It was a beautiful day as we backed out of the slip and puttered over to the fuel dock where we took on an ungodly (and oddly round-numbered) amount of fuel: $1000F diesel and $100F gasoline. The only mishap was that our dinghy had got untied, and so came free behind us as we made the turn, but this provided immense amusement for our friends who all took the opportunity to come ask us if we were planning on taking it with us.
Our last week in the marina went by quickly as we finished off the major remaining items. The lid for the deck box didn't actually return until the day before departure and the joiner and Don only got it reattached hours before we started the engine. Willie did do a beautiful job with the paint and non-skid, a huge improvement over the rough fiberglass we had before. Meanwhile Don and I got the enclosure attachments remounted and the plastic isinglass windows polished. All the gear stashed in the trailer gradually made the transit aboard, and there were a couple of more trips up the mast to replace lightbulbs. Don also had to cope with an eleventh-hour issue with a transmission leak from the shifter seal. It was one of those deals where you have to take a whole element apart just to get to replace an o-ring. But as has oft proven the case during this project, the things that seem like the biggest deal, end up being the most straightforward. It's really the easy stuff that most often blossoms into frustration.
On Saturday, Don and I actually went into town together, something we had not done since last year. My main objective was veggies from the big market and Don's was back-up alternator belts. But we had a nice breakfast together at the Chili Tree Café and ended up staying long enough for lunch at Chili Bites, and Indian restaurant at the other end of town. Unfortunately, I had to go back to town on Monday to return all the belts Don had bought, as well as (since our bank was not open Saturday) close out the "external" checking account we had opened (which, by the way, definitely made it easier to wire in the US funds we needed to pay off all the work.)
We had a positively lovely trip out to Musket yesterday. Mother Nature couldn't have been much kinder, with bright sun and a cool breeze and naught but little tiny wavelets. With the breeze a bare 25 degrees off the bow, we hoisted the main and motorsailed, taking the chance to check the engine, the alternator belt, the transmission and to flush and run the watermaker. Then, when the breeze filled and veered enough to properly sail, we set the genoa and shut everything down. How incredibly grand is that! A nice lunch and a gentle sail. I could go around the world like this! The only hitch we encountered was a locked up genny winch. ….add servicing the winches to the list!
As we threaded our way into the reef strewn entrance of Malolo Lai Lai (the island where Musket Cove is), the wind backed again and freshened off our port side. On the sand spit where we snorkel our friends Tricky and Jane and their guest Dirty Curry (aka Darren) were out kite surfing, obviously throwing over plans to have us to cocktails at four in favor of the wind! No worries for us. We were happy to take the remaining hours of the afternoon to launch the dinghy, test the outboard, and celebrate being back "at large." There is nothing finer than sitting on a floating boat swinging freely into the wind!
At the moment, our plan is to linger here the next ten days, mixing in a little R&R while we check off the next twenty-four items on the MUST DO list. On the 28th or so begins the revelry associated with the Island Cruising Association's rally to Vanuatu, scheduled to depart Fiji August 2nd. We are currently thinking to join the rally. We have never done a rally. The chief attraction is the facilitated checkout here, forestalling a return to Lautoka, and likewise facilitated check-in at Tanna, Vanuatu. It also wouldn't hurt to be traveling with other boats, seeing as T2 hasn't had much of a shakedown.
That's assuming we are ready to go. There is still the MUST DO list, and a few little suspenseful issues that have cropped up with the alternator and the outboard. Although our official time in Fiji expires on August 5, a customs officer from Lautoka arrived at Vuda just as we pulled up to the fuel dock to "inspect Tackless II regarding the work we had remaining to do." Milika, the manager of Vuda Marina had filed an application for an extension on our behalf several weeks ago when Don was at his most despairing. So, here I am, just having changed from Fiji attire (long shorts) to sailing attire (short shorts and bare feet!) and off we go for a meeting where he examines our invoices. He was suitably impressed with the sums, but wanted to know how much MORE we would be spending. I had to be honest and say we HOPED we wouldn't be spending ANY more, but that we had only just finished the spending and now had to get it all finished and checked out. If I made a good case, he will probably give us a two month extension. If we get the extension, we might just take it, or some of it, and shake the boat out with a little look-see at the Yasawas which we have so far missed, assuming, of course, we get the twenty-four items checked off. But the problem is that if we linger here much longer, we will cut into what time we have in Vanuatu and New Caledonia before ending in Australia.
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