Cruising the South Pacific with Tackless II
Tackless II, along with her two captains, Don and Gwen, cruise from Fiji to Australia
Thursday, May 31, 2007
31 May 2007 -- Bula from Bua
Yes, Bula from Bua, Bua Bay, that is (16*51'S; 178*35'E)....Tackless II has finally left the anchorage!

We dropped Curly's mooring out at Lesiaceva Point at about 0645 this morning and set sail westward. Out first leg was about twenty miles to the Nasonisoni Passage. Outside the Point, the winds were brisk and the seas a bit lively, but, thanks to running down wind, we had a pretty good ride of it. We even caught a small tuna (just as I was wondering if we'd really want to deal with hooking up a fish!)

We were a tad anxious about whether the seas might be piling up a bit at the entrance to the Nasonisoni Passage -- a cut through the reef we need to take into the protected lagoon waters west of it, but up ahead of us by about a half hour was Peter of sv Seeker, who kindly radioed back to us the conditions as he arrived. For his scouting contributions, Don dubbed him "Daniel Boone," and he took to calling us on the radio that way.

As is often the case, the reality of the pass was much less stressful than the anticipation from the charts. Although the Fijian buoyage is a little worse for wear sometimes, the marks are there, and even though the sky was stubbornly overcast, the reefs were plainly visible. We slid through the pass like a knife through butter, and then bore off on the other side on a lovely broad reach in 20 knots of wind with almost no sea, thanks to the protection of the outer reef. this is what sailing is supposed to be like!

Both boats ended up pushing all the way around to Bua Bay, on the northwest corner of Vanua Levu. Bua is a huge, protected bay with good holding in idyllic anchoring depths of 30-50'. We are not only the only two boats here, we appear to be pretty much the only signs of life around. I'm sure there's a village up in the hills somewhere, but there's no sign of it. Up ahead is a long low shoreline of mangrove, and it's an anchorage to make us nostalgic for a working wind generator. After watching showers miss us all day, we got a good rinse down within minutes of setting the anchor. All in all the day's program that would be hard to beat.

We could have stopped in a couple of other places along the way, but psychologically, since we were beginning to think we might never break free of Savusavu (not to mention run out of time to circumnavigate!), getting this far on the first day is a big boost to our optimism. Next destination is most like Yadua Island, about eight miles off shore, a nice little side trip before we start up the north side.

And did I mention we have fresh tuna for dinner?

the 2Cs

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May 30, 2007 -- Waiting Out Weather at Lesiaceva Point
We are waiting out weather at anchor out at Lesiaceva Point. A bigh HIGH to the south has brought strong winds and big seas just in time for our departure. We feel like we are about ready to take up residency! Have met another boat going our way for a bit. We are both poised to leave tomorrow.

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Monday, May 28, 2007
28 May 2007 -- Bye Bye Savusavu
Saturday morning's battery exchange went like clockwork. We pulled on the dock, the delivery truck pulled in, and Joseph came the as soon as I called, accompanied by a friend with a taxi. The closest thing to a hitch was that the terminals on the Trojans are horizontal and on the LTHs they were vertical. However, the set of positive and negative connectors we have on the battery bank dates from St. Thomas when my old friend Deno did such a beautiful job of wiring in the ten (10!) new Trojans we started out with. We have second-guessed ourselves so many times on this battery bank, both in number and type, changing from Trojans to gels in Trinidad, and back to the LTH wet cells in Mexico, that the double-ought (00) connectors have been twisted this way and that enough they no longer resemble Deno's neat originals.

While Don was working on the batteries (hooking them back up, reinstalling the hydro-caps, and greasing the connections with electrical grease), I made a last pass through town picking up some things for him and scoring big on the pa'alangi vegetable delivery. Things like broccoli, red and green peppers, and celery are not grown locally, although green beans, eggplant, cauliflower and spinach are. The imports come in now and then by ferry and are priced like gold. In my view there is little worth spending money on more than veggies, especially ones that work well in stir-fries, so our departing fridge is packed as full as it can be.

