There’s not too much to do here in Savusavu. We knew that already before we came here and that’s ok. Gui is organizing the trip to Argentina. We all will travel there and we need plane tickets and visas for Australia (a pain in the a.. !!) In Argentina Gui will work on the upcoming collections for Coquito and the Kids will have fun with the grandparents.
So what’s the captain doing ? Fixing things – of course ! I can’t sit still for too long and there’s enough work on the Suvarov. Our engine still tends to overheat so again I took apart the whole cooling system. All the tipps of the boat neighbors and of Leon (the local machanic-guru) are implemented. The whole system is checked from inlet, impeller, all hoses, mixing elbow, water collector to exhaust. But the problem is IN the engine which is no surprise since the above mentioned parts were checked before we left Polynesia.
During that check I was quite confused that I didn’t find a thermostat. Now – with the proper manual I could verify: It’s indeed missing ! Luckily somewhere with the boat tools I found a box containing four used thermostats who after checking were all verified to work correctly. They just needed some cleaning.
The next surprise was the air filter – I wanted to clean it but – there is no filter in there ! Well. That safes me a little work. ;-) Next step: replacing the sacrificial anodes. That’s convenient because while doing that I can have a look inside the cylinder head and see wherther there’s any calcium builup. Next surprise: instead of a gasket someone used household silicone ! – On the front of the cylinder head !! The backward plate had no gasket at all. :-) Luckily we have gasket paper on bord and Gui made nice new ones for me.
Inside the cylinder head it looked a lot like a flowstone cave. Lots of stalagtites and stalagmites – and even some crystals ! What a beauty !! Well – and why the cooling of the engine isn’t really working well is clear now. After consulting the almighty internet I find out that it’s best to use 10-15% acetic acid to remove that calcium buildup. Unfortunately the only related liquid available in Savusavu is white vinegar. So I decide to take a little risk and use 5% sulfuric acid to remove the crud. I fill the (warm) engine with four liters of acid and let it sit until it stops hissing and bubbling. From the connection on the top of the engine we can see the CO2 escape. A nice chemical experiment for our schoolkids. The acid cleaning will continue for the next days. We’ll see whether it works…
While I was at it I also changed the oil, de-rusted and painted some parts, replaced hose clamps and hoses, etc. A nice little service for our engine. As you might be curious it’s a Yanmar 3QM30H with saltwater cooling. And as I had to search forever to find it, I safe others the work and put a link to the service manual !
The first days in Savusavu went by quite swiftly. The usual routine: getting the laundry done, some basic shopping, getting to know the village, etc.
As we determined before, the people of Fiji are extremely friendly, the Indian population is extremely enterprising and the Curries that one can eat at nearly every place are hot, delicious and affordable.
So the first impression is quite good. And that definately should be so as we’ll be here for the rain season which officially lasts until April. That doesn’t mean, we’ll be stuck here on the mooring but here we’ll have our base and hideout in case a taifun is announced.
As most all hurrican holes, Savusavu has the downside of plentiful rain, slightly muddy water thanks to the mangroves and the bay-in-bay setup and of course: mosquitos. Not exactly sexy. But it’s ok – especially since we discovered that hotel with a pool ! We’re kind of tolerated but also seemingly the only bathing guests anyway. On the way towards the pool we got two breadfruits as a present and as our path led us by the hot springs, we dropped one into the boiling water. After our refreshing splash we came back to pick up the nature-boiled breadfruit. Yamyam !
Sorry, this entry is only available in Deutsch.
Jill from the SY Mollymawk just published her second article about home – or rather on-bord schooling titeled ‘The results of the home-school experiment’. First, I’d like to thank Jill for taking time to write such insightful articles but instead of plain interest for us the importance is actually a different one. Although we may sail another ocean, we’re in the same boat when it comes to schooling our kids.
Of course we read books, articles and it’s one of the most prominent discussion topics amongst cruising families. But there still is a lack of confidence. This probably is rooted deep in our upbringing – both my wife Guillermina and me went through a formal education of european style. I didn’t like it much whereas my wife enjoyed it. And while I choose a life of labor, my wife’s thing was an academic career. But both we liked the ideas and concepts layed out in our favourite book about schooling: ‘Learning all the time’ by John Holt.
