Stravaig's update

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!!

Its been a long time since our last blog entry, in fact just over three years, so we will do our best to bring you up to date with all our goings-on!

As with most years in 2015 the few months of the cyclone season are not the time to be sailing very far from home and a number of very pleasant snorkeling expeditions a few miles down the road to the Cousteau resort were about as adventurous as it got !

In April we attempted to go for a sail with friends and as we left the mooring half our folding propeller fell off and that little trip was canceled!
That same evening we heard the terrible news that our friend Bernard, whose wedding we had attended in 2014, had fallen into the natural hot springs and had received massive burns from the super heated steam. More then 70 % of his skin was affected.
He was transported to Suva where regrettably he passed away a few days later.
It was a very sad time for the yachting community and Fijian people alike.

In May we took a sailing holiday out to Koro Island where we had lots of peace and quiet and a visit with our friend Hwei-Yin who lives there with her husband Neal who at the time unfortunately was away.
Stravaig at anchor, Koro Island

A long walk to the dinghy!

We had previously tried to go to Vanuabalavu, an island in the Lau group, which generally speaking is hard to reach as it is directly up wind against the easterly trade winds.
We made a valiant effort but discretion was the better part of valor and we returned to Cousteau anchorage after feeling thoroughly trashed for hours and not getting anywhere!

In mid June our veterinary practice in Savusavu was very much augmented by the arrival of an American hospital and general aid ship called the Mercy.
The Mercy at anchor in the bay.

They provided free medical care for the local population and 5 veterinary surgeons who participated with us in a de-sexing campaign for local dogs and cats using our clinic facilities.
In total a 112 animals were sterilized.
Some of the more adventures of their vets flew around in helicopters to reach distant villages where horses were castrated and treated where necessary.
All in all it was a big success .
A group of us were invited to have a tour of the ship, including Lela and Caleb, Jolene's kids and they loved the whole adventure!


July started with our spending almost a week at Animals Fiji headquarters in Nadi,
where they had no vets for almost three weeks and we filled in for one of those weeks.
Note the "STAY CALM" on the safety info!!!
We got back in time to organize for the coming visit of our special friends of many years Pete and Caro, who live in Australia. We had a great ten days with them staying on board and Pete and Jeff never stopped talking about old times!
It was really great to see them!
Caro on the beach at the Cousteau Resort.

Enjoying the sunset after a busy day snorkeling and walking along the beach.

The anchorage at the Cousteau Resort.
In September we had a surprise visit from Shelly and Drew, a couple we had met in a Panama Marina years ago. 
Shelly and Drew.
They had come to Fiji to get married en route to Australia!
It became a huge party at the Waitui Marina here in Savusavu with a great dinner the same night, celebrating my birthday at the same time!

Towards the end of October we packed up half the clinic equipment etc for another 5 day visit to Taveuni island.
Jeff waiting for the ferry!

What a treat it was as we stayed at a beautiful resort owned by our friends Rick and Do, who were absolutely wonderful hosts!
Our beautiful bed!

View from our terrace.

My favorite Fijian beer, Vonu which means turtle.

We did the usual desexing clinic for the local animals in their staff room.
The "clinic"

This little one was found on the side of the road, but we found a home the same day!

Jose managed to drop a hatch on her toe just as we were leaving , here a first day picture and a last day one, not very nice!

During the visit Jose was invited to join Do on a 2 week cruise on the Paul Gauguin cruise ship as special guests of Jean Michel Cousteau and his lovely wife Nan.

The Paul Gauguin cruise ship.
It was a whirlwind tour of all our favorite islands in French Polynesia, starting from Tahiti.
Our cabin was fantastic, we even had a balcony.

The pool and in the back one of the restaurants.

Lunch with Jean-Michel, Nan and Do.

Ready for dinner!


Nan in Fatu Hiva.
I had never thought to be on a cruise ship, it always had seemed like just a huge floating hotel with too many people, but this one was very different.
They only carry 332 passengers and 217 crew and on my cruise it was less then 275 passengers.
A Tiki in Fatu Hiva.
And they have lots of interesting lectures about all the islands you visit. There was an anthropologist from New Zealand, a lady who was an expert on Paul Gauguin and then of course Jean Michel Cousteau.
Fatu Hiva.

While we were anchored in Hiva Oa, we were treated to a beautiful display by manta rays around the ship!

Hiva Oa.

Time for refreshments!

Tahuata island.

One of the last days we spend on a small private island, relaxing, snorkeling, enjoying a lovely lunch, just having a great time!

The bar!

