Friday, December 30, 2016

Farewell to 2016

NEW photos on the "Photo Test" page. Shots of the transmission repair and new galley/refrigeration work.

We have enjoyed our time away from the dock and out at anchor in various spots in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. There are lots of anchorages to choose from based on the wind direction. Because it is "silly season" there are lots and lots of boats out here.

We snuck away from the dock on Christmas morning and met up with our friends Sandy and Rankin for a great Christmas dinner aboard "Gypsea Heart." They generously invited another boater to join us, a single hander aboard the boat "Blazing Shadz" a beautiful aluminum, 70 foot schooner. It was an interesting and fun afternoon. They do know how to entertain!

We reciprocated on Boxing Day with dinner aboard Astarte but unfortunately my back was hurting and I started to get a cold...and I overcooked the beef! The good news (at least from the writer's perspective) is that women rocked at "Sequence" beating the men in several games. They won a few.

We then went to a new anchorage and settled for a few days taking a nice walk one day. The wind switched to the west so we went in search of a new anchorage and went to crowded Motorua Island. We got another nice walk in on the island with great viewpoints and lots of tuis in the trees.

Next we needed to find good internet for some phone calls so we headed to Assassination Cove. We had the place to ourselves for about two hours and then were joined by about 50 other boats!

It is New Year's Eve here in New Zealand and we will continue our few year tradition of a sausage sizzle and games aboard "Gypsea Heart" with lots of champagne. It always proves to be fun and festive and who knows whom they will meet and invite for this occasion!!

Another year is gone and we are grateful to have had a good one though more repairs aboard Astarte than we would have liked. This year we replaced a few major things – the roller furler, the transmission, new anchor and chain, and the refrigerator box. All have been upgrades so that is good. New countertops make the galley have a fresh look. We had the engine carefully looked over and regained our confidence in the "Carl." We got an AIS, but are still working out the kinks to get it and the radio working at the same time without a lot of noise.
Plus lots of the small bits and pieces of regular maintenance and repairs.

We had three sets of guests this year which we really enjoyed. We were both relatively healthy (a few colds and some aches and pains in the joints and backs). We had decent passages (except for the turn-around in May) to and from Fiji and enjoyed our time in north Fiji and New Zealand. We saw a kiwi in the wild this year (that was a highlight) and Michael won "Best dressed" at an event. So we can't complain about 2016 – at least in foreign countries aboard Astarte!

We wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2017. May all your dreams come true.
At 12/14/2016 2:09 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.95'S 174°07.22'E

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Astarte Christmas 2016

Stuck at the dock
Workers on the clock
No cold beer
Where's the cheer?
With Christmas almost here.

Will the work be done?
Will we have island fun?
A new galley is great
but we still wait and wait
Holidays are in the hands of fate

In NZ its "silly season"
Called that for good reason
Everyone goes on holiday
it's summer so time to play
No work gets done for many a day.

No Christmas cookies this year
No decorations we fear
There's no room to cook
Or even read a good book
Astarte has an Un-Merry look

But we have each other
No need for another
Perhaps we can untie
From the dock that we're by
And an anchor spot we'll occupy.

So Santa please find us
On the eve of Christmas
We've tried to be good
As all people should
Come see us if you could.

We still have our hopes high
That all the work will be dry
A fridge and freezer with ice
Galley counters would be nice
And a dinner better than beans and rice

Merry Christmas to all our family, friends and log readers

Warm holiday greetings to you. We wish each of you a very happy and joyous holiday season. Our hopes are for your good health and unlimited happiness in 2017. It is a new year that promises some interesting times.

We are currently on the north island of New Zealand in the Bay of Islands where it is summertime. It is also what is known as "silly season" here where most businesses shut down for at least a week – some more like two weeks and people go out on their boats or in their caravans (motor homes) and enjoy the beauty of this island. It is a great and healthy attitude towards work and life. Of course, we are up against the deadline to get our major remodel project completed before everyone takes off. As we write this, we still aren't certain if we will have a completed galley or not before everything shuts down!

Our year has been a really good one aboard the good ship Astarte. Can you believe we are about to begin year eight of cruising fulltime!

We enjoyed some friends who visited us early in the year while in New Zealand. Sue came in February and we enjoyed visiting some of the Harauki Gulf islands. We went on wine tours, hikes, dinghy exploring, kiwi spotting, a Kawau Island music festival and city time. Barbara flew back to the states with Sue and had some special time with her family and friends which she really enjoyed. It included a presentation of our travels to Carol's school. Our friend Tom also arrived in New Zealand for several weeks and it too included some island time and city time. He even got into the kayak "Bob" at least once! It was a splash! Thanks to both of our guests for their time and visits.

In May after waiting and waiting for a decent weather window to depart NZ, we finally left for Fiji via Minerva Reef. But we only got out about 300 miles when we lost our head sail roller furler. We made the decision to turn back to facilitate repairs in New Zealand rather than continuing on to Fiji. We also made the decision to always forego a trip to Minerva Reef. It is now "taboo" for us. It seems every time we head there, something bad happens. The first time from Tonga to Minerva we had the very worst weather we have ever had. The next time to Fiji, we got another storm. This time, a major mechanical issue. So no more Minerva for Astarte.

We made it safely back to New Zealand after a night of heaving too for bad weather. There, we had an expensive new roller furler installed and within ten days were off again for Fiji. We lucked out with a quick repair and a decent weather window. The trip to Fiji was raucaous, but fast. We checked into Savusavu on Vanua Levu in June. We decided to do a circumnavigation of Vanua Levu, something not many people do. It was a terrific experience, but certainly not for everyone. We enjoyed lots of village time at various stops and met many wonderful local Fijians. We were welcomed into homes and made many friends. We took lots of pictures for our new friends. "We're Fijian, we love our picture taken" was the line we heard a lot!

Our route around the island took us to Rambi Island as well where we could have stayed for weeks! We had many stops on the northern side of island and went out to Kia Island which is a remarkable place. We wanted to stay longer but weather drove us away. When we turned the corner to the western side of the island and more stops, we spent some time in Numbawalu where we had the privilege of meeting a wonderful family and the Prime Minister of Fiji, Mr. Banimarama. It was a thrill.

Back in Savusavu after completing the island's circumnavigation, we prepped for our guests Kathryn and Mark making their fourth visit to Astarte. The weather was perfect with the exception of wind for sailing. They were in the water as much as aboard! It was a great visit to Rambi Island and then on to Taveuni where we left them in the hands of a "nice place" the dive resort Paradise Divers. Thanks to them for a great visit and the opportunity to cook goat curry! (The goat was procurred from Palmlea Farms on the north coast of Vanua Levu where we enjoyed some special time with Julie and Joe).

After dropping Kathryn and Mark off, we then headed to cruise the Lomaviti Group of islands. We made a quick one night stop at Koro Island then on to Ovalau. This is where Lavuka is, the original capital of Fiji was located and is a world heritage site. We stayed near the village of Rukuruku and enjoyed this village that was badly hit by Cyclone Winston the previous year. We saw a fair amount of damage from this devastating super cyclone during our travels but it really came to light in this village that was still holding school in tents five months after.

We made a few other stops than onto Suva for a dentist visit and some re-provishining. We went to Beqa Island, another nice stop where we spent a week. Then it was time to start thinking about leaving for NZ again – where did the time go. But the adventure didn't end. In Vuda Marina, we hauled the boat to do a quick bottom cleaning. During the process of getting into the slings, we discovered that the transmission didn't engage. After lots of stress and weighing the situation, Michael ended up flying to NZ to get a new transmission, flying back and installing it. We missed one weather window (thankfully in the end) and caught the next one which ended up being a decent passage.

The passage was long, more miles than the rhumb line, with the wind forward of the beam for most of the trip. We had a few days at the end of motoring when the wind died. We made it ten days to the Q dock in Opua in the Bay of Islands.

Once settled in our reserved dock space, the work began immediately on a few projects - the big one being the redoing of the refrigeration box. Removing the old one meant a major construction project in the galley There have been a few delays and hiccups along the way setting the two and a half week project well beyond that time frame. We are now simply hoping that before the shop closes on Wednesday, we'll have a working refrigerator and counter tops completed. The rigging project (a problem on the new roller furler) is still awaiting word from the manufacturer and the rigging shop but doesn't look like it will happen before the holidays.

So we are working to the last and that means no holiday preps aboard. It will be an unusual year but we are hopeful of going out to an island and dropping the anchor and at least enjoying some time away from a dock with friends.

Happy Holidays to all and thank you for being there for us.

Merry Christmas
Michael and Barbara

Currentlly at anchor. Got away from the dock on Christmas Day.
At 12/14/2016 2:09 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.95'S 174°07.22'E

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Neck Deep In Refrigeration

We had hoped to be done with the major refrigerator and freezer remodel by now...but we remain a construction zone aboard Astarte. We started in late November and now it is mid December. Many businesses in New Zealand start to shut down this week for the Christmas holiday. The company doing the work for us closes on Wednesday and we are not sure about the actual refrigeration man's scheduled shutdown. So the big question is: Will we be spending the two weeks Christmas/New Year holidays anchored in the Bay of Islands eating out of tins? We remain hopeful but less optimistic than at the start of the project.

