Water has been the highlight of our last several days here in Viani Bay. We have been snorkeling a lot at various reefs around the bay and continually seeing new fish. Some days the visibility is much better than others – but even with mediocre viz – the underwater landscape is beautiful. Lots of pictures (including some by Barbara from her first photo expedition) are on the new photo page – they are labeled Fiji (#).
Water aboard Astarte has also been the main priority – it seems the "water department" has gone on strike! We had a fair amount of water in our bilge and were trying to locate where it was coming from. At first, we thought it was water crashing over the bow during passages and coming down through the anchor locker. Then we had water below when we hadn't been "on passage." Hmmm. So then we determined it was from rain sneaking in somehow, somewhere. But we had water when we had no rain! Hmmmmm. Then we figured it was when we ran the watermaker that we got water in the bilge and sure enough that was the cause. Michael discovered a stream of water pouring out of the end cap of the membrane housing. It had a major crack in it (the end cap not the housing!) We could still make water and bail the bilge – but we knew at one point there would be a more catastrophic failure and this was a high pressure cap. So we decided to order a new part to do the repair while we were still in a place we could get parts (well not exactly HERE – but a few hours away by bus!). So after checking a few sources – we are having a part shipped in from NZ and it should be here within the week. We hope. Our plan is to go to Buta Bay nearby, anchor and catch the 6am bus to Savusavu, pick up the part and get back on the 1 pm bus to get back before dark. That is at least the plan now.
The other water issue aboard was the water pump that feeds the fresh water system was running when we weren't running the water. There had to be a leak somewhere. So Michael checked all the lines, tightened all the hose clamps and looked for leaks. Nothing. Hmmm. We would let the system sit and it would run and he would recheck for any water anywhere. Nothing. Hmmm. So he took apart the water pump (after locating the spare aboard – just in case!) and cleaned it up; greased it up; and, put it back together. It worked! So far, the pump is only working when we want it to run the water!
Because we don't want to run the water maker too often, we hope for rain collecting (now that both new "gutters" are made). We have collected a few gallons here and there and it seems to keep us in fresh water. We are using more now that we are in the water so much snorkeling – we always take at least a fresh water rinse. We seem to get a short rain shower overnight on most nights. Weather wise it is a bit hot and sticky during the day – sometimes quite sunny and on other days a bit cloudy. But we are in a pretty place. We are now all alone on "this side" of Viani Bay – there are four boats on the other side near Jack's place. We like the quiet and the views here. We can also swim right off the boat and get to some nice coral areas for good fish viewing. Saw some cool pipefish the other day – one that looks like a floating leaf! Very good disguise. Also saw our first ray here – we think it was a "Thorny ray" - but it swam away really quickly so it was hard to get a good look.
We will head to Buta to stage for our bus adventure when the weather is clear enough to make it through the reefs. For now, we hope for a few rain showers to fill the water tanks and hope the water pump is fixed! Its baking day aboard Astarte – we had "too ripe" bananas – so we had to use them in a cranberry banana nut bread and black bottom banana bars!
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