Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 6: Sunshine at last

Hi there! We are still alive and Sidewinder is still in one piece and that is good!!! It has been a much better day so far, with calmer seas, gentler wind, intermittent blue skies and sunshine, so thanks for all the prayers!!!! Yesterday was more grueling as the day before, with galeforce winds of 30-35kts and one has to be a bit crazy to do this type of sailing by choice. Wendy and John are just now completing their circum-navigation of six years and she told me this has been their worst passage so far, and she is sailing to homeport, Auckland. She has re-assured me, though, if we continue to do this next year, that the return trip to Fiji is much easier, thank goodness!  

While outside in the rain two nights ago, with huge waves rolling into the cockpit periodically, trying to get some comfort from my already wet clothes and the wet cushion I sat upon, I tried to make some sense of why I needed to be outside at all, while David slept below. I returned to the warmth of the wet cabin below, and methodically poked my head out every 20 minutes checking on the sails, the windvane monitor, and the rigging. We both sat yesterday, pondering our future with Sidewinder and who knows what we will do. With these conditions, you feel quite helpless and just hope that the boat can hold together, along with the rigging, sails, lines, etc.; the tension is incredible, cutting into your belly and helping to exhaust all energy. PHEW! 

When the wind began to subside, 22kts of wind felt calming, and as they fell into the teens, great relief took over both of our beings. We slept like babies last night, even though everything, including the bed, pillows, clothes, floors all were damp from salt water having poured into the galley and v-berth hatches every now and then during those two days.  Incredible relief we both felt this morning, as the sun peeked its way out from beneath the clouds; how I took for granted the warmth of the Fiji temperature and the calmness inside the bay where we spent our last evening. I made a big brunch, trying to use up lots of the food we have not been able to eat since we left, and we both sat out in the cockpit with smiles on our faces. Of course, who knows what will happen next, but right now we are grateful for the calm. Our position is S 29 01' E 172 35' and we have about 400 nm to go to Opua, the Bay of Islands. The weather reports are favorable so keep your fingers and toes crossed. Love to you, S & D

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 4: Not an Improvement

The winds are up into the mid-30's with 6-10 ft. seas at least. Oh did I mention it was raining?!!! Not a good time being had by all, but as some of the other boats we are in contact with have said, "It could be worse." Suzi has a nice scrape down her shin after flying across the galley and landing in a heap in the head. This morning I went flying into the head door which is now broke off its hinges. We have found leaks we have never seen before, and being wet has become the norm. Besides all that we are fine and are located at 26°  42 South  173° 39 East and if you could please beam us up to your place we would go in a heart beat. Heard this morning that more weather is on the way. Keep us in your prayers!!!  Please don't worry about us; we are fine, just a bit uncomfortable. See ya,  David 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 3: Craaazy Passage

Holy Moly! What have we indeed volunteered to do?!!!! We must be out of our frickin' minds! Hour after hour we pound, jerk, get doused with saltwater waves getting cooler in temp, huddled in the tiny corner next to the companionway, with foul-weather gear as the latest fashion. After a huge wave jumped into the cockpit and sprayed down the companionway, we now have all of our fresh air cut off below so you can imagine what it is like down in our cozy cabin with shit everywhere. We are both totally blown away that we are really doing this, after we certainly had other options to play with. We have made good progress and have only 620 NM to go, and, after talking to Wendy this morning on the SSB informal net, we are thankful for that. We are catching up to Beyond and it's so comforting to have them close by. She is great to talk to and since she has done this several times before, she reassures us that things could be much worse; can you even imagine?!!!! It is quite funny how the New Zealand cruisers play this passage down; I must say they are a hearty bunch!!!! Yesterday late afternoon we triple reefed the main and rolled up the headsail to a tiny triangle, hoping to mellow our ride; thank goodness we did that because all night the wind intensified and remained 20-25 kts and I admit that the knots in my stomach did as well. Anyone looking for a crash diet, here it is! I am so thankful I did cook all those meals and have been able to pull them out of the freezer each day, steaming them on the stove, which is pretty much all I can do in the galley. We had to turn off the refer cause it does not function correctly in these seas; good thing we have to eat everything before we arrive anyway. One more incident late yesterday has put Captain Dave over the edge and who knows how long Sidewinder will be in our family? Our port drain plugged up and the water in the gunnel began to rise. He ended up having to pull out all the pots and pans and get to the drain from inside the galley, while under duress. You can imagine the scenario; meanwhile I am taking the helm outside going through an intense squall, trying to bring her downwind more for a smoother ride. YEAH!! Again, my genius husband was successful and out he came with a flying fish! PHEW!!!! Everything down below seems to be damp and I just hope the ride mellows out sometime soon. At least we are getting winds that are more easterly so we can continue without pinching, but the waves are still mixed up and quite big and the clouds surround us. Please wish us blue skies, sunshine, gentle seas, and 15-20 kt waves and meanwhile we will continue onward with gratitude for life.  Present position: S 24 39'  E 174 30'        
Love to all, Suzi and David
Tried to send this earlier but it didn't go through. Our position now:  S 25 12'  E 174 17.3' Less wind but bigger swell (3m). We feel quite tiny out here! We have slowed down a bit but the wind is supposed to come back up to 25kts so I am enjoying the quiet and going down for a nap. Must keep the spirits up with rest. Love you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day One of the Crossing