And yes, we do create an awful lots of rubbish, it all was taken back to the ship at the end of the day!
All in all it was a very special adventure and interesting to see all the islands from a totally different perspective!
Too much very good food on the ship made me put on 4 kilos in two weeks, but it was too hard to say no.
The main dining room.
I did manage to visit some good friends in Nuku Hiva, Simon and Tahea, who live in Taipivai and run a little shop there,we met them and their children and spend a long time with them when we visited Nuku Hiva before .
On the way to Taipivai on Nuku Hiva.

Eric and Daphne, a sailing couple we met in Nuku Hiva as well, had since moved to Moorea where they run a sail makers business , they met me there and we had time for a quick tour of Moorea and lunch together before I had to be back on board for our 1700 hours departure for Tahiti and the end of the cruise!
Daphne and Erik.


Under way from Moorea to Tahiti.

Our last dinner on board, outside next to the pool, already back in Tahiti!

We were delighted to meet up with Jean Michel and Nan at the Cousteau resort here in Savusavu and jumping ahead how good to hear that Jean Michel was later been presented with the Legion d'Honneur in Paris for his work.

Jean Michel and Jeff at the Marina.
Sunset at the Cousteau resort.

A drink before dinner on the dock.

Christmas was spent with all our friends here in Savusavu Marina.
Christmas decorations on Stravaig!

The group planned a New Years Eve get together at the Marina and all went well until about 11 o'clock in the evening when we were hit by an un-forecasted mini severe local storm, with winds in excess of 50 kts!
The building in the marina seemed to be about to come apart and frightened cruisers and local friends ended up on the floor while the wind howled.
Half an hour into the storm , four boats pulled out their moorings and were lucky to receive very little damage as their owners managed to get them safely anchored.
One of the boats ended up on a small reef but it was pulled off successfully the next day with just a few scratches.
Now this was a very fortuitous heads up for everybody that the moorings were inadequate , so a frantic effort was made by all to make and install longer and stronger mooring pins in case of a serious cyclone later in the season.

Sad news, as José's dad died early January. Very unexpected, he was in pretty good health, it was a big shock to the family.

On February the 22nd, the strongest cyclone in history in the South Pacific hit Fiji and caused a huge amount of damage.
At the house for the cyclone.
We decided to get off the boat and stay at Michael and Leslie's house who had house sitters looking after the property, Andy and Jayne. They were great, they picked all of us up including Tim and took us up to the house. 
We got there not a minute too soon, the cyclone arrived a little earlier then expected and within an hour or two it was blowing in excess of 150 kts.
The beginning of the storm.

Our friends Heinz and Andrea and Jim went with us.
The wind was so strong that water began to bubble up through the floor due to the pressure developing under the house which was on stilts.
One corner of the house began to show signs of disintegrating and shutters were breaking more and more.

Just when we thought the roof might come off the eye went past and the wind began to attack the other side of the house but thanks to the fact that the storm was moving swiftly past no really serious damage was done.
If the storm had moved more slowly it would have been a different story!
We spent the night and on the way back to our anchorage the road was strewn with rocks and trees and everywhere we looked people were sitting on the bare slabs where their houses had been.
Savusavu and Nakama Creek, our boats are all the way at the end, not visible on this picture.

Nakama Creek, Savusavu Marina.

None of us really knew whether we would find our boats wrecked at this stage but when we arrived in Savusavu Stravaig and the other two boats were still safely moored with only minimal damage to Jim's boat.

However some 20+ boats were on the reefs and up among the mangroves.
So meetings with all the owners and crews were held and a strategy for re launching and repairing all of them began to emerge.

The following pictures speak for themselves, it was so very sad to see all the boats ashore.

Regrettably our old friend Gary Green who Jeff had met in 1982, lost his boat Heartbeat, all others were eventually re floated.
Our friends Ed and Nila whose catamaran Quixotic was among those badly damaged decided to except an insurance settlement and they managed to sell the wreck to a couple, who subsequently repaired the boat and after a huge amount of work in a difficult environment, Quixotic finally was re floated as well.

Most of the boats were retrieved by using mechanical diggers and they included our friends Bernard's boat which his wife had sold to an Australian couple.
The new owner and his wife and a visiting friend of theirs proved to be instrumental in organizing the rescue of several other boats.

We were mostly involved in fiber glassing up large holes in a damaged mono hull called Karma which belongs to Mark, a Welsh friend of ours.
We had the satisfaction of seeing that boat back in the water and later in the year we saw Mark again in Port Vila Vanuatu.
Karma being repaired.

Makeshift workbench.

Karma afloat again!!!

This little dog was stuck with his head between the rocks and would have drowned if Mark hadn't heard him; he rescued him and we found him a home a few weeks later, we called him Karma!!

