We enjoyed a beautiful day of sailing over to Lautoka, with the barrier reef to starboard and the mainland to port – it was another of those days we wished we had professional video equipment to capture the stunning beauty of this country that we feel is touched by God's own hand. Then all too soon we had traveled 8 hours and were entering the filthy port of Lautoka. The original plan was to anchor at the small island just across the channel, but prevailing winds made that a no-go. We dropped the hook just off the wharf and had a restful night in spite of the putrid smell of something burning.
Arising the next day, Frank was about to plant himself in the cockpit to enjoy his morning java, when he popped right back down, breathlessly telling me not to bother going up – the entire boat was covered in black ash, ¼ inch thick. He tiptoed his way to the anchor washdown hose and spent the next hour cleaning Destiny's decks, cockpit, rails and dinghy. What a mess! As my vision sharpened I noted that a fine film of ash had filtered down through the screens of our cabin's hatches, covering our room in back dust. I stripped the bed, cleaned up the interior, and then we finally sat down to enjoy our coffee. Afterward we went into the Customs office to "clear in". That done, we took a cab into town and provisioned up. We then walked over to the salon in which he and Glen had gotten their $5 haircuts last year. When we entered the salon, the same gal who'd cut his hair previously jumped up offered him a brilliant smile and said, "It has been a long time! Where is your friend?" Amazing that after an entire year she had remembered Frank and Glen – of course those two are hard to forget. After we finished our business in town, we returned to the boat to find her beginning to turn black again – this we found is soot from the sugarcane factory located at the wharf area. We decided to get the heck out of Lautoka and find a better anchorage for the night, because it was too late to make it over to Musket Cove now.
We anchored at Saweni Bay, and decided to have dinner and a movie. I sent Frank topside to cook some beautiful lamb racks on the grill as I prepared the rest. He kept swatting at himself, telling me that we had better make sure we have all the screens on because he is getting covered in bugs out there. Great! The next morning we discovered what all the flying things were that had been attacking Frank. They were huge bits of burnt sugarcane and powdered ash residue! We had anchored downwind of the burning fields (they burn the fields after harvest), and Destiny was absolutely covered in the disgusting filth. This time, the ash had permeated the entire boat, seeping down through the mast, the dorads (vents), the screens, etc. It was in all of our electronic gear as well. We just cleared a path to the cockpit and to the bow, enough to get the anchor up and get the heck out of there before it got even worse. Some of it blew off the boat while in transit, but the inside was just awful. It took me days to wash everything.
So, we got over that trauma and arrived at a very bustling and full Musket Cove Resort and Marina. We dropped the hook just beside Avant Garde and Scallywag. Many of our other friends were there including Mokisha, Bold Spirit, Nomad and Mahurangi. We were just in time to go to shore for cocktail hour and dinner. It felt like home.
The next day was our American 4th of July, so Musket Cove pulled out all the stops! We enjoyed hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans and apple pie. There were fireworks on the beach and the music was All-American. We got a little homesick enjoying this wonderful celebration with our American, Kiwi, German, French, Australian and Fijian friends.