October 29, 2020 ; 1:14 PM
17°75’S, 177°44’E – NADI AIRPORT, Fiji
Although our final 11 days in Fiji (Port Denarau Marina) were mostly work, we fit in breaks for fun and goodbyes with our SOLA buddies whenever we could. I’m a good news before bad news kind of girl, so I’ll start with the fun 😊.
If you didn’t see a rugby game, can you even say you went to Fiji??
Rugby is a huge part of the culture here. It has been woven into stories and everyday life on each remote island we visited over 2 months. We’ve seen kids and adults playing, watched it at bars, and heard about it from our taxi drivers, waiters, and friends. It was time to get with the program and see what this game is really all about, live.
Luckily, Captain Dave was already an expert on this complicated game, because he played at University of Michigan. He explained the rules to us as we went along. IT WAS A BLAST. From the crowds to the game to the ability to bring in your own beer and snacks, it was chaotic and wonderful and I was all in.
We rooted for REWA at the recommendation of our taxi driver, Tomasi, who also happens to be the Admiral’s new best friend. No, seriously, she met his kids and everything. Lucky for us, they had a huge comeback to win at the end. Talk about exciting for my first (but hopefully not last) rugby game!
There were only a few American boats on the World ARC, and we loved that. It meant we met and bonded with people from all over the world. But we also love our American buddies.
Amari and Amazing Grace were the last American SOLA boats to quit sailing the South Pacific. With ours and Island Wanderer’s departure, Amari and Maximillian will be the last SOLA boats out of the water (you guys are so badass and we love you).
So, since Amari will not be back in the US for turkey day, we had an early thanksgiving at the marina, and we invited the Brits to show them how it’s done. It’s hard to be away from home and family on the holidays. It’s when we most feel like we’re “missing out” on the wonders of our loved ones. BUT NOT THIS YEAR, AMARI- Because SOLA is a family, and we spread the love on as thick as we do the gravy.
Lulu, who runs a restaurant in the marina, comes from America as well and let us use her kitchen and bring our own food. Lucky for the hard at work AG crew, Amari made the turkey, and it was delectable.
We grew food babies, told stories, laughed, talked politics, drank wine, laughed some more, went back for seconds and thirds, talked about family, and generally loved on everyone around the table. Then we went to the pool for pie and a rousing game of charades, because otherwise did you even Thanksgiving?
It was delicious, wonderful, fulfilling, and fun. We were reminded how incredibly thankful we are for our SOLA family, our opportunity to sail, the overwhelmingly generous Fijians, and a chance to spend time in COVID-free islands. It was only missing a Lions win!
While the rest of Fiji is unique to the other places we’ve visited, Port Denarau is very… Florida. Seriously, on my morning runs I might as well be in my parent’s neighborhood in St. Pete. So, there are less non-tourist-centric activities to do there. Still, we needed some outdoor, active activities to take our minds off our daunting to-do list, and to get the Admiral and I off the boat so the Captain could change the engine oil in peace.
Luckily, Amari swept us off for a game of best ball. Obviously, the Admiral and I were on the winning team. No questions about how many balls I hit in the water, please.
And of course, our last days were full of sundowners with our favorite sailors. We adore them all, and can’t wait to meet again one day on the high seas!
WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK
Let’s get down to business.
The real reason we spent so much time in Port Denarau was to clean up Gracie Girl and get her snug as a bug in a rug in her cyclone pit.
For those of you interested in actual sailing and boat maintenance- check out this checklist. For those of you who are just here for the pretty pictures and amusing anecdotes, skip to the next section 😊.
- Dry, remove, fold, bag, and store mainsail
- Dry, remove, fold, bag, and store jib with sheets
- Dry, remove, fold, bag, and store code zero
- Store spare jib
- Engine oil change including fuel filter, impeller, and belt
- Generator oil change including fuel filter, impeller, and belt
- Outboard motor oil change (top and bottom)
- Outboard motor winter prep with treated fuel, oil in pistons, and fuel drain
- Remove all food from boat and toss or store in plastic in locker
- Quote on hatch repairs
- Quote on wood refinishing
- Repair torn zipper on dodger
- Check all through hulls for operation
- Inventory all spare parts in sail locker bins and store in locker (confirm spare bilge pump) and update internal box
- Clean, haul, and store kayak and dinghy
- Clean under all floorboards
- Wipe down and clean walls and floor with vinegar solution
- Laundry (clothes, sheets, towels, etc.)