Through all of the boat rescues one person on a Power boat called Contraband was the constant essential ingredient, without Alistair very few would have been re floated in such a short time, he pulled nearly all of them off the reefs.

During all this everybody was also involved in trying to give much needed help to the local villages around us.
The worst hit was Koro Island, where our friends Neal and Hwei Yin lost their house.

Amid all the rescues we took time off to celebrate Jeff's 75th birthday!
A wonderful time here at the marina, with good friends, good food, drinks and lots of music!


Ed, Heinz and Jeff.
Barry, Ian, Cookie and Heinz.

Neelam, Filo, Christine and Millie.

A rare treat!!
June was used to get us and the boat ready to go on a holiday to Vanuatu!
We sailed along with Heinz and Sylvia on Mambo and finally had a good weather window and left Savusavu on the 27th on June.
Weather was not too good to start but slowly improved and we arrived in Vanuatu, Port Vila at 1400 on the 6th of July.

Port Vila

we did have to share the bay sometimes!
Just checked in with Immigration.
Some old bank notes, not valid anymore!

Market in Port Vila, lovely dresses all the ladies wear!

Some of the local produce !



Slowly explored some of the island, which included a day trip with John, a New Zealand guy we met in The Office Pub, on the waterfront.
He was there on holiday and by himself, staying with a cousin and was happy to drive us around.

John, our "tourguide"

The Office Pub.

He is good company and we had a great day.
We saw most of Efate, went to the Tanna Coffee factory, stopped at the Secret Garden, a very special place and had a lovely lunch up at a lovely little restaurant on the beach.
Coffee Factory.

Roasting the coffee.
The local language is not too difficult!!

Chico and Joy on Chi.
Beat and Beatrice on Aluna.

While we were in Port Vila we met up with quite a lot of friends from Savusavu, some expected like Chico and Joy on Chi, others completely unexpected like Beat and Beatriz on Aluna.

And of course Heinz and Sylvia on Mambo, who came with us from Savusavu!

Beat and Beatriz are musicians and always find very interesting places to go, here in Port Vila they took us to the theater and we saw a great show, all in Bislamar, the local pidgin language!
The Theater.
We could not really understand all of it, but it was great fun!
After the trip around the island we decided to go to the Secret Gardens again to celebrate Beatrice's birthday and have a proper look around , as the gardens give you a lot of the history of Vanuatu, they do a show and tell you all about their culture and serve a great meal in the evening!
Waiting for our transport to the Secret Garden to celebrate Beatrice's birthday, she was spoiled with lovely presents!
Ear rings for Beatrice.

A Kleva is a witch doctor, still very important in the culture.
A gorgeous staircase, made from a whole tree trunk.
One of the guides, he is also a witch doctor.
Doing their woodwork.
We had made plans with Mambo to see a lot more of the islands and Chi and Aluna decided to join us as well.

First stop was Havana Bay, a lovely anchorage were we spent a couple of nice, quiet days

These kids came to visit us and came back the next day with fruit. We invited them on board and they signed our visitors book!

From there we went to Epi, a long , narrow island and the next one up the chain.
Epi was delightful, but all agreed that when we arrived at the next island of Malekula it was an incredible difference and culture shock!

Walk along the beach!

Epi Airport arrivals and departure hall.

Kids are really lovely everywhere!

A slightly overloaded little boat!!

Lucky shot!!

We sailed into a deep bay called Port Sandwich where we met an incredible character and his wife, who ran a small grocery-store not far from the anchorage.

On their way to go pig hunting with the dogs.

They wanted to know what was wrong with his leg!!!

Jeff and Noelle at Rock and Noelle's little shop in Port Sandwich.

A few of the beautiful flowers in their garden

The pet pig!!!

All home made furniture.

Gifts from Rock and Noelle!!!

Rock and Noelle were a wealth of information and we ended up going to a festival at the village of Lamap on the other side of a small peninsula.
The photos save a thousand words, it was absolutely wonderful.
We were kept enthralled for two days by arts and crafts demonstrations, the dancing, a local string band, plenty of food, the making of chicken traps, fire making etc. etc.
The people are very shy at first, it took at least the first day for them to get comfortable around us “strangers” but then they were happy to talk and explain and dance with us, especially the children.
All in all a very worthwhile experience.
Their lives are still really simple, they do have all the modern gadgets, like mobile phones, which they charge with very small solar panels that you see on almost every house, but they still seem able to keep their own ways and traditions in balance with our modern world.
It was incredible to note that 35 years earlier most of the population was still pagan and separated not only by their taboo areas but also by the 28 languages spoken on this one island!
Now most speak some English and some Bislamar, although we did not go far inland where so called civilization has had less effect then at the coastal regions.

And a bit of background information about the language!

