Friday, October 24, 2014

Another Exciting Day in the Wind

Sea planes land at Mana regularly bringing guests to
the Mana Island Resort on the beach to the left of this one.
The wind is a sailboat's power source. But it can also be its enemy! And the same for planning cruising adventures. Even though we watch the weather and plan our anchorages as best we can, Mother Nature can throw a curve ball - and often does! The winter winds have been squirrely - not the usual Trade Winds and they are up and down and switching direction. This makes it hard to plan our adventures.

With the generator fixed (hopefully this time it is), we headed out to explore another island group here in Fiji. We had seen beautiful underwater reef photos from another World ARC boat taken in the Mamanuca Island Group starting with Mana Island. The weather was perfect and visibility good. This is important when navigating within the barrier reefs here. We really haven't put the sails up inside the barrier reefs.

Mana Island Resort has the better beach and covers an
area that runs across the island for a beach on the other side.
Getting into Mana through the passage was a little tricky and it became nerve-racking when suddenly the depth readout said: 0.0m! That means I have one foot under the keel and I need to get out of there fast. Fortunately a couple of local tour boats guided us through the reef and we settled into the anchorage.

One of the fun events at Mana Island Resort is riding
on this "Oscar Meyer" tube. Not sure what they call it!

Ashore we found the lovely Mana Island Resort and a couple of backpacker resorts. The Japanese own the fancy resort and do not play nice in the sand with the lower priced ones. The guide book states that there is actually a fence dividing the island! Apparently there some bad vibes between the two groups. When we asked about a dinner reservation, we were told we had to register with the resort. So we didn't bother to eat there.

After a nice walk on the beach, a cold refreshment and a rising tide, it was time to return to the boat. Our plan was to return to shore in the morning to walk to the north side of the island to go snorkeling since the visibility was not good on the south side near our anchorage. When the wind blows hard it churns up the barrier reefs and it takes several days for it to settle down again. The wind is coming from the east-southeast so the north shore is clearer.

It is hard to get to shore at low tide.
Then after dinner aboard, we noted that the wind had kicked up into the twenties again. This meant an anchor watch throughout the night. We had a good hold, but there were reefs on three sides of us and we wanted to make sure we stayed put. Dennis loves his 320' of stainless steel anchor rode! I stayed up until 2 AM and everything seemed fine, so I crashed. Dennis got up a couple of times to check things during the rest of the night.

Morning gave us the opportunity to rethink our plans! The wind was howling and the waves we crashing across the reef in front of us and slamming the hull. It took a nano-second to say, "we're leaving!" We did not want another three days of sitting at anchor watching the position. Our plan was to head to Musket Cove Yacht Club on Sunday, so we moved it up a few days.

This little guy grabbed my camera and started
taking pictures. Then he wanted to see them.
I had trouble getting it back from him.
Unfortunately, while we were eating breakfast, we heard a loud bang on deck. Dennis went up to investigate and discovered the port sidelight of our dodge had exploded. Since it is tempered glass, it stayed in place. He quickly covered the whole area, inside and out, with duct tape. Good ole duct tape! What would we do without it?!

At the native end of the beach, the local women have a
small market set up with their crafts. No fruits or veggies.
This is now totally covered with duct tape until
we can get a new one from Sweden!

Once again it lives up to its reputation! But now we need to have a replacement glass shipped from Sweden to somewhere in our future itinerary. And we pray the tape holds until then. When be get back to Vuda Marina, we will try to find a piece of Plexiglas to strengthen the area. Without something there, we will be doused with sea water on our passages. Not to mention the wind. The same thing had happened to the starboard sidelight back in Herrington Harbor, MD. No one knows why it happens. It could be the sun or wind or both. Or there could have been a scratch on the tempered surface that weakened it. The glass is slightly curved so it is under tension. At least we know it wasn't a stone!

Once the window was secure, we weighed anchor and set off for Musket Cove Marina on Malolo Lailai island. The less than five mile trip was a game of reef-dodging and fighting the current and wind.

There was a loud BANG! Then this!
We made it to Musket Cove Marina, but there were no mooring balls available as no one was leaving in this wind. We were offered a stern-to berth at the dock, but we had the dinghy in tow and could not put it up in the wind. We were also concerned about trying to back into a space between boats with the wind direction and force. So we dropped an anchor outside the mooring field and waited for an opening on a mooring ball.

The wind here in the anchorage is hitting 27 knots at times. That means another night of anchor watch as there is a reef in front of us and one behind us. The kite surfers are loving it, but not the rest of us at anchor. At least, it gives us a good reason to lay around the boat and relax. Sometimes we forget to do just that!

S/V Trillium at anchor on Mana Island
Now I am sitting here in the anchorage at Musket Cove watching a motor yacht, M/Y Senses anchored a few hundred yards away. It is  57 meters long and has a red helicopter on the stern! I figure this owner can say, "When I've come to My Senses!" Really! I wonder what his other toys are? There is also a large red seaplane that landed just short of motor yacht, it might be another toy! We have seen some amazingly expensive and huge yachts here in the South Pacific. Japanese? Russian? Chinese? Unfortunately I can not see the vessel's flag.

Actually, someone just informed me that the superyacht belongs to Bill Gates! And it is for sale. How many million dollars was that? I wonder if it is listed on Hey, I think I helped pay for that!

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