So why the delay? We had to have a new “box” constructed when the old one couldn't be removed from the hole. We opted for a stainless one that we were told would be faster than building a fiberglass one. So we went that route and had someone contracted. After several weeks, hours and hours of conversation, design time, drawings, mock-ups built etc., the stainless guy decided he wouldn't build the lid. Now what good is a refrigerator box without a lid? If he had told us up front, we could have rethought the stainless tank...but no, he waited until well into the project and after a whole lot of hours spent working on the project thinking it would be a stainless lid. Now everything had to change.

This will be a very expensive lid. We have paid for all the time planning and designing the stainless lid and now, more time on planning and designing a fiberglass lid and lip. More construction time and not the box we had envisioned. Plus, we are now well into three weeks which is certainly adding to the cost of the project.

The good news is that the work done so far looks great. The box will be much better insulated than the previous one as we have lots more insulation than was previously in the hole. Michael had done as much work himself as he can, leaving the finish work to the pros.

We like the new counter tops we picked out and the sinks are all shined up and a new faucet installed. Now we wait and hope it will be completed before everything shuts down.

The marina is emptying out as everyone heads out to spend the holidays at anchor in some pretty spot. We hope we can join them, and most likely will, but it may be more of a “camping” trip than a more typical holiday time aboard Astarte. You certainly realize how much you depend on your refrigerator and freezer when out at anchor. We can't plan yet on provisioning not knowing if we will have a fridge or not. Do we buy all canned food and pastas or can we splurge and load up on meat because we'll have a way to freeze it?

The good news is that the water in New Zealand is very chilly so at least we can put a bottle of bubbly in a sack and toss it overboard and it will chill so we can toast in the New Year.

More when we know more!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Work Aboard Astarte

There was little rest after the passage from Fiji to New Zealand. We got started immediately on several major boat projects. The reason we are still in Opua in the Bay of Islands is to get our galley and refrigeration system redone. We had it all arranged, or so we thought, in Whangarei where we like to "headquarter" in NZ, but the carpenter we had organized in advance decided he couldn't do the job. That sent us scrambling to find a new woodworker.

Visiting with another boat while in Fiji, we heard about Craig in Opua and contacted him while still in Fiji. He agreed to do the galley and if we could get to NZ before December, he said he could squeeze it in before they close for the Christmas holidays. We have been working with one of his staff, Paul, who has been working hard and doing great work.

The project has involved removing the old counter tops (which also means wooden fiddles and trim). Then we tore into the old refrigeration/freezer box. Unfortunately, we couldn't get it out without cutting it. We had hoped to save the old box and reinstall after new insulation. But now we had to build a new box. That is being done out of stainless (quicker than fiberglass). Again, luck was smiling on us as Craig had a good stainless guy that could get it done within the time frame. It added a few thousand to the cost though (ouch).

We have been doing as much of the work ourselves as we can. Paul and Craig have been good about letting us do that – and it is saving work hours as two parties are working at the same time. Michael removed all the old insulation and we are glad we took on this project this year. The insulation was sopping wet and would have started to destroy the wood in the galley. We caught it just in time. The space then got re-epoxied and Michael put a barrier coat to seal the area. We selected new laminate for the counter tops, bought a new faucet for the sink, polished the old stainless sinks to a shine and Michael did all the plumbing.

We are doing all the sanding and varnishing of the trim pieces ourselves. We are now just waiting for the new stainless box to be done so we can check fit before installing the insulation, box, and then have a refrigeration person on stand-by to reinstall the evaporator plate and add refrigerant and test the unit.

Then of course, massive cleaning after all the work aboard.

As this project is in progress, some rigging work is also taking place. We had a crack in a piece of plastic on the top of our brand new head sail furler. Of course the bit had to be ordered from Sweden...and there is discussion as to who is paying for the labor to repair the piece. It is less than six months we feel it should be under warranty. Plus, the main sail furler has had a "thump" as we roll the sail in or out. We discovered the cause with the help of Rob from NSR, and of course, the part needed is no longer made (the joys of older boats!) So Rob had a new part manufactured that should work. It will hopefully be installed this week. We will then put the boom back on, the sail back on and hope that problem is also solved.

We finally have an AIS transponder as well. We got a used one from our friend Philip on "Bluebie" who replaced it with a newer model. Michael had to figure out how to get the information in the box changed and got great help from West Marine in the States and SRT Marine in Britain with the information and software needed to accomplish this. It still needs to be installed and things like antennas and splitters still need to be purchased.

New chain has also been ordered. We last replaced it in Panama in 2011 (thanks to our friend Tom) and it had served us well. Chain in salt water for about eight months a year (at least) does get mighty rusty – and it is a critical piece of safety gear. While in a marina, it is easiest to get it installed. So we pulled the trigger on that purchase as well.

It doesn't feel much like Christmas aboard Astarte. Usually at this time, the oven is running nonstop with Christmas cookies of many varieties baking. But with the galley in shambles, there is no baking going on. Instead of baking we are sanding, varnishing, polishing, deconstructing, reconstructing, buying bits and pieces, plumbing, running wires, taking down sails and booms, checking steering cables, and a multitude of other festive events! The goal is to be done by Christmas so we can be sitting at some idyllic anchorage enjoying Christmas and New Years before heading to Whangarei for the next big project – a haul out to deal with the underside of the boat!

Here's a bit of financial advice – invest in New Zealand. We are certainly supporting the economy!
At 12/9/2016 10:31 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.94'S 174°07.22'E

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Friday, November 25, 2016

In New Zealand

A ten day passage from Fiji's Vuda Marina to Opua in NZ is completed. It was a decent passage. The 1071 miles turned into much more as we couldn't stay on the rhumb line. For one entire day we made only 20 miles towards the destination though we traveled a tad over 100! Astarte scored two – 143 mile days and we had some good sailing though hard on the wind the entire trip (with the exception of the last two days when we had to motor with no wind).

The trip was not without its adventures. Before we left we dealt with the transmission. That worked great underway...bravo, Michael and thanks to Moon Engineering in Auckland. We got some big swells, thanks to a big storm in NZ that sent up 5 meter swells (that's 20 feet!) along the route. We didn't see the five meters, but saw and experienced 2.5 meters. Plus the seas were confused with the big swell from one direction and the wind waves from another.
Underway on one of the two really bad, lumpy, rolly, icky days, the steering decided to quit. Of course this happened at night and in the confused seas. We offloaded the lazarette (a chore to keep things from rolling off the decks) and Michael climbed in the hole to take a look. Too dark and too much of a roll to get a good look, so we determined we'd wait until morning. Morning brought the light, but certainly not calmer conditions. The autopilot, "Nigel" was doing a great job steering (it is attached directly to the quadrant so the wheel steering was not needed.) We thought we'd just wait until conditions or "Nigel" demanded otherwise.

We were now sailing a good speed and heading more southwest. The forecast promised that we would get more easting in the wind over the next few days and we could get our "southing" at that point. We were covering a lot of miles each day now, and actually gaining on the destination.

On Wednesday morning with less than 400 miles to go, conditions lightened enough to tackle the steering. This was a chore. The emergency tiller needed a bit of lubricating and work to get it to bend at the right points. Once attached, holding it in perfect place so it wouldn't move an iota was critical. Fingers could be lost if we had any movement. A scream from inside the lazarette was scary, but fingers got only pinched not cut off. Whew! The cables got reconnected and we aligned the wheel as best we could. Now, the wheel steering was working with Nigel still working hard. Another problem sorted.

The wind died and we had to motor for a bit after getting below 3 knots of speed. The winds were pretty inconsistent. One minute it would be blowing good enough to push Astarte along at 5 or 6 knots, the next minute we'd slow to 4 or 5. Bang. "What was that noise?" "Don't know" "The engine temperature is going up fast." A quick look in the engine room showed that the belt broke. So, engine off again. Another project for Michael. But a spare belt was retrieved from the spares locker, installed and all good again.

Now we figured we had our three bad things for the trip behind us: transmission, steering and now alternator belt. Clear sailing or motoring the rest of way! ?!

The last several hundred miles were a mix of sailing and motoring. A big front was due in on Friday around 10 am, and we would hopefully beat it in. We entered the Bay of Islands in the dark (something we are loathe to do), and made our way towards the quarantine dock. We went very slowly knowing that by 0500 we would start to get the early sunrise light. We got to the dock at 0600 and luckily there was room and we got a hand tying up. Passage over. Now the wait for the officials. There were about 25 other boats that day waiting for clearance as well. In fact, it might have been a new Opua record for the number of boats cleared in one day. When we see the customs or biosecurity folks we'll find out.

Now we are all cleared in and settled in a slip at the Bay of Islands Marina (we often call it the Opua Marina). Now the work will begin on the galley/refrigeration. We arrived in time for the last of the All Points Rally so enjoyed a free burger dinner on Friday night and a chance to reconnect with the Gypsea Hearts (Sandy and Rankin) as well as Lily and Otto who are 2009 cruising friends whom now own the Marina Cafe here.

Overall it was a decent passage even with all the fixes along the way. Just a few hours short of a ten day passage. A few rough days. Forty-six hours of motoring. Much of it pretty good sailing hard on the wind. Glad to sleep more than three hours at a time again!

Let the work begin.
At 11/25/2016 7:30 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.95'S 174°07.22'E

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Leaving Fiji for New Zealand

We are off today as soon as all the clearing out formalities are done and the Vuda Marina bill settled. The we will get "sung out" of the marina. This is a really lovely tradition. Several staff members (whomever is available at the time) come down to the boat and sing a farewell song in Fijian to you as your goodbye. We have heard them doing it for many and it feels really special.

