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May 5 - 3103 S - 17505 E

Rolling along in light winds at the back of the pack. Other boats are motoring, but if we can hold 4 knots, we will sail. The repair list already has 9 items, mostly the normal wear and tear of sailing, on chafed lines and sails, and all minor. A to-do list for the next landfall.

On night watches we are layered in fleeces, with a ski parka, hats and gloves. Hard to believe that in another week we will be where butter melts.

The radar is on often at night, to help us dodge squalls, or at least know when to reef down before they hit. Our landlubber hands have lost their calluses and pulling the lines is quickly rebuilding them. Dave pulled a fresh weather grib, weather looks good though we may have some big seas from a low that will bulge below us over the next few days. A tiny finch rested on the lifelines today, only sign of life out here.

After the squall we are treated to a double rainbow...

...and a gorgeous sunset.

May 8 - 2546 S - 17548 E - Watch Change

It is significantly warmer, t-shirt temps. It is now 2 am and I've just relieved Dave. Watch change consists of telling the person coming on watch the sail plan (Dave told me he added a preventer to quiet the flogging boom, only mainsail up), and whether ships or squalls are within our horizon (nada). Dave shows me the empty radar screen, paging out 36 miles, takes a final visual look around, and hits the sack. I will give him maybe 5 hours before nudging him awake for his next watch. We don't have a fixed watch schedule, going more on how much sleep we need. It is a small gift when we can give each other an extra hour.

I'll spend much of my watch below, popping up every 10 minutes for a visual scan, but relying on the radar for big ship traffic. Yesterday the radar saw a small freighter at 3 miles that I could only see visually once I knew which direction to look. In largish swells, it appeared occasionally, just a peek-a-boo dark shape, visible when we bobbed to the crest of a swell. We add a bearing line and ring on the radar, and watch the mark to make sure it moves off the bearing line relative to us. If so, no collision. If not, we may try to hail them to make sure they see us, turn on additional deck lights, and we change our course to stay well away. We don't expect freighters to change course for tiny boats.

We are motoring in light airs, passed the halfway mark today. The reefed mainsail stays up the whole passage, even when motoring, to dampen our roll in the swells. We are to get long 4-meter swells today, coming from a low passing south of us. This low is holding the next wave of boats in port in New Zealand for a week, waiting for the next weather window to leap north.

On the evening radio sched we check in, plotting the position of other cruising boats near us. We give lat and long, bearing and speed, and report all is well aboard. We also chat offline with several friends, lying about the fish we've caught (we don't have a line in the water, Dave tries to claim a flying fish on deck, Frank has caught a baby mahi-mahi that is dubbed mini-mini), and commiserating about the light winds and dwindling fuel. We have plenty left, but several other boats have motored much more than we have and are going at lower revs to conserve.

3:20 am, yogurt banana bread in the oven, scenting the cabin. All is well.

May 9 - 2308 S - 17612 E

Winds come and go. We briefly flew the spinnaker yesterday, then winds were too light so we snuffed it in its sock. The snuffing line got caught around the radar dome, but we worked it free by sending up a messenger halyard. The spinnaker is our most complex sail - works great in light airs but is always intimidating to use. It has the potential for danger to us and boat, so is always a careful two-person job to set up and take down.

We motored until late evening when the winds came up, nicely on the beam. When we shut the engine down, we have to set the shaft brake. Otherwise, the water rushing by spins the prop and shaft, and our transmission overheats. Other boats don't have this issue, but oil only circulates in the transmission when our engine is running, so Dave added the brake in Mexico. We shut the engine down while I head the boat into the wind, to stall the whirling shaft. Dave lifts a floorboard to set the brake, which must fall into a groove, This often takes a few tries, but once in place and we are sailing, the loudest noise is the water gurgling and chuckling against the hull. The winds are holding, right on our beam, and we are sailing. Just over 300 miles to go - we should arrive Monday in Fiji.

May 10 - 2130 S - 17629 E - Becalmed and Motoring

The winds kept up steadily for another day, then died completely. We are reading just a couple knots of light breeze, not enough to move the boat, so we have resorted to the iron wind - the engine. The chartplotter says we still have a day and a half or more to go, which likely has us making landfall after sundown, too late to navigate the reef passage to Musket Cove. As we get closer, we will decide whether to attempt to transit Navula pass, maybe anchoring just inside in Momi Cove, or bob around outside until daylight Tuesday. Fiji is notorious for SNAGs - Sattelite Navigation Assisted Groundings, when yachties depend too much on GPS and electronic charting, and too little on eyeball navigation among the minefield of reefs in Fijian waters.

May 11 - Landfall Fiji!

The winds all but died, so we have been motor-sailing the past day and a half. Fortunately, we sailed enough earlier that we have fuel to do this. So pedal to the metal, we are charging along at 6-7 knots, trying to make Musket Cove in daylight. Still hard to tell, but if we can clear Navula Pass by 3pm, we should be able to make it all the way in. The Navula entrance is straightforward, but the zig-zag course through coral to Musket Cove requires good light. I can see land clearly now, 25 miles out.

Fish on! Dave caught a 34" mahi-mahi. We rounded up into the wind and he brought it in, then had to look up how to filet it, it had been that long since we've caught one.

We made it through the pass by 3pm, anchor down by 5pm at Musket Cove. Customs clearance is scheduled for tomorrow, so once in, we have to fly our Q quarantine flag and stay aboard.

Fish dinner! Showers! Full night's sleep on clean sheets. Life is good.

Dave catches a nice mahi-mahi...

...and makes the scale lie about its weight.

May 13 - Customs Clearance

We waited yesterday for Fiji Customs and Immigration. They finally arrived at 7pm, and cleared in 3 boats, but stopped before coming to us and Warm Rain. This morning Health and Customs came to Baraka for a quick inspection (all food coming from NZ is fine, including pork products) and told Dave and Tom to dinghy in for documentation. Clearance into Fiji seems straightforward, albeit a lot of paperwork. Once we have done this initial clearance, we must apply for a cruising permit for Fiji, listing all the places we'd like to visit, pay fees, and then clear in and out of the 4 major ports in each region as a sort of internal clearance when we move around. This doesn't sound too onerous. There may be significant fines if we fail to comply, so we are glad the rally info explained the system.

Now we will be free to go ashore and swap passage notes with the other boats. Seems odd to have been here 2 days after a passage without being able to step ashore, though it gave us a chance to clean up the boat and turn us again from a passage boat to a liveaboard one.

