About The LibertyNav7.pngMexico 2006Road Trip SouthMexico 2007 / 2008Mexico To Samoa 2008

Mexico to The Enchanted South Pacific

The sea, once it casts it's spell, holds one in it's net of wonder forever.    

Jacques Cousteau

We are the Nichols family from Spokane, WA

 Carl, Yvette and our two boys Joel 16 and Kyle 14

You can track our position at this location:

www.winlink.org/dotnet/maps/PositionReportsDetail.aspx?callsign=KE7FGF

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May 3, 2009 (Latest Update)

Bula, Bula!  We spent our last fast paced few months in Fiji exploring the Yasawa Islands the true “Jewels” of the Fiji Islands.  They are found up the west coast of Fiji, a chain of 20 islands famous for crystal blue lagoons, rugged volcanic landscapes,  drier climate, meaning more sunshine, and some of the Pacific’s most beautiful beaches.  There is one lagoon with Hollywood fame, the Blue Lagoon on Nanuya Lailai.  Of course the films of the same names being filmed here.  We looked hard for Brooke Shields, but she was not to be found.   These islands are more sparsely populated with more isolated villages.  The budget backpacker’s lodges dominate the islands that are run and owned by some villages.  This made it nice to see that the most beautiful part of Fiji was not overrun by fancy hotels, but yet left to the more simple way of life, resembling old Fiji.

     You can really relax here and get into “Fiji Time”.   We would have to say that the Yasawa’s were one of the best places we cruised on our whole trip over the past three years.  Truly beautiful and only a hop and skip from Vuda Point Marina.  We spent almost three weeks sailing these islands and here are some of the highlights.

     Our first stop of our trip is an island called Navandra. It is an uninhabited island that is sacred and many Fijians believe that it is inhabited by spirits, and when you walk the beach you must do so with your head down to not be noticed.  It is a beautiful, quiet place to stop for the night.  The next day we sailed up to Waya Island and anchored off a tidal sandbar that connects Waya to Waysewa Island.  At low tide walking between the two islands is possible.  The water here is crystal clear with plenty of coral to snorkel.  As we set the anchor we all noticed people snorkeling and walking on the beach near thatched roofed bures (huts).  On closer investigation (spying through binocs!) it was evident that these people were of European decent and not Fijians.   We ventured to shore and were pleasantly surprised to find a small backpacker’s lodge here, very basic in design, but it had a bar which we took advantage of and all had a cold soda!  The lodge’s manager Moses welcomed us with a big smile and many stories to tell.  We met many young couples and singles here that just left the corporate world from all over the world to just head off and travel on small budgets.  Some of them had been out for months.  It was wonderful to see young people out taking advantage of seeing the world, while they can, and not being strapped to trappings of society.  We loved Sunset Beach Resort, owned and operated by the local village.  It is basic in it’s offerings, with sand floors, electricity from a petrol driven generator  that only runs at specific times of the day, a definitely no-frills establishment.  Yet, the beauty of the beach, the snorkeling and the Fijian hosts made for a peaceful, soul mending experience.  One night we were invited in to share dinner with the guests, Moses and staff.   Carl became the celebrity of the evening when he helped service the generator  and showed them how to tune it up!  The lights came on and dinner was served on the beach.  To finish the night we all played volleyball under a bright full moon, life couldn’t be much better.   After three days it was time to move on to Naviti Island one of the largest of the group.  After a day sail, we anchored in Somosomo Bay, a very large and desolate bay.  We didn’t venture to shore here, but enjoyed swimming and cooling off.  The boys explored a reef not far from where we were anchored and saw octopus, squids, and even one of the largest sharks they have swam with.  Later in the evening a long boat with several Fijian men aboard pulled up to the boat and offered to sell us some lobster!  Finally, we lived this experience after all our travels through Mexico and the South Pacific!  We purchased six lobster tails for 25 dollars Fijian which is about 13 dollars US!  The lobster here are very beautiful with colorful stripes on their shells.  We enjoyed them grilled up with garlic and butter, yum-yum!

