Crazy, crazy. It seems like an island out of a dream. Unreal. Too beautiful, too exotic. I don’t know where to start… we’ve only been here for a little more than a day. I’m still overwhelmed. And we haven’t even seen the volcano yet ! So… what happened ?
Well, our friends from the SY Elhaz said hello and goodbye and left for Port Vila – which made us quite sad. But next morning the SY Kira arrived and we had a good, long breakfast together that continued into a mid-day feast, followed by a walk through the village and a swim on one of the most gorgeous beaches we’ve seen so far. When the sun started to set behind the volcanoe, we brought Gui and the kids to the boat. The men were invited to drink kava with the villagers. People in Tanna are strict followers of the ‘Kastom’ and thus: no women allowed.
All the grown up males gather on a little place in the village and start to prepare the kava by chewing the roots, spitting it in banana leaves , rinsing it with water and finally pouring the brown/greyish liquid in a little coconut shell. The kava here is a lot stronger than in Fiji as it is made from fresh roots and the traditional way. We enjoyed the ritual and the quietness that falls over the village after the first round of cava bowls went around. The sounds are from the waves and the wind to our back and endless zykades in the front, the sound of small, red glowing fires all around and a lot of loud slurping and spitting. The sky is full of stars, no bright lights disturbing our vision. We are welcome in the village and together with our friend Claus with whom we started the voyage three years ago. What a dream !
And although we’re anchored in one of the most historic places (James Cook went ashore in this bay, approx. 230 years ago) we’ve found internet: connected via bluetooth and mobile phone. Slow but steady…
So that now was our second to last trip with the Suvarov, ey ? It was a nice one, I have to admit. For the first time in a year we had pleasant, nearly perfect wind on that journey. And although the swell made the ride a bit bumpy in the beginning, we did quite well. We logged 131, 126, 122 and 127 nautical miles daily and the whole trip of 545nm took us just a bit more than 100 hours.
We also were quite lucky: we arrived in Port Vila at night but with good weather. The next day it started to rain heavily (we topped up the water tank in less than one hour !) and we had wind quite above 30 knots. Good timing !
So it seems we’re stuck in Port Vila for a few days since our next trip to Tanna is against the wind and I don’t want to head out into rough seas…
But right now I’m still waiting for the quarantine officer to come on board. It seems he’s busy with the cruise ship that entered that morning and keeps us waiting. Gui and the kids are on land, visiting the immigration office and later the Australian Embassy fur Gui’s visa.
After our short break in Malolo Lailai (aka ‘Musket Cove’) our friends from the Time Lord had to leave. They wanted to haul out at Vuda Marina to check the hull for defects. We stayed for one more night but were too bored without the lovely norwegian family and decided to follow. First we made a little stop in front of Denarau where we dropped the anchor in 3m water in front of the Hilton Hotel. Next day we drove via Nadi to the Airport where I finally could get DHL to pick up my passport in Australia and deliver it to Fiji. Next day we left already to sail towards the Vuda Marina just a few miles to the north.
So finally we found ourselves in a marina – for the first time in … two years ! And man is that crowded here !! No space to breathe ! But as there also were ‘the french’ from the SV Elhaz in the marina and all the kids had so much fun together, we decided to stay for a few days. But on the hard: there is more room between the boats :-) and of course because we wanted to paint fresh antifouling. So we ended up in the travel lift and found ourselves again right next to the SV Time Lord.
Our poor friends found they had a lot to do on their boat: Huge parts of the hull had to be cut out. The previous owners never took care of the rust and so it developed to a point where the only solution is to just cut out and weld new pieces in. But a few weeks of grinding, welding and a sand blast later and the ship should be in good shape again.
In the mean time we cleaned our hull, grinded the old antifouling away, put two new layers of primer and new antifouling. I used a pressure washer to remove all that loose paint our previous owner put on deck, then took care of some rust and finally put three coats of primer on top. But sadly my immigration permit expires on the 7th of May (yes, today) and so we have to leave Fiji…. More infos to follow in a few days.
These last few days we spent together with Thomas, Susanne, Ivi and Jack from the SY Time Lord at the island of Malolo Lailai. One of the better places we’ve seen in a long time. Not soo much because the of it’s beauty – although most people will agree that it’s a 100% awesome, tropical island. For our liking it’s a bit too much on the touristic side. But it’s because of the Muscet Cove Resort that is totally geared towards sailors, that we like it so much. The former owner of the resort supposedly was a keen sailor himself.
So as a yottie you can anchor, pick up a mooring or go into the little harbor where you moore stern-to. There’s a little shop, showers, toilets and a bar on the little island at the end of the jetty. At the bar one can use the two gas barbequeues and the resort even provides for dishes – as long as one consumes an occasional beverage at the bar.
