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Mico Verde
Fiji Wrap-up

Musket Cove, Malololailai, Fiji
mid-July - mid-August, 2006

(Steph) I am writing this journal entry from Vanuatu, because as our time in Musket Cove stretched out to a month, I never could get up the will to write anything down. I'll summarize that month for you now, for those of you who want to move on to this season's cruising logs starting in Vanuatu:

Beautiful day of snorkeling. Three days stuck on the boat in 30-knot winds. Beautiful day of hiking. Three days stuck on the boat in 30-knot winds. Make new friends at a beach barbeque. Three days stuck on the boat in 30-knot winds.

Now for the long version:

Our original plan was to spend 3-4 weeks cruising in the Yasawa and Mamanuca island groups of western Fiji, and then move on to Vanuatu. But the weather was so unsettled, as it had been all season, that we never felt very good about leaving the protected anchorage of Musket Cove. Musket Cove is one of the few anchorages in that area that is protected from the prevailing SE winds and from the swell. Its added bonus is that it's close to dive sites, okay snorkeling, and a resort that welcomes yachties at its facilities. Musket Cove is a black hole that some cruisers willingly surrender to for entire seasons. We surrendered for a month before our guilt set in and we decided that we had to start cruising or we'd miss the entire season.

Admittedly, we were also getting back into our cruising mode again. It took us a while to hit our stride after seven months at home, a month of intense work on the boat in the marina, and not a few days discovering new high-priority projects (including a broken alternator, giving the outboard carburetor a complete cleaning, and three straight Mondays of head dis- and re-assembly).

In fact, we never really did hit our stride while in Fiji. After a month of crappy weather, in which I complained bitterly about "boat prison" while it blew like stink four days out of every seven, we were just ready for a new place to jolt us out of our funk. So with the lukewarm reviews we'd heard of the extremely resorty Mamanucas and Yasawas, it didn't take much for us to decide it was time to stop trying to make this Fiji thing work. We wanted to start fresh in a completely new place.

But before you move on to Vanuatu with us, we can share a few highlights of our month of Fiji cruising (that is, Musket Cove on Malololailai) with you. In no particular order:

- Great snorkeling a three-minute dinghy-ride from the boat, in which we saw something new every time.

- A storm of up to 56 knots of wind in which 50% of the New Zealand boats in the anchorage dragged anchor, including a 70-foot Oyster that re-anchored about five times around us. Luckily, a reef was upwind of us or I'm sure they would have tried that before dragging down on us. The catamaran skipper next to us seemed unconcerned about his snubber snapping. His immediate course of action was to don his Speedos and goggles and go for a refreshing swim in the giant wind waves.

- Late nights playing an addicting game called Killer Bunnies with our Swiss friends Yolanda and Rolf from sy Moana, whom we hadn't seen since Suwarrow last year.

- Hiking to the top of Malolo for a great view of the Mamanucas and beyond. Warren got lost on the way down, in typical fashion.

- Barbecuing at the complimentary grills provided by the resort. We learned a lot from the Aussies we met there.

- Warren's mastery of the Fijian language -- he had all the resort people delightedly responding to his eagerness to learn. I didn't progress much beyond learning how to order my favorite beverage: winey vula vula (white wine).

Now on to some real cruising ...

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SV Mico Verde