Daily Archives: August 22, 2016

No Problem

From your humble skippers prospective, I was staring into the abyss of a double whammy in massive proportions. We woke up in a heavy mist with totally overcast sky. The decks were covered in black sooty ash from the cane field burn off over night. We were facing three days of bad weather in a crappy anchorage. Marce looked at me and flatly stated that she wouldn’t be spending her birthday in Lautoka with filthy decks in the rain. Point well taken. 

Under pressure, Dear Escapees, I may have overreached. I blurted out,” how about the Blue Lagoon?” Consulting the charts we realized that we’d have to go through large green reefy masses that would make a birthday celebration in the Blue Lagoon a bit of a reach. Marce got that look in her eye, which at first, I felt was a good thing because rather than hearing the daily birthday whinging of,”my birthday’s going to suck again, isn’t it Jack?” she can concentrate on her alchemy of electronic gadgets, sheer doggedness and cruiser scuttlebutt to make a route to the Blue Lagoon. 

In fairness there have been 26 birthdays since we met and they haven’t been all bad but Marce claims that it’s just an astrological low point in her yearly biorhythm and it’s not all my fault. I think of it like a grumpy three o’clock afternoon slump every August. So, the problem is with the stars. I…I don’t judge.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The plan, as best I can understand it, is to zig zag around the islets and reefs of the Bligh Waters to the east side of Turtle Island, intentionally crossing over about a mile of reef, a solid block of green color on the chart, and sail around the corner to the Blue Lagoon. Anchor. Celebrate. Bob’s your uncle.

This was never open to debate even after it started to rain…heavily. We were committed. Not a good place to be with a sail plan this dicey, but with a patchwork of satellite Google earth photos, waypoints gleaned from cruiser blogs, and guesswork using extreme zoom on Navionics charts, she made it happen. 

While piloting us through the Bligh Waters Marce even baked everything bagels from scratch, and in her spare time, read Captain Bligh’s logbook out loud about being set upon and chased through these very same waters for miles by “Feejee” cannibals in two catamaran sailing canoes, sporting more outlandish hairstyles than any three episodes of Soul Train.

You can show me all the photos from outer space you want, but turning onto that final reef was a real moment of truth and trust for me. Our first disappointment came when the six promised guide posts didn’t appear but then again the depth sounder never even got close. There was a heavy sigh of relief as soon as we crossed into the deep water of the Blue Lagoon. We anchored in a downpour. We even made it in for happy hour at the Boat House. And I still have a whole day to arrange a birthday celebration. No problem. 


Filed under Uncategorized


Lautoka is Fiji’s second largest city and we were up for a little city time after weeks of remote anchorages and dwindling supplies. The thing is, despite it being the main shipping port for the country’s sugar, Lautoka is not particularly yacht friendly. We scanned the waterfront with binoculars from the deck of Escape Velocity but couldn’t find an obvious place to land a dinghy and ended up stopping at a nearby yacht on our way ashore to ask where to go. We were directed to a corner of the commercial port where the pilot boat docks and tied the dinghy to the rusty railing of a set of crumbling concrete steps rising out of the dirty, oily water. We were warned to toss out an anchor to keep the dinghy from being swept under a bridge when ships cause a surge in the harbor. Not a good start to our first urban adventure in a while.

We walked through the gates of the port, past a phalanx of security guards and down a long dusty road lined with sugar cane trucks for about a mile to the city. We needed food, of course, but we were also looking for a camera. Ours has gradually been molting little trim bits leaving the surfaces you grip when shooting gummy with glue residue. Taking photos now requires a complicated tangle of digital dexterity to avoid getting slimed with unremovable sticky goo. 

We asked a couple of young men for directions to the market and they offered to walk us there. Along the way we passed a row of electronics shops that we could check for a camera later. 

The market was huge and dark inside but every vendor seemed to have the same variety of vegetables and no fruit except for expensive imported apples. We eventually found a small bunch of bananas that we paid a premium for but because of  the cyclone there’s been so little fruit anywhere we’re happy to find anything at all. 

Inevitably Jack was drawn to the Golden Arches, the first we’ve seen since Tahiti. The prices weren’t as bad as we’d expected and we soon found out why. The items were smaller than stateside, presumably to keep the price down, but given the American penchant for super sizing, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I had a veggie wrap that at first seemed tiny but actually was just right. 

We ducked into a supermarket for cereal and flour and couldn’t help but note how different the shelves look as we make our way across the pacific. 

On our way back to the boat we stopped into a couple of electronics stores but only one had any cameras and none were in the price and quality range we are looking for. I guess we’ll just have to make do with gooey fingers every time we take a picture. 

With rain threatening again and facing a long walk back to the dinghy we abandoned our hope for a cold beer and a good meal ashore and made our way back to Escape Velocity to hunker down for the next few days of bad weather. At least we have some bananas. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized