Time Bandit

18 August 2017
17 August 2017
15 August 2017 | The pass into Vuda Marina, Fiji
15 August 2017 | The pass into Vuda Marina, Fiji
09 August 2017
04 August 2017
04 August 2017
03 August 2017
01 August 2017 | Maybe not a whole century
30 July 2017
25 July 2017
20 July 2017
20 July 2017
13 July 2017
08 July 2017
07 July 2017
02 July 2017
25 June 2017
22 June 2017

Raspberry Ripple

18 August 2017
Getting over to Vanuatu we've been foolishly chasing Tika, an Outremer 55 performance cat. Each morning Russell comes on the air to report his Lat Long, course and speed.

Yesterday, before he had a chance I said, "and I suppose you're doing nine knots". Now, Russ knows I covet an Outremer and takes some delight in winding me up so he says, "No,", "we're going ten".

At that point I gave him a loud and not very nautical raspberry......and that dear readers reminded me of my dear old mum. Blowing raspberries was one of her specialities. Her best could usually be heard shortly after hearing out my dad after he'd been nagging her about some trivia and, as he retreated from the room, having assuredly made his point, mum would blow a raspberry while giving his retreating back a "Churchill Salute". All with a wicked smile on her face leaving our kids giggling at wicked granny.

Blowing a raspberry at Russell made me think that once again, I'm carrying forward many Letton traits. It also brought back the memory of one of our recent village visits. As regular readers will know by now, these super kind people have little, and as I've said, if you asked, they'd give you the shirt off their back.

Now, most cruisers know the form and having done the prep back in the big city, stock up on T-shirts, schooling utensils, flashlights, peanut butter etc.... Things the villagers are known to appreciate. It's not charity, just a way of saying thanks for welcoming us to their island, their village and their homes.

A week or two back, in one of the villages where they operate a "host policy", meaning each family in turn get a crack at visiting yachts, as there was a rally in town, host families had to be doubled up with the crews of two yachts. Twice as much cooking, feeding and guiding around. It actually must be a bit of a chore when there's a continual stream of yachts but it seems to work for both sides.

What brought dear old mum to mind was when we were invited into our host's house, along with our "doubles" from the rally for a cup of tea and a bit of cake. As we'd been in the village for a few days we'd already given some stuff to mum and dad and the kids and so, they looked at the new folk with politely eager anticipation as they unzipped their large black holdalls. I can only guess what they were thinking when two ukuleles appeared. "Nice, but we're not that musical", or perhaps "Nice, perhaps the school would like them" or even, "There's twenty minutes burning in these; enough to bake a cake". Whatever it was, they were as surprised as we were that what they actually got was.....a wee song.

Ukes back in their bags, our wandering minstrels bid adieu and headed off into the woods probably saying to themselves, "There now.....wasn't that nice, taking some music to the villagers.................Did you just here a raspberry????"

Back to the Roots

17 August 2017
Well readers, the fleshpots, bars and bistros of Vuda Point Marina on Fiji are behind us. About 350 miles fast miles behind. We left in a bit of a blow and made possibly our fastest 24 hour run ever....190 miles. OK, so that's a fast walk but in monohull terms, that's pretty good going.

And where are we going? The Back to the Roots festival in Vanuatu. A couple of months ago, Patricia, our virtual friend who is on the Net every morning broadcasting the weather from her home in New Zealand, thoroughly recommended attendance at this main island event. So, as ones who need a date and a place to be somewhere, sometime, this was as a good target for us as any. Not that we know what it is.

Back to the Roots? A festival for ageing women who have opted to quit dyeing their hair? A farmers cooperative intent on raising interest in a vegetarian lifestyle? An Alex Hayley fans symposium; maybe a bit like a Star Trek symposium?

Who knows, and in fact, who really cares. We've a date and a venue and that's a good enough reason to head west. That and it was time to go. Cyclone season is just 10 weeks away and we need to be safely tucked up in Australia by then.

First stop, and one reason we left when the forecast was a bit on the wild side, was to get to the Vanuatu island of Tanna before a big front and contrary winds appears. nly for a couple of days will the anchorage be tenable, so off we jolly well went. Apparently, this island is one of the last in the world where you can go and actually stick your head over the rim of an active, bubbling and burping volcano. ETA is tomorrow evening, then a climb up the smouldering volcano cone to great some great pics and possibly asphyxiated.

Hail the Chief

15 August 2017 | The pass into Vuda Marina, Fiji
After you've been at this cruising lark for a while there's a good chance you begin to take the freedom, relaxed, go anywhere, anytime lifestyle for granted. We get to go where few others do, park up, go ashore to empty beaches, build a wee fire and watch the sun go down.

