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And We Have Arrived

Ni sa yadra (Good Morning) from Fiji!

We arrived in Savusavu at 0630 this morning. We were unable to enter the anchorage until 0800 as we had to wait for the marina to open and provide instructions. It was overcast so we didn’t get the amazing sunny pics we hoped for but we’re sure they will come. Of course it’s even gorgeous here in the rain!

At 0800 we contacted the Copra Shed Marina via the radio. They had us take a mooring and wait for a call from them to pick up the officials. We dropped Sparkle into the water to prepare to pick them up and when the call came around 0930 Dan headed to shore. The first group on the boat was three agents from Health. Unlike the drones who work public jobs in the states, these agents were a lot of fun. We laughed a lot while they were on board and they even let me take pics of them.

Health check completed without issue and Dan was off to take them back to the marina and pick up more officials. Next up, Biosecurity and Customs & Immigration. Three more wonderful Fijian officials boarded us and completed a mountain of paperwork. Again, they all had wonderful personalities and a great sense of humor. All of the officials made this process very easy and painless. It was a nice change from some of the other countries we’ve visited. Thank you to each of you!

All in, the process on board took about an hour and a half. Next we proceeded to phase two. We had to go into town and pay everyone because we didn’t have exact change and they don’t carry change. For any cruisers coming to Fiji, try to have exact change for the officials. It will save you some steps. Either way it was still pretty easy. All fees combined totaled $248.50 Fijian or about $115 USD. Not too bad really. Every place is within walking distance and after four days at sea it’s good to get walking again.

Once the boarding was complete Dan and I headed to town to get some provisions and make the proper payments to the authorities. We also had to work on getting our cruising permit. That required paperwork to be given to the marina who then faxes it to the appropriate authorities to get the permit. Once they receive it back you have to take it back to the Customs & Immigration Office where they will officially sign off on it. As we travel around Fiji we are required to submit movement reports each week saying where we’ve been and where we are going. They can be done via email or radio.

Savusavu is a very busy little place with people milling about everywhere. It was almost sensory overload at first. But, everyone is smiling and it is rare that you pass someone without them giving you a giant smile and saying, “Bula, Bula”! These people could possibly be the friendliest people we’ve met in all our travels. I also have noted that it’s a rather clean place. We saw lots of people working to clean up garbage and you don’t see much of it on the streets.

Once our business was complete we stopped at the Surf & Turf Restaurant for a couple of beers and a light lunch. We’ve been told their food is excellent and it surely did not disappoint. The owners are lovely Indo Fijians and we enjoyed talking with them while we were there. They even offered to allow us to use their dinghy dock whenever we come into town. That’s nice because its at the north end of town saving us a longer walk to get beer and groceries.

Off now to the Copra Shed Marina to check on our cruising permit. Prity, the lovely young gal in the office put a rush on it and she had it waiting for us when we arrived because it’s Friday and we want to take off for other anchorages on Monday morning with our friends, Lutz & Gabi of SV SuAn. Permit in hand we head to Customs where we are again greeted by smiling and very helpful agents. It takes just a few moments to get our clearance and we are headed back to the marina. Of course we’re here so we might as well have a beer.

As we are sitting enjoying our cold beverages we see our dear friend, Ernie of SV Patience. His boat is docked right out in front of the restaurant. We met Ernie in México and have seen him all along our travels. The last place we saw him was in New Zealand. It really is nice how cruisers seem to meet up in ports all over the world. We invited Ernie to come sit and have a beer with us while we caught up on each other’s adventures. When cruisers first get together the main topic of conversation is what has gone wrong since you last saw each other. We talked of our gooseneck issue and he told us of engine troubles and sail problems. I guess we all like to hear the other person’s woes as it makes ours seem okay.

From here it was time to start getting ready for an evening aboard SV SuAn. Lutz & Gabi made a point to come back here to meet us so we can do some cruising together and to celebrate our arrival they invited us to sundowners and dinner. And what a wonderful evening it was for all of us! They cooked us a fabulous dinner of steak, salad, grilled veggies and homemade bread. We shared rum drinks and had an evening full of laughs and great conversation. It sure is good to see our dear friends again. Looking forward to our weeks of traveling together.

So far, we love Fiji and can’t wait to see more. Keep checking back to see what adventures lie ahead for the crew of Dazzler.

