Yesterday, our morning started with a phone call to Keenan, given that he had just completed his first flight as a fully fledged First Officer for a major airline. It was a very surreal moment for all of us. It just seems like yesterday that he told us he wanted to be a pilot soon after we had moved to England in 1994, then his discovery flight at the age of thirteen, his first solo flight at sixteen and then waiting patiently for his seventeenth birthday so that he could take his final flight for his private pilots licence.
All the flights to Sedona or Ryan Field for breakfast as a Mother's Day gift, all his flights to Las Vegas, Sedona and Payson with Roy to make up his flight time, all the hardwork at university doing a double major while flying as an instructor for KLS, the training flight program for KLM at CAE Global Academy, all the sorrow of loosing friends to air accidents, as well as moving to Puerto Rico to fly for Seaborne Airlines around the Caribbean and finally his regional time at Mesa Airlines, all culminated yesterday. All the money, all the tears, all the tenacity, all the guidance, all the encouragement and all the dreams came to fruition. Truly a special day for our family!
Once all that excitement was out of the way, we enjoyed breakfast aboard before heading ashore for a nice long walk, a swim and a coffee. Then it was back to Paw Paw where Elaine baked a banana loaf using her favourite recipe from her "Cook and Enjoy It" book that she hasn't used since leaving Arizona. There's a reason this is her favourite recipe - Delicious!
We wrapped up the day with a barbecue at the MCYC Island Bar with Georgia (Chris and Paul). A great way to end a memorable day!
This morning we headed ashore again after breakfast for a walk and a coffee, following which we got the opportunity to meet some of the participants of the 2017 / 2018 World ARC rally as many of the yachts had start ed to arrive in Musket Cove for their rendezvous on Tuesday. It was interesting talking to them and discovering that many of the challenges we had faced last year were still prevalent this year and that many of the yachts had decided to leave the rally sooner than they had originally planned. It was also surprising to learn that the event manager from last year was still with the rally this year.
What struck us though, when seeing all the yachts arriving here in Fiji, given that it is the beginning of July, was the realisation that had we not made the decision to leave the rally in Tahiti, we would have missed out on so much. We would not have had the time to explore Tahiti with Olga and Denis, we would not have enjoyed a great time in Moorea with Nina, Do Over and Cattiva, especially our dinghy adventure to swin with and feed the sting rays or our beach barbecues with Nina and Do Over in Huahine or our tour around Tahaa with Nina or swimming with the manta rays in Boro Boro, as well as enjoying the Heiva while we were there. We would not have seen American Samoa or one of our favourite destinations, Samoa, as well as had the opportunity to return to Fiji. We may not have the achievement of finishing our circumnavigation in the 15 months with the World ARC per our original plan, but we have gained so much more, with plenty of great adventures still to come!
Tonight we are back in Port Denarau and just chilled aboard since it'll be another early start tomorrow to get to Nadi for Elaine's followup doctor's appointment and physiotherapy session.
Well, we both actually managed to sleep beyond the sunrise this morning, but we did get to see a beautiful sunset this evening after enjoying drinks at the Musket Cove Island Bar for happy hour.
Following a slow start to our day this morning we headed ashore for a light lunch and then walked to the little chapel on the island. Since we were already halfway up the hill by then we decided to continue on up to the top - the first "hike" Elaine has managed since injuring her ankle and we were richly rewarded for our efforts by the spectacular views.
Having decided to then return to Paw Paw for an afternoon nap, we were, however, interrupted by a very pleasant individual from Green Duck who is thinking of purchasing a Leopard 46 and asked if he could have a look around ours. We ended up spending a delightful afternoon with him and acquired a great deal of information regarding our future destinations of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Definit ely lots more to look forward to!
After another rolly night and the continuation of the poor light due to the overcast weather, making navigating the reefs to get to the other anchorages around Naviti Island too precarious and with stronger winds expected from tomorrow through to Sunday, we decided that staying in the marginal anchorages of the southern Yasawa Islands that we could access was probably not a good idea.
So, rather than return to Saweni Bay where there is no entertainment ashore or returning to Port Denarau, since we have to be back there on Sunday anyway for Elaine's next physiotherapy appointment, we motor-sailed / motored the 36NM in very lumpy seas back to Malolo Lailai, arriving just before sun set, which made for a very long day of bouncing around. Of course, it didn't help matters that the stronger winds forecasted for tomorrow actually arrived today and, for the most part, were right "on the nose". We did, however, get to enjoy the scenery and a much close r look at many of the northern Mamanuca Islands, including the numerous resorts tucked away in the palm trees fringing the white sandy beaches of most of the islands.
