Shiver me timbers

Written by David Townsend

16, September 2007

Position 17°46’391S 177°11’118E

At anchor Musket Cove, Mololo Lailai Island, Fiji, South Pacific Ocean.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

Firstly my apologies to all that may have sent emails, I been spending 4 hours a day trying to get a connection for the past 21 days. I have been unable to do so due to bad propagation which means what signal there is, is very weak, that, and many of my fellow ‘cruisers’ do not listen to see if the frequency is clear before transmitting, thereby going over the top of other signals, thus you loose your connection, if you do manage to get one :-(

I have therefore given up trying for most of the time, just attempting now and them.

Shiver me timbers, and welcome to Musket Cove, a private Island in the South Pacific.

Life Onboard:

Although briefly mentioned last week, this was such a wonderful sight I thought I would elaborate a little more;

The sea is a wonderful place for within an hour or so of leaving the Kingdom Of Tonga we had a mother and baby (Humpback whale) frolicking alongside, it is such an amazing sight, I am always truly humbled when I see these great creatures playing. Here is a brief background into these marvellous mammals.

The Humpback Whale’s migration to Tonga covers many of thousands of miles, they come to the warm protected waters every year to give birth and mate. Like all whales and dolphins Humpbacks are warm blooded, air breathing mammals that give birth to live young and who suckle on their mother’s milk. Humpbacks engage in fantastic courtship and mating behaviour, which can last many hours. Pregnancy for these enormous creatures is about twelve months.

The underside of each Humpback’s tail / fluke is unique and by photographing these scientists have identified individuals here in Tonga. Humpback’s, like all whales, are sonic creatures who rely on mostly on hearing. The Humpbacks are known for their detailed whale songs. Like human songs they employ syllables and rhyming phrases to produce detailed themes that are repeated in an ordered manner to make up a song.

Humpback Whales are among the most studied of all large whales because they are often in shallow coastal waters, which make them available to humans. This trail has also been their downfall. At one time as many as 150,000 Humpbacks roamed the world seas. Beginning in the early 1800’s and continuing into the 1960’s, Humpbacks suffered uncontrolled slaughter. It is estimated only 12,000 Humpbacks remain worldwide.

Ok, back to this week. At 21:25 on Sunday the 9th September I am officially half way around the world from Greenwich after passing 180 degrees Longitude, some 827 days since my voyages upon ‘Lifes Ocean’ began. The day following our arrival in Fiji, Brian my crew for the past few weeks had a flight arranged back home however light winds caused us to change our port of call in Fiji, instead of ‘Lautoka’ we would head for ‘Suva’. Suva is home to the ‘Royal Suva Yacht Club’, which by coincident was celebrating it’s 75th anniversary. This is the oldest colonial yacht club in the Pacific; a semi ordinary wooden structured building on the outside but inside it was little bit England. Rich wooden beams, pictures of the Queen hung on the walls. Full of ex-pats and the higher end locals it was an interesting place. Although not my scene it cannot help but send goose bumps though you.

The following day, my crew on their way home I departed for the 24hr sail to Musket Cove. Although the weather forecast mentioned winds of around 20 – 25kn, this would be a costal passage so it should not be too bad, yeh right. With winds reaching 38kn and form the first time Pinta running under bare polls yet still reaching speeds of over 6ktn I tried to slow Pinta down for Mololo Lailai Island was surrounded by reefs and not one to entered during darkness. I arrived off the island at an hour or so before sunrise, I was joined by another vessel SV Dianises. We chatted for a while, passed on our intentions then both heave too until sunrise.

Mololo Lailai Island is a beautiful little island purchased by two Australian’s several years ago and now sailing ‘Mecca’ in these parts. A bit too touristy for me but worth a visit, that and I had the opportunity to meet up withy some old friends made it worthwhile. I am sorry to say I will not be able to make the wet t-shirt competition tomorrow, but then I have seen the competitors, and I will not be missing much (laugh). Pinta requires my attention for I am getting her ready for what can often be an ‘interesting’ sail down to New Zealand.

I will just be moving around, island-to-island within Fiji waiting for a weather window to sail to New Zealand. The problem being that spring is coming to an end in NZ soon and so the weather needs to stabilise somewhat before committing to the passage. The weather in NZ is the same as England albeit 10 degrees warmer, they have the same weather patterns, so basically think of England in March / April; that is the weather patterns they are having now. By November they should be stable enough to venture forth although at least one gale is expected during this passage. November in the Pacific brings the cyclone season; this is not the place to be from there on.

Oh the joy being in Fiji, for this is a relatively cheap to be compared to the rest of the Pacific, the Islands where you can order a pizza and four beers for £6.70p

Where, although under a different name, i.e. Watters or to you and me Heinz the best of English. Baked beans like no other, bacon and, YES English brown sauce. It’s amazing the simple little things in life you miss while being away from one’s home county. Shame about the rugby.

Late Monday evening there was a boating accident some 15m directly behind Pinta, two dinghies travel at speed, in the dark, without lights. I heard the two collided then children screaming, I rushed topside, dingy keys and torch in hand. As I got closer I could see a man in the water rescuing a child, two other children were screaming in the dinghy. Their mother, in shock. Once they were all back in the dinghy they returned to their boat, a nurse on one of the yachts here accompanied them. In that dinghy they all escaped injury, I later found out that the other dinghy involved carried on into the marina. One of the occupants had a fractured skull; the other occupant had lacerations to his chest and arm, also a broken shoulder. A doctor, who was drinking at the bar gave first aid until arrangements could be made to get them off the island.

The Boat:

It has been, and will be a week of cleaning ship and getting her ready for her last voyage on the South Pacific Ocean, that being to New Zealand.

Although not technically a boat thing the USB mouse, which stopped working when Pinta got hit by the waves mentioned during out passage to Tonga, when the mouse got thrown across ship, well I have managed to strip it down and get it working once again. A finger saver.

Fair winds, calm seas.