Thursday, May 24, 2007

On to Fiji

May 11, 2007
Suva Harbor, Viti Levu, Fiji Islands
coordinates 18.07.369S, 178.25.782E

After an 8 day crossing we had the islands in our sights. What started as a delightful sail turned into quite a busy experience for us. After a couple of glorious and sunny days of sailing we were aware that big winds and weather were on the way. Prepared as we were, the 35-45 knot winds and 3-4 meter seas for the next few days were not necessarily comfortable but not a big problem. As they passed though things started to unravel. As the saying goes, if it could go wrong it did.

Right off the bat the fridge and freezer decided to act up soaring to new temperature highs. Next the water maker stopped desalinating up to our standards. The engine began to lug down to a near dead stop and not have the power it usually does. An issue we had thought we addressed in the marina but were not sure now. We ended up changing the alternator 4 times including rebuilding one with our two combined backups before the heavy weather hit. The engine never did have it's usual pep but it
hung in there questionably when we needed to use it for charging the batteries.

As the heavy weather hit we took many a breaking wave over the stern knocking out the autopilot and shorting out lights in the cockpit. Truly one of the toughest parts is the sleep deprivation, the root of all evil. The noise created by the large breakers hitting the boat night and day disrupts any sort of decent sleep. After 48 hours of howling winds and the weather began to die down. Aside from electrical issues we seemed no worse for the wear. Now with a nominal 10 knots of wind we had to
motor sail. Some how in only the lightest of winds with a reefed main a 10 - 12 ft. seam in the main sail let loose. There was no big blow out, no flogging of sails, so we figure there must have been some worn stitching that just decided to let loose. We took that sail off and put up just the jib to help motor sail as well. Not long after that a strange sound arose and we found by some fluke of nature we back winded the jib to find the spreader spearing right through it. Two sails down.

Five days out and lots of motoring ahead and again the engine didn't sound well, running itself down to nearly a complete stop at times. We nursed it along, changing filters, changing fuel tanks and deciding that we had best get at least one sail repaired if possible. We knuckled down and we hand stitched around the clock, we figure 3000 stitches. We weren't sure at this point if we would have enough fuel to make it to Fiji. We could definitely feel the changes in latitudes as the temperature
in the cabin was soaring into the 90's. Running the engine only exacerbates that inside the cabin. Each time we turned around though small things continued to plague us, the fridge and freezer continuing their rising temperatures, GPS would randomly go on the blink, computers would stop working when we least expected it, the clock stopped, new batches of batteries right out of the pack wouldn't work. We were beginning to think we were in some new Bermuda type triangle. We limped into Suva with
a beautiful sunrise on Friday, dropped anchor in 8 feet of muddy water in front of the Royal Suva Yacht Club and looked in awe at the busy port working around us. One sail repaired, the engine stuck in there with us the whole way, the fridge and freezer decided to come back to life and some friendly Fijian custom agents boarded our boat and checked us into the country. Listening to the various nets we realized we still had much to be thankful for as other boats lost their autopilot all together
and had to hand steer nearly the whole passage.

Our first journey onto shore brought much fun and surprises. Enjoying the differences between the mix of Fijian and Indian culture here, you can get a taste of both worlds. The open air market is full of familiar and still new foods for us. We found new sea weeds treats, Indian jack fruit, and of course the coveted Kava root that we will be delivering as gifts to the chiefs of the various islands we meet. We almost had the boys married off to an adorable little Indian gal in the first few hours.
It may be a long journey. We will continue to repair a few of our projects here in Suva for a couple of days and then head to the outer islands in search of more fun and adventure.
until then, Bula!
your crew on Ohana Kai

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