The resort has a nice (saltwater) pool, there are lots of other kids around and in the evening the staff organizes a childrens dinner, followed by a cinema evening. So while the grown ups have a good time on the BBQ-island, the little ones have endless fun at the resort and in the evening all four kids sleep together on the Time Lord.
With the Suvarov we made a little excursion towards the outer reef where the bar ‘Cloud 9′ is to be found. A floating, little heaven for surfers who enjoy the close by surf spots. Today our friends from Norway had to leave, to haul out at Vuda Point marina and do maintenance on the ship. Hopefully they can finish the work in time so we can sail out together in two weeks…
A few days ago I mentioned big news and I guess now it’s time to let the cat out of the bag: We’re in the last weeks of our voyage. Soon – probably sometime in July we’ll return to Berlin. Back into the concrete jungle, yes. Well. Now it’s out.
Of course some of you will try to encourage us to stay and I really appreciate it but be assured: It was not an easy decision. And somehow we wished we could continue. But the time is not the right one. We’ve been sailing three years, crossed two oceans, lost one yacht, had many adventures, met wonderful people and were able to see and live in the amazing beauty of the South Pacific. It’s a good time to stop.
We also searched for ways to continue our travel or fast routes to sail back to Europe but nobody on board really wants to cross the Indian ocean and even less the Atlantic from south to north with very few and short landfalls in between. We all miss our family and friends a lot and – it has to be mentioned: Since our shipwreck we always have been very short on money which sometimes complicated things.
Soon we’ll try to go back in our previous lives but not quite yet: We still have some weeks left and want to visit Tikopia in the Solomon Islands and climb the volcanoes of Vanuatu. Later we probably will end up in Australia which seems to be the best place to sell a boat in the Pacific.
And just as we made up our mind, the South sea throws this unbelievable gorgeous island called Yanuca in our way. Together with the family from the SY Time Lord we’re the only souls around. The kids wander off and disappear for hours looking for crabs on the beach and investigating a lost resort hidden by the palm trees. We snorkel in the crystal clear water, see turtles and sharks. Dolphins swim and jump in the bay and in the evening we have a wonderful camp fire on the beach. And to top it all off, we experience a rare ‘blood moon’ as we return to our boats.
But still, today in the afternoon we’ll pull the anchor out of the coral sand and sail through the night towards the western islands. We try to reach Malolo Leilei (what a name !) in the morning and probably stay there for a week to celebrate easter and Violas 6th birthday.
Every now and then we excape the anchorage and get some fresh air out at the reef. Only four miles away there is the Cousteau Resort at the very end of the strip of land that encloses the Savusavu bay in the south. Out there, closer to the open sea the water is a lot nicer (although still far from clear), there is wind and the insects are less annoying.
A little trip like that brightens the mood and once we hop into the water and have a look around in this big aquarium, the day is safed. The difference to the more eastern parts of the Pacific are big and the diveristy of fish and coral still amazes me. Especially as we’re not in a proper dive- or snorkelspot. For that one shoud go out to the smaller islands or visit the neighbouring Namena, only 25 miles from here. The diving there must be one of the best in the pacific and we will check it out sometime.
As you can see in one image, the Suvarov already got decorated and ready for Christmas. The kids had a lot of fun engarlanding the whole saloon, hanging stars, balls and little angels. Viola spent hours cutting colorful stars out of paper and decorating the cockpit dodger. Otherewise there is not much reminding us of the year’s top consumption fesast. There are no huge masses running around on the streets, trying to get some last-minute gadgets, no decoration on houses or in shops and best of all: No stupid christmas songs !
To that effect, I want to wish all our readers and friends a verry happy christmas and a beautiful 2014 !
The first days in Savusavu went by quite swiftly. The usual routine: getting the laundry done, some basic shopping, getting to know the village, etc.
As we determined before, the people of Fiji are extremely friendly, the Indian population is extremely enterprising and the Curries that one can eat at nearly every place are hot, delicious and affordable.
So the first impression is quite good. And that definately should be so as we’ll be here for the rain season which officially lasts until April. That doesn’t mean, we’ll be stuck here on the mooring but here we’ll have our base and hideout in case a taifun is announced.
As most all hurrican holes, Savusavu has the downside of plentiful rain, slightly muddy water thanks to the mangroves and the bay-in-bay setup and of course: mosquitos. Not exactly sexy. But it’s ok – especially since we discovered that hotel with a pool ! We’re kind of tolerated but also seemingly the only bathing guests anyway. On the way towards the pool we got two breadfruits as a present and as our path led us by the hot springs, we dropped one into the boiling water. After our refreshing splash we came back to pick up the nature-boiled breadfruit. Yamyam !