I arrived in Fiji just over a week ago, and spent this past week helping skipper Tom and first mate Rick to prepare sailing vessel Avalon for the journey south, back to New Zealand.
For three very productive days, we were joined by Ian, a mechanical / marine engineer who flew up from New Zealand to help us. He was awesome, inspecting the engine, the auxiliary motor, and what seemed like every pump, belt, hose, filter, cable, clamp, etc. on board to make sure the boat was in proper working order.
We spent the balance of the week tackling a myriad of other boat jobs like pumping rainwater out the bilges, cleaning and drying out the storage lockers fore and aft, running the jib and staysail sheets, filling the water tanks, servicing the anchor gypsy, installing covers to protect the seat cushions, hiring a diver to scrub the hull and install new zinc plates, launching the dinghy and testing the outboard engine, hoisting Rick up the mast so he could inspect the rigging, filling up the fuel tanks and spare 5-gallon jerrycans, preparing final paperwork for checkout, shopping and stowing food and water, and so much more. Of course, we ended every day on the boat with cleaning surfaces, closing hatches, and tidying lines.
We have reviewed the basic navigation, including rhumb line, route options, dangers, etc. And we are constantly monitoring weather which will influence both our departure date and exact route.
We did one shakedown sail this week to unfurl the sails and stretch Avalon's legs. She was great.
It's been super hot, so we have tried to start as early as 7am to get the hard work done before the midday heat. We try to end in time to hit happy hour at a local beachfront resort for a cold drink and sunset.
We have been working toward a Tuesday, November 8 departure date. But latest weather indicates that that may not be the safest departure date - as we'd be rushed to land at New Zealand before the next front moves in.
So, as of this writing, we have actually delayed our departure by a few days, targeting to check out of Fiji around November 10 or 11. We are ready!