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Date: 03 Jul 2013 23:12:25
Title: 'We're coming home'

But not quite yet. We crossed the 180 degree of longitude so we are now
heading towards home rather than away Cruising around the beautiful Fijian
islands proved to be a navigation challenge at all times. The waters are
not charted and if they are, they are often inaccurate. Every island is
surrounded by a coral reef and you have to find your way in and out without
running the boat on to the hard ground underneath. Even in the open waters,
when you thought all was clear, you would often find a sudden shallow area
which would prove rather unpleasant for the boat if we had landed on it.
You had to be on watch all the time and try and sail at the correct time of
the day to have the sun behind so that you could see the change in the
colour of the water, which indicates shallows. However when you did get to
the anchorage, it was always worth the effort. On one of the islands after
the sevu sevu ceremony we were allowed to wander around and visit the
school. The children were a delight and sang us some nursery rhymes.
We then sailed to the two main islands of Fiji, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu,
over Bligh Water, the sea that Captain Bligh passed across after being set
adrift from the 'Bounty'. At the port of Denaru, we had the boat taken out
of the water to have her cleaned and painted with antifoul. This has to be
done every 8-12 months and more often when you sail in warm waters as we
have been doing. This procedure meant that we had to check into an hotel
for 3 nights. It was such a treat to be able to have our feet firmly on the
ground for an extended period of time and to sleep in a bed that didn't sway
or rock.
We rented a car and explored inland for a couple of days. Andrew had
visited here 40 years ago when he was back packing, so we tried to retrace
some of his footsteps. Nadi and Sigatoka were two such places, and we drove
up the valley and marvelled at the beautiful lush greenery and views from
the hilltops.
The population of Fiji is about 45% Indian. They were brought in by the
British to work in the sugar plantations as the locals refused to do the
work. This means that Indian food is everywhere so we had our full dose of
some fantastic curries in some hole in the wall restaurants. Full flavoured
and cheap, they went down a treat.
Next destination west is Vanuatu and Andrew is gathering together the charts
and working out the navigation and routing. It's a 3 day passage, so we will
arrive tired.

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