It’s Christmas Time Again and most likely by now most of you are overwhelmed
with last minute shopping, running to and fro trying to find that special
gift…baking, wrapping, putting up trees, lights, bobbles and decorations, and
basically going just a little crazy.Somewhere along the way you are doing your best to find that elusive Christmas
Spirit and make this Holiday Season the best possible for your family and
Ok, I’m almost exhausted just writing that paragraph.Am I the only one, or does it seem to you that
Sometime, Somehow, Somewhere the real true and lasting meaning of Christmas got
lost in the hustle and bustle of the Santa Shuffle.
I know it doesn’t seem right to not to participate in the ongoing
commercially acceptable traditions of buying more.More Stuff, More than last year, More Bigger,
More Better, and More often than not, Way
More than will fit under the tree just to provide the required and mandatory allusions
that we are all living a Wonderful Life.Do we really need all that stuff???Is this really the meaning of Christmas?? We
I don’t wish to come off as the Grinch who stole Christmas, and I
understand the inherent guilt that goes with this view point, but wouldn’t it
be nice if we could all just stop the Rat Race, Get off the crazy Treadmill,
Stop this spiraling cycle of Guilt, and get back to the values that were
intended to be Christmas.Aside from
what we all know and have heard since birth, there was a Child Born who grew up
and gave the Ultimate Gift so that we might all Live the Good Life. And even if
your religious beliefs differ, we all have the wee small voice of Goodness
within reminding us that to Give IS Better than to Get…reminding us that the
values that were so beautifully portrayed in that terrific old classic Jimmy
Stewart movie, It’s a Wonderful Life are values not to be set aside and
forgotten, regardless of how busy and frantic our lives become.For those of you who may never have seen this
movie, if you really want to get in the Christmas Spirit it really is ‘Required
Viewing’ and a must see.It portrayed
the value of True Giving, of yourself, your time, your love. When a single
gift, wrapped with love was enough.
While I am doing my best not to rant, or sound like an old Fogey, or
a wayward preacher who lost his congregation, I know I am too late, but when
you spend time away from the ‘Rat Race’ as Kaija and I have for these past 13
yrs, and when you live among folks who humble you daily with how little they
have and how happy they are, it is almost embarrassing to remember our life
living in the Land of Stuff and the need to have More…just for the sake of
having it.We have learned that you can
live with less, much less and still be Happy.
As stated, this is our 13th year living this wonderful
Cruising Lifestyle.It is now our second
year here in Fiji waters.We have
visited almost every island in this South Pacific Paradise.Certainly one of the biggest events in our
year was surviving a major Category 5 Cyclone Winston.Believe me when I say…Once is enough!In the past months we have been places and
seen sights that seemed otherworldly, but thru it all we have been reminded
time and again of the resiliency of the human spirit.It has been a year of sadness turned into
Joy.In short it has been a Wonderful
Year for us.
Kaija and I have been blessed beyond measure.We are fortunate to enjoy good health.We have wonderful friends and we are Truly Living
This will be our last year in Fiji.We look forward to visiting the Lau Group of islands before setting our
sails and sights for destinations west as we continue our adventure and quest
to see as much of this small world as we can.
We send out our Best and Warmest Wishes to each of you, regardless
of your persuasion, creed or religion for a very Happy Holiday, a Blessed and
Merry Christmas and a very Happy Healthy New Year.
‘run’ (sail) to Futuna is a requirement for those of us who enjoy Fiji enough
to wish to extend our time past the 18 month visa permitted for our
vessel.Our time had already been gratuitously
extended last spring courtesy of Fiji customs who granted us a 6 month
extension due to Cyclone Winston.Our
time was up and so off we sailed.
trip is 300 km and waiting for favourable conditions is not always an
option.Our Visa was expiring on Oct 15
and we checked out of Vuda on Oct 13.Lucky for us the winds were favorable being sufficiently south of east
to make it pretty much a beam reach all the way. Upon arrival on Sunday we
chose an alternate anchorage to the main harbour which is completed exposed to
the ocean swell.
