Friday, June 28, 2013

Arrived Fiji

TIME: 2013/06/29 03:14 UTC (15:14 local)
LATITUDE: 17-58.56S
LONGITUDE: 179-13.71E
Anchored Gau, Fiji

In reality we arrived in Fiji last Monday, but it's taken me almost a week to update the blog. Check-in at Savusavu was smooth. As we approached the Savusavu commercial wharf (the ferry wharf at the entrance to Savusavu) we hailed Copra Shed marina on VHF 16 and Simon from the Copra shed helped secure s/v LightSpeed to a mooring. We arrived at 12:30PM just ahead of the 1PM lunch hour, so Simon ferried out most of the officials after lunch arriving around 2:30PM. Quarantine, Customs, Immigration, Biosecurity and Health forms were completed in about 45 minutes. The $172FJD Health fee was a bit of a surprise seconded by the $89.50FJD biosecurity boarding fee. Our feline Shell also required a $1500.89FJD refundable bond payable in cash at the Biosecurity office near the Westpack bank. The health fee was payable at the Hospital which is a 20 minute walk from town or a $8FJD taxi ride round trip. A one way walk in the burning afternoon sun was enough for us so we taxied back to town for $3.70FJD.

1USD = 1.88FJD, so dividing all prices by 2 gets you in the ballpark.

With all of our check-in procedures completed we enjoyed TWO chicken curry dinner for a total bill of $19FJD which was less than half what we would have paid for any ONE meal in French Polynesia. After the dinner we had one beer at the Copra shed marina bar and then went strait to bed sometime around 7PM. The next day we moved the boat to a small dock across from the fuel station and MH grocery store and gave the boat a good wash down and filled up a water tank. But first I had to walk a few blocks to town to find a new hose. In all I stopped at 4 hardware stores to find all the pieces and parts as hose and ends are sold separately. Most of the shops had hose, but few had any ends that you screw on to the faucet. A further complication is that the hose fittings are different that those you find in North America as these are smaller, so even if I had my own hose it wouldn't have fit on the locally used spigot. About $50FJD later I had a 30 meter hose with requisite ends and a new spray nozzle and we got busy giving LightSpeed a good wash. About half way through the new hose end popped off the hose and I had to dive into the bay to retrieve it. It turns out the hose I purchased is not reinforced and under pressure it starts to inflate like a giant water balloon and soon the end pops off. Now I know why none of the local hoses I've since seen have a sprayer attached as this clearly is a path to a ballooned and ruined hose!

With the boat all de-salted and pretty cleaned we began to pull away from the dock when our kitty climber rope on the starboard side caught in our propeller and we had a dicey time maneuvering to an open mooring in the tight confines of the crowded mooring field on just one engine in the ebbing tide. The 'kitty climber' ropes are for our cat Shell to climb back in the boat if she falls in the water (not that she knows this!). Apparently, one of the ropes was a few inches too long and the braided line caught the tip of our propeller stalling the engine. Another swim was required to unloose the rope and all was fine with no damage or issues. Just a few moments of excitement as I glided LightSpeed to an open mooring with the maneuverability of a one legged duck.

The next few days we did a little shopping and caught up with boater friends that we hadn't seen since last season. Curly has a new haul-out trailer that we thought we might use for hauling LightSpeed for a paint job, but the main deck is 16' wide which is a little too wide to conveniently haul LightSpeed as her underwing is only 14 or 15' wide.

Anxious to get our haul out completed we set sail for Suva with two planned intermediate stops at Koro island and Gau islands. We anchored at Dere bay at Koro and enjoyed a free mooring and warm welcome from the expat community of about 45 homes of which half are full time residents. In consideration for the use of the free mooring yachts are encouraged to go ashore in the evening and have a beer with the locals around 5PM. It wasn't too difficult for us to oblige with this request and had a nice time and a few beers. About 5:30AM the next morning we got underway for Gau where we're now anchored for the night and planning to leave early in the AM for Suva. Fishing was slow today with two catch and releases of a Spanish Mackerel and small Skipjack tuna.

That's it for now.

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