But just being fond of that concept doesn’t create a school environment nor does it teach your kids the essential skills needed for life and self-education. While the only decision 99% of all parents we know at home have is whether it’s gonna be a public or private school, we face the endless insecurity of whether we do it right and if it was a good decision after all. Choosing the life on sea and teaching the kids on our own is difficult, sometimes hard work and not always very satisfying. Although it can be. While Viola, aged five keeps asking for reading lessons and wants to write stories, learn Guitar, etc. Bruno seems to lose interest after a few minutes. But then there are these other moments too. A few days ago, we sat in the Government building in Levuka, Fiji. Bruno sees a picture of all the ministers and wants to know exactly what they do, how they come to be in charge and even has suggestions to improve the situation. And while we wait for nearly two hours to get our cruising permit – instead of nagging and jumping around in his seat, we train mathematics and calculate how far a human could count if it were the only thing he was doing in his life. Through the window we watch toads trying to escape the blazing sun as the lawn is being cut and Bruno, aged seven, tries to understand why the toads won’t just go straight for the shadow to their right. We end up in a discussion about genes, brain sizes, adaptation, the moisture of the skin, the usual habitat of those reptiles, the difference between toads and frogs, etc. Yes – this is ‘doing school’ for us and that is what both we and our kids enjoy. – It doesn’t always have to involve book, desks and pens. But it has to be an enjoyable way of learning things.
Thanks to the crew of the Mollymawk we are once more ensured that we’re doing the right thing and that (given the right circumstances) it will work out well for our kids – independent of what their later plans for life will be.
Here you can find the mentioned articles:
Part 1: The purpose of education
Part 2: Results of the homeschooling experiment
Also when you’re at it, don’t miss out on the amazing books Jill wrote. Highly recommended !!
Although we already are anchored at the next postcard island, I still have to post some pictures of Levuka, our first contact with Fiji. I mentioned the funny haircuts but somehow forgot to shoot some pictures of the beautiful ladies of Levuka… Well, those will come later, I guess. Also worth mentioning is that Levuka once was the capital of Fiji ! Hard to believe as it’s a quiet, little Village.
As we found nearly everywhere else too, there are numerous schools and plenty of kids everywhere. All dressed up in nice, colorful school uniforms. A treat for the eye !
When we picked up the cruising permit, I noticed the schedule of the authority. It has a seminar on climate change for the employees. Yeah – when the big polluters of the earth still are arguing whether or not it’s true, the island nations of this world are getting prepared for the worst.
Maybe the people of Levuka will also start thinking of getting rid of that awfully noisy Diesel generator located in the center of the village that provides power for the whole island. There would be more than enough sun to power all homes here on the island and as for storage, I suggest to use that huge fuel tank up on the hill. One could use the excess power during midday to pump up salt water and use a turbine to generate power during the night. – Just a thought…. But I guess burning fuel is (still) just too convenient.
Alright. Enough of the ranting. There are also some pics of our little hike up the hill to the little freshwater pond. On the way the kids got a little toy cooking set and when we were back on the ship they promptly openend a restaurant on the foredeck. Let’s see if someone can decypher Viola’s menu. It’s a wild mix of german, spanish and english but it shows promise and she’s definately not lacking inspiration. Also – she’s still just five. :-)
After our last sailing voyage we spent five days getting all the saltwater out of our boat and everything washed again. As we don’t like to repeat this experience, the newly found leaks were on the top of my ToDo list. And as the beach is too beautiful and the coral too colorful I look the other way grab screwdriver, hammer and chisel and start attacking the rust !
My starting point is the little vent in the kitchen. Sometime ago there was also an electric ventilator installed but corrosion has eaten it away probably years ago. The Vetus vent itself, I replaced back in Moorea as the old one didn’t even close properly. But somehow water still found it’s way in – so I remove it completely and discover some realy nasty stuff: The leak probably existed for many years and not much is left of the 4mm of steel that our deck is made of. So I start the old game: first hammering the loose material away, then brush the metal until it looks somewhat stable. After cleaning it, I soak everything with phosphoric acid. Half an hour later the acid has done it’s magic and converted all the rust to black ferric phosphate. Now I clean again with freshwater and let it dry. The epoxy primer appears on stage and gives the ugly spot a nice, watertight cover. During the next days, I will paint additional layers of white polyurethan paint. Time will tell how that combination works out….
But as I’m already at it, I crawl around on deck and open more and more rust spots. Some are easy, others quite nasty. The always leaking bathroom window was missing a fitting underneath the handle and the window itself wasn’t glued to the deck with Sikaflex or 3M-50200 but instead sat on a 1cm layer of filler (the one that is used for fixing bumps in cars *rrr*). In general I usually uncover two or three generations of household silicone which if at all is only to be used inside the ship. – Well it’s an amateur construction, one can tell.
Like this I work for five days on my knees with chisel and power drill in my hands.
We discovered that the hatch on the foredeck also leaks water *underneath* the frame and onto our children’s beds. So I take the whole hatch off and again ramove three layers of silicone and cheap one-component paint. I polish the aluminium frame and after painting everything in the above mentioned manner, I glue it back in with Sikaflex. Also I turn the whole hatch a 180˚ so it now opens to the front. That will let a lot more air into the cabin and make our life more enjoyable in those hot regions we’re cruising in.
My last item on the todo list ist the tiller, which I dismount to put in nice, water resistant marine grease and again glue everything together again. Now all the leaks have been worked on - if they really hold up against the waves only our next trip can tell…
And the only thing I remember is doing laundry, laundry and laundry. As we ‘wet’ the bed(s), we had to wash everything. Mattresses, covers, bed linens, cushions, clothes, towels and also some clothes. Well today I think, we dropped the last two bags off at the Coconut Cafe who do a great job getting all the salt out of our fabrics.
Otherwise we’ve been strolling through the village, got fresh groceries from the fantastic little market down at the harbour, met maaaaany sailors we saw passing through in Moorea. Also we try to make a decision where to head next: Fiji or New Zealand ? Right now I’m looking for a taifun-safe mooring in Fiji. If we get one, we’ll be sailing west. Otherwise we will receive our guest in a few days, spend another few weeks in those magnificent little islands of Vava’u and it’s south to NZ. But we’ll see….
Tomorrow we’ll be leaving Neiafu to check out some of the fantastic anchorages here. Expect some jaw dropping pics of the most beautiful beaches of the south seas in a few days. (You’ve been warned !)
Oh, and that also means: No internet these next days….
Just a very short clip made during the front that hit us on the way to Tonga:
Finally an action post for the sailors that read our blog.
On our way towards Tonga we ran into a front / through. As the thing really looked weird on our weather maps we prepared ourselfes for the worst – and pretty much got it. Luckily for us, the storm hit during daylight which is a lot less freightening than having strong winds in the pitch black night. Lucky for you too as you get some scary pictures (and maybe a video later on).
The front was clearly visible in the morning after breakfast and when it hit, the wind turned 180 degrees and increased to about 40 knots at which it stayed pretty much all day. After a few hours, the sea picked up and nearing the end of the storm we had waves reaching well above five meters. Despite the rough seas we still did 4-5 knots, going against the wind with the main and genoa in the third reef.
Slightly further south it was even worse. We heard of yachts that encountered more than 50 knots of wind just 50 miles south of our position.
The damage: one genoa sheet was nearly shaved through and again we made lots of water. The most of it in the lazarette but not as much as previously in the living quarters. The sunbrella cover of our Genoa was already slightly damaged from all the flapping during the light wind sailing and the storm did some additional damage. But it’s already down and we gave it to the local sailmaker to re-stitch it. It should be fine again in one or two days. We had to use the autopilot for a few minutes while we put in another reef. Although it usually keeps the course quite well it managed to do a jibe (!!) while we were sailing on the wind. A jibe with 40 knots is not very nice and it tore out the stopper of the track of the main sheet. But that I can also repair easily. The culprit seems to be a faulty connection on the autopilot computer – a common fault, we learned. I’ll look into that during the next days too.
Compared to the other boats that came into harbour during the next days, we did pretty well. Other boats had their sails completely torn, blocks destroyed, hailyards snapped, etc. I don’t like cleaning the boat after an incident like that but if that’s all – I can live with it. And of course we will again improve and try to stop some more leaks that we found on hatches, vents, etc.
Today at around noon we tied up at the fisher pier in Neiafu, Tonga. Then we learned that it’s actually sunday and all offices are closed. So we relocated to a mooreing and go back tomorrow morning to officially clear in.
It was a very demanding journey – 1554 nautical miles that took us 13 days. But right now I’m too tired to write a lot. I’m gonna sort the pictures and put together a nice story tomorrow.
After more than one year in french Polynesia it’s time. Time to leave and time to sail again. In a few minutes we’ll be heading out to sea again. The journey is about 1300nm and should take something in between 10 to 14 days. Oooou yeah !!
After a night with a lot of wind and rain, the weather seems to be getting nicer and we’re setting out on our next voyage. Towards Vanuatu with a short stopover in Bora Bora to clear out of french Polynesia. It’s another long journey that awaits us: about 2500nm(~5000km) towards Port Vila, Vanuatu. As usual we’ll be reading our emails daily via shortwave radio and the satellite phone we’ll turn on every day in the morning for an hour or so.
The dinghy is on deck, everything prepared, the tanks are full… Now we’re having lunch and then we’re off.