Oct

19

We had a snake come aboard the Sol in Cooktown which was very blood pressure raising.  Poor Shae nearly went through the glass door with terror and whacked her teeth into her mouth, blood everywhere, but nothing a spoon full of sugar couldn’t fix as this congeals the blood.  Shae went out the back of the boat for a shower at night and nearly stood on the snake.  All we heard was screaming and crashing and a bang into the door (as we closed the door to stop the mozzies from coming in) from her yelling snake snake in hysterical screams.  The snake did a bee line for the back of the boat and hid up in the surf boards.  We called coastguard to see if they could get some assistance to remove this thing, but at that time of night no wildlife removers were around.  We then asked for assistance from any vessels in the Cooktown Harbour.

Shae holding the intruder

We had these 3 burly ozzie blokes come to our aid.  They were as full as ticks and iron bravado, it was quite humorous.  One of the guys (Roady) had handled many snakes, just went up to the surf boards had a quick peak, put his hand up to the boards and pulled it out.  It was a brown tree snake, thank fully not poisonous. After Shae had calmed down, Roady got her to hold it, we do have photos so we’ll pop them on the net when we get internet coverage.  We think it came aboard via our dinghy as we had gone ashore and tied our dinghy up near some trees, so rule is now, check dinghy, stay away from trees and take a bloody torch!!!

Oct

17

View from top of Lizard Island

Just let you know we left Lizard Island 1 day ago, we did a day trip out to Cod Reef with friends we have made via the Blue Water Rally (all bloody pohmes absolutely terrific old chap), a stunning place and the water was clear and gorgeous.  The pohmes dived in their scuba gear and Shae and Gav free dived down to the Scuba divers.  They couldn’t believe that Shae and Gav were in 9 metres depth patting a potato cod free diving.  The fish life was out of this world.  This island has the best Marine Research Station located here.  It is very well renown to all students and professors studying marine life.  Gav went for a walk to the top of the island and came across a lizard.  There are plenty of these on the island.  The seawater here is like having a bath it is so warm.

Oct

13

Arriving into Yorkies Knob Marina, this is just north of Cairns.  We will be here for 3 days then head to Port Douglas.

Yorkies Knob Marina

So all in all we are still having a great time and looking forward to the next big run which will be up to Darwin.  We have to pick the weather so as not to hit the high winds that come whistling through at great knots.  It is quite common for this to happen this time of the year. We managed to watch the rugby last night.  What a game.  The wallabies certainly deserved to win.  They were the better team, but as always the All Blacks just made it through in the last few minutes.  The All Blacks were just riding on their shirt tails last night.  So now until later.  Time for a swim.  We also did a road trip up to Port Douglas and Cairns.  Port Douglas has a great cafe .  We also went into Cairns and came across about 300 people doing Zumba in the park.  It was unreal.

Zumba in the park

Oct

13

We are at this great island resort place called Fitzroy Island.  This is an absolutely magnificent place to stay for families and the like.  The marine life here is rampant.  Stingrays, fish, sharks are all just at your feet so to speak.  It’s like a huge aquarium but massive in size.  Gavin and Shae did one of the bush walks up to the lighthouse today.  It’s overcast and very warm here too which is well overdue for us.  All the toys in the world, and we can use their pools/shower facilities.  This is just off Cairns.

Fitzroy Wharf

Oct

13

Magnetic Island – Horseshoe Bay

We have anchored in Horseshoe Bay.  We picked up Shae’s godfather Richard to do a passage with us up to Dunk Island.  What a neat place Magnetic Island is, not over commercialised, in fact another yachting regatta was on here, but being held in the main Nelly Bay area on the other side of the island.  This island is just off Townsville.  Shae and I visited the local Wildlife Park.  We held, turtles, lizards, koalas, parrots,a salt water croc (baby) and snakes. So all in all they taught us just to be aware of all wildlife, my slant on this hasn’t changed, they would definitely look better as a pair of shoes or handbag, but that wouldn’t be coerce if I said that out aloud.  There are soooooooo many greenies around here, and boy they get on their high horses and ramble, so I sit quietly after their huge rant and rave and then ask them if they drive a car, then I quietly ask them how driving a car is helping the environment, that shuts them up pretty quickly. Magnetic Island is just slammed by the sou’ easterlies and have huge boulders as the main feature then thick dense bush.  Then in little bays a smattering of lovely white sandy beaches.

