I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Tropical Depression

There is a tropical depression developing West of Fiji that has the potential to turn into a cyclone by the end of the week. My flight back to New Zealand is on Thursday - let's see if I can get out of here before it hits.

Slow Dance is currently moored back in Savusavu harbor, an excellent cyclone hole for this area. The boats around us are no more than 50 feet away, which is a little nerve racking, but we spent the afternoon in the bar talking with local ex-pats about their experiences with cyclones here, who said it is a good place to be in the event.

Unfortunately our trip to the Lau group was cancelled by this weather, but we managed to cruise through a lot of the northern islands and see quite a bit of Fiji. Plus, I am coming back up this way at the end of cyclone season (either on Rutea or another boat) and can get to the Lau group then, so I am not too torn up about it.

I am a bit torn up about leaving Slow Dance, although if I manage to make it out of here before this weather moves in I will have timed it perfectly. Cruising on Slow Dance is always an adventure of a unique sort, for example:

The other day we tried to go see a waterfall on the island of Taveuni. It didn't work out, but as we were walking down the street a guy came up to us and asked us if we wanted to see the international date line. We said sure, and he took us through his backyard, introduced us to his family, and showed us a small plaque indicating that one side of it was Monday and the other Sunday, or something like that.

After oohing and ahhing over the plaque, he took us to meet the chief of the village. We walked into his house and sat around his feet on woven mats with the rest of his family. Aside from the chair the chief sat on there was no furniture in the house, just some odd decorations on the dilapidated, blue-green walls and what looked like a noose hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room. I am pretty sure the chief and his whole family - anywhere from 10-15 people - sleep on the floor in this one room house every night.

The chief was a huge man with a lazy eye and a scowl on his face, and spoke no English so we had no idea if he was offended when we offered him kava and tobacco. He chanted in Fijian and everybody took the ceremony very seriously. I asked his daughter what he was saying and she asked me, "Is the kava for him?" Um… yes… if that is proper? And she said, "This is OK. He will accept this gift." I got the feeling we had royally pissed him off or something, but it is hard to tell with these people.

After doing a bit of business with the chief, Sean got us out of there, although I think they would have liked to keep the palangis a little longer. We headed back to the boat, pulled up anchor, and headed back to Viani bay, just across the Somosomo channel.

The next morning was calm and sunny so we hired a local dive guide to take us to Rainbow Reef. After not having dived for a few months I was a bit nervous, but once I got in the water I felt totally at ease. While the water is not as clear as Tonga, I dived in only a rashie and boarshorts, and was not cold at all. The coral was bright and beautiful, I saw my favorite fish (the clown triggerfish - i.e. gangster), and although there were no sharks around I did spot a barracuda eyeing us.

And now my trip with Slow Dance is coming to an end. One month in Fiji is nowhere near enough to fully appreciate this country, and I am stoked and excited to be sailing back up here once cyclone season ends (around April). But I am not out yet, and the next couple of days could prove to be very interesting. I'll try to keep you posted.

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