Our Ever-Changing Backyard--Sailing with Scoots

17 September 2017 | Castaway Island, Fiji
11 September 2017 | Wadigi Island, Fiji
04 August 2017 | Akuilau Island, Fiji
24 July 2017 | Nadi, Fiji
17 July 2017 | Port Denarau, Fiji
09 June 2017 | Port Denarau Marina, Fiji
07 June 2017
05 June 2017
01 June 2017
29 May 2017
28 May 2017
27 May 2017
21 May 2017 | Marsden Cove Marina, Whangarei
14 May 2017 | Whangarei Town Basin Marina
12 April 2017 | Rotorua, NZ

Castaway Island: friends, seaplanes, and a nice resort

17 September 2017 | Castaway Island, Fiji
Castaway Island 17 43.74'S, 177 07.72'E

Location of the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, Fiji


The morning after our night anchored off Wadigi Island, we received an email from some cruiser friends whom we'd last seen in American Samoa last October. A fun and friendly family of six hailing from Nelson, NZ, the crew of s/v Noce Sei, it turned out, were anchored at an island just a few miles north of us. Would we like to get together? Yes!

We agreed to meet at Castaway Island (known to Fijians as Qalito Island), a location between our two anchorages. The wind was still blowing hard from the SE, so we ignored the usual anchoring spot on the south side of the island, choosing instead to drop the hook around the corner, on the north side of the island, near a floating wooden platform that we assumed was a swimming raft.

Noce Sei arrived at about the same time and dropped anchor nearby. As we stood on deck waving at Lucy, Adrian, Callam, Naomi, Thomas, and Tillie, Eric blowing a hearty hello through our conch shell, we heard the throaty rumble of a sea plane engine.

Noce Sei!

Looking up, we watched as the plane came closer, and closer, and then roared to a landing, skimming along the water near SCOOTS, the pilot giving us a thumbs up as he went by, then taxiing over to the wooden platform. Ah, we thought, that is not a swimming raft.

Eric dinghied over to the plane to ask the pilot if we were in his way. “Nah mon,” he said. “The ocean is big. I can land anywhere.” OK then. We enjoyed many more of the sea plane's visits, here and at other island anchorages. We always exchanged waves and thumbs up with the pilot, who often found ways to inject some excitement into his takeoffs and landings, for both his passengers and for the nearby boats.

We enjoyed morning tea with the Noce Sei crew, and then reconvened later for drinks, dinner, and a rousing game of Apples to Apples. Veterans of many miles and months of sailing in Fiji, Lucy and Adrian gave us their navigation waypoints and tracks, notes about different islands and anchorages, and even lent us their Fiji F5 paper chart covering the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, which they'd annotated with interesting tidbits. We used that chart – and Lucy's notes – for the whole time we cruised the islands. They were very handy.

Though the Noce Seis had to leave for their next destination in the morning, Eric and I stayed anchored off of Castaway Island for two more days.

SCOOTS waiting for us

We dinghied to shore to wander around Castaway Resort, enjoy lunch at the beachfront restaurant,

and hike the island's trails.

Despite its name, the movie “Cast Away” wasn't filmed here; it was filmed at a different island, a few miles away. The resort has an assortment of bures (small huts) of different sizes and prices, tucked away in lush gardens along winding pathways; two pools – one that welcomes kids, and one that doesn't; a long list of activities and excursions; and several bars and restaurants. You can read more about Castaway Resort here: www.castawayfiji.com.

Pointy rocks, fickle wind, and an exclusive resort

11 September 2017 | Wadigi Island, Fiji
We've been exploring the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands for a few weeks now. Here are some highlights from our destinations....

First, some maps to get you oriented:

The Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, off the west coast of the large island of Viti Levu, Fiji.

The Mamanucas that we visited.

