After the big birthday bash in Musket Cove, we headed to what in Fiji is called the "mainland." This is the largest island, Viti Levu. We had hoped to immediately get into Vuda Point Marina (pronounced Boonda Point) to do some of the last provisioning and boat projects...but they were "chock-a-block." That means full. So we headed to a nearby bay near the town of Nadi (pronounced Nandi). This ended up being a terrific spot for a number of reasons. The holding was terrific in less than 20 feet of water (shallow by recent standards); it was free; and, most importantly, we had lots of company. The folks we thought we said our "final" goodbyes to – were here! Superted, Chapter 2 and Gypsea Heart were all at anchor when we arrived. That meant more fun...and it was definitely that! We enjoyed an evening of shoretime fun at the local beach resorts (backpacker style resorts – so not quite as "upmarket" as Musket Cove – and better prices!). It was quite an entertaining evening – thanks in part to Villy, the waiter at one of the beach bars.
The girls all went into Nadi Town for a day's outing on Saturday which included: visiting the impressive and colorful Hindu Temple, hitting the giant fresh produce market, buying some handicrafts (which did include drinking a bit of kava!) and doing some grocery shopping. A few beers at the beach bar on the return was also on the agenda. Meanwhile, the guys got together after their individual boat projects (Michael changed the oil and filters – hurting his back in the process) then they gathered on Gypsy Heart to watch the Louis Vitton Cup (pre-America's Cup) sailboat races. The sad part was having to say goodbye yet again to Jean and Matt on Superted and Mike and Karen on Chapter 2.
The next day, Chrissy and Dave on Chrisandaver Dream (CD for short), joined the Nadi anchorage and we enjoyed a dinner out with them and Rankin and Sandy on Gypsea Heart and another evening of dominoes.
We then moved out to another anchorage so we would be closer to Port Denarau. This is a Super Yacht, cruise ship and sailboat marina and hotel complex with tons of high end shops. We fueled up here (by dinghy) and took advantage of the good local bus system to get to the local butcher to order meat and do some more shopping for engine oil, transmission fluid, groceries and fishing gear (as gifts for the islands ahead). We stayed out at this anchorage a few nights and then headed into the Vuda (boondah) Point Marina.
We had to stay on a mooring ball in the center of the marina for a two nights until a spot opened up. Another boat was already there, so we rafted up to it and tied to the mooring. This is an interesting marina. It is an old quarry and in the center, there is a sunk heavy object to which many mooring floats are attached. You tie up to a concrete wall and then stern anchor to two of these floats (or some boats do it opposite – stern to the wall and bow attached to the floats). They keep putting more and more boats into the circle of boats – all with as many fenders as possible on each side. They are jammed in and getting in and out is amazing. You don't think you'll fit – but like dominoes – the boats just tighten up – bumping into each other to make room for just one more.
We got a spot on the wall, squeezed in and were able to have a good water supply top wash all our canvas so we could re-treat it with waterproofing before the trip. After it all got nice and clean, we'd let it dry and treat it. Of course, it rained the next day (we hadn't seen rain in weeks!). We have to be out of the spot by Friday – and hope to clear out of the marina on Thursday.
On Tuesday afternoon, the marina had a ceremony to establish the location as an official clearing in and out port of Fiji. This is a big thing and it means that now, we can actually clear out of the marina instead of making the trek to Lautoka which is a main commercial port. The ceremony was quite the occasion with many officials on hand for the signing ceremony. The "number two" of the country – the attorney general and minister of tourism, trade, immigration etc. (a three line title) was on hand along with all the chiefs from the surrounding villages. There was a formal kava ceremony (the most formal one we had seen) along with speeches and a signing ceremony. Not many of the boaters at the marina came – and we were certainly glad we did to support the marina's efforts on behalf of the cruising community. We also did get a chance to talk with the Attorney General about our Fijian experience. Many of the police on hand had the official sulu (skirt) on – it has a series of points on the hem of the skirt and is quite impressive. And the best part, the owner of the marina then opened the bar for a few free rounds for the few cruisers that did show up for the ceremony. Bula!
We are waiting on weather to depart – it looks like we may leave on this Thursday.
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