Any update I give this week from Fiji cannot possibly compare to the dramatic and stunning results of the election back home in the United States.
The election was the kind of event that is location-stamped. No matter for whom we voted (or even IF we voted), a lot of us will probably always remember where we were when the results were announced: “Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.” Wow.
As for me, I was sitting in the casual beachside bar of the Bamboo Travelers resort. It was an interesting scene. About 15-20 fellow travelers huddled around the TV watching the play-by-play, trying to listen to the juicy commentary.
The majority of the bar patrons, who hailed from all over the world, were either oblivious or indifferent – choosing instead to enjoy the sunset, play pool and ping-pong, or share travel notes.
Even as the ‘show’ ended with the grand finale – Clinton conceding, Trump speaking – people just went on with their evening as if nothing happened. I turned from the TV to my Facebook feed, and sat for a while reading the diverse comments.
I could have entertained myself for a few days reading all the post-election news and perspectives.
But, down here in Fiji, we had more fun stuff to do.
Delayed by weather off the coast of New Zealand, and therefore still “stuck” in Fiji, we decided to sail over to Musket Cove, on an island about 3 hours away, to spend a few days relaxing and re-energizing.
We departed Thursday morning, motoring due to light wind conditions. It was a pleasant cruise. After the heat in the marina, it was great to be in open water with a fresh breeze.
The entry into Musket Cove was tricky and unfamiliar. We had to navigate our way around shallow reefs. Reefs are particularly dangerous because the depth changes rapidly. You can be in 80 feet of water when you suddenly come upon an underwater wall of vertical coral growth and depth goes to 5 feet. Midday, with the sun overhead, provides good visibility. "If it's brown, go around" says our First Mate Rick - since the reefs appear brown in color under the water. Approaching at low-water (although seemingly counter-intuitive) is also a good technique as the low water exposes the coral reefs.
As we approached, we followed the path of in-water navigational aides (markers and buoys) and utilized the charts we downloaded to our iPad application Navionics. But, reefs are constantly growing and changing so we also kept a sharp lookout on deck with binoculars. Once we were safely in the cove, we picked up a mooring ball and secured the boat.
We took the dinghy to shore and checked in with the office.
Because we arrived on a sailboat from a ‘foreign port’ (i.e., New Zealand to Fiji earlier this year), we were awarded lifetime memberships in the Musket Cove Yacht Club! This granted us access to the private beach, the pool, the showers, and all of the water toys (kayaks, paddleboards, mask/snorkel, and catamaran).
On our first night, the restaurant was offering an all-you-can-eat buffet, featuring roast pork and all the trimmings. After two weeks eating sketchy food in Nadi town, and struggling with the resulting impact on our stomachs, we thoroughly enjoyed the delicious buffet.
Back at the boat that evening, it was hot in the cabin. I couldn’t sleep, so I crawled outside to the cockpit area, pillow in hand, and slept on the hard fiberglass bench for a while. The cool air and occasional hint of rain was very pleasant. I ended up sleeping outside the next two nights as well, especially after the skipper reminded me that we actually have cusions for those hard benches. With the cushion in place, I slept like a baby, cradled by the sea and watched over by the stars.
For the next two days, we just lounged around the Yacht Club. We enjoyed early morning swims in the sea, launching ourselves off Avalon’s deck. We explored the Yacht Club and Resort – moving from beach to pool to café and back again.
Our favorite hangout spot was the Club’s beach bar located on a short peninsula jutting out into the cove. The bar offered ice-cold Fiji Bitter (beer), classic rock tunes, and cushioned benches facing outward toward the west, providing a great sunset view.
But the highlight of the bar was the self-cook barbecue dinner. Here’s how it works: Each afternoon by 4pm, we place our order for fresh fish, meat, veggies, potatoes, and garlic bread. The food is delivered to the bar at 6:30pm; fish and veggies are on skewers, meat is soaking in marinade, bread and potatoes are buttered and wrapped in foil. We choose our gas grill and ask the bartender to turn it on. We barbecue everything, and then enjoy a tasty feast as the sun goes down. The staff cleans the grill and clears the dishes while we relax. It’s pretty fantastic. We did this two nights in a row. The price? About $12 USD.
By Sunday, it was time to get back to the business of preparing to sail to New Zealand. We readied the boat, untied from the mooring ball, and slowly motored out of Musket Cove and around the reefs, heading back to our Fijian home base of Port Denarau.
Arriving at Port Denarau by early afternoon, we spent a few hours cleaning the boat so she’d be ready for the passage mid-week (based on latest forecasts). We then dispersed to our respective hotels for a good night’s sleep.
At the time of this writing, we are targeting a Wednesday, November 16, departure. For those of you that have asked, yes, we are aware of the earthquake and tsunami in New Zealand, but fortunately it does not impact our passage. Our thoughts go out to those whom it did impact.
So as the United States reacts to the election results with all kinds of predictions of what might or might not happen over the next 4 years of Trump, down here on Avalon we have a much narrower perspective: we are laser-focused on the next 8-10 days and safe passage to New Zealand.