November 18, 2018
It’s a Sunday evening at the Denarau marina, the sun is edging down toward the horizon, the crew at the Hard Rock Cafe has just finished belting out their nightly rendition of “YMCA”, tour boats are back snug in their berths, the temperature is dipping below 90 and the twin fans in the cabin are keeping us cool. This has been one of our stranger ports of call, and probably one that will leave us with conflicted memories. After our trip to the outer islands and our time spent in the relatively quiet backwater of Savusavu, Denarau has been a wonderfully decadent spot to tinker on a few projects, catch up with friends and have easy access to grocery stores and the local market. The marina is part of a vast resort industrial complex with a golf course and multi-million dollar homes along a network of canals. The marina backs against the center piece of the complex, an outdoor mall with several restaurants, tourist shops and a small grocery store all channeling the bus loads of tourists that arrive daily to take a trip out to the islands on one fo the high speed catamarans, ferries or large sailboats. Throughout the day the mall is packed with tourists milling about as they wait to board a tour boat or in the daze one acquires after a day spent running out to the islands with a few dozen other tourists. Most evenings there are live bands that set up in front of each of the restaurants, out in the marina there is a a cacophony as the sun sets.
The conflicted feelings are from feeling that this is such a touristy environment and we should probably be out somewhere more remote, at anchor, snorkeling our days away. But watching for a good weather window and wrapping up a few projects on Tumbleweed have kept us here in the cosseted embrace of easy living. We have found a nice Indian restaurant and have a vegetarian thali there most days. In the mornings I walk around the grounds for a couple of hours taking photos of flowers. It’s a short bus ride into Nadi and we’ve been there many times to go to the fresh market for spices and produce. It’s been an easy place to be and we’ll have good memories of our times here, though perhaps with a dash of guilt. The mornings are busy with the large tour boats loading up passengers, the crews singing a Fijian welcome. It is kind of corny, but everyone seems to be having a good time and the people the work on the various businesses and around the complex could not be more kind. They greet all of us visitors with an enthusiastic “Bula” and if given a moment will ask how we are, if we are enjoying Fiji, how long we have been visiting, where we are from, etc.
When we arrived at Denarau a few weeks ago the docks were full with blue water cruising yachts preparing to sail mostly for New Zealand with some heading to Australia sometimes through New Caledonia, with only a couple heading north to the Marshalls. There are only a few boats remaining, watching for weather windows for New Zealand, with one that we know of looking to make the passage to Australia. This is getting late in the season for passages. November 1 is the cut off for most insurers to be in this area as we are on the edge of the cyclone season.
A weather window is opening up for us tomorrow, it isn’t fantastic, we will have light winds leaving Fiji and it looks like we’ll have patches of light winds between here and the Marshall Islands. We’ll be crossing the equator as we head north and passing through the doldrums again, as we did when we sailed to the Marquesas from Mexico. The doldrums are famous for light airs, squalls, lightning, basically contrary weather. We are well stocked and are mentally prepared for a long passage. We are both looking forward to being back at sea, we miss the passages with the isolation, the night watches with the sky filled with stars and the nights with the moon as a companion. The Marshall Islands, particularly the northern and more remote islands, have a reputation for being very beautiful. There are of course the historic atolls where the Americans tested nuclear weapons, but we plan to keep clear of those.
Monday November 19th
I started this post a couple days ago. We are still on track to depart tomorrow morning. Today is Mohammad’s birthday so all official businesses are closed. We believe that customs and immigration will meet with us tomorrow but we don’t have confirmation on that. If so, then we are well provisioned, water and fuel are topped off, crew of rested and sound mind/body. Excited for a bit of time at sea and the next chapter in our journey around the Pacific.
As always we’ll update our location with Farkwar, if you’d like to follow along you can find us at www.farkwar.com