It's therefore good to get a poke in the ribs every now and then to remind us that what we're doing is a bit unique. A bit "special" as Sven and Lisa tell us.

With apologies to those of my friends and readers who may have enjoyed a cruise or two, the most recent reminder was watching a boat load of maybe forty tourists from the Reef Endeavour, (apparently one of Captain Cooks boats, or at least his cruises) all squished in a flat bottomed, sun shaded floating perambulator, being bussed in to shore to lever their pinky white bodies up the steps up to view the exhorbitantly priced limestone caves in Sawa-I-Lau.

They look at us like we're wackos that have "gone Asiatic". I look at them and think that if anyone ever hears of me considering participating in such a vacation, while I can still walk without a Zimmer and remain in control of my bladder, please remind me that sailing's where it's at.

Sawa-I-Lau, at the top of the Yasawas was the last village still living on the edge....... of the tourist economy. We went ashore and met Nox, the Headman, who duly introduced us to Abraham, his chief. A bit less formally than in the Lau, we handed over our Kava offering, got the Sevu sevu welcome and had the honour of being asked if we'd like to take the chief fishing as the wahoo were running just outside the reef.

Two hours of trolling up and down, getting soaked, a mile out in the ocean, no life jackets, no radio, no nuthin' (like the muppets we see on the Clyde and give them a serious "tutt tutt") we caught a single sparkly blue job. If the wahoo were running, they were running away from us.

Three guys at Fiji's minimum wage of $2.75 for two hours plus a tank of petrol made it a pretty expensive fish.

But quite tasty.

Hail the Chief

15 August 2017 | The pass into Vuda Marina, Fiji
After you've been at this cruising lark for a while there's a good chance you begin to take the freedom, relaxed, go anywhere, anytime lifestyle for granted. We get to go where few others do, park up, go ashore to empty beaches, build a wee fire and watch the sun go down.

It's therefore good to get a poke in the ribs every now and then to remind us that what we're doing is a bit unique. A bit "special" as Sven and Lisa tell us.

With apologies to those of my friends and readers who may have enjoyed a cruise or two, the most recent reminder was watching a boat load of maybe forty tourists from the Reef Endeavour, (apparently one of Captain Cooks boats, or at least his cruises) all squished in a flat bottomed, sun shaded floating perambulator, being bussed in to shore to lever their pinky white bodies up the steps up to view the exhorbitantly priced limestone caves in Sawa-I-Lau.

They look at us like we're wackos that have "gone Asiatic". I look at them and think that if anyone ever hears of me considering participating in such a vacation, while I can still walk without a Zimmer and remain in control of my bladder, please remind me that sailing's where it's at.

Sawa-I-Lau, at the top of the Yasawas was the last village still living on the edge....... of the tourist economy. We went ashore and met Nox, the Headman, who duly introduced us to Abraham, his chief. A bit less formally than in the Lau, we handed over our Kava offering, got the Sevu sevu welcome and had the honour of being asked if we'd like to take the chief fishing as the wahoo were running just outside the reef.

Two hours of trolling up and down, getting soaked, a mile out in the ocean, no life jackets, no radio, no nuthin' (like the muppets we see on the Clyde and give them a serious "tutt tutt") we caught a single sparkly blue job. If the wahoo were running, they were running away from us.

Three guys at Fiji's minimum wage of $2.75 for two hours plus a tank of petrol made it a pretty expensive fish.

But quite tasty.

Yadda Yadda

09 August 2017
We left the island of Yadua this morning at the crack of dawn heading for a 55 mile thrash over to the Yasawas....a chain of islands off the west of Fiji. Right now, we're sailing across Bligh Water. The stretch of water between Fiji, the Yasawas and Vanuatu where poor old Cap'n Bligh made his epic open boat trip having been chucked off by the disgruntled crew. Me? I'm minding my P's and Q's this morning. Apparently Bligh was somewhat worried about landing hereabouts, as he had concerns the locals might quite like white meat.

Not that we saw anyone. Yadua is about two miles by three and climbs to 193 metres. Much of which we know intimately having bushwhacked for four hours through the scrub, brush and Raiders of the Lost Ark spider webs. All to no avail. No path, no village, no nuthin' other than scratches from ankle to knee. We finally gave up our attempt to cross the ridges to do Sevusevu with the chief and returned to the boats, torn and tattered. Yadua, might well be the least developed place I've ever been.

Other than perhaps France.

