Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time to Say Goodbye

Sorry for the long time between posts, but, we’ve got some news –the boat is sold and we’re home!

At the end of June we met our buyer and began the long process of selling the boat. Unfortunately, we met Marcus (the buyer) at the Vuda Point Marina. What a terrible place – if you haven’t been there, we suggest you don’t. Far from picturesque, the marina is a literally a hole surrounded by a haul out yard. Since you’re inland there’s no breeze making it stifling hot, which is compounded by an abundance of mosquitoes and small flying palm cockroaches who encroached upon our hospitality long after we’d left. The only saving grace is the island bar, but even that didn’t help the horridness of the conditions. After a few days we decamped to the newer Port Denarau marina. Although Denarau is crowded with tourists and feels more like being in Orange County than Fiji, the breeze and lack of bugs make it number one in my book.

Just before my mom arrived for her long-planned vacation, we finalized the sale of Aita Pe’ape’a. Though we should have been mourning the loss of the boat, we still had a problem to deal with – getting Joey home. We were able to book him in air cargo for a flight to LA, but as things go, we weren’t able to just drop Joey off at the airport, we had to have a little adventure. Because the flight was so long, we thought it best to sedate our little cat. Tristan’s mom sent out a natural sedative to add to his water, which we did the night before the flight. Instead of dozing out Joey became so relaxed and drunken that he jumped off the boat (which he’s never done before!), meandered down the dock, found the biggest sailboat near by us and decided that was his new home. He made himself a comfortable toilet in their forepeak, leaving a little surprise of pee and poo before decamping to the anchor locker for a snooze. Marcus was awoken the next morning by a friendly guy asking ‘hey mate, lost a cat?’ Luckily for us the owners were animal lovers and chalked it up to a funny story. We then spent the rest of the day shuttling our new friends from Quarantine to the boat where they watched us pack Joey in his traveling crate and then took us to check-in at the airport. Feeling relieved after filling out the paperwork and saying goodbye, we went to the bar for a little toast. But, as things go, the adventure still wasn’t finished. An hour before the flight we were informed that the airline refused to take Joey. After a little wheedling, a little crying and some begging, the nice men at ATF decided it was better to put him on the flight instead of leaving him in his cage until the next flight out.

The next day, boat-less and cat-less, we made our way back to Musket Cove with my mom and our friends Bon Bon and Elena for a 10 day vacation before heading home. It was wonderful. We stayed in a beachfront bure, had hot showers every night, a big comfy bed and lovely deck to enjoy the day. We walked around the island, said goodbye to our friends and had a few last ‘joys,’ including a paddle around the harbor and a few afternoons of kite boarding.

Now that we’re back at home, it’s quite surreal. We’ve stared at the many options of bread, cereal, fresh milk, chips, meat…the lists just goes on. It feels like we never left while at the same time we both feel like we’re on vacation from our ‘real’ life on the boat. America is so clean, the streets are wide, there is an abundance of everything, and best of all (something I didn’t realize I missed) all of the public bathrooms are clean and come with toilet seat covers! We’ve been gorging on our favorite Mexican food all while looking for jobs, a place to live and getting ready for baby. Wish us luck!

Finally, we’d like to say goodbye to the blog and to all of the friends we’ve met along the way. We hope to see you on the high seas again soon. This will be our last post as our trip is over, but the adventure is just beginning. Fair winds!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oooh, Barracuda!

AITA PE’APE’A is officially listed with a broker and we’ve advertised her on a few websites for private sale. The broker we met with was located at Port Denarau, the Newport Beach of Fiji. In all of our cruising, we’ve yet to see a place as dedicated to tourism as Denarau. The island was fashioned from a mangrove swamp into a lush land featuring a golf course, about 8 resorts and a brand new shopping mall next to the marina. The mall has plenty of chain restaurants, including a Hard Rock CafĂ©, where we enjoyed a burger, nachos and chicken fajitas. Near the marina, canals have been built for access to multi-million dollar vacation homes with private docks. Not too shabby. Despite the price-gauging taxis and buses, we managed to enjoy ourselves, and the marina itself is reasonably priced, offering hot showers, unlimited water and ice.

After Denarau, we spent two days at Musket Cove waiting for the right weather to head to the Yasawas. One morning as I was lazing about, Tristan yelled from the deck to ‘Get out here now!’ I ran and saw what the fuss was about – a huge 6 foot 100 pound barracuda was right next to the boat. As we stared at the beast, he rose to the surface, turned his head and looked right at us. We got a clear view of his scary teeth. As I was locked in a death gaze, Tristan quietly got his spear gun out and aimed. The shot was just slightly too high and we missed, but it was probably for the best as later we found out that despite the locals loving the large barracuda, they’re known for carrying ciguatera.

Later that day we had another encounter with Mother Nature, albeit with a much cuter creature. As we were on deck enjoying the sunset, a little gecko sauntered from the window to the trampoline. We're not sure how he arrived, but he's a welcome addition! We know Joey hasn't gotten him yet, as he fell out of our main sail a couple of days ago...hopefully little gordo can elude our hunter cat.

The next day we left for Navadra Island in the Yasawas. The skies were clear, the water was glassy and of course, there was no wind. We motored the entire 20 miles, and arrived at a beautiful bay, with deep clear water and lined by a expansive white sand beach. Unfortunately, the bay was quite rocky and we left the next morning without exploring too much. Our next stop was Likuliku bay on Waya Island. Again, we had to motor the entire way, but were greeted with a spectacular view of jutting hills and lush jungle, reminding us of the Marquesas. The anchorage is an open roadstead totally exposed to the sea on one side, however, it is comfortable in settled weather. This bay has the distinction of being the new home of MOONDUSTER, a boat that was lost this past cyclone season to Cyclone Mick. Its always sad to see a beautiful boat washed up on shore, but one does have to wonder why this was the anchorage of choice to ride out a cyclone when safer harbors were within a day’s sail.

We had high hopes of sailing from Likuliku to Manta Ray island, with a favorable wind weather report. It wasn’t to be. We set off on a reach and were soon beating into 20 knots of wind. It only took about 20 minutes for us to decide to abandon the plan and turn back to Waya. We ended up at Yalobi Bay, where we spent another rocky night. At this point we were just about out of gas, and decided to head back to Musket Cove to refuel before trying again for Manta Ray and the Blue Lagoon. Fiji’s beautiful, but so far, the wind has been either dead or from the wrong direction!

Instead of fascinating you with more tales of cruising, I’ll leave you with this sentiment…GO TROJANS! FIGHT ON!