After a very calm, windless night we were up early, but decided to spend the day on board. While Roy lounged around as "deck fluff" for most of the day, Elaine got started on step two of her sewing activities - Making the mosquito net that will enclose Paw Paw's entire cockpit area, in preparation for our stay in Vanuatu. This is something we have been meaning to do since moving onto Paw Paw, but the risk of malaria, albeit low during the dry season, became a great motivator.
Roy did manage to muster up the energy this afternoon to go paddleboarding on the lovely calm waters and Elaine also managed to squeeze in her strengthening exercises as well as enjoy a video call to friends in the UK.
As the day wore on though, and with the start of the ICA Rally to Vanuatu scheduled for Friday, we ended up on "numpty parade". In an already very crowded anchorage, we had the usual fools who thought it was perfectly alright to try and squeeze in and end up on top of the other yachts already anchored. Needless to say there was more than one "numpty" who received the "teapot treatment" from Elaine, resulting in the desired effect of them shuttling off to try their luck with another yacht.
Tonight, however, under a beautiful full moon, reflecting of the glass-like water, with singing from a local choir ashore drifting across the air, a wonderful peacefulness has settled across the anchorage and all seems right with the world or, at least, in our floating village.
We had a very productive day today in more ways than one. We decided to head ashore early for breakfast at Trader's Café and then do our exercise walk. That allowed us to have the rest of the day onboard to get through a number of chores.
While Roy gave the oven and stove top a detail cleaning and then replaced the bungies on the shrouds, Elaine got busy with step one of her sewing activities. She made eight dinghy handle covers as they are getting destroyed by the sun, repaired our one lifering cover that got ripped off the lifelines on our passage from New Zealand and then repaired our waterproof bag for the dinghy as it too has incurred sun damaged.
Then it was time to "play" in the water. While Roy cleaned the saildrives and gave Paw Paw's bottom a quick clean, Elaine reached a number of milestones, all of which she has been unable to do since we left Fiji in October last year. She paddleboarded around Paw Paw twice on her knees, then she managed to stand up on the paddleboard without falling off and, finally, she was able to use the swim ladder without assistance to get back onto Paw Paw. Add the fact that she also reached her 8000 steps per day target and, it's fair to say, she is delighted with her achievements. Life just may be returning to normal on Paw Paw at last!
You know you've been in a place too long when the staff at Trader's Café place your order when you nod to the question: "Same again? One cappuccino, one long black and a freshly baked doughnut to share".
So, after enjoying our coffee and doughnut, it was time for our daily walk. When we returned to Paw Paw, Roy completed the installation of our new solar panel and Elaine completed all the research needed for our stays in New Caledonia and Australia, particularly all the navigational and clearance information.
By then it was time to head back to shore for our cooking class at Dick's Bar and Restaurant. This time we learnt to make "kakoda", pronounced "kakonda". It can be made with any fresh white fleshy fish like mahi mahi or wahoo, but we used fillets of freshly caught red snapper, which was cured in fresh lemon juice, following which the lemon juice was removed and added to bowl of fresh coconut milk (which we made from the coconut flesh). Then fresh cilantro and finely chopped red peppers, green peppers, white onions and tomatoes are added to the mixture with some course salt and ground pepper to taste. Absolutely delicious!
Today was a less interesting day. While Roy completed the oil changes and general maintenance on both engines and the generator, Elaine spent a very frustrating day dealing with documentation required for the property management company of our second condo, given the appalling condition in which the tenant has left the property. Malicious intent or blatant disregard for someone else's property would accurately describe the situation. Fortunately, we had a surprise visit from Blue Summit (Kate and Steve) to brighten the afternoon.
Once that was all out of the way, we headed ashore for our exercise walk and a quick sundowner at the MCYC Island Bar. We didn't stay long, given that the temperature suddenly dropped and the winds picked up for some unknown reason. Roy's still determined to have a barbecue on board tonight regardless though. We'll eat dinner eventually, no doubt!
Elaine woke up to the saloon lights on and Roy nowhere to be found in his cabin. He was definitely up before the birds getting through his business for the day before heading ashore to catch the early morning bus into Nadi. Once Elaine established that he was actually safe and sound, she turned over and went right back to sleep.
While Roy completed the last of our errands in Nadi, including getting the engine oil we need to do all the oil changes before setting sail to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and onward to Australia, Elaine completed her gruelling strengthening exercises and readied Paw Paw for our sail back to Malolo Lailai Island, again.
After getting anchored and settled, we headed ashore for a coffee and a nice long walk. This afternoon, while Roy started the installation of the solar panel, Elaine completed all the research required for our sail to Vanuatu, with the exception of completing the necessary clearance forms. We'll complete those just prior to our departure from Fiji.