We departed the harbor on schedule Saturday afternoon, and have been at anchor two nights back out at Lesiaceva Point. We have, of course, managed to miss the easy weather window. A young New Zealand couple we have gotten to know raised their anchor early yesterday to bash eastward to Fawn Harbor. Bashing is not our favorite point of sail, and the high pressure system bringing the strong so' easterlies is liable to hang around for awhile, so we are leaning more and more towards heading west.. Don wants to run the engine with its new alternator and watch the new batteries a while before we take off, anyway. We heard Captain Fatty (Fatty Goodlander, Cruising World writer and friend from the Virgin Islands) on the radio net the other day bemoaning that HIS new Trojans (from New Zealand) are not holding a charge. He now has to deal with the problem in Tonga, one of the worst places we can imagine to be in such a pickle. For once in our lives, we are actually in a position to insist on the warranty should be need to!

However, so far so good, and we are just ticking away at more little projects as we linger. Tomorrow we should be underway.

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25 May 2007 – Still in Savusavu
Yes. We're still here! Can you believe it? Yesterday made one full calendar month we've been back in Fiji, and, with the exception of a couple of long weekends anchored out at Lesiaceva Point, we have spent the whole time on this mooring.

Well, you know how it is with boats; one thing leads to another. Our friends Steve and Iretta, having decided to go solar on their new house, put in an order for Trojan batteries. The batteries, solar panels, controller, etc. would come from Suva on a truck on the ferry. All we had to do was increase the order by six ("Sure, they're in stock.") and poof, they would magically appear. Since we always seem to be in remote locations when our batteries begin to fail, It was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Our current bank of batteries – 6 LTHs (a battery made by Exide in Mexico) – were brought aboard in December 2003 in La Paz. They have actually performed quite satisfactorily these past 3.5 years, but we put such a load on them with our two refrigeration units, computers, lights, autopilot and other toys, that we have not had a great track record for long life. And for some reason, Don can't get our fancy Link 2000 to properly equalize them.

So, adding to Steve and Iretta's order at the last minute not only seemed like an ideal opportunity, but it saved us both money on the per battery price. Only, ....surprise, they didn't come last week when they were supposed to. Hence, our stay in Savusavu got extended one more week!

Working to the same schedule apparently is Savusavu's alternator guy. Don had arranged for two alternators to be rebuilt while we were in the US, figuring seven months was plenty of time. And sure enough upon our return they were finished, only, thanks to a little miscommunication, they'd been rebuilt as 50 amp alternators not 90. So, Pele ordered in heavier wire to wind a new stator. That took longer than expected, and guess what, when finally done, after 2-3 trips to the shop by Don, it didn't work. Finally with another three-day weekend bearing down, Pele ordered in a brand new 90-amp alternator from Labasa and sold it to Don at his cost. Since we have the repair money into the previous one, this is not quite the deal it seems, but Don bowed to the inevitability of island business and accepted. Imagine the guys' chagrin when, at 5pm on Friday afternoon after the alternator arrived on the bus, they realized it still had to be converted to an external regulator with field and tack wires added! Don was very late getting to the Yacht Club that night!

So, tomorrow at 4am the ferry docks, and the truck is promised to roll off. We will move over to the floating fuel dock for the exchange. Of course we have to do something with the old batteries, but that ended up being solved relatively easily . Rumor had it that Joseph, a somber Fijian man who works for Copra Shed Marina, was looking for batteries. When we made him the offer, he was so pleased he glowed. So Joseph will meet us at the dock and help Don with the heavy work of changing them out.

It's rarely a problem to fill time on a boat, so we have gotten accomplished lots of chores from the To-Do list. We also enjoyed another lovely weekend last weekend out at Lesiaceva Point, kayaking, snorkeling, and socializing. Several pulses of new boats have recently arrived in Savusavu from New Zealand, among them a group of Scandinavian boats. How often do you find yourselves surrounded by three Norwegian flags! Jan and Eva of the Hallberg Rassey 39 Necessity asked us to join them for cocktails ashore at Cousteau (officially The Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort). It was our first time ashore at the resort, and what a lovely facility. Expensive, but lovely. We started prudently with local beers, but, warming up to the event and the environment, we enjoyed a fru-fru cocktail on the second round and came home in the dark

Back in town, I spent a most productive morning with Patrick of Eagle Dancer, a solo sailor who has been around the world once and now bounces around the Pacific full-time. Patrick took several hours to go over Vanua Levu charts with me, in particular to mark out anchorages on the north side and to refresh my memory on how to handle the sevu-sevu ceremony expected in many of the traditional villages we might anchor near!

