Sunday, May 8, 2016

Let the Good Times Roll!

Now that the cyclone season is officially over, it is time for some fun!

Plus, it is time to help Fiji rebuild.  So, we have been doing both.
Angry Bird?  No way!

Sea Mercy has been receiving tons of good stuff from New Zealand (and other parts of the world).

All to be distributed to the Fijian villages that were hit hardest by Cyclone Winston.
Everyone helping

We have helped in the Sea Mercy warehouse, unpacking, packing, sorting and piling.

So much wonderful (and interesting) stuff.
Happy with his lollipop

Can't help thinking of all of the families that cleaned out their closets to help. Pretty amazing.
Good stuff for the villages

We were part of the delivery crew that took two vehicles full of supplies (building material, food, clothing, etc.) up to the northern region of Ra.

There are three villages that are only accessible by boat, so we rendezvoused with their long boats and made the transfer.

What Big Smiles we received!

Nice to be moving again
Along the 7+ hour trip, we saw lots of damage, but also saw lots of rebuilding.  Fiji is making a comeback.

Then out to Musket Cove for some Island Time - so happy we did!
Perfect bottom scrubbing weather
A world of difference between Malolo Island and mainland Fiji.

Love that beautiful white sand and crystal blue water.

We have missed it!
Lunch date at the Funky Fish

Plus, we got to visit with old friends, walk around our favorite places, play in the water (scrub the bottom), and so much more.

Beautiful Musket Cove...
As always, just wish we could have stayed longer. Next time!
Loving my Michelada

Our plans this cruising season are to head to the northern islands of Fiji and explore some remote areas.  Like:

Taveuni, Rabi Island, Budd Reef, and more fantastic places.

Now, we are busy getting Moondance ready to go sailing again - yeah!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Storm Chasers?

Definitely not us, but we have had our share of tracking them this year!

Since our return from New Zealand, the SPCZ has been active north of us and that always means trouble with a "Capitol T". Plus, our water temperatures are very warm - another bad sign.

We receive weather information from Port Denarau and Vuda Point Marinas, plus our research, and the scuttlebutt around Happy Hour.  So, we have lots of data - sometimes too much!

At one time, we had 3 tropical depressions we were watching.  The last one, Zena, actually turned into a cyclone but just for a short time as it swiftly passed Fiji.  But, after the all the worry and hype, it was a non-event.  Thankfully.  30+ winds for 3 hours and a just a little rain.  Amazing after all of that prep work and worrying.

Always good to see a rainbow!
The most wind we had was from an "unexpected low" that passed over bringing 45+ knots of wind.  No one was ready for that one.  One of the boats on the moorings unraveled its chain off of the mooring and drug over to C Dock.  Yikes.  After that, the marina closed the mooring field and everyone had to come to the dock or go up the mangrove creek.  Everyone worked together to get to the boats moved and secured.

We chose to stay on the dock - with lots of lines.  We were happy with the choice.  We were able to help other boats, plus walk around when the weather permitted.  Plus, it is very social on the dock.

Our biggest mistake, not buying beer and diet cokes when we could!  Plus, we ran out of fruit, veggies, and other interesting stuff.  We should have been better prepared - we have been spoiled by daily shopping.

Flooding was the worst part of all of this.  Nadi and Ba rivers breached their banks and the towns flooded.  The locals headed to the hills.  Nadi town reportedly had 11' of water in town.  Most of the businesses in Denarau Marina were closed - workers couldn't get thru the flooded areas.  The few businesses that were open serving limited menus and beer - yeah.  A good excuse for us to get off the boat.  The workers that were here had to sleep where they worked, but seemed to be well taken care of.

Sea Mercy sorting thru tons of stuff from New Zealand
First the cyclone and then the flooding.  Sea Mercy, plus all of the other charities, are going to be busy for a long time.

The Fijians are still smiling - they are amazing!

Hopefully, that is the last of our Storm Chasing for the year and we can go and have some island fun.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Our New Zealand Adventure!

We had an excellent time circumnavigating the North Island. No time for the South Island - we were too busy!
Strolling along the Viaduct
Besides our road trip around the North Island, we spent lots of time hanging with friends and exploring the big city of Auckland.