Shae with a Horseshoe Bay Local

Approaching Magnetic Island

Oct

12

Trip from Magnetic to Mission Beach was as flat as flat can be, we motored most of the way, but the unreal thing was the thick misty haze over Port Hinchinbrook all the way up.  We could hardly see this place.  We had a few schools of dolphins, but they were on a lazy Sunday and having a rest, not at all interested in boat wake.

Dunk Island Transport

There was also a wharf called Lucinda which is for all the big ships to unload, this goes out approximately 1.5k into the sea.  Check it out, it’s unreal.

Lucinda Wharf

We have been going back and forth between Dunk Island and Mission Beach for the last couple of days. Shae, Gav and Guy went for a walk to the top of Dunk Island then on their way back they had an encounter with a snake.  The snake jumped from a rock, hit Guy’s cap and then took off into the ground between Shae and Guy, they absolutely crapped themselves.  They think it may have been a brown snake but didn’t hang round to ask!!  Mission Beach is where Shaes godparents live.  This place certainly has grown since we were last here 3 yrs ago.  It’s very laid back and with it’s little cafes dotted along the shoreline here and there.

Oct

12

Hardy Reef

We got up early to catch the waterfall in action.  The water fall was a non event, we couldn’t locate the thing but the reef was out of this world.  The colours just like an easel ready for the painting.  The fish life and reef were in full action.  Pity we couldn’t spear any as we would’ve had a grand feast.  From here we did an overnighter to Magnetic Island.

Oct

12

Hook Island is just a quick slide from Airlie Beach.  We have never seen so many catamaran’s, well actually it was a multi-hull regatta and there were another 4 Fontaine Pajots in the bay.  This area has designated moorings that you tie up to.  This is to protect the reef from any damage.  This was just a stop over for the night.

Oct

12

Airlie Beach

So from Mackay, after getting everything back into shipshape order, we set sail to Airlie Beach.  On our way to Airlie Beach we had close encounters with whales which were just out of this world.  I snapped a few shots, but in the excitement of them coming as close as 1 metre to the boat all you can here is my voice on the video and lots of air shots. lol.  All in all we got a bit of sailing in much to the delight of the skipper.  Airlie Beach is one of our favourite places.  Unfortunately due to weather we were unable to visit Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island as per normal, but maybe another time.  We relaxed, caught up with some friends who have relocated there and enjoyed the sun when it came out.  Still a little cool of the evening.

Whale waving hello

Oct

12

Approaching Hydrographers Reef which is one of the main reef entrances to Australia, we had the most awesome front come through.  35-40 kt winds, rain but the weirdest was the sea wasn’t wild so we sailed through that for about 7 hours and then it subsided.  The lightening just lit up the sky every time it performed then the rolling thunder accompanied it.  Just like a piece from Beethovens music. Landing in Mackay and clearing here was a huge relief,  especially after hand steering for 5 days and nights.  We unfortunately had some very sad news on our arrival into Mackay, that an extended family member passed away so we are back in NZ for a few days. We are now here to celebrate Bob’s life of which he will be greatly

Tides Out Mackay Marina

Mackay Marina

missed.

Oct

6

Arriving into Port Vila – Efate was interesting.  This has a very long harbour entrance, of which you have to ensure that your mast is not going to hit the powerlines that are hanging across the entrance that supplies the power to Iririki Resort.

Shae, Helen and Steve arrived in due course.  Unfortunately the weather was not the greatest.  It rained and was quite windy.  We managed to visit a few places like, Erakor Island, which housed the first missionaries back in 1873 -1893.  It is now a resort.  You catch a ferry across to this island and can walk around it in 20 minutes.

Mele Maat Cascades

On the second to last day that Helen and Steve were with us, the weather improved and we were able to move the boat out of the harbour across to Hideaway Island.  This island has a great diving facility for both scuba divers and snorkeling fanatics.  Across the bay was also the famous Mele-Maat Cascade Falls.

