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Monday, August 10, 2009

August 1 - 6: Fiji-Vanuatu Rally prelims at Musket Cove

The afternoon of August 1st we arrived to a very packed anchorage at Malolo Lailai. And as well the marina and the moorings were overflowing with yachts as cruisers gathered for departure to various other places. Having no choice we anchored quite far away from the hub, out by three mega-yachts nearly in the pass but not quite. Surely there were 100 yachts in residence, too many to count. The air was buzzing with excitement, as were the VHF frequencies. We missed the official first two days of rally activities that had begun on July 31 yet there was plenty left to get into. We went to shore to see Marsha and Earl of "Mahurangi", just back from the States the previous day and were moored on the dock. After a quick visit with them we made plans to go to dinner one night at the resort and then moved along to meet and greet. "Upps" was also on the dock - our German friends Tanja and Bernd. Bernd's visiting teenage daughter, Jo, was aboard posing to him a big challenge: what to do with a 14-year old who would rather text-message and listen to her I-pod while vacationing with her father and Step-mom in Fiji. Ha! What has happened to our youth? It isn't just in America that the kiddos are immersed in electronic bliss. This just seems so anti social, but it works for them. She said it was too far to walk to the pool, too much work to go kayaking and far too much effort to walk the beach in search of shells. Such stress for a young person in paradise! As pretty as she was she probably would have had a trail of boys and dirty old men drooling after her, had she gotten out a bit, but she was clearly not interested. Sigh.

The dock was literally crammed fender-to fender with yachts and the dinghy dock was three deep with tenders of all manner of size and type. This is the stuff you either love or hate. I loved it! We were once again reunited with old friends and introduced to new ones. Over the next few days many activities were planned for those participating in the Vanuatu Rally. Tonight was to be "grill your own meat and purchase your sides" at the Island Bar. I had TTD's to be ready for departure, and I wanted to spend some time visiting friends who would not be moving on to Vanuatu, hence I missed a couple of the goings on, although Frank did join in on one that I missed. It was an extravaganza out on the sand bar (the one out in the middle of the bay at low tide); a few hours of games and competitive events mostly centered on drinking beer. There were lots of competitions along the theme of "Kiwis verses the rest of the world". It sounded like a lot of fun from the later reports of everyone participating. I happily got a lot of chores done on board so didn't feel badly about missing it.

One night was "W" night. Everyone was to come dressed in a costume, starting with the letter "W". There were to be prizes. We could think of a lot of things that were "W" things, but the challenge lay in how to dress like them! I finally got out the dictionary and began scanning for something reasonable that we could pull off with no access to a costume shop, a sewing machine or any other means of obtaining props. Finally we settled on "waypoints". I took a couple of t-shirts, turned them inside out and drew nautical waypoints on the blank side. Mine represented Houston and Frank's represented Denver. Not the most creative or impressive, but surely original. The party was a gas! There were people who came prepared and well stocked to be "W" things. There were many witches, whales and wannabe's. One fellow was a Warrior; another was Waste (as in trash!). There were ladies who got very creative as in WC (water closet), Women's Day magazine, Wash (she had dirty laundry including bras and panties hanging off her). There were Workers and walruses. One guy was a Warbler, decked in tree branches and a little birdhouse hanging off his head! We laughed a lot and enjoyed the evening immensely. I'm well prepared for the next "W" party, at least mentally.

I tried to get online to catch up on some internet stuff; emails, uploading photos, etc., but alas the Wifi was so overloaded we hardly got any of that accomplished. We are far behind getting pictures on the website but will get to it eventually, perhaps when we arrive in Australia there will be decent Wifi. We attended some breakfast and afternoon briefings, getting ready to depart. Saturday was spent checking out of Fiji, where once again we were fortunate that being rally participants gave us the privilege of having the Customs, Immigration and Health officers brought to Musket Cove.

Our last two nights were spent dining with friends, foregoing rally suppers. Earl and Marsha were taking Mahurangi to Vuda Point to get their fridge and freezer working, so we dined with them one night. Then we supped on Upps the evening before they departed to take Jo to see a bit more of Fiji (from the boat?).
OK, once again we bid farewell to friends, attended our final rally briefing and prepared to make another 600 mile crossing. Although excited, most of us agreed that we had mixed feelings of pre-departure and open water voyage anxiety that will yield to anticipation of the next adventure as soon as we clear Fiji waters.

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