From Fiji to Vanuatu
The cyclone season is over. We are going sailing again. Happy Monster has been in Savusavu for more than six months, so now we are going to Koro first to see how the fruit trees we planted are doing. Some trees will have to be cut down to make room for our future house. In Savusavu we met Lynda. She was going to sail on another yacht as a crew member, but due to the many problems with this boat there is not an awful lot of sailing to be done, so Lynda will come with us to Koro. Not as a crew member, but as a guest. This way she will at least see more than just Savusavu.
We leave the mooring on a beautiful day and set course for Koro, first using the motor but later we hoist the sails. It really does feel good to have Happy moving again after six months. In the course of the afternoon we arrive in Dere Bay, where we can pick up a mooring.
We are starting our workout again: every day we walk up the hill to our plot, which is rather exhausting during the first couple of days. We free our new fruit trees from the creeper which is overgrowing everything and we decide which trees need to be cut down. In Fiji, these trees are called Waiwai trees and they are like weeds. People say the seeds of these trees were introduced here in the 1950s via cow dung.
Every time we sit down on one of the many rocks on our plot, we feel more and more happy there. Already, this little place on earth almost feels like home.
We try to find someone who owns a chainsaw. It's not easy, because most chainsaws in the village are out of order, but Apelli helps us out. For one hundred Fiji dollars (around 42 euros) he is coming over for a day with his chainsaw. He is a bit surprised to hear that we want to be there while he is working, but he is OK with that. On the appointed day, he turns up with three assistants and later on more family members join him to watch what he's doing. By the time the last tree has almost been felled, we walk to our neighbour's house to fetch some drinking water. When we return, a small tragedy has unfolded. Possibly because of the many people watching, Apelli has been a bit reckless while felling the last tree and a branch fell on his shoulder. His two assistants immediately started massaging him. That is typical for Fiji: all pain is massaged. Fortunately, he quickly recovers and can walk again. Later the doctor confirms he didn't break anything. He receives daily massages and is not allowed to use his arm for three weeks.
We leave the felled trees on the ground. By the time we come back, in two years' time, everything will mostly have rotten away and whatever is left we can clear away then. The view of the ocean is amazing and there is now room to mark the outline of our house with tape.
After having experienced the tree felling adventure with us, Lynda takes a taxi in the middle of the night to the ferry which will take her back to Savusavu. It was great to have her on board, but considering the size of our boat, it's also great to have more space again.
In the meantime, Joe has arrived on Koro and together we decide where the driveway to our house is going to be. The first part will be finished this year, because a lot of soil will have to be moved and it needs to set properly in the next two years.
In addition, Joe has to record the promised Koro song. So Hans puts on his Sunday best and the video is shot in a number of sessions. The final montage with footage of the beautiful island of Koro is amazing. See for yourself by clicking on this link to the video.
Then there's only one more important thing to arrange. We need someone to look after our young trees during the next two years. We think one day a month will suffice to control the creeper. Apart from our five fruit trees we've also planted an avocado and mango tree which we received as a present, and we are also going to plant the small sandalwood tree we bought in Savusavu. We have decided to hire Pa, who also looks after two other plots in the area and who seems to be reliable. Kelly and Xavier will make sure he gets paid and we leave them enough money for the first year. Everything seems to be settled now and with a promise to return in two years we leave for Suva.
Suva, the big city
After a night's sailing we pick up a mooring at Lami, just outside Suva. From here we can take the bus into the city every day. The three most important things we need to arrange now are a visa for Australia, the paperwork for our plot and stocking up our boat for the trip to Vanuatu, where apparently everything is much more expensive. Every time we are in the city, we have a cappuccino at Gloria Jeans and arrange a couple of things. We have seen a second-hand guitar and a ukelele we like and can't decide whether to buy them or not, but on our last day in the city we buy both. The Ibanez guitar including the case was so cheap, we just had to buy it, and the ukelele soon turns out to be a huge success because Hans plays on it every day. It's small, handy, always within reach, doesn't take up much space and it's easy to take on shore.
The boat has been stocked up with food, gas and fuel and we are ready to leave, but on the last day an unexpected depression throws a spanner in the works. But since Suva has more rain than sunshine, we'd really like to leave. So instead of leaving for Vanuatu, we decide to stay in Fiji a little longer and sail to Musket Cove, where the rain isn't that bad.
Musket Cove is where a lot of sailing boats stay infinitely, but we have never been there. We pick up a mooring near some white beaches and expensive resorts and we wait for two days until the weather gets better. Then we decide to enjoy this luxury resort for another week. As cruisers we are allowed to use the swimming pool, the showers and the washing machines. We walk along the white beaches and drink beer in the bars on the beach. Arnold and Coby from the Drifter are there and we also meet Lynda again. She is now a crew member on a big catamaran. We have a lovely time together.
From Lautoka to Anatom (or Anytheum) in Vanuatu
We need to go to Lautoka to officially clear through customs and immigration and to buy new stocks. We anchor near the city and within two days we have arranged everything. At last we can depart. It is a difficult trip, the wind is on the quarter, the waves are high, we roll heavily and the seasickness is quite bad. On the fourth day, the seasickness has mostly subsided, but by then we have reached our destination. We throw out our anchor in a beautiful bay and check in in Analcauhwat (not sure whether that's spelled correctly).
(Translated from dutch to english by Percy Balemans)