Directions

Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:
FIRST "REFIT" BLOG ENTRY - March 2011

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Navigation Technology.... We've Gone to The Darkside....

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It finally happened.... We have crossed over to the Navigation Darkside...

A few weeks ago we left Musket Cove and headed back to Vuda to get some supplies before heading out on our great Fiji adventure.  Our plan was to head west to the Mamanuca Islands, then to head north through the Yasawa Islands...

The problem is that most of the islands surrounding Fiji are LITTERED with REEFS! Reefs and sailboats generally do not make good friends, so it was with real trepidation we wondered how we would navigate this part of our journey.

The latest paper chart for this region has data gathered as late as 1987....  Now while the earth doesn't change too rapidly, near shore topography does change with time and weather...  No worries you say, Blowin' Bubbles has GPS right?  That is true, but even though we subscribe to Navionic's "Freshest Data" and have the latest updates, most of the data in electronic charts is based on, you guessed it, data gleaned from the PAPER CHARTS....

In other words, even our fancy GPS/Chartplotter has some significant limitations in places like Fiji where new surveys are conducted every few centuries, not years...  Every day the information is getting better, but we are still a very long way off of completely dependable chart information, electronic or paper...

When I leaned to sail, oh so many moons ago (when the earth was flat), We learned to site bearings and use our eyes and the proper angle of the sun (at the right time of day) to see obstacles in our way.  But alas, this too has its limitations.  You could only enter potentially dangerous waters when the sun was in the right position and the water was undisturbed....

This would severely limit our ability to go where we want when we want to go, so That is why WE HAVE CROSSED OVER TO THE NAVIGATION DARKSIDE, where we now depend on technology on steroids to get where we want to go in one piece.

Has we cruised around for the last few weeks we have used the following system.  Shelley is at the outside helm (but not actually driving the boat), and I am at the lower/inside helm with an array of electronics to guide us "safely" through the reefs....


First, Shelley's eyes are still the most important safety feature of this fancy system.  She has the ability to take the helm whenever she want/needs to if her senses tell her something the genius (me) down below is doing is leading us on a path of destruction...

Second, We must have very dependable internet for this to work.  Here is Fiji, the internet is outstanding, even around the outlying islands.
Our Vodaphone 4G Internet Gizmo...

So here is is:

We have one iPad with a built in GPS set up monitoring the Apple "MAP" App that use the most up to date "Bing" satellite images...

We have a second iPad running the Raymarine app that connects to our on board GPS/Chartplotter.  This is an exact duplication of what Shelley sees at the helm.

We also have a laptop running a program called "Open CPN" which has "Google Earth" images pre-loaded into it.

We also have a second control head for the Auto Helm system on the boat.  We chose to use the control head designed for power boats, because it can steer the boat (like joystick steering) better that the head that is designed for a sailboat.

With all these gizmos in place and operating we have been able to negotiate even the trickiest hazards even in situations when the conditions are less than ideal...  Is it risky, yes, but given what we have been striving to accomplish, it has worked VERY well so far....  God help us if the battery fails....

So after all that technical stuff, what have we been up to?

We spent a few days hiding in Saweni Bay (on the big Island) from the potential Cyclone Ella which ended up passing harmlessly a few hundred miles north of us.


It is so hot here, even the COWS go for a swim!

Lisa and the Cows....

Sundowners on the beach.....


As soon as we knew the coast was clear we traveled 25NM to Navadra Island  and check out the place where the television show, Survivor (TM) is being made.  Since there was a two week break in filming, we were permitted to anchor just off the island where the contestants live, and the crew works.


The production company built a dock!

One of the production buildings...

Danny, one of the production guys!




Where the contestants live....



We were met by a fellow from the crew, and some great Fijian Security guys, who welcomed us and showed us around.  A few days after we arrived, our new friends, Ben & Tui (security guys) caught a bunch of reef fish and invited us for lunch on the island...  What a great time!
Chatting with Ben...


Invited for lunch!

Casava... Like a potato, a staple in a Fijian's diet...

Fish Civeche

Smoked Fish

A GREAT lunch....

A few days after we arrived, Rijnhrad and Lisa (s/v Enchanter) joined us again, and we had some fun with them...

They decided to stay another day and we made our way north to our first Yasawa Island, Naviti.  This was a solitary paradise, as we were quite a distance from the closest resort and we didn't see another cruising boat the whole time we were there!  We did get to see some Manta Rays, but the visibility was crummy and we had a problem with the underwater camera (we think we fixed it now)...



We then headed for the "famous" Blue Lagoon, where in the early 1980's Christopher Atkins and Brook Shields starred in the film, Blue Lagoon....

As beautiful as the movie set, we found our most exciting time was meeting another cruising family from Canada on s/v Stop Work Order.  With their guests, we hikes some 30 minutes to an wonderful Tea House run by an equally lovely Fijian lady named Lo...  After a cup of lovely lemon tea (her specialty) we promised to come back the next day for chocolate cake, which she didn't have today...

Truly from s/v Stop Work Order



Ann, Corice, & Ciarra s/v Stop Work Order...

Meeting local kids!






We were her FIRST cruisers this season!



The proceeds from the sale of jewelry go to help transport the children to school on a different island...



On our return trip, we brought enough school supplies for all the children in her small village.  We also put 500 pencil cases together to give away over the next few months... Check our our Right To Write Blog....


Today we made our way to the farthest point north we plan to go, Sawa-I-Lau Island where we are waiting for the forecasted wind to shift to the west so we can make our way east for some new adventures...  Stay tuned!


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