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.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fiji: Week 1

We have been in Fiji nearly one week and part of me feels like I never left.  I have been reunited with old friends, made new ones, surfed Tavarua and drank (too) many Fiji Bitters.

I love Fiji.  Let me tell you why.  It is accessible: there is great tourist infrastructure, most locals speak perfect English and anywhere you want to go is relatively close; it is cheap: you can get the best Indian meal you have ever had for $5 (FJ), a beer at the bar is $3 (FJ) and a bunch of bananas is 50 cents (FJ); the people here are awesome: both locals and yachtie friends are loads of fun to hang out with; and of course, there is incredible surf.

I have taken advantage of all these aspects of Fiji in the past week.  After making landfall we had to check in with customs, immigration and bio-security in the city of Lautoka.  Lautoka is not a tourist destination per se, but it isn't that bad either.  After finishing the check in process (which is lengthy), we provisioned a bit (bought heaps of beer), did laundry and headed out to Musket Cove where my good friends on Slow Dance were anchored for the weekend.

One can always count on having a good time with the Slow Dance crew.  Shortly after dropping anchor Ron and the girls came and swooped me away, and I pretty much did not come home to Rutea for three days.  Although it was not all play - I helped BJ clean the bottom of the boat - our days were filled with swimming, jam sessions, tequila shots, great meals, trips to the bar and other outrageous behavior.  Unfortunately, in order to keep such a flash boat in prime condition they had to head back to Port Denarau to continue working, as well as to send off guests and restock the beer supplies.

During this whirlwind of a weekend I got an email from a guy who I met on the docks in New Zealand.  His name is Kevin and his crew is (was) Ed, two young surfers from Hawaii.  Back in Whangarei we had chatted for a bit and talked about surf in Fiji - where we were both headed.  Anyway, Friday morning I got an email from Kevin saying that on the passage up here Ed took a nasty fall and broke two ribs, had to fly back to Hawaii, and would I like to join him (Kevin) in Suva as crew to go look for waves in the Lau group.

Generally when somebody asks me if I want to go surf I say "yes" immediately, but the Lau group is an extremely remote island group in eastern Fiji, and I met Kevin once - for about an hour - so you can understand my hesitation to accept.  Plus, I am in Musket Cove, 5 miles from some of the best waves in all of Fiji and there is swell filling in, so I am hesitant to leave.  But I do want to go to Lau!  I expressed these concerns to Kevin and he said: Ok, I will come up to Musket Cove, we can hang out and make sure we get along, then we can take my boat out to Tavarua and get some waves, and see how things go from there.  SCORE.

Sure enough, yesterday evening Kevin showed up on his boat S/V Shannon.  Granted, Shannon is not quite as flash as Slow Dance - in fact Shannon is a bit rustic in comparison to Rutea.  However, I think that a few weeks on a boat with fewer amenities will help me to appreciate Rutea that much more.  And Kevin and I are looking for the same things - good waves, cool dive spots, meeting locals and enjoying all Fiji has to offer in general.

Today he and I took Shannon out and anchored off Tavarua island, home of the infamous Cloudbreak.  You can imagine how smug we felt as we jumped off the boat with our surfboards, laughing at the people who pay $4000/week to stay at the Tavarua Island Resort.  Suckers (not that I wouldn't if I could afford it).  We got some fun waves at the break inside Restaurants, but no barrels - yet.  Maybe in Lau.  Or maybe not, but I am up for the adventure!

The only thing I am not looking forward to is that in order to get to the Lau group one has to sail up wind for about 200 miles.  This is not fun.  This is not fun especially after the last passage we did only one week ago.  To be completely honest it makes my stomach churn a bit even thinking about going back out in the ocean, but opportunity has knocked and I must answer. 

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