Pirates Day - Fiji

Posted 26 September 2011

One of the activities was a race from Musket Cove to the Beachcombers Resort on another island for the pirates day lunch and festivities. Joao, Dinis and myself were invited aboard Seafarer 4 for the race. We were so bad dressing up as pirates, but Diane came to our rescue.

This race has no rules, so a lot of fun stuff is planned for the race. We did not have balloons so Diane got some surgical gloves which we filled with water as our ammunition for other boats. We had fun sailing, dropped anchor and waited for the resort boat to pick us up.

Diane warned me before hand to have the camera ready on video mode as when we arrive at the beach, all the local pirates descend on the boat. This was great and I was ready, it was a riot with all the Beachcomber pirates descending on the boat with knifes, ropes and what not. We were captured and had to go to customs and immigration for our welcome shot of rum.

All fun and games. We got ourselves a big 'cooler' of beer and got ready for the activities. Joao did especially well in the Limbo dance, Dinis got a big applause when the Limbo was way to low and he drop on all fours and crawl underneath.

Lots of dancing, drinking and fun. Lunch was great with lots to eat. As with all good things, it have to come to an end. Back on Seafarer 4 we all went for a swim to cool down and get at least some positive exercise. We arrived back in Musket Cove quite exhausted and went to bed quite early.

Musket Cove - Fiji

Posted 25 September 2011

Fiji was magic, after our clearing in we made our way to Musket Cove Yacht club and Marina. It is on Malolo Island and is the only resort that is geared up for the yachts. This is excellent as all the yachties can enjoy the facilities of the resort and the resort guests love visiting the boats and talk to all the sailors.

Our arrival coincide with the 28 th annual Fiji Regatta week at Musket cove. Steve from s/v Heat Wave welcomed us when we arrived and it was nice to see him again after leaving Tonga. We decided to moored the boat at the marina for a change, as well we had quite a few chores to do and it would be much easier. It took us 2 days to wash the boat, do all the laundry, finally fixed the windvane and clean the bottom of the boat.

We enjoyed the bustle of people around and met lots of nice people. We finally had the pleasure of meeting Steve's partner Nicky who manage a few days off from work to visit. Both Steve and Nicky had to return to Australia, but Steve would return in a few days.

The opening night of the regatta was good, all the different nationalities together was great. Each country's citizens were called up to sing their national anthem. Dinis decided to support his Brazilian friend Joao (the only Brazilian at the regatta) to sing the Brazilian national anthem, but they settle on 'The girl of Ipanema' instead as Dinis being Portuguese do not know the anthem and Joao could not remember it. We met Diane and Doug from s/v Seafarer 4 that night and had a great time.

We took part in a few of the activities over the next few days. Diane and Doug's daughter arrived visiting them and they invited us for a trip to one of the motus where Doug and Joao will try to do some surfing and the rest of us some snorkeling. It was a very nice day and we met some more friends of Diane and Doug on m/v Catatac.

Our passage to Fiji

Posted 3 September 2011

We were watching the weather closely for a opening to go to Fiji. We had rather strong SE winds blowing for about 8 days. We did not have much time to see all the lovely islands in Tonga, but spend some time with our friends Chantal and Fredy (s/v Micromegas) and Jean-Marc and Odile (s/v Lifou) in Hunga Island.

Our weather opening came and we left for Fiji on Monday afternoon 29 August. The first night and the next day we still had some stronger winds up to 23 knots and the sea swell was big at times. We were expecting this so was prepared for it, although it is uncomfortable. The next 2 days we had lighter winds and calm seas which was great and we actually spend Dinis birthday motoring. Our last day was the best sailing, the wind was blowing between 12 and 15 knots and the seas were calm. We did good time this last day.

We were not going to make it in time for a Friday during the day arrival, so we though to seek anchorage and then make our way toward Lautoka during the weekend. Fiji has big islands and the distance between them is quite long. As we were approaching an anchorage on Friday mid morning both Dinis and myself had a bad feeling as this anchorage lay in a cove that have reefs on both sides of the land, with a less than 0.200 nm width. It was also overcast which make the visibility seeing the reef difficult. We decided that we will just continue...what is an extra night at sea...

