September 1 I boarded my first flight from Jacksonville to Dallas. The next thing I knew I had a 4 year old sitting next to me! My initial thought was oh no, 3 hours with a screaming kid. I was pleasantly surprised and he was very well behaved. My layover in Dallas was longer than expected as there was a problem with the plane. Once we boarded the plane it got worse. I had a screaming baby in the seat directly in front of me and we were on the tarmac for 1.5 hours because of thunderstorms. I am now a firm believer in noise canceling headphones! The flight from LA to New Zealand was endless. I watched 3 complete movies, slept and read a book. Once in New Zealand, I had a 5 hour layover that was helped by splits of champagne. I finally arrived in Fiji at 4:00PM on September 3rd. Yep, you got it right. I crossed the International Date Line and arrived 2 days after I left!
Here is a picture Darryl took of me at the airport.
Things quickly improved. I had booked a hotel for the first night so that I could get a long hot shower, a good meal and a good nights sleep. We stayed at Smugglers Cove Resort that can best be described as an upscale back packers hotel. It was clean, cheap and full of 19 and 20 year old female backpackers. Here is a picture of sunset from our balcony.
It was breathtakingly beautiful. After the refreshing hot shower and a bottle of champagne, we went downstairs for dinner. Even though this was a backpackers hotel, they had a fabulous chef and dinner was exceptional. Roger joined us for dinner. After dinner, it was pretty much straight to bed. I was exhausted from the 40 hours of travel and Darryl said he could see my lights switching off. Anyone who has been around me when I am tired will know what he means! I go from being awake to being asleep very quickly.
The next morning we all gathered for breakfast. It was pretty interesting. We ordered orange juice and got Tang. Yes, folks people in other parts of the world still drink Tang. We asked our nice server for fresh squeezed orange juice and he said all they had was the mix. Oh well. Then we asked for coffee. There was no coffee! The coffee machine was broke and it couldn't be helped so tea it was. A minor disappointment.
The guys had arranged for a driver from the marina to pick us up at 10:00 so off we went. We first went out to Denaroux which is really the resort portion of the main island. We were on the Island called Viti Levu. Denaroux is a very plastic place. There is a Hard Rock Cafe and boutiques. We were not impressed but did find the information we needed for ferry schedules that would become important later.
We then made a necessary stop at the wine shop to make sure there was plenty of grapes and hops and barley on the boat for the next week.
Off we went to the boat. We were on Beaujolais by noon and I was in a bathing suit by 12:15. While Roger checked out of the marina, Darryl and I busied ourselves with deleafing the boat. The boat was docked right under a pesky tree that had left leaves all over the deck.
We were underway by 1:00 for a short trip to our first anchorage. It was great being on a boat again. We motor sailed for about 2 hours and dropped anchor in a protected cove with about 7 other boats. Roger and Darryl recognized one of the boats, Dalwhinnie. She is a Dutch boat with Franz and Lucia onboard. Darryl and Roger had taken pictures of Dalwhinnie under sail so we had to share the photos. We called them on the radio and were invited over for sundowners. Here is a picture
of our enjoyable evening with Franz and Lucia. As you can see, Stanley the State Farm Bear came with us and was the designated driver.
After cocktails, we returned to Beaujolais for dinner. Darryl grilled some tuna that the guys had caught on the way to Nadi. We had tuna and potatoes and turned in for an early night.
The next morning was gorgeous. Roger went to help Franz and Lucia with some software while Darryl and I had a brief swim and soaked up some sun. We were underway again by mid-day for a brief 6 mile sail to the next anchorage. The water was unbelievably smooth and we had an enjoyable sail under headsail only. Here are a few pictures of that journey and our anchorage for the night.
Here is Roger planning our passage to the outer island group of Yasawa. This was going to be a longer passage of approximately 45 miles. We had to get an early start to make sure we were anchored well before sunset. There are reefs everywhere and you do not sail anywhere in Fiji in the dark. You need to be able to see the changing water colors to know where the reefs are. Dark blue is good. Light blue is bad.
We had gotten a bit complacent with the good weather and light winds. We did not properly sea ready the boat and got underway at 6:00 AM. The winds were light so we were motor sailing with just a reefed main up. By 11:00 the winds suddenly kicked up. I am not joking. It went from 10 knots to 25 knots in 5 minutes! That is when things got exciting. The winds rapidly built to a steady 35 knots with beam seas. We took one wave into the cockpit that left us ankle deep in water. That is when I put on my life jacket and shortly afterwards retired below. The skies were bright blue with no clouds but the winds were howling! Here are some pictures that don't do justice to the wind or waves but you can imagine.
We pulled in through the first reef to where we intended to anchor for the night. However, this particular cove, while beautiful was not going to work. The winds were still howling and we recorded a gust of 48 knots. This particular harbor was between 2 mountains. The winds were falling off one mountain peak, hitting the other and bouncing back. There were small water spouts everywhere and very confused seas. Roger and Darryl did some quick chart work and decided we needed to thread the needle, go out through another reef and get in the lee of these islands. They picked a harbor on the island of Malakati. It was a beautiful choice! After some excitement with anchoring, we found ourselves one of only two boats anchored in the most beautiful place. To quote Jimmy Buffett, we had truly found our One Particular Harbor.
The winds had certainly not died down but we were safe. We had one more big gust of 53 knots!!!! We hadn't seen winds like that since Bay of Biscay. The next morning we were having coffee in the cockpit when we heard an outboard engine and several small voices. A longboat was passing us with about 25 school children. This was the "bus" to school. The village mayor was taking the children to the next island for school. Unfortunately, none of us had our cameras ready and missed the shot.
About midday, we went over to the other boat, Neuromancer, and Roger and Darryl quickly recognized Tebow and Irena. Tebow is French and Irena is Spanish. They bought the boat in Tahiti and were sailing the South Pacific. They looked to be only in their late 20's and were totally care free. How cool.
We took them ashore with us where we had to go through a Fiji ritual. The Fijians believe that they own not only the land but the sea around it as well. When you anchor where there is a village, you have to go ashore and find the mayor. The mayor in this case was still on the other island with the children so we were introduced to the second mayor. We had to present him with Cava Root for the Savu ritual. We were brought into his hut with a grass matt floor. We sat cross legged while he "blessed" the cava root then he granted us permission to walk his beaches and use his anchorage.
There is no money that changes hands here. They live completely remote. There are no roads to this village. They have a large solar panel and a satellite and nothing else. However, there is a large cell phone tower up on the mountain so we had great internet! How ironic.
Here are several pictures of the beach. Of course Stanley was with us!
Dr. Phil of TV fame bought the village this longboat. This is the boat that acted as a school bus.
Doesn't Stanley look happy?
Here on the patch of paradise was one loan shoe washed ashore. Don't you always wonder what happened to the other shoe and the feet the belonged on?
OK. That is all for now as I have to get ready for a MTOA lunch gathering. Time to drive the Mercedes!
I promise to get back on line this afternoon to continue the story. I have to tell you about Methode de Beaujolais.....