Wadigi Island 17 45.196'S, 177 08.717'E

The first place we went after leaving Musket Cove's crowded anchorage was Wadigi Island, just around the corner. This anchorage is good during settled weather, and when the wind is coming from the north, both conditions that were in evidence. Though we were concerned about the nasty-looking rocks that poked up above the water about 200 yards to the north of us, we took consolation in the fact that they were in fact well upwind of us and dropped SCOOTS' anchor in 75 feet of water. It took us a couple of tries to get the anchor to set - the bottom was apparently rocky - but we finally got it hooked and settled down to enjoy our new surroundings.

Wadigi Island is home to an exclusive resort, where you can stay for about $1300 US per person per night. Yes you read that right. You can read more about it here: www.wadigi.com.

Wadigi Island.

Just after sunset, the wind switched around to the SE at about 20 knots, and swung SCOOTS' stern toward those nasty-looking rocks. Though we were still a hundred or so yards away, we weren't interested in spending a night knowing they were right behind us, should the anchor drag. So, we pulled up SCOOTS' anchor and moved. Though our new spot was farther from the rocks, it was closer to some submerged coral. The anchor held fine, but we didn't have a particularly restful night. In the morning, the low tide revealed a row of jagged coral about twenty-five yards behind us. Yikes.

Magnetic Musket Cove, and a Rant about religion and pronunciation

17 August 2017 | Musket Cove Resort
With four months to explore Fiji, Eric and I had to decide where to spend that time. So on one of those breezy days while we were anchored off of Akuilau Island, we sat down with a map of Fiji, a Lonely Planet Guide, a selection of cruising guides, and discussed our options.

Which of Fiji's 333 islands do we want to visit? Fortunately, since we plan to cruise Fiji for more than one season, we don't feel compelled to visit all – or even most – of the islands this time around. Add to the mix the fact that most of those islands are upwind of our current position, making some of them much less attractive. So we decided, for the moment, to just focus on Fiji's western district, beginning with the Mamanuca and Yasawa Island groups, strung like four dozen bright pearls off Viti Levu's northwest coast.

I'm going to make a small digression here, perhaps even a tiny rant, to consider the intersection of religion and pronunciation. What, you may ask, could these two topics possibly have in common? Quite a bit, actually, in the South Pacific. Here's why. We'll begin with the pronunciation of the Yasawa and Mamanuca Island groups: Yasawa is pronounced “yah-sah-wah,” pretty much as you'd expect from its spelling. Mamanuca, on the other hand, is pronounced, “mah-mah-nu-THa.” Yes, here in Fiji, the letter “c” is pronounced “th.” The Fijian language has other letters that are pronounced differently than we pronounce them: for instance, the letter “g” and the letter “q” are both pronounced “ng.” (Apparently, the two “ng” sounds are slightly different, but we don't need to delve into that much detail.)

Those are some really odd pronunciations, especially the “c” and “th” thing. Why is that? I wondered. And then it occurred to me: it's the Christian missionaries' fault. While they were in Fiji, converting the locals to Christianity, the missionaries also took the opportunity to codify the Fijians' oral language into a written language, assigning letters to the sounds. And here is where I go berserk: why, when presented with the sound “th,” did they decide to assign it the letter “c”? What were they thinking?! Eric suspects that some of the missionaries spoke Castillian Spanish, in which “c” is pronounced as “th.” He could be right.

And they've done this same sort of thing all over the Pacific. You've heard of Christmas Island? That's how it's pronounced, but this is how it's spelled: Kiritimati. The island nation that's pronounced “Kiribas” is spelled Kiribati. Why did the missionaries assign the letters “ti” to an “s” sound? Why, when given the opportunity to make written languages from previously oral-only languages, did the missionaries pulled these stunts. They knew how to read and write and spell; I can't fathom why they would have done that. Unless they just wanted to mess with us.

But I digress...

The first place we visited in the Mamanucas was Musket Cove on tiny Malololailai Island (the word “lailai” even means “small”), a two-hour sail beginning with a straight shot across relatively deep water, culminating in some careful motoring among coral reefs. While Eric watched the charts and manned the helm, I maintained a lookout on the pulpit, radio in hand, peering into and across the water through polarized sunglasses, looking for the telltale bright green or light brown that signal danger. I saw a lot of it – all where our charts indicated that it should be, and none of it right in front of us, which was good.

