Friday, 21 August 2015

Musket Cove and Namotu - Letter Home - Part 3 of 3 and lots of photos

[This is the last installment of Liz's last letter home - lots of photos at the end of the post].

With only a short downwind run from Likuri to Musket Cove, we tried an experiment with our sails the following day - we sailed under our genoa alone.  It was easy to control in the conditions, and it meant that we didn't have to bother raising and lowering our main for the short trip (even when we do a trip with a reef in the sail the whole way, we need to hoist the main all the way up (with a winch) before we bring it down to stow it (also with a (smaller) winch).  It is quite a workout, and it is nice to avoid it once in a while - especially because we sailed so well with just the genoa :)  After a couple of hours, we went through the pass into the calm waters around Nadi, and sailed in ideal conditions (just the right amount of wind and no sea state).  We had been planning to go to Port Denerau to pick up our water maker pump and investigate getting some work done on the boat, but after a week in our own company, we were going into kid-boat withdrawal, so we turned left at the pass and headed to Musket Cove instead.  What a shock it was to come around the corner into the anchorage and count about three dozen boats!

Fluenta from the air (SV Estrellita picture)

Livia showing us how it is done ... I think we need some kites onboard
Some cruisers spend entire seasons at Musket Cove and the nearby anchorages - especially the ones who love surfing or kite surfing.  There is a little bit of everything here - a big resort with all its amenities, a yachtclub (we are now life-time members for a total cost of $15), a BBQ at the yachtclub where we pay $2/token to cook our dinner (they supply plates & cutlery), laundry machines, unlimited hot showers, and a little store with bread, fruit/veg, eggs, dairy, and canned goods.

As for us, we enjoyed a kid-boat reunion with Exodus, Nirvana, and Nautilus, met SY Honey (another kid boat who has just arrived in Fiji after cruising the end of our potential route backwards through Indonesia and Asia), and anchored for the first time with SV Estrellita, with whom we had a quick visit in Auckland, but otherwise have hardly seen since they left Victoria in 2011 :) They are sponsored kite surfers, and Max was able to spend some time getting a few pointers from them this week.

Victoria and some of the kids discovered some time ago that four of them were born within three days of each other in September.  Two were even born in the same year on the same day.  This, of course, meant that they needed to celebrate together with cake, so they finally held their long awaited "September Birthdays" party this week.  The party coincided with Alex's 14th birthday (Exodus), so five of the eight kids in attendance were exchanging presents that they had made.  Musket Cove was also the site of a group fitness test: Julie (Nirvana) had the US standards for kids in each age group, so they ran a mile, did pushups and situps, and completed a couple of other tests together.  All the children were well into the Healthy or Presidential range.  It was fun to see these kids who don't necessarily do regular sports doing just fine on the standardized tests.

Fitness testing
Fitness testing.
and more cakes ...
You may notice that I haven't mentioned Jesus much in this email ... this is because he has gone onto the next stage of his own world travels.  While we were in Yanuca, he was able to arrange a ride to Suva in an open fiberglass (Fijian) boat, and from there he took a five-hour ferry to Koro Island, where the Alternative Sailing Community folks have some land.  He spent his last week in Fiji with them before coming to Nadi to fly back to NZ.  We had hoped to see him while he was here, but none of us had realized how pricey the ferry would be out to this island, so we have taken a raincheck on our visit, and will try to connect in NZ.  We feel really blessed to have had him with us for the first part of our season :)