The timing seems good as a few tropical depressions are starting to form in this part of the world. We hope the trip of 1100 miles or so will be without sighting one directly! It looks like a good, though slow, window. We may encounter some adverse winds – on the nose, but they don't look to be too big. The seas are going to be quite large – but an ocean swell with about 14 seconds between them so we should do okay in them. We are actually really glad we didn't leave on the last week window. Big stuff – besides earthquakes is hitting NZ. The North Island is getting hammered with some serious winds and huge seas over the next few days – right when we would have been arriving. So we thank the transmission.

You can keep up on our passage through (look for Astarte) and if the radio and computers all work, we'll update the position daily.

It should take us about 10 days or so – arriving on Thanksgiving perhaps.

Wish us luck – this is always a difficult passage.
At 11/2/2016 5:08 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°40.86'S 177°23.21'E

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Transmission Update

Michael has been country hopping and has returned from New Zealand with a new transmission in hand on Wednesday afternoon. He got a great lesson from Moon Engines in Auckland on the installation of the transmission and things to check and made it back to the airport. He sweet talked the airline into letting him carry it on as "carry-on" luggage. All flights were on time and upon arrival in Fiji he had to spend a long time in customs. They wanted a big duty to be paid and Michael kept showing them all the boat papers saying we are a boat in transit and had what Fiji needs, a rotation number. Finally, after a long time, they let him go without the $800 duty!

He gets back to Vuda Marine where the election results are coming in from the States. People are in shock. Most Americans and all the Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Brits, Germans and Fijians can't believe what is going on and are fearful for the world. We are offered flags from many countries. It is always interesting and eye-opening to get a world view of what happens in the USA.

Back to the transmission...the next morning (Thursday), Michael dives into the engine room and removes the old transmission. He then installs the new one. All goes quite smoothly. New transmission fluid is put in and we test start the motor. So far so good. All seems smooth. While in the slip, we put it into forward – it works. Then reverse – it works. It was a full days work – we go up to Happy Hour in the bar and celebrate.

On Friday, we go for a test run leaving the safety of the slip. The help here in Vuda Marina is terrific and Toba guides us out in the fiberglass launch and stays nearby in case anything goes wrong. It is a very narrow cut in the reef to get into and out of the marina. All good so far. We run for 45 minutes to get it good and warmed up with Michael checking it every five minutes. All good. We then put it into neutral, reverse, neutral, forward a few times while out in the sea away from anything. Because of the slightly different gear ration, we notice that it takes a bit longer to planning ahead will be more critical. We also think we have lost about two or three tenths of a knot of speed with the same tachometer reading. But the good news is we have a working engine again.

It cost us a bit more for replacing the transmission – but we have it done and can take the next weather window for New Zealand. If we waited for it to be shipped here – it would cost us the time in the marina, probably a harder Fiji "duty" fight, and the possibility of it lost in transit. Now it's done and Michael did a terrific job.

It looks like next week may have a possible leave time – perhaps as early as Tuesday. A few more days to look at weather and we'll make the call. Hope NZ lets us in!
At 11/2/2016 5:08 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°40.86'S 177°23.21'E

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Oh No

It has been hot in Vuda Marina with no breeze and steady sun. The regular rain showers at night may cool the decks a bit, but it also means closing up the boat. We didn't get hauled out on Thursday as scheduled but did the deed on Friday morning. But there was one small problem.

As we got pulled out of our slip, Michael was supposed to back into the slings for the haul out. It is a narrow alley way and sailboats don't back very well. So as we approached the slipway, he needed to straighten out and put the boat into forward...only the forward gear did NOT engage! The two workers from the slipway were yelling "forward, forward" as the concrete piling/wall was quickly approaching the boat. Luckily Toba, the guy in the small fiberglass boat was still nearby and grabbed a line to pull the boat and one of the workers jumped aboard to help fend off. Barbara on the swim platform was also pushing and trying to stay aboard and not get crushed. It all happened very quickly. The workers were terrific and very capable. We got into the slings and hauled and had something new to stress over.

After our bottom cleaning (the hull actually looked pretty good!) and a set of new zincs, we got relaunched and then towed back into our "slip." We had friends help us get the boat into the slip and Toba did a terrific job as tow boat. It was a short distance and we got settled. Michael then went below to check the transmission out – being hopeful it was simply a slipped cable. We worked the boat back and forth as best as we could while tied in the slip and Michael came to the conclusion it was NOT the cables or linkage. Bummer. The problem was much bigger.

We put a new transmission aboard in 2008 before we left Florida for our cruise. So it had about 2800 hours on it. We kept thinking, "it's new" but then we remember we have been cruising for seven and a half years and have put some hours on the engine. This year in Fiji alone, it seems we've had to motor many places.

Now what do we do? We had planned to leave for New Zealand on Tuesday. A great weather window was there for the trip. We are a sailboat, so we could go without a forward gear. Michael did lots of research on a new transmission – but getting one in Fiji wasn't possible. Talking to the place in the US where we bought the last one, he learns they have discontinued this model. So we can't just simply take this one out and drop in a new one. More modification would be required for the engine (raising it a bit and dropping the prop shaft a bit). That would be something we would not want to do in Fiji after talking to several folks. We also kept hearing stories about parts not arriving or getting lost here in Fiji. We had a bit of a dilemma. Our insurance requires us to be out of the cyclone "box" by December 1. Yes, we probably could buy a rider...but that would be expensive. We are a sailboat, so we could simply sail to NZ and hope for a tow into the dock in Opua...a tricky dock with wind and current and lots of boats. There were also a few reefs to get through prior to leaving Fiji waters. Michael spent most of the weekend doing research and in NZ, he found two places that claimed to have the transmission we currently own (a ZF 10m). So he e-mailed them and would call them first thing Monday morning. Was it just listed on their websites or did they really have the part in hand? On Monday, he actually located one at Moon Engines in Auckland, a company that was incredibly helpful on the phone. It had a slightly different gear ratio than our 1.79 – but it went the "right" way to not overload our engine. It was a 2.04. It was also mighty expensive because they don't make them anymore! Michael also priced flights to NZ to go and actually pick it up and bring it here. To ship it, it would be close to $400 and it could be "lost" for weeks. He found a plane fare that was reasonable and we made the call on Monday afternoon that he would fly down on Tuesday morning to get it. He would return with the part on Wednesday afternoon. We could still make a next week weather window if it holds and it all goes together smoothly.

He arrived in NZ (actually stopping in the south island). At least he's been on the South Island – because with all these expenses this year chances are good that we won't be traveling there this year as planned. He got to the shop on Wednesday morning (today) before they opened and they gave him a lot of time explaining all the tricks of installation and aligning the engine. As I write this, he is at the Auckland airport with the part in hand waiting for his afternoon flight. He will be exhausted.

He will install over the next few days and we will probably test it this weekend. We will re-fuel again and be ready to go if everything works as planned. So all readers, please send all the good karma you can.

And today is election day in the US – we did manage to vote from Fiji. Hope they count!
At 11/2/2016 5:08 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°40.86'S 177°23.21'E

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Celebrating Diwali in Nadi and Saweni. Now in Vuda

We spent a few days in Momi Bay and enjoyed the comings and goings of boats and ships through the reef passage. A pilot boat often came and anchored near us in Momi waiting to go out and meet a ship. We hit 15 "zero dollar days" in a row, so we thought it was time to start spending again!

We moved about 25 miles up the western side of Viti Levu, watching carefully for the many reefs, and headed to Wailoaloa which is near Nadi. It is a long beach quite close to the airport and has several small resorts, hotels and restaurants that mostly cater to the younger backpacker crowds. You can horseback ride on the beach or go out on one of the many dive boats or surf boats to nearby reefs. We anchored in about 3 meters (10 feet) of water. It is good holding and though we were quite shallow, we were still quite a distance from the beach.

We would make this stop a provisioning one – as it is easy to get a bus to Nadi and many grocery stores. There is also a good butcher on the way to Nadi/Denarau called South Pacific Butchery and we needed some meat for the next few weeks and for the upcoming passage.

We dinghied to shore and ran the dinghy onto the beach (those wheels are quite handy) and were told we could leave it in a spot and it would be safe. We even purchased a few coconuts from a guy in the hopes he would keep an eye on our dinghy. We told him he could leave the drinking coconuts in the dinghy.

We went to catch the bus and as we were waiting for it, a cab offered to take us to town for bus fare. There were four if us standing there and so it was a good deal. He didn't want to drive an empty cab back to Nadi and we lucked out with a quicker ride. We also got his name and number and ended up using him for the trip back with all our groceries and a stop at the butcher.

It was a productive day getting some fresh stuff, some beer, bread, meat pies and our fresh meat at the butcher. It was a wet ride back to Astarte. The wind had switched direction (sea breeze) causing the waves to kick up. We stayed aboard and enjoyed the many fireworks being set off around the area. They were constant and varied.