Cruisers had warned us: “Musket Cove is like a giant magnet...once you get there, you won't want to leave.” This magnetic attraction is most likely due to the combination of a welcoming yacht club, inexpensive moorings, a small but well-stocked market, several cruiser-friendly resorts, lovely scenery and snorkeling spots, a waterside bar, and even a small marina.

We tied up to a mooring ball, then enjoyed lunch and our traditional arrival beer in the cockpit, peering around at the thirty other boats anchored or moored with us, some friends from other places, some friends yet to be made.

The Mamanucas are known for their resorts, and Malololailai has three of them – Musket Cove Island Resort, Plantation Island Resort, and Lomani Resort – each attracting a different clientele, together hosting hundreds of people at any given time. That's a lot of humanity squeezed onto a 2.4 square mile island. Consequently, the bay out in front of the resorts is a busy place: pangas zipping by, loaded with bathing suit-clad pink tourists out for a day of snorkeling, diving, shark viewing, or sunbathing on a remote beach; floatplanes skimming to landings near shore, transferring passengers to and from waiting pangas, then roaring away, their pontoons trailing plumes of spray as they gathered speed; helicopters and small planes landing and taking off from the dirt runway, their movements obscured by giant clouds of dust; kayakers paddling by; snorkelers bobbing over the reefs. In the midst of it all, cruisersbuzzed in their dinghies between their boats and the marina's dinghy dock. It was an exciting environment to be immersed in.

The "private island" portion of the resort.

We enjoyed meals in the restaurants of both resorts,

and sundowners on board SCOOTS and our friends' boats. We bought groceries and produce from the small store, and walked all over the small island.

We always seem to find the hidden underbelly of places. Here's the resort's reverse osmosis plant.

Gathering sand for our beach sand collection (we now have sand from 92 beaches)!

One day, we went in search of the organic farm that friends had told us was on the island. Our trek took us along the airstrip,

past a junkyard of worn out machines,

past some old boat molds,

and into the scrubby forest, where we found birds

and even more discarded machinery.

Following the signs,

we eventually found the farm, a compact, verdant collection of healthy-looking produce, but we didn't buy anything as no one was around at the time to sell us anything.

Another day, our wanderings brought us to a fourth resort – Malololailai Lagoon Resort Club. As we walked among the dozens of cute little bures, set amidst well-tended landscaping, and fronted by a white sand beach, we soon realized that this was not an operating resort.

The place was abandoned; eerily quiet. Peering through the window of one locked bure after another, we found the same scene: interiors set up as if waiting for guests to arrive – kitchenware on the counters, bottles of dish soap near the sink, pillows and sheets stacked on the beds – and porch furniture stored inside, out of the elements. The place had the same feeling as the two deserted hotels we'd visited in Baja: abandoned, but poised as if waiting to suddenly explode into life again. Beyond the bures, the evidence of neglect was more pronounced: a cracked and weedy tennis court, a swimming pool half-filled with milky green water. Our bare arms suddenly bristled with mosquitoes, who were apparently enjoying the pool. We slapped them away and made a quick exit from the shady silence of the abandoned resort, to the sunshine of the dirt road beyond.

After six days enjoying magnetic Musket Cove, we slipped free from its attraction aand headed north to explore some more of the Mamanucas.

Catching up with Customs, Reacclimating at Akuilau anchorage

04 August 2017 | Akuilau Island, Fiji
A couple of days after our kava and curry experience, we left the bustle of Denarau Marina and headed north across Nadi Bay toward Vuda Marina, about six miles away. Even though we'd cleared into Fiji, we were required to obtain a cruising permit if we intended to visit any of the islands in addition to the one we'd checked in at (Viti Levu). Since we certainly do intend to visit other islands, we'd obtained a cruising permit before leaving for the States, a few weeks earlier. This permit consisted of a one-page letter written entirely in Fijian that we were supposed to take to customs officials, along with some additional paperwork, to get finalized.

