Well, you know how it is with boats; one thing leads to another. Our friends Steve and Iretta, having decided to go solar on their new house, put in an order for Trojan batteries. The batteries, solar panels, controller, etc. would come from Suva on a truck on the ferry. All we had to do was increase the order by six ("Sure, they're in stock.") and poof, they would magically appear. Since we always seem to be in remote locations when our batteries begin to fail, It was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Our current bank of batteries – 6 LTHs (a battery made by Exide in Mexico) – were brought aboard in December 2003 in La Paz. They have actually performed quite satisfactorily these past 3.5 years, but we put such a load on them with our two refrigeration units, computers, lights, autopilot and other toys, that we have not had a great track record for long life. And for some reason, Don can't get our fancy Link 2000 to properly equalize them.
So, adding to Steve and Iretta's order at the last minute not only seemed like an ideal opportunity, but it saved us both money on the per battery price. Only, ....surprise, they didn't come last week when they were supposed to. Hence, our stay in Savusavu got extended one more week!
Working to the same schedule apparently is Savusavu's alternator guy. Don had arranged for two alternators to be rebuilt while we were in the US, figuring seven months was plenty of time. And sure enough upon our return they were finished, only, thanks to a little miscommunication, they'd been rebuilt as 50 amp alternators not 90. So, Pele ordered in heavier wire to wind a new stator. That took longer than expected, and guess what, when finally done, after 2-3 trips to the shop by Don, it didn't work. Finally with another three-day weekend bearing down, Pele ordered in a brand new 90-amp alternator from Labasa and sold it to Don at his cost. Since we have the repair money into the previous one, this is not quite the deal it seems, but Don bowed to the inevitability of island business and accepted. Imagine the guys' chagrin when, at 5pm on Friday afternoon after the alternator arrived on the bus, they realized it still had to be converted to an external regulator with field and tack wires added! Don was very late getting to the Yacht Club that night!
So, tomorrow at 4am the ferry docks, and the truck is promised to roll off. We will move over to the floating fuel dock for the exchange. Of course we have to do something with the old batteries, but that ended up being solved relatively easily . Rumor had it that Joseph, a somber Fijian man who works for Copra Shed Marina, was looking for batteries. When we made him the offer, he was so pleased he glowed. So Joseph will meet us at the dock and help Don with the heavy work of changing them out.
It's rarely a problem to fill time on a boat, so we have gotten accomplished lots of chores from the To-Do list. We also enjoyed another lovely weekend last weekend out at Lesiaceva Point, kayaking, snorkeling, and socializing. Several pulses of new boats have recently arrived in Savusavu from New Zealand, among them a group of Scandinavian boats. How often do you find yourselves surrounded by three Norwegian flags! Jan and Eva of the Hallberg Rassey 39 Necessity asked us to join them for cocktails ashore at Cousteau (officially The Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort). It was our first time ashore at the resort, and what a lovely facility. Expensive, but lovely. We started prudently with local beers, but, warming up to the event and the environment, we enjoyed a fru-fru cocktail on the second round and came home in the dark
Back in town, I spent a most productive morning with Patrick of Eagle Dancer, a solo sailor who has been around the world once and now bounces around the Pacific full-time. Patrick took several hours to go over Vanua Levu charts with me, in particular to mark out anchorages on the north side and to refresh my memory on how to handle the sevu-sevu ceremony expected in many of the traditional villages we might anchor near!
Most of our new acquaintances are heading east out of Savusavu Bay, toward the world famous diving of the Somosomo Straight between the Tunuloa Peninsula and Tavenui. After that, most of them plan to continue east and south to Qamea and the Lao Group. Our plan, however, is to circumnavigate Vanua Levu, and, to my surprise, Patrick urged us strongly to consider going clockwise around the island instead of counter-clockwise. Allegedly, it reduces your exposure to headwinds, and Curly seconded that! We hadn't heard that previously, so now we are trying to get our minds around heading off to the west! I don't honestly think we can say which way we are going to go until we are gone!
But gone we will be. I checked out this afternoon, so with cruising permit in hand we are on our way SOMEWHERE tomorrow after the battery exchange.
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