Fiji is much much bigger than we realised. 2 big islands and countless smaller ones, also many reefs. Navigation is complicated by the fact that neither paper nor electronic charts are guaranteed to be completely accurate (though the ones we have are not bad and you can supplement them using Google Earth), and many of the navigational marks (posts) were swept away by Cyclone Winston. A place of contrasts. There are remote and fairly primitive villages, some more or less luxury resorts, bustling towns. The people are a mix of ethnic Indians and ethnic Fijians and there have previously been racial tensions. It seems that most of the Indians are in the towns. The place names are confusing as many sound the same, so far for instance we have been at Lomolomo, Somosomo, Savusavu and are now at Volivoli, or one place may have several different spellings. Everywhere the people are happy, welcoming and friendly, you have to say”Bula” (hello) to everyone you meet. And it is beautiful. The land behind the bay where we are now anchored is reminiscent of the Cuillins – but many degrees warmer and drier.
We passed the landmark of 180 degrees longitude and did not in fact fall over the edge – though we did wonder as our electronic chart had a big white line and a gap at this point. So we are halfway round the world from Greenwich and had the winter solstice last week. It is much cooler here especially at night.
The World ARC fleet has separated into small groups, but we are maintaining communication with the daily SSB radio net and occasionally we have found many of us in the same bay for the night or at least in VHF range. We ended up spending a few days at the Paradise Taveuni resort, the staff were so friendly and helpful, then sailed on to the town of Savusavu on the 2nd biggest island of Vanua Levu. The crews of several WARC yachts helped Steve celebrate his birthday while we were there. We also managed to be invited guests for Savusavu Crime Prevention Week, and sit up on a stage and meet a government minister (or maybe she was the assistant minister), not sure how that happened- Steven and Andrew from Sumore and Laura Dawn had just got talking to someone earlier in the day.
We noticed that Scotland lost (rugby) to Fiji at Suva at the weekend.