I also spent the time reading "Rescue in the Pacific", a harrowing account of the infamous Queens Day Storm that hit the fleet transitting from NZ to Tonga in 1994. 8 boats rolled and were lost, with crews heroically rescued from all but one. I deliberately waited until after this passage to read it. Very useful info on safety equipment. Interesting to note the critical equipment aboard was the EPIRB emergency beacon. The liferafts aboard were useless in the ferocious storm, and in fact, most of the abandoned boats were eventually found on reefs, showing just how much a sturdy cruising boat can take. Excellent book for boats heading offshore. The conditions were most unusual, but the accounts will help us give a hard look at Baraka, and think about how we can better prepare for a worst case storm. The book also spawns an appreciation how tiny New Zealand provides amazing rescue resources covering a huge area of water.

Ashore, pretty Musket Cove greets us.

The landing craft Billy Billy brings supplies from the mainland.

Nice to walk the beach after the 8 day passage.

The resort rents out bures to tourists.

May 16 - Rally Fun

We have been enjoying Musket Cove, hanging out the The Bar with other yachties and participating in games and contests (fishing, snorkeling, vollleyball) with the ICA rally boats. Today we had a chart mark-up session to hear recommendations where to anchor in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Island Groups. Sounds like there are many beautiful anchorages and gorgeous snorkeling. Tonight is Pirate Night. Dave has a cutlass, earring, hat, etc. We will stop at the firepit for charcoal to add a beard.

Musket Cove is pretty and comfortable. In the evenings we take our meat ashore and use the open grills, and eat with friends. Tomorrow, Sunday, Fiji shuts down. The Fijians don't even swim or fish on Sundays, so we will keep a low profile too. We are learning more about the customs here. There are definitely some protocols to observe.

The rally group plays games...

...and parties.

Ubiquitous shows us how the rich cruise.

Frank and Barbara unwind behind Destiny.

Dave in pirate costume.

The lady pirates party.

May 17 - Loss of Elusive

Last night we heard from Charisma that good friends Steve and Wendy of Seattle lost their boat, Elusive, while sailing north from New Zealand to Fiji. Fortunately the crew of 3, which included their son, were taken aboard Scarlett O'Hara. 500 miles out, Scarlet was close enough for John to Board Elusive and help look for the leak. Elusive was able to set off their EBIRB, and confirm it with their Sat Phone. The source of the leak was not found in time.

We will stay here at Musket Cove until they arrive in Lautoka, to see if there is anything we can do to help.

This is heart-stopping news. Steve is an expert sailor and the boat was in superlative condition. We met the J-44 Elusive's crew in Mexico (ditto Scarlett) and have hopped across the Pacific with them. The rest of the New Zealand fleet is working north, including many other friends. This is a sobering reminder that what we are doing does have the potential for tragedy. The important thing is that the crew are safe and unhurt.

May 20 - Bula Fiji

Yesterday we caught the Malolo Cat ferry to the resort island of Denerau, then rode a taxi to Nadi (pronounced Nandi) to explore. Nadi reminds us a lot of the dusty towns of Mexico, with some significant differences. We visited a Hindu temple, where we removed our shoes and enjoyed the gaudy cartoon-strip paintings, then had lunch in a Chinese restaurant. At the market, Dawn and I shopped for fresh fruits and veg, while Dave and Tom got the scoop on kava, how much and what type to buy. When we go to the outer islands we will make sevusevu, an offering to the local chief, to get permission to anchor and visit. The proper offering is a half kilo of kava root. Dave and Tom also bought sulus, men's skirts, as it is disrespectful to show one's legs above the knee, even clad in pants or shorts. Today we joined Destiny to walk around Malolo Lailai, stopping at the upscale Plantation Resort for a beer. The days drift by, and we are enjoying Fiji. On the radio nets we listen to the boats still underway from New Zealand, having a far more difficult passage than ours, with stronger winds and lots of squalls. The Dorothy Marie has lost their autopilot and is hand steering in strong winds, miserable.

We catch the Malolo Cat ferry to Port Denerau.

Then a taxi to Nadu town.

We visit the Hindu Swami Temple in Nadi...

...where we are required to remove shoes.

Dave shops for kava root, for sevusevu.

Helpful family makes the sale and explains kava.

Successful kava shopper awaits the ferry home.

We hike Malolo Lailai, then cool off with Destiny and beers.

May 21 - Laundry Day

The stinking pile of laundry has been accumulating since NZ, including the warm layers we wore on passage. Luckily, Musket Cove has a laundromat! Less luckily, there is only one (sort of) working washer. After purchasing the F$6 tokens from The Trader, we started the washer. We discovered that you need to fill it for each wash cycle by bucket, so we borrowed one from Maharangi. After throwing 8 buckets of water in from a nearby faucet, voila, the machine starts working. Magical! Only 4 hours later the wash was done, sheets hung on our lifelines to dry. Meanwhile, Dave dove with mask and snorkel at the dinghy dock and found his sunglasses dropped overboard. A satisfyingly successful day! We are off to Warm Rain with a half dozen other boats for sundowners to celebrate.

Baraka takes on 416 liters of diesel at Musket Cove.

Musket Cove evening sky.

May 23 - Sailwork Day

Dave hefted my Sailrite machine on deck today and we dropped the staysail and jib for some needed re-stitching. Took both of us to muscle the sail through the machine.

We got to talk to Wendy of Elusive via VHF. Scarlet O'Hara was able to clear in late last night, the sympathetic Fijian Customs staying open late to accommodate them. Dave arranged a hotel for a few nights, and sent in a couple bottles of wine. We will try to see them tomorrow or the next day. We are anxious to hear their story, and to give them hugs. Our hearts go out to them. Makes us cry to think of beautiful Elusive on the bottom. We have wonderful pictures of Elusive under full sail, bounding over the waves, charging out of Tongatapu last November.

The rest of this second wave of boats is trickling in today, all sounding exhausted. A number of boats have sail, autopilot and engine problems. We lucked out with our easy passage.

Jan stitches the jib.

Dave and I often walk the boat checking for signs of wear. An ounce of prevention... The Sailrite sewing machine weighs a ton, but can munch through all the jib layers.

May 27 - Island weather

Today is Joel's birthday. Makes us think about just how far away we are from him, and how much we miss him. Happy Birthday, Joel!

Dave pumped up the inflatable kayak. The weather has been weird, beautiful sunny skies, so we jump up and raise the spinnaker in its sock to dry it out. 5 minutes later squally rain hits, and we stuff if back in its bag. Then we have a sun break for a few hours, teaser weather, until the next wave of rain rolls through.

For 2 nights we stood anchor watch as Baraka tugged at her mooring in more squally rain.