Most of our new acquaintances are heading east out of Savusavu Bay, toward the world famous diving of the Somosomo Straight between the Tunuloa Peninsula and Tavenui. After that, most of them plan to continue east and south to Qamea and the Lao Group. Our plan, however, is to circumnavigate Vanua Levu, and, to my surprise, Patrick urged us strongly to consider going clockwise around the island instead of counter-clockwise. Allegedly, it reduces your exposure to headwinds, and Curly seconded that! We hadn't heard that previously, so now we are trying to get our minds around heading off to the west! I don't honestly think we can say which way we are going to go until we are gone!

But gone we will be. I checked out this afternoon, so with cruising permit in hand we are on our way SOMEWHERE tomorrow after the battery exchange.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007
15 May 2007 – Road Trip to Palmlea Farms
North Across the Mountains
We woke early after one of the first cool nights of the oncoming "winter" season, checked the sky, the tide and the steaming creeks (Savusavu has several hot-spring-fed creeks that disgorge into the bay, and in certain atmospheric conditions, they steam), then listened to the early weather forecast. The morning was mostly cloudy, with even a hint of drizzle, but we decided to go ahead with the day's plan to rent a car and go visit our friends Joe and Julie and their new farm on Vanua Levu's north side.

There is only one "highway" through Savusavu. Southward from the middle of town it is known as the Hibiscus Highway (although there is no sign anywhere that says so!), and it leads over the hill to the airport and several villages and resorts beyond on the Tunuloa Peninsula. Northbound it is called the Transinsular Road, and I get that from the Lonely Planet Guidebook. In either direction it is two lanes of pavement, riddled with potholes! Our vehicle was a white, two-door, four-passenger Suzuki 4WD jeep, which was, of course, right-hand drive. As you may know, from our years in St. Thomas, we have plenty of practice driving on the left, but little in actual right-hand drive cars where shifting is done with the left hand. In the passenger seat on the left, it was all I could do to stop myself from adjusting the rearview mirror so I could see back. It just felt wrong!

Our route north led around the east end of Savusavu Bay, passing the hospital, the Fiji Gas Terminal, and the campus of a technical college, giving us our first view back across the water onto the village. The lowlands were thick with coconuts palms, and Fijian fishing rafts were moored along the shoreline. Then we started to climb.

From the anchorage, we have been admiring the serried ranks of steep mountains ranged along the spine of Vanua Levu. Now we were up in them! As the road climbed the palm trees gave way quickly to pines. Villages along the way were clean and tidy, with crews of men scything the grass along the shoulder. Boys rode horseback along the side of the road. Virtually every person smiled, waved, or called BULA as we passed!

Near the top we stopped at a scenic overlook just above the Waisali Rainforest Preserve. The little park with its 1.5 km groomed walk is the closest thing to a tourist offering we have seen on Vanua Levu. The man staffing it said it was put together by the Waisali community! Good on them. I was sorry we didn't have more time to stop and take the walk. Next time!

Coming down on the north side of Vanua Levu, the landscape changed again. The forest became drier and the earth redder. Further down the hills opened to grass and sugarcane or the ordered rows of lumber pines. Our "highway" came to a T with a bus stop. There were still no signs, but we used nautical know-how and turned east toward Labasa (pronounced Lambasa). The roads may not have signs, but they do have milemarkers, and just before the 14 miles from Labasa marker we turned left at Khan's General Store.

The road promptly went to dirt, and that's dirt with baseball sized gravel! We've noticed that the Fijians drivers don't slow down much for this stuff, but we sure did. We followed this for 3km, taking just long enough that we wished we'd marked the odometer, when finally we saw the diminutive sign for Palmlea Farms and a track going off to the right. This track wended its way through shoulder high grasses for another kilometer, with stunning views of the islands and reef offshore, before opening out in front of our friends' new farm.

