Bumbling along in the Pacific

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Mon 28 Oct 2019 19:02
25:22.1S 175:56.2E

Very early Tuesday morning

It’s the start of Day 5 of the crossing from Fiji to New Zealand. I’ve been sleeping well and got through the first three days without too much pain.

I did write a blog post on the second night only to lose it when the satellite communication system started playing up. I could receive emails but not send. The problem seems to have gone away so please keep writing but don’t worry if you don’t hear back.

Although we’ve had headwinds, it has been very pleasant sailing so far. Looking at the weather charts it does look like we are in for a bit of a blow, from the south again, lasting 24-48h. We’ll rig the staysail and head south-east for a while. This might delay our arrival by a day, so ETA Marsden Cove Monday 4th.

Signing out of Suva took longer than anticipated. I’d struggled to find consistent information as the procedure seems to be slightly different in every port. Curtis had sent me the two forms he’d had to complete so I duly printed them off, filled them in and Dave and I went to the FRCS Border office on the Main King’s Wharf in the Port of Suva at 11am on Thursday. We said we wanted to leave at 8pm.

The lady who did our paper work was friendly and helpful but there seemed to be tensions in the office caused by a small officious man in the corner who kept interjecting. She explained that they would need to do a headcount on the boat immediately before we departed and that this could only be done during office hours so before 5pm. He muttered something about the Yacht Club and she snapped at him: “We’ve signed people out of Lami Bay before.” I was very grateful, I had no desire to move to the terrible anchorage off the yacht club.

We still had food shopping to do. I parked Dave in a coffee shop and dashed to the market and supermarket. Time was running out and we were both tired, we decided to stay another night. I tried phoning the FRCS number I’d been given but it was some poor guy who had no idea what I was talking about. Dave spotted a man wearing the Customs uniform a couple of tables away so I went to ask him for the correct number.

“You’re the boat that wants to leave at 8pm, don’t worry I’ll relay the message.” He kindly offered.

Friday morning the rain was lashing down. ‘Soggy Suva’ as Dave calls it, at its best. This made rush hour worse, practically gridlock and it took an hour by taxi to get in. A cruise ship had arrived overnight and I feared all the officers would be busy. As we walked into the office, the man from the coffee shop greeted us and sprang into action, phoning the officers we needed to speak to.

The nice lady and the officious man wandered in.

“Captain!” He called, and I stepped forward.

“No, I said Captain.” He said.

Dave said “she’s the captain.” Mr Officious was clearly put out. We were going to get on like a house on fire!

“Why the constant change of plans?” He interrogated.

“Our plan was 8pm, you made it impossible.”

He had the grace to acknowledge this.

“How did you get here?”

“By taxi.”

“Then please join me in my car.”

As we waited for his white spotless chauffeur-driven limousine, Dave chatted with him (he wouldn’t talk to me) and Mr Officious who moved to Suva last year from Lautoka recognised Dave from previous delivery trips. He relaxed a bit.

My understanding is that when customs officers visit the boat, the yachtsman pays for the taxi fare. The limousine was going to be expensive.

Arnie was waiting quietly at the steps by the hotel with his oars neatly tied in. Mr Officious glanced at him disdainfully, “you don’t even have an engine.” He accused.

“Have a safe passage and don’t stop anywhere in Fiji.” He said and watched us paddle back to Caramor. When I turned around he was gone. He didn’t charge me for the car.

Sunny was laying a new mooring not far from Caramor, he stood on his workboat directing a diver in the water. We called out to each other and as always he was laughing. He has a beautiful laugh, full of joy and fun. An amazing guy.