The next day we decided to make another run to Nadi for pleasure. It was the Hindu holiday of Diwali – a festival of lights. The holiday lasts five days two before, the actual holiday, and two after. Because Nadi has so many Indo-Fijians (many of which are Hindi), it is quite a festive time. Its sort of like their Christmas. There are lots of fireworks, gifts are exchanged, sweets are made by the ton and shared, and everyone dresses in their fanciest and best and newest saris. That was the treat seeing all these beautiful women dressed in bright colored saris with all the jewels and ornamentation. We thought it would be interesting to also go to the Hindu Temple in town that is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a brightly colored and ornate structure with lots of carvings and paintings

You have to be appropriately dressed to get into the temple. We paid our small entry fee for tourists rather than devotees. A great tour guide took us through the temple and he had not only a great sense of humor, he really was interesting. It was pretty special and many devotees were around making their various offerings at the many alters around the temple. The Diwali Festival is a tribute to their god of wealth and prosperity (thus the new clothes and gift exchange). That alter was getting a lot of action.

After retrieving our shoes after the temple tour, we walked around downtown Nadi watching everyone buying fireworks and gifts. It was like the last shopping day before Christmas. After our fill of the consumerism of Hinduism – we headed back to the bus stop and our trip back. It is just great fun to watch all the people on a busy Saturday morning.

After getting back, we splurged on a fish and chips lunch out and a few beers then headed back to the boat for more fireworks watching.

On Sunday, we thought it would be fun to head to see some old friends we hadn't seen since the Marshall Islands. The "Irish Melody" crew were in Saweni Bay, just north of Vuda Point Marina where we would go on Tuesday. It is a pretty bay and much more protected than where we were off Nadi Some big stuff was potentially threatening on Monday – so we thought we'd see our friends and be in a more protected bay.

We enjoyed our time with Andrea and Anthony after so many years it was great to catch up. We had them over for sundowners and decked our boat out in lights (thanks Sandy) to celebrate Diwali. It was pouring out so we would sneak outside at every rain break and watch the fireworks surrounding the area. A fun and festive night!

Tuesday arrived and it was time to get into Vuda Point for a quick haulout on Thursday (hopefully) and then waiting on a weather window. Check out Vuda Point Marina and our location on, Zoom in and we are right next to the guard house in this round marina. It is challenging to get in as they keep squeezing more and more boats into tiny spots. It provides entertainment (if it's other boats) and stress if it's your boat! It's been fun reconnecting with many friends here. This is the waiting for weather spot (or waiting to put your boat in a pit for cyclone season).

Enjoyed half price pizza night last night with Barbara and Dennis from Land Fall and celebrated Dennis' birthday.
At 11/2/2016 3:31 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°40.86'S 177°23.21'E

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Vunanui, Lekuri and Momi on Viti Levu

We enjoyed a few days nestled behind the reefs near Vunanui (pronounced Voo-Nah-New). The anchorage was very flat and quite comfortable and the views of the crashing waves on the outer reefs is always impressive and noisy.

On Saturday morning, we went into the village to do our sevusevu. We were met on the beach by a few young boys and Bill. Bill took us to the toronga ni koro (well actually the brother of the toronga ni koro). It seemed there was a going away party for some visitors so many of the men from the village were gathered in an open hut. We were brought in and introduced to a few folks and invited to sit on the mat. There was a huge tanoa bowl front and center with kava. The tanoa bowl is a lovely wooden bowl normally mounted on four legs carved out of a single piece of wood (bowl part and legs). This one was quite large with probably six legs on it and very lovely.

We presented our bundle of yaqona (the kava making plant roots) and a speech in Fijian was made followed by some chants and thombos (loud claps). Then the bundle was handed over to the chief (actually the brother of the chief) and he also did a small speech on Fijian with chants from the rest of the crowd and more thombos. It was the most formal sevusevu ceremony we had been to yet and it was very moving. We felt very welcomed. Then a few bowls of kava came our way with the traditional thombos and "matha" after the drink is completed. We stayed awhile, having a few bowls of the kava. Meanwhile, our package was taken by some young men and already opened and being pounded for the next bowl of kava. I guess we had good timing!

We then took a stroll around the village which was filled with friendly people and lots of kids playing volleyball and running around. We came by the hut before leaving and were invited in again for "one for the road or one for the ocean" - we passed on the temptation.

We stayed a few days and attempted a snorkel on the reef. There was a very strong current though and it was windy and we ended up doing a drift snorkel – just holding on to the dinghy and floating behind it looking at the critters below.

We left early on Monday morning for a 45 mile trip to Lekuri. We sailed much of the way with just the headsail in a downwind run. Two lines in the water – going pretty good speed at fish were caught...though at one point we had two bites – one on each line and Michael could actually look back and see what looked like four mahi checking out the lures – but not biting them again. Bummer.

We stayed one night in this anchorage – near the Robinson Crusoe resort. We were entertained from shore with lots of singing, drumming and fire dancing. It was pretty windy though and a long day and we decided to not head into the resort. We were working on a record of zero dollar days!

This morning, Tuesday, we left early to take advantage of the lighter winds and slack waters to get through the very narrow cut in the reef. It was pretty rocking and rolling coming in the day before. Once out of the cut, we killed the engine and put up the head sail and had a nice downwind run for the 15 or so miles. We were slower today – and again, two lines in the water, different fish.
We may stay here a few days – or move on...who knows! No more fresh vegetables or fruit on board. Beer supply is also pretty low. But it is a pretty and protected spot inside the reef on the southwestern corner of Viti Levu.

Latitude:17 55.06s
Longitude:177 16.07e
At 10/25/2016 7:07 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°55.05'S 177°16.06'E

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Snorkeling in Beqa and Moving On

We really enjoyed our week in Malumu Bay on Beqa (pronounced Ben-ga) Island. It was a good spot to sit out some inclement weather because it is protected from most directions and has a good muddy bottom for holding. Not so much fun when pulling up that muddy anchor chain! We had the place to ourselves for one night and then the boat "Pilgrim" returned because of the weather predictions.

We did a snorkel right in the bay – a reef that we saw many locals diving at night. The visibility wasn't terrific, but it was nice and shallow so we could really stay over a bommie and take a long look for the little stuff...and not so small critters. We saw two quite large eels that seemed to not be afraid of us, several different types of nudibranchs and lots and lots of small tropical fish – a few new ones. It was a treat. Day two we repeated the snorkel in a slightly different spot and Michael dared to bring the underwater camera. Good thing too, he spotted a quite large nudibranch that was different than ones we had seen before. Getting the photo would help us identify it (perhaps with the help of Kathryn).

We had a local boat stop by to visit on Thursday – they were from the village across the island and were heading to their gardens (they were yagona (kava) farmers!). They told us that there was a cut through the mangroves to get to their village. Wish we knew that sooner as we would have visited them. The cut isn't on any charts or even on google earth maps – ah, local knowledge!

On Friday morning, we thought it was time to move on and so we headed 26 miles to Vanunui on Viti Levu. We did manage to sail some of the miles, motor sailed some and motored some. The winds were either 2 knots or 12 and from varying directions. We put out two lines (I gave up on the coke bottle/oreo wrapper lure) and went back to the "Lance Lure" (made by our NZ charter fishing captain friend, Lance). Michael used "Pedro" from the Kathryn and Mark collection. We were moving well over 6 knots much of the time. We sailed or motor-sailed through cuts in the reefs. We have no bananas on board. We checked the lures regularly for weed or fouling. We changed distance from the boat of the lures. But did we catch a fish? NO. Still scoring zero.

We came through the reef hoping to beat a squall that looked like it was heading to the cut at the same time as us. We wanted good visibility – even though the cut is relatively wide. It is still a cut in the reef. The squall kept away and we made our way along the inside of the reef to a nice anchorage. It should be well protected from any swell – but not much wind protection. The forecast is for only 10-15 knots from the SE – so we should be fine here. There is a village nearby and if we stay more than one night, we'll go in and do our sevusevu. We are down to our last batch of kava – so this will have to be the last village until we can re-supply.

It is pretty here and when the sun shines, the reef around us is a variety of shades of blues. The crashing waves on the outer reef is impressive both visually and aurally. Pretty spot. We'll have to see if there are bats here. Last night's display in (anchorage) on Beqa was quite amazing – hundreds on bats flying overhead.

If we stay it does look like some good snorkeling around.

Latitude:18 15.7s
Longitude:177 52.12e
At 10/21/2016 4:09 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 18°15.69'S 177°52.11'E

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

From Lami to Beqa

We got through the tropical depression thing that formed near Fiji and saw at the most 28 knots of winds and lots of rain for a few days. Then it cleared and we remained safely moored in the same spot. During the storm, Sonny who manages the moorings told us we were on the "best" mooring as it had the biggest blocks holding it in place. That made us feel even more secure during the windy points.

On Tuesday, we took the bus into Suva and did some shopping at the butchers, fresh market (for fruit and veggie) and grocery. We found the dentist's office and reconfirmed our Wednesday appointments and found a locksmith for a new door lock. The old one wouldn't give up the key! The bus into town was easy and all of $1.10 each way (Fiji $). Can't beat the local bus service.

On Wednesday, we did a return trip to Suva for our dental appointments. First we stopped at the fresh market for another bundle of yagona (kava) for sevusevu. We knew we would need at least one more for stops before we left Fiji. Michael carrying around the kava bundle in his pack got lots of comments from passers by about "sevusevu" and "you drink grog?" Even the dentist comments on it (saying he too likes to drink grog.) We again were really pleased with Dr. Singh at Stewart Street Dental. We both got clean bills of health and x-rays and a good check-up. The x-rays were in our e-mail by the time we returned home!