Palmlea Farms
Joe and Julie Smelser are a couple we met three years ago in the Marquesas. They had been around the world in their Beneteau 44, but were world travelers in their pre-cruising careers as well. Joe is retired from one of the most memorable careers I have ever heard of. He was a development architect for Pan American, researching, conceiving, negotiating, and designing signature resorts for the new and exotic destinations the pioneering airline sought to open around the world. Julie was retired from an equally interesting career as a start-up troubleshooting manager for casinos!

In the Marquesas they were still sailing aboard their boat Apogee, but even then their plan was to end the cruise in Fiji. Back then they talked retirement talk -- about a simple traditional Fijian home on leased property that would revert after their death to the original owners. But obviously, they were not really ready to sit still, because the actual project has become something completely different.

The main building, a lodge built in the Fijian style with high and steeply pitched roofs and an open front, sits above the road looking down a long slope of waving grasses to the mangrove-edged shoreline. Beyond the mangroves are approximately eight miles of lagoon and picturesque islets protected by the Fiji's Great Sea Reef, one of the major barrier reefs of the world. Behind the building the slope continues up steeply to a knoll, and their land is framed to the east and west by two thrusting ridges, one distinguished by its sleeping lion rock formation. Clustered on the main building's western flank are the first three bures of Joe and Julie's resort, which match the main lodge in style. Two of the bures are one-bedroom, each with a luxurious bath and sitting porch, and the third one, which was still under construction the day we visited, will be a two bedroom unit. Three more bures are planned.

The "Farms" in Palmlea Farms refers to the organic gardens that Joe and Julie have planted in three plots around the buildings to provide all the fresh produce the little resort will need. Bougainvillea plants ornament the front, and hibiscus in many colors decorate the bures. As we arrived they were in the midst of constructing a delightful trellised walkway between the lodge and the bures, part of which is an ingenious aqueduct for the rain catchment system from the lodge's roof to their cisterns.

We were both quite taken with Joe's designs for his buildings. The main building in particular, which has four dining tables across a totally open front, backed by a sitting area on one side and bar/kitchen area on the other, is really stunning. The floors are polished hardwood and the beams and rafters overhead are stained black with traditional Fijian woven palm matting mounted between them. Indeed the OUTSIDE walls of the building are lined with this traditional matting, varnished against the weather. Accents of colored walls and local art tie things together, and the overall effect is an airy and serene space totally focused on the awesome view.

After our tour around the facilities, Joe and Julie hosted us to a lovely luncheon in the main building. With their official opening only a few weeks away, Julie was happy to have us be guinea pigs as she trained her staff, a troupe of charming (if a bit shy) Fijian women from the nearby village. Joe presided in the kitchen, and we enjoyed a yummy meal of homemade torte (an Italian flatbread) with melted cheese and fresh rocket (arugula) from the garden, followed by teriyaki chicken. That and some very chilly Fiji beers really hit the spot.

As you might guess, the two captains brought with them their real estate itch, all primed and ready. Because you see, not only Joe and Julie have invested here, but two other couples that we cruised with from Mexico: Mike and Mary, formerly of Danseuse de la Mer, and Greg and Sujata, formerly of Majii Rey These six people were guests aboard Tackless II for a memorable potluck/book-swap that took place in Baie Anajo on the North Side of Nuvu Hiva (see>From The Galley>#26.). so there have been several suggestions that it is preordained that we buys some land here.

Michael and Mary have purchased land at the very top of the hill above Palmlea Farms, while Greg and Sujata bough the plot on the ridge to the east. And of course there is at one more plot left with oceanfront access. So after lunch we all four climbed into the Suzuki and continued down the very overgrown track through Greg and Sujata's property, across a bridge-let made of logs, and then up a rise to the top of the lot.

The land – about 15 acres in all – like Joe and Julie's land slopes down to the mangrove-lined shore, but it is flatter and currently planted in sugar cane, just as all the lands around here have been at one time. The eastern boundary fronts a tidal river, an estuary that will empty at low tide, of course. Along the road is a small house (that can be included or removed!) as well as a few fruit trees. No one was sure where the uphill boundary ran. The view might even be better than Joe and Julie's, because the land wraps a bit around the hill so that the exposure is northeast across Labasa Bay where there is not only the town, but several small mountains and islets off shore.