Bislama is the language of Vanuatu (here is an extract from the Vanuatu Tourism Site) 
Because of a long history of inter island and inter village trading, many ni-Vanutau speak numerous languages. However, over 113 distinct languages and many more dialects are found throughout the group.When Europeans arrived, a lingua franca evolved. It's name, Bislama, derived from the Bech-der-mer (sea cucumber) traders who developed a form of pidgin English throughout the Pacific. It began as a simplified form of phonetic English, with Spanish, French and colloquialisms added for good measure. As with all languages, it soon took on a life of its own, borrowed then incorporated new words and evolved. Today, although similar to Solomon and New Guinea pidgin, it is nevertheless distinctive.
Bislama, though phonetically English with a broad acccent, is grammatically simpler. Everything, including women, are spoke of in the masculan (political correctness having not yet come into play !) Being a simpler language means that complex ideas or new concepts must be described functionally. The results are descriptions and stories can be a great deal longer than if told in English.
Spoken Bislama is relatively easy to understand if the speaker is slow and enunciates the phrases. Written Bislama is also relatively easy to comprehend. However, in the same way that a Welch barman may have absolutely no trouble in undertsanding your spoken English, and Australian or American may have great difficulty understanding the barman, simply because of a strong accent.
There are some key words that are used in most sentences:
  • Blong: literally - belong. It is used in reference to any noun which has a possesive relationship with any other noun. Example:
    • Pikikini blong mi = literally child belong me (my child)
    • pikinini blong kanu = literally pikinini (the outrigger) belonging to the canoe
    • Laet blong trak = literally light belong truck, a light on a truck
    • finga blong tri - literally finger belong tree, branches of a tree
    • bras blong tut = literally brush belong tooth (toothbrush)
  • Long: literally meaning from, to, in, on; in association with something, but not in possesive sense.. Example:
    • Pikinini i go long skul = literally pikinini he go toschool
    • pikinini blong kanu = literally pikinini (the outrigger) belonging to the canoe
    • truk i kam long hotel = vehicle he come from (a/the) hotel
    • finga blong tri - literally finger belong tree, branches of a tree
    • tri i foldaon long trak = tree he fall down on (the) vehicle
In vocabulary, most object groupings are simplified.
Thus, all motorised vehicles are truks, all birds are pidjins, all creatures in the sea are fis. To distinguish the differences in these groupings, their relationship to size or the enviroment is used, or a description is given, rather than a distinctive name. Example: 
  • bigfala trak = big fella truck (large truck)
  • smol trak = small car
  • trak blong doti = truck belong dirty (garbage truck)
  • pidgin blong solwota = bird belonging to the saltwater, eg tern, pelican, duck etc.
  • pidjin blong bus = all birds belonging to the bush
  • kaofis = cow fish (dugong)
  • manfis = man fish (dolphin)
  • Fis i gat naef long tel blong hem = literally fish he got knife on tail belong him (surgeon fish)
Personal pronouns are simplified: I, me, myself, becomes simply mi. Example:
  • Mi go long skul = I go to school
  • Trak blong mi = my vehicle
  • mi wan nomo mi go long truk = I went by myself in the vehicle.
Historically, some objects were so unfamiliar to everyday use that their functions were described in full. The classic example is a piano:
    Wan bigfala blak bokis hemi gat waet tut mo hemi gat blak tut, sipos yu kilim smol, hemi singaot gud.
    Literally; One big fella black box, him he got white tooth and (or more/in addition to) him he got black tooth, suppose you kill him small (strike or hit lightly) him he sing out good.
For everyday use, you will come across the following words or phrases:

  • One/ two / three - wan / tu / tri
  • plenty or many - plenti
  • filled to capacity / overfilled - fulap / fulap tumas (too much)
  • me / you - mi / yu
  • him / her / it (neither masculine nor femenin)///this here - hem /// hemia
  • us /we / all of us - mifala / mifala evriwan
  • you / you (plural) - yu / yufala
  • Day / evening / night - dei / sava (literally supper) / naet
  • hot / cold - hot / kol
  • I am ill/ my stomach (belly) is sore - mi harem no gud/bel blong mi i soa
  • What / what is that - wanem / wanem ia (literally wanem here?)
  • Why / why did you - frowanem (for why?)
  • Water / Drinking water / cold water / ocean - wota / freswoto / kolwota / solwota (also dipsea or seep sea, depending on the context in which it is used)
  • please / thank you / sorry (very sorry) - plis / tangkyu / sori (sori tumas) - sorry too much
  • How much (is that) - hamas (long hem)
  • Do you know - yu save (pronounced savee)
  • I do not know/understand - mi no save
  • this is broken down/ not working - samting ia hemi bugarap (literally something here is buggered up)
  • Can you take me to Vila - yu save sakem mi long Vila (where sakem literally me chuck)
  • I am very happy - mi glad tumas (me glad too much)
  • See you later / ta ta - Lukim yu/ tata
  • I am going now - ale (French derivation of allez) mi go

Traditional costume, still used for all ceremonies.