The next day we set sail for the infamous Blue Lagoon!  We spent the day slowly motor sailing through coral patches out in the middle of nowhere, but thanks to the detail of our navigational chart plotter we always get where we are going without a hitch.  It does take diligence and patience when sailing around Fiji, but the destinations are always worth the time getting there!  We pulled into the anchorage off Nanuya Lailai and dropped anchor in the most beautifully blue water ever!  The beach is white sand, and the water is rimmed with coral shelves to snorkel.  We have to say that it was some of the best snorkeling we had ever done, we spent hours in the water.  The fish life is tremendous in variety, and the shells are priceless.  We have become avid beachcombers throughout our travels, collecting many!  The boys found a beautiful conch here that was BIG, but it still had its animal inside so we left it to live in the coral.  Once ashore we met a Fijian woman named Ba who takes care of cruiser’s garbage disposal and keeps a boat log for people to leave pictures and notes of themselves.  She had piles of these books that date back to 2002.  We started the 2009 being the first sailboat to anchor.  We also found the Nanuya Island Resort which we can not say enough about!  The manager is a young  Fijian man, Alfie that welcomed us and let us use the facilities.  He sold us ice and cold sodas and in return we made him a copy of the Brooke Shields Blue Lagoon movie, the staff was thrilled.  Carl and I enjoyed a date night and had the most exquisite fish dinner we had ever had at the resort.   We learned to grill coconut meat in butter and garlic, and wow what a treat!  If anyone is ever looking for a quiet, low key place with a beautiful setting as well as being waited on, well this is the place.  Bring lots of books.  We walked around the island on the beach and met another woman named Andy trying to start up her own backpackers place.  So far she and her husband had two bures on the beach and a dining area for guests.  Very basic.  She later walked over the island on the local trail, and came out to visit us on the boat.  She brought a gift of 24 hand baked rolls; let us tell you that Fijian women know how to make mouth watering rolls!  Bread is quit a staple here.  They were delicious and well appreciated.   We thoroughly loved this place and stayed a week.

It was time to return to Vuda Marina and begin our work on Liberty and get ready for the trip back to Savusavu, and eventually up to Samoa.  After a couple of weeks of boat projects, provisioning and saying our good-byes to our new and dear friends, it was time to go.   On April 7th we said good-bye to the place that had become our home for the last several months.  Over the next week we slowly made our way back to  Savusavu to provision again and check out of the country.  It has been a blessed experience that we have had staying here in Fiji over the cyclone season, and we are so thankful that we had.  Fiji is a magical place and more people should visit here.  So, now as many of you know we are off to return home this next fall.  We will make stops in American Samoa, Christmas Island, and Hawaii returning to Seattle by mid-September.  It is an exciting new journey that we all look forward to.  We’ll keep you updated.

          The hospitality is always so warm                          A nice Trumpet Conch from the Blue Lagoon

     We found Nemo  The Clown Fish                             A group of squids checking us out

         Tropical Starfish                                           Very good life long friends were made

     Their beautiful smile goes deep from their soul              Sunday afternoons at Vuda, with music on the grass

             Lighting of the torches in the evening                 Yvette and Jeanine from Bellingham, WA

      You can do it Kyle!                                               Nice 45 pounder Mahi, good job Kyle!

      Joel and I carry the fish to the village people  to share with them, local Kava heads loved it!

   Yet another larger Mahi, freezer is kept full!           Ms. Ba, by the Blue Lagoon Resort

       Blue Lagoon, one of the best fish dinners ever                     Tiny bakery on the beach

       

        Some Island R & R                                      Greg / Bonnie / Jason on Willow from Bellingham, WA  

   Joel and Kyle with the French Safron Boys, Lovely kids!!! Millie, the sweet manager at Vuda Marina

  Check in wharf at Pago Pago                             Korean fishing boats or LRB's, "Listing Rust Buckets"

 

   They smell as good as they look too                            One of Joel's sunset pictures at Savusavu   


