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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2013, 06-4 Crusiing Again:Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji


























     We’re off adventuring again and as always we find seem to find plenty to keep us busy.  We had a damp passage from Vuda to Savusavu but anchoring each night along the way made for an easy start to the new season.  Savusavu is the largest town on the island of Vanua Levu, the other big island of Fiji and will be our jumping off place for at least the next four months and possibly on though next year’s cyclone season.  As we motored through the mooring field that runs along the main street waterfront of Savusavu we were happy to see both a handful of boats that belonged to friends from Vuda Point and several boats we hadn’t seen since the fleet broker up late last spring.  We’d be exploring Vanua Levu with friends!   

     First we needed a mooring or at least a spot to drop our anchor. But it turns out that virtually all of Savusavu was reserved for a big rally that was due in a few days –The Oyster Round the World Rally.  Both the Copra Shed and Waitui Marinas were holding their moorings for the incoming boats and despite the fact that many were empty telephone calls to both marinas left us dropping the hook in 75 feet of water near the head of the pack in the open entrance to the river that runs along downtown.   We were tired after the four day passage and just wanted to shower and eat and maybe say hello to a few friends but Bill decided to call Copra Shed Marina to ask again about a mooring.  Seeing as we already had a reservation for six months on a mooring for cyclone season maybe they would give us a spot for a night or two until the Oysters started showing up.  Surprisingly they agreed and said to come on up the river and they would send out a boatman to lead us to one of their moorings.  Unfortunately our trusty 88 pound Rocna anchor had other plans. We were stuck tight.

    Our anchor has become stuck before –it’s the nature of an anchor after all- but always with a bit of back and forth and zigging and zagging we have been able to untangle from coral or rocks or what have you.  This time the more we worked at it the tighter our chain became.  Of course the anchor couldn’t have picked a time to get hung up while we were in twenty feet of crystal clear water, nope seventy five feet of brackish dark water was between us and freedom. Oh and did I tell you that we were tired, and hungry and that the sun was getting ready to set soon?

     I was about to cry foul and settle for staying right where we were but Bill caught the eyes of a group of local men who were on a flat bottom boat returning from their working day at the local pearl farm.  A bit of negotiation followed –

“how much?”

“um, one?”

“One what, one hundred dollars?

“Yes.”

Hmmm, well…ummm…. “how about $50 dollars? 

   In about the time it would have taken us to get the dive gear up on deck and ready to go the local men had us unwound and chain reeling in: great for us and by the sound of their excited chatter as they pulled away great for them too.  They were laughing happily and obviously making plans between them over how they would be spending the sudden windfall of cash. I think the local pool hall and grog shop was singing them a siren song.

     Savusavu is just a fraction of the size of Lautoka or Nadi.  There is a sweet small town feel to the place and everyone seems to be living a slower easier lifestyle.  Since we will base ourselves ere for the coming months this is where we will do essentially all of our shopping for the coming months, which means if they don’t have it you don’t need it! So far it’s looking rather prosperous and well stocked with several clothing stores, a shoe stores, numerous hardware stores each with a slightly different base inventory, a barber shop or two, two of the usual fresh bread stores –one of which sells whole wheat, yea, several places selling fresh fish, a daily produce market and plenty of restaurants all with prices significantly lower than for a comparable meal in Nadi town or Lautoka with everything from surf and turf to curry to pizza and burgers. There are a few upscale resorts nearby and several members only clubs that welcome visitors.  They also have video stores and a library –the first I will have the chance to use in three years, whoopee! There is even a six day a week cruisers net on CH 14 to answer all the questions we boaters seem to have about a new town. The locals seem to include more Fijians and fewer Hindi’s but are the same mix of happy and friendly people most genuinely happy to share their town with you. 
 