Last night we joined Morning Light and Destiny for tropical drinks and dinner at Dick's Place, the restaurant poolside here at Musket Cove. We've been here 2 weeks, and want to head a little north to the Yasawas, but also want to be here as Steve and Wendy of Elusive said they are coming out.

May 30 - Bug Wars

Still at Musket Cove! Steve and Wendy of Elusive are here, and we are enjoying catching up. Steve seems to think Elusive was lost due to a structural failure, possibly the keel, though they were not in big weather when it happened. Heart-wrenching. They have lost many possessions as the boat was their home, but have a positive outlook.

We attended Pig-on-a-Spit night here, complete with traditional Fijian dancing, fun evening with lots of friends.

Last night Dave and I were enjoying a quiet dinner in the cockpit, when swarms of gnat-like bugs arrived, drawn to our cockpit light. We moved below, putting up all screens, then spent the next several hours squashing the little bugs. Carnage! I sprayed a cloud of bugspray into the cockpit, and we have a bug carpet out there, and little pyramids of bug bodies on the table where we squashed them by hand. It was like a Hitchcock movie! Fortunately these bugs didn't bite. First time we have seen them - it must have been a massive hatching in ideal conditions.

Today we motored in to the dock, and took on 416 liters of fuel, getting ready to get moving again. Gribs show 2 days of calm, then a big blow, so we will wait for that to go by before moving on.

Pig on a Spit night at Musket Cove...

...where the locals put on a native song and dance show.

Viti Levu ("the mainland") in the distance.

We hike the spine of Malolo Lailai.

Friends gather at the poolside bar to visit with Elusive.

Every day we informally run into friends. What a great place to gather, compare passage notes and visit old friends and new, some of which we've known since Mexico.

May 31 - Stuck in Paradise

Dodging bursts of squally rain we visited Airstream for sundowners with 6 other boats, packed into their cockpit. Every so often the boat would tip and water would dump from their awning, soaking our backsides but failing to dampen spirits. Fun evening!

Dawn of Warm Rain has a toothache, and has made an appointment with a dentist for Tuesday. Worrisome. She is tough and uncomplaining, a clue to how much pain she is in.

This morning I was on deck, surveying our realm, when a sailboat motored in and t-boned a reef behind us, high-centering on a coral "bommie". In seconds, Dave and Frank of Destiny had dinghies in the water. On a falling tide, we worked them off. We had to tow them backwards, risky to the rudder, because of the way they were stuck, then towed them to a buoy. With today's cloud cover, the unmarked reefs are not easy to see. Another lesson for us.

Each day drifts by, as we snorkel, kayak, do chores and visit friends.

June 6 - Still at Musket Cove

Every day we seem to find reasons to continue hanging out here. We snorkel on the reefs and hike the spine and beaches of Malolo Lailai, and kayak around the island. In the evenings we socialize with the many cruising friends here. One distinct luxury has been the wi-fi internet access. Although connections are spotty, we are able to take care of some overdue financial issues. Our biggest cruising expenses are health and boat insurance. We can't afford to be without either, but the annual increases are more than budgeted, so we are using the internet to find alternatives. Like retirees everywhere, our savings have taken a hit, so we are tightening our belts a bit. And we are thankful there are still many wonderful places to visit in front of us that are bargains for the budgetwise.

Baraka on her Musket Cove mooring. Note the reef in the foreground.

At low tide we can walk from Malolo Lailai to bigger Malolo.

Looking out from the pool bar, a "Frank Moment" - life is good.

Our friend Frank of Destiny can be found hanging out at the pool bar, or sitting in his cockpit, gazing at the gorgeous views and marvelling at the good luck and hard work that brought him here. Dave has taken to doing a bit of the same, calling these reflections "a Frank moment".

June 7 - Far from Home

Every so often we realize how very far we are from home, family, and resources. A couple current examples: friend Dawn of Warm Rain had a toothache and visited a local dentist, who took an xray and replaced a filling. By yesterday she was so much worse that she and husband Tom flew to Auckland to get better care. Meanwhile, Christine's (Morning Light) brother-in-law is having heart surgery, and they are debating when to fly home. Dave had an earache (swimmer's ear), and we are using the medicine chest for the first time. These reminders reveal that we are out here on the edge of the world, and it's not so easy to get help or answers.

But we get by with a lot of help from friends. Many days we give or receive help from others, one of the delights of cruising. There's an odd balance of self-sufficiency and inter-dependency, both gratifying. Barbara of Destiny hailed us today via VHF to ask what supplies we need from the mainland (tomatoes, apples, ginger root). Destiny, Bold Spirit and The Dorothy Marie will arrive in Musket Cove tomorrow. The Elusive crew will fly out Thursday to Thailand. That will be a bittersweet goodbye.

June 14 - Roots

We've been here ar Musket Cove a whole month! We are ready to move on, but will await Warm Rain's return from NZ, as we are boat-sitting for them. Nice to pay back a little, as they watched Baraka last year while we were in the states.

Dave and I walked all the way around Malolo Lailai, a long and very enjoyable beach walk that included squelching across tidal flats to several small islets. Good workout. We met a local Fijian fisherman who invited us to visit his home and may do that tomorrow, going up the east side of Malolo by kayak.

I kayaked over to where they are dredging up coral to build a new ferry dock/terminal for the Malolo Cat. The dredging digs up lots of beautiful shells. Drifting along the edge of the dredged pile close enough to pick up shells, I noticed an interested sea snake. Yow, backpedalled away fast. They are deadly, no antidote, though supposedly not aggressive. Later Cathy of Bold Spirit came by Baraka in her kayak to visit, and a smaller snake curled around her bow until she smacked at him with her paddle. There seem to be a lot of sea snakes here, some climbing up on the transoms of boats.

Last night Frank and Barbara of Destiny came over bringing fresh brownies, to play Mexican Train. Everyone seems to have variations of the rules, so etiquette dictates the house (boat) rules are observed. They are heading off today with Morning Light and The Dorothy Marie to the Yasawas. We hope to catch up with them later this week. Tonight is barbeque night at the island bar, where we take our own meat and they provide salad and baked potato. We are joining Bold Spirit, BPD, Scarlett OHara to plan a kayak trip for tomorrow.

In between play we do small boat projects. I have been mending wear spots using leathers given to me by Uncle Dan. Dave is fabricating flaps for the engine and generator exhausts, to prevent a following sea from backing up the exhaust and damaging the engines. There's always plenty to do. .

June 17- Shell Village

Locals smoke and dry beche de mer, a sea slug, for export.

Musket Cove bures line the pretty lagoon.

