August 19, 2020 Wednesday Vuda Marina, Viti Levu, Fiji
We remained Cecilia, me and Ariel. The friends with whom we shared every moment of these 8 months, at sea or on land, left for Indonesia: In any case, the end of August would have put an end to this experience anyway. We also explored the opportunity to set sail directly for Indonesia, but then, having considered the considerations we already know, we are happy to take care now of securing Ariel and returning home. The return flight, or repatriation, was originally set for the 27th, since one leaves a week, on Thursdays at 2 pm, then the Auckland agency that collaborates with the Italian embassy called us anticipating it at 20. This speeds up the preparation time, but in the end it makes us return a week early, so here we only have the desire to return to open a new experience,and no longer to stay now.
Vuda marina is on the opposite side of Nadi Bay, about 6 miles, and is the oldest marina (20 years) in Fiji, built using a natural, circular basin, which makes it a perfect Hurrican Hole, moreover equipped with a lock of the narrow entrance, to leave the sea out in the event of a Cyclone. In fact, in this place the boats can also stay in the water in the “dangerous” season, fastened with chains to a giant dead body in the center of the lagoon made in a circle, and to the shore, which is a cemented quay, with pegs that sink over a meter in the concrete / earth; or in the vast area on land, where they dug real holes (PIT) where the boats are inserted, or rather the bulb and the rudder are inserted, and the hull rests on truck tires on the sides of the “pit”.The Pit of Vuda is famous in the world as a safe place, to the point that maritime insurance companies cover the boats placed here with the “helmet”.
There is no other place in the cyclone belt where this happens. This reassures us and Ariel slyly accepts this strange fate of a boat being buried, but he talks about it with Falabrach, an Italian HR48, a Dufour 50 from Venice and a solid beautiful New Zealand boat, just to mention the neighbors.
However, the preparation work takes time. The sails must be removed and stored in a dry place, any furnishings that may be prey to strong winds such as the bimini, the spray hood, and all the sheets and halyards must be removed and stored safely.
Concordiamo con Marshall, un australiano velaio capace e bene organizzato lo storage di tutto e nel contempo decidiamo per un cagnaro speciale, a prova di tifone, basso sulla coperta, di tessuto traspirante ed anti UV diviso in 3 parti, che ha però il dovere principale di proteggere il teck, ed il pozzetto. Sarà pronto in 15 gg.
We wash the engine with fresh water, as it is always good to do for stops longer than 2/3 months, and the washing and bleeding of the black water tanks, full of diesel fuel (essential to avoid condensation and to let the debris are placed on the bottom, which we will then vacuum before departure); vice versa we leave the water tank empty, to avoid unnecessary bacterial contamination, and we will disinfect it in any case properly upon return. Engine and generator service with oil and filters change (better not to leave an engine with exhausted oil for months), treatment of the desalinator as usual and preparation of the tender that is unloaded for rain, but safely on the davits. This all took 3 days.
In Denarau we have provided the polishing of the entire hull and of the steels with a special protective product to slow down sun damage on the gelcoat. In any case, the marina offers a security service that provides a weekly or fortnightly check of the boat, with the opening of the portholes and various checks, while with the technicians we will define in due course the maintenance of the propeller and the change of the bush, now in fact an uncomfortable operation to get yourself into a hole of earth!
In this month, in addition to the pleasant discovery of the Jasawa we have explored the interior of the island, up to Suva, 180 km for 4 hours by car, since the roads are not like ours, and the speed can never exceed 80 km /Now; the charm of Suva is its Saturday market and the Grand Pacific Hotel, a colonial building renovated in 2014 respecting the original structure and giving a note of modernity to some rooms. Suva’s third icon, the Fiji Museum, is unfortunately closed for restoration, one more reason to return.
We meet Francesca, a maritime lawyer who has been working in the Pacific for 6 years for an NGO that deals with maritime signage in the various atolls, given that in some lesser-traveled islands it seems that both cartography and signage are still non-existent today. But now she too is stopped for Covid.
The rain does not betray popular sayings but does not prevent the visit of the market, where every edible merchandise, animal or vegetable, alive or dead, is exhibited. An experience. We pause on the upper floor, the one destined for the Cava, root of the type of the pepper plant, which is ground and mixed with fresh water, but not mixed, filtered with a simple and particular system with double-walled fabric bags, in such a way as to obtain a mud-colored liquid with a faint taste of peppery licorice, with a slightly muddy consistency. At the Suva market they seem to sell the best Cava in Fiji, the one that comes from a particular island, and is in fact the most expensive. This drink has sedative properties and increases the sense of well-being, let’s say it is their drug, in the sense that they have always used it in the villages,some evenings a week, in a ritual made up of songs and “quarry tours”. In fact, it is the rite of those who go to visit a village to bring a bit of Cava to the Capo as a gift, in root or powder, as a gesture of friendship.
During our Jasawa experience the night before departure they invited us to the cava ritual done by the locals. In a semicircle on a carpet of woven bamboo leaves, with the “guru” in the center, let’s say the croupier of a rulette, he prepared the mixture in a large wooden bowl, each one is given half a coconut, and in turn , before the “Chief” begins, or the oldest or the one designated that evening as such, he is paid a first portion of quarry (small, medium or tsunami) depending on the tonnage and his propensity to be enveloped by the effects of the substance. Before drinking you have to say BULA BULA BULA three times while simultaneously clapping your hands in a cupped manner, then in one gulp you swallow the slush, and thank you again by clapping your hands once and saying VINAKA.We Westerners at the third cup of cava, with the tongue a bit tingled, and a pleasant sensation of soft dizziness, we left the carpet in favor of a dinner with local cuisine and a good red wine, while the group of “cavisti” … . They finished the big bowl … place you go customs you find.
And then there is Flaviano. Said Flavio. An icon of Fiji. Everyone knows him, but everyone. It has a real fake trattoria, which is not a trattoria, but is a building where it sells Italian products of the highest quality and occasionally on two tables that sets up instantly, bakes crispy bread, Parma ham or Lombard salami, capocollo or soppressata and cheeses Sardinian or Tuscan, all washed down with good wine. A return to our origins that becomes a destination not daily, but almost for us Italians of the sea, but which we make known to Peter, the German of Tri 2 fly, and Daniel the Mexican of Sea Lover. But it is not only us who serve us as Flavio, who does not seem to be experiencing a crisis despite Covid! In fact, free of the phantom virus, they landed on an island, appropriating it with government concessions,and anchoring two immense 40-meter superyachts, the staff of all the CEOs of Google including the boss who comes and goes with his private “covid free” jet. They all shop at Flavio’s for the best Italian products. So it is not in crisis. We close with a spaghetti meal at Flavio’s by celebrating Lorenzo’s birthday, in fact an opportunity to say goodbye and to stop in a single frame this unique, wonderful and intriguing adventure which, across the sea, has allowed meeting, knowledge and sharing. But we know it’s goodbye.in fact, an opportunity to say goodbye and to stop in a single frame this unique, wonderful and intriguing adventure which, across the sea, has allowed meeting, knowledge and sharing. But we know it’s goodbye.in fact, an opportunity to say goodbye and to stop in a single frame this unique, wonderful and intriguing adventure which, across the sea, has allowed meeting, knowledge and sharing. But we know it’s goodbye.