Jude and Grant (s/v Blinder) invited us to stay with them in St. Heliers - Thank You!
Hanging with Jude at her favorite cafe

They were excellent hosts, plus touring us around the neighborhoods and introducing us to the locals.

We loved it.

Beautiful beaches along Auckland
The beaches are wonderful and I swear everyone swims - no matter what the water temperature is.  Crazy!

There are also great walking and bike paths everywhere, which are very popular.

Savage Memorial Park
Seems everyone wants to enjoy that beautiful sunshine!

Lisa and Lester (s/v Obsession) took us on a great tour of Auckland.

Starting at the Michael Joseph Savage memorial - first Labour Prime Minister. A great memorial, plus what a view of the city!
Lisa and Lester - excellent tour guides

Then along the Viaduct Harbour, which is a trendy area along the waterfront.

Lots of restaurants, pubs, shopping, etc.  Our kind of place.

And so many boats!
All about the boats

I think everyone in Auckland has at least one.

And on holiday weekends everyone heads out to the islands where there are lots of great anchorages.
Lots of classic boats

Plus, the Kiwi's are really into racing and learn to sail at a very young age.

All shapes and sizes of boats flying around the marks - fun to watch.
Lots of racing boats
A special treat, dining at the Quarterdeck Restaurant at the RNZYS.

Sailing bears?
We were a little under-dressed (no Jandals allowed).

But really enjoyed the food and the view. 
Auckland night life

Plus, the company.  A special thanks to Pete and Di (s/v Bonaparte) for everything!
Auckland - reminds me of San Francisco

We spent lots of time just wandering around the wharf and up and down the city streets of Auckland.

Beer time!

Always on the search for a great pub, of course.  Found quite a few...

Crazy art stuff
Like San Francisco, there is always something going on - lots of history, art, museums, music - lots to see and do.
The Domain

We visited a great museum - the Auckland War Museum (aka The Domain).
Beautiful Marae

So much to see (and read) and not just about wars.  Lots of Maori history, Air New Zealand exhibit, collectibles, and more.

Impressive.  We tried to do it all in one day - should have been have two.
Carol and Doug enjoying a beer or two

A special treat, was spending time with our sailing buddies from California - Dennis, Carol, and Josh (s/v Evergreen).

They have settled very nicely into life in New Zealand. Nice to see you all!
Enjoying our Food Court experience

As you can see, we loved New Zealand: the history, culture, the diverse landscape, and seeing our Kiwi friends - of course.

We chose a great time to visit NZ - the NZ dollar was worth $.67 to the US dollar, so it saved us some money.
Enjoying music at the zoo - lots of rain

Lots of visitors tour NZ via caravans and campers. We chose to rent a car to explore and stay in motels (and with friends).

We are very happy we did!
Along the Auckland wharf

We figured that with our cruising life, we get to camp out all the time - hah!

We wanted something different.
Our sweet ride
Doug found a great deal on a rental car - Rent a Dent. Which is actually one of the nicest cars we have rented. 2015 model with only 16k kilometers.

Love the old Motels
Of course, driving on the "other" side of the road is a bit of challenge and NZ roads are pretty curvy, but Doug managed it all.

Green Mussels were wonderful
We also enjoyed staying at the old motels.  Clean and comfortable and more like a 1-bedroom apartment than a motel and with all of the amenities and lots of character.

Totaling it all up, our version of exploring NZ was less expensive???.  Plus, we were able to stay in town versus a camp site.  More our style!

And loving all of the fresh sea food. Doug especially enjoyed the mussels and Bluff oysters (with balsamic vinaigrette).

I loved the scallops and fish and chips, of course.
Lester and Lisa - so fun

So, if you are looking for a special place, visit New Zealand. You are going to love it!
Jude and Grant - lovely people
Now, we are back in Fiji enjoying ourselves, but wishing cyclone season was over.

We are tired of watching the weather...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Tropical Cyclone Winston - Yikes!

The most intense tropical cyclone in the southern hemisphere in 2016 and also the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall over Fiji on record.  Scary stuff!