After the dentist, we were roaming through some shops and someone stopped on us on the street saying, "Barbara." It was Thomas, the village "Toronga ni koro" from Navadamu, one of the places we stopped on the north coast of Vanua Levu. We wouldn't have recognized him in this setting, but he sure remembered us. He was a long way from home. He was with his chief whom we never met, and his brother who lives in Suva. We visited for some time on the street and it was so much fun to run into him. What a small country! He reminded us that his village was our village and we are welcome to come back anytime. They were in Suva to discuss the solar panel plan that the government is offering some small villages in outlying areas.

After our curry lunch (a tradition after the dentist visit in Suva), we headed back to Lami. On Thursday, we did some boat projects and took a walk into Lami for ice cream – only to get caught in a good rain shower.

On Friday, we left Lami Bay and headed about 28 miles to Beqa (pronounced ben-ga)Island just off the southeastern corner of Viti Levu. We had a great sail! Yes, we actually sailed with both sails and made great time. Skunked on fishing again...and we were doing 6 knots much of the time. We made our way through the reef that surrounds Beqa and into Malumu Bay which goes way back in. It is beautiful here amongst the mangroves and very secluded. One friend told us they didn't like Beqa because it was too touristy … they must have been someplace else because this is really lovely and not a tourist attraction in sight. Two other boats in the anchorage when we arrived and it was good to finally spend some time with Ron and Cheryl on "Pilgrim." They have since both left and we have the whole place to ourselves.

The nearby village is small and we went there on Saturday morning to do our sevusevu (after an enjoyable morning of coffee and conversation with the "Pilgrim" folks). It was a quick sevusevu as we only saw the son of the toronga ni koro Everyone else seemed to be in Suva.

The place is very protected (except if we have heavy northerlies), good holding, lots of swinging room, and pretty green hillside landscapes around us. We have a resident turtle who pops up regularly and the evening has a good bat display.

On Sunday (today), we did a good dinghy explore and headed up a nearby river. We got all the way to a culvert over the river and a path. There were loads of bats in some nearby pine trees – they looked like giant pine cones until you saw them open their wings. The bird sounds were really nice though the birds themselves remained hidden. Some cool orchid like plants as well hanging in the trees – we nicknamed them porcupine orchids (the pictures will tell you why).

We will stay here a few more days...there may be some winds the next few days – and then we'll move on. Nice spot though – and worth the stop. Tonights full moon and bats will be fun to see.

Latitude:18 23.05s
Longitude:178 09.14e
At 10/16/2016 5:42 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 18°23.03'S 178°09.12'E

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Ovalau, Leleuvia and Viti Levu

We left off in Rukuruku drinking kava...
A return visit to the village was made the next morning and our intention was to take photos of the various classes. Fijians love having their picture taken! They are happy even if they only get to look at it in the viewfinder of the camera. As we arrived, the head teacher, Mister Sefa met us to ask a big favor. Could we take some photos of all the damaged buildings from Severe Cyclone Winston for him, so he could give them with his report to some education ministery folks who would be coming the next day? So Michael put on his photojournalist hat and went to work. After those were taken we had our first tea break of the day. The four level 8 girls who were taking their exams still had their family on hand to make the cakes and goodies. The girls joined us, the examiner, the head teacher, a teacher assessor who was visiting and the parents/relatives for tea and lots of "fijian pie" (that is the bright yellow topped cake I described earlier). After tea, we managed to finally get the class photos.

We got a good idea from Carol (my sister) about taking the photos. Michael took a "straight" photo first and than a "silly" photo. The silly ones were much more natural with kids being kids. We went back to the boat to start the printing process. Luckily Kathryn and Mark brought us more photo paper as we have been burning through it! We went back to the school after school was over (otherwise they would have fed us yet again and more tea and cake!) I got a lovely necklace from Cara (one of the test taking girl's (Titianna) mother. So I brought her a few small gifts as well.

We found the four girls and gave them copies of special pictures for themselves and then gave the rest of the class photos, destruction photos, ID photos and family photos to Mister Sefa. We had e-mailed one to Bobo from the day before and we printed one for the Chief and one for Cara of her family. We went to say our goodbyes to Mateo, the headman an give him his photo...of course we were assigned a young boy to take us there. After many goodbyes and the pleading of Tema and others to stay longer, we went back to the boat to prep for leaving the next morning.

We left around 10 for a short 12 mile trip to the island of Leleuvia, also part of the Lomoviti Group. It is a small resort island with the classic white sandy beaches, reef strewn waters of various shades of blue. They provide free moorings to yachts and in fact, sent a boat out to meet us and get us through the reef to our assigned mooring. We went ashore and had a fancy resort lunch (buffet wraps). Michael did some bottom cleaning in the clear water and we got hot showers at the resort. We did go in for dinner as well and sat with an Ozzie couple there on holiday. We enjoyed the evening out and made it back to Astarte to prep for an early morning leave. Weather is predicted to come in late in the weekend and we want to be in a secure place.

At 0600 we were under way for a 55 mile trip to Lami Bay, just SW of Suva (the capital) on the big island of Viti Levu. We had to motor in no wind for a bit to get around some big reefs and then ran along the reef. We actually shut the engine off for awhile to sail! What a treat. But it didn't last long as we did have to maintain speed to make our destination before dark. We motor-sailed much of the way. We arrived in Lami Bay to some free moorings near Tony Phillips house. He owns lots of stuff in Fiji including Copra Shed and Vuda Point marinas, chandleries and fuel outlets and generously lets boats use the moorings for free. It is a very protected anchorage form just about any direction. Once we sorted out which mooring we could use and got permission from Sonny on the boat Tau, we were settled. We made it before dark and there was room at the inn! Fish count: ZERO! *we ran two lines the entire trip and we were close to reefs and we had no bananas on board!

The next morning during the normal array of radio nets, Michael, who was net controller for the "Southern Cross" net got a call from Northland Radio in Russell, New Zealand. There was an emergency for a boat called "Galena" with a single-hander aboard. He was well off the west coast of Viti Levu and had a medical emergency on board. Michael got the details and would spread the word to see if there was any boat in the vicinity (though unlikely based on his last known location). Suva Rescue Coordination Center was in charge and they were thinking about sending out a navy boat after the attempts to get some fishing boats in the area to respond failed. More radio time was spent on "Tony's Maritime Net" and the word was spread as much as we could do.

Then we headed into Lami for a reconnaissance mission. We took the dinghy to the police boat dock to tie-up. The dock was in sad shape. Michael let me off on the sea wall and then went to tie up as I went to ask permission. I met Herman and got permission to tie up right next to the police boat.

We walked to town (about a half hour walk). We couldn't remember if there was a bank here or if we had to go to Suva. We were prepared to continue to Suva if necessary to get some cash. But Lami is a nice small town with all the necessities – bank, gas station, small fresh market, groceries and most importantly, a Hot Bread Kitchen! We got some money, meat pies, bread and sweet rolls.

The Hot Bread Kitchen is a small chain in Fiji that makes great meat pies and breads of all sorts. Because Monday was "Fiji Day" the staff were all wearing these fun Fiji Day T-shirts with the slogan, "Fiji, we love you like a cream bun" on the back. Cream buns are a Fiji treat – a kind of dinner roll with a slab of sweet cream in the middle. The cream buns for Fiji Day had this aqua blue (Fiji flag color) cream in the middle. Michael wanted a t-shirt so we were sent to "world headquarters for the Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK)" which is located in Lami. Michael asked if we could walk there and they said yes. It ended up being the day's adventure. We walked and would ask directions and be pointed in one direction. Walk some more and ask again and get pointed elsewhere. One woman, Elizabeth walked with us for awhile (she worked at the HBK) and then pointed the way. We still went by it and had to ask yet again! Once there, we asked about the t-shirts and they said they could sell us them but they only had white ones left. We left with our silly shirts.

We walked back and enjoyed our meat pies and some cold was a hot hike all over the industrial area of Lami! The next day we returned to Lami with four empty diesel jugs. We have burned through quite a bit of fuel over the last month with our guests and all the motoring we've done to get places. The lack of wind was great news for snorkeling and diving...bad news for sailing. So fueling up was that day's project. We did one load and cabbed back with fuel and some groceries. We loaded that fuel in the tank and then Michael went back for another four jugs. The tank is now filled and few full jugs on board. We should be good until we get around to Vuda Point and departure.

Today it is raining. Flooding is predicted for Fiji as this early season Tropical Depression is over the island chain. Luckily it isn't supposed to be packed with wind – just lots of rain, some squalls and thunderstorms. Not a nice day for all the planned Fiji Day celebrations. But the kids are all still playing the water. We'll fill the water tanks and start deciding where we go to from here. We have booked dentist appointments in Suva for Wednesday and will go into Suva on Tuesday as well (weather permitting) for some other errands (good butcher and huge fresh market and a locksmith).

For now, we'll do inside projects, read and write log entries! Happy Fiji Day!
At 10/9/2016 10:20 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 18°06.62'S 178°23.82'E

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Taveuni, Koro and Ovalau

We enjoyed two nights on the mooring at Paradise Dive Resort – they are a very "yachtie-friendly" place. We did get in a good snorkel and a lovely free, hot shower! We took off at 0615 to make our way to Koro Island about 42 miles away. We fished the entire way – using one of Mark's and Kathryn's lure and our "coke bottle and oreo" lure. The M&K lure (the pretty one) hooked one huge fish. It spun much of our reel off and as Michael was fighting to get it in, the line broke. So there is one huge fish in Fiji waters with a pretty lure and about 15 meters of yellow monofilament line hanging from its lips. No other fish to report.

