Suprising Fiji

 

 

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Fiji has been a lovely surprise. For some reason we have not been thinking too much about Fiji and it was not before we got here that we really understood how large it is and how much there is to do here. Fiji consists of two large islands Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Then there is three outlying groups of islands, The Yassawa Group, The Lao Group and The Mammalucas. All in all it is more to see than anyone can hope to cover in several years of cruising. Each of the main islands are larger than  for e.g Tahiti.

It is a magnificent Island country. The people are exceptionally friendly and the thousands of islands, small and large, offer sandy beaches green hills and reefs teeming with life. Economically Fiji is the main center in the south pacific, that is of course if you count out New Zealand. But it is not industrialized to the extent you know from the western world ,and it is not crowded. It is however not  politically stable. They tend to have coups every odd year. The basis for this is an ethnic conflict between Indians and Fijians. The Indians came here app.100 years ago to work on the sugar cane plantations, about the same time as Indians arrived in South Africa for the same purpose. As everywhere else the Indians have kept their culture and way of life, and they are very industrious. It seems like every shop and restaurant is Indian owned. All the commotion started when the population of Indians became larger than Fijian population. But the country is safe to travel in and you do not notice anything unless you really look closely. After all these are Fijian coup makers, and they are kind and friendly people ,with no trace of the violence and hatred you can see in other people where there are political unrest. That is of cause if you count out their past as cannibals....

We sailed into the northern main island, Vanua Levu, as our first landfall and stayed in the safe bay of Savu Savu for 2 weeks. Partly  because we all fell sick and had to go on antibiotics, and partly because it was blowing and raining constantly. But we enjoyed it very much all the same as some friends we had not seen for a while on SY Pinacolada were there. They are a lovely couple from NZ/Aussie that we first met up with in Antigua more than 2 years ago. Then Souls Calling came in for a few days, and Moonraker joined us. The bay was otherwise full of cruisers that had come up from New Zealand to spend the cruising season around Fiji. This is very much the way Northern Europeans sail to the Caribbean for their one year sabbatical.

Savu Savu is dominated by its Indian population and we got to know a family that took us to their temple one night to celebrate the birth of Krishna. It was quite an experience and we felt so welcome. The kids, especially Camilla, did not want to go home at night. All the ladies where flocking around Camilla and asking questions about her trip. After the service, which was full of song, we where offered Indian food.

Hindi Temple

Savu Savu has quite a few hot springs and the beach is steaming from the heat. Paddy and Nick took the kids to cook food on the hot springs. They cooked eggs and a pudding on the hot steam. That was quite a lesson in geology! Paddy spent a lot of time with the kids in Savu Savu and they just loved to go to Pina Colada for school in the morning. We would take them over in the dinghy and later see them on deck either marching to the times table or climbing the mast. Paddy and Nick even organized a treasure hunt for all the kids in the bay. They were to find treasure guided by clues on this hilly island, complete with an old fort, and an ancient grave site. A place that gets the imagination running. It was great fun.

  treasure hunt             hot spring cooking

When the weather, and our sinuses, cleared we headed south to a small island called Makogai. Max from Moonraker and Trond sailed Coconut while Lesley and the kids joined Moonraker for the day. Arriving in Makongai they where quite convinced that Coconut was too small and Moonraker with her 75 feet more right for a family. Janet's great cooking also comes into the equation as smoked salmon and other delicatessens' where served while we had sandwiches on Coconut. Makogai  used to be a Leper colony but has since been a research station for Turtles and giant clams (some up to 100kg). Here we also got to do the "sevusevu", which is the ceremony where you ask the chief for permission to visit his island. It involves drinking kava which is a horrible tasting ,lightly narcotic brew made from kava roots.I felt no different apart from a slightly numb feeling in my mouth. Don't know if that was my taste buds rebelling or the drink doing its work. Pinacolada and Moonraker came with us, but when we headed south and west towards the north shores of the big island Viti Levu we sailed in company with Moonraker. Pinacolada headed south east towards the outlying islands in the Lao group. They opted for the surf instead of the  Musket Cove regatta week, that we where to join. It was sad to see them go not knowing when we will see them again. But it is all a part of cruising. You meet all these wonderful people, form strong bonds quickly, allthe time knowing that you do have to say goodbye at some point. In Musket Cove Tiree was waiting for us. She had justarrived from England and Tom's funeral to join us for a couple of weeks.