Yesterday Cathy and Jeff of Bold Spirit suggested a kayak trip up the east side of Malolo, the larger island just north of Musket Cove, to visit the local villagers. Nice calm day, so we loaded ourselves into the kayak and set off on the rising tide to make the pass. We paddled north for an hour and landed at the pigpens of the "shell village". We pulled our kayaks above the high water line, and walked into the village where the ladies sat on blankets, displaying shells and wood carvings. It was fun to meet the ladies and select a few souvenirs, a small turtle tapa, and a few shell knick-knacks. We then paddled a little south, and made another stop at second village, where, under a palm-fronded shelter, the local woodcarvers display their fine work. We bought a carved turtle, and a tiki/cannibal fork, asking the woodcarver to sign the turtle for us. Saimoni told us he and his fellow carvers originally came from one island in the Lau group, reknowned for its carving. The Lau group gets very little tourism, since, after a heroin bust, yachties have difficulty getting permits to visit. Our real coup was a handmade palm frond basket, filled with papaya, coconuts, limes, bananas and mandarins, for F$5, a little over $2 US. We lashed it to the bow, and paddled home.

June 24 - Enhanced Trades

Manmade Anderson Island has upscale bures for rent.

This deadly little seasnake visits Baraka's dinghy.

This past week we have enjoyed "enhanced trades" - strong SE winds. It is a sloppy wet dinghy ride to shore here at Musket Cove, and we have again delayed leaving for the Yasawas chain of islands. It is more difficult to see reefs and shoals in strong winds. Charts in this part of the world are incomplete, with notes like "reef reported 1/4 mile west of charted position". Yikes. So we need settled weather to move around.

The stronger than normal trades are caused by a huge stationary high pressure that sat over northern New Zealand this past week. We have clocked 35-knot winds here in the anchorage. Bonus is the cool air at night, allowing us to sleep under a thin blanket. Luxury!

We are restless to move along and are hearing great reports from boats ahead of us in the Yasawas. Time to go. Dave is getting the propane refilled today, and I will do one last load of laundry, and we will head out tomorrow, going north to Navada, Naviti, then the Blue Lagoon and Sawa-i-Lau. There are no stores, so we will stock up on fruits and veg and bread.

June 26 - Navadra!

Today Dave ran a final grib, and we managed to pry ourselves loose from Musket Cove! We motored north threading our way through reefs and islands to pretty Navadra (pronounced Navandra). We have the anchorage to ourselves, if you don't count the goats on the beach. Lovely place - a lot of movies are filmed here. I kayaked to 2 white sand beaches to beachcomb while Dave snorkeled to the nearby bluff. The anchorage is rolly though, and tonight 15-20 knots gusts are whipping through, so we likely will stay only one night, heading on tomorrow.

We sail to pretty and uninhabited Navadra.

Fun to kayak and explore, but pretty Navadra gives us a sleepless night in miserably rolling swell.

June 27 - Yalobi Bay, Waya

After a sleepless and miserable night rolling ear to ear, collecting bruises, we bailed out of rolly Navadra to sail north to Waya. Dave found problems with our navigation software, so I installed it on a backup laptop, which worked ok. Very strong winds from the north kicked up, hiding the reefs we were passing and slowing our progress, as waves crashed over the bow and ran down the gunnels. We were reading 40+ knots! We spent an anxious hour working windward to make sure we weren't set on a reef.

As we approached Waya, we expected to be in the protected lee inside Yalobi Bay, but the hills funnel the winds into fierce williwaws. Only when we approached the village at the head of the bay did the waves flatten out. I went forward and tossed the hook overboard and Baraka is finally at quiet rest! Dave dressed in his sulu (handsome man skirt) and we dinghied ashore to present the local headman with a bundle of kava root. On the beach we met Tui who told us where to find the chief, complimented Dave upon his appropriate dress, and offered to guide us on a hike tomorrow.

A young man led us though the village, past thatched homes to the headman's house, where we chatted with the headman and presented our kava root. The headman blessed the kava with a chant and clapping, and welcomed us to the village. This was our first experience with sevusevu - the custom where visitors request permission to visit an area by presenting kava root to the local chief.

It's gusty tonight, but the anchor is set well and the holding good. We will sleep well.

June 28 - Yalobi Bay

Dave, in dress sulu, checks out the Yalobi Village church bell.

Yalobi lacks a chief. When selected, the villagers will rebuild his house.

Sunday evening a boatload of schoolkids arrive, to board at Yalobi school during the week.

Tui guides us up a steep and slippery path to a lookout over the bay.

Beach crab.

Tui picked limes for us. Yum, key lime pie!

No sleep for a second night! Winds gusted fiercely, blasting Baraka. Dave was up much of the night on anchor watch, setting the nav software with an anchor watch alarm, and letting out more chain. Baraka's anchor held fine, but the katabaric winds blast over the hills and create waterspouts in the bay.

Late to sleep, we missed Sunday church services. At 2 pm we met Tui on the beach, who guided us to an outcrop high on a ridge overlooking the bay, and who told us about village customs. We enjoyed Tui very much - a great host, who asked us as many questions as we asked him. On the way back down the trail from the ridge, Tui and Dave picked a bagful of limes, which now perfume the boat and will become key lime pie tomorrow if I can spare the eggs.

Back aboard, we jumped over the side to bathe, and thawed eye steaks from New Zealand, which Dave grilled. Dinner in the cockpit, nothing can be finer.

Yesterday we questioned why we do this. Today we had our answer.

June 29 - What could we do?

Dave and I had an interesting discussion. Recently several friends and relatives have joined the Peace Corps. and been assigned to remote areas similar to what we are visiting. Here at Yalobi Bay, there is a grade school where children come from other villages and board during the week, some 150 kids, 8 teachers. If they want to go to high school, they must somehow get to the mainland. The village has a generator but can't afford the diesel to run it, so no electricity, lights, refrigeration. There are no vehicles or roads, only dirt footpaths. They have chickens, ducks, goats and pigs, and farm fruits and taro. Houses are corrugated metal or thatch, or a combination, with cookhouses and outhouses separate. Yards are tidy. The bay has been overfished, so fishing is limited. There is a "backpackers" hut, but little to do here, no store or eatery, so little opportunity for tourism. The village has adequate water, gravity fed from a reservoir above on the hill. No one here has a paid job, and there is no opportunity to earn cash. There are 5 "tribes" or families in the village, and a council of "chiefmakers" decide who is chief. Tradition is important, though young people can now choose their own spouse. It is several hours by boat to the nearest mainland market, and Waya has nothing to export. Yet the people here need flour, sugar, foodstuffs they can't grow, building and school materials, clothing, medical care, etc. The children are beautiful, laughing and happy. Few adults seem to have a complete set of teeth, though they otherwise appear healthy. They are Medodists, attending church on Sunday. A hollowed-out log drum outside the church is the church bell, and a second one near the school is the school bell. They are avid rugby players.