The customs officials will travel to the marina from their offices in the town of Lautoka, further north, if a boat wants to clear into or out of Fiji at Vuda. Once they've finished with their official business, they head back to Lautoka. They may be at the marina for less than an hour, if there's only one boat to process. You can call Vuda Marina to find out if they expect the officials that day, and how many boats are being processed, but they can't tell you how long the officials will be there. So it's imperative to get to Vuda quickly, once you know they're going to be there.

Our initial plan was to call Vuda Marina in the morning, hop in a taxi at Denarau for the thirty-minute drive, meet up with the officials, have our cruising permit finalized, and take a taxi or the bus back to Denarau. But when we learned that a taxi costs $80 FJ ($40 US) each way, we changed our minds. Compared with a $2 bus ride, this price was just too extravagant for us. Being cruisers, we tend to have more time than money, so we usually opt for the less expensive mode of travel, even if it takes longer. The problem with taking the bus to Vuda, though, is that it would take us a couple of hours to get to Vuda from Denarau, making it likely that the customs officials would already be gone by the time we showed up. And if we just went to Lautoka – an even longer bus ride – they might not be there, either.

Eric had the brilliant idea: “Hey, why don't we take SCOOTS to Vuda?” And so we did. Calling Vuda Marina as we were underway on the six-mile trip, we learned that the customs officials were currently at the marina, checking a boat into the country. We goosed the throttle and arrived at Vuda a little while later, dropping the anchor outside the marina entrance. We floated our dinghy and attached its outboard motor in record time, and buzzed into the marina, paperwork in hand, arriving just as the boat was pulling away from the customs dock.

We caught up with the customs officials, who told us we'd have to wait while they had lunch in the marina restaurant, before they'd deal with our paperwork. We cooled our heels for the next hour, chatting with some of our cruising friends whose boats were in the marina, until the officials were ready for us.

Our cruising permit finalized, we headed back out to SCOOTS, who was now bobbing vigorously in choppy waves, the wind having risen from almost nothing to 20 knots while we'd been ashore. The anchorage outside Vuda Marina is recommended for “settled weather”; this weather was no longer settled. Though we'd intended to spend the night there, and were hoping that the weather would settle again (it didn't), we changed our minds after a few hours of trying to function on the rocking and rolling SCOOTS. So, at about five in the afternoon, we pulled up her anchor and, as the sun was by now low in the sky, headed back across the bay toward Denarau.

Not wanting to join the gaggle of boats clustered just outside the Denarau channel, we dropped anchor, sheltered from the choppy waves, behind tiny Akuilau Island, about a mile closer. Akuilau is owned by Fijians, who offer day trips to the island from Denarau, in order to showcase elements of traditional Fijian living.

Akuilau Island 17 45.54'S, 177 22.26'E by day

And at sunset.

We spent two days there, while the wind howled, reacclimating to our slow-paced life. We did boat projects, enjoyed being back on our own schedule, and watched boats go by, shuttling tourists from the resorts to destinations in the islands for the day.

One morning, a huge cruise ship dropped anchor about a quarter mile from us. It disgorged about a dozen bright orange tenders that spent the rest of the day – bucking and rolling in the choppy seas – ferrying passengers back and forth between Denarau and the ship. I wondered if the passengers arrived at each place seasick.

At night, sounds of “Pop! Crackle, crackle, crackle. Pop! Crackle, crackle, crackle” brought us outside, where we enjoyed a brilliant fireworks display put on by one of the resorts.

It was good to be back on the water.

Kava and Curry

24 July 2017 | Nadi, Fiji
At seven o’clock, armed with our sparkly blue box of drinking glasses and our little brown paper bag of kava powder, we walked to the parking lot to meet Kumar. He was there, wearing a bright island shirt, smiling and waving to us. Another man stood beside him.

“Bula!” Kumar said. “How are you?”

“We’re well, and you?”

“Very well,” he said. “This is my brother, Ashwin.” He indicated the man next to him. “He’ll be your driver. I have to make a trip to the airport. I’ll meet you later at my house.”