February 16th, 2009 

Yes, we know, it has again been some time since we have updated our web page. There has been many full days since last Thanksgiving, and I will try and give it the attention and care that those days have shared with us in real life in typed words. We know that it would be easier to do a web page update more frequently, but it just seems each day is so full of new things the time it takes to do the web page keeps getting placed on the back burner. In a few more months we will be starting a full season of open water passages, then it will be something to look forward to, sitting in front of the computer on a more daily basis keeping a journal to be posted. But of course this comes with less things to address, the highlights will be the passing whale, being visited by the vagabond boobie bird, or the restless sea.
  Fiji has been more than pleasant to us and has given us many memories to enjoy. Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful, and a feast that would make any American proud. The marina roasted a turkey that they had shipped in from New Zealand, they added stuffing, salad, potatoes and even gravy. There were only about 15 of us enjoying the feast, and in typical Fijian fashion, they treated us well. Christmas was a bit more of a Fijian tradition, with a pig cooked in the ground, polysami, tarro root, cassava, a seafood salad. Christmas day we had the marina facilities to ourselves and we all brought our own meat to bar b que and a potluck between us yachtie cruisers. While I am on the Holiday subject I should also mention that we were a lone anchored boat off of Musket Cove in front of  a resort full of vacationers. We did go ashore and tour the facilities and enjoyed the pool, but then returned to our Liberty and enjoyed our own family dinner and then watched the fireworks from our boat, it was a magical evening.
  In between the holidays and up through just a few weeks ago we enjoyed some very nice anchorages in some of the most tropical islands one could only dream about. White sand beaches, sunsets, beautiful seashells, and clear water to swim and snorkel in. Fiji has so much to offer the cruising family.
   One of the few negatives to write about this time was the monsoon type rains we had in the middle of January. We saw a potential cyclone beginning to form North West of us and we made way back to Vuda Marina to sit it out. For nearly two weeks there was a lot rain, and associated wind, but never was it bad enough to be categorized as a cyclone. One day there was just over a half of a  meter of rain, that is about 19 inches in a twenty four hour period. That amount of rain was like nothing we have ever seen. There is a river that goes right by the second largest town in Fiji called Nadi (Nandi), the banks of the river just couldn't hold back rains of that magnitude and they just simply failed to hold back the torrent of water. The main street of Nadi was overcome by five to ten feet of water and mud, devastating everything in it's way. There were also mudslides and other rivers flooding and in all toll, twelve lives were lost. Most lives were lost by people trying to cross swollen rivers. It has now been a month and the town is nearly back to it's old self. Most all buildings survived, but the inventories had to be restocked. Typical to the third world way, everything about that river is just repaired back to the way it was.. We surely thought that the banks of the river would be filled higher with dirt and gravel, but no. After all, the last time this happened was over twelve years ago.
  We did have a very fortunate thing come our way this past month. A lovely family came into Vuda Marina with a very nice, and large sixty two foot  Nordhaven motor yacht. The family of Brett, Brandi, Bo, Daisy and little four month old Rose were here to enjoy a bit of Fiji before heading South to New Zealand, their new home of the past three years. They had just purchased the motor yacht "MV-Feeling" only three months prior in Australia. We got to know them a bit, and at one point of our conversations I half jokingly said that if they need any help at all taking the boat down to Opua, New Zealand we would be more than happy to help them. Within just a few days we were making the plans, and then we threw the dock lines off their cleats and set off for the nearly eleven hundred miles due South. We had fairly rough seas with 20 to 30 knots of wind and semi-breaking seas just forward of our port beam most of the way. The motion was very different than a sailboat, but with computerized under-water stabilizers, the boat only rocked back and forth about ten degrees as we maintained a nice seven to eight knot headway. The passage was wonderful and all went well. One day out of New Zealand we came upon a pod of humpback whales. It was fun trying to position ourselves in front of their direction and then shut the motor off to watch them swim by very close. At one point I got us in position and Brett jumped in with his underwater camera to get some "up close" pictures. I was amazed that I had to get the boat nearly up to ten knots of speed to overtake the pod and get in front of them. How do they maintain that kind of speed though the open sea? We came into the Bay Of Islands, New Zealand, Opua right at sunrise and enjoyed a spectacular entry with very large dolphins giving us a show at our bow.
  That day was full of customs, quarantine and cleaning. The next day Bret and Brandi and the kids went on their way South in a rental car to their 2,500 acre hunting ranch about two hundred miles South of Auckland. We enjoyed staying on MV-Feeling for another five days looking up and surprising other cruisers we knew would be there. The look on their face when they saw what boat we were on and that we had gone to the "Dark Side" (motor boat) was priceless. We rented a car and in the period of ten days logged nearly 1,500 miles driving on the left side of the road without even a mishap, maybe that is because it has been over a year since I have actually driven a car.. We enjoyed New Zealand and the timing was perfect for all the summer fun. We took in glow worm caves, quaint little beach towns, mountain sides filled with sheep, two nights downtown Auckland. The exchange rate was so good that we even bought a new underwater Fuji digital camera. It was just so tempting as most everything in New Zealand is priced much like America, but with the exchange rate it is half off. The two nights in a nice clean downtown hotel came to only $25.00 per night, so the boys got their own room. After Auckland we spent  two nights on Bret and Brandi's ranch. The ranch is just beyond words, we'll just let the following pictures show you the wonder of it all. If you ever feel like you want to take in the ultimate hunting experience, goggle up "wildside hunting, New Zealand" If your a hunter you'll enjoy the web page, it is truly amazing.
   We have now flown back to Fiji, and back on the Liberty. This has been a fun week of work for us on the Liberty. We have decided to give Liberty some attention back, as she has been so great for us. It would be silly not to take advantage of the craftsmanship and prices here in Fiji. All new upholstery for less than five hundred dollars, plus a new head sail for windward work on our way back home. Even the old ports (windows) are being glazed with new laminate glass. We have even replaced nearly every light and fixture with low consumption high intensity LED lights.
  We still have another group of islands to explore and that will begin the first of March. This will give us a full month to enjoy, and then it will be getting ourselves ready for the next chapter of this year, the one that takes us back towards home. Even that thought does not come to us without the thought of, exactly where is home? New Zealand is tempting? I am sure that some day we will be going back to New Zealand for a full season to enjoy either by boat or a small motor coach.