The walk there was interesting as we went past many villages.  Whilst we were in Port Vila, they were celebrating their Independence Week.  This is a huge affair.  With fireworks going off all night and constant reggae music blaring 24/7 at decibels you would probably never even register.  The thumping of continuous bass gets a little too much.  The whole town basically shuts down for the day as well and the navies from Australia, Noumea and Vanuatu put on a huge display with the local brass band playing music and entertaining the crowd whilst the dignitaries dish out their speeches.  This is a very important celebration for the people of Vanuatu, of which is a very bright and colourful affair.

Mele Maat Cascades 2

So time passed quickly and Helen and Steve went back to  NZ.  We then had to prepare for the next leg.

Let me paint you a pretty picture.  Clearing Port Vila – Efate and ready to roll, we get a weather fax roll in.  Hmm last 3 days not looking too great with southerly 35-45kts.  So we delay our departure by one day.   Next, another battery which charges the house batteries decides it doesn’t want to work as well as it should.  Make note to self, must carry six extra huge heavy batteries on board.  First two days of absolutely fabulous sailing.  We couldn’t fault it.  To slow us down we decided to stop off at one of the most northern atolls in Noumea call Atoll De La Surprise (google that).

Il de Surprise

Uninhabited island, of which this place only has the most comical birds of all shapes and sizes on it.  Just absolutely gorgeous.  It was put on the World Heritage List in 2008 along with some other atolls in the vicinity.  This place was absolutely mind blowing.  Visability down to 30m plus.  Clear crystal waters all colours of blues and greens, just heaps of birds and diving to kill for.

The Calm before the Storm

Gav and Shae stated this has topped the chart in all places. Enjoying the diving, I decided to go back to the boat for a power nap.  Well within about 1/2 hour I get a call from Guy on the VHF saying I may need to close the hatches as a fronts coming through.  I start doing this without a thought to looking outside, then I hear this panicked yelling at me from outside from Gavin, I look out and oh shit I’m floating away at full tit with this front at full blat towards the reef, holy shit, Gavs yelling at me to turn the engines on and head for him.  I’ve never moved so quick, Gav & Shae saw what was going on, and tried to get Guy to let me know we had drifted but  Guy didn’t hear what Gav was trying to say.  A very close call for all.  So needless to say we reanchored in the rain, I managed to get Shae and Gav aboard without the props ripping them to shreds.  Another note to self, don’t have powernaps whilst everyone is diving.  All good from there and settled in for the night we get up early to leave for the next part of the journey.  Out past the reefs we head then Gav says, right we need to reef the main.  All good I say.  So got ourselves sorted just as I was turning the boat back on course guess what…… the freakin autohelm dies!!!!  It’s hilarious.  I can only laugh.

A 1 hour break

So now between Gav and I and a little help from Shae we are hand steering to Mackay. So now I see what kick the guys get out of hand steering.  It’s a blast.  We are doing hour on hour off.  At least we have a beam reach with winds of about 15kts so it’s manageable.  This just goes to show you cannot always rely on mechanical support.  And then to really top it off the starboard engine started making huge banging noises.  We are now a monomaran!!!  We just have two hulls and have to hand steer.

There’s really not alot we can do about it, we thought we had a spare inducer for the auto helm but no, everything else but this.  Note to self, buy two auto helm rudder induces!!!

So apart from all the challenges we have, we are still laughing and enjoying it all. Just a little tired but we have about two days to go and we should be there.  Looking forward to oz and the normalness of civilisation for a change.

Must fly have to hand steer, note to self indulge in major humungus alcoholic beverage upon arrival into Mackay!!!