The Slitherins

04 August 2017
All this sailing around stuff, living on the boat 24/7 is all very well but every now and then we feel we deserve a treat. Largely 'cause it's such a hard life, the sea.

My definition of a treat however is maybe a Coco Latte with marshmallows or perhaps a double chocolate Magnum out a passing van. Anne's is a day out having slipped into a slice of the Gucci Loafer economy.

Consequently, we dropped our £4 per night mooring at crack of dawn this morning and motored round to a slip in the Savusavu Yacht Club marina.

Parked up, we hailed a taxi and whisked ourselves off for a day of extravagance in the luxury Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort.

On arrival we were shown to a palm roofed hut on the beach where we lay out on massage tables like two stiffs in a morgue scene from CSI Fiji.

After an hour of being poked, prodded and oiled we slithered out for a meal that was as expensive as it was small.

Next time, its back to the Magnums.

The Slitherins

04 August 2017
All this sailing around stuff, living on the boat 24/7 is all very well but every now and then we feel we deserve a treat. Largely 'cause it's such a hard life, the sea.

My definition of a treat however is maybe a Coco Latte with marshmallows or perhaps a double chocolate Magnum out a passing van. Anne's is a day out having slipped into a slice of the Gucci Loafer economy.

Consequently, we dropped our £4 per night mooring at crack of dawn this morning and motored round to a slip in the Savusavu Yacht Club marina.

Parked up, we hailed a taxi and whisked ourselves off for a day of extravagance in the luxury Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort.

On arrival we were shown to a palm roofed hut on the beach where we lay out on massage tables like two stiffs in a morgue scene from CSI Fiji.

After an hour of being poked, prodded and oiled we slithered out for a meal that was as expensive as it was small.

Next time, its back to the Magnums.

Economic Indicators

03 August 2017
East Meets West

So, after four weeks in a "Barefoot" economy we were suddenly thrust back into the full throttle, "Trainer" economy of Savusavu with its bustling shops, cars and boats and planes.

Savusavu, pop, < 5,000, is the smaller of the two main towns on the island and today we visited Labasa, clearly a "Corfam" economy. 24,000 folk live here. Mostly school kids from what I can see.

In the absence of any other economic indicators I've developed this theory, wot I have composed, wot is mine and mine alone (for full text refer my dear brother or, was it Monty Python?). My theory is that footwear, or indeed absence of, is a pretty good indicator of an area's economic status.

I've developed five levels:-
- Barefoot
- Flip-flop (Thong for Australian readers)
- Trainers
- Corfam (remember "living, breathing (all plastic) Corfam shoes?)
- Gucci Loafer

A little bit like the British Working Class, Middle Class and just like that, while fundamentally in one "class" individuals can accessorize, perhaps with a Manchester United, an All-Blacks T-shirt or perhaps a Smart Phone, to indicate that while, yes, they may be a Flii-Flopper, but, personally, they are an upper level Flip- Flopper.

The Lau Group is clearly a barefoot economy where the population live off the land and some income from trading coconuts and fish, while Savusavu is definitely more, "Flip-Flop".

Flip-Flippers are more service oriented providing a non mall shopping experience, diving, taxi tours and bars.

Today we're in Trainer territory, Labasa, but here the model is distorted by an over representation of Corfam as it seems such footwear is mandatory school wear.

A two and a half hour trip across the mountains in a rickety bus took us through the cane fields and copra plantations to the main town of Fiji's northern island Vanua Levi pop. 120,000

Chaos seems to be the modus operandi, perhaps showing some traits from the local populations Asian roots. Way back on the late 1800's to early 1900's, when the good ol' Upper Class Twi-- sorry Brits needed cheap, or better, free labour to cut the sugar cane and as slavery was abolished, they cunningly developed a new "class", the "Indentured Servant" and shipped some 60,000 Indians over from "the Colony" to get cutting.

Consequently Fiji today is very much an island of two cultures living what's appears happy but separate lives, although the PR says everyone's Fijian.

The Indo Fijians seem to own and run all the enterprises in town. The native Fijians seem happy in their roots; fruit and veg trading in the open market.

One Group is is Barefoot or Flip-flopped, the other, Trainer or Corfam. You guess.
Vessel Name: Time Bandit
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 45
Hailing Port: Largs, Scotland
Crew: Anne and Stuart Letton
About: ex dinghy and keelboat racers now tooled up with an ocean going boat and cruising around aimlessly, destination Nirvana...
Extra: 2016 Transited Panama Canal early February '16 bound for Galapagos (March), Marquesas, Pacific Islands and New Zealand for November '16
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/timebandit/profile
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