Arriving to Suva, Fiji

Lars Alfredson
Fri 31 May 2013 23:28

20130530 Thursday – Rock & Roll is here to stay


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                     Farewell to Mariners Cafe’                                                                             Our wake up call   


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                          Farewell to the Sun                                                                                      and Moon


There hasn’t been any Sun all day, the skies are leaden and wind is now blowing 35-40 knots gusting to 45. The mountainous seas form white horses as their tops rise and break in a crest of foaming water.


We surf down at 10+ knots with the charging hoards bearing down on us before the stern lifts in a mass of boiling water and they pass under us or lap along the rail as they pass.


As predicted the odd wave joins forces with another and this towers above us. It’s on one of these that our stern fails to rise quick enough

and suddenly we have an impromptu swimming pool in the cockpit. A foot of water gurgles down the drains valiantly clearing the deck, but

not before the spray that accompanied the intrusion blows into the wheelhouse over the chart table and consequently onto the second navigation computer.


A word on our Systems. The inbuilt “Raymarine” is an integrated system linking GPS, to provide speed and position information to its chart plotter,

Radar, whose readout can be overlaid on this chart, the Auto-pilot, as well as the “Fluxgate” Compass. Its electronic Charts are provided by C-Map.



                              Lots of navigation equipment


As well as running its own Chart plotter programme running on Max-C charts our second system is on a Computer.

This in turn is connected to the AIS (Automatic Identification System) which receives information from suitably equipped shipping providing course, speed and other anti collision data which it overlays on its Charts


More importantly it is linked to our satellite telephone system (Inmarsat) to provide our Internet link with the outside world to access weather information (Grib) and E-mail services.


As a further back-up and alternate charting system, I have my Tablet computer which runs “Navionics” charts.

All these systems have their strengths and weaknesses but mixing and matching them, especially in this area where some of the charts were either

compiled in Captain Cooks era or are extremely sketchy, with large areas of “Uncharted Waters” we can navigate with a reasonable degree of confidence.


What brought all this on you might ask? Some 15 minutes after the spraying of the chart table a distinct smell of burning electrical insulation emanated

from our second system computer and its screen went blank never to light again. It also means the potential loss of our tracking information from when this expedition started back in Gutenberg, Sweden in spring 2008.


In the meantime we have to re-boot the Autopilot pretty regularly as it’s appears to have a bug that flashes up different headings and system error messages.

When overwhelmed by the sea it switches itself to “standby” so if were not to broach we have to be quick of the mark to reset it.


Needless to say our four hour watches are not exactly a relaxing look out and read experience. As far as we can tell the Generator problem is

probably due to low oil and with all this rocking the pump is getting starved, so we use the main engine to keep the batteries topped up.


To add to our woes we run into a series of rain squalls. This means big wind shifts and gusts of up to 45knots, that roll her over onto her beam ends sending out great waves of spray as the bow accelerates down into the valleys and into the wall of water in ahead.


Despite all, dinner is served, bangers and beans with onions and garlic served in a bowl, along with a little of Frances’ best (Standards have to be maintained).


At 19:30 we cross the180 Degrees line literary half way around the world from Greenwich and the place where we change from increasing degrees west to decreasing degrees east.


Interestingly, we discover an anomaly with all the chart plotting programmes, they don’t want to cross over and when you ask for a track to Fiji

which is on the other side of the divide at 178Degrees East they insist on send you back around the world to meet up on the otherside.

This produces some interesting results, like distance to destination which should be around 200 n miles from where we are becomes 10,000!!


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                    We have reached the end of the World.


We can’t wait for the next Boat Show and demonstrate this to the Chart Plotter sales staff.



20130531 Friday – Wet Wet Wet



              Fiji and Quarantine flags


We arrive through the reef into Suva harbour and are advised to anchor off in the quarantine area when the usual suspects will come out to us and do our clearance.

The harbour is full of craft of all types and states of repair.


Japanese and Chinese long liners and probably whalers are rafted up on moorings. There’s an incredible large ship sporting three enormous satellite

dishes along her deck. She's Chinese and one wonders what she’s up to. Ferries various, Container ships and of course a fleet of yachts awaiting clearance form the rest of the fleet.


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                    Chinese spy ship?                                                                                   Rafting up.


We’re anchored near a wreck that just awash, the harbour seems to sport many others in a half sunk or sinking state, as well as a multi coloured fishing

trawler sporting a blue and red hull, yellow decks and a white superstructure rafted up to two others.


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                              Our neighbours.                                                                                     Sunken boat neighbour                                 


It’s still overcast but at least the rocky rolling has stopped. We shower off the stern washing away the salt and sweat of the last few days and should help us

get our health clearance! An Anchordram while we await the officials and all is well with the world.


Suddenly we’re hit by a series of ferocious rain squalls reminiscent of the “Woollies” of Antarctica.

The good news is that it is washing down the decks and riggings which have had a fair dose of salt over the last few days. The bad news is this could affect our visitors coming out to clear us to go ashore us.


Meantime its 12 according to my watch, say no more, though we’re advised it’s only eleven here.


We contact the Royal Suva Yacht Club to enquire as to the whereabouts of the Officials and are advised that the Health official will be over about 1300.


Resetting our watches, we’ve been here since 07:30 he turns up and US$110 later we have his paperwork and he has ours. Sandwich and beer and so we wait.


1400 comes and goes and we still await the others and there is a danger as they finish at 4, they won’t get to us before they finish that means

overtime rates or stuck aboard for the weekend as were not allowed to land until they’re all satisfied.



                                 Time for a shave?


Bob the Blog