Even for the children!

Jeff was asked to do the honors and had to present a pig to the village.

A very young chief.

The old chief and Jeff having fun.

Kids everywhere, at first they were very shy but by the end of the day they were dancing with us.

The tea chest and broom handle base, an amazing sound!!

He showed us how to climb the tree to get coconuts but was in such a hurry on the way down that he almost lost his trousers, he couldn't stop laughing!!

Making a sand drawing, pictures used to let friends and family know where you are or when you will be back.

The children and ladies .

Weaving a beautiful hat.

Roof covering, which will be waterproof when finished.

A sort of nut, that makes a lovely sound when dancing.

All the ladies where given an original local dress at the end of the festival!

After Malekula we headed for Espirito Santo, the largest island in the group which had been mistaken for the southern continent by early explorers.
We went into Surunda Bay on the east side , a lovely protected bay where we felt comfortable and had easy access to Luganville, the main town on the island.
We organized a trip around the island as far as Champagne Beach where we had a great lunch and drove as far as we could go north to Port Orly, which is a beautiful beach!

On the way back we stopped at a small shop along the road to drink some Kava, which is a lot stronger then the Fiji Kava!!

I know, it does not look very inviting!!

It is an acquired taste!

Sylvia had her birthday whilst in Surunda and we found a magnificent Banyan tree ashore to provide a magical backdrop for the pick-nick!

Next we visited Petersons bay which was an air force base for the USA during the WW2, just 6 miles north.

Jeff had previously been there, about 37 years ago and was amazed how built up and changed it had become.
There was a very beautiful resort where we had dinner a couple of times and from there we took our dinghy up one of the rivers to visit the blue hole, an amazing up welling of water, truly incredibly blue!

Through the mangroves on the way to the "Blue Hole"

Chi, Mambo and Stravaig in Peterson's Bay

Had to include this great toilet!

Picnic on the beach.

Lots of shopping!

Time was getting short so we headed across to the island that Michener had called Bali Hai, now it is known as Ambae.
We just spent a night there and started back south to be in time for Mambo to pick up their guests, Neal and Hwei Yin in Epi and for all of us to be back in Port Vila for Jose's 60th birthday.
One more stop at Waterfall Bay on Pentacost and an afternoon departure to sail past Ambrym so we might see the volcano, which is permanently erupting, a great spectacle at night.
Ambrym , early morning.
As it happens, the volcano was not very spectacular and we ended up back in Port Sandwich early morning, visited with Rock and Noelle again and stayed a few days before heading to Port Vila.
Full moon in Port Sandwich, nobody there, so just celebrated with Jeff and Tim!!

On the way back to Port Vila.

Back in Port Vila we found that another lot of friends from Fiji had arrived, all had made a big effort to be there for Jose's birthday, very special!
Ian and Sue, on Cables Lenght II, Bill and Simone on Lady Nada, with Heinz and Andrea as crew, Gaby and Peter on a friends boat.

We had planned to go back again to the Secret Gardens with everybody. John had offered to organize the transport and ofcourse he was invited as well.
We had a fantastic evening with entertainment, music and good food,with a last drink on Stravaig .

Another picture of the same staircase.

They were still renovating!

A chair back with an engraving of a sand drawing.

Some of the inhabitants of the Secret Garden.

The party has begun

Making fire.

The end of a great evening!!!

After that everybody was getting ready to go their separate ways.
Lady Nada, Cables Lenght and ourselves opted to visit Tanna to see the volcano since it so happened a suitable weather window occurred and we took full advantage of it.
Usually, Port Vila to the island of Tanna is a rough trip, but thanks to the window it was delightful and we arrived in Resolution Bay early morning to find Lady Nada and Cables Lenght already at anchor.
Everything was  arranged to go and visit the volcano later that afternoon.

After getting to the visitors center, we were taken up to within 500 yards of the crater by four wheel drive and then we proceeded on foot up steep steps to the volcanic rim.
Once close to the volcano the explosions and bursts of fire and smoke became more and more frequent and quite startling.
To be within just a few feet from the cauldron , unprotected by any safety rail or fencing, aroused great feelings of fear and trepidation until we became gradually accustomed to it all.
It was a magnificent spectacle which only got better as night fell.
No pictures could do it justice.
Waiting at the visitors center.

The volcano seen from the visitors center.

A dance demonstration.