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan

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Tales From The Doghouse

We all chase that one thing that seems to always be just out of our reach.  No mater how hard we try, it eludes our grasp and becomes our Achilles heel.  For me it is Dazzler’s Watch Commander.  This is a wonderful 12 volt electronic device that acts like a countdown timer.  It can be set for time periods of 3-90 minutes.  I obtained and used this device for all the single handed passages I’ve done over the last 10 years.  You see it has this really awesome feature that starts emitting a lovely soft beep for about 30 seconds before a 130 decibel alarm cracks through the silence of the night air.  Alarm might be too soft of a word.  Perhaps siren would be better.  You know, the kind on the front of a Fire Truck.   Kind of hard to sleep when that goes off. Whether it is accidental or planned, it’s very effective for waking you up from your sleep.  I’ve tried egg timers and phone alarms, but they didn’t seem to be loud enough and they were too easy to shut off and ignore.  Additionally, it helps remind you on those long passages to stop doing what you are doing and give a good look around and do an electronics check to make sure all is well and everything is where it is supposed to be.  You know, like islands, reefs and any other boats.

All that is well and good.  You see, being a single hand sailor for so many years I got used to the alarm occasionally going off and it never really bothered me.  And besides, who would turn the boat around and look for me if a fell overboard anyway?  The thing is, it seems to always go off when you leave the cockpit to go to the head or onto the foredeck to do something there.  

Well, it obviously isn’t very considerate for it to go off when you have crew onboard.  Especially crew that immediately thinks the worst when it just might accidentally happen to go off….occasionally.  

We use this device to alert crew that for some reason the on watch crew member didn’t push the button before the alarm started and something may be wrong.  That someone, ME, doesn’t always hear the warning beeps because I might be on deck making an adjustment or more importantly relieving myself from the jug-o-coffee I’ve consumed and I didn’t get to the button in time.  The frequency of this device catching me literally with my pants down is uncanny.  There I am mid stream writing my name in the ocean and looking at the stars when the blasted alarm decides to go off.  I just about zipped my thing up in my pants.  What do you do?  Do you pinch it off and race back to the cockpit to deactivate the bloody thing or finish your business and then shut it off?  I can tell you that option one most definitely IS the right answer.  

Once it goes off the awful thought crashes down on you like an avalanche.  Do you think she heard it?  Oh yeah, and remember to gather up your britches first so you don’t trip and really fall over the side.  Besides you can always go finish up after you turn off the alarm.  Oh, and remember too, you can’t un-ring the bell or alarm in this case.  How does it know at the exact same time I decide to answer the call of nature to bypass the warning beeps and go straight to full alarm?  Additionally, why does it always seem to be when Jilly is in the bunk sleeping?  I am starting to believe that it is the handy work of a gremlin or Grape Ape having a bit of fun.  Perhaps neither as it may just be the dreaded old timers hearing reduction disease.

Picture if you will a sexy creature slumbering peacefully while dreaming of her man rubbing endless supplies of lotion on her back whenever she desires only to have the dream crushed when she is violently awakened by a 130 decibel alarm.  You would have thought I had put Floridian fire ants in the bunk with her.  When she hears the alarm, she thinks the worst has happened and I am bobbing like a cork somewhere in open water in Dazzler’s wake watching her sailing off into the South Pacific.  Although possible, it is more likely an old man with diminishing hearing abilities just didn’t hear the blasted thing.  I try to explain that I’m not perfect and it’s just one of my faults.  We both have strengths and weaknesses and this seems to be one of my weaknesses.  Perhaps twenty minutes is too short a period?  Well, any longer than that and your ability to find someone who may have fallen overboard decreases with each passing minute.  Even if we do fall over the life lines, our tether attached to the jack-line should keep us attached to Dazzler. Why does she always have to assume that I’ve gone overboard anyway?

I now call this device the Crew Wake Up Angry Device (CWUAD), our safety feature.  But, I’m telling you it cuts deep when the love of your life is steaming mad and could probably knockout Mike Tyson because her beach dream of endless back lotion has been abruptly interrupted.  I wish I was better at the timing thing with the warning beeps.  I don’t want it to go off, it just does.  I’d like to thank that little gremlin or whoever it is for making me look bad.  Well, actually I’d like to kick its ass! To my sweetheart, I apologize for letting the CWUAD wake you up and interrupt your back lotion therapy session.     

We will continue using the CWUAD for passages.  In the meantime, I’ll be sleeping in the doghouse every time the blasted thing catches me off guard and wakes up the lovely sleeping soul in the V-berth.  Who knew an electronic device could be so evil that it could transform even the sweetest creature into a fire breathing dragon looking to tear up the south end of a northbound tiger (me)? Who knew?  I didn’t know, but I do now!  It’s a good thing she loves me and thinks I’m so damn cute.  Right?

Until the next story from the high seas and bliss in paradise, this is Captain Dan from the doghouse in the South Pacific.  


Captain Dan and Jilly

PS  It’s a good thing there isn’t a CWUAD in the doghouse.  LOL!