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Last Day in Denaru

A week in Denaru is about 4-5 days too long. We will be leaving today. No doubt about it.

During the day, yesterday, we made a final trip into Nadi to pick up fresh food and eat lunch. In the evening we met up ashore with the Leu Cats, Sea Misters and True Companions for drinks followed by dinner at Cardod. We bumped into the Jaranas again and the Passageses joined us at the table.

For the Leu Cats and Sea Misters it was a final, final farewell as we are off today and so are they, to Vanuatu. They are on sailing plans which will be impossible for us to catch so again this was a little emotional. While cruising one makes some terrific friends but at some point there is a last goodbye. Sometimes you know when it is. Sometimes paths simply never meet again.

This morning I’ve been out and about in the Dinghy. This did involve going over to Leu Cat to drop off some butter and to pick up some hot peppers. This was a chance for a final, final, final farewell. Sea Mist was nearby so final^3 farewells there too.

Next stop …. Not here.

Boat work

The morning stayed wet and drizzly confirming our choice to stay put. I did go out to mail some passport photos to the village of Naqara where I’d promised to make some up for one of the guys we’d met there. I also located the machine shop to make a plate to fit under the stair our sliding privacy door runs across. It has been awkwardly propped up with books for the last few weeks following my slip down the stairs which weakened the step. The cost of the metal was a bit of a shock but I needed the work done so I gave the go ahead as long as they could get the work done that day.

In the afternoon I filled the dinghy fuel tank and went to pick up the plate. My design was deliberately overkill as the cost and pain of fixing the wooden step, should it break, would be far greater than this fix. I needed to screw 30 screws in from under the step. Each screw would need a hole to be drilled from underneath. Without being able to remove the step this was looking to be a pain to do. I’d bumped into John from Sea Mist at the fuel counter. He didn’t have a tool that would help. On the way back with my new plate and screws I stopped by Leu Cat to see if they had any tools to help. They did were happy to lend the tool. I hadn’t held out much hope but it sure pays to ask.

Back on the boat I fixed the plate. Now the step feels firm and we can remove the books to protect it.

After returning the tool to Leu Cat we made arrangements with them and with the Sea Misters for a another last meal out together tonight.

Lautoka and more Au Revoirs

We’d agreed to meet up with our taxi driver at 8am and were at the meeting point on time. Around 8:05am another taxi driver came by and offered us the trip for less. We’d heard of others whose drivers didn’t show so rather than take a risk we took the new taxi driver. I kept an eye open for ours along the way out of Denaru and didn’t see him so I didn’t feel too bad.

Apart from a brief stop to replace a flat tire we made it to Lautoka in good time. We’d asked to be dropped off at the customs office and be picked up in town later on. It turned out we needed to be in the customs office at the wharf (obvious really) rather than the one in town so we walked the approx mile between the two. We’d been advised by many to tell them our boat was nearby when asked where it was. I find it difficult to tell a bold lie so when it came down to it I said we were in Denaru. No problem. Soon we were out with coastal clearance for just about everywhere around here so we’re sorted on that front.

Next stop was immigration to extend our visas. It turned out it was in the unmarked building next to the first customs office we’d been to. So we walked back. It took a while and few Fiji dollars to get our extension. They required proof of our ability to sustain ourselves while here. In the end they were satisfied by taking copies of our credit cards and conceding on the need for copies of statements.

So now, unless we decide to go back to Suva or something like that, we have no more paperwork to do until we leave Fiji.

Next we walked around town. I bought a couple of shirts. The experience was a lot more pleasant than in Nadi where the shop keepers campaign heavily for your custom as you walk down the street. In Lautoka there was none of that. On the downside, the supermarkets with international produce were fewer and less well stocked than Nadi.

By the time we’d eaten lunch we were already a little late for our rendezvous. We didn’t lose our taxi as we’d bumped into him a couple of times already. We picked up a few more provisions before heading back to Denaru and the boat.

We didn’t do a great deal more in the afternoon. John from Sea Mist popped by having just arrived in the anchorage. He’d been invited to the evening out with the Leu Cats. That was great as this may be our last opportunity to see them for a while at best, if ever at worst.

The evening went well. We met up at Lulu’s having a round of cocktails together followed by dinner at Indigo’s – an Indian Restaurant – where we briefly bumped into the Jaranas who were just leaving. The evening was excellent and somehow we managed to stay out quite late, at least for us.

