LTY UPDATE: Day#1 Sunday, December 29, 2013
(remember we are on the other side of the Intnl dateline than most of you)
Day #1 of passage from west side of Fiji up to Majuro Marshall Islands with one stop in Rotuma
LTY time: 20:20 (LTY time = UTC +12)
Location: about 60nm north of Fiji
Position: 16 32.416 S, 177 01.980 E (you can cut & past this into Google Earth to see on map)
SOG: 3.8 (SOG = Speed over Ground)
COG: 358 (COG = Course over Ground, my GPS based compass heading)
Wind: 6-12kts NNE
Seas/Swell: very calm small swell of about 2ft @ 6secs from NNE
Weather: Ideal; sunny & warm all day, nice sunset and now a bit of a cloudy night
Air temp: 80 F 28C
Sea temp: 88 F 31.0 C
Distance to Rotuma: about 260nm
BULA BULA & BYE BYE FIJI
Yes folks, the good ship Learnativity is finally all ship shape and off on the next passage. Christine, Ruby and I spent our last night anchored off one of my favorite anchor spots at the small uninhabited island of Navadra which is about 25nm NNW of Vuda Pt. marina where LTY has been since Ruby and I first arrived in Fiji back at the end of August. For those of you who are just joining us and those with short memories, here is a quick summary of the past four months. The 3 week 2000 nautical mile (nm) passage from Majuro in the Marshall Islands which is at about 7 degrees north of the equator to the island of Viti Levu on the far west side of Fiji which is at about 17 degrees south was a rather boisterous sail with lots of squalls along the way and a 50 knot wind right on the nose for the last leg inside the Fiji atoll, but it went well overall. I stopped once along the way at one of my favorite spots and did the official check in to Fiji at the tiny island of Rotuma which is at about 12 degrees south and about 350nm north of the rest of Fiji and had a truly marvelous and most memorable ten days there before continuing on to Fiji “proper” on the far west side of the biggest Fijian island of Viti Levu. I had originally thought I would spend a month or more sailing around some of the more than 332 islands which make up the archipelago of Fiji, 110 are permanently inhabited then there are more than 500 islets to explore as well, but there were a number of things which broke on the passage and needed repairing and several jobs I wanted to do while in Fiji to take advantage of the good access to parts, equipment and labour so I decided to sail direct to Vuda Point marina where I had spent over a year back in 2011/12 doing a complete sandblast, repaint and major refit on Learnativity. I wasn’t prepared for the truly wonderful greeting Ruby and I received from all our friends at Vuda Point from the staff to the many workers I hired to help me to dear friends still here on their boats such as Ian and Colleen on Summer Spirit and others who arrived later such as Teri and Philip on Blue Bie and Kate, Rory and Hannah on Streecar. Everyone remembered us and greeted us by name, well Ruby mostly and then I’m “the guy with Ruby” but I’m very OK with that and it was truly heartwarming to realize just how much of a home this had become.
I had originally thought that I’d be here for a few weeks to do the repairs and get some time with friends here and more arriving in the coming days and weeks, and then head out to go explore other spots, but it is now December 296th and we just left this morning to start the passage north back to Majuro. Once I got docked and settled into life in Vuda Point again, I soon fell into my old habits of “no project left unstarted” and those dangerous words “Gee, while I’m at it, why don’t I do ………… while I’m here” and so I soon had most of Learnativity all taken apart including my entire galley/kitchen and both heads/bathrooms and I soon lost count of just how many “little” projects I had taken on. I’ll put up posts about all this work with full photo albums for you later but suffice it to say that Learnativity now has all new deck paint, rebuilt in boom furling, windlass (takes up the anchor), completely rebuilt fuel injection pumps and injectors on both main and generator engines, newly designed and built stainless steel counters in the galley, newly designed and built top loading fridge/freezer, mosaic tiled galley walls, new ceramic glass tiled counters in both heads/bathrooms with new ceramic above counter sinks and taps, new oven/stove and …………. well, you get the idea. Even with getting lots of great help from some great local help it still took me working 7 days a week for the past four months to complete all these projects. As usual all this work took MUCH longer to complete and cost MUCH more than I would have liked but it was SO worth it and it feels GREAT to now start living aboard this shiny new and improved version of Learnativity. I think you will see why when I get the pictures and overview posted soon.
After many delays we said our final goodbyes and sailed out of Vuda Point marina on Sunday (Dec. 22nd) to head over to one of my favorite little anchorages about 20nm NNW of here at Navadra Island. My intention was to do a good shakedown cruise in the islands up north of here for a few days to make sure all the many changes and improvements I made were working well and discover any little gremlins that might be lying in wait before heading out of the reef and starting the passage north. Turned out to be a very good idea as a serious little gremlin reared his ugly head in the form of no compass and heading readings and no auto pilot! So we continued on to put the anchor down in beautiful Navadra and set about trying to figure out what was wrong. It turned out that the flux gate compass had been destroyed by a big EMF (Electro Magnetic force) that came through the boat when there was a big lightning strike to a sailboat a few hundred meters away from LTY. Fortunately it didn’t take too long to do the detective work necessary to determine it was the flux gate compass that was causing the problems and I had a spare flux gate compass on board so it didn’t take more than a few hours to remove the old one and wire in the new one and we came back to Vuda Point the next day with full auto pilot and all instruments working perfectly. Whew! The flux gate compass is what gives the auto pilot it’s heading information and trying to hand steer such a long passage would have not been smart or easy so we came back to Vuda Point to fix the problems and decided to enjoy Christmas Eve and day here. Turned out to be a great idea and serendipity made it truly spectacular and memorable experiences with time by the pool at the neighboring little First Landing resort for respite from the beautiful hot weather we are having and where we also had a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner put on by our friend and chef extraordinaire and owner Darren. After a gorgeous sunny Christmas morning we then enjoyed a Christmas BBQ dinner with our good friends Kate & Rory on StreetCar and their delightful 5 year old daughter Hannah a the marina’s café which we had all to ourselves as it was closed. The weather has been truly spectacular for over a week now, with no rain, very little clouds at all and very warm humid weather in the low to mid 30’s (90-95F). We picked up a few more provisions for the passage, did the laundry and then sailed back out to the anchorage off Navadra and spent the next day cleaning the bottom of the hull and taking time to catch up to the Email backlog with this last internet connection until we get up to Majuro which should be about the 15-20th of January.
We had a leisurely breakfast this morning, weighed anchor about 11am and headed north with the Yassawa islands off our starboard (right) side as we sailed past these beautiful islands lit up in all their verdant glory by the brilliant hot sun in calm waters and very little wind. It is now night time, about 10pm here and we are now motor sailing our way into the black night waters. There has not been much wind all day and even less this evening so we have been doing more motor sailing than pure sailing most of the day but it is still very beautiful and a great start to our 3 week passage up to Majuro. We will stop at Rotuma Island which is about 350nm north and should be there sometime in the afternoon on Tuesday Dec. 31st if the weather cooperates. In spite of its distance from the rest of Fiji Rotuma is part of Fiji and recently became a Port of Entry so we can clear out of Fiji there. It has been one of my favorite spots in Fiji so I’ll get one more visit with the people I know there and get to show Christine this beautiful little outpost in the middle of the South Pacific. We will check weather from there and then start the longer sail north to Majuro. I will post these daily LTY Updates for you each evening and Christine will post her much better written perspectives each Friday on the WriteOnTheWater.com blog so be sure to check that out as well.
I will close out for tonight and get back on watch now. Great to be back at sea finally and I look forward to having you join us on this latest voyage.
Christine, Wayne & Ruby the Wonderdog