Looking a lot like Christmas

All friends for life, Thanksgiving dinner

Yvette with the Marina staff, just can't beat those smiles, of course new toys help with the smiles too

Christmas tree Fiji resort way

Going out on a diving trip

Bret, Brandi, Bowden, Daisy and Rose Soverel

Nice private ship huh?

Captain Kyle on his watch

Such hams, they entertained for over 30 minutes

Sunrise coming into New Zealand

Kyle with happy little Rose

One of the Bay Of Islands anchorages

Mike/Liz, Mike/Cindy, Carl all from Washington

Tom / Dawn from Blaine, WA

Carl's famous "NZ Green Lipped Muscles"

View from our hotel, Auckland's Sky Tower

Huraki Gulf from the Sky Tower

Yep, there's our hotel

NZ's Americas Cup, Emigrates

Bret and one of his Red Stags, Great bar b que was had!!

Bret, his helicopter and a Tahr

Fresh Kiwi Fruit anyone?

The largest Dodge PU in NZ, Yvette Likes! 

Wild sheep on their property

Little Dixie gives morning kisses

This is ony a few of the hundreds we saw

Gotta get one of these when we get home

Cold water fly fishing for rainbow      

These big red stags resemble NW elks

Fresh fruit with a big smile, Fiji, sweetest people we have seen!!

Good day mate

November 25, 2008

Two months have gone by enjoying Fiji at a pace that we could only hope for. We left Suva in the afternoon to enjoy a nice downwind sail overnight to the West side of the main island.  Our weather report both from Fiji meteorological service and New Zealand weather surface charts showed a front coming through in 48 hours, no problem, we only have an 18 hour run. We navigated the 3/4 mile wide reef strewn area between Fiji and the island of Kadavu just before it got dark. The winds were just an easy 10 knots and the seas were favorable. About an hour after dark when normally the winds would lighten up it started to blow and clock around forward of our beam. The winds kept increasing until we were down to a triple reefed main and no jib sail. We were trying to keep the Liberty below 5 knots per hour to make a reef passage entry just after morning daylight. As the winds began to touch 30 knots we knew that the weather was somehow here a day early. It was one of those times in a sailors dreams that we could have been easily been reaching 7 knots and enjoying a fairly smooth sea that hadn't built up yet, but as luck would have it, we were trying to keep the speed down. Going through a reef passage in the dark would be just crazy, the reef is just below the surface of the water and does not show up on radar. The last couple of hours it was apparent that we could not keep the speed down, so plan B was set into place. We tacked out into the open ocean calculating how many miles and then make the turn back towards the passage to be there at around 7am with sunlight. The plan worked just fine and the passage was very easy. Once inside the reef waters of the West side of Fiji the water was flat, and the wind was still in the 20's, that made for a lovely 2 hour sail to our summer port of Point Vuda Marina. By noon we were tied up in a lovely little marina and meeting with other cruising friends that we knew would be there. Point Vuda is very nice and affordable, here there is all the facilities one could hope for, cafes, restaurants, haul-out, cruisers club bar, boat supplies and a small grocery store. The people here are the best, they treat their guests with such warmth and smiles, always singing the familiar "BULA" when you pass them by. We have four friends that have put their boat in a hole dug out for the summer while they go back home. We decided to stay and enjoy the hot season, and hope for the best when it comes to being slightly on the verge of the cyclone season path. We plan on being out in the adjourning islands and enjoy some nice solitude anchorage and fishing without it being the tourist season. We will stay within two days of Point Vuda Marina and watch the weather twice a day if we need to high-tail it back to the marina. Point Vuda Marina was designed to be a "cyclone hole", but in the 18 years that it has been here, it has not been tested by a direct cyclone hit. It has been tested by ones that have come close by though, and faired very well. Everyone else has gone South to New Zealand or Australia now, we have stayed in close radio contact with a few and everyone has done OK. The common complaint is that now they are wearing coats and running their heaters.  We are still in shorts and it's in the 90's here. At least we always have 83 degree water to jump into when we get hot. We have anchored in front of the most spectacular resorts and had all the facilities to our use. Fiji is so affordable, we are glad that we don't have to worry about the passage from New Zealand back up to Hawaii next year, that is normally a tough sail. The reason for that is that you have to stay South in the 40 degree latitudes to make any Easting you need. Last year cruisers were even told to keep an eye out for icebergs, that's not what we are out here for. Tropical islands, fishing, friendly people that are so accommodating, this is nice. Our fishing success has even improved with a new local trick, take an old potatoe chip bag with shiny foil inside and make a skirt with it on the lure, it looks great and works well. Presently we just got back into Point Vuda after being anchored out for the past number of days. This is Thanksgiving week and the marina is offering a traditional Turkey dinner with all the fixens for us 10 Americans that are here on our boats. Turkey is not a normal meat here, but somehow they got their hands on one and are very excited to serve us. It looks like the cost will be $14 per person, that works out to about $7 per person in US dollars.  We are starting to know the reef strewn waters here and feeling comfortable transiting between the islands. After being at the marina it has been discussed that about 50% of the boats coming in are coming in for rudder or keel repair after hitting reefs. We maintain that we will do our travels here during low tide and with the sun overhead to show the reefs better. 