So we'd be lying if we didn't confess that our imaginations have kicked into gear. To have a property, with very few, but known, neighbors, a spectacular view, a cash crop and access to the delights of the bay's protected waters and the great diving and fishing on the Great Sea Reef, all only 14 miles from a biggish town and with its own airport….well, it is tempting! However, we are not jumping to any conclusions here. We will just take Joe up on his suggestion and bring the boat up to anchor off his dock for awhile and explore the area for ourselves.

By the time we had done all this prospecting, the sun was starting to drop quickly toward the horizon. We were a little embarrassed to realize we had taken up the whole afternoon of these very busy people, who are pushing to be ready for their first group booking next week! Plus, we were also just a bit anxious that we were most likely going to be driving the hour and half back over the mountain in the dark! So without further ado, we said our good-byes and piled into the Suzuki to retrace our way home to Savusavu.

Interestingly, the route back did not seem quite as long as it had on the way over (although it still took the full time to drive it!) We stressed a little about finding the left turn at the bus stop, which did seem farther than we remembered it, but by now Don was such a pro at handling the Suzuki and dodging the potholes, (I won't mention the time he went to dim the lights for oncoming traffic only to shut them off entirely!) that we were back on the other side of the island in no time! We parked the car right in front of the Copra Shed and slipped home by dinghy for a light supper before bed.

Bonus Time

Since we had the car officially until 1030, we rose early the next day and used up the time exploring eastward along the Hibiscus Highway, which you will remember went east out toward the Tunuloa Peninsula. The first 20km of the road is paved and in relatively good shape. Beyond the airport we found a couple of fancy luxury resorts, the Koro Sun Dive Shop (with its own resort), and several other attractive little bure resorts as well along the road as it hugged the shoreline. Off in the distance we could see Taveuni. The pavement petered out right at the throat of the peninsula, offering a choice of a dirt road along the south shore of the peninsula, or another dirt road along the northwest side of Natewa Bay, the big gulf between Vanua Levu proper and the Tunuloa peninsula. We rattled along the dirt road another 15 minutes, seeing copra and cattle farms as well as more enterprising homesteaders, before turning back to turn the car in. If the infrastructure of the area (roads and restaurants) ever gets beefed up, Vanua Levu, sometimes called "Fiji's best kept secret," won't stay remote for long.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
13 May 2007 – Happy Mother’s Day
One of the big advantages of being on this side of the dateline is that, since we are a day ahead, the forgetful have an extra day to remember important events. Of course, if you don't forget, then you have to hold the thought an extra day in order to sync the call to the calendar back home.

This worked rather well for Mother's Day since all the businesses in Savusavu are closed on Sunday, but Monday morning here is Sunday afternoon in Indiana and Florida. Thanks to some groundwork by Don, we were all set to call home by way of Skype on the computer at Savusavu Computers on the east end of the main street. A particularly nice thing about Savusavu Computers is that is it the only air-conditioned place in town!

For those of you not familiar with Skype, it is a free software and service whereby you can communicate by the Internet. With decent Internet service you can, via a headset, chat with folks halfway around the world at no charge computer-to-computer and for a small fee if a telephone is involved at the other end. If you've got really fast broadband, you can add a webcam and see one another. We had great fun with this Christmas morning sharing Kai opening his packages with Gpa & Gma Wilson in Indiana. While we were back there in the real world, we'd daydreamed of being able to video-Skype back to the family right from the boat via our new Vodaphone cellular broadband card. To our disappointment, not only can we not manage video, we cannot do voice! (Guess it would compete with their phone service!) All is not totally lost because we can "Chat" (type) which I guess is similar to Yahoo Instant Messaging.

Typing is really not what mothers want to do on Mother's Day, so ashore we went to avail ourselves of the better connection. We Skyped Gpa and Gma in Indiana, we Skyped Tiffer in Florida, and I Skyped my 89-year-old Aunt Jo up in Massachusetts. I think she was pretty tickled to hear from her wayward niece direct all the way from Fiji! We could have been in the same room!