We shook hands with Ashwin and exchanged Bula!s. As we walked to Ashwin’s car, Kumar called, “Do you like Fiji beer?”


“OK I’ll get some. See you later.”

We chatted with Ashwin as he drove us the dozen or so miles to Kumar’s house. The route took us from Denarau Island, through the business district of Nadi Town – where Ashwin pointed out the clothing store in which he worked – and finally into some fields on the other side of town. We bumped for awhile along a dirt road that wound through tall woody stalks of sugar cane, here and there punctuated by dirt driveways. Ashwin turned down one of these driveways, which ended at Kumar’s house: a rectangular building about 20 x 30 feet; its foundation, patio and walls were made of concrete; the roof and upper portion of the walls were corrugated metal.

On the covered patio was a round table, on which rested a pitcher and some drinking glasses (small ones, I noticed, the kind with pretty decorations on the sides). Standing beside the table, wearing a brightly-colored dress, was Kumar’s wife. She smiled and greeted us warmly, “I’m Anita,” she said. “Welcome.” When she shook my hand and kissed my left cheek, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t done my homework about Fijian greetings, beyond the “Bula!” I made a mental note to get up to speed on that before our next invitation.

Anita poured juice for the four of us and we sat making small talk. Soon Ashwin’s wife and their two young sons came over (they live in a neighboring house), presumably to see the crazy Americans who live on a boat. Though the conversation was in English when it involved Eric and me, the family members drifted from time to time into what I think was Hindi, when speaking with each other. Kumar – who hadn’t yet arrived – was clearly the extrovert of the bunch.

An indigenous Fijian man wandered over from across the yard, found a chair, and sat down with us. “Bula!” he said, with a big smile.

“Bula!” everyone said. Eric and I introduced ourselves, and the man did the same. “My name is Paula,” he said, pronounced “Pah-oo-lah.”

Now we were eight, sitting on the porch, making small talk…sometimes in English, sometimes in Hindi, sometimes – now that Paula was included – in Fijian.

After about a half hour, Kumar arrived and, striding onto the porch, welcomed us exuberantly to his home. He had a big, unopened bottle of Fiji Gold beer in one hand. After some pleasantries he asked, “Do you have the kava?” We showed him the bag. “Good,” he said. “Let’s have kava.”

A smattering of Hindi from Kumar roused the family members, who stood up and quickly fashioned a seating area on the concrete patio floor, comprising two large, decorated rugs with padding underneath. Kumar invited us to sit on the rug, which we did. Kumar and Paula sat down with us. Anita handed Kumar a large bowl, a pitcher of water, a dishtowel-sized piece of cloth, two small ceramic bowls, and three coconut shell bowls of different sizes. What little I knew about the kava ceremony (sevusevu, as it’s known in Fiji) included this fact: it’s considered impolite not to drink your share in one gulp. I made a quick grab for the smallest coconut bowl, which when full might have held about four ounces of liquid. Eric took the next size up (maybe eight ounces); Kumar and Paula were happy to use the two ceramic bowls which held twelve ounces or more.

Paula placed the kava powder in the cloth and as Kumar poured water over it, squeezed the suspension through the cloth, into the large bowl. They repeated the process until all the kava had been sifted into the water, and then added a bit more water to the bowl, to get the consistency just right. The correct consistency being a watery brown concoction.

“Your tongue might feel numb after you drink it,” Kumar said, as he handed me the small coconut shell of kava, filled only about half full, as I’d asked. He, Eric and Paula then clapped slowly three times, and I drank the kava – all in one draught. As I tipped the cup back, I noticed Ashwin’s two sons watching me intently, curious to see my reaction. Swallowing the kava, I put down my cup and clapped once, as Kumar had instructed, to indicate that I had finished.

[A side note here: apparently the pattern of clapping in kava ceremonies varies from group to group. When drinking kava in a traditional Fijian setting, the guide books tell us, one claps once before drinking, and three times afterwards.]

