Friday 3 July 2015

27 Jun - 2 Jul - Matuku to Suva


We have come back to the land of easy internet (and easy everything) but I thought it would be nice to send a quick note, as we haven't started sorting / posting our photos yet ...

Our last day in Matuku (Saturday) was productive - we stowed and prepped the boat without too much drama. Julie (Nirvana) took all four big kids for a hike around midday, so it was nice to have the solitude to prep Fluenta for sea. After Benjamin's nap, we walked into town to say our goodbyes; many of the ladies we wanted to talk to were out fishing, so it was a quick trip.

The highlight of the day was our fish dinner - we cooked the jobfish in butter with a few herbs, and it think it was one of the best fish we have eaten. It was a bit of an all-hands evolution as well: Max speared it, Johnathan filleted it, and Jesus cooked it.

By lovely coincidence, our first propane tank breathed out the last of its gas during dinner preparations, which meant that we could swap to the full tank before we started our overnight passage to Suva. It would have been *much* more inconvenient to run out of propane 24 hrs later. [Aside - we filled the tank here in Suva, 5 min from the yacht club and for less than in NZ. 24 hr turnaround to get it back]

Sunday morning saw us up bright and early. Max did all the upper deck preps, while I headed to the galley. After the last passage where I let stowing trump cooking, I was not about to leave the harbour without some easy-to-eat goodies prepared. Julie had given us one of her two remaining eggs, so we made a double batch of oatmeal pancakes (1/2 egg and generous mayo) and a quadruple batch of oatmeal muffins (1/2 egg, extra baking powder, mayo (2T/egg IAW the Boat Galley Cookbook) and yogurt). I didn't manage to cook a pot of pasta or rice (I thought I would be fine to do this simple task at dinnertime) so we ended up serving canned pasta for supper. Oh well.

Our overnight passage went reasonably smoothly - the autopilot behaved, and the winds were less than the last time (mostly under 20kts). The seas were still choppy/rolly (mostly wind waves, so even though they were not high, they were narrow and steep), which resulted in pronounced rolling of the boat. I was pleased that we didn't really have anything crashing down from its storage location even though the boat was going from -30 to +30 deg of heel - I am slowly getting the hang of "securing for sea". Both Fluenta and Nirvana left Matuku within a few minutes of each other (around 3pm - we both like to get going well before dark) and we arrived and anchored together the following morning.

We sure aren't in the Lau Group anymore - we have returned to the land of big ships, busy roads, and shopping centers! The mud-bottomed harbour has a reputation as a place where boats drag, so we are anchored near the edge of the group, and are watching out for windshifts.

We arrived on 28 Jun, which left 29 Jun for Victoria to organize a sleepover, Canada Day brunch (crepes - she woke up at 6am to start the batter), and cake decorating with Gigi, in advance of Canada Day on 1 Jul. Last year, we transitted the lagoon of Tahanea (Tuomotus, French Polynesia) on Canada Day, so we moved our celebration to the next day. This year we were ready! We hoisted our big (I mean really big) flag up the backstay, and we even raised a line of "bunting" flags up the forestay (a good knot-tying exercise for Victoria and Gigi, as the bunting needed to be tied securely to a line that was strong enough to take its weight). Our friends on Caminante hosted the three kids' boats for a potluck, where we all sang O Canada, and enjoyed Nanaimo Bars (made by Julie who is also Canadian) and Victoria & Gigi's cake.

We have been eating as many fruits and veg as possible since we arrived. The main city centre is a few minutes away by bus/taxi (20 min walk) so Jesus, Victoria, and I made the trek to bring home bananas, papayas, tomatoes, lettuce, pineapples, oranges, carrots, and even NZ apples from the grocery store. It turns out that many of the tropical fruit are not in season, so they are not as cheap as we had hoped, but at least they are available! I also managed to stock up on seasick meds (Kwells and Sealegs are our current favourites) at the local pharmacy. It was rather nerve-wracking to need to take the meds on passage but to not know if I could get more in Fiji!)

We are five kid-boats again - Exodus and Nautilus joined us today (from Kadavu) and Caminante is a welcome addition, whom we have not seen since Savusavu. Victoria and Johnathan had a great time playing a cops/robbers version of capture the flag ashore at the yacht club as dusk turned to dark tonight. I am not sure what the usual patrons of the Royal Suva Yacht Club thought of these 10 kids running around the lawn, but no one seemed too bothered. Johnathan is a quick sprinter, and Victoria is (in her own words) tiny and sneaky, so they both had a lot of fun.

The watermaker saga continues. It turns out that the Fijian company in Nadi that assured us that they could fix our Clark Pump actually does *not* tear them apart - they fix them by sending them back to Spectra USA to be overhauled (which we had been contemplating doing anyway)! Once Spectra reopens after the 4 Jul holiday, we will investigate this option; we have a line on a reputable shipping agent, so it looks like we will be sending our recently overhauled pump to the factory for another go, and then we will pick it up either here or in Nadi before we head to some of the drier islands. In the meantime, we are bringing water to the boat each time the dinghy goes ashore, and doing laundry/showers at the yacht club.

We are not sure how long we will be here ... there are a few places to visit in the city (museum, botanical gardens) and some shopping we want to do, then we will check the weather forecast, check the "kid boat location forecast", and cruise somewhere close by. It is actually funny that everyone's plans end up depending on everyone else's so we are all a bit flexible and vague about where we will be next :)

Love to all,
PS While we have internet, these notes will be intermittent, but you will start to see photos on our blog in the next few days ...
At 6/30/2015 4:48 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 18°07.56'S 178°25.31'E

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