We tied to a mooring in Dere Bay on Koro Island after a few attempts at anchoring. It is very coral strewn and rubbely as well as quite deep. Because Koro Island was one of the hardest hit (if not THE hardest) by Cyclone Winston, we weren't too sure of the condition of the moorings. But it was flat calm and we would only be there one night. We kept the anchor alarm on and the anchor ready to drop.

We left Koro at 0600 to get to Ovalau and Rukuruku Bay. This was a 53 mile trip. No wind at all – so it was yet another motoring trip. The two lines were put in the water as soon as the mooring was dropped. W made our way through the reef and went by a few islands making our way to the former capital of Fiji and one of the first settlements in the country. Along the way we saw a a very large pod of pilot whales – perhaps as many as 30 of them. They were simply basking on the surface – fins showing and every so often they would do what is known as the "spy hop" - the large whale head coming straight out of the water from a vertical position – sort of like a giant periscope. It was amazing to see and they were less than 100 feet from the boat at times. Kathryn and Mark had the chance to swim with a pod of pilot whales on their first day of diving and were really thrilled with the experience. Seeing so many of them and so close was pretty special as well.

We entered the reef passage near the town of Levuka – the former capital and now also a world heritage site (made one last year). The leading marks were a bit hard to spot – one is on the clock tower – an orange triangle just over the clock and the other is on the hill above. It was so calm – you couldn't really see the water breaking on the reef...that's both good and bad. We read in a few places that the anchorage near the town was pretty rolly, noisy (a large generator that powers the entire island) and smelly (tuna processing plant – owned by bumblebee brand). So thanks to some info from another boater (thanks Russ from "A-train") we made our way about ten miles around the island to the village of Rukuruku.

Ovalau was also pretty badly hit by Cyclone Winston and as we made our way inside the reef around the island, you could clearly see some of the damage. Many large trees were down, houses destroyed or damaged, sunk boats and one very large ship that ended up high and dry on the shore. The village of Rukuruku was also pretty damaged – though they are Fijian and remain upbeat. The school was damaged and several of the teachers' houses were destroyed. Tents are set up in many places – and school classes are held in some of the tents. There are areas where you can see missing homes – simply piles of broken concrete and tin roofs remain. Large piles of bent and broken tin roofs are along the roadside.

We went in right after we arrived to do our sevusevu with the chief. We were met ashore by a group of kids who would lead up to the Chief's home. We met Mateo, the chief and were given permission to stay. We chatted quite awhile with him about Winston and learned more about the damage in the village. They mostly grow Yaqona here and that is a crop that takes more than three years to grow. Most of the crop was destroyed. The coconuts for copra were also badly damaged – again a long process to get copra quality nuts to grow. They continue to rebuild homes and the school is scheduled to be repaired in the next few weeks (but who knows with Fiji time).

On Saturday morning, we headed to the city of Levuka. We went on the local transport which is a big covered truck with benches along the inside (think troop carriers). Together with about 35 other folks we loaded in. Michael had to stand. The trip took about 45 minutes along a decent road with lots of hills. The kids stand in the front of the bed with their heads over the cab of the truck – kind of like happy dogs with the wind blowing in their hair.

Levuka is an interesting town – though it looks less British colonial and more old western town. The main street is lined with shops and restaurants. A small fresh market takes place in the park along the waterfront on Saturday mornings and the folks were selling fresh vegetables along with lots of seafood offerings like octopus, clams and "sea grape" (a type of seaweed berry). We enjoyed an ice cream and did some errands (fuel, veg, bread, rugby ball). The truck return was 12:30. We waited in the shade along with many of the other riders. We met the head teacher from the school, Sefa who was also on the trip and became our guide. He shared the history of the Levuka and Ovalau as well as stories about Fiji. The trip back was even more interesting – the truck now not only had the 35 or so people, it had jugs of every variety of diesel, petrol and kerosene. There were several 20 pound tanks of propane (actually butane here). Plus boxes and boxes and boxes of food supplies for families. At least 30 loaves of bread, many vegetables, bags of toilet paper and diapers. Amongst all this was now sleeping children, babies getting breast fed and adults dozing off while sitting on the benches. There was one small child who fell asleep while holding on to the rail in the front of the truck. One older gentleman tried to wake him so he wouldn't fall or hurt himself. It was quite the experience. We do love local transport.

We got back to the boat with the help of the many children that follow us to the beach to help us launch our dinghy. Our dinghy (named Pukupuku) seemed to have quite a few small visitors while on the beach at Rukuruku The boat was loaded with sand!

Tomorrow boat projects. Monday, a visit to the school.
At 10/1/2016 7:01 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°38.38'S 178°45.24'E

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moce to our Guests

Moce (pronounced Mo-thay) is goodbye in Fijian. Mark and Kathryn have disembarked from Astarte. They proved to be excellent guests, as usual. They get the power and water consumption ritual aboard and are great at chipping in on clean-up duty after meals. We lucked out with near perfect weather for their entire stay – a little more wind on the days we moved to new locations would have been nice for some sailing. But the sun was shining and the temperatures were bearable (though a tad warm for those north-westerners). They had plenty of water time as you have read on Kathryn's entries over the last few days. Now they are at their "nice" place – the Paradise Dive Resort on the southwestern corner of Taveuni. They will ave managed to get to four islands during their Fiji trip. The resort greeted them with a welcome drink, flower wreath and foot massage. I guess that's what makes it a "nice" place. We got one of the three aboard Astarte...drinks are not a shortage.

It was great fun to have them aboard and share time together and a bit of our little paradise here. We took them to one of our favorite spots (Albert Cove) and we had the place to ourselves the entire time.

We had a bit of a rolling night on the mooring ball near the resort after a good lunch and lovely dinner with them ashore at the resort. There was even a bit of a green flash sunset to end our time with them. We'll stay here today as well to pick up a freshly baked bread and perhaps even enjoy a snorkel and some pool time at the resort. Then we will head off tomorrow bright and early and head to the island of Koro for a quick stop then on to Ovelau. Each day is about 40 miles. We will then spend a few days at the original capital of Fiji – that is supposedly "locked" in the colonial British era.

Thanks to Kathryn and Mark for coming all this way to visit and bring us some boat bits. We enjoyed our time with them and were glad we had great weather providing lots of "water" time for the fish lovers. Hope their diving is spectacular as well.
At 9/27/2016 8:49 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°56.10'S 179°53.98'E

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Cultural Excursion

We headed into the main village at Catherine Bay in the morning. We deduced it was called Buakonikai from the "school boat" that said "Buakonikai Primary School." I like the idea of a school boat—it goes around the bay gathering children, presumably, and bringing them to school. We anchored the dinghy in among the mangroves and yellow-clawed fiddler crabs and set off on the main road toward Nuku, the village on the N side of Rabi we had visited a few days ago. The houses were similar in style to those in Nuku, simple but fairly solid, and we passed some beautiful gardens. We also figured out where the music we heard broadcast all morning was coming from: very large sets of speakers at one of the houses! Maybe this is their antidote to the drumming of the church drums and bells.

We stopped to chat with a few folks who were drying the pandanus leaves they use to weave their traditional mats. They seem to use the mats as places to put out household goods to dry, and later we learned they serve as "furniture" too—a place to sit on the floor of the homes. On our way back, Barbara was eager to learn if there was a boat builder in town, as she and Michael had an old sail that they wanted to re-home with someone with a sailing canoe. So, after a few false starts, we landed on the home of one Mr. Brown, who was in fact at one time the builder of canoes. He was at home with his wife. Mrs. Brown—when Barbara asked her name, Mr. Brown replied matter-of-factly, "Mrs. Brown." Their daughter-in-law, Maryanna, and her son, Phillip were also there. We had a nice chat and it as agreed we would bring the sail by later in the afternoon in exchange for some bananas his son would cut for us! Mr. Brown was referred to as "the old man" by several, but still looked good at 72, although he said his seafaring days were over. He had built his house himself in 1976, taking 2 years to complete. It was nice to get a glimpse of life in the village.

After a nice snorkel on the fringing reef to Catherine Bay (which, when told that was my name, the locals had a good giggle about), we headed back into town, sail in tow. I can't just completely skip over the snorkel, so I will say this one had plenty of fish, but really awesome mollusks and shells also. We saw many cool (but alive, so no keeping) cowries, nudibranchs, and many others. Also some big snappers. Anyway, back to the cultural excursions...

We arrived at Mr. Brown's and he was having a bath or something so there was a bit of confusion, but when the sail landed in his living room, he had a big smile, gave it a once over, and said "very good quality." He excused himself to finish his bath but before doing so, asked if we'd like some grog—kava. We thought that would be nice, so said yes and he set a team of grog preparers in motion. We asked if we could watch the process and take photos and were told yes, so we made our way to the drying kava out back, watched another of Mr. Brown's daughter-in-laws select the proper bunch, and then proceed, with the help of a friend, to pound it. This is quite a process and Mark and I offered to help, which they seemed to delight in. Mr. Brown's son was supposed to be our grog preparer, but he and his family were out, so the others stepped in. After 15-20 minutes of pounding—using an old propeller shaft and what may have been a custom made metal vessel (think mortar and pestle, but very large), the kava had been reduced to something resembling the crumbs in the bottom of the bag of shredded wheat! We enjoyed getting to participate in the prep and were a curiosity to the local kids, for sure.