On our arrival at Malolo Lailai we were surprised to find the mooring field and anchorage at Musket Cove jam-packed with yachts which resulted in us having to anchor out with the "big boys".
As soon as we were settled we headed ashore for a well deserved drink and a light dinner. We had left our "party lights" on so that we could identify Paw Paw easier in the dark, but we both had a good giggle as soon as we exited the marina to return to Paw Paw when we saw all the megayachts lit up like Christmas trees, knowing Paw Paw was anchored amongst them. Turns out we really weren't going to have any trouble finding her in the dark.
Something else we noticed on our journey south was that the minute we left the vicinity of the Yasawa Islands, the skies were clear and sunny. A complete co ntrast to the dull, overcast days we had experienced the whole time we were there. It seems that this area of Fiji probably has its own microclimatology based on location and the high mountains of the island chain. Definitely something to consider when we explore the northern and central area over the coming weeks.
After a very rolly night, we dragged ourselves out of bed this morning, had breakfast and headed ashore to delivery our "kava". There was just one small problem - We couldn't actually get ashore, even at high tide, due to the reefs runnung along the entire beach, as well as a swell dumping waves on the beach. Far too precarious to land a dinghy and, although we saw a few villagers roaming around, the didn't seem particularly interested in us. So, it was back to Paw Paw with "kava" in hand to weigh anchor and head for Naviti Island.
En route we passed Narara Island before taking the Mocelutu Passage between Naukasevu and Nanuya Balavu Islands, where we passed two very nice resorts on either side of the passage and then decided to anchor just off Drawaqa island which is slightly south of Naviti Island. Once we were settled, it was time to explore in the dinghy.
First stop was meant to be the Barefoot Resort, but with rather sketc hy directions we weren't sure where exactly we could beach the dinghy, so decided to head for the Manta Ray Resort instead. Getting ashore was trickly, again due to the surrounding reefs, but being on solid ground after bouncing around for 24 hours made it worthwhile.
Once ashore, what we found was a very rustic, but welcoming resort in a very picturesque setting, where we enjoyed a few drinks while lounging in beanbags, overlooking a white sandy beach, trimmed with turquoise waters. We also got to see the holiday-makers feeding the fish as a resort activity and enjoyed the beautiful harmonic singing of the resort staff bidding some of their guests farewell. We were barely back on Paw Paw when the Yasawa Flyer arrived in the anchorage to drop off and pick up guests of the various resorts.
We did have a few unpleasant happenings today though. We woke to the news that the Power of Attorney which we had entered the parallel universe to get notarised, is a ctually invalid, since the notary made a mistake on it. Then we bought a half a hand of bananas from one of the delivery boats and ended up with an enormous spider on deck for company. What made that saga a little worse was that, after Roy thought he'd got rid of it overboard, Elaine nearly stood on it a few minutes later. It's fair to say the entire anchorage heard her reaction. Finally, when we thought it was safe to get in the water and enjoy a swim - Guess what - No, not sharks, but huge jellyfish - Bang went that idea!
After a rather eventful day, we settled for a quite evening aboard!
We had another very early start this morning to watch, what turned out to be the final race, of the America's cup. Congratulations to Team New Zealand for a well deserved win.
Then it was time to weigh anchor and set sail for the southern Yasawa Islands. What was supposed to be a five hour trip turned into a very long day of sailing, motor-sailing and motoring.
Having made our way through the pass between Kuata Island and Wayasewa Island, where we saw the most unusual rock formations on Kuata Island, we were looking forward to dropping the hook in Yalobi Bay, on the southern side of Waya Island. We had, however, no sooner cleared the pass when the wind shifted to the south, southwest and created a nasty chop that was going straight into the anchorage. So, Plan B - Head to the northern side of the island along the western route.
After attempting to follow previous tracks through the reefs and bouncing around in the stro ng winds and chop, we decided on Plan C instead - Go back through the pass and around the eastern side of the island. A much better idea! With a clear, deep, reef free route, we arrived in Nalauwaki Bay late this afternoon, plus we got to enjoy some amazing scenery that reminded us somewhat of Moorea Island and Boro Boro island in French Polynesia. The vegetation was also very unusual, in that it looked like grass growing on the mountain side, but it was, in fact, very dense forest.
Given the lateness of the hour and since it was low tide when we arrived, we had no way of getting ashore, so we'll do our "waka" presentation tomorrow morning for the possible "sevusevu" ceremony that will officially welcome us to the Fijian village. We're hoping they aren't annoyed with us for postponing the delivery of our gift. We did try to hail a passing boat to explain, but when Roy tried to wave them over, the father just waved back at him. When Roy continued to wave, the entire family started waving back at him and simply motored on by. Guess they're not too concerned about our presence then!