     On our second day in town we were wandering through the main street hardware stores looking for two part epoxy paint when we heard a marching band that seemed to be coming our way.  Turns out that Suva’s police marching band was in town performing as a part of a country wide safety campaign and they were headed our way.  The music sounded great and we’re always up for a chance to share in a little local excitement.  The interesting thing about this bands parade down the main street wasn’t that they were there in the middle of the day on a weekday –we’ve learned to expect the unexpected- but in the way the entire town seemed to put whatever it was that they were doing on hold and simply stop to enjoy the parade.  By the time the band reached our spot along main virtually everyone had moved out of the shops and were waiting patiently for the band to arrive.  When they did it was spectacular.  The crowd surged along as they came bringing with them everyone from further up the street.  As the band stopped in place and broke into a lively rendition of Rock around the Clock the audience tightened in around them. 

     The small mostly brass band was good and they were hot.  The precision music and choreographed dance steps attested to hours of band practice. They were dresses in dark blue military style long sleeve shirts complete with epaulettes, gold braid and shiny gold buttons over crisp white sulu’s with a shark tooth hem (the shark s tooth hem is typical for all “uniform” sulu’s here in Fiji) and carried trombones, tubas, drum set ups, cymbals and trumpets. As the band played the crowds surged and soon women were breaking from the sidelines and running amidst the members shaking baby powder or flour over every head they could reach.  Then as the crowd laughed and clapped several women broke through and were pulling pairs of bright red women’s panties over several heads as others moved in and began a sort of raucous dirty dancing with a couple of the members.  When the song was through they launched into another before quick stepping back into parade formation and moving on down Main Street along with most of the crowd.  Middle of the day, middle of the week and almost everyone who was in town simply stopped what they were doing and came out to be a part of the show.

     Since then things have been a bit quieter but we have had a chance to share a meal with each of our friends here and to learn more about the areas we will soon be traveling in.  We’ve almost completed the job of refinishing the aluminum bottom on our newly traded for dinghy and have completed a small list of the usual boring boat jobs.  In a day or two we will start serious provisioning for the coming weeks in the outer islands and then will be off for Taveuni.  Till then, Happy Sailing, Kat.

 

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013, 06-05 Read Your Policy (and then read it again.)



     For those of you who are cruisers grab a pen and write this down so you don’t forget: read your boat insurance policy being especially careful to look for clauses that require you to notify your insurance carrier about any changes in your status.  Friends of ours recently learned this the hard way. 

  This husband and wife couple come from our old dock –F dock at Seattle’s’ Shilshole Bay Marina  in Seattle and bought their Hylas 46 brand spanking new.  They crossed the Pacific along with us as part of the Pacific Puddle Jump class of 2012 and then spent the last season in New Zealand. There plan for the next few months was to sail back to Tahiti (yes they loved French Polynesia so much they decided to sail BACK to meet friends in Tahiti and do it all over again.) They were in a boat yard New Zealand finishing up the final bits of provisioning needed for the long passage east while their new bottom paint dried.  They were both below when the stands holding them in the yard collapsed. 

     When the stands collapsed the yacht tumbled over snapping their mast and ripping through the rigging. One of the now jagged pieces of steel punched through their fiberglass hull ripping through a locker, tearing through their cabinetry and –ewwww- punching a hole in their holding tank and leaving pooh to seep out and spread along the now down side of their hull.  Thankfully neither of them was seriously injured but in the blink of an eye their coming season of cruising plans came to a grinding halt.

    After regrouping and working through the shock they of course contacted their insurance company –Northern Reef.  Northern reef sent out a claims adjuster who surveyed the wreckage and then informed them that they had NO coverage for of the accident because they had not notified them that they were being hauled for work in the yard.  Turns out their policy had a clause stating that if they were hauled for more than 24 hours that constituted a “decommissioning” and they company needed to be notified (and a charge for an additional rider would be necessary.

    Surprisingly just four days before the accident one of the cruisers here in Fiji mentioned his policy requires him to notify and pay a fee for a rider whenever he is hauled in a yard.  At the time I had never heard of such a clause and had certainly never read it in our policy.  When we crossed the pacific we had the same insurance company cover Island Bound but just before cyclone season we spoke with another cruising friend who had trouble with a claim they had with Northern Reef.  His trouble was so poorly handled that he had chosen to change his carrier.  Our policy was up for renewal and heeding his word decided to change to another company just a few days before cyclone Evan (a category 4 cyclone) roared over us in December. 