Take care

Lica, Gavin and Shae

xxx

Oct

5

Housing Tanna

Housing Tanna

Well we have made it safe and sound to Port Villa.  The trip across from Denerau just flew by.  We had the perfect conditions for the Sol.  We had the wind on our beam and we were creaming it at speeds of up to 12-14 kts in some instances.  We caught two huge mahi mahi so we now have fish coming out of our ears.  The sea conditions couldn’t have been better.  No clouds at all.  No rain. Just the sun beating down on us.  We traveled with Larooba so it was a bit of a race here and there until we put up the screecher and the Sol just took off.   Gav and I worked 3 hour shifts which just seemed enough to do the job.  We still haven’t had any sea life yet, so don’t know where the dolphins are let alone the whales.  We left Denerau around 6am on the 21st an arrived into Tanna at 7pm on 23rd.  An eerie feeling coming into a bay with reefs at night, and the boat looks and feels like it’s heading straight for them, until we did an “s” bend and low and behold a bay hidden in the back.  The bay was rolly for monomarans but not for cats.  Larooba came in around 9.30pm.  Approaching Tanna at night was surreal, apart from seeing the white thick strips of reef we looked up and saw a huge fire display of molten lava shooting up to the heavens, with it’s brilliant streaks of red in colour then into oranges.  It was just out of this world.   It was so mesmerizing.  The people of Tanna were another story.  Very beautiful, long legged, fine featured and almost African/Carribean and very striking in looks.

Customs Tanna

Customs Tanna

Their language was similar to that of pidgeon english (it reminded me of that movie “Cool Running” with the guys going to the Olympic Games representing their country, and sledge bobbing on a makeshift luge in the outbacks of nowhere).  They have their own language of Bislama, but they speak French and English.    Their village was outstanding.  Very clean and tidy and so orderly.  They had little communities of families living on the edge of a huge football field, so in the afternoon all the villages would congregate out in the football field playing soccer (boys only) and the girls would be playing volleyball.  The interesting thing here was that we didn’t see alot of older men around let alone older women.  Their age expectancy isn’t very high here, we estimated that they would be lucky to reach 55-60. They are very self sufficient with all their organic gardens, fruit trees and the like.  Yes still you see the pigs and chooks running around, and the odd cow tethered on the side of a grass verge.

Water Collection Tanna

Water Collection Tanna

Their roading was out of this world!! A track of sorts as a makeshift road, with huge gouges of about 1.5m depth and about 3m long in places on the main road which had been taken out by heavy rains, and as they don’t have the mechanical resources or money to fix it, (they could do with an old Massey Fergusson to fix the road) they just drive around it the best they can and hope the vehicle doesn’t slip sideways into it, and also very steep in places.  They use 4 wheel drives here, this village only has two for about a population of about 200 people.  They use these 4 wheel drives to gather income for the village to ferry international visitors up to the volcano and back, which is Mt Yasur. We had just missed a very important celebration by a day.  Just imagine doing this to your sons…..at seven years of age the families circumcise their sons, the boys are then sent out of the village for 4 weeks to live in the bush and commence the job of becoming a man.  Firstly ouch is what I was thinking and then secondly at 7yrs of age to be without your mum……but a teenager is sent out with the boys to oversee them, for the 4 weeks to live off the land and to survive. The only thing the mum is allowed to do is make special survival packets and place them in the bush, without seeing the boys at all, and hope that they manage to find them.  On the boys return a huge feast and celebration is performed to welcome them back and the beginning of their manhood journey.  The men just drink kava whilst the women do the work around the village plus create babies.  They dance, they sing, they drink kava and its a huge party all day and all night!  We went to church on Sunday.  WOW AWESOME!  Very moving, we (Sol Maria and Larooba) sat in the back seat (a seat being two thick bamboo poles strapped together by palm leaves), under a thatched roof and sand floor with palm like leaves in a lattice pattern for the sides.  We participated in the singing then they welcomed us and asked up to sit up the front. We had a interpreter to explain what the service was about (Genesis:  Noahs Ark how appropriate!!).  Then they sang a song to welcome us in English, talk about emotional, it was about welcoming their visitors to Tanna, from very far away, to come all this way to spend time with them, thank you thank you, well between Guy, Simone, Gav and I tears just streamed down our faces.  It was so special.  Then in return once we got ourselves together and composed ourselves we sang Pokarekareana.  They were ecstatic.  What a reception, it was truly out of this world. Another humbling and moving experience.  That evening our second attempt to get up to the volcano was in motion (we nearly got to the top on the first attempt to find out that the rain was hindering the visibility and it was no good, so we turned back)hence the second attempt.  The 4 wheel drive trip was a hoot, steep bumpy roading, trying to miss the huge trenches on the main dirt road up to the volcano.  We threw the kids into the cab whilst us adults sat on the open air conditioned tray of the Toyota 4 wheel drive 2 x 4 plank seating.  Imagine that on your butt.  To say the least it was challenging for a 1 hour drive up and then the return journey.  But the volcano made up for it.  You could hear it before you could see it.