So if you don't have Skype, Google it; download it, set up your own account, and put TacklessII in your contact list. And whenever you see us pop up GREEN, sent us a Chat message!

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12 May 2007 -- Blue with Flu
Monday morning after our great weekend at anchor I woke up with some of Don's symptoms, and outside the boat the weather had turned threatening with a wind and chop from our exposed quarter. So, up came the anchor and we motored back to Nakama Creek.

The silver lining, if there must be one, was that within hours of picking up our mooring, the first boat of the spring migration from New Zealand appeared through the rain. In the days that followed more and more boats trickled in or pledged to be bound our way on the morning SSB Net. This influx made Curly, the patriarch of Savasavu and the major force in making the town a popular destination or cruisers, a happy man. Overnight his morning VHF net perked up and fleshed out with all the information a new arrival wants to know, including organized meat, pharmacy and beverage orders the Bosun's Locker coordinates, special cruiser dinners at local restaurants, and a resumption of Curl's bi-weekly seminars on Fiji cruising.

Don's rationalization for coming back to town was that were I to feel as crappy as he had, he would be able "take care of me" by getting take-out! Pretty much how it worked out. The "bug", from my point of view anyway, was more like a flu – a nasty frame-wracking cough with bouts of fever, body aches and overwhelming lethargy. All the energy and enthusiasm I'd had while anchored out totally fizzled away. Some days I felt good enough to spend a few hours in town, but invariably I'd end up collapsed in the aft cabin leaving Don to cope with the Yacht Club Happy Hour on his own…poor dear!. Then I'd have a couple of days where I thought I might be on the mend, only to relapse a couple of days later. This lasted for two whole weeks. What a pain!

There were a few good days. We had a lovely dinner at our favorite restaurant Surf and Turf to celebrate with Rod and Dar of Saw-we-lah and Steve and Iretta of Rigó Dar's birthday. The birthday had come and gone during their passage down from the Marshall Islands, and Dar was determined to exercise her rain-check rights before they continued on their way to New Zealand (Yes they are going the wrong way!). I was careful to sit at the outer end of the table with my box of Kleenex.

Several days later, the six of us packed into Steve's pickup for a Saturday Bar-B up at the house. It was impressive to peek in at the progress that had happened in the two weeks since our last visit – mostly doors and windows and the just-stained floor that we were barred from walking on! No worries! The deck with the western vista was all we needed. It was a fine afternoon that wore away into evening as we sipped cold beer and nibbled away Dar's fine focaccia. Dinner was grilled on Steve and Iretta's favorite new possession, a proper Aussie barbecue, which is half an open-flame grill like we'd have in the US and half a flat-plate griddle. Iretta cooked up steaks and sausages on one side and potatoes and onions on the other, and I'd managed to score lettuce at the market to contribute a real mixed salad. We consumed all this by lantern- and starlight since the solar power system that will provide their electricity was yet to be installed. We stayed up quite late!

Back aboard Tackless, all did not come to a standstill. Even as I felt worse and worse, Don felt better and better. Every day he ticked something off the endless list of small repairs that the boat needs, the most impressive of which for the boat's self-respect was the removal of rust streaks fom her topsides and the sanding and touching up our painted caprail and trim. By golly, it brought her back to the "20-foot rule" (a standard based on the distance a cruising boat looks good!)

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Monday, May 7, 2007
Our First Getaway -- 2C Update --7 May 2007
The only anchorage you can move to from Savusavu's Nakama Creek mooring area without a cruising permit is Lesiaceva Point, better known as the Cousteau Resort. Just inside the Point Passage entrance, this getaway is just an hour's motor from town and therefore pretty popular. It wasn't much of a surprise to get out there and see several boats we knew from town.

But what a difference! Don't get me wrong. Nakama Creek has got to be one of the most attractive ports of entries I've ever visited. But the bustle of town is constant and the Creek seems to be a trap for heat and humidity. Out at the point, the breeze seemed ten degrees cooler and the water was definitely more inviting. In the morning you hear the harmonies of birdsong not the clatter of trucks, and at night it is dark and blissfully quiet.

