From Chuck, back in Fiji.
Cyclones, Everyone Loves a Haul Out and the Cruisers Midnight
Greetings Crew! All hands on deck! Avast ye matey’s! ARRGH! (I see that got your attention!)
It seems like the internet is working here in the marina again. For how long I just don’t know so I will try to get this latest crew letter out ASAP…
Cyclone season here in this part of the South Pacific extends from November until March or April. Fiji has been spared any major damage in recent history but the fact remains that it lies right smack dab in the middle of cyclonic activity. One mustn’t forget that… Remember St. Thomas in the USVI… Until 1989 they had no direct hurricane hits since like 1930. People became lackadaisical about it. Then came the devastation of Hugo and the Virgin Islands, particularly St. Thomas, was rendered a mess. In neighboring Culebra, a place considered to be a safe hurricane anchorage, 197 boats were lost. Of course we know that Hugo went on to lay waste to the East Coast of the US as well. Between 1989 and 2000 (correct me if I’m wrong) there were 3 direct hits including Marilyn in 1995. Marilyn is the storm that put the Deev on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea and led to my purchasing her from my pal Tim Peck who had built her and still owned her. I bought her a week after the storm in a “as is, where is” condition. Hell, I’m still not finished rebuilding her but I’ll be darned if that will stop me from sailing the old girl! (As a side note, I lost two friends in Hurricane Marilyn. One we found washed up in the mangroves 3 days later and the other body was never recovered.)
Why am I sticking around here during Cyclone Season? I don’t know exactly but you know sometimes sailing or just hanging out in the Caribbean during Hurricane Season can be the best time of year. The weather is generally nicer, there are far fewer cruising boats and almost no bareboats are active. Folks around here tell me the same thing. Furthermore, the season doesn’t get really active until later in December and January. When I get the Deev back in the water (Tuesday) I’m planning on some sailing here in Fijian waters for a few weeks before heading back to the Marshall Islands. The Marshalls are north of the equator and so out of the cyclone belt.
As you know, I spent the heart of the Caribbean Hurricane Season in the BVI’s with my friends on Jost Van Dyke. I’ve also been known to spend winters in Maine! (In February in Maine you can actually drive on Route 1 in less than bumper to bumper traffic and it is possible to get a seat at most restaurants without a reservation.)
So I’ll stick around here in Fiji for at least another month or so…. Please send out some good vibes to help keep the mean and nasties away!
I always say that everyone loves a haul out because it is so far from the truth. Haul outs suck. There is way too much work to do and it is way too expensive (B.O.A.T. stands for Bust Out Another Thousand.) This haul out is going rather well, though, despite the fact that I am hemorrhaging cash at an astounding rate. Vuda Point Marina and Boatyard is the nicest place I’ve ever hauled. The facilities are clean, all sorts of marine services are available and the rates are considerably better than stateside prices. But haul outs still suck.
I allotted myself plenty of time to get things done so I managed to get to some horrible jobs that I’ve neglected for far too long. For example I have removed and am refurbishing my anchor windlass. That little project required very large hammers, large pieces of pipe, a propane torch, hardwood wedges and every curse word that I could think of in several different languages! I recall that after 35 or more years of living onboard with his lovely wife, Carolyn, my pal Capt. Fatty Goodlander (read his stuff in Cruising World and other publications) finally broke down and bought his wife an anchor windlass for a “present”. All those years he had her hauling up that groundtackle by hand she was developing some serious muscles and I’m sure he finally was threatened with a severe beating if he didn’t break lose of some cash and by that wench a winch! But Fatty, let me advise you to service that winch on a regular basis or it will freeze up on you for sure. And you don’t want that to happen!
It’s getting late in the evening now and I’m going to try to send this off. By “late in the evening” I mean that it is well after dark, like about 8:15 PM. That’s getting late for me. I’m usually hunkered down with my book or fast asleep by 9:00 PM. 9:00 PM is considered Cruisers Midnight. We all know that.
Cheers and Carry On!
So, in a land and sea far away Chuck carries on his haul out and exploration. We can do the same in our own backyards. It's all here, as well as all there. Life is good. Chefs for Charity post tomorrow!