The Circle – Vuda Point Marina, Viti Levu

DCIM100MEDIAMy goodness. Isn’t life interesting? One week we’re decked out in all our finery, joyfully celebrating our son’s marriage, the next week we’re back to t-shirts and shorts at the hot and wind-less Vuda Point Marina feeling somewhat frazzled…

The staff are lovely and welcoming, the waterfront bar is a great place to hang out, but we’ve been facing more than a few challenges in our time here.

The marina is unlike any other marina we’ve been in. No floating pontoon berths here, just a big circle dug out of the reef, lined in concrete, with wooden ‘boarding platforms’ (it’s a loose term) spaced along the edge. You have the choice of coming in bow-first or stern-first, tying up to the wall and to the mooring buoys in the water, 4 lines in all. Which is all well and good, and reasonably easy with the help of the marina staff. The challenge is in getting on and off the boat with a tidal range of approx 1.5 metres. Anything other than mid-tide requires a climb and a leap of faith. It’s my vertical version of the Wall of Death.

challenge No 1

challenge No 1

So, first morning in the marina – it’s 7am, the skipper is sound asleep and I have a fairly urgent need to find the toilets (no discharge allowed into the marina of course). So I make my way forward and peer with dismay at the yawning chasm facing me. Hmm. I make my way to the stern and ease the back lines off, then moving a little more quickly now (that sense of urgency is increasing) go up front to pull the bow lines in. Oh lord please give me strength! Just about now I’m wishing my name was Natasha and I had a gold medal in gymnastics (and very long legs). The chasm becomes marginally less life-threatening and somehow I make it to the bathroom in time. Not the most relaxing way to start your day!

The second challenge is attaching our new wind transducer, which we’d carefully carried back on the plane, to the top of the mast. Not a difficult job, a piece of cake actually, because the skipper is an ex-climber and has no problems going up the mast. Except now he’s got man-flu (caught from some little tyke on the plane most likely) and in his near-death state can’t summon the energy for a 67-foot climb. He passes the ball to me. I could say no, but then I wouldn’t be facing my fears, would I? It’s not that I’m scared of heights – high buildings and precipices hold no fear for me, as long as my feet are on the ground. It’s the prospect of being suspended on a rope high above the ground that has the adrenalin pumping. I’d been to the top of the mast a couple of times on our previous boat but never on Toucan (it’s a lot taller). OK, here we go. All is good until I’m within inches of the top of the mast – I have the delicate wind instrument in one hand, my other hand is hanging onto the halyard. Big mistake, idiot ! Now my finger is jammed in the sheave where the halyard goes into the mast. “Down, DOWN” I yell to Bruce. Luckily he reacts instantly and my finger is free, only a bit of skin lost, but now a lot of shakin’ going on. Can I fit the wind instrument without dropping it given I have a bad case of the palsy? Yep, it’s in! I even had the foresight to take the camera up with me, so I take some quick shaky photos and then I’m done. Bring me down skipper, nice and easy! Thank god that challenge is over.

Yikes, it's a long way down!

Yikes, it’s a long way down!

The next challenge isn’t quite so dramatic, it’s more one of translation. Soon after arriving at the marina we’re accosted by Abdul, a local taxi driver who gives us his card and offers to take us wherever we need to go. He also suggests that if we’re leaving the boat to fly to Australia we might like to give him any food from the boat that will otherwise go to waste – oh, and if we could bring him back some white chocolate that would be good too! He’s a nice enough guy but the main problem I’m having is understanding him. If I close my eyes I could swear Peter Sellers is in the driving seat:

“What country Chris?”

“umm,… sorry Abdul I don’t understand..”

“Chris, CHRIS (shouting at me now), what country CHRIS?”

“err…do you mean Greece?”

“yes… Chris! “

and so it goes on….by the end of the trip I’m feeling exhausted and I haven’t even begun the provisioning yet!

We’d planned to have a couple more days in the marina after getting back from the wedding and then head out to join “Rehua” and “Escape Velocity”. The day before we’re due to leave Bruce changes the oil in the engines and the saildrives and discovers the starboard saildrive has no oil (this is the saildrive that was working fine). Instead the oil is sitting underneath the engine in a large pool. Oh this is not good. We engage the services of the local Yanmar agents, Baobab Marine, who inspect the problem and confirm that it’s most likely the lip seal between the engine and the sail drive that’s failed. The good news is they have one in stock and we won’t need to haul out to get it replaced. The bad news is that the engine has to be moved forward, and an engine mount bolt has seized. In trying to free it, the mechanic shears it off instead. So now we have a much more complex problem to deal with. A job that should have taken 3 hours now takes two days to fix. We argue over the hours and whose fault it is, and eventually come to a compromise of 8 hours of labour. That’s still a mighty expensive fix for a $30 oil seal! It’s a boat, what can I say.

So now, finally, we’re ready to get out of here. Loaded up with beer for our mates, the floating bottle shop is heading back to Musket Cove, to enjoy some clear water, cool breezes and time with our friends. Can’t wait!

Sunday afternoon Jazz at the Boathouse restaurant

Sunday afternoon Jazz at the Boathouse restaurant

The bar and surrounds - a nice cool place to hang out

The bar and surrounds – a nice cool place to hang out

the reef channel into Vuda Point Marina

the reef channel into Vuda Point Marina

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2 Responses to The Circle – Vuda Point Marina, Viti Levu

  1. Rosemary Malone says:

    Your high wire trapeze act is very impressive Di…beautiful blue skies and sunshine all round!

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