29/09/2014 – Back in Vuda

Our few days in the idyllic Blue Lagoon were spent working! Sadly, we didn't have a chance to go ashore so that will have to wait until next year. John spent Friday removing and dismantling the engine freshwater pump, largely with a big hammer. The first very obvious fault he found was where a caged ball race in a bearing had disintegrated, leaving the balls rattling around. The second major fault was at the other end of the pump where a seal with a sprung component in it had separated into three parts. Additionally, the rubber tube which had been leaking before had now split. All John could do was rebuild the pump with an extra O ring and copious quantities of waterproof grease. On Saturday morning he phoned a supplier in New Zealand. Within 30 minutes of receiving our e-mailed parts list we received an e-mail stating the price and that they could source all of the required parts in NZ on Monday. We placed the order, then John set about reinstalling the pump. Sunday morning we cautiously started the engine, it didn't leak! We motorsailed through the reef and shallows infested sea between the islands then cut the engine and sailed on genoa alone towards the pass into Naviti. As we approached the pass we switched the engine back on and followed our trail from our exit a few days previously. Just as we started to sail again the engine alarm went off. We managed to sail all the way round to an anchorage behind Manta Ray Resort and only used the engine for the last few minutes to anchor. The water leak was much worse so John installed a hosepipe from one of the outlets on a distribution manifold in the engine room. Murphy's law says it had to be the one to the galley sink! Monday morning we started a little later than planned, used the engine to pull up the anchor, sailed off, used the engine again when the wind headed us in a narrow pass between two islands for about 5 minutes then sailed all day. Wind speed varied between 1 and 22 knots, boat speed varied from 0 to more than 6 knots! At one point our eta at Vuda Point was about 1800 but it went out to 2300 and, at one point, 0800 Tuesday, not good. It isn't recommended to sail in the dark around here, however we had no option. At about 1900, roughly 8 miles from Vuda, the wind went round 180 degrees and rose from less than 5 knots to 20. While the increase was welcome, the change in direction wasn't, it was coming directly from Vuda. We managed a close beat which took us between several low, unlit sand cays which fortunately showed up on the radar overlay on the chart plotter. When the waypoint to Vuda Point started to get further away we tacked because we thought we could make the required course. It worked. As we closed with the waypoint I spotted the yellow quarantine buoy. I topped up the water reservoir then went forward to hook the buoy while John started the engine, just in case it all went pear shaped. Success at the first attempt, neither of us has picked up a buoy under sail since some RYA sailing courses more than 25 years ago! Total distance sailed about 40-45 nM, time taken 11 hrs 50 mins, not fast but satisfying. Tuesday morning we came into the marina, topping up the water twice in a few hundred yards. The parts were collected by DHL this morning, stunning service from Ovlov Marine. John removed the pump again and talked to Yachthelp Fiji who are the Volvo Penta agents here. Ajesh, one of their engineers, is based at Vuda Point and described to John what the internal bits of the pump should look like and seemed to have a good idea of what needed doing once the parts arrive. Since John already knew what was inside and what the problems were he was happy for Ajesh to do the re-build in his workshop. The package was delivered to the marina early Thursday afternoon but the office didn't call us. This morning (Friday) John collected the packaged, sorted out the parts Ajesh would need, then delivered them. Early afternoon Ajesh returned the rebuilt pump, what a service. In the next couple of days John will rebuild the engine cooling system and we are hoping to be ready to clear out on Monday. Amongst all the problems we have had recently, I realise I mentioned a diesel leak to the generator. In Denerau John spent quite a lot of time tracking the problem. Like the power cable a few weeks previously, it had chafed through where it had been trapped under the generator. When we installed the new diesel engine in the generator in Tahiti it wasn't easy to lift and position a unit weighing about 75 kg in a tight space the other side of the main engine by just the two of us. Accidents happen and both the power feed and the diesel line got trapped. At least the repair was inexpensive. Cruising isn't all doom and gloom, waiting for the next thing to break, it is also about the people you meet. This morning Spruce came into Vuda Point to clear out of Fiji. We tried to look at the boat which became Spruce back in July 2010 but were told it was 'under offer'. 6 months later the same boat, subsequently renamed Spruce, came to Trafalgar Wharf near Portsmouth (UK) where Starblazer, our 'new' boat, was out of the water for anti-fouling etc. and we met Sue and Andy. This is the first time our paths have crossed since spring 2011. Joyce

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