Vuda Marina for a new Furler

We dropped anchor outside Vuda and took the dinghy in for dinner. We’d gotten a recommendation for an indian place down the road, so we took a walk and ended up at the Nila Resort’s restaurant. The food was pretty terrible, actually, but the sunset view was great, and we saw lots of lizards and frogs on our walk back.

We woke up the next morning to find ourselves anchored at the starting line of an outrigger race. Everyone was very excited, because the Fiji Changeover, this 50km race through the islands, hadn’t happened in ten years. It was cool to get this front-row seat, though we felt a little bad about being right in the way. If someone had told us about it we would have moved!

After the boats disappeared into the distance, we dinghied into the marina and arranged to pick up a center mooring later in the day: it was time to install the new furler, and we needed some reliably flat water to do it in. Since it would be a couple of hours before the ball was ready, we grabbed a taxi into the Lautoka market, which was overwhelmingly huge and sprawling and packed full of fruits and vegetables.

When we came back, we were told that actually the ball wouldn’t be ready for us until 4pm. Mildly annoying, but OK: we sent Jazz up the mast in the anchorage while we waited, to put on the new wrap-stop and tie on the ropes that would hold the mast up when we took down the forestay. She was going to attach the new antenna as well, but this is when we discovered that the cat had eaten it. Ah well. One less task up the mast meant less time aloft, but between the roll and the passing wakes, Jazz still ended up with bruised legs.

When we got Jazz down, we called into the marina and they told us to come in. We’d expected to go to the new west basin, by the entrance, but they put us in the more protected but busier east basin instead. Flatter water, but also slightly less breeze and more bugs. Captain was thrilled.

The first step to getting the new furler on was taking off the old sail. While we had it down, we took some time to sew all the places on the UV strip where the stitching had gone (either due to time or due to our wind event on the way to Wallis). Managing a big sail in the confines of the salon is always a challenge; we managed it this time with some creative desk setup, and by leaving most of the sail outside, just bringing in one section at a time. This was Jazz’s first time sewing while standing, which presented some new challenges, though at least her foot was still intact at this point…

Interlude: life in the fishbowl, with copious supplies of our favorite herb (cilantro!) courtesy of the Lautoka market. It was weird being back in a marina, and doubly so in the reverse-panopticon of the center mooring. Pictured out the window is Django, another boat we’ve been running into since Panama. Sailing is a small world.

Our first day of work was frequently interrupted with requests to move our boat, by dragging one or both ends towards a different ball at the edge of the circle. The travel-lift for monhulls is in the inside of the basin, and several boats had to come through the space we might otherwise have occupied. One didn’t even have a working engine, and had to be towed by a team of dinghies! The first time this happened, they came up to us as we’d just detached the forestay for the first time; not the best timing for getting our full attention. The yard wanted all the monohulls to back into the lift, and literally every boat that passed by warned them “We don’t back up very well.” Most gave specific warnings about what their boat would do, were talked out of doing what they wanted to do, and then the thing that they warned would happen happened. Life lesson: the yard does not know your boat like you do. The picture doesn’t really show all the tiny mooring balls in front of all the boats, nor the stark concrete pillars of the ramp. We felt pretty bad for the boat in the line of fire right next to the ramp.

All of this movement and re-jiggering slowed down our demolition of the old furler, but not as much as the seized set screws did. Nearly half the screws attaching the furler to the bearings underneath it had seized and/or stripped and needed to be drilled out. Then once we got the old furler off, we found that the new furler extrusions were simply unwilling to slide over the swage at the bottom of the forestay. We would have to make it smaller, so out came the Dremel. In hindsight, we wish we had done this before abusing ourselves trying to get the old furler off.

Between the drilling and dremelling, we ended up with a lot of metal shards lying around. This is a bigger problem for Jazz, as she’s allergic to both the aluminum and the stainless steel, so Andrew spent some time digging the fragments out of her feet before the swelling could kick in. Captain, fortunately, steered well clear of the construction zone, though he did keep a good watch.

Not a great watch, though: our cat utterly failed to deter birds from landing on the boat and shitting all over the place. We had to wash the boat anyway to get rid of all the metal shards, but the constant onslaught did make it feel a little Sisyphean. Especially since from the center mooring we needed to carry wash water to the boat in buckets. We tried putting up a disco ball as a deterrent; it was not super effective.

But we got the boat washed, and made a valiant effort to scrub the jib, and got the furler put the rest of the way together – there it is in the corner, as Sauce Sea passes on their way to the launch ramp! (For whatever reason, the pace of lifts and launches continued, but the marina stopped asking us to move. Maybe the weekend staff is just more cautious?)

That night was Halloween, so we got into our trusty pirate costumes and went out to the marina restaurant. We were the only grownups to dress up, but that’s been our last few years so we weren’t surprised, and we had a great time sitting at the young-and-childless table while the many marina kids rampaged outside.

We had now finished our mandated marina project, and fell into the Since We’re Here hole. It turned out that “unskilled” day labor was very cheap, so we hired a guy to help wax the boat, and sent our laundry out to be cleaned by a local shop. Except for the one load we didn’t trust them not to ruin, which Jazz washed and hung on the amazingly convenient marina laundry lines. Tired from working all day, we went back to the marina restaurant for a “quick dinner” at “half-price pizza night”. Neither of those things materialized, as apparently they only make 50 pizza crusts for the weekly event and routinely run out in the first half hour, and then the kitchen is overloaded and slow the rest of the night. So we had another night of drinks with fun young people; darn.

At this point we were about ready to go, but were still licking our wounds; Andrew had julienned his fingers putting the furling drum on, and Jazz had… tripped on a pool noodle and broken her toe.

Plus, another boat asked us for help with their haul out, so we went over and handled lines on their big fancy race boat. It was interesting to watch a boat get blocked onto a tractor, though it would likely have been more comfortable for everyone on board if we understood what the workers were shouting to each other in Fijian the whole time.

At this point we were starting to get yard-crazy, and it was time to get out. So we had one more smooth calm night baking in the dead air and getting eaten alive despite the screens, or maybe on our way back from the showers. And we sent Jazz up the mast to take off the temporary forestays, just so much easier in the flat water than in even a calm anchorage. Then we checked out of the marina and headed back out to the islands. New furler, new furling line, new turning block: mission accomplished!

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