put our hook down on the west side of Alofi Island the eastern island of the
two island grouping known as Futuna.It
wasn’t long before we had locals swimming out to the boat to wish us a friendly
Bonjour and chat about their picturesque little islands isolated out in the
middle of the South Pacific Ocean. With the current running fast and the occasion roller coming thru we pretty much did donuts on the hook...here is a pic of our track at anchor. Do you see anything in the Pic?....Kaija sees a Troll...I think he looks like an old Rastaman :o)
described in the Lonely Planet South Pacific Guide Wallis & Futuna (and
who?) two little volcanic specks lying smack in the middle of
Polynesia/Melanesia far from the modern world and it’s Claymation
comedies.Wallis and Futuna’s
French-funded economy allows islanders to drive flashy 4WDs to and from their
taro fields and enjoy satellite TV at night after their evening meal and Kava,
but the culture and its intricate customs have remained remarkably intact.
population is equal parts proud and protective of their way of life and, as
long as the airfares and cost of living stay as high as they are (this place
makes Tahiti seem cheap), it’s not likely to receive heaps of honeymooners or
package tourists any time soon.Movements for independence are few: the hospitals, schools and highly
paid government jobs are all welcome enough additions and the people don’t mind
putting up with a few handfuls of French-expats.
and Futuna, which lie 230 km away from each other (with Futuna approx. 300 km
northeast of Fiji), are linked through French colonialism, period.Wallis has ancestral connections with Tonga,
while Futuna traces its roots to Samoa.This is evident in the languages, which are quite different, although
mutually comprehensible, as well as the Samoan like tapa designs of the
Futunans and the Tongan influenced designs found on Wallis.The two islands remain competitive with each
other, but Wallis, being more populous and the centre of government, retains
the upper hand.
a couple of rolly nights at anchorage we made our way into the open roadstead
harbour of Leava.Everything of note is
concentrated in Leava, Futuna’s major centre, on the south coast. There are a
couple of supermarkets, the island’s administrative headquarters (there’s even
a library) and a wharf…well kind of.We
were the only boat there, thankfully, but we are told they have had as many as
7 boats in that tiny anchorage at one time…which seemed to us highly
rowed to shore as quickly as possible and literally thru out our dinghy hook,
walked thru the mud and very old looking traditional Ulu andmade our way to customs.
We must say, despite the inconvenience of
anchoring and landing, once ashore the folks there are about as friendly as you
could want.The customs lady was very
nice and presented Kaija with a lovely and very aromatic Lai and no sooner had our paper work done which included not only check in but
check out after telling us we were welcome to stay as long as we liked.She then drove us down the road to the local
Gendarme for immigration stamping and again we were treated very kindly.
With our paperwork out of the way, we
hitchhiked back to town and availed ourselves of the wonderful French baguettes
and French cheeses at the supermarket and with our arms full, we made it back
to the boat.
Being exposed to the ocean swell made it a
very uncomfortable rolly anchorage and we decided to weigh anchor and set sail
for our return to Fiji.Our passage back
was uneventful other some snotty weather and ocean swell, but the wind stayed on the beam and we made good time.
Two days later we were back at Savu
Savu Fiji, checked in and ready to begin our final season in this enchanted
South Seas island chain.
have enjoyed that past month anchored at the Cousteau resort, then a couple of
weeks diving the reefs of Namena, exploring some of the smaller sheltered
hurricane/cyclone holes along the south coast of Vanua Levu and now reuniting
with old friends here in Savu Savu.
are looking forward to a wonderful Christmas as we enjoy the local fair.There is a wonderful mixture of traditional
Christmas music and the traditional Polynesian/Indian sounds of Fiji in the
air, the streets and shops are bustling and just when you thought people
couldn’t be any friendlier, you are stopped on the street by locals who shake
your hand and say Bula Bula, Welcome to Fiji.It is cyclone season and this weekend was our first reminder as a
tropical depression came close but has now passed us by.It is quite warm and the rains are
falling…but even so…this is a beautiful country with smiling happy people and
warm clean waters to sail and enjoy.A
true sailors delight and perhaps Paradise on Earth.
Coming back to Vuda
Marina is a little like a family reunion.We have spent enough time there now we know most of the numerous staff
members by name and in some cases their families.Fijians are typically very warm and friendly
and when you add familiarization to the mix it is a very comfortable
situation.In particular we are quite
fond of the two front office gals, Nikki and Maria who seem to always find a
way to make our stay a little more comfortable than the last. Add to that the
friendly restaurant staff who not only remember your names but also your
favorite foods and just how you like them.The yard staff of Joe and Moe seem always willing to go a little extra
to accommodate any request and all under the fine leadership off young Mr. Adam
Wade who is doing a terrific job managing the yard.