The way up to the crater rim.

I did not know , otherwise I would have mailed a letter!

Jeff on his way up.

You are very close to the edge, with no fences or anything to stop you from sliding into the crater!

The darker it got, the more spectacular is became.

Back home for an reasonably early night as the next morning everybody was coming to help clean the bottom of Stravaig for the trip back to Fiji.
We all left that afternoon, Cables Lenght and Lady Nada on their way to New Caledonia and we back to Fiji.
The trip was nice, but during a calm period we suddenly noticed that Tim could not be found!
So after a really thorough search of the boat we retraced our track for a couple of hours and finding nothing we came back to our original course, feeling very upset thinking he must have gone overboard!
Another hour went by and he casually walked out of a cupboard, suggesting it was dinner time! We have no idea how he escaped being found during the search of the boat!
Very happy of course to still have our little friend!

About 70 miles from the reefs of Fiji we were in a fairly lumpy sea and about 20-25 kts of wind, when completely unexpectedly something broke and the mast crumpled and fell partly over the side!
It was of course night time and it was a few minutes before we had flashlights and could see what had happened. We decided the mast would have to be abandoned as the seaway was too dangerous to attempt to drag it back on board. Eventually the last peace of rigging was cut and we could take a breath and decide how to proceed.
We had fuel and an engine that was running well, so we set a course to the northern Yasawas as the bay there was to know to us and we felt happy to anchor there for the night.
We were very fortunate to find a big powerboat there, Infinity, with Julie and Andy on board, who immediately came over to see if he could be of any help.
He offered his satellite phone for us to use, so we could let our friends know what had happened.
The connection was not that good and they could not inform us that we might get some bad weather right in our bay!
The following afternoon a low pressure cell went past , producing westerly winds, blowing straight into the bay. They steadily increased into the evening as did the waves within the bay.
Eventually the waves were big enough for our boat to disappear from view from the powerboat and vice versa. Winds got up to fifty+ kts with huge waves in the shallow water. Both boats helped their anchor as best they could by using their engines.
By late evening the worst was over and almost unbelievably neither boat was on the reefs behind them, but we had quite severe damage caused by our chain, right at the waterline, which we didn't find out till the next morning.
All of us were pretty shaken up and decided we needed to get to a safer anchorage asap.
We were running  a bit short of fuel and Andy brought some over to us on his paddle board!
We followed him out of the bay and realized we could not keep up, but they met us in the next anchorage, just to make sure we were OK.

Infinity and Stravaig on the way out of the bay.

It looks pretty sad without the mast.

Beautiful sunset in Bua Bay.

As soon as we left the protected waters of the Yasawas the wind was still quite strong and seas from the beam and very unpleasant.
None the less we arrived at Bua Bay and anchored in the dark. The bow roller was almost tied in a knot and it was extremely difficult to raise the anchor, however , the next day we continued on and anchored at Cousteau after an extremely hairy trip through the Nasonisoni passage, against headwinds and strong seas.
Once more, we managed to get the anchor up again the next morning and took a mooring at the Waitui Marina to await customs and immigration etc for checking in.
In the afternoon we were finally back on our own mooring at Savusavu Marina and could collapse!

It was essential to haul the boat out for repairs, we had been pumping the last three days every hour or so and wanted to get the repairs started.
Problem was Tim, he needed an import permit so he would be allowed to go on land once the boat was out of the water. It would have been impossible to keep him locked in the boat!
It took more then a month of paperwork and numerous visits by Biosecurity to the boat and lots of patience, but he was finally legal!
Armed with that piece of paper we started making the arrangements to haul the boat during the biggest tide after Christmas.

We spend a lot of our time researching the availability of a suitable replacement mast which might be found locally and after several false starts we heard of one on the island of Malolo Lailai close to Nadi! We were invited to Nadi at Christmas for the Animals Fiji Christmas party and decided to kill two birds with one stone by visiting Malolo to view the mast there. We already had a friend take photos of it so we knew a fair bit about the mast.
We had a great party with Animals Fiji and then took the ferry ride over to Malolo , armed with a tape measure and a good camera to get close up pictures for study at home.
Christmas and New Year was celebrated at the Savusavu Marina and Planters club with most of our friends.

With the festivities out of the way, we completed plans to drag Stravaig.up the beach on a steel sledge which Jeff had designed for just this purpose but intended for the boats that were high on the reefs after cyclone Winston.
The sledge was still lying around and after a few modifications it was taken into deep enough water for the boat to settle onto it as the tide went down. Many lines were used to secure her to the metal plate and a ten ton truck filled with rocks provided the pulling power to scoot it up to just above the high tide mark!
Lots of help from friends and locals from the nearby village got her there safely ( to everyone's amazement) .
Always nerve-racking  getting the boat out of the water, even more so without a proper travel lift!!

