SITTIN’ ON THE DECK IN THE BAY (OF ISLANDS)

September 18, 2020 ; 3:26 PM
17°34’S, 178°95’E – Susui, Fiji

I’m gonna be totally honest with you- 3 days of POURING DOWN rain since the last blog post were MISERABLE. Everything I owned was wet. All my clothes (clean included) were wet, my sheets were wet, my body was constantly so damp that I had permanent toe wrinkles…. IT WAS SO WET. The wetness trapped us in the boat, where we got incredibly sick of each other with nothing new to talk about because we all live the same life, and there was no cell service. The Captain was in a mood, the Admiral was in a mood, the First Mate was in a mood- and it was not a good look…

But then it was the fourth tomorrow and the sun came out and we had made our way to the Bay of Islands. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A magical fantasy maze full of caves and caverns through limestone cliffs that lush, green trees jut out of. Honestly, my words and these pictures cannot describe this magical place, and I recommend you Google around to check out some more professional videography.

After Sevu Sevu at the neighboring village (Doliconi), we could explore. My favorite way to navigate through the maze is on the kayak. Around every corner I was again lost in the magnificence of it all. I paddled through arches and around crab-covered rock that had been corroded near the waterline to make the islands look like mushrooms. There was lots of time for kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling in the clear, cool water, and we took advantage of every minute of it (post rain). Seriously, we were living in a post card.

We did hire a villager to take us to all his secret spots, since the bay is big and it’s easy to get lost or miss something. He took Maximillian and us to amazing caves and the best snorkeling around, with many, bright colors, and pretty reef fish.

We grilled off the back of the boat and read in the sunshine and finally (after a couple days) dried out all the fabrics on the boat. The overall mood shifted 180 degrees to our usual, sunshiney selves and we are again so happy to be cruising Fiji.

But after a few days (even in paradise), it’s always time to move on to something new. We sailed to Bavata Harbour for a hike to the view of the Bay of Islands. We met the workers on the plantation (complete with Texas flag), who are tending to sheep, cows, and horses. They also grow coconuts to sell. It was a strange sight to be on a farm after all this time, especially on the top of a mountainous island!

There was more swimming and another stunning kayak ride before we had to move on to Lomaloma (we are very slim on provisions). The stores were quaint and didn’t have much in the way of fresh food, but we got some coconuts, a few tomatoes, and packaged food.

While the Admiral was at the grocery store, the Captain and I went for diesel. We were sent “just down the road” for what ended up a 15 minute walk carrying our jerry cans. I was certain it would take me approximately 1 year to walk back once my cans were full of fuel. Lucky for me, when we got there no one was there to help, so we got to lug our empty cans back. The captain was less impressed.

Then the man who sent us there said “oh, well if you want you can go to the store NEXT DOOR instead”. Insert VERY thankful eyeroll here. I’m not exaggerating that I still had to put down the cans for a quick rest twice before I got back to the dinghy. It would have been a WHOLE YEAR before I got there from the other diesel seller. God was looking after me.

Now we are in Susui. We spent a day working on flights home (yes, we have officially given up on New Zealand and are home bound at the end of October), and catching up on other internet things (bills, etc.) as the village asked us to please wait a day to come in for Sevu Sevu. This morning we got blessing from the chief to be part of their village for our stay, and the captains worked to fix the village generator. The last few village stops, they’ve been able to help the villages with some handy jobs like batteries, generators, and solar panels. We have the tools and some basic knowledge (all these gadgets are also on the boat, and we have to be able to repair in case of emergency at sea). As the only non-engineer on the boat, I’m exactly zero help. But go Captains!

Instead, Admiral Anne and I focus on the learning about the villages and their way of life. Cruisers like us are really positive for these villages because it’s a source of income and donation to help with things like new roads, outboard motors, and churches. Susui was hit by a cyclone in 2016, and the cruising community has been enormously generous. It’s great to hear such positivity about the impact of this wonderful community we’re glad to be a part of.

This afternoon, they took us to a gorgeous beach and hunted for oysters to grill on a fire with lime and spicy peppers. They also grilled breadfruit and kasava to go with. It was DELICIOUS. Best traditional Fijian meal I’ve had. Perfectly seasoned and fun!

Fun, but a lot of work. Although pounding the oysters open looked easy, it wasn’t. My help was quickly denied after it took me a few minutes to open a single oyster. These things are shut TIGHT and have rock surrounding them! You really have to have the knack for the perfect hammer angle. Apparently, I didn’t.

We hung out at the beach and learned about village life, looking out into a bay as blue as Bora Bora. It was the perfect setting for a wonderful meal with old(ish) and new friends.

Next stop: Fulanga.
We set sail this afternoon to check out more southern Laus. We’re told they’re as stunning and different as the Bay of Islands, and we can’t wait to see them ourselves.

-Kristen Pankratz
First mate, Amazing Grace

TLDR: Sunshine is a very important ingredient to the recipe of a happy crew. I also encourage Tim Tams, beer, and beef to be thrown in the mix.

13 thoughts on “SITTIN’ ON THE DECK IN THE BAY (OF ISLANDS)

  1. Sorry about the rain, but glad you all escaped unharmed. I can only imagine how trying that was…. So fun to hear about your experiences after the sun came out. Too funny about the diesel! I love fresh grilled oysters: the best! Enjoy the rest of your time there. My heart is happy knowing you guys will be on this side of the globe soon! Love, Lynda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. More gorgeous pictures! I cannot even begin to imagine the fun you are having seeing the world up close. I have enjoyed this trip through you and look forward to all your blogs. Thank you for the endless hours you have spent putting this together. You are the bomb!! Safe travels home to all of you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the posts and the pictures Kristen. They are always a pleasure to read and view. I’m glad, I guess, you are returning home soon. I look forward to seeing you in person. Although, I’m not sure when you will be in Midland or we will be in TX/FL. Enjoy your remaining days and safe travels home.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. hello, We have enjoyed reading all your stories. In fact we missed hearing from you on the long trips at sea, so were pleased when you were again amongst the islands. You have had such wonderful adventures and all the photos are fantastic. The days of rough seas were obviously not something you want to relive and the days of rain were rewarded with days of sunshine. It looks as though the whole crew have incredible tans. This was also a great geography lesson as we learned the names of so many islands that you visited. We hope that we can get together when you return to Florida sometime in November and wish you continued fair weather and great explorations. love and God bless Auntie Barbara and Uncle Lew

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Somehow I’ve missed this blog before this Sep28th entry. Such stunning pictures! What an incredible voyage that has most likely changed each of you forever. Safe travels for the remainder of this epic voyage!
      Thank you, Kristin, for your logging the adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

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