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At Suva Market with Jeremy and Meghan                 This is THE place for your Kava needs!

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  Lot's of fresh produce                                           More Kava, gift wrapped for the Chiefs

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   The latest Hindu styles, for those special occasions    Dave and Rhonda on Swan from Colorado

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Mike and Cindy on Airwego, Seattle                         At anchor spinnaker flying, see the person?

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Come on Dad, you can do it!                                       Kyle was a natural!

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                      Musket Cove Resort, were anchored in front all by ourselves

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    It's LOLO night, cooked in the ground pig              Fijian dancers, they are so musical

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        Nice beach combing shells                              Fresh flowers for the table

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   At anchor at Mana Island                                     Fresh Travali for dinner tonight!

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The boys in their sailing dingys at Point Vuda            Pigs for LOLO at one of the islands

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  Sugar cane waiting to be unloaded                          Nice tropical island

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Musket Cove Marina                                             Morning walk, and no other footprints!

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  Yep, trick or treaters at the bow                         These travali's get big, real big, and fight big too

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40 inch turned vases, we saw them get made            Yacht club at Point Vuda, great food and cheap

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In a hole for the cyclone season, shouldn't fall over!          Point Vuda Marina

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 Nice New Zealand design, fairly reef safe!                Nice fish, and the beautiful blue water

 

