|500 miles at sea, a freighter passes within 3 miles...He didn't see us till I called on the radio...scary|
We're now safely tied to a mooring buoy in Savusavu....finally. It was a pretty tough passage. Not crazy tough. No big gales to deal with.....and, except for less than a day of NO wind where we motored, we had breeze for the whole trip.....mostly around 25 knots, with lots in the 30-35 knot range, and up to the low 40's. On the beam. Nothing dangerous or particularly hard to handle, just continual tiring, wet sailing.
|Savusavu harbor looked pretty sweet after 9 days|
This began a pretty funny version of the Savusavu Shuffle!!! We get to the mooring, and Epeli (incredibly friendly and helpful worker) is in process of telling another boat to get off the mooring, as it's for us. He then helps us to tie up, we shut all systems down, and heave a big sigh that this passage is in the books. Naturally we popped an anchor beer to celebrate and await the arrival of the authorities.
After 10 minutes, the marina calls.....a change in plans. The motor on their dinghy is broken, so could we come to the fuel dock for clear in. Damn.....we're all nice and relaxed.....can't we just launch our dinghy and come get the authorities??? Uhhhh.....let me check......Uhhhhh, no, they say you are not allowed to leave your vessel until you are legally in Fiji!!! You will need to come in to the dock.
So we untie from the mooring and come in to the dock, where we are met by the gang of super friendly authorities.....biosecurity, quarantine, customs and immigration. Cokes and cookies are a real hit all around, and one by one they go through the required forms and stamps (LOTS!), tell us where to go to pay the various fees, and with a big BULA, say "welcome to Fiji". But wait...Mr. Customs and Immigration looks over the side, notices how low the tide has fallen at the dock, and says, ummmmm, skipper, you might want to get away.....quickly, before you're aground. He's obviously talking from experience! So we quickly untie, and Epeli is waiting to take us back out to the mooring to finish up with C&I. But wait! That other boat has now retied to OUR mooring. Epeli gets him to leave again, and secures us. No worries, smiles all around. We complete our checkin....BULA, WELCOME TO FIJI !!!
Later, we head in to town. We're met at the dock by Epeli. There's a slight change of plans. Seems another boat had reserved our mooring before we showed up, and we will need to take a different one. Come back in 1 hour and we'll switch. OK, no worries.
We get back after the hour, and are told....ummmm....sorry, there's another change. The mooring that we were to take has someone else there from a previous reservation. We will go to one which seems, well, ridiculously close to a 55' boat, Lisa K, owned by friends. Epeli assures us that "you won't actually touch, but it will be very tight......." He promises to move us again, as soon as another buoy opens up!
The weather is perfectly calm, so we tie up, and settle in, by this time in a virtual stupor due to lack of sleep. 30 minutes later Epeli calls on the radio. Another mooring has opened, and true to his word, he'll help us move again! So we did, and are now settled into what will likely be our home for the next few weeks.
All good, but a pretty funny arrival into what promises to be a fantastic place!
So what was this about Murphy? And what about that remark about "hand steering"??? Well, the passage from New Zealand uncovered a surprising number of seemingly unrelated electronic gremlins. Murphy struck us hard.
|"There's yer problem, ma'am"|
On our last night of the passage, Cindi called from the cockpit that our autopilot which steers the boat was acting strange. Strange, as in, not at all !!! It seems to engage ok, and all the lights and LCD's are ok....it just-doesn't-steer-the-boat. And that's it's only task!!! In the 13 years we've owned Bravo, the autopilot has performed flawlessly, driving the boat in winds up to 55 knots. No worries. But now, nada....zippo.....nietski!!! And since our wind vane was now uselessly lashed to the transom, we had to hand steer for the last night. Not too bad, really, to get a bit of driving practice now and then, but certainly not as relaxing as having Otto the Autopilot drive through the night! Could've been a lot worse, as in the middle of the crossing!!!
As dawn broke, and we were within 10 miles or so of an island, Cindi checked the radar. Nothing showed up. Hmmmmm....that's wierd......we can always see land at that range, if not always small boats. But nope, no image of anything on the screen. The radar unit was installed new when we left Seattle 4 years ago, and has functioned perfectly ever since.....until now. Murphy, the sonofabitch, had claimed another victim during his uninvited passage.
So that's Murph's story. It's a boat, as they say, and we know that many define "cruising" as "fixing your boat in exotic places". But after all the work we did in New Zealand, we had thought we'd be ready for at least a BIT of trouble free sailing. Instead, we now need to repair the vane steering, the autopilot, the ssb radio, and the radar!!! Yesterday we were a bit discouraged.
But our spirits are much better today. Savusavu is a pretty little town, and we can't remember meeting friendlier people anywhere. Wherever we go, the greeting "Bula" is heard. With a big, welcoming smile. There are great dives awaiting us all around, as well as excellent snorkeling. We've just landed, but we think we'll be very happy hanging out here as the projects get crossed off the list!
Stay tuned as Bravo's Fiji chapter unfolds!