During the two weeks Maureen’s been with us, we’ve experienced the full spectrum of Fiji weather (bar a cyclone!). Thunderstorms and torrential rain, no wind, wind from the ‘wrong’ direction (which is always where we’re planning on going) or too much wind. But it hasn’t spoilt the wonderful time we’re having, we’ve learnt to be flexible and adjust our plans accordingly.
After a beautiful few days anchored off the Blue Lagoon Resort on Nacula Island the wind started to really pick up from the north-east, so we decided to go a little further north to Makalati Bay which looked like it might offer more protection and was also touted by other cruisers as the most beautiful beach in Fiji. Now that’s a big claim so we had to go and check it out…
It was indeed pretty but it offered no better protection from the wind, and the swell prevented us from going ashore the first afternoon. Tomorrow we thought…but tomorrow brought no relief and then we read that the local village, while welcoming, requested a significant monetary contribution if we wanted to go ashore. So instead we got to work on a few boat jobs….
We’d noticed a bit of condensation on the inside of the hatch in our starboard forward hull – ostensibly it’s a crew berth, but we use it to store our spinnaker and other odds and ends. Thinking maybe the hatch was leaking Bruce went to investigate. Horror of horrors, the spinnaker was swimming in water! What the..? It didn’t take long to figure out how the water had got in – when we were hauled out in Whangarei the guys had been fixing some gelcoat repairs inside that compartment and had opened the small porthole on the inside of the hull. You can’t see it very well from above as the trampoline hides it, and as we rarely access that part of the boat we hadn’t checked it. Jeepers creepers, it had been open all that time during our rough passage from New Zealand!! Thank god we have a sealed bulkhead otherwise the boat would have flooded. So we spent the best part of a day drying out the spinnaker and pumping the compartment dry – an extra pair of hands was very useful, no such thing as a free boat holiday Sis!!
We now had perfect breeze to get south, so we had a fabulous sail back down the west side of the Yasawas, stopping briefly at Navadra Island along with several other boats trying to find shelter from the strong winds.
Next stop was Musket Cove where we introduced Maureen to the snorkeling, island sights and of course the cruisers bar!
All too soon her visit was coming to an end, and the clock was ticking for us to leave Fiji if we were to get home before the cyclone season. We’d seriously considered staying and maybe putting the boat into charter to earn some money, but in the end there was too much red tape and no guarantee of regular income. And our bank manager’s patience is wearing thin ….so back home we go for a couple of years to restock the cruising kitty.
We had a final visit to Vuda Point Marina to drop Maureen off and check out of Fiji – it was Sunday, so we took the last available booking on the fuel dock so we could stay there overnight, ready for an early getaway on Monday morning. We had a lovely last afternoon enjoying the live music at the bar, and then only one challenge remained for our guest – walking the plank to get off the boat. Never a dull moment on the good ship Toucan! It was very hard to say goodbye to my gorgeous sister, but at least it won’t be long before we can catch up again in Australia.
So all that remained for us was to check out. The Marina office told us they’d asked the customs officials to come an hour early because of the number of boats wanting to leave (at least 10) so we rocked up to the customs office at 9am sharp only to find the queue had already formed. We wait. And wait. And wait some more. No sign of the customs officer and it’s now 11am. I walk back to the marina office to enquire and spot the customs officer having a leisurely snack at the café outside. She obviously isn’t going to be hurried, no sir, not one little bit. It’s our last reminder of good old “Fiji time”. Finally, at midday, we get our clearance and we’re off on the next passage– heading to Vanuatu 620NM away to catch up with our buddies on Rehua. See you there!