We talked about what sort of project might benefit the village. To our American eyes, on the surface it seems a no-brainer, somehow get a subsidy to get the generator running every evening for a few hours. So many of our luxuries and necessities require electricity, and power may be a prerequisite for income. But this may be harmful to the village. It is difficult to envision a change that would not upset the balance of life here.

July 1 - Nanuyabalavu

Yesterday in drizzle we worked our way north to a set of small islands just south of Naviti. We poked around trying to find a good anchorage, not too deep, not too shallow, not too exposed to the SE winds, not too full of coral. We compromised and are in the small bite of Drawaqa, coral and sand patches, just north of the pass where Manta Ray Resort is situated. Warm Rain came with us and had a sleepless night anchored in the high current pass. They have headed north. We will stay a day, check out the resort, beachcomb, and find out if we can swim with the rays.

July 2 - Somosomo, Naviti

No luck finding the manta rays. We visited the resort and they told us the rays don't come every day. So we pulled up the hook and sailed north, intending to go to the Blue Lagoon (of film fame). On the way we heard Destiny hail on the VHF and diverted to Somosomo at the north end of Naviti, good calm anchorage. The Dorothy Marie and Warm Rain are here, enough excuse for a small party/reunion. Fun catching up, and hearing about what's in store as we go further north. Tonight after dark, Dave and I drifted a little south in the dinghy to the edge of the coral reef, where Dave hunted lobsters, snorkeling with a flashlight and pole spear. No joy, hope we can buy them from the locals.

July 3 - Vunayawa Bay, Naviti - Spitfire Lagoon

This morning we dinghied ashore with WR, Destiny, TDM, and found the trail that crosses the island to "Spitfire Lagoon". The trail wound through jungle, tall grass, then a farmed area with banana, papaya, lemons and manioc. We emerged into a beautifully kept clearing, with planted rows of coconuts, where a small family lives in tidy thatched buildings. We presented small gifts (sugar, tea, spam, toys), and asked permission to snorkel. A thin, elderly man led us to the beach and indicated where to find the 1943 submerged wreck of a WWII Grumman Hellcat fighter plane. We swam out, and spread out to search. Soon the nose and propeller were found. More searching, and Sally spotted the main fuselage and tail. It lay in 12 feet of water. Diving down we explored the wreck, occupied now only by a beautiful lion fish.

Back ashore the local family told us that the pilot had survived. The plane was part of a surveillance team, and the pilot came over too low, clipping a coconut tree and crashing into the lagoon.

The family gave us papaya and lemons, and fresh coconut, and showed us how they get cooking oil from the coconut meat.

The older woman showed us an infected boil on her leg and asked if we had medicine for her. Dawn had Neosporin and a bandage, which Tom applied. We returned to our boats and put together a kit of antibiotics, alcohol, ointment and bandages for her, hoping it will help. If we return this way, we will check on her.

Dave reminds me this is a 4-day weekend. What's a weekend?

July 5 - Nanuya Lailai, The Blue Lagoon

Yesterday we woke to "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "America", as Destiny and The Dorothy Marie played patriotic music over their loudhailers. Soon we waved goodbye as they headed south back to Musket Cove, while we motor-sailed north to The Blue Lagoon of film fame. The Brooke Shields version, and the 1949 one with Jean Simmons were partly filmed here.

We motored in, threading our way through reefs, and anchored near 10 other boats. Just south is Turtle Island, a famously exclusive resort built in 1972 by Richard Evanson, who made his fortune in cable TV. There are just 14 bures on the island and each couple (no children allowed) pays $1000 US per day to be pampered. We will dinghy around to check it out, but hear guards will make sure we don't land. Also, the Blue Lagoon cruise ship is in, and we can't walk around Nanuya Lailai until it leaves, as it offers their guests a "perfect tropical beach unmarked by footprints". This place is gorgeous, and a bonus to us, a local man, Taki, is rumored to have vegetables and eggs. We will try to find him tomorrow. There are no stores in the Yasawas. Last night I made key lime pie from some of the limes we got at Yalobi. In Fiji, lemons are green, with orange fruit inside. You can't tell a lemon from a lime until you cut it open.

July 6 - Lovo Feast

Beautiful sunny day. Dave tossed the kayak overboard and I paddled for a few hours, out along the reefs fringing the lagoon entrance. Later we hopped into the dinghy to hunt for Taki's farm, in a bay south of us. We tucked into several cuts in the mangroves, and hiked up a few trails, but never found Taki. He has fresh vegetables and eggs, and we are running low. There is a rumor he will be coming here tomorrow so maybe we can get a few things.

Tonight we joined Point Zero, Safari and Warm Rain for a lovo feast ashore. Tui and another man built a hot fire. then heated stones for a few hours. Chicken, fish, spinach and casaba root were prepared and woven into palm fronds, then placed over the rocks and covered with more fronds, then sacks, then dirt, to bake for an hour. This was accompanied by sauteed cabbage and bread. They charged us F$15 a person - about $7 and the meal was excellent.

We arrive at the Blue Lagoon.

We dinghy into mangrove cuts looking for Taki, the veggie man.

Local men prepare a lovo feast for us.

Tasty red snapper, chicken, taro, spinach.

July 7 - Beach hike

Joining Tom and Dawn we hit the beach at low tide. With no Blue Lagoon cruise ship in, we were free to walk around pretty Nanuya Lailai. We headed south along sandy beach, then turned the corner to the small channel separating this island from the exclusive Turtle Island Resort, bristling with Keep Out signs. Between the islands was a mucky estuary fringed by mangroves. We quickly sank in the ooze to our knees. We tried to find a trail through the mangrove swamp. We did find one, but after a short hike realized we headed in the wrong direction. Back on the beach, we ignored the signs and crossed the estuary to the Turtle Island side where we could wade on firmer ground.

We continued our hike around Nanuya Lailai, coming to Lo's tea shop. Lo had just pulled a chocolate cake from the oven. We enjoyed a welcome rest, and bought a few things from her shop, including a beautiful chambered nautilus shell for F$5 (just over $2). We hiked on, again on the beach, finishing our circumnavigation at the bar, where we rewarded ourselves with cold beers. Fun day, and a good workout.

Joining Warm Rain, we walk around Nanuya Lailai.

The cruise ship is away. We can visit the "Blue Lagoon" beach.

