Savusavu, Fiji

The sail to Savusavu from Futuna was blissfully uneventful, aside from a bit of confusion around waypoints as we crossed from the western to eastern hemispheres: 16°47’S, 179°58’E is in the channel between two islands, whereas 16°47’S, 179°58’W is on land. No boats were harmed in the making of this discovery. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing, with a convergence zone comfortably far in the distance, and star trek for the night shift.

We had to slow down for the last section to make sure we arrived in daylight when customs was open, lest we incur overtime charges, so we picked up a mooring ball at the Copra Shed Marina at about 9am. There, we settled in to wait for the parade of officials.

The port health official was first on the scene, and took pictures of our cat and our food stores, before telling us that the others would be there within two hours and heading back out again. Our agent had told us that a phone card would be delivered on arrival so we could start planning. Not having had internet in over a week, we were pretty excited about the prospect, but it turned out that delivered phone cards were impossible in this port. So we waited, internet-less, knocked out some small projects, and watched the other boats pass uncomfortably close by. Villa floated in slow circles in the dead air, sometimes far from the next mooring ball and sometimes right on top of it.

At nearly the end of the day, Customs, Immigration, and Biosecurity finally made it out to the boat. They asked us about our stores, and we told them in general terms what we had; the only thing they cared about was our honey, which they “bonded” with some labeled tape. They are not set up to safely destroy your contraband in Savusavu, so we were told we were just not allowed to take food off the boat, or to open the honey inside Fijian territory. Fair enough. We were mildly annoyed when, because they had taken forever to come out to the boats, Customs and Immigration charged us an overtime fee for being after hours. But what can you do. We just barely made it to shore in time to buy sim cards: the guy at Vodaphone couldn’t take a credit card, but pointed us to the ATM, and we came back and knocked on the back door of the phone office like we were buying contraband. Jazz also got started on her collection of fun car sticker photos. We met up with Acushnet, also finally cleared, for a welcome dinner at the Copra Shed restaurant.

The next morning we headed to the hospital to get Jazz’s ear checked out, and to pay our biosecurity fees. The facility is a little bleak, but the doctor checked her ears and found both(!) of them infected with some possible bruising but at least no rupture a non-ENT could see. So she got oral antibiotics and eardrops, and an injunction against any swimming for at least ten days. Somewhat heartbreaking to arrive in Fiji and be banned from the water, but at least we knew it wasn’t a blown ear drum.

As a consolation prize, we stopped by an Indian restaurant for lunch, taking a recommendation from our third taxi driver of the day. The chairs were right, as the food turned out to be quite good, though we were a little weirded out about the sign in the handwashing sink.

On the way back to the boat we stopped by the veggie market to check it out, and found a nice selection of local produce. Most importantly, eggs were back on the breakfast menu!

We were most of the way home when Dinkus’s engine puttered to a halt. He had been acting a little flaky, with the fuel hand pump refusing to prime, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. We rowed the last hundred meters, easy in the dead air, and took off the fuel filter to find it had finally rusted all the way through. So the fuel pump was pumping away just fine, just sucking in air through the side of the filter. We figured while we were at it, we should take the time to change the oils and clean the carburetor. Maintenance matters!

We got Dinkus put back together (he ran like a champ again), and had a lovely sunset on the boat with Captain.

Then, social butterflies that we are, we headed into shore to get dinner with Acushnet. We tried to get into another restaurant, but without a reservation we were turned away, and we ended up back at the Copra Shed restaurant. Along the way, we spotted this sign; advertising is a great window into cultural differences. So was this creepy statue.

We woke the next morning to a beautiful sunrise. Acushnet, having had internet on arrival with AT&T finally pulling through for them, had rented a car and booked a dive with Robinson Crusoe resort. They picked Andrew up in the morning, while Jazz and her busted ears stayed behind. While the able-bodied trio took the dive boat out to Namena for the most pampered (and most expensive) dive experience Jazz or Andrew has ever had, Jazz stopped by Acushnet to decorate for Ross’s birthday.

We got cleaned up post-dive, then met up again at the dock and took a drive. The first stop was to drop our empty scuba tanks back at the dive resort. By this point it was getting later in the day, so we aborted our search for a waterfall, and instead stopped at the Savasi Island resort. A poke around the grounds revealed a big beached sailboat; we were about to take a closer look at what we assumed was an event space when we realized somebody was staying there.

We tried to con our way into dinner, but having not ordered in advance, we were restricted to drinks and a beautiful view.

We headed back to Robinson Crusoe, where we picked up our tanks and were permitted access to dinner. The food was lovely, as were the three verses of Happy Birthday. Fat and happy, we headed back for a final birthday nightcap on the decorated Acushnet.

We had intended to leave in the morning for Namena, but were delayed by a need for some provisions, most notably Kava, and by some FAFFing from biosecurity. We also had to swing by the other marina in town to pick up our Namena tags, at which point it was time to have one last lunch on shore.

So we took a short sail down the coast, to anchor in front of the Robinson Crusoe resort, passing by another boat with an excellent name. Pictured: Jazz letting her every-six-hours ear drops sink in.

We dropped anchor and were gearing up to make dinner, pulling a can of beef from storage, when we discovered exploded beer cans. Oh no! Fortunately they were in ziplock bags… Unfortunately, the bags had ripped on their way into the hole, and the beer had leaked out the bottom. So that was a fun project for the evening.

Still, if you’re going to be doing stupid projects, at least do them in a beautiful place.

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