For me, the highlight of our long-weekend escape was getting in the water for the first time this year. All along the shoreline is a fringing reef that while not coffee-table book quality, is still a pretty healthy-looking assembly of corals, both hard and soft. A bit to the north of the anchorage is an unobtrusive mooring (floated by a coke bottle!) on a site known as Split Rock. Split Rock is a 30' coral bommie divided in two by an inviting canyon/tunnel bedecked with gorgonians, sea fans and soft corals (although without a tank or weight belt I refrained from a swim through.) Guides from the resort regularly bring their guests here, and because they feed the fish, hordes of colorful tropicals (led by aggressive sergeant majors) are in your face the moment you drop in. It was just the antidote I needed.

Unfortunately, Don did not bounce right back, and we finally had to face the reality that he wasn't merely suffering from the heat and jetlag, but an actual bug that's been making the rounds of town. In spite of that, we made the best of two days of sunny weather and got the rest of T2's sails, halyards, instruments, line and gear put back in place, PLUS we scraped and scrubbed the decks and cabin top until the boat is finally clean enough to start collecting rain water…of which there continues to be plenty!

I can't tell you what a difference it makes having the boat all cleaned up and put back together. It's like we've given her her dignity back. What's really bizarre is that several pieces of important equipment that weren't working a week ago, have spontaneously repaired themselves! We still have the leaks to solve and the teak to varnish, but both require a stretch of dry weather. In the meantime we're motivated enough to get back to town and apply for the cruising permit will let us go further.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007
2C Update -- 2 May 2007 --
Tropical Jet Lag
After nearly a week back in Savusavu, Tackless II is mostly put back together. This has been a bit of a challenge between the frequent showers, the heat, and our bodies' stubborn resistance to making the time adjustment. Fiji is five hours behind California and eight hours behind Florida, (albeit a day ahead.) This means that sunset feels like a really good time to go to bed!

This evening dullwittedness may have protected us from catching the land bug on our first exposure to land ownership in Fiji. It was after five when we loaded into our friends Steve and Iretta's new four-door 4WD Mazda truck for the drive up to their new place. As we turned right and left and skewed this way and that up the steep and muddy dirt road, they talked about what a nice walk it was up to their place! Perhaps, but we haven't a clue where we went, except generally west along the southwestward jutting point leading to Point Passage.

If You Bury the Anchor, Will It Grow?
Steve and Iretta's one-acre lot is high on a ridge in the midst of dense rainforest, and the view NW down a V-shaped valley looks out across the expansive Savusavu Bay to the layered mountain ranges of Vanua Levu. The new house, about three weeks shy of completion, is a sensible 1000 square-foot, two-bedroom abode with a nice-sized living room and kitchen opening onto a full deck across the back. A team of local guys has been busy clearing out the various plants and vines that run rampant if given half a chance, and Steve and Iretta have been moving in the more decorative flowering and fruit-bearing species. I saw banana and papaya and coconut, as well as a bush with tiny little hot peppers. They say you can plant a hammer here and it will grow! A creek chatters by along one edge of the property and towering rain trees spread their beautiful canopies overhead. We took the tour hearing the vision of gardens here and a guest bure there (all right!), and then, as dark settled, lit the lantern (no power as yet) and cracked open the cooler full of iced Fiji Bitter to the music of forest night critters.

Steve and Iretta are not sole pioneers in their home-building here. More than a few other cruisers we've known have done the same, and now of course, we're meeting the local gang -- some new investors, others who've been here for years and years. Normally, Don and I are suckers for this kind of thing; our imaginations taking flight at the mere suggestion of an opportunity. Here is the best of Fiji, a beautiful terrain, a friendly town, decent provisioning, good air service. There's even a simpatico yacht club watering hole and a truly fine new restaurant seconds away. They even speak English! What's not to like?

So it's got to be jet lag, the heat and the long project list that's got us moving so slowly. Maybe a little grandson withdrawal to boot. Already, having the sails back on and the boat cleaned up has sparked our spirits. What we need is a few nights on the hook and a good swim!

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