Nearly a year in Fiji
I’m sitting at a picnic table at the Boatshed Restaurant at Vuda Marina, my computer in front of me and my dog under the table. The Boatyard Cafe has closed for remodeling, so I sit out here, moving around trying to find the shade beneath the thin leaves of the jacaranda tree overhead. It’s Friday, May 6th here, and the kids are out on vacation on their version of a winter break. There are several littl’uns running around the grass here laughing and playing. We cleared into Fiji in Savu Savu in late May last year. If ever there was a pleasant place to undertake a big refit, this is it.
So yes, our boat Learnativity is still out on the hard. We have been in the boatyard here since August, so we are in our 10th month. We have watched the southern summer come and go, cyclones and all. Tropical Cyclone Zena was our last storm, and it was more of a raining and flooding event than wind. The season is changing now and the mornings feel downright chilly as the temps get down into the low 70’s. And thank goodness, the mud is gone.
The hull and decks are all painted at last, and Learnativity looks great. Wayne likes to joke that with the new racing stripes, she’ll go at least a half a knot faster. The crew is still working on getting the last of the masking off the decks. That was a huge job as we needed to cover all the windows, lifelines, mast, rigging, teak, tracks for sheeting, and winches. Now there is still grinding and filling to be done on the bottom where we welded in new plate, but odds are the painting of the bottom will be held off while Wayne does the final work in the engine room. We still need to get it down to clean metal and paint the last section of the bilge. He has removed all the insulation in there, too, so the new insulation needs to go in and all the lovely new clean white painted drawers need to get refilled with all the bits, tools, and spare parts that are under the boat in boxes. Then there’s the shaft to install and the Autoprop to rebuild. We’re still looking at several weeks before we launch, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We have decided to offer Learnativity for sale here in Fiji since it is the beginning of the sailing season and we might find someone who wants to buy this grand dame and not have to do the Pacific Puddle Jump to get here. I’m still working on getting lots of great photos of all the new lovely varnished interiors, but I already do have quite a few. We’ll start with the forepeak cabin.
This includes my office desk.
And the forward head.
Then moving aft, we come to the galley.
Today and tomorrow, I am cleaning and prepping the raised salon for photos. Today, our varnishing crew is on the boat installing some more trim and finishing up ends. And hopefully, I’ll get to the aft cabin on Sunday and Monday. If you know anyone who is looking for a true bluewater steel cruising yacht that will be ready to go when launched, drop me an email.
And why are we selling? Wayne and I have decided to build a new aluminum pilot boat style powerboat for long distance passage making. Yes, it is a brand new adventure, and are ready to go, so we’re motivated sellers.
I’ve been finding it tough to find a place to get my writing done, but the work on the new book is continuing—in spite of the heat and the lack of a place to go each day where I might find power and shade. Here at the restaurant, it is lovely, but my waistline can’t handle ordering lunch out every day. I also am the go-to person to run into town to get more paint or micro balloons or epoxy or whatever.
I generally take the bus into Lautoka (fare is $.75) then I make my rounds to the wine shop, hardware stores, paint stores, open fruit and veggie market, super market, etc. In each place I pay for the goods and ask the merchant to hold my stuff. At my last stop, I get a taxi (about $10.00), then I go and make the rounds picking up all the stuff I bought before we head back to the marina. This whole adventure requires 3/4 of a day, but in future days when we leave Fiji, I will treasure my memories of these trips to town, the kindness of the people, the beautiful countryside, and the music and laughter that permeates this country.
I don’t know whether to hope Learnativity sells fast so we can get on with our new adventure, or to hope we get most of this cruising season to enjoy our new-looking boat ourselves.