Outboard problems - TG for helpful fishermen!!

Wed 20th June
Didn't finally anchor off Queen's Wharf at Lautoka until about 4.30pm - too late for Clearance. A really strong NE (15-20 kn) wind came up this afternoon - as I was heading N & NE! So had to bash into 20-25kn apparent with chop building up - took way longer to get there than expected and then mosied around trying to decide where would be sensible to anchor in that wind - usual anchorage was wide open to NE wind & big chop so came around to SW of Queens Wharf in lee of Vio Island. Fine mud, so
anchor dragged quite a bit initially, but wind then died right down, so safe overnight (put more chain down...) Sunset was lovely - looking over a clear expanse of water towards a few islands way over on the horizon (usual lovely delicate colourings & bright 'evening star' near crescent moon ). Wanted to get up early to be waiting for 8am Customs opening, to get away towards Vanuatu (Port Vila) straight after. Noticed fuel seemed to be leaking from 'new' outboard....

Thurs 21st June
I arrived at the door of Customs/Immigration promptly around 8 a.m., despite having had to get towed in by helpful fishermen when the outboard stopped & I drifted well away from 'Nereida' and couldn't row back fast enough against the freshening breeze... One oar doesn't fit the rowlock properly and always keeps popping out - that doesn't help the rowing efforts. I had taken spare fuel, but actually couldn't undo the engine fuel tank cap - they'd fastened it too tightly the day before...!! And basically,
it had simply run out of fuel ...it having leaked out overnight...!

Finally, after giving me various instructions & their having also changed the gear oil for me, my outboard was carried back for me to the dinghy near Customs - first by the young lad & then by one of the security guards at the Customs gate - who wanted to know if I would find him a wife in England!! I then started off fine - but soon after, the engine died ... I suddenly realised that the fuel line had been closed ready for carrying the engine back to the dinghy ... but the switch was stuck tight
in the casing .... I couldn't budge it until I remembered I had a 'Leatherman' in my bag & so was able to prise it open... all this time I was drifting away from shore!! So I finally made it back to 'Nereida' (anchored a good distance off) & got almost to within arm's reach when the engine died again....no!... I couldn't start it... looked in the tank, not much there, so topped it up .... but still couldn't get it to keep going once started....Of course, I'd drifted well away from the boat by now...tried
rowing .... no use.... So got yet another tow in after signalling to a passing fishing boat (who thought I was just giving a lengthy, friendly wave - they only came to me when I frantically beckoned to them!!) They were all highly amused...!! I was lucky to be anchored in the path of fishermen returning to their little harbour... What makes you think I have no confidence in this 'new' outboard...??

I lifted the dinghy, raised the anchor & sailed away, late in the day, goose-winged eventually, downwind in a lovely 20 knot breeze, but that gradually died until by sunset, there was nothing. I motored on as the sky darkened & headed for the reef & Navula Passage. The pass is very wide & there was no problem seeing the flashing light on the N side, nor the quick flashing leading lights in Momi Bay behind me.... so although I came out through the reef in total darkness, I felt quite comfortable
- & the Navionics charts on the chartplotter helped in that they were, again, correctly positioned, as I could see when I passed (in good deep water!) quite close to the flashing reef light, following the (back) leading lights. I'd hoped to make that passage in daylight, but it's clearly perfectly safe at night.

Fri 22nd June
I'm now headed due west to Port Vila, Efate Island (Vanuatu) in light winds, with hot sun & not much swell. Decided to clean & adjust galley portlight - ended up taking entire inside fittings off because I'd forgotten how to adjust hinges.... good move because all now spotless (for the moment!) & hinges nice & tight. Ended up cleaning a lot of the Lautoka smuts off the deck also - no mistaking a boat that's just cleared Customs in Lautoka - smothered in black specks & cane particles from the smoke
from the sugar-cane processing plant close by!

Have also spent quite a time, on & off all day, chasing minute ants.... gained them from Vuda Pt marina via mooring lines & they clearly thought they'd found a new home... numbers are decreasing but slowly! (I'm hoping I don't have any 'cane beetles' hiding & making a family on board - I saw several before leaving the marina & was assured they're not cockroaches, despite looking very much like them.... do I believe this?)

Motoring earlier (5-9kn astern) & motorsailing at present, trying to make up for delayed departure from Fiji - hoping to make Pt Vila daytime Monday to clear in - don't want to lose yet another day to paperwork.. If wind picks up a touch more, maybe I can get rid of motor, for peace & quiet...

Just had midwinter's day here - explains why the sun is rising so late (6.46am), giving a really short day!

Sat 23rd June
Another hot, sunny day of motor-sailing - full canvas, goosewinged in afternoon with poled-out genoa. Wind gradually increased so that finally, by 4pm, I was able to switch off the motor - and sail properly... & peacefully!! Swell has built up - there seems to be some from NE & some from SE, often quite large. Near sunset, wind had increased sufficiently for me to take a reef in the mainsail, but we're still making over 6 knots... and should stay this way overnight and into Sunday, according to
weather forecasts.

Written by : Mike

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