Fiji Fido - how little I knew!
Tue 4 Sep 2018 19:20
The restaurant staff did a little welcome gig on the customs inspection pontoon, which was nice - then things got not so nice.
Single guy, sprinting through the Pacific to get to Australia called 'yours truly', gets red flagged entering Fiji.
The back story is an uptick in drug related smuggling via cruising yachts in the recent. A few months ago a catamaran called (appropriately), 'Shenanigans', was busted and impounded in Vuda Marina (about 50m from me now), with 15 kg of the white stuff - skipper and mate now missing in the penal system. So, today I pulled in all unawares, to Vuda Marina, and was immediately red flag mugged.
1 Bio security official
1 Health official
2 Customs officers
2 Police officers
1 Guy with bright blue rubber gloves, which was worrying ...
2 Police Dog handlers
2 Pro Labrador sniffer dogs
Started at 11:00, finished at 15:00 - and I'd arrived soooo in need of an expected quick acquisition of a beer or seven - not a chance!
As a red flagged boater, I was entitled to triple searching, and sniffing every inch they could get to - unlucky - they didn't find any drugs - well hello there you timewasters - I could wax about taxpayers money, but I'm not sure how it works here.
The only item of real interest was my 2mil volt Taser, which they took, (but I get back when I check out, so that the Australians can confiscate it, when I get there). I can't help but take the micky, so I objected to it's removal, on the grounds that if one of the female Fijian bar staff followed me back to the boat and tried to take advantage of me, I'd be defenseless. They told me to just give in!
They did smile knowingly on finding that I was twice over the 2 litre alcohol limit (yes, that's 4 measly litres), but were then dashed, in finding that Karen & I had meticulously documented this, in their 13 page pre arrival form - sorry guys.
It was kind of fun and kind of infuriating, that a crowd built up on the dock as the sniffer dogs were working. You just know that these barefaced evil gawkers, just want to see the skipper ripped off the boat and pinned down on the dock with a knee in the groin - a bit of blood and lots of swearing works for them also. Ha - unlucky!
In truth the judicial battalion were a pretty good bunch, just doing their job, so while it was a complete pain, it's a good one for the blog - and I like dogs anyway. I did have the neck to ask if I could take some photos of the dogs working - stoney faces replied.
While I was being tooth combed on the inspection dock, the Marina gave away all free spaces in this tiny very busy place, so I'm currently only 'sort of' in - I'm temporarily rafted off another boat, just inside the entrance (photo). It's fine. No it's not. The night photo shows the bar/restaurant from this position, is just 60m away (at the pontoon I'd spent half the day at). However, I'm actually as far away as you can get, on foot, it requiring a scrabble across the other boat, and a walk around the full site.
Eventually in the bar, I can honest, that it's one of the better I've seen in the Pacific. Someone here gets the demographic and the fleeting visitation of westerly migrating cruisers - or to put it another way - oldies that have seen enough grass skirts by 179.9W. The local beer is 'Gold', and I partook of several, and a spicy salami pizza. I'm now back on the boat enjoying Tom Jones across the water belting out 'Delila', and that wasn't even my era.
Anyway, all this 'temporary potential drug king pin' stuff, detracts from the voyage stuff.
Overall, the hop went well. My weather service was excellent as ever - it drove me slightly north, above the lulls, and I timed the return south just right. The challenges didn't begin until the final 24 hrs, and they weren't weather. From empty uninhabited wet planet for two weeks, to humans and hard stuff everywhere. No sleep. - too many vessel types to mention - too near, too sharp..Then two yachts dogged me all night along the southern coastline, randomly but continuously setting off my radar proximity alarms, requiring me to get up and silence them at the main console, over and over.
Bottom line - I didn't hit nuffin on the way to Fjii.
All's well on x86, temporarily wrong side of the Tom Jones channel.