The other interesting aspect of the last two weeks has been a mystery rash that sprang out of Benjamin's skin the Saturday before we left Yanuca.  At nap time, I noticed a tiny blister that I rubbed away absentmindedly with my finger.  By the end of his nap, it had grown to about 1/2", and he also had one developing on his nose and a couple on his neck.  Over the next few days, he grew to look more and more like some kind of leper: the blisters were kind of like Chicken Pox, but there was no fever and no listlessness.  No one at Likuri had any idea what we were dealing with, so we just kept him comfortable (he was cranky, but full of energy and running around) and put as much ointment on his spots as we could manage.  The nurse here at Musket Cove told us that she thought it was chicken pox, but it wasn't until we ran into a Canadian retired doctor in the grocery store (a friend of our friends on SV Red), that we found out that he had Bullous Impetigo, which of course is quite contagious.  Yikes!  Thankfully, twice-daily baths and regular applications of ointments, lotions, and essential oils seem to have knocked it back, and he looks better each day.  We are able to take him out in public now without stopping traffic :)  We have generally been keeping him on the boat until after his nap, and then taking him ashore in the dark and keeping him away from other kids as much as possible.

As you know, the maintenance cycle never ends.  This week, Max had helpers as he completed his jobs - Victoria, especially, loves electrical work, so she did the splices and heat shrink when they were fixing a corroded connection to our malfunctioning grey-water sump pump. Once they finished the repair, she drew a schematic of it, and then built her own functioning "bilge alarm" system with components from a Christmas gift set.  When she is not doing electrical work, she is helping with plumbing by applying and tightening hose clamps ("My arms are smaller than yours, Dad" ... this was to fix a leak in our salt water pump) or drawing the 27' boat she will one day build and sail.  While Victoria was building her bilge alarm, Johnathan took a package of Popsicle sticks and built a model bow & arrow.  I am learning a lot about weaponry these days... As for Max, he has also painted our transmission (which did not appreciate the salt water leaking into the engine compartment) and touched up the engine paint, a smelly, but necessary job.

Victoria helping rewire the grey water tank pump.

and her self-designed high water alarm,

And speaking of water ... we have our Clark pump back from Spectra !  Little details are so nice - proper caps on fittings, spare connectors and everything put together properly.

Testing the water after reinstalling the Clark pump and our new feedpump.  TDS meter showing that the water is excellent - about 200 ppm.

Finally, I have saved the best news for last -- our water maker is back in service!!!  You may remember the struggle we had with the company in NZ, and that we finally mailed our Clark pump back to the US for a manufacturers overhaul.  Well, when Spectra learned of our situation and the frustrations to date, they overhauled and returned our pump at no further cost to us.  They even expedited the work, because they knew we had a baby in cloth diapers on board.  We can't say enough good things about them (and in fact, Max will write something about them and his experience separately).  Max rode with our friend Dave on SV Rewa to Denerau, where he picked up the pump last Monday, and he was able to install it and our brand new feed pump on Tuesday.  By Tuesday evening, we were making water - at a higher capacity and better quality than we have ever seen.  Yeah Spectra! Yeah Max!

The weather in Musket Cove has had winds from all directions since we arrived.  When we got here, the anchorage was really crowded as the NZ-based Island Cruising Association rally was here waiting for a weather window for their trip to Vanuatu.  With a low/tropical depression sitting north of Fiji, this took a while, so we had close quarters anchoring and crazy winds for the first few days.  Things seem to have settled out a bit now, but there is still a bit of a daily dance around the anchor when the strong SE trade winds slack off in the afternoon to be replaced by light northerly breezes for a couple of hours before the trades fill in again.  We have enjoyed watching the 73.3m superyacht Dragonfly sharing the same bay as Fluenta (although they are much closer to the pass than we are!)  We will stay in this area for another week or so (Nautilus and Nirvana are gearing up for Vanuatu soon) and then we will see where the wind takes us next :)

A few larger boats in the neighbourhood ... This a Dragonfly - 210' and $US500,000/week to charter ...

Love to all,


The Estrellita Air Force buzzes Fluenta

Drinks on Estrellita

A bit crowded ...

Especially when the winds shifts by 180 degrees at 0300. 


Heading off for an early morning surf near Namotu 
More dingy surfing

Benjamin gets to try it out - albeit at slower pace ...

Mums can play too.  Liz dingy surfing.

My commute

Heading to Denarau from Namotu.

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