The place is always hopping with activity,
the slips and cyclone pits are full and this year with the addition of their
catamaran hauling capabilities they are truly a full yard facility.
One of the highlites is the open market held every second Saturday with homemade breads, jams, fruits and a wonderful assortment of local crafts.
We needed to have
our hull touched up from a few minor scratches and our friend Vincent and his
crew chief Kitty made short work of it.Once again, Alan of Marshall sails and his crew were right there getting
the job done on our canvas work.The
only hiccup we had was using a contractor we had not used previously, Yacht
Help, who did not do a satisfactory job and we would not recommend them.The Owner David assured us that the persons
responsible would be replaced and did provide us a minor price reduction but
would not stand behind the poor workmanship or repair damage done by his staff.
He did ask that I not ‘trash’ his company on the internet, and do not feel by
writing this honest appraisal that I am doing so.I did pay the bill and believe I am entitled
to share my opinion of their work.Enough said!
With our work behind
us it was time to say goodbye to the many friends we have made and Vuda and
despite not knowing if or when we will return we are grateful for all the help
and friendly service they provided us.
After a restful stop in Blue Lagoon
replete with visits to the Tea Shop located on the far side of the island,
getting our Vodaphone sim card and new Wi-Fi unit delivered by the Yasawa Flier
we headed south to the Manta Ray Resort.
With luck the Manta rays swim daily
thru the channel located adjacent the Manta Ray Resort, thus the name.However, unfortunately for us, they had not
been seen for a week and they did not appear on demand.After spending a couple of nights in what
proved to be a very rolly anchorage we decided to move on.We sailed south to the island of Waya only a
few short miles away.The northern most
anchorage was poorly protected in the prevailing conditions and we opted to
continue farther south to the most southerly anchorage.This was a very nice stop in quiet soft water
with only a few other boats in the bay.We enjoyed a couple of quiet days before heading off to Navandra.
We had heard much of this tiny island
but found the reef in poor shape.Kaija
did manage to find a rare Turban shell ashore and a Crown of thorns Starfish
and Juvenile Angle fish in the shallow water.The anchorage was gunwale to gunwale rolly and we left the following
We decided to make for the quite
popular Musket Cove Resort where we were looking forward to reconnecting with a
number of our sailing friends.The day
sail was brisk thru reef infested waters and we were happy to have the
CruisingFijiBlogspot routing available to follow.
Blue Lagoon to Musket Routes
Musket Cove Resort and Marina is a
veritable cruisers haven.It has all the
amenities. Hiking is great on the island and it is easy to find world class surfing,
snorkelling, diving, tennis, golf and enough eateries and drinking holes to
satisfy any desire.Also it has a market
as does the adjoining Plantation resort who makes the best cheese buns and
fresh bread daily.For a small fee
anyone can partake in the daily offering including watersports, basket weaving,
and misc. activates. There is also a local airport and a total of three resorts
owned by different members of one family.In short there is something for everyone and it is a great place to
spend a lot of quality time while exploring the adjoining island including Tom
Hanks Castaway Island which is only a short sail away.
During our time here, Gary enjoyed
tennis a couple times a week with an old acquaintance from Cartagena, joined
with a couple of cruising buddies to do some diving and we typically enjoyed a
daily regimen of snorkelling Sunflower and adjoining reefs which we found to be
some of the best snorkelling we have had here in Fiji.
Gary even managed to find a new buddy...albeit he was a little standoffish...a lovely Leopard Shark allowed him to swim up close and personal.
Kaija as usual had great fun finding all manner of underwater wildlife to amuse her including a very happy Coral Snake and dancing Octupus.
Gary along with friends Alison and Greg explored the Pinnacle a very nice dive indeed!
especially swimming thru the cave
It was during one of the
dive/snorkelling expeditions that we had a new experience and we were quite
happy that it was not on our boat.We
had been invited by Alison and friend Greg aboard Alison’s sailboat Cachalot to
join them for a day sail to Mana Island.It was a pleasant sail and fun day.We dove the Supermarket and Sunset Wall and then traversed to the
Sandbar where we explored the Cabbage Patch and saw schools of large fish
including one very big grouper.
