Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fiji Visitors

It was sure fun to have bro and sister-in-law come for a 10 day visit. Weather was decent while they were here, although too windy pretty often. We got in some good beach walks and some decent snorkeling. Shelling hasn’t been that great here in Fiji – so far. But we did find this large Nautilus shell. The winch behind it is the largest winch on the boat.
Undersea scape near Musket Cove
Anemone Fish guarding his turf
Moorish Idle
A crinoid, which is actually a starfish— looks like underwater ferns
The island that Musket Cove is on has a long dirt airstrip with one or two planes landing  each day. It also doubles as a place to haul out the high speed ferry to do a quick bottom job. Seems a little close to touch down zone to me – but no need to reschedule any flights.
One morning we motored out about 3 miles to the Cloud 9 restaurant. This is a raft anchored just inside the outer reef. If you look closely you can see the waves breaking on the outer reef in the distance, to the left and right of the restaurant. It was really windy that day, even though this pic makes it look calm. The purpose of this restaurant is simply for another place for tourists to go and have pizza.
The restaurant gets its name from the famous surf break Cloud Break which is actually a few miles to the east, part of the same outer reef system. Looks like Pipeline in Hawaii. (photo credit: Josha's photo of Tavarua, aka Cloudbreak)
Lots of fresh fruit available in the markets here. Here Chris is gutting and cleaning papaya for breakfast.
We took the four hour bus ride from Nadi (pronounced nan-di) to the capital Suva. We treated ourselves to a stay in the high end colonial hotel, the Grand Pacific.
The hotel was built by the Union Steamship Company and opened in 1914. All around the lobby are pictures of the past glory days of the British empire, including pics of visits by a very young Queen Elizabeth and her entourage.
This is what it looked like by the end of the 1990’s. You could say it had a little deferred maintenance. It’s a pretty remarkable rebuild and was re-opened in 2014.
The Grand Pacific Hotel is not the only Art Deco building in Suva. I used my trusty Smartphone and asked Mr. Google where the other Art Deco buildings were and it directed me to this McDonalds. Not exactly what I was thinking about, but it got us a nice stroll through downtown Suva.
We walked through the park gardens to the Feejee Museum. The museum is small, but definitely worth a few hours.
They have the remains of the Captain Bligh’s Bounty rudder. It was delivered from Pitcairn Island to Fiji. Bligh and his boys passed through “the friendly islands”, Fiji, without making landfall for fear that they would’ve become dinner.
Shark Rattles. You go out on the reef edge and use the rattles to attract sharks. Then beat them over the head and bring back for dinner.
I first thought this was an early barcode scheme. It’s actually tapa cloth, a traditional fabric made out of beaten bark and then hand-printed. Very intricate. The museum has a lot of nice pieces.
Suva Harbour is not much to look at. It has a lot of partially sunk ships and who knows what else on the bottom. Notice the grey skies. Suva is on the windward side of the island and gets a lot more clouds, rain and wind than the leeward side where we have the boat.
There is a lot of talk in Fiji about keeping the place environmentally clean and issues with Global Climate Change. They have a number of programs trying to improve the island in this respect. If you look at this early morning sunrise shot just off Port Denarau you can see a white cloud line that looks like low fog along the waterline. This is smoke and haze from the continuous, at least at this time of year, sugar cane field burning. I haven’t heard any talk about stopping the burning. This reminds me of traveling to central Florida as a kid. The burning removes the outer leaves before harvest.
After John and Lisa left to head home to South Carolina and Chris headed off for two weeks working in Kathmandu, I took the boat back to Musket Cove. I met up with old Bonaire friends, M & M on Cattiva. They had stored their boat in the inner bay at Musket Cove while they were back in Canada getting a grandkid fix. They asked if I would take my dinghy in to help them get off the dock, as it was beam on to the wind and really tight. After they departed the dock they needed to turn and line up to pass through this small, one lane draw bridge. The hydraulics for the right hand draw were broken, so the locals used a come-along to manually crank the draw open. It unfortunately could not be completely opened that way.
Here’s a close up. The draw on the right has two large tangs on the end that the left draw rests on when closed. The opening was a tight fit and the port shroud just near the spreader on Cattiva caught the bridge tang. It twisted her around pretty violently and unfortunately did some real damage to the mast baby-stay support where it goes through the deck. They are on their way to Vuda Marina to get repairs. We hope to see them out cruising soon.
Now you might have thought that I’m done commenting on the Shite-Show in the Washington. Not really, I just can’t keep up with the latest outrages quick enough to get anything written down. When we brought the boat up to Washington DC a few years ago we got a Capitol tour with some friends through the office of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the highlight being able to ride in the Senate Train (see DC post). If that’s not a reason to run for Congress I don’t know what is. While we were there, I had a brief conversation with one of the Senator’s staff asking about her position on the ACA. The response was reserved and rational sounding. I was surprised, given the rhetoric coming from the Repubs at the time. As the cartoon shows, Senator Murkowski (R) is still acting a like an adult.