The next step was to bring the pulverized kava inside, were it was put in a cheese-cloth type bag and washed through fresh water. It ultimately created a muddy-looking beverage. Mr. Brown explained that since we were in Fiji, we would partake of the Fijian custom of grog-drinking. He dipped a small cup he had apparently just made that day into the bowl had a small sip to gauge its quality, and then dipped again and served it to Michael, who clapped, accepted it, and then Mr. Brown clapped, Michael drank, handed the cup back, clapped three times, and Mr. Brown clapped again. Here the process began again, with Mark next in line, then me, then Barbara, then finally, Mr. Brown served himself a full bowl. For the next round, Mrs. Brown's brother joined us—he resembled Mr. Miyagi, with kind of the zen persona of an elder surfer dude. Mr. Brown rolled him into the serving line and we repeated the process a few more times.

It was a nice small grog circle and the hosts were very welcoming. Apart from short-lived tingling lips and tongue, I can't say I felt many effects of the grog, but it was a fun cultural experience that I'm glad we were able to take part in. It was also a gracious way for Mr. Brown to say thanks for the sail, as kava is worth about $50FJ/kg right now, so not exactly a cheap cold beer.

After a dinner of leftovers and decent champagne, we called it a night. This morning we pulled anchor at Catherine Bay and are heading to Taveuni, as I type this. Seas are flat, which means no sailing, unfortunately, but also means we should have great water clarity for diving, if these conditions hold for the next few days. We will disembark this afternoon, but we'll all have a final dinner together tonight at the resort Mark and I are staying at for the final days of our stay in Fiji. Once again, we have had a fantastic time on Astarte, exploring places we never could have gone on our own, and seeing a side of Fiji most people don't get to explore. We have been fed extremely well, and probably did not lose a single ounce of blubber, despite hours spent in the water. The beers were always cold, the power and freshwater supplies maintained, and our accommodations very nice.
At 9/26/2016 11:48 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°54.06'S 179°54.41'E

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Snorkels and Fishes and More Fishes

We've been spending a lot of time in the water. Michael, Mark, and I set out on a brilliant morning snorkel along the reef cut. The variety of coral was amazing and we saw lots of interesting fish. Michael also saw a giant grouper, but it was not a confirmed sighting. In swimming toward Michael like he had found gold coins, Mark and I must have scared the big guy off. But, there were many larger fish and interesting ones we hadn't seen in the deeper sections of this reef—there was lots of topography, with depths ranging from 1m to 20m which made for good snorkeling. The visibility was pretty good and the current held off. The cute fish of the trip was the South Seas Devil, Chrysiptera taupou (I think—possibly the Blue Devil, C. cyanea though). At any rate, it's a bright cobalt blue 2" dude with bright-orange-y yellow along the dorsal fin. For those with the interwebs, maybe someone could sort the difference between the two? And for your efforts, I'll throw in a second cute fish of the trip: Clark's Anemonefish, Amphiprion clarkii. Yup, it's an orange anemonefish. But unlike the Fiji Anemonefish, A. Barberi, which we've seen plenty of, Clark's has 2 large white bars and another one right at the caudal peduncle (put that term in your fish biologist geek pipe and smoke it!). Cool to see another species of these now iconic fishes!

After rave reviews and a nice lunch to refuel we convinced Barbara to join us on a return trip in the afternoon. She was dutifully making baked beans for our dinner during the morning trip. The wind had picked up and it was a little more surge-y and not as clear, but the light was good and again we enjoyed exploring. The cute fish of the trip for me was a juvenile Chekerboard Wrasse, Halichoeres hortulanus. It was immediately recognizable as something I had not seen yet (unlike the myraid butterflyfishes which are gorgeous, but which I cannot keep straight!).

I would be remiss at this point if I didn't mention the Guardian Spadefish which have been keeping us company at anchor. They came up to the surface one of the first days, as we were tossing some moldy bread overboard. We have had some disagreements about their identity, but think they are Golden Spadefish, Platax boersii. The bottom line is, we enjoyed seeing them each morning and were glad for the piscine company. Although, as we pulled the anchor today, a shackle broke and a hook was lost and Barbara was convinced the mischievous side of the Guardian Spadefish was to blame. Oh well, some guardians are better than others, I suppose.

We got in one last snorkel at Elizabeth Cove before leaving the N side of Rabi. This reef was shallow and along shore and we swam along the outer edge. Barbara nominated the Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus, as the cute fish of the day—although, as the name correctly implies, it may be more regal than cute. These are very cool yellow and blue-ish/purple fish that are often found in pairs and are really beautiful. Also notable on this trip were some really cool nudibranchs—black, orange, and, white, but in different color patterns. And lots of Crown of Thorns, which we kept our distance from! There were a lot of beautiful corals here and I'm glad we made the trek.

We got back to Astarte and began the tasks associated with prepping for a relocation. At this point we have our jobs down and we got rinses and showers and still managed a quick turnaround time. Aside from the lost snubber hook, all is well and we had a nice motor around to Catherine Bay on the S side of Rabi. Not surprisingly, we failed to catch dinner. But, we are anchored up in a new location and will explore the town tomorrow. This cove is a little more populated and while we really enjoyed the solitude, tranquility, and the amazing night sky of Albert Cove—probably the most remote place I have ever been—it will be nice to see another side of Rabi.
At 9/25/2016 5:50 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°31.65'S 179°59.41'W

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Seeing the Village

We got an early start this morning after a tasty French toast and fruit breakfast. The mission for the day was to go to the village of Nuku, drop some sports gear off at the school, and have a look around. We dinghied to Elizabeth Bay and made the walk from there. It was about a 40 minute dinghy ride followed by a walk of about the same. We got to the bay at the end of the road, anchored the dinghy, said hello to the locals, and began our walk. It was cool to see all the gardens at the small houses planted along the way: cassava/manioc, potatoes, taro, breadfruit, mango, eggplant, kava, noni, and probably a lot more I didn't recognize. And always a few chooks roaming around the yards, with perhaps a skinny dog or three, and a few pigs. It was hot, hot, hot but we got to the village as planned, saying hello ("mawrhi" or something like that in the Banaban language) along the way.

The first building we came to was the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries Rabi Island office! So, we went in, said, hello, asked "the boss" a bunch of questions, and told him we were his American counterparts. He was affable and pointed out to us which fish had ciguatera (useful info, although still a bit spotty). I complimented him on his cool t-shirt (official shirt) with a really neat fish design and he offered it to me! Thinking that he probably wouldn't want a girly white t-shirt in exchange, I declined, but it was funny...and it was a really cool shirt. They should sell them!

Next it was on to the authorities to check in, but no one was home. Fine with me, I typically try to avoid the police anyway. And then we were off to the school, where Barbara and Michael had promised some sporting goods during their last visit here. On our way, we passed the preschool, where the kids were being read to outside. Since we did stick out, all the kids got excited when they saw us walking down the street and the teacher made them say hello to us in unison! Then Barbara asked a question and they answered in unison again. And lastly they all said "Bye!" all together! It cracked us up and put some big smiles on our faces!

We made it to the primary school, found the head teacher and her counterpart and told them we had brought the sporting goods—several balls of various sorts. She was pleased and implored us to come back to the school with "more things." The kids were curious about the visitors, the head teacher explained that there were some students studying for their annual exams, and that it was Friday, which is sports day. We decided not to create much more disruption and went on our way, picking up some eggs and cold sodas at the village store.

It was super hot and I was ready for a swim, but we decided to hit the coconut oil "factory" before heading back. It was really cool! The woman showed us how they get the meat out of the coconuts, press it, and ferment it to get the oil and then showed us the products they make with it: virgin coconut oil, essential oil scented coconut oil, and two kinds of soap. We thought the enterprise was well run and seemed to be doing some good for the community, creating a market for local coconuts and employing the villagers. We made a few purchases to support the local effort and headed on our way making the hot slog back to the dinghy. All in all, a very successful, if hot, trip to Nuku, which gave us a solid look at life on Rabi and a lot of smiles from the local kids.

I'll spare the details of the afternoon snorkel to prevent from boring the non-fish-head readers, but will say the cute fish of the snorkel was the Fiji Fangblenny, Plagiotremus flavus. We saw it poking out of a little hole and then it swam out to say hi. It was a little less cute once we read that it eats the scales of other fishes, which it aggressively attacks...okay, cuteness de-merits, but it is a cool looking fish. We also saw an octopus hiding.

Dinner tonight was steaks, mashed potatoes, pumpkin sauteed with ginger, and red is good.
At 9/23/2016 7:09 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°26.64'S 179°56.26'W

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Fish, Fish, More Fish

No, we still haven't caught any, but we have seen a ton, underwater, swimming around their little coral refuges. Our first full day in Albert Bay, we got in 3 snorkels, a walk on the beach to look for nautilus shells, and a visit to John on the beach. Vacation is busy!