  moonraker                                       church in Makongai   

The Musket Cove regatta is all about having fun. It was initiated by some yachties who settled here about 20 years ago and started a hotel/ resort. It has since grown and is today a large resort with its own marina. The racing is very informal and relaxed with racing on alternate days. The whole week kicked off with a pirate day where all sailed out to an island resort dressed as pirates, everyone hurling water balloons and toilet paper on each other the entire way! We got to go on Souls Calling with Max and Luke from Moonraker as well as Tiree . It was great! When we arrived at the island, the staff and guests attacked us and we were "captured" and had to walk on fire (red foam put in the sand!) There were prizes for best beard, best wench, best figurehead etc and dancing competitions like limbo and rock and roll. After a BBQ lunch we all sailed back. We did early on decide to raid another boat in true pirate fashion and sail off with their figure head. So all the pirates jumped in the dinghy, and as one of us cut the figurehead down from the bow sprit, the rest kept the crew at bay with their water guns. Great fun for all including the crew on the boat we attacked when they finally understood what was happening....

            pirate day

 Undoubtedly the most serious sailing taking place was the "hobie cat" racing. The race course was close to the beach and very entertaining with a beach start. Colin and Luke formed the Coconut 1 team and made the semi- finals after some exciting sailing. Camilla and Max in Coconut 2 capsized in a most spectacular fashion right in front of the beach!  The crowd went berserk. Coconut 3 with Graham on Moonraker and Trond won the plate round and were awarded mobile phones each. They where quite pleased with themselves as they where behind after the first round and managed to restore honor after catching up in the second round the course. In the evening there was a ladies only "Why I hate sailing" speech. It was hilarious and some of the contestants came dressed up with foulies and a bucket for rough weather. Camilla did very well delivering her improvised speech in front of 100 people. She ended up sharing the prize and walked of very happily with 75 dollars to use at the boutique.

    competitions galore

Then it was another day of sailing... Around-the island Race. We where invited onboard Moonraker for the race and had a great time. Moonraker being  75 feet dwarfed all the other boats, and we had some very exciting racing. Especially as the wind piped up to 20 knots and we where sailing inside the reefs. At times it was rather nerve wrecking as there was not much of a gap between the coral heads for a big boat.

The next day the kids entered the "Dress -your - Dinghy-up " competition and they had to parade in front of the judges in the marina. They covered the little dinghy they got from Tom (Twirly) in tin foil and made wings on it. They called it "Intergalactic Star fighter" and Colin dressed up as a "Bounty Hunter" and Camilla was posing as "Princess Leah" from Star Wars. Since they were the only ones rowing, they got extra credit and won first prize!! Heineken sponsored this event, so the large bag of Heineken labeled gifts was probably not so child friendly, but fun to go through anyway....bottle openers, can openers, key rings, pens, diary with pictures of beer bottles, cards, caps and more.

There where in all about 60 boats entered in the regatta week and everyone was there to have a good old time, a lot of fun. The biggest laugh was maybe  the princess and prince REVERSE dress competition, and I can tell you, there were some ugly princesses! The final evening included prize giving, pig on the spit and traditional dancing and music by the Fijians. We had a lovely time and it was a treat to be doing something else than passage making. We are rather surprised that so few, relative speaking, boats where entered. We saw no other Norwegian boats e.g and had to sing our national anthem ourselves.

 

 The Rugby World Cup  started and yachties all over the anchorage got up at ungodly hours to watch. World cup is in Europe, so it meant a 1230 AM kick off most nights. It made for quite some atmosphere. As all good things ,this also had to come to an end. We sailed off to the main island to clear out and were able to spend a few days in Port Denerau hanging out with Tiree and Southern Star before the next challenge, 550 n.miles to Efate in Vanuatu.

 

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This site was last updated 11-10-2007 08:56:02