   When we chose Northern Reef we did so because there policy came in considerably lower than any other company and because they were one of the few companies that provided coverage for a cruising couple in south pacific waters.   We have never had an insurance claim on Island Bound but decided that perhaps there was a reason for their low ball price (they simply find a way to deny most claims or portions of most claims.  And since we now had so many ocean miles under our keel that we would now qualify for most policies at a reasonable price even on big ocean passages.

      I know insurance companies are all about the money.  They won’t cover you if you’re a bad bet and for cruisers this takes many shapes.  When we were shopping for coverage we almost bought a policy that said yes they would cover us as a cruising couple but in the fine print they also would have required us to never navigate after dark –if your crossing an ocean which is what the policy was to cover you can’t simply stop sailing when the sun goes down- and once we arrived anywhere for the policy to provide coverage we would have to have a qualified sailor aboard while at anchor at all times.  In English that means when we arrived we would have to take turns going ashore leaving one of us onboard at all times.  When we brought to their attention that neither of these clauses was possible for a cruising couple they simply restated their requirement while assuring us they would be happy to offer us a policy!   

     So, the moral of the story is if it sounds too good to be true it probably is and if you make any changes in your cruising status (hauling, decommissioning, leaving on the hard or leaving unattended at a marina while you travel elsewhere) be sure to check your policy and comply with any clauses that allow your carrier to reduce or deny any subsequent claims.  Happy sailing, Kat.

2013, 06-02 Here and Gone Again


2013, 06-02 Here and Gone Again

    The kids visit flew by so fast that my mom and nieces three week visit seemed like it would be long and luxurious.  But no matter how much time you have before you know it all the planning and preparations are behind you and you’re back to the tears of goodbye.   

   My youngest niece Katie accompanied my 78 year old mother Mary for the 11 hour flight and three week visit with us here in Fiji.  It was the first time we have ever had guests on the boat for that long and the only time we have had so many weeks dedicated to visiting.  Their extended visit gave us enough time to really slow down and meander our way through the Mamanuca Islands and then northward half way up the Yasawa chain.  We spent three nights at anchor near Musket Cove Resort and helped re-christen the BBQs at the recently reopened Five Dollar Bar which had been out of business since cyclone Evan rampaged across Fiji in mid December. Everyone began to settle in and we soaked up the sun and shared a few snorkeling lessons. 

     One of my favorite experiences to share with visitors is snorkeling and if you have never snorkeled a tropical reef you’ve missed out on one of the great wonders of our world.  Katie took to snorkeling easily and did splendidly on two of the reefs right off our anchorage at Musket Cove. Hoping to see more wildlife and better coral we decided to step things up a bit by taking Island Bound out to one of the outer reefs for the day but managed to have a bit of extra excitement thrown in.  She and I took off in our Walker Bay dinghy and left mom and Bill on the boat.  The plan was to drop our little dinghy anchor and swim against the tide along the coral that edges the pass. We’d swim against the tide -the hard part first- and then across and over towards a tiny island for a simple and easy drift back to the dinghy.  Unfortunately the tide was going out not coming in and things didn’t go quite as planned.  I did an almost immediate regroup as I discovered the tide difference but felt safe enough simply working towards the island straight off then we would work against the tide in shallow water back to our starting spot at the dinghy.  The running tide however had other plans.

