First things first. Obviously we needed to do the normal boat / personal clearance stuff and with those tasks completed we looked for refreshments that others will serve us, cool things to do, markets with fresh goodies, and the stores where we can buy parts to keep the boat ship shape.
Luckily we were anchored next to sv Hotspur who had already been here a week or so. We flagged them down on the our first day here and they came by for the required sundowners. There were shared stories (some lies) about what we’ve each been doing since we last were together (American Samoa). But we also had another motive: pick their brain about the area.
With new info we set about creating some consistency again to our lives. W/ was going to do morning walks with Meri, W/ and I would do some of our own walks seeing the Hot Springs that were just on the edge of town, we would attend Curley’s Fiji Cruising Seminar and maybe arrange a trip with the sv Hotspur crew to visit the Sugar Mill in Labasa.
Curly’s seminar is probably the best insurance value you can have in Fiji. He has years of confirmed waypoints into and around all of the anchorages in Fiji. Having lived here for most of 40 years his stories reinforced the need for solid sailing / navigational skills when moving the boat. While we find Fiji much easier then sailing in the Bahamas and the San Blas it is ALWAYS important to be reminded of what one misstep can do. A couple of days ago a Swan 57 went up on a reef and last we heard was breaking up! Care must be taken. After the seminar he hawked some hand made fishing lures on everyone with a “guarantee that if you put it in the water” you will catch fish! W/ couldn’t resist; always a sucker for a good story, so we bought 2.
Every am at 8 Curly (who is also the SSCA cruising station here) runs the VHF net on channel 68. There cruisers can connect with other cruises and share needs and parts, acquire information on the area and hear the latest advertisements for Savusavu enticing cruisers to the various places that will gladly exchange services for our money. We of course love having others do our work; primarily cooking. But; there was one service we had been missing for the last several months; messages. Curly mentioned a therapist about 5 minutes out of town and W/’s ears perked right up. She copied the phone number down and before the Sun had risen over the mountains she called. Damn! No answer; but she did leave a message.
A few hours later the Una called back and I arranged massages for each of us two days forward.
The hot springs are very….. interesting. Carolyn (Princess on sv Hotspur) had decided to see how warm the water was when it had already flowed the 100 meters to the bay. There she stuck her toe in and yelped a bit as she came very close to being burned. While we were at the springs there were two ears of corn in the husk someone was cooking and another bag in a meal being cooked. Next time I go I’ll take the infrared thermometer and check the temperature of the water. I will NOT stick my toe in it for a check. 🙂
While out and about Dan and Sara on sv Brahminy showed up. We had met them in Tonga awaiting the arrival of the King. They had skedaddled over here to Fiji to meet up with Dan’s parents for a weeks cruise before we left Tonga so we had more brains to pick. They rowed over. His outboard was in the shop being repaired and as we had a spare 2 hp not being used we loaned them our un-trusty little Yamaha. Yep the one that I have cursed and sworn about off and on for the last three years. However; after some sweet talking to it Dan was able to get it started and off they both went smiling all the way, Sara because she didn’t have to row, Dan because Sara didn’t have to row. Two days later it quit and wouldn’t start. I gave them a new spark plug and the little finicky engine started right up …again. The 2 hp Yamaha seems to eat spark plugs and guzzle gas but again Dan and Sara were happy.
We spent time with them discovering that they were gamers and had just learned to play Cribbage. Sweet. We love Cribbage, especially with 4 people and two teams so we played some on the boat and even went up to the Hot Springs Hotel for a night of dining and Cribbage. Just to be clear, when they left to head out sailing the rest of the way to Australia where they live, the guys were 3 games won to only one victory by the women who just happened to fall across the line first. Actually the games were so close with both teams being one count away from victory. NOTE: As guys we had to let them get close but Win! Uh-Uh, No Way. We just couldn’t do it. I’m guessing that when W/ edits this post she may actually add something. Wow, I only received a sly comment from her and she’s not adding any rebuttal. Sorry.
One day the 5 of us Carolyn, Meri, Jim, W/ and I rose early to catch the van to Labasa. W/ had called and made a tour appointment at Fiji Sugar Corporation. The van arrived at 7:30 and we climbed in. He waited, and waited, and about 8 ish he began to move with almost a full van But…moving slowly he was able to pick up one more fare. Off we went. By now the timing was going to be close. FJS had called the day before and asked us to arrive an hour earlier then we had planned. Meri, who is the slickest of people, had brought the driver a muffin to start the day off with. He was all smiles when she offered it to him. Now it was time to ask him if he would be kind enough to drop us off at the Sugar Factory. Fortunately he obliged and our anxieties of being later were reduced to zero.
At the factory W/ and Meri stopped in at reception and acquired our passes, we then walked to meet the tour guide, Lindsey, at the employee gate and he went over the process of making cane into sugar. He went through the entire process because it was loud in the plant and it was easier to tell us here than yelling over the machinery. In the time it took us to take the tour and we had watched them dump 3 tons of Sugar Cane onto the conveyor, that cane was converted to about 1/2 ton of pure sugar and molasses. The pulp (called Bagasse) is saved and used in a power plant that is also operated by FSC. The power plant has 2 – 10
megawatt generators. The Sugar refinery uses about 3 megawatt to power itself and the extra is feed and sold back into the Fiji Power grid. Cool! They even go so far as to recovering the dirt that comes in on the Sugar Cane. The dirt is then dried and filled into bags and sent back the farms that grow the cane. The relationship with the farms I was not entirely clear on. FSC communicates with the farms in each area and tells them how many loads they can bring to the mill. This avoids the confusion and problems associated with 100’s of tractors and trucks carrying cane to the mlll and having to wait hours to unload it. By the time our tour was completed and we walked back to Labasa our driver called to tell us we needed to be at the van in 30 minutes. There are no seat guarantees. We quickly grabbed some snacks and headed off to the bus where we didn’t get our favored seats but they were not the worst either. Luckily I had a seat with some leg room and as the driver loaded up the bus he noticed I would be in a bit of hurt. He moved the individual sitting in the front passenger seat to mine and me to the front seat. An improvement but still not perfect. The vast majority of vehicles in the world are not made to accommodate someone 6’3″ tall with legs that stretch from Canada to Florida. Two hours later we were back in Savusavu and hungry.
We’ve already tried several restaurants and found a couple much to our liking. This one however is a wee bit different. It’ s NOT fancy. There is no sou chief, the view from the porch would be awesome but from inside the restaurant it makes the average kitchen / dining area look wonderful. However, the owner and the food are awesome. I wanted some Prawns in the Thai dish and they were out of them a few days back. The owner said he would call me when he had them and I gave him my phone number. In the US I would most likely never have received a call. Two days later my phone rang and he said the Prawns were in. Bingo! The following day we arrived at the restaurant for lunch and I had a delicious meal for just about $6 US. So the 5 of us traipsed to Paradise and had great food with more lies than one could guess.
We followed the tasty meal by returning to the boat for some R and R. Tomorrow a massage would greatly aid in our recovery. We were going to walk there; it was less than an hour to walk, but time crept up on us and we didn’t know exactly where the place was so we grabbed a taxi from town. Up over the hill to the airport and we went and were dropped off at Una’s for all of $2.30 US fare. She lead us through a tropical garden to her home / office and there we were rewarded with massages in the jungle with birds singing and the breeze blowing gently through her home. She had a wonderful sturdy massage table and both W/ and I were rewarded with an excellent session. Una found knots in my muscles that I never knew I had. When we were through both of us felt another appointment was needed and proceeded to arrange it. I think we’re in Heaven!