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Monday, June 29, 2009

Fiji - June 8 - 15th

After Debra and Sandy left us we stuck around Vuda Point for a few more days. I had laundry to do and needed some fresh provisions. Unfortunately only one washer and one dryer were operable, and with the number of folks trying to get to these machines I managed to get just one load of sheets washed. On Monday, I rode into Lautoka with Sally (TDM) & Kathi (Bold Spirit) on the public bus. It cost F$1. We wanted the experience of riding with the locals. Once in town, we hit some clothing shops - Sally had a dress tailor made in 3 hours for F$25! That's about USD$11, while I purchased 2 skirts off the rack for a grand total of F$9 - amazing. We had lunch, hit the market and the bread store and then caught a cab for the ride back to the marina. The price of the cab was $15 - a bit more expensive than the bus but easier to transport purchases. The main reason I paid another visit to the market was that after our fresh fruits and vegetable purchase with our guests a few days before, I'd rinsed the bugs off and had left our produce in the cockpit to dry out over night. Big mistake. I underestimated the voracious and aggressive nature of the local birds that, while we were unawares, raided our goods and then dive-bombed the boat leaving their droppings all over the place. Most of the groceries did not survive the attack. In fact while Destiny was in the marina, rinsing the bird-doo off the boat became a daily necessity - not a pleasant ordeal at all. Other than that and the fact that we had to crawl over the bowsprit onto a little wooden deck about as large as our saloon table when getting on and off the boat, we found that we quite liked this marina. The amenities were very good. But we missed Musket Cove and our friends there so on Wednesday morning, along with The Dorothy Marie and Bold Spirit we set off for Malolo Lailai.

It was nice to be back "home" in Musket Cove. They do make life easy there for us. We spent a few days bonding with our friends again. I managed to get another load of washing done there, and the weather was beautiful so we finally got the chance to do some snorkeling in the area. World-class stuff. Tourists pay good money to get to go to these spots we can access in our dinghy. At low tide we can walk around on large sandbars out in the middle of the large bays, picking up shells and watching the starfish slide along the sand. It is quite a wonderful experience. We really like Musket Cove and could just have stayed there forever but we came to see Fiji and had a lot of Kava to dispense. Jaime and Christine (ML) would be leaving at the end of June to travel home to California for a month and wanted to do some cruising up the Yasawas before they left Fiji, so we made a plan to head out with them at the next good weather window. That happened to be Sunday, June 14th. We readied ourselves, bid farewell to Baraka, Bold Spirit and The Dorothy Marie (TDM) and then as we were about to cast off the mooring we managed to convince Glen and Sally of TDM to come with us, making our way up to Waya's Octopus Resort arriving just in time to settle in for the night. A very rough, uncomfortable night. In fact it was so unpleasant in that bay that we weighed anchor just after breakfast and went searching for a better spot up the way.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sandoval's Visit (part 2) June 4 - 7

On Thursday, June 4th, we decided to move on up to Yalobi Bay, the southern most anchorage on Waya Island in the Yasawa Group and home to the local "Tui" (king/chief) or "Turaga ni Koro" (local dignitary/ancestral chief). Once anchored Frank and Sandy went to shore to seek him out and to present our "sevu-sevu" (gift) of "yaqona", (kava root). This must be done in order to receive his blessing and his permission to visit his village, walk his shores, pick up shells, swim in his waters, etc. They returned a short while later happily reporting that the chief, Big John, had received them, accepted the kava, blessed them and encouraged them to return later in the day with their wives. So around 4:00 PM, we ventured to shore where we were warmly greeted by the villagers and taken to the home of Big John and his clan. He came out of his bure (thatched hut) & motioned for us to join him, sitting cross-legged on a large hand-woven mat under a covered area much like a carport. He then asked us each our names, and a little bit about ourselves and because Sandy and Debra told him they were from Texas, Big John and his family excitedly began referring to Sandy as Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger!). Pretty funny. He then immediately had his people begin preparing a large vat of kava. Although we have described this process in a previous journal from Tonga, I'll go through it again: It begins by taking the kava root that had been finely hand-ground by the women, placing about ½ to a cup of this inside a cloth bag, into which water is poured and then the bag is hand squeezed, rendering the juice into the bowl. The juice looks like something a tobacco-chewer spit out. Disgusting. More water is added and the bag squeezed until the desired amount and consistency of liquid in the bowl is achieved. It looks like filthy swamp water and tastes like something you would scrape off the bottom of your boots after hiking through a Houston bayou. Even the locals agree it tastes awful, yet they drink it every night! It helps them to sleep and is medicinal. Right. Anyway, after we gagged down several rounds of the stuff, Big John excused us for the evening, but not before his wife and sister invited us back into the village to visit their crafts market the next morning. So, on Friday morning we went back into the village, did a little shopping, bought some beautiful hand made jewelry, fans and pretty shells and then walked around a bit along the beach where we picked up some nice big shells ourselves. I sure hope Debra and Sandy were able to get theirs back home through US Customs. It would have been a shame to have had to forfeit any of them.

