With the temperatures dropping overnight as a cold front passed over Fiji, we woke to a very chilly morning yesterday, so we decided to just stay in bed. When we eventually did surface, the sun was shining and another beautiful day awaited us. Elaine got her exercises done, Roy completed the upload of all our recent photographs to the website Gallery and by then it was lunch time.
A short bus ride took us back to the Hilton Fiji Beach Resort and Spa, where we enjoyed a tasty lunch, before tackling our first large shop in months - Provisioning, before we leave Fiji, at the Fresh Choice supermarket on Denarau Island. This must be one of Port Denarau's best kept secret, which Roy uncovered by accident when purchasing our new house batteries. For months we've been taking the bus into Nadi to do our provisioning, then hauling the shopping all the way back on the bus or getting a taxi, when all we had to do was visit this very large, well stocked supermarket. Live and learn hey!
Today, we did, however, have to make another trip into Nadi to visit our preferred butcher, purchase a new "communications device" for Elaine, as the existing one cannot keep up with the constant stream of bullshit originating from the White House, it seems, and purchase a few gifts.
Once we were back on Paw Paw we spent the rest of the afternoon doing the usual preparations for an upcoming passage - Refill propane tanks, fill up with diesel, purchase dinghy fuel, etc, all of which we were successful in completing when we moved Paw Paw to our allocated mooring ball in Port Denarau Marina.
In between all of this, Elaine had the delight of dealing with our property management company again, who have simply refused to reallocate a substantial residual amount of costs to the tenant, touting that the damages are as a result of "usual wear and tear" - Allocating only 30% of the cost to have the entire interior repainted, although almost every wall has been damaged, broken locks, a closet door that is off it's hinges, replacing a medicine cabinet that was removed for some inexplicable reason and this is only a small subset of all the damages caused by this tenant for which they are being charged. It is truly appaling and beyond comprehension as to how this is allowed to happen. Anyway, for now we have agreement on everything that needs to be repaired and have paid the upfront cost to get the work underway. Lets see how the rest of this saga unfolds!
This morning we decided to have breakfast ashore, so we took the bus to the Hilton Fiji Beach Resort and Spa, where we enjoyed a very tasty breakfast at their French Café. It seemed we weren't the only cruisers with this idea though, as we'd no sooner sat down at our table, when Twocan (Margaret and Barry) walked in.
After breakfast and to ensure we got our exercise walk in for the day, we joined Twocan on their walk back to the marina. Then, while Elaine finished off the last of the sewing, Roy ran a few errands, which included topping up our stock of saildrive oil, purchasing a few more watermaker filters, dropping off our used oil at the recycle area and, finally, making arrangements to dispose of our old house batteries with a native Fijian man whom he randomly met on the dock and who is from a village on one of the outer Mamanuca islands.
It's fair to say that the delight on the faces of the three villagers who stopped by Paw Paw in their outboard powered skiff late this afternoon, on route back to their village, after completing their day of shopping on the mainland, was priceless. They were just so gracious and grateful. While these batteries were no longer able to support the myriad of systems on Paw Paw without us having to frequently run the generator to top up their charge and could not be used as a starter battery, they most certainly could be used in a village home. Homes on the outer islands have solar powered energy that charges a single battery. Then, through an inverter, similar to the system on Paw Paw, powers their lights, TV, microwave, cell phone chargers, etc. So, have extra batteries is an absolute luxury for them. It's definitely a true saying: "One man's junk is another man's treasure".
Yesterday morning we woke to a decent amount of rain, the first in months, so Paw Paw got a slight rinse. Then, last night and for most of the day today, it rained again, so the topsides are looking much cleaner. Having to do anchor watch from 0200 to 0430 this morning as the storm passed through made for a very long day though.
All the rain also meant that Roy had to wait a few hours yesterday for a break in the weather before he could install the new house batteries. Fortunately he managed to get the job completed before the rain set in again and, given that Elaine spent the whole day sewing, again, we both definitely enjoyed our sundowners on the trampoline yesterday evening.
We also spent a fair amount of time yesterday getting through the last minute items required for the signing of escrow this morning on our one condo. Although we were down to the wire on the roofing repairs and we were awake at 0300 to be available in the event of any issues arising during the signing, it all came together and the property closed this afternoon. A big thank you to Lisa for being our Power of Attorney, to Gordon, our realtor, for going "above and beyond" to help us with various matters, to Keenan and Brooke for helping with some of the repairs and to Janell, our title officer, for her help with the Power of Attorney and Addendum documents. One down, one to go, so we get to do this all over again over the coming weeks with the next property.