September 22, 2008

This update will include our travels from American Samoa to Fiji

Leaving Pago Pago, American Samoa where we had so much fun with our other cruising friends was a bit hard. We knew that this would be the separating point for many of us, most would be going SW to Tonga, and only a few of us would be taking the Northern route to Wallis and Fiji. We said our goodbyes and on a typical windy day in Pago Pago we pulled up our anchor and headed out. After being anchored here for two weeks our chain looked like it had grown a bad 1970's Afro, and the growth would not wash off as the chain came up into the anchor locker in the bow. It wasn't even five hours into the over night passage to Independent Samoa when the smell from that chain began to stink. Within 7 hours in the middle of the night it wasn't even bearable, the rotting growth couldn't even wait the 16 hours it would take to get to Independent Samoa. By the time we got to Apia, the main harbor of Independent Samoa we were met at the head of the bay by a skiff of three men to help us get into our slip in the new marina. They had just opened up a nice marina the year before and now will not allow any cruising yachts to anchor in the bay. Once we got in our slip and the dock lines were tied in a marina that is only nine feet deep we dropped our anchor and chain just to get it out of the boat, all 300 feet of chain! It would be a few days later before we would mustar up the courage to start raising the chain slowly while scrubbing the chain and rinsing it with fresh water. Guess this is just part of the paradise experience. We completely enjoyed Independent Samoa and the people were just as friendly as America Samoa. The one thing that we did notice is that the Samoans here were not as, well let's just use the word "big" if you know what I mean. These people were very active and just seemed to have much better work ethics, they are big people, but just not as "overly big" as Pago Pago. One day we decided to have a burger at McDonalds, and much to our surprise there was a large picture of the ex-football player now actor The Rock. They are very proud of their hometown hero turned Hollywood actor. We rented a car here and took a ride around the island and enjoyed all the interesting villages that are around every corner.  The people would wave so enthusiastically, they are soooo friendly we thought our arms were going to fall off.  Their smiles and waves were so much fun, we felt like Royalty as we passed by. On our trip that day we even toured the Robert Luis Stevenson Estate. He only lived here for a few years before he died, what a wonderful well kept sight his estate was, he is buried up above on a hillside. That evening we enjoyed a little cinema in Apia, and watched the new Batman movie, the theater was fun, the popcorn was good, and the prices were very low, but the movie just can not be recommended, what a dark violent movie the Batman series has become. One evening we went to the Aggi Greys Hotel, that has been there since the early 1900's for a dinner buffet and dance show. What a wonderful spread they put out of traditional South Pacific food of taro root, curry dishes, and some things we didn't recognizes. The dancing was followed by flame twirler's, they made a great spectacle of this, it is just amazing how fast they can spin those batons of fire to the hypnotic beat of the TamTams. We were even treated to a special visit by the granddaughter of Aggi Grey, she sat with us for a few minutes and made small talk with us. After enjoying Apia we decided it was time to move on, and we followed our friends Chuck and Diane on the sailing vessel Bear to the largest Samoan island of Savaii. The opening into Assau Bay, Savaii was a tight narrow shallow entry. Once we got there it was a bit confusing and very poorly marked by PVC pipes sticking out of the water. This is where the old saying of  "there are sailors that admit they have hit bottom and then those that lie" comes into play. We missed the entry by a few feet and now we are stuck, thank goodness it was a rising tide and the swell was really low. We came upon it very slowly, but still couldn't back off of it. So there we are whistling at a fisherman in his canoe to come by and take our stern anchor for a ride and drop it behind us in the deeper water. He did just that for us and we winched ourselves back off of the reef shelf. We thanked him, gave him a new hat, some hooks, and even 20 bucks, he was very pleased and came aboard and stood on the bow directing us through the pass. He asked us if we could use any coconuts or oranges. We said you have oranges?? He said, "yes, I'll bring them by tomorrow", we shook hands and he got back into his make-shift wooden canoe and paddled away. We never did see him again though, but other local kids came by and sold us some fruits and veggies. We dove under the Liberty and saw what a solid boat she was, only a little bottom paint under the keel was missing. Here in Assau we enjoyed a few nights in a very quiet bay, the boys and I did some fishing, but had no luck. One afternoon the boys played on their own island as Yvette and I just kicked back and enjoyed the day. The next hop would be three days to Wallis Island, a French island.  The passage was easy and the winds were nice, we caught two nice Mahi Mahi on the way, the freezer was full of fish now. One was so big that once we got it to the boat and gaffed it we also had to spear it with the spear gun so we all could have something to hold on to and lift it into the boat. Our guess was that it was around fifty pounds and 5 1/2 feet long. He was a bull and what a huge head he had, such a pretty fish too. Once we made it to one of the prettiest anchorage's so far off of a reef of Wallis Island we had others over for fish dinner. We stayed here for a week enjoying walks everyday picking up sea shells and swimming. The actual island of Wallis being French meant that everything would be over priced much like the French  Islands of Tahiti. We did very little provisioning here, and just enjoyed the anchorage out at the atoll/reef. The boys wanted to go ashore everyday to work on their "Gilligan Island" huts. They actually came out very good, they would weave coconut fronds and eat and drink coconuts. The boys have become very good at husking coconuts and knowing which ones would be good for the juice, meat or cotton candy. In an older coconut that is starting to sprout roots the milk inside turns to a soft cotton candy texture and is very sweet. It is with this that you can make pancakes with also. After a week here we knew it was time to head to Fiji, we are now down to only one other cruiser with us, Gordon and Jeanine on Vari. They are from Bellingham, WA, we have been close by them ever since we left Mexico. Gordon is a large tugboat captain in the NW and along with his lovely wife Jeanine they sail in a beautiful steel boat that took them a number of years to build. They plan on going to Thailand next year to have them formally finish the wood work inside. The passage to Savusavu, Fiji was light winds and motor sailing some of the time. Savusavu is a quaint inlet into a forest of mangroves. The little city is full of Fijians and East Indians, it is a bustling little town with great indian curry dishes at prices that are very affordable. We ate out most of the time, as it was nearly the same price as eating on the boat. One evening we supplied a bunch of Mahi Mahi to a little restaurant and they fixed it along with potatoes and a salad for eight of us at only $3.50 per plate.  We fell in love with a curry chicken dish on a roti, it is basically a curry chicken stirfry wrapped up in a thick bready type of a tortilla. All four of us could eat for about $15, and that included a soda. Remember that it cost $30 for a haircut in Tahiti, well here in Fiji me and the boys got our haircuts for $3.50 each. Yvette even got a nice haircut for only $15, and it has been one of the best in years. Reggie the hairstylist is a he/she. We have seen many men dressed up as women and very feminine in action all along the South Pacific. The reason for this is that the youngest child in a family is raised as a girl,and will take care of their parents in later years after the other siblings have moved out. It is not uncommon to see this daily, and they are looked upon with great respect from their peers. It has even become very normal for us to accept it as their way of life and culture. The anchorage here in Savusavu does not have the cleanest water, so after a week or so we were ready to go were we could swim and snorkel. We went about six miles around the corner off of a point that has a very beautiful resort owned by Jean Micheal Cousteau. This resort is very ritzy priced, but does keep a very Fijian look to itself, complete with thatched roof and sided bungalows and tiki man statues everywhere. As a matter of fact reading the local paper after we left, there was a picture of the actor/producer Mike Meyers entering the lobby to enjoy a weeks worth of vacation. I should also say that where we were anchored in Savusavu the small island right next to us is owned by the estate of Malcolm Forbes. It was here that he would bring Elizabeth Taylor, it was always rumored  that they saw each other off and on, or course who didn't associate with her