Skip to main content

195. Tramp of the South Seas (6)

As I said in 191. Tramp of the South Seas (5) I was due to leave in Fiji the yacht I was on as crew since Tahiti. It was July 1997 and I had been away from home in New Caledonia since December 1995. Sailing from Tahiti westward I was finding that Fiji had a familiar look. It felt more Melanesian than Polynesian. The yacht rally around the world counted Fiji as the end of a 'leg' for all yachts, racing or otherwise. However the finish line was not in Suva but on a small island called Malololailai off Nadi (pronounced Nandi) on the west coast.

So after a couple of days in Suva and promising to return to Suva for my next job as crew to a Kiwi guy sailing to New Caledonia, we set sails to the island of Bega (pronounced Benga) on the way to Malololailai.

I am writing this from fading memories of what happened 13 years ago without maps or charts or photos. What I say might not be terribly accurate. Maybe one day I'll check with the yacht's log if I manage to get in touch with the owners of that boat again.

We sailed through a pass across a reef belt in sunny warm weather with a cool wind. As it looked dodgy I was sent up in the rigging to have a better look at the surface of the sea. I gestured to indicate where it looked shallow and this is how we entered a deep bay on the lee (downwind) of Benga.



There was a group of people living there obviously used to see foreign yachts moore there on anchor for a night or two. They were very friendly. The English captain  decided to make them honorary citizens of some town in England and gave them a piece of carving with the name of the township on it as a souvenir. What they really would have appreciated is the loan of a couple of the video tapes of films we had on board. The story was that one member of their community had worked in New Zealand and had brought back a video tape recorder. Together with a homemade power plant for electricity they used it to view films as in a cinema. I think the captain gave them a number of video tapes for their 'cinema'. They gave us a treat of their local bevarage called 'kava'...

We sailed the next morning further west and anchored for the night in a some bay. According to the GPS the spot where we dropped the anchor was 2 miles inland. I remembered that when a few weeks later I sailed with another yacht to Vanuatu.

When we finally made it to Malololailai to the venue where all yachts of the rally were assembled it was a relief. Sailing due west in late afternoon through tricky reef passes with the sun in our eyes... was fun! I could joke about sophisticated instruments not giving the accurate information. The depth sounder used to send warnings on and off with the wrong depth information. At one stage the captain who by then did not trust his GPS all that much could not make out where we were. He actually asked me to recognise the marine landscape checking it against the chart. Luckily there was a small plane taking off from an unseen strip and so we were able to identify the spot we were sailing in from that.

The welcome party was grand! Plenty of food, drinks, yachties and people of all kinds. Most sailboats were of English speaking nations. I found one who was French and crewed by French sailors. They felt socially isolated, they said, not because of language problems as all of them spoke English. I could identify with that.  
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

248. NITTY GRITTY NEWS

I recently came across a virtual invitation for coffee and since then have met and keep meeting new friendly American bloggers. I find they easily write poetry, play games at writing a story prompted by a silly picture posted by someone else... AND they also write about their nitty gritty daily lives like being pulled up by the police or having their computer crash down and the price of buying a new one. So today is my turn. I can't write poetry but I can tell at great length about my nitty gritty ordinary life.

 On Wednesdays I usually have my grandkids over for lunch and activities in the afternoon, learning how to sew with a sewing machine with my granddaughter and following an online course to learn English with my grandson. Looking after the two of them is very tiring so I asked to have one at a time in turns. Yes but the lady who takes Bertrand to my door said she had not been told of the change so... never mind, don't worry, thank you. Then Binta turned up surprised: ar…

249. A car, a bicycle and a dog

The year 2014 is a landmark in my very ordinary life. 
I had a car, a Ford Mondeo Ghia, running on diesel. I had driven it very happily to Germany, to Scotland and to various places in France. It had reached past 200 K km mileage and needed some fixing. I forgot what it was, nothing too bad, it could still pass the mandatory regular registration. My mechanic told me he would not do it. In any case I didn't have the money to have it done. So, I left it parked on the village square for a long time hoping to find the money and another mechanic for it. After a year I was asked to move it out as there was going to be a village fair on the square. Fair enough. Some friendly neighbor helped me start it and I drove it 5 km away to the other village where I have my garden and a barn. My idea was to store it inside the barn pending better days when I would get it fixed. I judged that the engine, if not the rusty body, could still be useful for something. However, as I couldn't open the b…

239. Dating on a website

Decidedly it is not for me. I'm not the type to fit into the scheme. Not that I don't like the fact that you court through a computer screen. It isn't the media that bothers me. No. It's just the scheme that you have to fit into I can't cope with.

Recently I have tried one American dating site new to me, called OK-something or other. Very friendly. The first approach is very positive, no hassle, no harrassing. A little at a time, if you care for it, you can reply to their hundreds of questions. Your "profile" gets shaped as you fill the questions in. For example: do you consider astrology to be a legitimate science? How important is art in your daily life? Are geeks sexy? Is it possible to love someone you don't even like? Do you believe in an after-life? If you got married would you change your name? Is it generally acceptable to you for a sex partner to initiate foreplay while you are sleeping?

Well, my profile came up as follows: 
MORE THAN AVERAGE
ind…