We eventually got back to sleep at around 0430 for a few hours, following which we headed to Nadi for some fresh produce items and more mosquito netting - Definitely a much larger project than first thought, but Elaine is on the home stretch now. Thank goodness!
Once we were back on Paw Paw, Elaine spent the rest of the day trying to obtain agreement with the property management company on the tenant's expenses for damages to our other property. A monumental undertaking, given how subjective the process is and the amount of hoops we have to jump through. It's ludicrous that a tenant, who completely wrecks a property, could actually get to simply walk away and not be held accountable, if not for a huge battle by the owner to recover costs. It doesn't 't help matters that the entire exercise seems superfluous when we have to incur all the costs, for repairs upfront, less the deposit, and then try to recover the balance from the tenant afterwards. Definitely something wrong with this picture!
Our plan was to stay in Musket Cove until Thursday, allowing Elaine to savour a few more days in her "happy place", as well as allow an impending storm to pass. She, however, woke to the suggestion that we leave today. Clever Captain Roy knew that if he didn't "rip the plaster off", he was in for a struggle to get Elaine to leave Malolo Lailai Island. With that, we weighed anchor and set off for Denarau, where we'll spend our time finishing off the outstanding yacht projects and getting ready to leave for Vanuatu.
Thank you to all the staff at Musket Cove Island Resort and Yacht Club for all the wonderful memories and making us feel so welcome over these past few months. Who knows, maybe one day, we'll be back to live on that lot of land we've had our eye on since first arriving on the beautiful island of Malolo Lailai.
As with everything in life though, "as one door closes, another one opens". Leaving Fiji and working our way to Australia brings us closer to seeing our loved ones again and the photograph we just received of our beautiful twin grandsons is certainly an inspiration to move on.
This afternoon we enjoyed lunch at Cardo's, then, while Elaine finished sorting out our latest photographs for the website Gallery over a cappuccino and a decadent hot chocolate brownie, smothered in hot chocolate sauce and accompanied by fresh cherries, honeycomb and ice-cream, Roy collected our new house batteries.
After we returned to Paw Paw to drop everything off, we headed back to shore in order to enjoy sundowners at the Westin Resort and Spa, but ended up making an unplanned detour to enjoy a drink aboard Two Can with Margaret and Barry, whom we first met on the dock of Port Denarau Marina a few weeks after arriving back in Fiji. It was Margaret who stopped to ask if Elaine was ok having seen her in floods of tears because all the muscles in both her legs had just gone into spasms following an early morning walk. At least on this occasion we could enjoy a laugh together!
Yesterday morning after breakfast, we headed ashore for our exercise walk, which took us to the Plantation Resort, where we enjoyed an ice-cream and bumped into Storm Dancer (Del and Craig). After a chat to them and making arrangements to spend the evening together, we completed our walk back to Musket Cove Resort, following which we enjoyed a coffee and a light lunch at Trader's Café.
Back on Paw Paw for the afternoon, Elaine continued her sewing activities which are eventually nearing completion and Roy spent the afternoon preparing for the installation of our new house batteries, as well as preparing the additional tracks needed in the cockpit for the new mosquito nets. By then it was time to get ready for the evening and dinghy over to Storm Dancer for sundowners and our potluck dinner. We had a very enjoyable evening with them and learnt so much about Australia's cruising grounds, which has definitely heightened our enthusiasm for our stay in Australia.
It never ceases to amaze us just how quickly a friendship establishes with fellow cruisers whom we meet under unexpected circumstances and Del and Craig were no exception. We only met them a few short weeks ago in the most unlikely place in the Yasawa Islands, Soso Bay - A bay that is infrequently visited by yachts due to its southeast exposure with the prevailing southeast winds. However, for a few days, northeast winds circulated, providing the perfect protection and where ourselves, Storm Dancer and Knockando decided to take refuge, with everyone ending up on Paw Paw the first evening and, with that, the initial seeds of friendship were sown.
After breakfast this morning and, albeit a Sunday, it was a day of chores - A pile of laundry that could not longer be postponed just had to be done and, was eventually possible, since the ICA rally had departed and we could at least get access to the washing machines and tumble dryers. In between loading and unloading, Elaine sorted through our latest photographs for the website gallery and Roy got the finances up to date. By then we'd definitely earned a sundowner at the MCYC Island Bar before returning to Paw Paw this evening for a barbecue aboard.
Today was another frustrating day, but not only due to various landlubber matters, but also because we were on "numpty parade" again. This time, however, we endured the rudeness of the kulprits.