Tanna Volcano

Mt Yasur Tanna

The roaring, hissing and groaning of this magnificent beast was unreal!!! It was very windy and cold up there, we had a little walk up a steep path like structure and we were there.  The volcano would be very quiet then you would hear the hissing and see the beautiful glow of red and oranges come up from the steam and then boom firework display extraordinaire would commence. WOW!! The huge pieces of molten lava that had been catapulted into the air, glowing like a spotlight, and the lava crevices just oozing within itself creating a huge glow of molten mass.  It’s so hard to explain but truly out of this world. It’s definitely a must do!! So after a huge day we hit the road and sailed out of Tanna for Port Villa.  A overnight sail.  We left Tanna at 9pm and arrived into Villa at 1pm the next day.  The sailing was up our date with about 15-20kts traveling of about 8 – 9 knts most of the way.  Sea was good, a bit sloppy coming into the bay, but overall another successful trip. Larooba will be making their way up over a couple of days.  The winds are expecting to increase to the 30′s so we left just in time.  A bit overcast here today and a little cool.  We will be exploring the town today and hoping to hunt down the bakery with real French bread and pastries.

Take care

Lica and Gav

Oct

5

Bula Bula welcome to Fiji

“Happy birthday Gav”.  This occasion was celebrated right into the early hours of 28th June morning.  With celebrating the farewell to Vinnie going back to NZ and the introduction of Gavs birthday.  We also happened to coincide with the arrival of boats Dol Selene (Gail and Brian) and Catina (Duncan, Cheryl, Darcy and Seisia), into Savusavu at 2am in the morning.  What a party that was.  It was a sad farewell to Vinnie who did an absolutely TREMENDOUS job helming across the sea and now has the nickname “Mrs Araldite”.   Thank you Vin for the great times we shared and we’re sure there will be more ahead in due course.  We will look forward to your return.   (no pressure).

Savu Savu, Fiji very rich in green fauna.  Hilly and tropical at the same time with a great mix of Fijian and Fijian Indians who seem to get along extremely well here in harmony.  It’s almost like real civilization with roads and cars and even buses.  The fresh food markets are a real eye opener.  Cheap at half the price.   The bartering games that are played amongst the stall holders and us give you a sense of local life.  The cost of living is very cheap here, but still expensive for the average local.   We spent a few days catching up on sleep and just generally doing fix up chores and cleaning on the boat.  Gav along with Duncan and Brian organized a tour day around Savu Savu.  Cheryl went with Eno (a Fijian Chief) and purchased our food which was to be prepared for our lunch upon arrival.  With bathers and towel tucked under our arms, along with the trusty bottle of water we were picked up in a truck with platform seats in it and a canvas exterior liner at 9am.  We travelled with Dol Selene (Brian and Gail), Duet (Rosie & Val), Catina (Duncan, Cheryl, Darcy & Seisia) Koko mo (Tom and Karen) plus us. We drove for what seemed an eternity up hills and down dales, to what you would describe as a  4 wheel drive track off the main road, I didn’t realize that 3 tonne trucks could 4 wheel drive!  We drove through a gorgeous rainforest with trees and palms canopying  to the skies, ferns and tropical fauna which was absolutely stunning.  The suns rays would break through in patches creating the mystique of the forest.

