October 13, 2020 ; 10:20 AM
17°77’S, 177°19’E – Musket Cove, Fiji
Our 19-hour sail to Musket Cove was complete with final night watches, lightning storms to avoid, and a “groaning” autopilot that Captain Dave is diligently investigating.
We grabbed a mooring ball and were quickly rewarded by a delicious, bacon-y breakfast at the Musket Cove café, where the Captain and Admiral would enjoy the “greatest breakfast sandwich ever” each morning for the rest of the weekend.
We were elated to reunite with Island Wanderer, Amari, Serenity First, and Catherine Estelle (+continue our adventures with Max). But our SOLA+ group was just a tiny faction of the “best party in the South Pacific”- Musket Cove Regatta.
To our knowledge, we attended the only international regatta to happen in 2020. It was peppered with colorful sailors from around the globe, sitting out COVID in Fiji and waiting to see what their next adventure will be. Throw in some competition, sunshine, and beer and you’ve got a party.
Here’s a highlight reel of the events Amazing Grace participated in over the long weekend:
BAY OF ISLANDS PORT OPUA HOBIE CAT CHALLENGE
The long weekend kicked off with a Hobie-16 race. It had been a long time since we’d been on a day boat- MAN, did we have a blast.
The course was twice around a triangle of buoys, leaving them to the starboard side. The competition went on over a few days, bracket style, with participants competing in pairs. The exception to the pairs rule was the skipper dads who clambered aboard their Hobies with a gaggle of kiddos. And sometimes that was even an advantage, as many of the races had legs with such still wind that paddling was essential.
Admiral Anne kicked off the event for Amazing Grace with the skipper of Island Wanderer (first time Hobie sailor). After a valiant effort, they did not move on to the next round. I blame it on their unwillingness to lay on the hull and paddle in the dead spots- but you know Admiral Anne- she’s a real stickler for the rules…
Your favorite Captain and First Mate faired better, advancing 3 rounds before being kicked out of the race by Serenity First. It was fierce competition, there was absolutely paddling, and we had fun watching our friends on Serenity First make it all the way to the finals to place second.
Fun fact: The Captain and Admiral used to race Hobie-16’s while they were dating and first married in Baton Rouge, LA. They each had their own Hobie-16, and I grew up sailing on a Hobie-16 that was a mix of those two boats, after each got into an unfortunate incident (crash) that rendered it un-sailable.
SUP SPRINT RACE
Everyone participated in this short down and back on the stand-up paddleboard. Only Captain Dave fell in…
We learned quickly that paddling into the wind is a lot more efficient on your knees, while with the wind is better standing up. Essentially, our bodies were acting as sails. This technique helped the first mate advanced to the finals, but when the rules evolved to require standing, I was crushed by the incredibly tiny and strong elite paddle boarding sailors of Fiji. These women are amazing, and I so enjoyed getting to know them.
Now this is my kind of running: A “5k” (more like 4k but who measures?) run with 5 rum stations along the way. I’m talking 8-year special dark Fiji rum. DELICIOUS rum.
The First Mate ran, with the exception of a few rum sipping steps at each stop.
The Captain and Admiral treated as more of a rum crawl, bringing up the rear with Amari and Serenity First and cleaning up the rum tables as they went by.
The course was gorgeous, up the hills of the island with views, through woods, and finally ending along the beach.
No one medaled. Still, maybe we’d participate in more organized races in the US if they understood rum stops…
SUP LONG DISTANCE CHALLENGE
Three nautical miles of stand-up paddle boarding is WAY further than I’ve ever gone before. And boats came in from Nadi just for the race because SUP-ing is a serious thing around here. But what the heck? I threw my hat in the ring.
The race was supposed to be around the island, but the wind was too strong, so it ended up being a buoy triangle- similar to, but much further than, the Hobie Cat Challenge.
Leg one was fine. Directly into the wind for a mile, but still feeling good. I rounded the buoy to my starboard (yes, I also think it’s hilarious that a paddleboard is a big enough vessel to not simply use “right” and “left”) and headed out for the big, scary, mean leg. Although it was a slight turn out of the wind, we were far from the shore and the waves crashed over our boards. The wind was just slightly off the nose, and all the paddling was on the same side for an entire mile. It was exhausting, and the paddleboard queens started to pass me up. But never fear! Just as I was desperately regretting my decision to participate, I rounded the last buoy and turned back to go with the waves, wind on my back. The last leg was a blast, surfing the waves in and passing up boarders to place third!
A medal? YES, PLEASE.
RACING THE HOUSE (OR NOT)
I have to admit, we didn’t participate in the “yacht” race around the island. We just weren’t prepared to race the house so quickly after a few weeks exploring Fiji. But we should have, because it sounds like it was a blast, and we will next time!
Note: see awesome drone footage of those who did on @musketcove_fiji on Instagram! Plus, some glimpses of Amazing Grace and her crew 😊.
You better believe with a bunch of sailors around there was constant sundowners, beers on the beach, dinners, dancing, games by the pool, pirate garb, and general merriment. The Amazing Grace crew soaked in as much of it as possible.
We were there for the 50th Fiji Day! Color guard and drums in grass skirts with tomahawks ceremoniously raised the flag and sang the anthem. Then speeches taught the story of throwing off the oppressive rule of England. Fireworks flew from the beach across the bay, but there was a very sad surprise twist: no s’mores.
The best non-competition even was the final dinner- PIG ON A SPIT, which I’ve been looking for ever since we got to the South Pacific. I learned that my favorite food is cracklins- my plate piled high every time I came back from the magnificent buffet. This is how you feast.
We danced the night away, and it ended with the entire dance floor jumping into the pool in our dresses as the band wrapped up their set. WHAT A PARTY. We loved spending more quality time with our SOLA+ family, meeting new people with stories of travel all over the world, and competing in some fun events.
Musket Cove Regatta, you have a special place in our hearts!
First mate, Amazing Grace
TLDR: Think of the Musket Cove Regatta as adult summer camp for sailors… But, like, drown it in rum.