For example, with the winds picking up, the yacht to our port side, that was already too close to begin with, dragged towards us. When Elaine went on deck to ascertain the situation, the cruiser wanted to know if there was a problem. After indicating that, given how close the yacht was to Paw Paw, there was indeed a problem, this was simply ignored. Then they dragged again. This time to within a boat length of us and just ignored it, again. That's when Roy went out and asked the cruiser whether or not he was simply planning on staying where he was or going to move. After a lot of grumbling and seeing Elaine taking a few photographs, they moved.
Another cruiser grumbled and past a few sarcastic remarks about the amount of chain we had out, only to drag a short while later after short scoping and had to lift his anchor, which was now precariously close to our chain. Fortunately they didn't trip us in the process.
As if that wasn't enough for one day, we now have a yacht, anchored to our port side, that is so close we swing past his bow with barely a boat length between us. This bright spark decided to anchor on top of us when we had a southerly wind and, now that the wind direction has changed, their anchor chain runs directly under Paw Paw, so they can't move. The day of numpties ended with a yacht that was about to take the same spot that the first yacht had just vacated a few minutes earlier. It's fair to say that Elaine was reaching the end if her tether by this point, but showed them to a better spot instead.
Add to that the myriad of yachts participating in the ICA rally that eventually set off for Vanuatu by mid-afternoon and the mayhem that followed, as yachts at anchor raced each other to the vacant mooring balls, and it was, indeed, another fun day in the anchorage - Not!
In fact, we couldn't help but draw parallels to our experience in North Sound, BVIs the day before New Year's Eve in 2013 when Elaine spent three hours directing and assisting a charter fleet to get safely anchored for the night. Those "credit card sailors" at least had an excuse for their incompetence. What excuse do these seasoned sailors have, other than being inconsiderate to their fellow cruisers!
In between all this merriment, Elaine completed her strengthening exercises and continued her sewing activities, while Roy assisted with the reviewing and signing of all the title company documents, updated all our window devices, completed our route plan to Port Vila, Vanuatu and cooked up a storm in the kitchen for dinner.
We did, of course, get to wave Blue Summit (Kate and Steve) off and wish them and the rest of the ICA fleet fair winds and following seas.
Today did not start on a very good foot. The minute we turned on our wifi connection, we were dealing with the complications of landlubber life. In some cases these proved to be incredulous. For instance, we learnt that the simply activity of a wire transfer for the proceeds of our property sale from the title company is now fraught with fraud, to the extent that we decided it was too risky and then spent time trying to work out what the best option indeed was. At the end of the day, all we wanted was our money to be deposited safely into our bank account. Then we learnt that the cost of the damages inflicted by the tenants of our condominiums will, in fact, be for our account, following which the property management company will work with their collections agency to try and recover the costs, a process that could take years. Fortunately for the first condominium this is an amount just under $1000USD, but for the second one this is expected to be thousands, given the damage.
As hard working, law abiding citizens and contributing members of society we have absolutely no recourse with neither the tenants nor the property management company. There is something very wrong with this picture, where people who have blatant disregard for other people's property, basically get to walk away.
We did, however, try to focus on the more positive aspects of our lives, while enjoying another beautiful day in Fiji. Elaine made pancakes for breakfast, which were enjoyed with freshly chopped pineapple, a blob of plain Greek style yogart and some honey. Delicious!
Then we enjoyed a quick chat to the family in Arizona, followed by a visit this morning from Chris off Trigger, whom we first met in American Samoa and last saw in New Zealand. Elaine also continued her sewing activities, then we headed ashore for a nice long walk, stopping for an ice-cream halfway and then a mid-afternoon coffee once we'd finished. We also got to see the one indigenous Fijian cultural activity we had yet to witness, a "lovo", where various foods are prepared and then cooked in an above ground, open hot rock oven, covered in palm leaves, hessian and soil, then left for a few hours. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we didn't get to sample the results.
On our way back to Paw Paw, we stopped by Blue Summit (Kate and Steve) to pick up their water jerry cans so we could fill them, since their watermaker has stopped working and they leave for Vanuatu tomorrow. Soon thereafter we all enjoyed sundowners together aboard Paw Paw before the inevitable goodbyes. Definitely a feeling of sadness has descended on Paw Paw tonight in having to say goodbye to the last of the WARC Dropouts, since we're not altogether sure we will see them in Vanuatu or New Caledonia before they head back to New Zealand and we head to Australia. A downside of sailing that still takes a little getting used to, even after all these years.