Waterfall Savu Savu

We suddenly stopped and then walked for about 10 minutes to the beauty of a fresh water waterfalls, cascading down into huge pools of rocks.   Without hesitation on with the bathers and into the fresh water pools ahh the relief with water cascading down on your shoulders and backs it was like a massage.  Endless amounts of water just falling down and not stopping.  The next place was visited was the local cooking kitchen.  Savu savu has thermal activity and the locals have a communal area where you can take your pot of food and steam cook it.  It was nothing flash, just a few areas in the ground with  rocks around them to identify the cooking spots and steam just comes out.  I don’t think it would make a “A” Grade food rating certificate somehow.

Thermal Hot Pot

Next to this area is the local school.  The children just happened to be outside playing when we arrived.  The bell went for them to end their lunch break, within about a minute of the children going back into their classrooms, lines of students came out, armed with a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush.  Then they all started brushing their teeth and spitting into the grassed allocated area.  It was hilarious from the point of view that they just spit in the grass, but also a great idea  to keep their teeth clean.  We were all a bit gobsmacked.  Next back into the truck to our surprise lunch location.  Out in middle of nowhere we came upon a beautiful deserted beach, with a small rock off the shore with one palm tree on it.  A lovely grassed area with coconut palms and a table with a checked table cloth laid out with salads beckoning for us to eat and a metal plate with meat and fish cooking away on it.  We dined like kings and queens with Eno’s nephews, sons, and extended family serenading us with music whilst we ate and drank and enjoyed the sun going down.  It was out of this world.  What a day!  Gav unfortunately had to catch a plane for NZ so he missed the best part when we broke out into song and dance.

Another day in Savu Savu, today’s activity was to go snorkeling out off Cousteau Resort and assist with the collection of the coral eating starfish the “crown thorn” starfish.  Ugly blooming things these are.  Prickly as a hedgehog , but they also have a venomous bite if you are pricked by them.  These things are eating away and destroying the reefs, mainly the coral, so the only way to get rid of them is to dive for them and then burn them.  We went out on Catina (a catamaran owned by Duncan & Cheryl) for the day.  The diving out here was unreal.  The clarity of the reef and its inhabitants was about 80%.  A lot of beautiful colours like a rainblow, just flashing by as you swam the reef. It was another evening of singing and guitar playing to finish off our day.

Surprise Destination

Today we went to Labasa.  Labasa is on the other side of the island.  It’s main source of income is from the sugar cane.  This is a 3 hour bus trip from Savu Savu and a 3 hour bus trip back.  We went along with Bouton d’or (Raewyn and Phil), Duet (Peter and Val), Stealaway (Ceri Ann, Emily and Olivia).  We had to be at the bus by 9am.  The bus trip into Labasa itself was the highlight of the day.  Labasa is highly populated with Fiji Indians.  There was one main street of shops, with the shop owners calling out for their wares to be purchased.  The wonderful smells of curries just permeated the air.  The local cuisine was just divine.  The bus trip coming home was an eye opener.  The bus left Labasa at 4pm, we were lucky to get a seat.  All the workers and the children from schools were jam packed into the bus.  Children as little as 5 yrs old would be standing on the bus for a duration of 1 ½ hours just to get home.  If they got a seat they just managed to stay awake or not, and hope like heck that some family member has remembered they are to get off at their bus stop along the way.  Labasa is the dry side of the island.  Once you drive through all the hills you come back into the lushness of tropical green which is mainly on the Savu Savu side.  The locals seem to burn strips of land / bush to clear it, we saw a lot of this happening on our way back to Savu Savu.

Gavin has arrived back with two of Shae’s friends from NZ, Freddie and Frankie Duncan.   We are now leaving Savu Savu and are introducing to Freddie and Frankie a ocean passage across to Denerau with a few stops on the way.

First stop Namenalala Island.  This is a place where no one is allowed to go ashore unless you are a paying visitor staying at their so called exclusive resort.  It also is a protected marine reserve taken care of by the caretakers of the island and owners of the resort.  Secondly you have to pay $25pp per year to just snorkel in their water.  The snorkeling at Cousteau Resort was better than this and it was for free.  What a welcome NOT!!  I would not recommend this place to anyone at all.  Nothing jumped out at you to say it was a place to go back to.

Second stop, Mokogai  Island.  What a place!

