04/09/2014 – Moce Fiji (Goodbye)

We decided not to rush to check out on Monday so completed quite a few jobs at a leisurely pace! John reinstalled the water pump on Sunday, a job which took quite a lot of the day, while I repaired the dinghy bag. The zip needed sewing back onto the tape it was attached to. Normally the problem arises with the stitching deteriorating but in this case it was the braid which had started to disintegrate in UV. I’ll have to make a new bag when we get to New Zealand. We had a very pleasant Sunday evening with Dennis and Sherry (Trillium) celebrating Sherry’s birthday a couple of days early because they were due to clear out on Monday. The GRIB files are predicting very little wind all week so we decided to delay our departure until Wednesday which gives us the best chance of arriving in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on Monday. You can’t clear in during the weekend and you can’t go ashore until the boat has been cleared in so there is no reason to rush! On Tuesday we had a successful shopping expedition. John managed to change some Fiji $ for Vatu at the airport, the only place you can get this currency and then, usually, only with a plane ticket out. He took all the boat documents plus our clearance papers into Fiji and the completed exit papers. Our next stop was at a hotel and restaurant shop where we bought six insulated glasses. We have been very impressed with the beer glasses they have at the Sunset Bar and were told we could buy them in Namaka. We then went to New World, the best supermarket we have found in Fiji even if it is only about the same size as a British Tesco Metro! Unfortunately the only canned beer they had was from Papua New Guinea and neither of us were particularly impressed with its taste (lack of). Ali, our taxi driver, took us back to Namaka to the MH Supermarket where John bought two cases of Fiji Bitter in cans. Back in Vuda Point Marina I set about stowing the food while John filled the water tanks. Caduceus came in shortly after we left to go shopping and Susie and Paul from Firefly arrived during the afternoon after a very long flight from England. We entertained Martin and Elizabeth and Paul and Susie to sundowners on board then we all went to the Sunset Bar for dinner. As a farewell to Fiji, John ordered the 700gr sirloin steak for 2, it was excellent (John: Let me clarify that, we did share it!). The quality of the meat was superb and it was cooked to perfection i.e. ‘bleu’ or very rare! It was also modestly priced at approximately £21 including green beans and roast potatoes. We finally refuelled, completed our clearance out and departed the fuel berth at 1320. A big catamaran was moored on the customs dock, waiting for a space in the marina and the other boat due to check out was on the fuel berth. He had a problem because the chap was a delivery skipper and had no paperwork for inward clearance so couldn’t be cleared out. Eventually he moved to the wall, a curved, unyachtfriendly place. (If you can make words by adding bits together in German I don’t see why I can’t in English!) One of the girls from the office came to apologise for the delay then Mark arrived in the dinghy to remove our stern lines from the buoys and we edged out carefully. Unfortunately a dive boat had got to the fuel pontoon before us so we had to turn around and lurk in the basin. Never mind, we cleared out nearly three hours later than expected but we had time to reach the pass in daylight. Unexpectedly, we managed to sail for about 2 hours but the wind died so we started the engine. The Malolo Passage is unmarked but quite wide and deep and the electronic charts seem to be just about spot on so we aimed our track down the mid point of the pass and had no worries at all. We have been motoring ever since. I bought large sausage rolls and salad from the café at the marina for lunch and it was very filling so dinner was home-made chicken soup (made Tuesday afternoon) with bread and butter. The meals will get more exciting during this passage! Joyce

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