Noble House and Slow Dance at Port Denarau (photo circa January 2012)
When I told you that Musket Cove is the Las Vegas of Fiji, I misspoke. Granted, there are not as many sea planes or helicopters flying in here, but Port Denarau is definitely the Las Vegas of Fiji. I am not sure what the slogan is now, but it should be changed to Port Denarau: you can see Fiji from here.
I am not hating on Denarau, but it is the tourist hub of Fiji. Combine the Hardrock Cafe with friendly Fijians trying to sell me a booze cruise every few steps, the mega yachts in the marina and Cardos steakhouse, of course, and you have got yourself a party.
In all honesty it is fun to be back here. I spent time at Denarau when I crewed on Slow Dance in January, and some of the boats from back then are still here - most notably Noble House. I became friends with the NH crew as many of them surf, have a bitchin' 36 foot Sportfisher "tender" and are always up for a good time.
Unfortunately it has not been all surf and binge drinking. Dad decided that Rutea needed some work done and wanted it to be finished before he and Mom leave for California, so we headed into the marina last week. His two main concerns were getting the cap rail re-varnished and the bottom painted. In order for the bottom to be painted the boat has to be hauled out of the water (obviously) and the boat yard does not allow people to stay on their boats while they are "on the hard" so we have been renting a hotel apartment for the past few days.
A note on living on land: it is fun! We have a real refrigerator with a big door and a light that comes on, a big stove, a maid, and TV! This shit is awesome!
Fortunately Dad did not make me and Mom paint the bottom of the boat, which is a really dirty and toxic job, but he has decided that we are all to become master varnishers, which basically means that we have been sanding the cap rail for the past week now. I have sanded the skin off my knuckles too many times and come back to the apartment totally covered in sawdust, but I suppose there are worse jobs to be doing.
Fortunately the Noble House crew has come to my rescue twice, whisking me away to go surfing. A few days ago we went out to Tavarua on the sportfisher to surf Cloudbreak, but it was well over head high, barreling and the peak was super shifty. We opted to surf Restaurants which was much more manageable. The wind was howling sideshore/offshore which gave the wave a bit of a bump, but it was still lined up and super fast down the line. I made a few drops but couldn't keep up with the speed of the wave. I also ate it on a few but managed not to get raked across the reef.
One thing about surfing Tavarua and Namotu is the crazy currents that flow through. If you time it wrong you could very well get swept out to sea, or stuck inside getting pounded on the reef... It is worth it, but if you ever make it out here, bring your serious paddling arms.
However there are some other top secret surf spots in Fiji that are not as critical as Cloudbreak. On Saturday morning Rob of Noble House came by asked if I wanted to go surf a beach break on the south side of the island. I grabbed my board and we headed out, drove for about an hour, turned off down a dirt road and pulled up to a river mouth beach break with a perfect A-frame wave peeling right and left across the beach.
After surfing coral reef for the past few weeks, this was the most playful, easy, gentle and fun wave ever. It was even a bit hollow with the offshore winds and when the over head sets came through I went on anything I could, stoked on not having to worry about hitting the reef. I still got pounded a few times, but it was all good. Unfortunately at the end of the day Rob's board gave him a kiss on the lips a little too forcefully and we had to make a stop for some stitches, but it really was an epic day of surf.
And so life on the hard goes - a surf here, a drink at the bar there, and heaps and heaps and heaps of sanding. We hope to get the boat back in the water on Friday and I hope to be back in the water ASAP.