This tiny crab with oversize claw says don't mess with me.

Mangroves leap frog.

We dicover Lo's tea house...

Lo welcomes us with chocolate cake warm from the oven.

Traditional bure on the beach.

Dawn holds a coconut under the warning sign.

July 8 - Sawa-i-Lau

This morning the local former delivered vegetables, fruits and eggs to Warm Rain, which Dawn shared with us. Local spinach, lettuce, papayas, a mango, pineapple, dozen eggs, white and purple eggplant and a bunch of bananas. We are set! Dave and I pulled up the hook and headed north a dozen miles to pretty Sawa-i-Lau. Weather coming this weekend inspired us to move to a more protected anchorage. We zigzagged through the entrance and around a reef, and dropped the anchor in 55 feet. Gusty "wind bullets" wrap around the cliffs in front of us, and lay us over. Dave and I hooked up a riding sail, which helps hold the bow into the wind. This works well when the wind is from a steady direction, less well when it curls off the land masses, though it is still helping. Baraka is reading a steady 25 knots at anchor (15 was forecast). On Friday we are supposed to get 25 knots, so we expect more, and from the north, clocking around to the west. Sounds like an anchor watch night.

Sawa-i-Lau's claim to fame are caves, a few of which are reached by snorkeling through underwater passages. Hmmm. One of our books says a scuba diver went in a full hour without finding the end. Fijian legend claims the cave system extends to the Lau Group, on the east side of Fiji, hundreds of miles away. Tomorrow we will explore...

July 10 - Sawa-i-Lau Caves

Yesterday started with a Bernie's Best (scambled eggs with feta, bacon and spinach) which Dave ladled onto the last croissant from Opua. Yum. We dinghied over to another boat meeting Sven and Yola to get the scoop on the caves. On the way the dinghy outboard died and we had a tough row in the gusty winds back to Baraka.

We got flashlight, masks and fins and tooted over to the caves. Cement steps lead up from the beach, through a gap in the rock and down into a pool in a beautiful cathedral-like cave. We climbed down a ladder and paddled across the pool. Dave found a rope that leads through an underwater passage to another cavern. Flashlight in hand, he disappeared. A minute later eerie yells echoed in the cave, sounding very distant, so I knew he had survived. When he came back out, I pushed his head away from the rock he was rising to meet, angering him until he saw what he'd avoided. Bet they lose a few tourists that way. When we climbed out, "Joe" was there to take our money, leading a large group in.

We dinghied to the north end of Sawa-i-Lau and parked the dinghy on the beach. In doing so, we bumped an oar overboard, and Dave had to don fins and swim hard to recover it. We waded and beachcombed between the islands. Dave found a large (deadly) cone shell for me, and carried it very carefully back to the dinghy.

Later, after cockpit showers, we visited the village where we met Vasiti, who accepted our sevusevu kava on behalf of the headman, and offered to bake us bread. We ordered 2 loaves, which she will bake in her outdoor formerly-electric oven (now fueled by firewood). We strolled around the village meeting others, very friendly, including the ladies at the "shell village". We bought a huge triton shell, and a smaller one. Back aboard we grilled the last "eye fillets" from NZ.

Today we dinghied into the village to pick up our fresh bread (sweetened with coconut milk) from Vasiti, meeting her husband Manueli. Manueli has a boil on his knee. Back aboard, I found some Neosporin and bandaids, and kayaked in to give them to him.

It is fun meeting the villagers. They are interested in us, as we are in them. Manuali tells us how he catches and cooks turtle, a rare treat, and how proud they are of their son, finishing first in his class this semester, of a daughter in school on Naviti, and of another son, raising yaggona (kava) on Vanua Levu. The Fijians are gentle and proud people, friendly to strangers. They are Melanesians, dark-skinned, tightly curled hair, beautiful smiles, though few adults have all their teeth. Vasiti and Manueli invite us into their home, a thatched one-room building with 2 low doors, smoky beams, and woven mats for flooring. No electricty, outhouse and goat pen separate. Outside is a bench with a built-in rasp for shredding coconut, to feed the chickens, and for making oil from the copra. Vasiti offers to trade bread for shampoo, conditioner, lotion. I wish I had brought more to give away. I brought her some teabags. There are 2 small stores here, stocked when a boat comes every few weeks. Vasiti's bread was $5 a loaf (less than $2.50 US). I am happy to pay it as it saves me having to heat the oven onboard, and gives cash to the village.

We sail north to pretty Sawa-i-Lau...

And its tidy village.

Vasiti bakes us sweet coconut bread...

In her wood-fired oven.

I buy a huge triton shell from the "shell village" ladies.

Beach chicks check out our dinghy.

We visit the local school.

And kayak to tortured coral formations.

The kayak takes us to tiny beaches.

Sawa-i-Lau cave and pool.

July 11 - Lobsters!

Today was Dave's turn to kayak and explore. I have had fun photographing the terrain here, uplifted coral, eroded in vertical drapery folds by the weather, and undercut by the seas, fantastic shapes of tortured stone lace. Some suggest faces of prehistoric beasts. Along Sawa-i-Lau there are tiny beaches to poke into with the kayak, great exploring. Dave delivered photos we printed of Vasiti and her family. This evening a boat load of fishermen came, offering to sell lobster, 2 for $15. Since I only had a $20 bill (little less than $10US), they threw in a 3rd lobster. Dave made quick work cleaning them. Tonight we feast!

A front is coming through tomorrow, heavy rains and gusts to 30. We will stay put one more day. We are trying to decide where to head next, a little further north up Yasawa, or to Lautoka / Vuda Point to provision and do laundry. In less than a month we will push off for Vanuatu, and we do want to see a little more of Fiji.

Local fishermen sell us 3 lobsters.

Dave helps fix the village lawnmower, needed for the rugby field..

July 12 - Tropical Deluge

This morning we talked to the other boat here in the anchorage. Joe and Nancy have also been following the weather, and decided to move their boat across the bay to better shelter. Dave pulled another weather report. We are to get heavy rain, while the wind clocks north, then west, then south, and back to SE by Monday, 25 knots, gusting 30. We decided a move was prudent. By the time we pulled the anchor up. swells were rolling in from the west, the advance warning of strong winds. We crossed the bay to anchor in front of Navotua village, very protected. The rains showed up, a real tropical downpour. We dammed the scuppers - soon fresh water tanks were full. I also caught enough to do laundry, soaping up in buckets and tossing the clothes into the dinghy for the rinse cycle. Luxury! A side bonus was the excellent shower I enjoyed while working.