This evening, we're enjoying a relaxing evening onboard after a good few days of sailing and running around.
After a calm, peaceful night, we were up early to weigh anchor and set sail for Port Denarau. As the spectacular scenery of Waya Island faded in the distance, we enjoyed a fabulous sail under full main and genoa, cruising at 7.5 Kts in light winds and flat seas. In fact, we couldn't remember when last we were able to enjoy a set table for breakfast while underway and had to admit, naively, that this was the kind of sailing we thought we would be enjoying around the South Pacific. Unfortunately, by mid-morning the wind came forward of the beam and lightened, which meant we had to motor-sail the rest of the way. Guess you take what you can get!
While Elaine did her exercises below deck, Roy was, however, treated to a fascinating display. At first he thought he was looking at the fin of a shark, but then he noticed it was a dolphin on its side, slapping it's fin on the water. Soon thereafter a huge pod of dolphins appeared and they all set off together in the opposite direction to Paw Paw. Definitely behaviour neither of us have seen before.
By early afternoon we were anchored and settled, following which we headed ashore to pick up our renewed passports from the marina office, go to the bank, take a walk to stretch our legs and enjoy an afternoon coffee. Then it was back to Paw Paw to get ready to go out for the evening. We were meeting Blue Summit (Kate and Steve), whom we hadn't seen since leaving New Zealand. After drinks onboard Blue Summit, we enjoyed a delicious Indian dinner at the Indigo Indian Restaurant. The night seemed to pass by so quickly with all the catching up we had to do, but it was lovely to see them. We're hoping to touch base with them again in Musket Cove before they leave Fiji for Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
It was yet another early start to our day in order to get the bus to Nadi for Elaine's physiotherapy appointment, as well as stop in at the butcher, the grocery store, the fresh produce market, the material store and a fishing store.
Then we returned to Port Denarau for lunch and a trawl around the chandleries to purchase some rope and a new solar panel along with electrical wire and glands to install it. Our last stop was to arrange for the purchase of new house batteries, after our existing ones seem to have got destroyed, having lasted only two and half years. We're not sure if the cause was the vast change in temperatures between the tropics and New Zealand or a problem with the shorepower we received while on the hard in Port Whangarei or in Whangarei Marina. Whatever the reason, they need to be replaced, which is very infuriating, not to mention expensive.
While we got all our errands done today , with the exception of purchasing the engine oil we still need, the highlight of the day, or indeed the year, was that Elaine was discharged. Although her ankle and knee is to remain strapped in order to complete the alignment of these two joints and until she feels her walk has returned to normal completely, she is also armed with a rather gruelling set of new strengthening exercises and future goals to meet. She was also given the all clear to return to all her usual activities - snorkeling with two fins, diving, golfing, paddleboarding, etc, in addition to her swimming and walking. A major milestone and cause for celebrations aboard Paw Paw this evening!
Today we made our early morning departure from the Blue Lagoon as planned and enjoyed a very brisk sail to Yalobi Bay at the southern end of Waya Island, where we're spending the night.
Navigating the Mamanuca and Yassawa Island chain has been an interesting experience and we've come to a few conclusions after nearly three months of doing so.
For starters, we've never had to consult so many different sources of information, all of which have conflicting, missing and inaccurate navigational information and, never before, have we had so many devices at the helm station in order to navigate safely. Besides our usual paper charts, our navionics charts and our usual cruising guides, of which we have four that cover this area, we have also had to consult Sasplanet, Google Earth, Fiji's Atlas for Mariners, our sonar charts, the Sail Fiji Guide and a Yachtsman's Fiji Guide. And, after all that, we came across two huge reefs today that were unchartered or not mentioned. In fact, we watched a yacht in front of us make a sharp turn to starboard to avoid one of the reefs.
The other odd aspect is that all of these sources direct sailors through the myriad of reefs when there is perfectly safe, deep water on either side of the island chain.
Couple that with the relatively few good, protected anchorages and the rest marginal, where you have to deal with swell or exposure to winds and / or seas and sailing can become precarious indeed. Even a simple task like leaving an anchorage had one yacht hit a reef yesterday morning. Fortunately the handful of good anchorages are spread around so that there is at least one in any given area, which is where you'll find most of the yachts congregated.
The highlight of our day, however, was having a pod of dolphins frolicking in Paw Paw's bows. It's been a while since we've enjoyed that spectacle.
Tonight though, while anchored in this very picturesque bay, we're hoping for a good night's rest before another early start.