Musket cove is a big anchorage, with room for a whole lot of boats in reasonably good protection. It’s also deep, with most of the room being about sixty feet. Scattered throughout the deep flat basin are coral pillars that come up pretty sharply. The exception to that rule is a sandbar near the southeast end of the anchorage, which slopes up gently to a ridge that disappears at high tide. Since this is awesome, there are tour boats that stop there daily. We saw all that traffic and figured they had to be onto something, so we planned to visit as the tide was rising and the crowd started to thin. Then we got caught up in New Zealand paperwork: we spent over 2.5 hours on hold, only to find out that we’d been blocked for using gmail addresses. Facepalm. Anyway we got the application submitted, but we arrived at the sandbar right as it was disappearing. This turned out to be … awesome! Inch-deep water over sand gets warmed by the tropical sun, resulting in a slightly slappy hot tub.
The next day, after some brief testing of our VHF/AIS with an emergency antenna we borrowed from Searcher (thanks, guys!), we went scuba diving with Acushnet and the local dive shop.
In the afternoon, we headed back to the sandbar with props. Specifically, a mermaid tail for Jazz. This resulted in some excellent photos.
It also had a side effect we really should have predicted in advance: where there are tour boats, there are families with children, and when the small ones saw an actual mermaid emerge from the water, several of their brains outright broke. Jazz, perfectly willing to pose for photos if maybe a mobility-impaired captive, had no idea what to do with a trio of excited children screaming and running for the mermaid, only to stop ten feet away and burst into tears. Only one was brave enough to approach the mermaid, though not quite brave enough to talk to her. And yet her mother was unable to talk her into leaving, and had to physically remove her from the scene. Picture posted with parent’s permission, of course.
That evening, we got together with Searcher, Acushnet, and a new boat called Sauce Sea, for a dinner at the resort’s Dick’s Restaurant (not to be confused with Dick’s Last Resort). They had a pretty decent buffet for a reasonable $60FJD, and when Andrew made the questionable decision to ask for a hot buttered rum, the bartenders googled it and came up with one! Picture from outside the dockside bar, where we stopped just to use their spotlight before heading back to the boats.
Acushnet, on a tighter schedule than we were, elected to leave the next day for Denerau, while we decided to wait another day for better weather. But on their way out, we decided to visit Seventh Heaven together. So we hitched Dinkus to the back of Acushnet, and drove their boat over to the floating bar for lunch. We were hoping for swimming weather, but the gray skies kept us out of the water; still, we had a nice meal in good company.
We parted ways after lunch, and had a surprisingly dry dinghy ride back to Villa just ahead of the rain storm. Ross and Saskia, headed the opposite direction, found all the rain.
At this point Searcher had left for New Zealand, leaving only us and Sauce Sea in the Musket Cove young boaters club. In the afternoon, with rain clouds on the horizon, we invited them over for an evening drink. Then the wind picked up and rain started dumping, but they braved the choppy waves and joined us anyway, making only the second time that boaters have visited us in the rain! And we had a grand time hanging out with them, watching the lightning on three sides of the boat and polishing off a good measure of bourbon. The next day the seas were calm again, though maybe our heads were a little rolly. Pictured: Sauce Sea as we passed by, somewhat later than planned.
We headed over to Denerau ourselves, in flat calm conditions that were ideal for floating island mirages – an effect called Fata Morgna and likely the source of the Flying Dutchman myth.
On arrival, we picked up our long-delayed delivery: a new furler! Sadly, it turned out to be missing a crucial part, so the giant package would move around the boat for several weeks before we could actually put it up. Anti-endorsement: Kiwi Yacht Services, who had delayed the shipment to wait for the wrong colors of spinnaker repair tape to arrive. One thing worked out, at least: we immediately installed our new cockpit speakers, and had under-way tunes inside and out at the same time!
We headed back into shore at sunset for a last dinner with Acushnet. Searcher had recommended an Indian place called Indigo, and on the way there, we were sidetracked by a dance performance. They put on a melange of dances from various parts of Polynesia, which was super interesting to see given that we’d just been through pretty much all of those places. The whole event, and actually the whole of Port Denerau, felt like something out of a cruise ship. Highlights: trying to teach the tourists to dance (while their mothers filmed), and of course, fire spinning!
Acushnet, busy checking out and fueling up, didn’t make it in time for the fire dancing. But they joined us for dinner, and Indigo turned out to serve some of the best food we’d had in a long time. Thanks to Searcher for an excellent recommendation! And farewell to Acushnet, westward bound while we turn slowly south.
Except that that was not quite farewell: we met up again in the morning for a delicious Mexican breakfast, to share a taxi ride to the beautiful Nadi market. Highlights, besides the stalls themselves, include a new-to-us fruit the vendor told us was a Fiji Apple, and turns out to be some kind of stone fruit. Also, the linguistic differences that would lead to an ad saying “crack a woody”.
Back at the marina, we finally said goodbye for real, and Acushnet took off while we circled the marina to find the vet. Sighted along the way: Reef Explorer, which continues to follows us around, and just the sheer size difference between these two neighbors.
We had made our first appointment to give Captain his pre-departure meds, and since we’re not allowed to enter the marina without insurance, that meant bringing the vets out to the boat. It was flat calm in the morning, but by the afternoon the wind was ripping through, and we had a lumpy and wet trip out to the boat, and an even wetter ride back. The vets loved Captain, though, and we managed to get him to take his pills… but not before he gave Andrew this poignant look of absolute betrayal. Some cats would try to escape. Some would howl. Captain looked at Andrew in shocked disbelief. Et tu, Dad? And thus did Andrew join Jazz in the doghouse.