We are on our way with 20+ knots out of the So. East and we are heading almost due South. The seas are about 6 ft. +/- but very confused so the ride is bumpy as hell and water is spraying into the cockpit on a fairly regular basis. NOT FUN !!!! But we are making good time averaging over 6 knts. and the prediction is for things to remain the same for the most part. Our present location is 19 degrees 51 mins. So.  176 degrees 22 mins. E  Sun just came up which always raises the spirits a bit but it's still one down and at this rate 6 to go. That 747 is looking real good right now. Oh well, a little late to be thinking on those lines. Better get this out before the SSB radio net comes on. Will stay in touch - David & Suzi

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No, really: they're leave today (?)

Well..........after an entire day spent searching for why the engine would not fire up, we are finally ready to make our way out the passage, one more time early tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, we are watching early fireworks lighting up the skies in celebration of the Hindu New Year, Diwali.  It is a good fortune holiday tomorrow  and I know we will be blessed as we really do leave. 

After checking out yesterday afternoon, we were supposed to be long gone, but it was so late by then, we stayed the night here, hoping to sneak out this morning. Lo and behold........there was no sneaking possible.  Captain David never ceases to amaze me; we actually put in a new starter and cellenoid, which did not solve the problem, and finally we tackled the electrical system. It was not til 5:00 PM, with the soldering of the major starter wire, which looked perfectly fine, that she fired up, lifting our hearts and spirits high. PHEW! This cruising shit certainly tries your patience. Yeah! Once again, off we go!  Love, S

Monday, October 24, 2011

One More Good-bye

1 and 3 - Fueling up in Port Denarau, a great combo of Newport Beach, Fashion Island, and Disneyland. Lots of tourists who think they are experiencing Fiji. We certainly are the lucky ones!  #6 and 9- Spending our last night in  beautiful , serene Seweene Bay, near Lautoka. A great way to pack up the Worm (our beloved dinghy) and mellow out with an awesome sunset. Time to get some rest before we head out the pass on our way to New Zealand. A new adventure begins!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Outta Here!

We are presently on our way,  motoring to Lautoka, after a wonderful dinner with friends who stay at Vuda Pt. Then we joined all the Kiwis at the bar, watching intently the incredible World Cup Rugby game.which they won......barely!  There was such intense spirit and we had great fun. We will check out of the country this morning, do the last of the fresh food provisioning and we may anchor near the pass, just to be ready to set sail for New Zealand tomorrow morning. Wendy and John on sv Beyond will be heading out tomorrow sometime as well and others are leaving on Wednesday. We have a net set up for communication which helps to make us all more secure on our journey. The weather window looks good and I know the weather gods will be watching over us! It should take 8-10 days to get to Opua, NZ, near the Bay of Islands. We will keep everyone posted through sailmail. Off we go on the next adventure!!!! Love to all,  Suzi and David

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From Blue Lagoon to Port Denarau-Getting ready to go to New Zealand Soon

 Blue Lagoon "local boy",Semi, got a free ride to Lautoka and we had an expert guide with us! Win-win!
 After two weeks of work, it was great to hike and then dive in the waters at magical Musket Cove.
 On our way to Prt Denarau to repair the sail and pick up auto-pilot parts. Captain Stud David loving his soft sula skirt! Pretty nice day to cross and relax in the sunshine before the afternoon squalls of Denarau.
 Our wonderful new friend, Randy, we met last night through mutual friend Dusty in Salt Lake.
We look forward to some adventures with Randy here in Fiji next season, surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, and maybe even kite-boarding. Already we plan for future fun!  We certainly are the lucky travelers!  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The never-ending story of repairs continues !

After making a smooth passage from Blue Lagoon back to Vuda Point Marina, weaving through the reefs. we arrived and got reattached to land one more time. Our refer/freezer needed help big time as it was consuming a bit more energy with every passing day. It was time to tear the whole unit out and get to the bottom of this nagging issue once and for all. As with most things on Sidewinder, access is the main hurdle to jump over and my old body doesn't bend into the positions required for getting into and around the small area where the refer/freezer components are located. But as usual, after a little cussing ( little ? ) and the normal bloody knuckles, I got all the parts out (with a little help from my dear wife, Suzi :)) and gave them to our good friend "Rama" the local Handy Man for repairs. The fact is Rama doesn't do anything himself but hands the projects over to his young helpers who do all the work and who really don't know that much about what they are doing. But that doesn't stop them from diving into anything and after a couple of days they returned with our "repaired" unit. Since the reinstallation is so complicated I did that myself with them looking on but they took over when it was time to connect all the rigid copper lines and the compression type fittings. To make a long story short, ridding the system of leaks took two days but was finally completed with an air tight system that was holding it's charge. The ending of this saga arrived with a unit that runs as well as it ever has and so far ( three days later ) it's still going strong. But we have been here before so I'm still keeping my fingers and toes crossed. Please keep us in your prayers, Man needs his cold beer.
So with projects completed and life in the Marina getting old, we headed out to Musket Cove for some time in the water and some R&R before heading off to New Zealand. Why is nothing easy ? The first hour of the short 3 hours trip to Musket was spent motor sailing with light winds out of the west  just off our nose. But within 15 mins. it swung around to out of the east and built to over 20 knts. So for the next 2 hours we plowed into wind and waves and it was during this time I noticed a piece of the UV protection cloth of our headsail torn and flapping in the wind. Next project, sail repair..... aren't we having tons of fun ???? Got to love this cruising life style, never a dull moment. I still haven't figured out what I'll be when I grow up !!!   " 18 till I die "