On February 20, TC Winston reached its peak intensity with ten-minute sustained winds of 230 km/h (145 mph) and a pressure of 915 hPa (mbar; 27.03 inHg), shortly before making landfall on Viti Levu, Fiji.
  Winston as he passes by Fiji (again)
Leaving behind so much destruction in the northern islands plus fatalities - the last number I saw was 44 dead. So very sad. The Fiji government is currently estimating the damage at $226 million (US).
Winston's path circling Fiji

So, if you would like to donate, we know that Sea Mercy is an excellent choice.

Cyclone Flags are up
The day after Winston blew thru, plans were already being made to get fast relief to the outer islands.

Several of our friends loaded up their boats with supplies and headed north.

Wish we could have helped...
Getting setup

Up the mangrove creek - lots of lines
Moondance and crew were safely tucked up in the Port Denarau mangrove creek. Along with 30+ boats.

It was excellent example of everyone working together to make sure all were safe.

Good group of boats up the creek
Port Denarau Marina continued to send out updated weather information. Plus, the Yachties pitched in to make sure all boats were secured.

We had 5 lines tied to the mangroves on the port side; 4 on the starboard side; plus anchors bow and stern.  And, at low tide, we were stuck in the mud. Moondance wasn't going anywhere!

Very Special Thanks to Don on s/v Coromandel.  He had us all organized and tied to the mangroves. Plus, continued to row up and down the creek checking on everyone.

Moondance stuck in the mud
At Winston's peak, we saw 45+ knots of wind out of the south that lasted about 5 hours. After that, the wind switched around to the north and our wind dropped to 20 knots.

That's when we went to bed and slept well - we were pooped!

Some boats saw 100 knots of wind.  It really depending on where you were in the creek.  But, all were safe.

Weaving thru boats and lines
The following day, Geoff on s/v Flashback volunteered to take his long boat to the Marina.

We had so many lines to maneuver thru and around. It wasn't easy, but worth it.

The Rhum-ba was open and serving beer and pizza (yeah!) and we were ready to get off the boat, plus wanted to see how Port Denarau weathered the storm.

Still raining and pouring

It was surreal to see the marina completely empty, but good to find out that they had only received minimal damage.

Well, except for the power.  Parts of Fiji are still with out it...

So, we hope that we never have to go thru another cyclone, but it is very good to know that the mangrove creeks provide an excellent safe haven.

Plus, to know how well the Port Denarau Marina and the Yachties worked together to ensure all were safe!

Falling down...
PS: We did have one small issue... Entering the creek at high tide was necessary, but causes quite a current.

Moondance ending up going side ways and got stuck on a mud bank (yes, laying on her side).

It took lots of help to get her moving again the next day at high tide. Until then, we were able to stay on one of the other boats that weren't occupied.

Just staring at ol' Moondance...  Happy to report that no damage occurred.  Well, maybe our pride!

Lesson learned: if possible, go up the creek at slack tide!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

"The Rash"

Just thinking about those words makes me laugh.

Goofy Gavin!
Not because having "The Rash" was fun, but listening to my nephew Gavin talking about it in a wicked whisper was just too cute. Can't have family issues get out, you know!

Umbrella Girl
The Rash (aka Prickly Heat), sneaks up on you in hot and humid climates.

We were rookies back in 2013 and it definitely snuck up on us, but even the locals are affected. 

It does not discriminate!

Cute Hat Guy
We have learned a lot since then.

How to treat it, but also how to prevent it - which is even better.

Not feeling Dead Sexy or anything like that, but we are doing very well.

Our tips for prevention:
  • Minimize your time in the sun
  • Avoid strenuous activities during the heat of the day (we aren't good at this one)
  • Hats and umbrellas will keep out the sun and keep you cooler
  • Wear lightweight loose-fitting clothes (and wear as little as possible)
  • Take breaks to cool yourself off
  • Keep the fans going
  • Cold showers are necessary - as often as possible
  • And, a generous sprinkling of Gold Bond Medicated Powder
Have a Cool Valentine's Day!

PS:  Doug's tips are a little different.  He recommends drinking lots of beer and hanging out where there is air conditioning - hah!