Here’s a short cavalcade of adjectives. Welcoming, friendly, cheap, lush and green. That’s our first impression of Fiji. We’re very happy to be here. The vibe is warm, chilled and open plus being able to converse in english is helpful…..although my french did improve after the best part of a couple of years in French Polynesia. Wow, was it really that long?

Warning ….The next section contains sailing jargon so feel free to skip if you have no interest.

How was the crossing? 12 days at sea and a little boisterous. First few days were fast. Grace was humming. We flew the twin headsails poled out and headed straight downwind. A bit rolly but saves miles by not having to gybe the angles. We had a couple of ”oh no” moments. The headsail halyard chaffed through but we managed to wrap the sails before they fell in the sea. Dave valiantly went up the mast a couple of days later but it was too pitchy and rolly to sort it out. He described the experience as ’not very nice’.

Then we ripped the mainsail. We were able to sail with the third reef in plus the stay sail. Not a massive sail area. plus we flew the cruising chute when appropriate. A sail boat without white sails is a bit limited. We chose to put the engine on for a short while at the end of the passage as we wanted to get in. No purists on Grace I’m afraid.

We have decided to buy a new mainsail rather than spend money getting it fixed for it to rip somewhere else. We bought new sails when we got Grace so they are about 10 years old. In my time distorted head, i still think of them as being new but they are obviously not. Wear and tear, UV light, strong winds all contribute to their ongoing damage.

Today Dave is swapping the starter motor on the engine. I’m sat in a cafe (bizarrely it appears to be run by a rather scary South Korean religious cult) looking out at the rain. Thinking about it, i’ve just contributed to their fundamentalist literature costs by buying a smoothie.

In stop press news, I’m unexpectedly flying back to the UK on Sunday. My dad is currently suffering health wise so i’m heading home. Dave will stay here in Fiji for the time being until we know more. Stand by. There may be a lull in transmissions for a while.

Call me Miss Marple

A Finnish friend called Sami writes crime novels. That’s how he pays for his ship’s biscuits and colourful interior fabrics. I contacted him to offer him the rights to my recent crime busting exploits. He’s just finished his latest novel and I thought a ‘true story’ plot line might pique his interest.

Here’s the intrigue. We are in Bora Bora checking out which takes a couple of days and decided our engine battery may be on its last legs. Dave went to find a replacement and identified one in SuperU but it had no price on it and the helpful shop assistant explained that a call needed to be made to Tahiti. Come back tomorrow at 9am.

We had moored temporarily on the town dock and as it was mid afternoon we decided to stay the night rather than go back out to anchor. Security is always more of an issue being tied to the land and this being a public dock, access is completely open.

I have a scout round the deck at night making sure nothing of any value is accessible and we go to bed. The following morning, I get up, go on deck and notice the two old knackered tennis balls we use on a boarding ladder to provide protection are missing. Hmmm. Someone has been on the boat.

It dawns that a pair of Dave’s expensive walking sandals which had just been tucked under the spray hood cover were missing too. Damn. I’d missed those last night.

This is not a good start to the day. A. Someone has been on the boat. B. There’s no chance of replacing these sandals here and Dave wears them all the time.

After some machinations and grumbling, I head off to the supermarket to buy bread. It’s a really busy day in town as there’s a kids cultural performance event happening. I walk through the throng looking at people’s feet. I’m sleuthing.

In the supermarket, there they are. Dave’s shoes on someone else’s feet. I want a photo of this guy as “exhibit one” so leg it back to the boat to get a phone. What’s the chance he’ll still be around when I get back, especially with so many people around?

Camera in hand I go back to the supermarket, walk down the street, wander around the crowd. There’s no sign of him. Then at a food stall there he is! I sense I need to be a little cautious taking a photo. But I want his face and his feet in the same shot. As I go to take the shot, the perpetrator sees me and actually poses. Really, does this man have no shame?

Then it’s off to the police station with my primary piece of evidence. About 10 gendarmes are involved, some out on the street looking for him, the rest helping in the station.

I’m sat by the the front desk waiting and about 20 minutes later, a barefooted man is escorted off the premises and I’m handed a pair of wet sandals in a bag.

I asked one of the gendarmes if this guy was known and he didn’t give much away but did mention the word ‘fou’ – which means mad or crazy.

So that’s how my second to last day on Bora Bora panned out. Catching the criminal element. We are officially checked out and will depart for Fiji tomorrow. 1800 ish miles. Two weeks, give or take, is what we imagine. Feeling good.

So there you go Sami. Do you think its a blockbuster?

Impending Departure

Let’s start with some numbers.

Grace weighs 17.5 tonnes before you add water, fuel, tins of beans, Dave’s T-shirt collection and enough matching crockery for a dinner party for 12. So about 20 tonnes we estimate in reality.
Since we installed the water-maker back in North Carolina in the States, we have made more water than Grace weighs. Substantial amounts.

The term water-maker is a bit of a misnomer in my book. We don’t actually make water. We start with water, sea water, and the water-maker cleverly removes the salt leaving us with drinking water which has salt in the ratio of 140 to 150 parts per million. A tad, a minuscule amount. You can’t taste it let’s put it like that. Every time we make water, about every 4 or 5 days, it still amazes me that with a couple of pumps, some filters and a high pressure membrane we end up with a great tasting potable safe water. Thanks again Doreen.

$45. (Or £36.50) That’s how much a Club Sandwich costs at one of the Bora Bora hotels with the posh huts over the water. We know this from talking to an American guy on holiday here. I think it comes on a bed of dollar bills and shavings of gold leaf. He said his credit card was taking the biggest hit ever. You say! And he had another 10 days here. There are no bargain basement items for purchase on Bora Bora.

Five. That’s the number of forms you need to fill in to apply to depart French Polynesia. And one of those imprints through to two others making 7 in truth. I collected the forms from the gendarmerie this morning and have just filled them in as best I can. They are photocopied from photocopies I think and a couple of the boxes are missing as the writing is a little askew. Maybe that information is deemed irrelevant by the authorities now.

The fact we’re submitting clearance forms means departure is imminent. After almost two years in French Polynesia, we are ready to say our goodbyes and head towards Fiji. Neither of us imagined we’d be here as official temporary residents for this length of time. Other than UK this is by the far the most time I’ve spent in another country. (We don’t count Welsh Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿)

It’s been a blast. Some ups and downs of course, but covid has not really impacted us. We’d already booked to fly back to the UK when the most recent lockdown happened last year so we missed it. And we got vaccinated here which we’re most grateful for. The Marquesas, Tuamotos, Society and Gambier Islands all offer contrasts from deserted remote coral surrounded atolls to holiday resorts to green verdant steep hills and blue blue blue blue water. Gambier was my favourite.

We’ve seen lots and swum with sharkies, fishies and corals, Dave learnt to kite surf, I learnt to wake board. We’ve walked hills and beaches. Next stop Fiji ……unless we call in at the Cook Islands which is unlikely but we have permission to go and stop there.

Two weeks ish at sea. Follow the red dot from Friday / Saturday when we will depart. 1800 miles or so to SavuSavu. Looking forward to fair-winds and moonlit night skies.

And one final afterthought which involves a kind Polynesian man and one coconut. I took myself off for a walk around the south of Huahine. Just along the road but there’s very little traffic and the road follows the ocean so it’s pretty pleasant.

A section was straight and I could see maybe half a mile ahead. As I walked past a property a man came out with a freshly cut coconut, the top removed so the coconut water was ready to drink. ‘For you. It’s hot today’ he said. He must have spied me, gone into his garden and there he was waiting. Random acts of kindness. 😀