back then? They still keep the island in a well maintained condition. Everyday there was a couple of local men raking or cleaning the grounds. We were told that we could ask for permission to explore the island, but just never did. We snorkeled the Cousteau reef and really enjoyed the coral life there, we even saw the largest morey eel we had ever seen. His head was about the size of a big pitbull dog, we kept our distance and much to our hopes he did the same. The next day we headed South 25 miles to the North end of Koro Island and the village of Nabuni pronounced Nambuni (the islands like to add the N sound in front of G's and P's, like Pago Pago is pronounced Pango Pango) We had a nice sail and dropped the anchor, now comes a new experience. I donned my new Sulu, a skirt, a very well made skirt I must say too. I also had a nice gift wrapped bunch of kava roots that we had purchased in Savusavu. The custom is to go to shore, ask for someone to take you to the Chief and ask for his blessings to anchor and walk on his island and give him a gift of kava. Kava is a root that is used to make a slightly intoxicating brew that is grey and tastes like dirty water. Once ashore I asked a guy to take me to the chief and he told me that he is the son of the chief, but first let's sit down and enjoy some kava. I wasn't in a position to decline so I sat down with him and a few of his buddies. They all spoke pretty good English and we shared a few shells of kava talking about many things. The chief's son finally said, let's go back to your boat and get your wife and the boys, so we hopped in the dingy and went to fetch the rest of the family. Once Yvette and the boys got dressed in their sulu's and were considered in the proper attire we headed back to shore. We mentioned that tomorrow was Yvette's birthday, on Sept. 11th, he right away said, "oh no, on the Twin Tower Day"?? It amazed us that here we are on an island that only has electricity for three hours a night when the generator is running knew about this. Once we got ashore we all then sat down and enjoyed a few more shells of kava. The ritual goes like this, they hand you a coconut shell full of this brew, you and everyone else clap your hands three times and you chug-a-lug the shell of kava, then you bring the cup down from your mouth and say fairly loudly "Matha" and clap your hands three times. The clapping of the hands three times means thank you, Matha means empty. It would be embarrassing to not be able to drink the whole half shell in one chug-a-lug as it is showing disrespect. We all did well, even the boys, our tongues and lips were getting numb, and you can feel a slight layed back attitude. It was now time to go see the chief, and Sequi the chiefs son said to follow him. We came upon a circle of crudely built homes and went to the chief's home. There were no doors or windows, just holes where they would normally be in the modern world. Once inside we all sat in the lotus position on a mat and the chief came out and sat in front of us. We had heard that you must sit crossed legged in the lotus position as it is considered bad manners to show the bottom of your feet. I asked the chief for his blessings to anchor in front of his village and explore his part of the island and placed the kava root bunch infront of him. You are not supposed to hand it over to him, but place it on the ground in front of him so he has the chance to decline your wishes and just simply walk away. He picked up the newspaper gift wrapped bundle of kava root that we had purchased at a farmers market in Savusavu and returned to his sitting position. He then went on for nearly three minutes in his own language saying something that sounded like a chant. Then he paused and looked us in the eyes and in decent English said that we are welcome to enjoy his village, the anchorage and fishing in his waters. It was a touching moment to see that not all of the world has lost their culture. We visited a little bit then Sequi took us on a walk towards their school. It was pretty there, lots of nice clean streams, Sequi asked if we wanted to swim with the eels, but we declined. Then we came around the corner and saw the school, what a surprise, it was a very beautiful modern looking school. The teachers and the headmaster lady were out in a circle enjoying their lunch and the kids were running around giggling as they looked at us. The headmaster asked the kids to gather for a picture, there must have been nearly 50  kids, and they were so well mannered. They all sat around us and sang a welcome song to us, it lasted about 5 minutes and was enough to make a grown person cry, it sounded so wonderful. The beauty of it was watching each and every child just do their best in singing, it was nothing like what you would see in the states, every kid just sang to us with such pride. When they finished we clapped our hands three times and they clapped back three times also. Then the fun began, it was picture time, these people love to have their picture taken!! We promised them that we would print off a few for them and get the prints to them in the morning. We then were taken to their one old church and around the village, everyone we met we had to take a picture of or they would be dissapointed. They lived off of the land very well, and had a nice farm and lots of fruit trees. Sequi then took us back to our dingy, we of course had more kava, and I told him that tomorrow we are going around the corner to another anchorage, and asked if he would you like to come with us, he was delighted and said that he could walk back from there easily. I even said that if there are others that would like to go, we have room. The next morning I got in the dingy at 9am sharp and went to pick up Sequi, and much to my surprise six others wanted to go. Here we are, 8 of us in a nine foot dingy, what a sight. I asked Sequi if he would know what I meant if I said we look like a bunch of refugees going from Cuba to Florida, he did understand and we all laughed about it. Poor Yvette had her work cut out for her, she said that she would feed Sequi and his few friends lunch on the one hour boat trip over to another anchorage around the corner. She did well and everyone had a nice lunch. I let Sequi steer the boat and let him think how much we needed his help to get around the reef, he felt like a hero in front of his peers. The smile on his face as he steered the boat was priceless.  Once we dropped the hook all ten of us men sang happy birthday to Yvette, it did sound wonderful. We then all piled into the dingy again and I took them to shore and we said our goodbyes. We enjoyed the company of others in this small anchorage and met with a couple from Tasmania that were building a home on some land that they had bought. They had a few locals working for them and it was fun watching them all work for their $20 per day, they were really hard workers. Wahline and Neal said that they bought the guys new boots to wear and the workers were so proud of them. They would come to work on Monday with them all polished up and ready for another week of hard work in the hot sun. They even said that they think the men wear them to church on Sunday. We were only the second cruising yacht to enjoy this wonderful island of such happy people this year. After Koro we set sail for Makangui island, known for an old leper colony and a  giant clam re-introduction program. It was again a tricky pass to get through the reef, but we did just fine. Here we met with a government man and his family, gave him kava and asked for his permission to enjoy the area. Camilia gave us his blessing and then took us on a tour of the old buildings that housed people with leprosy from 1880 through 1969. It was like it's own city, complete with a movie theater, nice homes, a hospital and even a jail. The government pays Camilia to stay and watch over things here and to also watch over the giant clams in the bay. After our tour we went snorkeling with the giant clams, what a sight that was. Some were over 4 foot wide and weighed as much as two hundred pounds. They were all different in their own way, and came in a variety of colors, green, blue, yellow, etc. There were around two hundred of them at different stages of life, from babies on up.  Sorry we don't have an underwater camera to put their image here on the websight. After Makangui we were off to Levuka, the old Capital of Fiji. It is mostly a ghost town now, with only a handful of stores and restaurants. Here is also a tuna cannery, and the smell downwind helped us make our choice to not hang around too long. After a night of motorsailing we were anchored in Suva Harbor, the Capital of Fiji. What a contrast, McDonalds, sky scrapers, large modern cinema and millions of fast moving taxis. We anchored right in front of the Royal Suva Yacht Club with only a few other cruising boats. Their cruising boat count is way down because of bad press of major disorder with not actually having a government right now. The interim government seems to be doing OK, and we will make sure to stay out of any political gatherings or conversations. Yvette and I have been here before and do not see any difference, the people are friendly, even for such a big city. We just know not to walk the streets after dark, which is about the same for most any big city.