Makogai Bell

This is the old Leper colony from 1911 to 1969 staffed by catholic nuns. Over this period about 4,500 patients lived and were sheltered here. We went ashore and did a Sevusevu ceremony, this is when you present the chief with kava and he in turn welcomes you as a guest to visit his island and treat it with respect and use its facilities. We were shown around the old hospital buildings which are still standing, the cemetery which has about 1200 interred there.  The outdoor picture theatre, which was a huge concrete wall with an empty camera house building, a little worse for wear , where the film machine sat.  Very cool place.  The big generator room with its malfunctioning  generator.  They only crank this up for a few hours of the evening then a big bell is rung and the generator gets turned off, in turn all the houses lose their power until the next day.

Makogai Picture Theatre

The source of income here is tending and nurturing the calms.  These range from very very minute to huge with beautiful iridescent colours.  The diving around here was terrific in places.

Boating Makogai Style

So the next day we’re off to Raki Raki.  A big day of sailing and an overnight sleep.  We rose early the next morning to make our way to Latoka.   Another day of sailing and into Saweni Bay we stopped overnight to sleep.  We awoke the next morning to catch a bus into Latoka and do the cruising permit and clear into Latoka.  A spot of shopping at the local market and off we go again to Denerau.  Civilisation, pools, showers , restaurants and very familiar surroundings.  It was here we said goodbye to Diede our long term crew member, with Shae, Frankie and Freddie.   All returning back to NZ for good and Shae for two weeks of skiing and catching up with friends.

Oct

5

Sunday 27th June
I woke up to the stillness of the boat, the moon gleaming in through a porthole and the hum of an engine going. The sun was just starting to come up. Vin was up on deck taking in the momentous occasion, it really was a beautiful sight. A real postcard moment as we were approaching the point entering into Savu savu port. Vin and I were so absorbed in the moment we had a slight distraction and overlooked a very important navigation obstacle called a reef. Gav got up in due time after a quick shudder and shake to wake him up, he stepped up to the helm and steered us away from the land obstacle and put us back on our course. Bit of a close call that was. After a few stiff cuppa teas we pulled out the bean bags and put them on the bow with the air guitar being played to the sounds of Pink Floyd and also the Phantom of the Opera. Talk about diverse! The water was flat as a millpond and the sun was beating down on us. We had to call put up our yellow quarantine flag and the country flay that we were going into. Savu savu is a port that you can clear via customs. It is like being back in the real world, with real cars, roads, footpaths, shops, markets, banks, petrol station but still in a way that gave you the real Fiji away from Fiji if that makes sense. It’s not a rat race or over commercialized like Denerau is. The Fijians are very sincere here and really make you feel welcome. You walk down the street and they yell out Bula (for those who don’t know what this is, it’s “hello” in Fijian). Being a Sunday not a lot was open so we just sat back and enjoyed the day whilst customs cleared us on the Sol. We caught up with a few other friends who had come across from Tonga as well. “The God Spede”, with Fred, Tom, Angie and Geoff from the USA and “Pericon” with Carol and John from Auckland. We decided to go out to dinner our first night there and found a great curry restaurant called “Surf and Turf”. Needless to say a great night was had by all.

Thursday 24th June
After waiting for the winds to change and die down to a reasonable level we upped anchor and have now left Nuiatoputapu and on our way to Savusavu Fiji. The weather gods have been good to us. We had two Marlins on our lines. One we lost and the other we landed and released. What a beautiful fish of the sea. Diede took 45mins to bring the marlin alongside the boat then the prop released it. We had tuna for dinner one night and the best score was a mahi mahi. This is a very sort after fish to catch and eat. Iridescent blue in the water and then when you land them they turn yellow. The trip across was unreal. With the wind up our date all the way then it died out to nothing. We sailed 90% of the way with Vinnie hand steering as much as humanely possible, with this grin from ear to ear. She was like a Cheshire cat who had licked the cream out of the bowl. For someone who hasn’t helmed for over 25 years, Vin just stepped into it like she’d never left it. Truly amazing and exhilarating to watch Vin enjoy and absorb every moment at sea.

Until next time and sorry it’s so late
Sol Maria – Gavin, Lica, Shae