Late morning we weighed anchor to make our way around the west side of Waya, anchoring in the bay just off the shores of the Octopus Resort. It was my birthday. Sandy and Debra gave me a Texas flag bandana and a beautiful copper Aspen leaf magnet to remind me where I came from. Sandy presented me (actually before this day) a very cool pendant he had made from a shell, on which he had carved the word "Destiny" and an etching of our boat. I loved my gifts! We spent the day in the water on our little floats, and then went into shore for a Fijian show and a fantastic Fijian-Indian feast.

On Saturday, the 6th we made a straight run to the mainland of Viti Levu and the marina at Vuda Point, where we ran into our friends Glen and Sally from The Dorothy Marie, and Jeff and Kathi from Bold Spirit. They gave us the lay of the land telling us about the yacht club, the pool at First Landing, the local resort, and all the happenings around the area. We wanted Debra and Sandy to see the "town" and the local open-air market, so we cabbed it into Lautoka, arriving there just about the time that the market had closed. Not a problem because many of the vendors just moved outside and laid their goods right on the ground for display. We stepped over and around them picking out fruits and vegetables. Sandy and Debra got to see what shopping is like for us. Very different than it is back home for sure! After the market we stowed our goods into the cab and walked over to the "Jolly Good Café" for a late lunch. All they had left was fried chicken - but boy was it good! That evening we had an excellent dinner at the yacht club and called it a day.

Sunday, June 7th - last day with Debra and Sandy. We went to the pool at First Landing where we found the best hamburgers we'd tasted in a long, long time! We took it easy lying around, chatting and reading and eventually our friends Glen, Sally, Kathi and Jeff joined us. Later in the afternoon Glen was planning to take his Sax over to the yacht club to jam with the band that plays there every Sunday, so we all tidied up and joined them. What fun it was for us to share these special times and special cruising friends with Debra and Sandy, giving them a taste of our life out here. We enjoyed some excellent entertainment, watched a brilliant sunset and then walked them over to catch their cab for the airport. The week had gone unbelievably quickly.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

June 1-3; The Sandoval's Visit (part 1)

Debra and Sandy arrived at Musket Cove June 1st, on the first flight in from Nadi, which perfectly synchronized with their arrival in Fiji. Fortunately for them they had a direct flight from Los Angeles and after clearing Fijian Customs they walked straight to the Pacific Sun (Fiji's local puddle jumper) desk for immediate departure to Malolo Lailai. We were waiting on the runway for them at the little airstrip just adjacent to the resort. It can't get much more convenient than that!
As is always asked of our visitors, they brought supplies from the homeland; items we were not able to procure in New Zealand or (definitely not) here. Some were necessities - 110 outlets, leather to repair sail clews, prescription meds; other things were wants - 3 paperback books we had ordered on Amazon and some galley goods such as cornmeal, Cajun seasoning, graham crackers, steel-cut oats, which were to be brought only on a space available basis. They were good sports about it. When we saw how small their bags were we felt badly that our products seemed to take most of the space in Sandy's bag, although he assured us otherwise. And the big bonus was that Sandy brought us movies - at least 20 of them!
We spent their first two days hanging out around Musket Cove Resort, which incidentally isn't a bad place at all to repair from a long journey. I was happy for my girl time with Debra. We visited the gift shop, walked the beach, lunched at nearby Lomani, a top-end resort on the southern end of Malolo Lailai & then went up to the top of the island to take in the incredible 360 views, bearing witness to the bountiful beauty of Fiji's waters and her isles. We introduced them to our friends from Baraka, Morning Light & (former) Elusive. We fixed them New Zealand rack of lamb their first night on board, and called it a good day indeed. Next day was windy, overcast and waves a bit too choppy to go snorkeling on the reef, so we leisurely ventured into shore for another day at the resort. Debra and I laid by the pool, read, talked, walked up the hill with Jan & Dave (Baraka) to another gift shop/gallery where she bought some very cool things, oohed and aahed at the view from that little crest, and then returned to the bar where the boys were continuing their male bonding exercises over libations. A small crowd of our cruiser friends gathered and after visiting with them for a while we all adjourned to the Island Bar for Pizza. Later that evening we joined Christine & Jaime (Morning Light) and their boat guests Erik & Gisela for a very nice dinner at the hotel's main restaurant.

