Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Love Fiji

Fiji is inexpensive, interesting, physically blessed and my new home.

The 4 day sail from Tonga to Fiji was hardly a sail at all. We only had the wind in the canvas for about 15 hours. That means the sea was flat & calm but we burnt $300 worth of diesel. That hurt a bit but I prefer it to some of the teeth grinding passages we’ve had lately. At this point, the passage making is all behind us for about 6 months. Nothing but day hops now! The only traveling I’ll be doing is island skipping and riding that big 747 to Australia (Adam M – We gonna party!)

Suzi and I are going to get this boat to the marina, belt her down for bad weather and fly to Oz. We’ll camp around in a rented van for a couple weeks and then I’ll have my hand surgery. She’ll fly back to England and I’ll return to Barraveigh. I’ll recuperate, work on the boat, island hop, drink too much, and enjoy my bro and mom when they come to visit and then in April we’ll leave Fiji for Vanuatu, the Solomons, Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. ’08 should be as exotic as ’07.

Fiji is a wonderfully strange place. The people are made up of 2 ethnic groups: ½ are Fijian and ½ are Indian. The Indian’s came as cheap labor 3 generations ago and now run the place. Every time they win an election there’s a coup. I think they’ve had about 30 of them now. Each one is bloodless and as civil as it gets. Everyone is extremely kind and friendly. We’ve been here for 2 weeks and never lock anything. None of the cruisers have had any thefts. “BulaBula!” is how you greet someone so you hear it all day. Try it. It’s fun to say. Here’s the thing that I wasn’t expecting: The Fijians aren’t Polynesians. They’re Melanesians. They’re black. I’m talking afros and African features. After so many Polynesian islands it’s strange to have such a drastic change in the physical appearance of the inhabitants. From Tonga to Fiji the races just abruptly altered. I’d love for one of you amateur anthropologists out there to explain this to me (Just me. Plz don’t hit reply all).

If you like curries and roti then Fiji should be on your list. I’ve been digging (“tucking” for my English audience) into bowls of delicious spicy foods every day. A beer in a bar costs US $1.50, and that’s in the yacht club which is the most expensive in town. This place is ½ the cost of Tonga and 1/3 the price of French Polynesia. I’m living like a king.

I lied earlier. We have a 24 hour trip to make to Suva from Savusavu. We left a couple hours ago. Then one more overnighter to the marina, but that is definitely the end of the black night sailing.

Capt Bob

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Thank you for your letters of concern. I appreciate it. All is well and nothing hurts. I haven’t removed you from this list. I just don’t have any drama to report. Our life has been one of day sailing with multiple anchorages to choose from. After a few days we head back to the main town and reprovision. There are always friends there, so we end up drinking and staying longer. Plus the restaurants and the televised rugby games are hard to pass up. It truly is a cruisers paradise. Sorry to have neglected this Vicarious Dispatch for so long.

We are in Tonga, the Vava’u chain of islands to be exact. This is where the humpback whales come to teach their calves to swim and play. As I said earlier – it really is an amazing place. The best we’ve seen so far.

Now for the catch up:

Niue – “Please” is fakamolemole, and “thank you” is fakaway. It’s real easy to get yourself in trouble.

While we were at anchor in Niue, a boat named Journey was caught in a storm. Their head stay broke and they were in danger of losing their mast. If that stick comes down, then so does their backstay, which is their antennae for the SSB long range radio. That would mean they would lose all communication over 15 miles away. That includes all wx reports and email capabilities. Very bad. It could, in fact, hole the boat and be the end of them. It was obvious they were exhausted and desperately trying to get into port. We had been in those shoes only a couple weeks before. We set the alarm and Suzi and I took shifts waking every 2 hours through the night to talk to them on the SSB. The connection was not the best and they heard “Barraveigh” as “Faraday”. I wasn’t about to correct them in their current state. When they finally got into Niue 24 hours later we met them on the dock and introduced ourselves as “Barraveigh”. No discernable reaction. “Wait – you know us as Faraday!” Their faces melted. They hugged us and thanked us. There was no reason to speak of the horrors that they had come face to face with hour after hour. Their expressions were familiar to us. We’d seen them on our own faces. There was a calm knowing glance shared by all of us who had been there and back. It was a moving experience.

When we crossed the International Date Line we lost a whole day. Saturdaythe 8th of Sept never occurred for us. I hate losing a Saturday.

I went to a Tongan feast. In French Polynesia the dancing was all hips. Here it’s all hands and no hips. It’s that gentle story telling with the most graceful of wrist rotations and finger dances. The food was all native and wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed in an underground dirt oven. They served it in palm shoots which look like over sized celery stalks. No utensils. Fingers only. For my taste, it was either too fatty or too sweet. Then the power shut off and I couldn’t see what I was eating at all. That’s when the drinking really began. I ended up at a Spanish restaurant on a different island having a shoving war with a tame goat while some Spaniards “rocked out” on a flute jam. Very surreal. While making our way home my buddy Chris Miller on Barefeet managed to fall in the water again. That’s 4 times now and he holds the record in the entire Southern Fleet.

A South Pacific notation – These people are islanders. They live surrounded by the sea. They respect those that sail on the sea. That’s rather different from those in Spanish land. Those people live on the coast but they also live on a continent and don’t quite understand why people would take top the sea if they didn’t have to. They don’t understand crossing oceans because they really aren’t seafaring people. A cruiser gets respect when arriving at one of these islands, and that makes for friendly exchanges. I prefer this leg of the trip over the previous by a gigantic margin. Here, not only is there zero theft, but actually genuine friendliness and respect. The SPac is going to be hard to beat.

I’ve made a big decision. I’m not sailing to Australia. I’m staying in Fiji for 6 months to wait out the cyclone season. I have a reservation on a slip at Vuda Point Marina. Check it out. It must be one of the best cruising grounds ever. Island after island and a big city close by with unlimited power and water when I am in the slip. That means air conditioning, ice and freshwater showers. Wow! Now for the scary part; Fiji is the heart of the cyclone zone. On the plus side – this marina is supposedly cyclone proof and this year is a La Nina, which means that the chances of getting hit are diminished. It’s a lot cheaper and exotic in Fiji. I’ll take my chances.

Random Clearing House (France, Albania, USA, Colombia)

  These lines represent 2 years of driving around Europe Red = Year 1 / Purple = Year 2 “And you may find yourself in another part of the wo...