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Published: July 25th 2008
Alvei in Lautoka
You can make out the ship just barely on the right.
July 22, 2008 Port Vila, Vanuatu
I’m sorry to be so slow with the updates. It’s just that my time here doesn’t belong entirely to me. There is a major time crunch with the purchase of supplies and I find myself with little time to upload photos.
To catch up a bit…
There we were in Fiji. Lautoka turned out to be smaller than Suva but equally as dirty. It’s an industry town with a container ship pier. One of Fiji’s greatest exports is sugar and the country’s largest refinery was there in Lautoka. The smell of factories left much to be desired, but the pollution made for great sunsets.
We were only there for a few days but I took off for a recruiting trip anyway. Luc the Frenchman was leaving our number and we figured that another deckhand would make the passage easier. On our second day in Lautoka I caught a chicken bus to Nadi, the backpacker haven of Fiji. There was a great deal of walking and talking so at the end of the day my feet and throat were sore. I picked up lodging in a hostel and crashed out for the
Recruiting trip to Nadi
Look at all the prospective crew lining the beach.
night. There was a lot of interest from the backpacker crowd but only two real prospects. So many travelers there were on 'The Fiji Experience.' This tour package was a lumped bundle deal that told people where to be and when to be there. The back packers were scheduled so completely that they were told when to eat, when to sleep, and maybe even when to use the head. I was really disappointed in the whole scheme of it. The people involved weren’t real backpackers in my mind. There were just another batch of tourists like the cruise ship pink people that pollute the islands here in the South Pacific.
Oddly enough, I think I managed to rope a crewman while there in Nadi. He just made it to the jetty in Lautoka as we were weighing anchor. I saw him from the deck and wished that we could have turned around for him, but was a day late and a dollar short. We had already cleared customs and there was no turning back.
That afternoon we motored to a sheltered anchorage halfway between Lautoka and Nadi. The plan was to stay the night there, swing the compass
Swinging the Compass
Spinning 'round in Nadi waters.
in Nadi waters the next morning, and then head off for Vanutau by the early afternoon. It went off without a hitch and by 2:30 the following afternoon we were on our way.
Swinging the compass is like tuning a car. It has to be done every few years to balance out the magnetic inconsistencies of the ship. The compass points pretty true but there is a correction table to offset the slight magnetic differences of the ship. Swinging the compass gives you measurements to make a new correction table. When we fill out logs every hour, the compass heading is corrected by two integers: Variation and Deviation. The variation has to do with our location on the earth (this is gathered from the navigational charts that we follow). The deviation is added or subtracted due to the deviation table we recreate every couple years. In the photos you’ll see Evan looking into a fancy little gizmo set up on the compass and Kat taking down notation. I steered the ship and looked on curiously.
The passage to Vanuatu was another record setter. I’m now proud to say that I’ve sailed Alvei on the record slowest passage (Brisbane
Sunset at sea.
Time to douche the decks.
to Suva ’07) and the record fastest passage (Nadi to Port Vila ’08). The average cruising speed for Alvei is around 3 knots. Sometimes the ship will meander along at 1 or 0.8 knots. This most recent passage saw an average cruising speed of 6 knots with a peak at 8.3. For a few moments things would calm down with the wind and sea, dropping our speed to 4.5. We laughed at the thought that we were going slow on those watches. Truth be told we were flying along with only two sails set.
It was amazing to see the new square sails in action. The Fore Course (the lower of the two) and the Fore Top’s’l (the higher of the two) were all that we needed for the whole passage. We never changed sail once. There was a bit of bracing as the wind shifted, but other than that we never handled the lines.
The crew was a good one. Only eight, but we got the job done. On the fore watch sat Evan and Niklaus the Swede. Main watch saw Kat, Swede
Hard seas to sail
Sunrise after a rocky night. 3 - 5 meter swells.
Marie, and Brit Rose. Mizzen watch had Rosie the Kiwi, Elena the Brit, me. Overall the passage should have taken the better part of a week and a half, but we sailed under the most ideal circumstances and made it in under half a week. Imagine, if you will, playing poker for 4 days straight and drawing a Royal Flush every hand. All told, the passage took us 4 days in total right down to the minute.
Once in Vila, things slowed down a notch or two. They always do. No matter how hard you try to rush, things here slow you down. There’s just a different time continuum here. Everything is slower. It all runs on Island time. I’ve met with a number of suppliers to negotiate parts for the project but it is a slow and time-consuming occupation. Henk and Nellecke have been very helpful and I’ve met with them several times in the past few days. More crew arrive daily and it looks as though our bunks will be filled to capacity for the Banem Bay expedition. Rosie will be the official cook for the month but she’ll get relief two days a week. I
Overhauling lines on the top's'l is WAY more intense than doing so on the course sail. (Borreson can explain this one)
like the set-up of this situation because Rosie is one hell of a cook. I’m glad she got the job.
As usual there will be delays in our departure. The Project MARC container which was suppose to be delivered two months ago has yet to arrive. After being mistakenly delivered to Hong Kong instead of Fiji, it was rerouted to Aukland. Instead of passing through there as transit cargo it was held up in customs for some unknown reason. Now we wait for the container to come up from New Zealand but with two national holidays and two cruise ships scheduled, things look likely to be delayed.
Outside of the work here in Vila there has been a little time for play. I made out to a run with the Hash House Harriers last Monday. They're a good lot but they do incredibly short runs. Last year in San Diego Tom, Preston and I ran a good 8 miles for a Hash run with the Marines. Here in Vila the jog took 25 minutes through the jungle and I’d be surprised if we even made it two miles. There were only two false trails but an awful lot
The Kat Watch
Here' the watch we relieved at 4AM.
of shiggy. For the hashers out there reading this…the hares in Vila don’t run ahead of the pack. They pre-set the trail before the run, and then take care of administrating the after-hash festivities. I had three down-downs at the end of things. One as a visitor, one for using a camera on the run, and one for jumping onto the bumper of a car for the last 50 meters of the race. It turned out to be good night.
We also had a party on the ship for our first weekend back in town. It was the usual hull scraping party where nobody scraped the hull. There must have been 150 people on deck, including the string band that we hired for the event. Everyone had a good time.
Hope you’re all good,
Tot: 0.432s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 5; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0127s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb