Monday, April 19, 2010

Preparing to Leave Fiji

April 19, 2010—Our drive to Suva last Wednesday in “Abdul’s Rental Car” was interesting, to say the least. The road is a two-lane, paved road with pot holes all along the way, mostly on my side, and driving is on the left, so we had to stay vigilant about being on the correct side.

The drive took about three hours, and the only mishap we had was that Steve was stopped by a big Fijian police officer standing in the road. Nevin showed Steve the radar gun that read 74 kilometers per hour in a 60 kilometer zone. Now we were both watching carefully, but neither of us saw the speed limit change from the national limit of 80 kph down to 60 kph. Nevin asked Steve to get out of the car, and they went to a booth so that Nevin could write out the ticket. We would have to pay the $120F fine in Suva while we were there. Steve started talking to Nevin and explained that he really was trying to be very careful but never saw the sign. Nevin found out that we were here on vacation, and after Steve said again that he was trying to be careful, Nevin said, “I don’t want to ruin your holiday.” He let it go, he let us go, and we were very, very careful to watch for speed signs for the rest of the drive.
Suva is a large commercial town located on a very large bay. It is a major fishing port, and there are many large fishing vessels lined up at the dock and anchored out in the bay. It is also the commercial port for Fiji so many container ships unload goods in Suva.

The main reason for our visit to Suva was to apply for a visa for Papau New Guinea. We want to stop at the Louisade Islands on the way to Darwin, but we won’t be in a regular port of entry. Therefore, we have to have the visas when we arrive. It was difficult tracking down the Papau New Guinea consulate, but we finally found it. They were very helpful and said that we could pay our $600F ($300 U.S.) application fee and return the next day to pick up the visas.

We returned to the hotel to drop some things off, went back down to the car, and found a dead battery. We returned to the room and called Abdul’s Car Rental to report the problem. They said that they would send someone over with a new battery. We figured that it would take a few hours because of “Fiji time,” so we grabbed a taxi and went out to Cost U Less to look around. As it turned out, the man showed up just after we left and replaced the battery. We were amazed.
We spent Thursday running around looking for parts. We were about to give up when we finally found a store called Protech that had all the electrical connectors that Steve needed. The two guys there were very friendly and helpful. We also went shopping at Cost U Less in order to get our Peter Pan peanut butter and other important items, and then we went to the central market. By then it was time to pick up our visas. We were pretty tired by the time we got back to the hotel; however, we had a dinner reservation at Tiko’s Seafood and Barbeque, so we got dressed and headed out.
Tiko’s is an old boat that has been remodeled and is anchored in the bay in downtown Suva. I had the tuna dinner (a huge piece of tuna), and Steve had a seafood medley of sorts. It was excellent food in a lovely atmosphere.

Friday morning, we made a quick run out to Cost U Less to pick up some cheese, salami, and pepperoni, and then we headed home. Getting through downtown Suva on a Friday was challenging because the traffic was heavy, and there are so many one-way streets. We stopped in Nadi to pick up some meat and bread and got back to Vuda around four o’clock. We were very tired, but we still had to unload the car, load it all on the boat, and then put everything away. We must have had 50 cans to store, plus paper products. The boat has not been this full in a long time. The good news was that our arch was completely finished and polished so we are ready to go.
We received an email from our weather router saying that April 22 through 27 looked to be a good time to sail to Vanuatu so we spent the weekend finishing up our major projects. Saturday was very hard, but Steve got the worst of the work done. Sunday was a little easier.
We will leave Vuda Point Marina tomorrow and go to Musket Cove to anchor for a few days. We had planned to check out of the country on Wednesday morning; however, our weather window for the sail to Vanuatu closed on us so now we will have to wait for the next one. Hopefully, it will be soon.

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