To get inside the reefs on our way to Lautoka we have to sail through a pass, the Navula Pass. This pass is about 1 nm in width and on the chart it shows a white flashing white light indicating the northern reef and then flashing leading lights. If you follow the leading lights there is a great anchorage about 3 nm after passing through the pass. We decided that this was a far better anchorage and much safer as you have the navigation lights to help you.

Around 9 pm on Friday night 2 September Dinis confirmed that the navigation lights were working when we saw a cruise ship close to the Navula Pass's longitude and latitude. We saw the cruise ship details on the AIS and Dinis gave the captain a call on the VHF. This confirmation finalized our decision to enter the pass and anchor instead of having to wait at sea for day light.

Well my nerves was just shot when we arrived around 11:45 pm at the pass and we could not see the flashing white light at the northern reef only a red flashing light. The leading lights were quite weak, but Dinis was confident. I could not make out the leading lights and this red flashing light really bugged me as on the chart it showed a red flashing light but much further north than the pass. I was extremely nervous and was giving way to my fear of running into the reefs. By this time Dinis told me to stop my $%#@ and go inside and give him directions from the chart and also from the radar.

As we came closer to the reefs the leading lights became clearer although I still could not confirm this. We were watching the depth very carefully as we will have time to react as the depth drops in increments. I spend the longest 20 minutes of my life inside holding my breath while Dinis followed the leading lights with me checking the electronic charts and the radar. We pass through the pass like professional skippers and we drop anchor in Momi Bay. Afterwards we confirmed that the northern reef's light is indeed red and not white as the chart indicated. I was very happy and thankful to Dinis that he followed his instinct and not allowing me to put my fear onto him. All ended in good spirits.

We will stay here until Sunday and then make the 20 nm to Lautoka for check-in on Monday morning.

Tonga feast

Posted 2 September 2011

On Sunday morning 21 August Larry and Kim (s/v Magenta), Steve (s/v Heat Wave) and ourselves were picked up by our host. When we arrived at his residence we were just in time to see the opening of the underground oven. The oven is about 2x2x2 meters and at the bottom is a layer of hot stones. Breadfruit, yams, sweet potato and green papaya were packed in two layers above the stones. The chicken and beef taro dishes were covered in foil and put on a separate layer on top of the vegetables. The last layer was the fish. The oven was closed with corrugated tin to act as the oven door. Lots of banana and coconut leaves and sand were placed on top of the oven door to insolate the oven. It remained covered for about 3 to 4 hours for the food to be cooked. They had a pig roasted on its own spit. Sometimes the pig would be cooked in the oven as well. The food was delicious and we enjoyed the company of our friends at lunch. We had too much to eat and decided to take a walk back to the anchorage instead of been driven.

On route back we met up with some local children eating mandarins. They took us to this big tree and 2 boys climb literally like monkeys getting us some mandarins. They had fun and I was holding my breath hoping that the boys would not fall out of the tree. We said our good byes and continue our walking back.

We came across a group of men sitting around a table with some guitars and singing at the local fire hall station. They were drinking kava and having a grand old time. They invited us to join them and serving us some kava. The kava is served by a women traditionally. By this time the kava had taken effect on everyone there and everything was in a kind of slow motion pace. I did not like the look or taste of the kava. Looks like watered down brownish milk. Dinis and Larry had a great time joining the drinking and before long they were starting to feel the numbness. Anyway all good things have to come to an end.

We had to get going as we were invited to listen to the choir contest Sunday evening in the local Catholic Church. We got home with just enough time to have a shower and a quick bite before we were meeting other cruisers for the choir contest.

We were all seated in the back of the church as the whole church was filled with the choir contestants. They had 10 groups and the singing was just great. The Tongan people have great voices and it was a pleasure listening to the singing. Everyone was wearing their tradition dress.

What a great day.