Uluikaukau

sunrise on fiji mountains yasawa

We’ve had an unusually high number of visitors this season. While we’re secretly (maybe not so secretly) delighted to finally have the boat back to ourselves, having friends visit breaks us out of our normal routine of surfing and kiting. It also forces us to take a break from the never ending list of boat projects, and pushes us to find a more diverse array of locations and activities. Win! Matt and Ally came to stay with us in August and were keen to see the Yasawa, so we watched the weather and put together a south-north-south itinerary.

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Salt

sunset sailing

I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.

– John F. Kennedy

Mango Fire

man spinning fire in fiji

The touristy-thing has worked its way onto our agenda; this happens every so often and honestly it can be a nice change of pace. We’ve got some things going on back in the States, so we detached ourselves from the Musket scene and moved Cavalo over to Denarau where we’d reserved a mooring for two weeks. People were shocked to hear we had a mooring. We reserved it over three months ago before we were even in the country or had plane tickets home. Highly advised. In transit to our parking space a refreshed surf report revealed better-than-normal conditions for the following day, so we made a last minute decision to pack overnight bags and head for the Coral Coast where we could spend our last full day in Fiji letting someone else take us to the waves. Did I mention that we’ve completely dismantled our windlass and can’t really anchor the boat? No? Can’t wait to get back to that project…

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These Wheels Keep on Turning

barient winches from the 1970's

People love to ask us if we ever get bored on the boat. At times yes, maybe? The thing is, if you’re not out surfing or kiting or diving or doing whatever it is that excites you, there’s bound to be a long list of boat projects that needs tending to. I can’t say rebuilding the head or trying time and again to find the problem with the SSB radio are tasks that get me out of bed in the morning ready to conquer the world, but do they make me bored? No. Once you get into it they’re just a more masochistic kind of fun.

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Tarawa

palm tree reflection tarawa kiribati

Something we learned in the Marshall Islands is that weather prediction for the surrounding area can be painfully inaccurate. Being only a few degrees off the equator, the ITCZ (which in itself is annoyingly unpredictable) is never too far away and can turn a glorious day into a panic of dragging anchors in the blink of an eye. Or on the other hand, as in our most recent case, the forecasted winds we were hoping to ride south to Fiji were simply nowhere to be found.

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The Backstay

up the mast in a bosun's chair

We’re going places again and it’s rig-check time. Matt normally runs me up the mast, and from the top down I’ll look at every single part of the rig; from wind instruments and electrical components to stay/shroud connection points to the mast itself. There’s a lot going on when it comes to a boat’s rigging, and a lot of places where failure can happen. You have to look closely and be thorough to catch things like hairline cracks, pitting, kinks, corrosion. But, sometimes, a failure is obvious. Like our broken backstay. That was obvious.

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The Sailing Canoes of Ailuk

sailing canoe, ailuk atoll, marshall islands

Sailing has been around for a while. Like 7000-ish years. Given its historical perseverance one would think it would be more commonplace, or at least more understood. But with the advent of planes and cars and boats with big powerful engines it seems to have fallen into a sort of niche category reserved today, perhaps, for those in less of a hurry. While I’ve developed my own collection of adjectives for describing the art of sailing, most tend to see it as a romantic venture; consulting the stars, quietly disappearing over the horizon, always with the possibility of never returning… Handheld electronic navigation units, satellite phones, engines and autopilot can mar that dreamy description pretty quickly, but fortunately we know where the elemental magic of yesteryear can still be found, and that is precisely why we’ve come to Ailuk.

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