15/07/2014 – Must do better.

I am so sorry that I haven't written a log for two weeks, somehow the time has disappeared and we have done quite a lot in the intervening days. I'm sure my Report Card would read 'Must do better' under the subject 'Communications' We finally received an e-mailed copy of the missing paperwork early Wednesday afternoon so cast off to make our way to the rendez-vous at Musket Cove. It was great to catch up with friends whom we hadn't seen for several weeks but also sad to have to say goodbye to them. At the dinner on Thursday evening we were given a plaque to record Starblazer's participation in World ARC 2014/15, our final event of the rally. We join up next year with the World ARC 2015/16 rally. On Friday, a day earlier than planned because of a threatened weather system near Vanuatu, the first of the rally boats started leaving. All but 2 of the boats which had reached Musket Cove had left by Saturday afternoon. We had a very enjoyable evening on board Merlyn of Poole and I'm sure we will meet again since they live about 30 miles from us in the UK. We are not alone in dropping out of the rally in Fiji; about 10 boats are planning to spend the southern summer in New Zealand and we have loose plans to keep in contact. We returned to Vuda Marina on Tuesday with the intention of getting as many boat jobs done as possible before our trip to Hong Kong. One important task was to visit Immigration in Lautoka to get a letter confirming that we will eventually leave the country on Starblazer. Without the letter we could be barred from flying back to Fiji as we would only have a one way ticket. We hired a car, John visited immigration in Lautoka while I did some shopping in the supermarket opposite (handy free car park!), then we headed south to Denerau. The marina itself looks a bit run down with ferries and tripper boats taking up two pontoons but the infrastructure shoreside is very well developed as it is surrounded by a large holiday complex complete with 18 hole 'Championship' golf course which looked lovely. John managed to buy a new filter housing to replace one with a cracked lid in the watermaker feed and was given the name of a company where he could buy nylon hose tails to screw into the lids. The lid had cracked along the moulding lines, possibly caused by the brass hose tails screwed in, and this resulted in a fine jet of water escaping whenever the lift pump was switched on. The Volvo Penta agent finally managed to find the part number for a relay which had broken when John removed the thermostat housing, trying to find where all the freshwater cooling water was leaking from. He later e-mailed John a price, approximately £55 excluding shipping from New Zealand, import duty etc. No thank you, a local car electronics place in Vuda Marina sourced a suitable one on Friday for £20! The other part he wanted, an inch long tube like an extended 'O' ring, was much cheaper but they wouldn't quote for delivery, import duty etc. so he'll put the engine back together with high temperature silicone to help the worn surfaces of the old one bed down properly. The replacement will have to wait until New Zealand The shopping expedition to Denerau was worth it because, apart from the filter housing, we managed to find some inexpensive, well made shorts for John! On the way back towards Vuda we found the hardware store where John bought the nylon hose tails so that is one job he managed to complete on Friday. More shopping, you can't pass a good supermarket without wandering around looking for items we have run out of or just fancy buying! Good supermarkets have been hard to find since Tahiti. We have had ongoing problems with the pressurised water system, getting through water pumps at an unprecedented rate. The failure rate of the pressure switches has been so high John has taken to buying pumps two at a time and they are not cheap. The final working pump stopped working on Saturday morning, again with a failed pressure switch. We can still get water to the taps but it is wasteful and needs forethought. John has bypassed the pressure switch so the order of operations is 1) turn on the tap; 2) switch on the circuit breaker for the waterpump on the main electrical panel; 3) rush back to the tap to use the water as required; 4) turn off the tap; 5) turn the circuit breaker off. Caution: don't soap up your hands before steps 1 and 2, remember step 5 otherwise the pump will run permanently, the pressure will mount and either the pump will burn out or something will give in the plumbing and we'll empty our fresh water into the bilge again. Problems! We left Starblazer safely tied up in Vuda Marina and Ali, a Vuda Marina taxi driver, took us to the airport on Saturday evening for our 2200hrs flight to Hong Kong. We return on Tuesday 22nd and have to put the engine back together before we can start exploring Fiji. We will reactivate Yellowbrick and we now have satellite coverage for SPOT which we will press regularly. If you look at our SPOT position, don't get alarmed, we didn't airfreight Starblazer to Hong Kong! Next sailing log will be posted from Fiji, I'll try to write a log about Hong Kong and post it to our webpage once we find out why my logs aren't reaching it at the moment. We wish all our friends continuing with World ARC good, safe sailing and enjoy Australia, we will follow in 12 months time. Joyce Stop Press: John has just returned from a shopping expedition to Kowloon, within walking distance of Richard and Steph's flat. He has returned with two stand alone pressure switches and the brass fittings to insert one in the water system. Success. He has also found a 6" and a 4" three-legged puller (£11 & £8 respectively), a new pressure gauge for the watermaker, batteries and spares for two watches and glue sticks for the hot glue gun. The money we are saving on spare parts here will go some way to paying for our flights!

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