     It was tough going across the tide towards the island but we were not being sucked out to sea so we kicked and paddled and fought along in about six feet of water.  Katie was doing a great job of staying right on my tail and I kept a close eye on where we were in relation to the dinghy and the pass and as we slowly kicked our way along.  We were making progress but slowly and we were certainly not fluttering along enjoying any beautiful scenery.  At one point I looked back and saw Bill in the RIB out in the pass and assumed he was fishing as we just kept on towards the shallower water around the island. When we finally made shallower water we stood up and took a break.  Standing up gave us a place to rest with no worry of losing ground but even that was a chore so we began walking –in flippers and against the tide back towards the dinghy.  That’s when Bill came roaring to our rescue.  Turns out mom had been keeping a watch and then lost track of us and sent Bill out to find us. As soon as he got in the dinghy he discovered the tide mix up so ran the pass expecting to find us flushed out to open water. I’m not sure how worried he was when he didn’t find us anywhere in the pass but thankfully he finally spotted us trudging along in the island surf and came to the rescue.  Oddly if we had just drifted the pass into open water he would have found us straight off but that hadn’t seemed like the right move to me –and I knew Katie wasn’t exactly comfortable with deep water yet so was trying to keep her out of the actual pass from the get go.  Katie was a champ, never panicked and simply followed along trusting her salty Auntie and once Bill showed up she was still game to give it another try. 

     This time Bill joined us and we moved to the pass proper. He kept a hand on the painter for the RIB and we drifted the 2-3 knot current trailing it along behind us.  The water was 15 to 20 feet deep and a lovely crystal clear blue with tons of fish, beautiful coral structures and even a Moray eel.  The warm water rushed us along over the top like we were flying and we viewed the whole pass in just a few minutes.  The second try at a first run was so beautiful that she must have decided the deep water wasn’t anything to worry about that when we asked if she wanted to run it again she grinned and pulled herself into the dinghy for another go.  We were never in real danger and in fact did just the right thing of swimming across the current but it was a bit more adventurous than I would have chosen to do with a novice snorkeler. For an extra bonus experience when we headed back towards Island Bound in the two dingies found ourselves surrounded by thousands of reef fish. The iridescent blue and yellow fish were swimming all around us on the surface for as for as far as the eye could see.  We shut off the engines and watches with wonder as thousands of the fish swarmed around the boats flipping and wriggling and splashing in the crystal clear water. 

    Our next stop was Navandra Island. We had stopped there once before with cruising friends and I knew mom and Katie would love it.  There is a snug little anchorage where you feel like you are surrounded on three sides by white sandy beaches and swaying palm fringed islands.  There is no village there, no residents and no close neighbors so it is quiet and feels wonderfully remote.  The snorkeling is excellent on pristine reefs that are swarming with tons of fish and colorful coral.   We spent two full days there lazing away the heat. The only connection to the real world came when Captain Cook Cruises dropped their anchor for a few hours to let their guests explore the reef but by lunch they had moved on again and left us to our deserted island oasis.

     We did however encounter one problem: jelly fish.  We had all jumped in to the deep water surrounding the boat trying to cool off from the heat.  Within minutes I was feeling the telltale tiny zing that tells you there are annoying transparent jelly fish about.  Surprisingly they were only in the deep water around the boat.  When we went ashore to walk the beach there were none in the shallow water right off the beach and none in the mid depth water around the reefs.  But it only takes a few zaps to decide that jumping off the boat isn’t quite the experience your hoping for.  Different people experience the after effects of jellies differently.  Mom thankfully didn’t get any stings, Bill also got none or wasn’t bothered by them, Katie had a mass on her legs and I got them on my wrists and forearms and across both knees. Generally they have an initial sting and then hours later they develop into hot itchy spots similar to a mosquito bite. Some (me but not Bill) experience a secondary blister which can itch and sting for days after.  Treating them with white vinegar takes some of the bite out of them and then topical treatment with an anti itch product like Paw Paw ointment (made with papaya enzyme)  helps lessen the symptoms but once the damage is done it’s there to stay for awhile.  We have experienced them everywhere the water is especially warm -Fiji in late summer and fall and the Sea of Cortez in the hot summer months. With my over the top reaction it sure puts a damper on my primary cooling off technique of spending hours floating around just off the boat wherever we happen to be anchored. 

    Next stop Octopus Resort: my birthday had arrived and I was hoping for a night off from cooking so the plan was to make the short hop to their beautiful anchorage. It turned out to be a day filled with excitement.  First a pod of dolphins came to play in the bow wake, the first in the wild dolphins Katie had ever seen. They stayed with us for just a few minutes but as always it was enchanting. Even after all of our years aboard and all the encounters we have had with wildlife dolphins and whales never cease to thrill me and sharing them with visitors is always a highlight.  Then just as the last dolphins departed our bow wake we hooked a fish on our port fishing line and were soon hand over handing a 2 ½ foot Wahoo up to the boat.  A few minutes later a glance behind us showed a second fish, this time on our starboard line.  The second fish was an even bigger Wahoo –a lovely three feet of thick and tasty mild white fish.  In fact we now had more fish than we could eat and my little freezer was already full.  We wrapped them in towels and kept dousing them with fresh cool sea water with the hopes of trading them for part of our dinner at the resort. When we arrived at Octopus Bill took the dink in and made a trade with Jojo and Peter the couple who manage the resort: less one fillet Bill traded the fish for four of the nights curry dinners worth $45 each!!! A night off from cooking and free to boot.

    It was a warm and near breezeless night ashore and we enjoyed our dinners but offshore there was a lighting storm moving our way.   Having been caught out off the boat in a lightning storm before we decided to run for home before any rains or winds could reach us and so ~sigh~  decided to skip desert. As soon as we arriving back at Island Bound we started preparing for the storm cell still headed our way -chart plotter, lap top and back up GPS in the oven (a working-mans’ version of a faraday cage) for lighting strike protection –when a local long boat came charging our way.  Wondering if there was some mix up with the bill we met them at the rail and watched amazed three local Fijians circled a small chocolate birthday cake and lit a single candle.

     After birthday night we moved northward again to an anchorage off Naviti Island near Manta Resort where we had heard the manta’s had returned for the season.  Despite three attempts to find them we eventually ran out of time and headed for Blue Lagoon for more swimming, the Saturday night cultural show at Coral View Resort and the famed Banoffee Pie at Nanuya Resort.  The cultural show was fun and if you contact the resort they will send a long boat to get you which allowed us to transit the reefs safely in the dark.  Three lazy and relaxed nights at Blue Lagoon brought a weather report of high winds and heavy rain so we would weighed anchor and head back for Vuda two days early.  But first, finally the Banoffee Pie.

     After talking it up with guests the timing was finally right.  For you who have never even heard of it Banoffee pie it is a banana and toffee flavored cream pie with a crisp cookie crust and a whipped cream top –sweet but not too and very cool and light. And even at $15 dollars a slice it’s worth every dime.  We discovered this wonderful treat at Nanuya resort but alas it is not always available.  But finally on our last afternoon in Blue Lagoon the resort not only had it they had four pieces!  $60 worth of pie later I couldn’t wait to get back to the boat and google a recipe.  So for those of you with a sweet tooth:

Banoffee Pie

 

14 oz of crushed cookie crumbs or graham crackers

7 oz of butter melted

1 tin of sweetened condensed milk (or one tin of Nestles caramel)

1 pint heavy cream

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large bananas (ripe but still firm and pale)

 

1.      Melt butter and add to cookie crumbs in pie pan and press into place.  Bake at 350 for 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2.      In a sauce pan boil the can of condensed milk –being sure to keep can completely covered or you may be scraping toffee off of your ceiling- for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Set aside to cool.  (You may also substitute a tin of Nestles caramel to save time and trouble.)

3.      Spread ½ of the cooled toffee over the crisp cookie crust, top with sliced bananas and the remaining toffee filling.

4.      Whip the cream until fluffy and then slowly add in the vanilla and the sugar.  Spread whipped topping over pie and chill before cutting.  You may substitute with Dream Whip, Cool Whip or canned whipped topping.  I’m on a boat and am ALL about substitutions.

5.      If desired you can grate a small bit of dark chocolate over the whipped topping.

 

    The next morning we set off for our return trip to Vuda Marina.  The weather forecast was calling for heavy rains and big seas so we made the entire return trip in one day to beat the worst of it.  It rained for most of the 50 mile passage back to Vuda but the seas remained light so at least it wasn’t a rodeo ride for our guests.