At the dinghy dock we said our emotional Au Revoirs. It’s never goodbye as one never knows how or when we’ll meet up again.

The answer to that is probably here and today as the weather has turned out crap and looks to stay that way today and tomorrow. We’re not moving on and when we do it looks like it’s out west.

Mast Yoyo

With my acquired 24V power supply I was set to install the Bullet2HP up the mast in place of my old set up. In doing this I wanted to make sure that the location was indeed a good one. The first thing I did was to go up the mast and put the Bullet2HP in place of the old box. All I had to do was switch the IP cable and use the old antenna. The antenna wasn’t left vertical but that would be enough for a test. The first test was not successful. I couldn’t see the device on my network. I tried a few things and then went up the mast again to check the unit. It showed it was receiving power. I went back down. It was working.

Having saved a few instances of the signal strength of the nearby stations I compared readings. They were not so good. However, I was not comparing like with like. I went up a third time to switch antennas (using the spare one I had for earlier use) and to position it vertically. Back down again I ran some more tests. Some of the stations were coming through more strongly but most were coming through weaker.

My guess is that proximity to the mast and spreaders is having more of a negative effect than the elevation is helping. This suggests that the mast placement, at least where I had it, is not so good after all. I went up a fourth time to retrieve the Bullet2HP and newer antenna and put it back where it had been, hanging from the job sheet away from the mast, to retest. The earlier, better, signal strengths were again being reported.

A fifth trip up the mast was then in order to remove the old network card, antenna and network cable.

In the afternoon, using the long network cable now retrieved from the mast, I had Helen walk about the top of the boat with the antenna/Bullet2HP while I compared signal strengths. Dangling from the jib sheets turns out to be one of the better places. The best was far aft above the bimini. This would suggest a permanent mount back there somewhere. This will require some thought. For now we can just stick the antenna out through the forward hatch and hang it on the jib sheet. We can even close the hatch over the cable if it rains so it’s ok for now.

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk around the local area popping into a couple of the beach front hotels to look around. They were nice, if you’re into that sort of thing, I guess but not our cup of tea.

The Leu Cats showed up in the afternoon in their dinghy having just arrived in the anchorage. They’re shaping up for a departure for Vanuatu this coming week which will mean more goodbyes/au revoirs. We’ve agreed to meet up for dinner ashore Monday evening.

Now it is Monday we plan to go to Lautako to properly clear into the western district. We’ll have a look around town before heading back to Nadi and doing our main provisioning for the next month. Tomorrow we may well be out of here. We like the idea of going round to Treasure Island and waiting there for the weather to settle before heading out to the western islands.

Sunflower Reef

The morning weather forecast indicated bad weather arriving around midday. We therefore cancelled all thoughts of moving out of Musket Cove and instead decided to use the remainder of the good weather to go snorkeling.

Our first target was a dive site call “Plantation Pinnacle” involving about a 2 mile dinghy ride. Having negotiated a shallow reef we found the dive site where two dive boats were already moored. They suggested the nearby “Sunflower Reef” site would be better suited for snorkeling so we headed there instead.

Sadly, a lot of the coral here was dead. On the other hand, where it was alive, the coral and sea life was vibrant. We were in the water for well over an hour finding new and interesting things to see. At times were were surrounded by hundreds of sergeant majors, some of whom would nibble at our skin (perhaps a sign they are used to being fed by humans). At one point Anne spotted a large octopus which I was able film.

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All in all, it was a pretty good swim.  On the way back we stopped off at a patch of reef frequented by many day tour operators.  Here were again surrounded by fish but not in the same numbers as previously and with not as clear water.  By the time we’d finished this snorkel the weather front had reached us.  The winds had picked up and the water had become instantly choppy.  As the wind was coming from the direction of the mooring field we had to dinghy into it.  Had we started dry we would have arrive soaked.  The dinghy filled with water but we made it. Anne thought it was all hilarious.

The weather nailed us to the boat for the afternoon. We finished off ‘December Boys’ which we’d started but failed to finish a few nights previously and watched the whole of ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’.

In the evening Helen and I popped ashore to spend a little time with the Leu Cats at the bar. The weather was not brilliant but we made the effort.

We finished off the Mahi Mahi for dinner. Delicious. We finished off the evening playing cards.

The weather continues to be nasty and is forecast to be so throughout today. So I doubt we’ll be moving today either. This morning I’ve caught up with all our photos and linked the albums to prior blog entries.

Yesterday John offered to help out with some boat projects. I may just take him up on it.