We had one leftover lobster tail from last night - lobster thermidor, yum.

So far we have gotten the predicted rains, but not the big winds, ok by us.

Baraka anchored at Sawa-i-Lau.

Dave shows us how a stringed instrument is played.

Dave checks out the kava mortar and pestle...

...and the huge village kava bowl.

Approaching north Waya.

We are anchored below this spectacular hill.

July 14 - Heading South

Dave dressed in his sulu, and I in a modest dress. We grabbed a bundle of kava root and headed into Navotua village to meet the chief and make sevusevu. On the beach we met David, who became our guide. We visited the chief and presented the kava, which was again blessed with rhymic hand clapping and chants. Then Dave worked with David to repair the village lawnmower. We were then guided to the church, the kindergarten, where we met teacher Theresa, and the village hall, where David explained kava making. The villagers pay $50 a kilo for kava root, very expensive. Fun to see village life. This village, away from the caves, gets few visitors and wants to encourage more.

This morning we stowed and raised anchor and sails. Time to move on. We are headed south, to join Destiny and explore more of Fiji.

July 19 - Home Again - Vuda Point Marina

We made Vuda Point Marina the 2nd day from the Yasawas, after suffering another rolly night at anchor on the north end of Waya, but an easy trip down in settled weather. Using waypoints, we found the tiny manmade slot through the reef into Vuda (pr, Boondah) Point Marina. The marina is interesting - a dredged lagoon, almost circular, packed with boats med-moored to the periphery. Probably looks like a giant sunflower from overhead. We went to the middle and pick up the "waiting room" buoy until they were ready to help us slide into an empty spot between 2 other boats, tying off 2 stern lines toward the center of the lagoon, and 2 off the bow to the wall. We are cheek-to-cheek with our neighbors, very cozy.

As soon as we were tied up, Destiny and The Dorothy Marie invited us to join them on a road trip to Suva! We hastily packed, and the next morning Abdul the cabby took us to Nadi airport where we boarded the $20F bus to Suva, a 4-hour trip through green country, sugar cane fields (and a sugra cane train), along the south coast of Viti Levu.

The bus dropped us in front of the Holiday Inn - very nice but too expensive. A couple cabs rides later, the 6 of us happily settled in at JJs, the former YWCA, smack in the center of town, $115F. We crossed the street to a ship/restaurant and enjoyed a great lunch, explored a bit, and then enjoyed the 3-hour "happy hour" at JJs. Our rooms were very nice, clean, spacious, ensuite, and included continental breakfast. Next morning the boys set off for the Royal Suva Yacht Club and marine chandleries, while the foxes headed across town to Cost-U-Less, the South Pacific's answer to Costco. We quickly loaded our carts and unloaded our wallets, delighted to find items not seen since New Zealand.

On Saturday, Dave's 60th!!!! birthday, we walked to Thurston Park to visit Fiji's interesting museum, full of war canoes, a hunk of the Bounty's rudder, and artifacts celebrating Fiji's colorful past, including beautiful tapas and cannibal items and war clubs. These were a bloodthirsty people. We also hit the handicrafts market, buying intricately carved bowls, a cane, rat guards, and a log drum for the birthday boy. Time for happy hour again... then a great birthday dinner at Bad Dog.

This morning we woke early to catch the bus for the long ride home. Great trip, and fun to share with good friends.

Rugby players pose in Suva's Albert Park.

Suva museum's huge outrigger decked with white cowrie shells.

The museum has a hunk of the Bounty's rudder...

and this interesting pufferfish helmet.

Frank, Glen and Dave in from of the Bad Dog.

In the fish market, these guys claim pufferfish is tasty.

Suva's colorful flower market.

We also visited the flea market, where I bought a sundress for less than $9, and a beautiful handpainted masi (tapa).

July 21 - Lautoka

Vuda Point, where the finger dock is a leap at high and low tides.

Boats are half buried to sit out cyclone season.

Today we caught the dollar bus for the hour-long ride to Lautoka, Fiji's second largest city, accompanied by Barbara of Destiny and Tom and Colleen of Mokisha. The bus rumbles past villages and cane fields, and parallels the tracks of the sugar cane train, a small gauge railway with a cartoon engine pulling dozens of carts piled high with cut cane.

In Lautoka, Dave took off on a mission to find v-belts and a new fishing pole (last one stolen in Fr Polynesia). Barbara and I visited a shop to order custom-made sundresses, about $12 US each, ready in 3 hours. We had lunch at The Great Wall of China, very good, and hit the market to stock up on tomatoes, cukes, radishes, carrots, cabbage, spinach, papaya, bananas, limes, mandarins, oranges and pineapple. Most of these are presented in neat heaps, each heap costing $1. It is a treat to find these things. Loaded down, we caught a taxi home to Vuda Point - $10F (about $5 US) for the 25-minute ride. Meanwhile, Baobab Marine had rebuilt 2 of our 3 raw water pumps. The third is not worth rebuilding. This gives us a primary one, and one spare, for a fraction of the cost of having a new one shipped to Fiji.

We are signed up for the ICA rally to Vanuatu, leaving Fiji August 6, in company with maybe 20 other boats.

July 23 - Vuda Point

Another bus trip to Lautoka - the v-belts are the right size so Dave wanted to buy spares. We also loaded down with fishhooks, pens, pencils and paper for Vanutau. We hear these are welcome gifts. We bought cheese-onion loaves from The Hot Bread Store. Finally, I found imported green apples at MH, for about a dollar a pound. The variety and freshness of all the tropical fruits are great, but I had a green apple craving.

Another day or two here, to finish a few boat projects, then we will head out, probably to Musket Cove.

The Dorothy Marie's Glen jams on sax with the local band.

Special shells in a kava bowl.

Workers load cut sugarcane onto a train car.

The sugar cane train rolls to the Latoka mill.

Each heap is F$1 in the local market.

Fun to find fresh fruits and veg.

Lautoka market.

July 26 - Likuri, Robinson Crusoe and Sashimi

We pried ourselves from the amenities of Vuda Point Marina, and headed south and east with Destiny to Likuri Harbour and the Robinson Crusoe resort. A 6-hour motor-sail in light wind and flat seas carried us out of Navula Pass into the ocean, then back through the unmarked reef into Likuri.

On the way, Dave caught a yellowfin tuna on his new pole. With the anchor down, Frank and Barbara came over to show us how to prepare sashimi, raw tuna slices, drizzled with fresh lime, dipped in ginger, soy and wasabi. We are converts!