I thought the kava tasted like peppery dirt, reminiscent of ginseng tea. Not terrible, but not something I would drink for its flavor. As for its effect, my tongue didn’t go numb, but it did tingle a little, for about a minute. I didn’t notice any other effects.

Eric, Paula and Kumar each took their turns. During the short break that followed, Kumar poured Eric and me each a shot glass full of Fiji Gold. Then we each had another round of kava. Again my tongue tingled a bit, but that was it. Eric said that his tongue felt numb and he felt slightly relaxed after downing his kava. Maybe if I’d consumed more, I would have felt more of an effect. Certainly Paula and Kumar, who were quaffing bowlfuls of the stuff, were showing signs of being relaxed.

We had a relaxed conversation about life in Fiji, the politics of sugar cane farming (Kumar had been a sugar cane farmer, until the 99-year lease on his land had expired), the islands they visit to see their extended family, his other house in the country, the faster pace of life in America, and the relative costs of things.

After three rounds, Eric and I had consumed all the kava we wanted, though another couple of liters remained. By now, it was nine o’clock, there had been no mention of dinner, and I suspected that Anita was waiting to serve dinner until we were finished with the kava. I asked Kumar what would happen with the remaining kava. “Paula and I will drink it,” he said. And so they did, over the next half hour or so, becoming ever more relaxed in the process. When Kumar pressed a $5 bill into Paula’s hand and asked him to go to a neighbor’s house to buy more kava, I started to get a little nervous about riding back to the marina with him.

Nine-thirty came and went. The food that Anita had prepared was on the table. I began to wonder if we were going to have dinner at all. Then, just after ten o’clock, Kumar suddenly announced, “It’s dinner time.” He stood up, as did Eric and I. “You two will have dinner with Anita,” he said.

“What about you and Paula?” I asked. “Aren’t you going to eat?”

“No,” Kumar said, sitting down on the mat again. “We’re just drinking kava.”

Before going inside for dinner, Anita led us over to the edge of the porch, where she poured water over our hands from a water bottle to clean them. We entered her tidy house, and Anita asked us to sit at the table, which I now noticed had only three plates. And three more of the small decorated glasses. I wondered if she would find a use for the large, unadorned drinking glasses we’d brought, which were still in their shiny blue cube.

“I made roti for you,” she said. “Do you like roti?” (Roti is Indian bread similar to a tortilla.)

“Yes, we do,” Eric said.

Glancing around, I noticed that there were no utensils with which to eat the chicken curry, rice, dal and salad that Anita had prepared. Apparently, that was what the roti was for. Anita demonstrated how to tear off a small piece of roti, and use it to pick up our food, similarly to eating Ethiopian food with injera bread. We followed her example. All of the food was very tasty.

Anita eventually dispensed with the roti and ate her meal with her fingers. This actually made it easier to eat the chicken curry, which seemed to have been prepared by hacking the chicken into chunks with a cleaver, before putting it into the curry pot. Eric and I followed suit again, staining our fingers turmeric-yellow in the process, a souvenir of the evening’s festivities.

Kumar appeared in the doorway, quite relaxed, eyes a bit bloodshot. “Are you finished?” he asked jovially. When we replied in the affirmative, he said, “Did you like it?”

“Yes, very much! Everything was delicious.” Anita beamed.

“Good,” he said. “Your ride is here. Ashwin will drive you back to the marina.” Ashwin smiled at us from beside Kumar. Was I ever glad to see him.

A few days later, we welcomed Kumar and Anita onto SCOOTS, where we enjoyed fruit juice and conversation. But no kava this time. Kumar and Anita told us that they’d been on quite a few boats – mostly large ferries – as they visited their family on different islands. Afterwards, we walked along the dock, checking out the massive and amazing superyachts berthed near SCOOTS.

When we said goodbye, Kumar told us to call him the next time we were in town, so we could get together again. And he promised to bring roti and curry at 7:00 the next morning, which he did. Eric and I enjoyed it for lunch later that day. It’s nice to have friends in Fiji.