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trip from Mamanucas through the Yasawas

Just for the record, here are some coordinates for the islands we just visited. We are leaving this morning to make our way south back to Lautoka and Vuda Point and the wind appears to be just right; it would be great fun to sail!  Love to all!  S

Navadra Anchorage in the Mamanucas:  S 17 degrees 27'   E 177 02
Manta-ray Resort in Mantaray Bay, Naviti Island   S17 10  E 177 11'
Blue Lagoon, Nanuya Resort  next island up    S16  56'   E 177 22
Sawa-i-Lau,  Yasawa Island   16 50' E177 28'
Nadala Bay     S 16 49'   E 177 27'

Memories from the Mamanucas to the Yasawas

 Even on this awesome beach David has found some favorite shoes to replace ones broken
 On our way north to the caves of Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawa Island
 Anchored with friends, Grahame and Lynne on Adamite

 The rock formations are so interesting and the caves were great fun to explore. (notice the stairs :))
 Manual, the minister, welcomed us, as the children sang like angels
 The kids who greeted David as he snuck out of church. What great spirits they have!
 Lunch with the minister and his family. How gracious they are to welcome us so warmly.

From the Mamanucas to the Yasawas

We have had a great adventure through the Mamanucas with Moonshine and Scream and the Yasawas, with new Kiwi friends on Adamite, and now we are on our way back to Vuda Point for maintenance and re-provisioning before our visas expire. After leaving the  pristine beach at Navadra Anchorage,  Sidewinder took us past Waya to Mantaray Bay, where we were hoping to find the mantas, but it is pretty late in the season and they didn't show. We did see a huge morey eel swimming as we snorkeled and that was a first; he quickly hid in his hole when he saw us coming and that was just fine with us! The next morning we took off north along Naviti Island, heading for the Blue Lagoon of the next island up. Unfortunately the clouds came and it was a bit tense weaving through the reefs along the island; good thing we had lots of waypoints which had been given to us by our friends Roz and Russ on Whirlwind,  now in New Caledonia, and we made it to the Nanuya Resort in the Blue Lagoon on Matacawalevu Island without much problem. We played Vball with the locals several afternoons and that was very fun, we enjoyed a great meal at the resort with some great people we met there, we snorkeled, went diving, hiked, and re-connected with Graham and Lynn on Adamite, whom we had met at Musket Cove.  From the Blue Lagoon, we headed north with them to Sawa-i-Lau Bay, Yasawa Island, and first anchored near a little village. There we presented kava to the chief, the ceremony of sevusevu, and that afternoon we explored the reef nearby, snorkeling while drifting with the dinghies. The next morning we anchored in the aqua blue green clear water next to an amazing huge volcanic and limestone rock formation housing underwater caves. We took dinghies around the corner into a lovely shallow bay and explored along the incredibly interesting rocks and little white-sand beaches lined with a few palmtrees, and I regret that we did not take a camera. Sorry!  We snorkeled that afternoon, enjoyed cocktails on board Sidewinder, and had a chance to get to know Grahame and Lynne even more. They have been cruising forever it seems; they've been around the world twice, raised their two boys on board, and are continually having fun sailing Adamite from New Zealand, where they live on her in Gulf Harbor, to Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia, and wherever else they decide they want to explore. They are around our age and have been sailing forever; their spirit is very much alive.  We were invited to go to church and have lunch in the local village on Sunday and that certainly was a treat. Luckily on Monday, when we went to the caves, we were the first ones there, and we were able to be in the caves by ourselves with a guide. When we dove out of the second cave into the first, though, lo and behold there must have been 25 or more young tourists swimming around, waiting for their turn to go in. Grahame and Lynne had found the caves in the 80's when there was nobody; today the owner of the island charges $10 a person and is certainly making his share of money! The villagers do benefit by selling goods on the beach nearby and of course, the modern world of tourism is very active in the Yasawas; that is a key difference from the northeastern islands of Fiji. But still, this area seems to be really remote and quiet after 11 AM each day and we felt like it was very special.  We followed Adamite over to the west coast bay of Nadala yesterday and left this morning to begin our journey back   Unfortunately we have an auto-pilot that is not working and we hope to fix it before heading to New Zealand at the end of this month. We are back in Blue Lagoon and David played volleyball this afternoon; tomorrow we go back to Naviti Island and then make our way to Lautoka and Vuda Point.  It has been lots of fun and I can't believe it is already October. WOW !    Happy fall to everyone.  We love you    Suzi and David