Ready for the off - Vuda Marina 17:40.8S,177:23.2E
On Wednesday morning, when we went ashore at Musket Cove to pay for our stay, the outboard engine died on the return trip and we had to accept a tow back to Serenity. Nothing that Phil did got it going again, so the decision was made for us to stay in Vuda for the rest of our time in Fiji.
When we got to the marina it was packed and they had to pull boats aside with their work boat to fit us in to our berth. As a result our bow ended up a long way away from the platform we step ashore on and its been a bit precarious clambering across to the shore. This marina is an unusual design – intended to be cyclone proof – the basin is circular and you moor bow or stern to the wall. In the event of a cyclone they have extra strong anchor points ashore and your bow is attached to a mooring buoy in the middle of the basin to keep you away from the wall.
Squeezed in like sardines
Getting ashore at low water
For an extra fee you can have your boat stored in a ‘cyclone pit’ over the summer. The keel is lowered into a hole in the ground and the hull rests on tyres. Much less for the wind to get hold of.
We’ve continued to prepare for the trip home – topping up fuel and gas, and going to the market in Lautoka for provisions, doing an oil change on the engine and changing the fuel filters, finding a solution to the problems we had putting the 4th reef in the main on the way here. In between that we have dealt with the mountain of paperwork for leaving Fiji and returning to New Zealand. Clearance out from Fiji requires 24 hours notice, and 3 forms filled in in duplicate – with the same information required several times over. You can’t help but wonder what possible use it is that they know the make and model of our mobile phone! For New Zealand we have been documenting the work we have done to keep the hull free of fouling.
On Saturday evening we went to the Boathouse bar and watched England beat Australia in the World Cup quarter finals. The Aussies, Americans and Europeans seemed to be backing Australia, but England had the support of the Fijian bar staff! On Sunday we had sundowners in the bar with Jo and Rob from Double Trouble (we keep thinking we have said goodbye and then find ourselves in the same place again).
Sundowners in the Boathouse. We also met the Pennygowans, who are leavong early Monday for New Zealand
The Boathouse bar (far right) overlooks the entrance channel and catches any breeze blowing into the harbour.
We have been checking on the weather twice daily: listening to Gulf Harbour radio in New Zealand who do a weather report for yachties across the South Pacific every morning, and getting forecasts from Predict Wind. The pattern is constantly shifting and the critical part of the passage is timing arrival in New Zealand to avoid depressions. That is 9 or 10 days away at the point of departure, and forecasts that far ahead are unreliable, but at some point you have to make the decision to go on the best information, and be prepared to adjust your speed to get a good arrival.
Our season in Fiji has been a great experience, with so many beautiful islands and lovely people. Staying the whole season and having the opportunity to get to see more of the way of life was a good decision. We will remember the amazing blues of the sea and sky, the sound of the barking pigeons in the trees around the anchorages, the friendly calls of ‘Bula’ from everyone you meet, the scent of the flowers in the trees and so much more.
A final Fiji sunset
This morning we made the final decision to leave, and will have to be away from the marina by 1400. The weather is not perfect, but you can wait a long time for perfection. We will have a lot of headwinds, which will slow us down a bit, so we are anticipating a 10-11 day passage.