Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lautoka and Denarau Island Marina

Fiji is divided into several customs districts, and we are required to file a cruising itinerary with each one and to check in and out with customs at each district's main port. The west side of Viti Levu is under the jurisdiction of Lautoka. Lautoka is a commercial port with one big wharf for freighters and a decent anchorage for yachts. After checking in at Lautoka, we went to Denerau Island Marina and Resort. There are lots of restaurants there (some pretty disappointing), but we were able to eat out (pizza and ice cream). Denarau has a number of marine businesses: chandleries, canvas/sailmaker, electricians, haulout facilities, etc. There were some really big yachts there. Also, a number of island ferries, tour boats and cruising sailing ships. Denarau Island itself is a big development with big hotels and a big golf course. We hadn't seen anything like this in Fiji (or New Zealand). Our friends say it's like Florida.

Nadi, a busy Fijian town with all the normal businesses you would expect, is a short bus ride away. The buses run frequently and the Fijians also use an informal jitney system. Riders just flag down passing cars for $1 F, same as the bus fare. It was great.

We originally planned our trip to Denarau because our batteries were failing, and Bill got some advice from the manufacturer about equalizing them to recover their function. Because Fiji AC power is 240v and our boat is wired 110v, we needed a transformer. Bill got several quotes ranging from $330, $600 and $1700 (Fijian$), all for the same item! We got the $300 one and Bill made some modifications. The equalization (slow charging for 24 hours) worked, so that was a big relief. However,.....burned out... Our mainsail had been really falling apart so we ordered a new one. Doug Christi in Seattle designed it and sent the deisgn to Lidgard in in Auckland to build it and ship to us in Fiji. Doug had just done a sail for Jiminy, a sister-ship in Seattle, so he was familar with the rig. Bill, of course, made thorough measurements and was able to properly specify the sail without the sailmaker needing to visit the boat. It only took a couple weeks to get the whole thing done, and overall the cost wasn't much more than getting it all done in Seattle.
It takes a village....
The sail was delivered to the boat and went on OK, until the bat cars were attached. They new cassettes didn't fit the existing cars properly. Doh! Bill removed the new ones and attached the old ones and that worked. The headboard wasn't drilled quite right, so Bill had to fix that as well.

bending on the main, it's.. a big job

it looks a lot smaller now
The new sail is dacron and is cut quite flat, compared to the old, stretched out sail. But it works well.. Several weeks went by before we had the right trade wind conditions the sail was designed for.

The first few times we used the sail, it was reefed.  So it was a while before we could really see how it looked in action.

Jarana was berthed at the end of a long dock that was also used by a couple large, tourist ,sailing ships that came and went most days.  At night some of the crews and night watchmen would have a kava circle on the dock.  They would just sit down next to the boat, prepare kava in a plastic washtub, and play guitar and sing.  They always welcomed us to join them.  On our last night, we stopped for a while and brought some kava to share.  They seemed really pleased at the gesture and we had a wonderful last evening with them.  Many of the guys are from the remote Lau group.  Although, some of them are related, they all miss the  their large, extended families far away.  Bill gave them our old mainsail to use for a canopy.