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Every morning flag raising in Apia by the police, which is also the Army too. Another anchorage in paradise

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A nice large Mahi Mahi Dorado                            This is the way the eggs come from the stores

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Our friend Jeanine from Vari having lunch with us         At anchor in Savusavu

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   Good friends made easy in the Bula world of Fiji           Great place for diving and snorkeling

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 Fresh kava root and a new sulu to wear                The boys just look dashing in their sulus

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  Cheif and his son from Nambuni, Koro Island        The headmaster at the school of Koro Island

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The children, and they all smile big for the camera       Yep, eight of us going for a ride today

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They loved the one hour trip, guess it beats the dugouts.  Saqui was all smiles, and felt so responsible

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You can see 95% of this island                      Another nice anchorage, small island in the foreground

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Danny the head framer is very proud of his pumkins and shared it with us. Nice view huh?

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 Just think of the clam chowder you could make with this!This guy is as big as your hand, and harmless.

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Kyle in jail at the leper colony                                 An endless view of old leper gravesites

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The old town of Levuka                               Makangui leper colony caretaker / guide and his family

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       Boys huts, the goat skull adds just the right touch doesn't it?

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Just another anchorage off of Wallis                         Kyles hut takes shape

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Yvette getting her haircut by a he/she named Reggie.These tropical birds have no fear for man or child


  Some live their life dreaming, others live their dreams.

In 20 years from now it's not what you didn't do that counts,

it's what you did do that matters.

 

 

 


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