I felt bad robbing Mom and Katie of their last few days on the outer islands but the few extra days of land based vacation time turned out to be a fine way to spend the last few days of their vacation. It gave us time for to Lautoka and the botanical garden and also a few simple days of visiting, swimming and relaxing. We did manage to work in pizza and pasta night at First Landing Resort as well as the Friday night BBQ and a native Fijian meke  -a dancing and singing production put on by the locals from the village of Viseisei.  

      The goodbyes are still hard on me.  We are always so excited when guests arrive but there is an end to every visit and yes I still cry whenever family leaves but I guess you just can’t have the great hello’s without putting up with the goodbye tears too.    A neighbor once told me that having guests is interesting because you’re so happy the day friends arrive and so happy again the day they leave because then you get your boat back, your routine back and your quiet time back.  And Bill and I are excited about the next chapter. We will soon sail away from Vuda Point and spend the next four months cruising around the other big island of Fiji Vanua Levu.  It will be great to be out exploring new areas again.  We are especially excited about the world class diving around Taveuni Island and Savu Savu and the opportunity to cruise the Lau Groups in the eastern part of the country where the islands have only been open to cruising yachts for a short time.  So, it’s time to get to work, laundry and a good boat scrubbing is calling my name.  I’ll write soon.  Till then, write when you can we always love to hear from you.  Kat and Bill  

 

 
 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013, 05-12 A Week with the Kids


2013, 05-12   A Week with the Kids

     At 6:20 Monday morning we awakened with a start to the sound of voices.  It seems that Josh and Dianna’s flight had not only arrived but Customs and Immigrations had been a flash and they were now standing on the quay waiting for permission to come aboard.  Both Bill and I had been dead asleep and it took a moment or two to figure out who exactly was knocking on our hull.  It only took a minute though to bring them aboard and into the chaos of arrival and we were all soon sitting in the cockpit enjoying the sounds and smells of Fiji and gobbling up fresh bagels and cream cheese brought all the way from California.  Oh and organic natural peanut butter!  Real natural peanut butter with no sugar, no vegetable oil and no hydrogenated anything, what a treat!  Then it was off to town for everyone else while I set about a bit of stowing and cleaning so we could set sail when they returned.  By late morning we had set sail for Musket Cove and a whirl wind of a visit.

     The kids were only here for seven nights which quickly flew by. We wanted to share our Fiji but seven days is just not enough time to do the country justice. In retrospect we should have covered more ground on fewer days and less anchorages in total. Instead it seemed we were underway every day they were here and we had little time for relaxing and enjoying the power of the tropics.  In the end we’d shared anchorages at Musket Cove, Waya and Naviti islands and Blue Lagoon along with trips to Nadi town and Lautoka.  The weather was perfect with a week of hot bright days.  They even managed to cram in a bit of snorkeling and two dives at Blue Lagoon but the taxi ride back to the airport seemed to come in a heartbeat and suddenly set number two of our guests were here and gone.   

2013, 05-05 Travels with Dee


2013, 05-05 Travels with Dee

     Bills sister Dee arrived in Fiji after a whirl wind of days in New Zealand.  Her holiday in New Zealand helped her adjusted to the time difference and jet lag so her first day here went really well despite the rainy weather. She arrived here at 4:00 pm April 25th but her body was still trying to tell her it was 10:00 pm April 24th!  Right off the bat she showed her moxie when without fear or frustration she courageously climbed aboard (from a quay you have no finger pier to step from but must negotiate the tides with a bit of a tight rope show.)  Early the next morning we set sail for the short hop to Port Denarau then on to Nadi via the “little yellow bus.” Umbrellas in hand we peeked into a handful of tourist shops to look at carvings then toured the Hindu temple and shopped a bit for groceries before stopping for curry lunch at one of the local Indian restaurants and filled up on roti and chicken Korma. Back at the boat I set about teaching her how to play Baja rummy –an intricate card game I have just recently learned to play and love- where she proceeded to grandly stomp me into the ground.