The day was fast waning and we headed
back to Musket.We were within site of
the anchorage and it was just past 6pm. The light was fading and Alison had
just commented that she was just slightly off her track when we went
CRUNCH!This is not a sound you want to
hear EVER.We were on the reef.And the bad news was…we were on a falling
tide.Despite our best efforts to heel
the boat, pull ourselves off with the dinghy and help from two local boats…we
were stuck fast.As darkness fell, so
did the water and boat ended up on a rather uncomfortable 45 degree heel.This is how we spent the night.Thankfully good friend Don Salthouse Sv Caro
Vita, came out from the anchorage at about 10pm.With the aid of a flashlight he packed some
old sail cloth under the boat topsides to protect the gel coat from the
coral.It was during this exercise that
he noticed the prop had fallen off.A
note to those buying a boat with a sail drive.Please be aware that the prop is only held on by a single small nut
which is easily displaced when the drive is in reverse.This is what happened when Alison was
attempting to reverse drive back off the reef…it is no wonder we didn’t get
anywhere.To make matters worse, the
prop could not be put back on in the water and so we were going to have to rely
on a tow back into the anchorage.When
morning broke, and the tide started rising we were able to refloat the boat and
tow her back to Musket.It was lucky for
Alison that the wind was down that night and she suffered no real hull damage
and other than her bruised pride survived the experience virtually
unscathed.As for me, it was a reminder
to not transit Fiji waters in the dark.There are just too many reefs and many of them uncharted.
After spending nearly two months
enjoying this fabulous location and all the amenities including a wonderful
Sunday all you can eat buffet it was time to say goodbye to good friend Greg who was leaving Sv Cachalot and Skipper Alison to return to New Zealand.
It was also time for our return Vuda Point to complete some
unfinished work on the boat and see if we couldn’t lose a few pounds.
picturesque anchorage is as good as it sounds and is the location of the Movie
of the same name.The anchorage itself
is actually located in front of the Nanuya Resort.This property was purchased 2 yrs. ago from
the original owners who developed a laid back getaway.Under new management, this has become a world
Aside from upgrading the
entire facilities they have completely modernized everything from power,
installing 125 Kilowatt of Solar panels to water supply utilizing a large desalination
facility for unlimited fresh water.They are very concerned with keeping Fiji
Green and it is evident not only in words but with their pocketbooks.Congratulations on a job well done.
met the head gardener Mesu who was warm and friendly (as are most Fijians) and
delighted when Kaija presented him with planting seeds for regular beans, long
beans, tomatoes, lettuce and chard.Under his supervision the resort has many acres of pineapple, casaba, pumpkin,
banana, okra and tomatoes, mango and papa (papaya).
are very cruiser friendly and offer a wide variety of amenities including
laundry service, garbage removal, internet, and convenience store.The bar/restaurant provides a varied menu
with excellent Cheeseburgers, fish & chips etc.For more formal dining make a reservation in
the main dining facilities for a white table cloth, champagne and caviar
The resort is very
accessible by a variety of transportation including the daily South Seas Cruise
Catamaran from the big island, Blue Lagoon Cruise lines weekly, The Fiji Sea
Bus daily and daily flights from to and from a variety of locations in Yasawas
and the main island of Viti Levu
island is surrounded by a plethora of reefs for excellent snorkeling.
The fish are plentiful and widely
Kaija was in her element getting
up close and personal face time with as many as she could.
One small reef head no more than 8 ft square, we counted 34 different species, all in wonderful abundance.
It is wonderful to see the reefs alive and doing
enjoyed a leisurely hike across the island to Lo’s Tea House.
Lo is the wife of the Chief of Nambukeru
Village which is the closest village to the Caves which we visited last
week.Lo offers a variety of teas, soft
drinks, and sweet treats.We enjoyed a
lovely cup of tea and wonderful Chocolate cake.Lo was being ably assisted by her very charming and sweet granddaughter
En-route we met Grandma who has lived on this island since birth and now spends her days
handcrafting shells she finds on her daily walks.She is so affable that you could not resist
buying something…you had the sense you were in the presence of a very old soul
and one of God’s angels.
We depart tomorrow to swim with the Giant Manta Rays
who are presently feeding at the south end of Naviti Island. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we will get some good photos.
continues to bless us daily with amazing scenery, warm and friendly people and
experiences that fill our cups to overflowing.
We Love This Life and all that it is. We are reminded of our friends Tory and Barb who named their boat LITBE (LIFE IS TO BE ENJOYED).