- Remove all linens and store in plastic with dryer sheet and/or mothballs
- Winterize water maker – pickle and drain prefilter
- Repair leak in Salon AC
- Flush AC system with freshwater and antifreeze
- Flush generator with freshwater and antifreeze
- Flush head tanks with water and cleaner
- Disconnect and pack satellite phone for work at home
- Remove and seal for fridge and freezer, prepare replacement
- Disconnect and store grill
- Remove bimini and dodger and store
- Leave pertinent files on boat take others home
- Stow and secure lines, halyards, and fenders
- Check rudder shaft for bad bearings
- Check through hulls
- Check zincs and replace as needed
- Bottom cleaning and plans for antifouling
- Purchase/rent dehumidifier
- Contract for cleaning and pictures
- Flush Engine with freshwater and antifreeze
- Clean toilets, flush head tanks with water and cleaner
- Place roach poison and hotels and mothballs
- Top up fuel tank
- Close and cover all through hulls (except bilge and sink drain)
- Cover cockpit with tarp and install all protective covers
- Install jumper cables to maintain charge on Generator Battery
Of course, there were plenty of smaller jobs (many of which included mold eradication by yours truly), that fit in between these as we worked.
Now Gracie Girl has been pulled out of the water at Vuda Marina. We kept her on the hard (how sailboats are typically stored out of water) for a couple days to finalize the pieces not easily done in the water.
Then we moved her to her new home, planted in a pit. If you ask me, her view isn’t too shabby, and we’re happy Island Wanderer will be just across the way to keep her company. In a COVID world, we’re not sure exactly when the return will be, but her family will be coming back to her just as soon as circumnavigation can continue.
Now that Gracie is safely resting, we are en route to the US. Your view into Amazing Grace’s seanic route around the world is on standby, but we hope it resumes spring of 2021. We’re headed home to the good old US of A, and we can’t wait to catch up with you all!
Some last words from the Captain and Crew:
To date the voyage has been an amazing adventure. We have met many great people from many countries along the way and made life-long friends with sailors from around the world we have had the pleasure of voyaging with. We have witnessed the beauty of God’s creation in great sea animals, islands, birds, cultures, sunsets and sun rises and beautiful atolls and turquoise waters like we had only previously seen in magazines. Yes, there have been storms of all kinds but we weathered them all. It has been personally challenging and rewarding. Most of all, it has been great fun to share and grow with Anne and Kristen in an adventure unlike any other. I can’t wait to return and continue our circumnavigation…
What a ride it has been! We are so blessed by the lifelong friends we have made, the loving interaction with the French Polynesian and Fiji people and cultures, and the awesome parts of God’s great creation we have seen and experienced. We couldn’t have asked for a better first mate and blog writer. We love you, Kristen, and hope you can join for part of the second half. It is so hard to leave, but we cannot wait to see our family and friends in the US. We could not bear to think of another year apart. Stay tuned… theseanicroute blog will continue when we head back to Fiji. ❤️
It’s completely impossible to describe my emotions as an adventure of a lifetime comes to a close. The best I can do is OVERWHELMED/EXCITED/GUTTED/INSPIRED/SAD/ANXIOUS/GRATEFUL. It’s strange how conflicting emotions can merge when life throws the unexpected at you.
But from my experience, no matter how great the last chapter was, the next is even better. I know there are many more adventures to come exploring this big, awesome world and her people, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store.
It was a special surprise that so many of you joined us here on The Seanic Route to share in this journey. Thanks for your support, your prayers, and your fun calls/texts/emails/comments. I can’t wait to catch up in the States one day. Oh, and I can’t wait to stop documenting my every move for you 😉.
Most of all, THANK YOU to the Captain and Admiral for letting me invite myself on an absolute dream of a journey. One day, I’ll circumnavigate. One day sooner, you will. Both will be momentous occasions, and I can’t wait to celebrate them both with you (complete with rum and Tim Tams).
SOLAS FOREVER <3.
-FIRST MATE KRISTEN
First mate, Amazing Grace
TLDR: We’re STATES-BOUND!!