Stravaig was put on a steel plate, which was pulled out of the water by the truck.

Safe on Land!
Whilst all this was going on , Tim was on Mambo, with Sylvia and Heinz, his favorite holiday resort!
We moved Tim back to Stravaig, where he quickly learned how to negotiate the ladder and he became a favorite in the Marina, especially at full moon parties etc. His confidence built quickly and he loved the freedom to explore. He visited all the boats on the dock as his evening routine to make sure everybody was OK and started to even protect the Marina from stray cats and dogs!

When we received news from our friends Alistair and Liga with the powerboat Contraband that they were in the vicinity of Malolo and were happy to deck load the mast and bring it to Savusavu, Jeff went over to complete the purchase and see it safely onto Contraband. Our Australian friends Adrian and Christine met up with Contraband as well and all of them motored back to Savusavu where the mast was deposited on the dock and once again we enlisted our friends from miles around to carry it across to place it on barrels next to Stravaig.

Delivery of the mast, we are very fortunate to have so many friends here who are happy to help with moving it ashore!

With the mast now in hand we were able to redesign the rig that would suit Stravaig, which turned out to be several months spent tracking down parts and rigging wire etc. and getting all this shipped to Savusavu.
It was a great relief to us that the cyclone season was very kind and we had no storms at all between November 2016 and May 2017.

Very sadly we lost our little friend Tim the end of February.
We are not really sure what happened, but heard a lot of dogs barking early morning whilst still dark and went to see what was happening.
Couldn't find the dogs or Tim and as Tim did not come back to the boat either, we took a torch and eventually found him in the bushes.
Unfortunately he was dead, no signs of a fight, so he could have chased the wrong dogs or might have been hit by a car, we will never know.
We buried him under his favorite Papaya tree.

He is still missed a lot as he was a big presence in our lives, being together in a small space for such a long time!

He was soo small when we got him!

One of his favorite places.

Happier days with a mast and Tim!!

His own invention, a t shirt as a hammock!

Always happy to see visitors and explore their dinghies!

Weather permitting, repair work became the main priority , most importantly the gaping holes in the deck and the main bow had to be closed as quickly as possible. In fact many weeks passed before that was fully achieved.

One of the major damaged parts, the back of the deck was ripped off, we pushed it back, but it still let lots of water in, on the way from the Yasawas we had to pump every 20 minutes till we arrived in Savusavu!

Repairs well under way

It doesnt look too nice yet, but at least it is waterproof.

The damage to the bow done by the anchor chain during the storm.

Whilst in Vanuatu Jose had made plans with her family in Holland to visit in April/May and left for a six week visit.
The highlight of the visit was meeting Pixie, her great niece and celebrating her first birthday!!
The time was spend with the family, visiting some friends and playing tourist!
Too soon it was time to go home, sad to have to say goodbye again, but also good to come back, despite the fact that lots of work was waiting!

Linda and Joyce picked me up at Schiphol!

Coffee with Linda.

Brunch with Petra and Micki.

Joyce and Pixie

Joyce and Bert.

Micki and Petra.

Linda and Willem.

Linda and Ewout.

Holland in spring!!

My first ever visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to see De Nachtwacht!

My favorite painting  De Zwaan.

Forget the waterways of Venice, there is a peaceful village in the Netherlands that is based entirely on water - and life there looks like its straight out of a fairytale.
The idyllic Giethoorn has no roads or cars, and the only access to the area's quaint houses and public buildings are by cruising its beautiful canals or walking across over 176 wooden arch bridges. Even the postman reportedly does his rounds via boat. 
Around 2,600 citizens dwell in the area, with island homes backing straight onto the water highways - perfect for ice skating in winter when the water freezes over. 
The magical village's four miles of canals and thatched-roof farmhouses date back to the 18th century, and unsurprisingly lure many tourists who are keen to witness the settlement for themselves. 
Visitors are forced to leave cars outside the village, and then travel by whisper boats, which have noiseless engines, by foot or on bike, leading to the area getting the nickname of Venice of the Netherlands.  
Located in the province of Overijssel, the rustic settlement was founded by a group of fugitives from the Mediterranean region around AD1230. The metre-deep canals were later constructed by monks who needed a network to transport peat. 

Bicycle parking garage!

A very old restaurant where we used to go with our grandparents,                "De Lage Vuursche"

By the time Jose was back ( in time for Jeff's birthday!) lots of the preliminary work was completed but equally well much inside rebuilding in the damaged areas was still needing attention.
The so called dry season, May till November, proved far wetter then expected, so fiberglass and resin work seemed to be endless!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with boat maintenance, it is a full time occupation at the best of times, so fitting in major repairs as well inevitably is a slow business, especially when one is having to live in the same space you are working in.