Wednesday, we departed Musket Cove, sailing up toward the Yasawas. At first it was a bit choppy but good sailing. We took them past Monuriki, the island where Tom Hanks had filmed "Castaway", but decided not to stop because of the large swell that was developing. Eventually it got real uncomfortable, but for Sandy it seemed just a walk in the park while Debra continued to smile through her discomfort (she was a real trooper!). Along the way Debra spotted a group of dolphins that came alongside to play and frolic in our bow wake, leaping high into the air and putting on a big show for us. Sandy and Frank made their way up to the front of the boat to get a better look while at our nautical visitors. Then Sandy, camera in hand, laid belly to the toe-rail and began hooping and hollering at them, waving his arms down at them as though in some alien form of communication. He swore they were having a personal experience, and they must have been because our friends swan along with us for several miles. It was fun to see him having such a great time up there and to see the big smile on both his and Debra's faces. We never tire of sailing with the dolphins. Although we had wanted to make it all the way to Waya, the southern most island in the Yasawa group, we were all getting tired of the big waves, so we ducked into the bay at Navadra for the night. We really wanted to go to shore to walk among what remains of the area from "Survivor" (TV show), but could not get to shore because of the shallow coral heads. So we stayed aboard and rested for the night.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back at Musket Cove but Maybe Heading Out Again...

We went over to an island called Navadra (pronounced "Navandra"), where we are told Survivor Fiji was filmed.  Being Americans of course we think that we have the exclusive on this show - right?  Wrong.  There is a Survivor series going on in many countries now, and several of them used Navadra to film.  It is a pretty bay flanked by 2 islands, one was used for the crew apparently (to party?) because when we went to shore we found the remains of a very large cafe/bar area with flip flops and sandals hung all around the walls which had washed ashore, and then another structure that looked like a staging area for something.  The other island which we could not get to because of the inaccessibility to shore was where the tribes had been set up.  Now that we have left there we've been told when and how to go ahsore, which we'll do if we get back there.  The bay is noted for it's diving and snorkeling and we had seen some beautiful coral heads while dinghying around so couldn't wait to get in. Frank jumped into the water to go snorkeling and while I was donning my gear he came back to the boat to tell me I may want to wear my dive skin because the waters were full of little tiny jelly fish looking things.  So I went in search of my suit and before I could "launch", out of the water he sprang!  He had been stung all over his arms and shoulders. I didn't go in.  Poor guy!  So snorkeling was out.  We opted for sitting on the boat and reading.  We stayed for two nights and both nights had sundowners with Morning light and her crew, Erik and Gisla. Then we returned to MC in order to do some laundry and get ready for our guests.

I have known Debra for 19 years.  I met her through the Houston Hash House Harriers (H4).  She met her husband, Sandy, through the Hash as well, and they have become good friends of Frank, too over the years.  They are one of the most down to Earth, easy-going couples we know so we were excited that they were able to come to Fiji, and knew that they would adapt quickly to boat life.

They flew into Malolo Lailai early on the morning of June 1st.  We met them at the airstrip and gave them a quick tour of the resort before settling them into the boat.  We enjoyed introducing them to some of our cruiser friends who were still in the anchorage there.  Next post will be about the adventures of Debra and Sandy aboard Destiny.
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