How to be a good guest in Fiji

17 July 2017 | Port Denarau, Fiji
Fijians are some of the friendliest people we've ever met, quick to share a “Bula!” and a smile, directions and advice, and, apparently, quite comfortable extending an invitation to people who would – by American standards – be considered strangers. This open congeniality is one of the many things we like about being in Fiji.

Kumar, the taxi driver who had taken us to the airport three weeks earlier, and had given us his cell number so we could call him on our return, was waiting for us when we exited the airport, bleary-eyed, at 6 o'clock Saturday morning after our eleven hour flight from San Francisco. “Bula!” he said with a big smile, shaking our hands. “Welcome back!” He took one of our bags and showed us to his car.

On the ride back to Port Denarau Marina, where SCOOTS had been berthed while we were away, we three chatted pleasantly. Though Eric and I participated somewhat sleepily, Kumar, it seemed, was always energized, no matter the time of day.

Suddenly, Kumar said, in his rapid-fire, Hindi-tinged, island-accented English, “You must come to my house for dinner.” A pause. “Tomorrow night. We will have chicken curry and dal. You like curry and dal?”

Eric and I glanced at each other, shrugged. “Yes we do. Thank you,” I said. “What should we bring?”

At first Kumar said, “Nothing.” But then he asked, “Have you had kava before?”


“Bring kava then, and anything you want to drink. I'll pick you up at seven o'clock, in front of the Rhum-Ba.” (The Rhum-Ba is a restaurant at the marina.)

When we arrived at the marina, Kumar helped unload our luggage into the marina trolley. “I'll see you here, tomorrow night at seven,” he said. “Remember the kava.”

“Sounds good,” Eric said. We waved goodbye to Kumar and walked down the dock just as the sun was peeking above the mountains in the east, remarking to each other at the open friendliness of the Fijian people, and wondering aloud how to be good guests according to Fijian culture.

After a short nap, we made plans to catch the yellow Dollar Bus from Denarau to Nadi, the closest big town to the marina, to find lunch, kava, and also a gift for Kumar's wife, as we'd heard that kava drinking is mainly a guy thing. Clueless as to what an appropriate gift would be, we stopped in at the marina office to ask Mere, the marina office manager, for advice.

“A set of drinking glasses,” she said, almost immediately. “You can get them at Rup's Big Bear, near Chicken Express. Ask them to wrap them for you.” Then she added, “Are you also bringing kava?”

“Yes,” I said. “Should we bring roots or powder?”

“Powder,” she said. “A ten-dollar bag is the right amount.” We thanked Mere for her excellent advice, and walked across the parking lot to wait for the Dollar Bus.

Arriving in Nadi, we struck up a conversation with a local man who disembarked the bus with us. Following our exchange of “Bula!”'s, he asked us where we were going. (Eric and I don't have a chance of being mistaken for locals here, and Fijians are always stopping to ask us if we need help finding something.) We told him we were looking for a place to eat lunch.

“Not Chinese food,” he said. “There are many Chinese restaurants, but Fijian food is better.”

When we told him that we were in fact looking for a restaurant serving local Fijian food, he said, “I know a place.” He paused for a few moments, apparently figuring out how to give us directions, then said, “Follow me. I'll take you there.”

We followed him down some of Nadi's crowded streets, turning left and right, occasionally dashing across the street through traffic, finally arriving at a small parking lot. “There it is,” he said, pointing to a small restaurant on the top floor of a building adjacent to the parking lot. “Good Fijian food.”

After thanking our guide, we climbed the stairs and enjoyed a tasty lunch of curry and coconut-milk-based fish soup. Afterwards, wanting to be sure that a set of drinking glasses was in fact the right thing to bring for Kumar's wife, I sought a second opinion from our server. “Drinking glasses are a good gift,” she confirmed. “You can find them at Rup's Big Bear. Have them gift-wrapped.” OK then.