The first snorkel of the day was a long kick out to the reef cut we sailed through on our way in. Mark loves these because the big stuff lurks in the deep. I love them because I can stay more shallow. We made our way there, and the first coral head we saw on the reef cut was so laden with small colorful fishes, our goals were met right then and there. But we spent an hour or two swimming around and saw lots of fun stuff. There was only one shark (small kine) and more fish than I could identify. But the cute fish of the trip was the Scalefin Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis). It is a beautiful purple and reddish number with a very long dorsal spine—easy to identify! We got hungry before we got cold and headed back for the next activity.

We made a quick change and were in to the beach to meet John and Pauline and their family. Pauline was in the town with two of the kids, but John and one of the kids was home and we had a nice chat, dropped off some food, and were offered pawpaw (papaya), of which we had plenty), and drinking coconuts, which we will need to go back and claim. There was also a little dog (whose name I think was Stanza, or something like it) who was happy and eager for attention, judging by the wagging tail. These guys have some prime real estate, but life is not easy—it's a boat ride and walk to the nearest village. But they have lots of coconut palms and we saw John and some friends fishing (with line, free-diving, and with a beach seine-like net) several times. So, they seem to get a lot of what they need.

After a quick but tasty lunch, we headed out for snorkel number two, which turned into snorkel number three. We wanted to check out the beach where Michael had previously found a nautilus shell. We also had to scout the lobster ledge. It was decided that Mark and I would get dropped out on the reef, have a look around for lobsters and swim to shore. So away we went, and within seconds we were on our way further away! The current was ripping, but we were already looking at the motor-end of the dinghy, so we made our lobster reconnaissance short and got a boogie on and headed to shore. We didn't get a great look at many fish, as we seemed to be just zooming by, but we did see a very long, skinny sea cucumber in the shallows that was notable—it must have been 10' long! We got to the beach and decided to do some shell hunting and tide pooling. No nautilus shells, but we did have a fun time finding some less dramatic ones and watching the local hermit crabs scurry up and down the beach with their hermit crab homes.

We headed back to the good ship Astarte, and on the way, Barbara, Mark, and I jumped off for another snorkel. The reef is kind of rubbly (same one as our first day here), but there was lots to see. One coral head had these really nifty bright-blue edged scallops embedded in it. We also saw a fish cleaning station with the cleaner wrasse hard at work, and a few live cowries. The cute fish of the snorkel was the Jewelled Blenny, Salarias fascitus. We found him and his bushy eyebrows hiding in a rock and thought he was pretty cool. Not the bright colors of the dasycllus and wrasses, but an interesting fish with a cute mug all the same.

And with that, our activities were done and Barbara set to work creating goat curry. It was delicious, especially with the local pumpkin and sweet potatoes in it. We could have added a few more of those spicy peppers we bought in Savusavu, but Barbara served them on the side!
At 9/23/2016 7:08 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°26.64'S 179°56.26'W

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

No Fish, Beautiful Anchorage, Fine Weather

We made the passage from Nasasobu to Rabi. Again, zero fish were caught. We saw fish, we heard fish, but neither Oreo Cookie Wrapper/Coke Bottle Cap, nor Mexican Flag, nor Zucchini caught anything. Blah. The passage was smooth, health was maintained, but with current and wind on the nose, the speed was slightly below prime fish-catching speed. At least that's our excuse. But tonight is goat curry night, so we won't starve.

We are anchored up in Albert Cove on the northwest side of Rabi (pronounced Ramby, see previous blog post from a few months ago about the history). The short version is that the people who live here are Banaban, from Kiribati—they were resettled after phosphate mining-related greed resulted in the loss of their native land. We have yet to go ashore, so that's about all I can write at this point, but we hope to meet the family who lives on this cove and go into town for a cultural excursion tomorrow.

Upon anchoring, Mark and I got in the water for our first swim here. The reef closest to the boat is along shore and seems to have suffered some storm damage from the cyclone, but it is great to see the corals bouncing back. And even though it wasn't the most picture perfect reef in the world (unlike the anchorage, which may just be the most picture perfect anchorage in the world), the variety of corals is amazing. We saw our first giant clams (Tridacna), cowries (alive), and lots of fish. The cute fish of the day was the Humbug Dascyllus (D. aruanus). I saw several branching corals just swarming with all sizes of these guys (from 1 cm-6 cm) and liked them. It looks like our waterproof camera gave up the ghost, so our collection of underwater photos may be a bit limited from this trip. Bummer. But we did get a few snaps from this reef.

Today is for exploring and we will snorkel a few places, have a walk on the beaches to look for shells, and do a little looking at the purported lobster hole. This place is gorgeous, we are the only boat here, and I am looking forward to a lot of time in the water!
At 9/20/2016 4:08 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°45.04'S 179°51.09'E

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Guests Aboard, Errands Done, Fishing Derby Has Commenced

I'll cut to the chase: After one day of fishing, the score stands as follows:
Team Nelcinski: 0
Team Hawkcinski: 0
Both teams had bites, but neither Zucchini, Mexican Flag, nor "the pretty one" (Team Nelcinski) caught anything; nor did Oreo cookie/bottle cap (Team Hawkcinski). We shall try again tomorrow, with the same batch of lures, but maybe slightly different pep rallies before they go in the water.

But back to the beginning...

We made it without much ado to Fiji. We completely lost Saturday with the dateline and overnight flight, but to make up for it, we had the longest Sunday in the history of Sundays waiting for our puddle jumper from Nadi (the major city on Viti Levu) to Savusavu (on Vanua Levu), the rendezvous point. Mark and I sat in the Nadi domestic terminal from about 0600 to 1430...we watched all the planes come and go and tried all of the fried items available at the cafe as well as some lamb curry and the two domestic brews and some samosas, and watched more vintage Bollywood than we ever thought we could watch. Finally, our Twin Otter headed out to Savusavu. The landing did not quite reach the eye-raising approach of the San Blas flight on the same aircraft, but it was exciting coming over the palm-dotted hilltop onto the landing strip. We did note that they actually mow the grass at the airstrip here rather than letting the props do that job—civilized.

We got to the Copra Shed Marina and settled on Astarte. This isn't our first rodeo, but we got the necessary refreshers and decided to head out for a walk to see a bit of Savusavu and stretch our legs/backs/brains. We passed a few shops and got to the hot pools, where only one burlap sack full of we-aren't-sure-what was cooking—unlike the Icelandic hot pools where you'll find people soaking, these were super hot and people use them for cooking. And they more resembled hot puddles than pools, but cool all the same. We passed some fields with lots of kids and adults playing rugby, soccer, and volleyball—nice to see the locals out and about on a pleasant Sunday. We passed chickens, dogs, and a few goats. The curry shop was about to close, so we decided to do dinner at the marina and enjoyed a much needed shower and a few beers while listening to a band and enjoying our dinner and some catching up.

Monday began early, with a long list of errands to run. This was part of the plan, as Mark and I wanted to see some of the town and we try to never miss a local vegetable market, as it's always a treat to see what's being grown and sold locally. We bought some school supplies and a variety of sports balls to hand out to some of the local schools once we get to more remote places. We also had to get Mark a sulu to wear should the need for sevusevu (the customary offering of kava to the local chiefs) arise. And we needed beer. The veggie market was fun—there were Fijians and Indo-Fijians selling a wide variety of produce and spices. We got some mystery hot peppers, some intriguing citrus, two types of curry powder, and a handful of very recognizable vegetables and fruits. All errands were completed and we were ready to roll by noon...anchors aweigh.

Our first destination was close by, so we were able to anchor up and then Mark and I took the dinghy to Split Rock. We didn't know it was Split Rock until we got nearby and a staff member from the Cousteau Resort who was taking a guest snorkeling told us and let us tie up to their mooring ball. We had a nice swim, saw tons of colorful fishes, and then got cold. Nice to be in the water though! We were treated to a yummy dinner and cashed in pretty early, knowing that today we had an early start.

And we were up at 0545 prepping for the long run to Nasasobu...with a few Sobos aboard. It was a pretty pleasant day for a motor-sail, with just a small but persistent roll. Most of us did okay, but one recent arrival who was keen to catch a fish decided he would chum for them to increase his odds. The seas settled and health was returned. The chumming didn't help. By the time we came through the cut in the reef here, it was flat calm and we managed that task with little drama. Because we have a short stay here, we decided sevusevu wasn't necessary and opted for a swim to a little reef a short distance from the boat and near the mangroves. Highlights included a pair of creamy nudibanchs, a blue spotted ribbontail ray, and a variety of very colorful fishes. We saw some electric blue chromis, lots of damselfish, Nemos, moorish idols, blue and yellow-lipped Picasso triggerfish, and lots of butterflyfish, which are amazingly difficult to tell apart. The camera was left behind...again. Ooops. The little reef suffered some damage from the cyclone last Feb., but the staghorn corals were beginning to bounce back, the soft corals were very active, and there were lots of fish!

We had to get back to the boat to prep for bats and rum drinks--we had plans to watch the fruit bats make their nightly migration while having our rum drinks, which I have decided should be called "Batsan' Rums". They did not disappoint, but have actually been pretty active all afternoon, so we've gotten a good bat show. Dinner was a delicious green bean and eggplant curry. And now we're calling it a night, as we have another long run tomorrow, before we sit still for a few days. The southeast end of Vanua Levu is beautiful and we can see hilly Taveuni across the strait. We'll continue a bit more east and then head north toward Rabi tomorrow. Off to a great start and enjoying being the only boat in this anchorage for the night!
At 9/20/2016 4:08 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°45.04'S 179°51.09'E

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