting away the fenders. I asked if he would take the wheel while I checked on how the video was loading before I lost the internet. It was about eighty per cent complete so I requested a slow circle or two. Oh how those words would be repeated............... The autopilot is not working, we don’t want to hand steer from here to Sydney so we’ll have to try and re-align it. Oh OK........... we’ve done it before. I went outside to do two, two knot circles for more than two minutes each. Bear went below to set up the linearising. Go round for another pair. I did it again and again. Keep going, we get to about ninety per cent and then it drops to fifty. OK. The four magnets in the fluxgate compass, that lives in the cupboard at the foot of the bed were clearly upset and needed to realign themselves. The worry was one was kaput. Fall back plans were whizzing through each of our minds but giving up was not one of them just yet. If all else failed we would go back into the marina and overnight on the ‘Q’ dock, log back in at a cost of two hundred pounds and try and get the thing fixed. If we had to wait for parts we may have time to sail straight to Sydney or the very last option would be to fill one of the three remaining hull pits................
After two and a half hours of circling Bear asked me if I wanted a break. We swopped places. The video had long ago finished loading onto FB. I sat and watched the fifty per cent to eighty per cent in some frustration and asked if I could cancel and start again. Why not, no harm in trying. That done, and many prayers, eyes shut tight, it got to ninety per cent. Eyes shut again, one eye peeking, Yeeha it’s done. I had to wait until two degree numbers were the same and the system could realign itself. Done. Never was there so much relief, we could finally set off and headed for our final Fijian reef.
Noordam appeared on the AIS, at least that is working OK. It seemed to take forever for her to go from a tiny dot behind us to nearing and just a few minutes to overtake and disappear over the horizon. She was going to Tadine, no idea where that is so we’ll look it up when we next surf the www.
At dusk Bear pulled up the mainsail, we popped out of the ‘gate’ into deep water and watched a pretty sunset. We finally felt that we were on our way. Overnight it is quite wonderful to write, nil of note. By midday, completing our first twenty four hours – despite all our circling, we had covered one hundred and twelve miles. Very impressive considering.
At fourteen hundred our position was 18:41.38 South 175:30.26 East.
Nothing for it but to settle to an afternoon of games played on Beez who was now gliding over a glass smooth sea.
ALL IN ALL A TENSE BEGINNING
DODGY START BUT ALL CORRECTED AND CALM