     The next day Bill set off for Lautoka on a hunt for a gas tank set up for our new outboard motor while Dee and I grabbed the bus for the botanical gardens at the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. The taxi drivers at Vuda marina wanted $60 to take us to the gardens and wait while we toured but we took a $1.60 bus ride and picked up a local taxi for a $15 roundtrip visit.  It poured down rain but with our trusty umbrellas we thoroughly enjoyed the gardens and loved saving a chunk of money too.  Day three came and finally the clouds lifted, the rains let up and we set sail for the anchorage at Musket Cove.  At Musket we stayed several days at anchor snorkeling and riding around in the dingy and whiling away the afternoon heat playing cards.   We ended our cruising with a night at a new anchorage on the NE side of Malolo Island and a nice sail back to Vuda.

    Having visitors aboard is always a little unsettling to the ordinary boat life routine and before Dee’s visit she and I had never met face to face, in fact we had only spoken on the phone once or twice and shared a few emails.  Having heard many horror stories from other cruising friends who had “strangers” aboard as crew I had been a little apprehensive about the visit. She turned out to be such an easy guest and we had so much fun together that when she left I felt like I had gained a sister-in-law and a good friend.  She seemed to really enjoy Fiji and its friendly people and settled right into boat life.  My only complaint is that she must be a truly accomplished card shark because she managed to win far more than her fair share of the afternoon card games.

2013, 04-25 Visiting Season, Opening Day


2013, 04-25   Visiting Season, Opening Day  

    In just a few hours Bills Sister Dee will arrive –the first of three sets of family who are coming to visit us in Fiji.  We are excited to share our Fiji home but are also shaking our heads at how exactly we managed to schedule them back to back to back.  We didn’t set out to have guests hot bunking the v-birth but we also didn’t manage to plan for this not to happen.  Dee arrives today at 4:00pm and flies out nine days from now on a 10:00pm flight. The next morning at 5:00 am son Josh and daughter-in-law Dianna arrive on the Los Angeles to Nadi flight for their six day stay. Then just six days later Josh and Dianna lift off at 10:00pm while my mom and niece Katie are in the air and set to arrive on another 5:00am LA to Nadi flight.  That’s two rounds of lift off at 10pm and new arrivals seven hours later at 5:00 am!  Oops! Oh well the reservations are made so here we go.   

     A guest means preparation. Five and a half weeks of guests means chaos.  The v-birth (in the off season the v-birth is our garage) needs a transformation: clean out, rearrange and repack. I painted and scrubbed and washed guest bedding and we schlepped provisions home on the bus from town. Oh and where exactly am I going to put all the goodies that each of our guests have stashed away in their luggage? We’ve been ordering boat bits and pieces for weeks now and all of those bits will need to be stored somewhere.   Guests also mean filling up with diesel and hauling jerry cans of dinghy gas to the boat cleaning the boat inside and out with at least a half assed attempt at shinning up the stainless and rinsing off the graying teak. The decks need to be really scrubbed and the time out at anchor with each set of guests means that we will be dragging aboard the sand and salt water stickiness that only a hose at the marina will wash away again.  The inside of the boat will need to be cleaned before and between –of course- and we will need to resupply with several loads of general stores. We only have one set of towels and sheets for guests so between each set of guests I will be rushing to run everything through the laundry. Please rain stay away –at least till the laundry is dry!

 Boat life has a good deal of idiosyncrasies so each set of guests need lessons on conserving water and power, operating the heads, running the shower and shower drain, opening the fridge, finding the silverware and opening and closing hatches and ports –and a million other bits of information.  Everyone will want to see a piece of city life so with each set of guests we will visit Nadi and or Lautoka -or both- for a taste of the real flavors of Fiji.  The big town market is a must see for the sights sounds and colors of all the local fruits and vegetables and of course the stalls filled with Kava root and spices.  Then there is the beautiful Hindu Temple and at least a peek in the handicraft shops for a look at carved kava bowls, war clubs and cannibal forks.  Every bit of Fiji we can cram into a few days three times running. By June 2nd I will have cried over all of our goodbyes and we will be busy preparing for our passage on to the island of Vanua Levu –our first big passage in months.   Kat