Outside damage

Inside damage, mostly from the water ingress.

Cockpit as workshop.

All bad wood is cut out so getting ready for repair.

Some very small spaces to work in!!!!!
The beginning of June Cable's Lenght II , Sue and Ian,arrived from New Zealand: they had gone there after Vanuatu, left the boat there and spend the cyclone season with their family in Australia.
They were kind enough to bring us parts for the boat and we had a very nice time with them, having dinners and playing cards, after our work during the day!
They then continued to pick up some of their family in Nadi and sailed around there for a while and, big surprise, they came back here for a week so Ian could give Jeff a hand with some more daunting projects! How fantastic, very much appreciated!
Sue and I made nice dinners and we had to play cards again!!
We will miss them but with any luck see them back here next season!

There had been a Wharram catamaran called Piggy on a mooring here at the Marina, who's owner Tom we met when he came back to Savusavu.
He was joined by his daughter Marchena later, who was accompanying him on the trip to New Zealand.
Tom gave us a fantastic present, whilst in New Zealand last year he happened to find a sail next to the rubbish! He took it to have a proper look and decided it was in a good condition and despite the fact it would not fit his boat he took it with him.
When he found out we had lost our mast he offered us the sail and amazingly it is the perfect size for us!
So, thanks to Tom we had an early Christmas this year!

A welcome respite was a visit by our friends Frank and Winnie who live near Edinburgh.
Frank had been a friend who worked with Jeff in Southern California in the early seventies. Since that time Jeff had lost contact and it was only research by Frank on the internet a couple of years ago that allowed them to reconnect after about 42 years!!
Needless to say catching up was a delight as was meeting Frank's wife Winnie.
Of course we could not entertain them on the boat but they stayed in a local guest house and we spent as much time with them as possible.
It was great for all of us, all four needed a break from our respective routines.

Visit to the Tropical Gardens with Frank and Winnie

And a day trip round part of the island.

Having lunch.

A day out on Mambo with Heinz and Sylvia, who took us to Cousteau for a lovely day snorkeling, swimming and relaxing!

Their one but last day we spend out at their apartment, more talking, walks along the beach and a lovely dinner in the evening at one of our local restaurants.

Since coming back from Vanuatu, we no longer work every week in the clinic, but continue to be employed by animals Fiji and deal mostly with emergencies when the other vets are not on island. We are happy to still be of help to this very worthwhile and caring charity.

Jose had a try at making chocolate, a lot of work and it did not progress past the "chocolate nib" stage as we do not have the machines needed for the rest of the process, it still was an interesting experiment and the nibs are delicious!

Opening the pods.

Seeds ready for fermenting, then drying and roasting.


A few more pictures of friends, full moon parties and dinners in no particular order!

Every Friday we knit, not something I thought I would enjoy in the tropics, but we have lots of fun!!

A bunny blanket for Pixie!

A full moon! A good reason for a party!!

Dinner at Jay's, a lovely evening.

Farewell party for Andy and Sam.
Sylvia, Jeff, Andy and Jim.

Sam and Jose, who both love to dress up!!

A very strange flower, that curls up by itself.

Jeff in the clinic.

A huge heron, visiting on top of the mast.

As of now we still find ourselves on the land, but a light is now at the end of the tunnel and hopefully in the not too distant future we shall relaunch and be a boat again!
Can't wait to start cooling the champagne!!!!

We also want to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped to get through this difficult time, whether it was with kind words, hugs, laughter, physical help on the boat or donations , we are absolutely overwhelmed by it, again, thank you all so much!!


Unknown said…
So great to hear from you guys!Grett blog Jose! .Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for you two and the cat of course! Keep in touch. B
Anonymous said…
Wow what an update. I lost your email but I am currently in French Polynesia. I love to see you all. Ruben
Unknown said…
Hi Jeff, hi Jose, happy new year to both of you. I'm Paola, I live on Moorea since 1979, in 1982 you, Jeff, spayed my dogs and cats and fixed the jaw of a puppy run over by a car. All of this was some time before you appeared in Mutiny on the Bounty with Mel Gibson. Yesterday, New Year's Day, for lunch, I met your dear friends Erik and Daphne at their neighbors and, mine also, friends home, they gave me the name of your blog and I read of your adventures, happy and sad of 2017.
I'll be very glad to see both of you back on Moorea whenever the wind brings you this way.
I wish you both a wonderful year 2019, may you always be well and happy.
Paola Schwerza

Popular posts from this blog

Fiji, Januari - August 2013