Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sailing to Fiji

Our crossing from Vava’u, Tonga to Suva, Fiji was wonderful. We were both a bit out of sorts the first 24 hours, with being offshore and the new sleep pattern, but we quickly got back into a rhythm.

Without batteries, our autopilot wouldn't work, so we hand-steered the first 24 hours in three hour shifts. Then the wind died and we started the engine to find it was not charging the almost completely dead batteries at all. Malcolm fixed the alternator and we got enough battery power to use the small, CPT autopilot. We were able to sit back and relax. After a day of motoring, some wind returned, and the last couple of days were sunny, with smooth seas and we sailed along nicely to Suva.

We arrived in the bay at Suva about 9 AM in the morning. Suva is an active shipping port and an industrial town. It was the perfect place for us as almost every business is related to ships and marine stuff.

After hosting the officials from the Ministry of Health, Customs and Biosecurity, and officially checking into the country, we went ashore to the Royal Suva Yacht Club and had dinner. Malcolm had the bacon cheese burger and was sick all night. He says he is never going to eat a burger again!

We were very productive in Suva! We found a new Fijian made 12 volt 200 amp hour AGM battery that will work well as an interim battery until the new AGM batteries we ordered from China arrive in mid-July. The new battery was dropped off at the dock and they not only took away the 4 huge, dead batteries, but also gave us $120 FD for the lead in them! The boat is now 200lbs lighter!

We now have the refrigerator turned on (but not the freezer) and we are trying to be conscious of the power we use. Luckily it's pretty sunny most days so the solar panels completely recharge the battery by noon each day. 

We bought high-density foam to create new cockpit cushions and found a local upholstery shop to sew the cockpit cushion covers, hatch, winch, life-raft and wheel covers. We finally used the large roll of gold Sunbrella material we have been carrying since we left Vancouver! The golden accents on the topsides look great!

We purchased several metres of gorgeous local fabric in blues with gold highlights for throw pillows and found a wonderful local seamstress to make us 12 pillow covers. We even found a new shower head for the broken shower on the aft deck!

In Fiji, when you anchor off islands, and especially if you go ashore, it is expected that you will bring an offering to the village Chief. This offering, called, sevusevu, is typically kava root. Once the root is pounded to a powder, it is mixed with water and strained through a cloth into a half coconut shell for drinking. It is mildly narcotic with the effect of leaving a tingling feeling on the tongue, inside the mouth and sometimes throughout the head and throat. It was a ceremonial drink, but now locals tend to enjoy it most weekends. 

The price of kava has increased dramatically as the crop has been devastated by the cyclone and saltwater surges onto farm land. After some shopping around, we finally found some kava root for $FD60 per kilo (prices started at $FD90 per kilo). We purchased 3 kilos and had it packaged into 12 – ¼ kilo packages. Chuck and Lauri, on SV Free Spirit, will take 6 of the packages. We each have other items, such as packages of laundry detergent, bars of soap, packages of toothbrushes, pencils, notebooks, crayons, etc., that we will include, along with the kava, in our sevusevu offerings.