Rup's Big Bear was easy to spot as it’s painted bright yellow and sports a picture of a big, friendly-looking teddy bear on the front. We spend some time perusing their inexplicably-extensive selection of drinking glass sets: big ones, small ones, some with decorations painted on the outside. Which to buy? We eventually settled on a set of six large glasses, roughly the shape of beer glasses, without decorations. We bought two sets, wanting to be prepared in case we were suddenly invited to someone else's house. We had both sets gift-wrapped in sparkly blue foil, the only option available.

We found kava in abundance at Nadi's produce market: hundreds of stacks of gnarled brown roots, bowls of tan powder, and small, pre-packaged bags of powder. We bought two ten-dollar bags of kava powder (an extra one just in case we got another kava invitation) from a man whose bloodshot eyes and slow movements as he scooped powder into the small bags intimated that he had been enjoying samples of his wares for most of the day.

Mission complete, we walked back to the bus station, hopped on the Dollar Bus and returned to SCOOTS, weary from our day's shopping and jet lag, but satisfied that we were prepared to be good guests at Kumar's house the following night.

Vessel Name: SCOOTS
Vessel Make/Model: Able Apogee 50
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed to Mexico with the 2014 Baja Haha and had fun exploring Mexico until April 2016, when we turned SCOOTS west and headed to the South Pacific. As of late Nov. 2016, SCOOTS and her crew are exploring New Zealand.
SCOOTS's Photos - Main
7 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 24 July 2017
14 Photos
Created 12 April 2017
35 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 20 March 2017
18 Photos
Created 2 March 2017
19 Photos
Created 16 February 2017
4 Photos
Created 18 January 2017
30 Photos
Created 14 December 2016
29 Photos
Created 5 November 2016
52 Photos
Created 23 October 2016
24 Photos
Created 12 October 2016
49 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 15 September 2016
43 Photos
Created 2 September 2016
46 Photos
Created 4 August 2016
32 Photos
Created 21 July 2016
12 Photos
Created 1 July 2016
15 Photos
Created 20 June 2016
17 Photos
Created 5 June 2016
1 Photo
Created 3 June 2016
45 Photos
Created 11 May 2016
10 Photos
Created 2 May 2016
2 Photos
Created 1 April 2016
13 Photos
Created 22 March 2016
12 Photos
Created 14 March 2016
2 Photos
Created 9 March 2016
5 Photos
Created 19 January 2016
7 Photos
Created 27 December 2015
6 Photos
Created 16 December 2015
No Photos
Created 27 November 2015
4 Photos
Created 1 November 2015
19 Photos
Created 28 July 2015
4 Photos
Created 23 July 2015
6 Photos
Created 11 July 2015
13 Photos
Created 21 June 2015
9 Photos
Created 15 June 2015
12 Photos
Created 28 May 2015
No Photos
Created 28 May 2015
17 Photos
Created 5 May 2015
2 Photos
Created 30 April 2015
35 Photos
Created 24 April 2015
8 Photos
Created 25 March 2015
8 Photos
Created 10 March 2015
49 Photos
Created 14 February 2015
7 Photos
Created 10 February 2015
20 Photos
Created 26 January 2015
24 Photos
Created 20 December 2014
No Photos
Created 20 December 2014
10 Photos
Created 11 December 2014
5 Photos
Created 3 December 2014
11 Photos
Created 14 November 2014
34 Photos
Created 10 November 2014
4 Photos
Created 26 October 2014
4 Photos
Created 26 October 2014
5 Photos
Created 18 October 2014
8 Photos
Created 1 October 2014
16 Photos
Created 1 October 2014
6 Photos
Created 24 September 2014
9 Photos
Created 23 September 2014
8 Photos
Created 21 September 2014
4 Photos
Created 20 September 2014
5 Photos
Created 18 September 2014
5 Photos
Created 10 September 2014
4 Photos
Created 26 August 2014
1 Photo
Created 25 July 2014
2 Photos
Created 14 May 2014
49 Photos
Created 3 November 2013
32 Photos
Created 8 August 2013
Pics from our trip time aboard Scoots in July 2013.
23 Photos
Created 7 July 2013