The outboard is misbehaving, so Frank and Barb ferried us in to shore for dinner. We had heard rave reviews about this place. Several boats came for 2-3 nights and stayed many weeks. The resort welcomes yachties with a 10% discount for meals, already cheap at less than $5US, a daily happy hour, use of the facilities, and a terrific south pacific dance show. The vegetables were prepared lovo style, underground, cooked on hot stones covered with palm fronds. We like palusami, Fijian dalo leaf (like spinach) cooked with tomato and coconut milk. After the veg were removed from the lovo pit, firewalkers from Beqa walked on the hot stones. They don't just hot-foot it across, but linger. Yow.

The buffet dinner was great, a real bargain even for inexpensive Fiji. Afterwards the resort staff got in costume and put on the show. The dance and costumes were Polynesian (apparently Fijian dance is a big snooze), with spectacular knife and war dancing, and a great flaming torch show. Other yachties staying here regaled us with seasnake stories. There are LOTS of snakes here, and they like to explore. Scarlett found one up on their decks! Another crawled into a boat's exhaust and ruptured the muffler when the engine was started. And 14! were counted in one longboat near the shore.

Replete, we slept well in the quiet anchorage. This morning, I spied a black and gray krait (seasnake) climbing out of our dinghy. Maybe we won't swim here...

On the way to Likuri, Dave catches a yellowfin tuna.

We are guided through the reef to the anchorage.

Destiny's Barb shows us how to prepare sashimi.

Robinson Crusoe Lovo pit.

Beqa (pronounced bengga) firewalker.

July 28 - Outboard repair and seasnake

Dave and I went to shore today. The mechanic at the resort was willing to look at our outboard, which runs great full-throttle but dies in idle. This is a problem when the river dumping out here creates a current of 3 knots! The mechanic pulled the carburetor off, and used air pressure to blow out the debris caught inside. Voila! We are cured.

Meanwhile, and impish Fijian ran to us holding a large seasnake. Dave and I both took turns holding the tail while he held the business end. Yikes.

Tonight we will go ashore for another buffet dinner. I baked cookies as it is Kathy's (Po'oino Roa) bday.

Local man entertains us with a poisonous snake...

which we take turns holding!

July 29 - River trip and massage

This morning we joined Destiny for a river trip by dinghy. We followed three buoys across the bay, marking the passage to the mouth, then wound our way up a wide river fringed by mangroves. After 45 minutes we found the turn into a smaller estuary, and ducking overgrowth, wound our way further to the head of the river where we anchored the dinghies. A short walk brought us to 2 gorgeous resorts on a spectacular bay. The second was the huge spanking-new Hotel Intercontinental, very luxurious. We ate a terrific lunch by the "infinity" pool. Dessert was a tempura-banana chocolate berry sundae. It is hard to believe that the villages in the Yasawas are less than 100 miles away - a different world.

Back at Robinson Crusoe, to complete our day of decadence, Barbara and I arranged to have massages. Our tab for 4 days here at Robinson Crusoe (bar tab, 4 dinners, the Polynesian show, a music CD, dinghy repair and massage) came to about $80 US.

The outboard is misbehaving again - won't idle. Tomorrow we head back to Vuda Point to swap out the fuel that is clogging the carburetor. We'll do last laundry, last provisioning, then head back to Musket Cove for the ICA rally to Vanuatu.

August 1 - Back at Musket Cove

Spent a couple nights at Vuda Point Marina, long enough for Dave to fix the outboard carburetor problem, and for Jan to have a provisioning day to Nadi. I joined 4 other women for the Nadi trip, getting a ride from an Aussie ex-pat. We hit the stores, handicraft market, vegetable market, a great restaurant for lunch, the butchers, and the grocery. Loaded down with purchases, we negotiated an "illegal" cab ride home. a 40-minute ride for about $25 US, which included having the driver wait for us while we shopped and filled his van.

This morning we pulled ourselves away from the marina dock and motored over to the fuel dock to top off tanks for the Vanuatu passage. Glen and Sally (The Dorothy Marie) and Jaime and Chris (Morning Light) were on hand to handle lines and wave farewells. We said goodbye too, to Scarlett O'Hara, who are staying over a season here in Fiji. This will be a week of many goodbyes, as our contingent heads west to Vanuatu, and others stay behind or begin the long trip home to the states. Another diaspora.

With Destiny we motor-sailed in light winds back to Musket Cove. This time the anchorage is packed. We found a good hole and dropped the hook, and will stay aboard this evening to make sure our scope doesn't put us too close to other boats. We are slated to clear out of Fiji on August 5, setting sail August 6 on a 5-6 day passage to Vanuatu.

August 4 - Passage Preparations

Baraka has joined 20 other boats for the passage to Vanuatu. We will leave Musket Cove August 6 at 10am and thread our way out through the inner and outer reefs, then have a clear passage for 5-6 days. We are headed to Oyster Island Resort, in Peterson Bay in the east side of Santo, where the ICA Rally has arranged clearance. The great advantage of these rallies is the ability to clear into small attractive places rather than big shipping ports.

Yesterday, the rally group headed out to the sandbar, dry at low tide, for a few hours of contests and beach fun. Last night we joined Destiny for a farewell dinner for Mahurangi at Annabel's Restaurant.

Dave has a detailed 2-page checklist of passage preparations. There is a lot to do, converting the boat from comfortable liveaboard to passagemaker. Everything must be securely stowed, topsides and below, and safety gear handily placed. We top off fuel and water, and check boat systems, rigging and sails. We will also begin taking Doxycycline, for malaria, first time we have to be concerned about that, as we approach Vanuatu.

August 5 - Goodbye Fiji

We always feel nostalgia leaving each country. By now we have figured out some local customs, how to finds goods and needed parts, and good cruising grounds. Just when we are starting to understand a place, it is again time to move on. Fiji is no exception. People have been cheerful and welcoming, the country beautiful. Several couples we know have opted to stay behind, spending an extra season here. We are torn, there is much more to explore here, but no way to see everything in our lifetime.

The great thrill of cruising is discovery, coming to a new place and culture, finding yourself off balance as you try to understand a foreign place and people. I know there may come a time in our lives when we want the familiar, no surprises in our day. Just not yet...

Today we cleared out. Officials stamped our exit documents, we paid up our Musket Cove tab, had a last meal ashore, picked up bread and oranges and the filled propane tank. Most of the boat is secured - belowdecks and above, all lashed securely. Tomorrow morning we will partially deflate the dinghy and lash it to the deck, and flake the anchor chain into its locker, lash down the anchor and cover the windlass, run the jacklines and motor out through the reef into deep ocean. Each passage seems a little easier and less intimidating.

For our journal entries of Vanuatu,  click here.

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