TABU SORO - Never Give Up

12 October 2019 | Vuda Marina, near Nadi Fiji
08 October 2019
01 October 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
24 September 2019
18 September 2019
05 September 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
05 September 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
05 September 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
02 September 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
31 August 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
31 August 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
22 August 2019 | Niue - The Rock
19 August 2019 | Niue Bound
15 August 2019 | Cook Islands
10 August 2019 | Cook Islands
07 August 2019 | Cook Islands
03 August 2019 | At Sea South Pacific
01 August 2019 | Society Islands
26 July 2019

Fijian Independence Day

12 October 2019 | Vuda Marina, near Nadi Fiji
Diane Brown | HOT
Fiji Independence Day
12 October 2019

We arrived in time for Fiji Independence Day and a Lolo celebration at the resort here. Not much going on in town as the capital is in Suva where they have parades and speeches by their president. We joined the afternoon feast here at Vuda just in time to see a helicopter towing the Fijian flag along the coast. Children had some firecrackers and sticks but it seemed pretty laid back compared to US July 4th celebrations.

Our inverter accidentally got returned to the States so thanks to Peter at Svendensons' we are awaiting its re-arrival. Meanwhile John is busy recalibrating our solar and battery controllers trying to improve our charge holding ability. We cannot even hook to shore power 220 without the inverter so my canvas and shade projects must wait. Drying out and doing laundry has made the boat smell better but we are now fighting tiny little ants aboard.

We have not yet gone into Nadi or Lautoka due to the holiday and weekends but did find fresh vegetables and eggs at the Saturday Vuda Market at the next resort. We have gotten to know our immediate neighbors intimately due to the close proximity. Many boats, including our Danish friends, are watching for a weather window to check out for New Zealand. Daily there is action in the coral as the marina skiff unties boats from the center ball and pulls them to the middle in order to transit out of the circle. The staff here are so very friendly and make a huge effort to know you by name. Each day I am learning and using new Fijian words. There is a large construction project here for the new Vuda mega-yacht marina and resort with booms across the reef to prevent contamination. It is not something that could happen in the bay area. Their construction dumpsters run slowly by the security shack whenever the tide is low enough for them to work. There is also a small scale railway track nearby for the sugar cane transport and we can hear the horn and bells for that when it is quiet. The Boat Shed restaurant has music on Friday and Sundays so we plan on eating out tonight.

Many thanks to our friends who visited Carlos at Maya Paleque this Friday and sent us pictures of their amazing Margaritas!!

Safely Arrived - FIJI

08 October 2019
Diane Brown
What a Welcome to Fiji
08 October 2019

It was a wild ride four days outbound from Tonga to Fiji with an even bigger tropical storm nipping at our heels. Max speed of the boat was 10 knots and max winds were mid 40's for several hours. Tabu Soro did real fine; still I was very happy when we reached the lee of the island of Viti Levu for a reach up to our Vuda Point Marina which is close to Nadi and the airport. Once again I am black and blue and band-aids on my forearms and even John had some boat bites from trying to reef in gusts of 30's. Check out the arrival picture as it almost passes for approach to Richmond Yacht Club with the fuel tanks on the hill.

Staff at Vuda Marina met us at the customs dock with a lie for the boat, guitar and a snappy welcome song by about 15 of their staff. For John it is like coming full circle after 20+ years since he fell in love with this country and met the fisherman that unwittingly named our boat Tabu Soro. I had not thought it was a big deal for me except the end of our first cruising season until about mid-welcome song I began to weep. All the smiling, singing faces began to look concerned and then started to laugh. The staff formed a reception line past the boat and proudly told us their names and what they did at the marina or adjacent boat yard. The one lift and ways here even look like Cree's at BMC!

Next came check-in with Bio, Health, Customs and Immigrations who all came to the customs staging dock and onboard. All were very friendly and asked about the boat name which in their language is "don't give up". The Customs man had even looked up and read our sail blog site?? We had always said "Never Give Up" which a waiter later confirmed after he too had asked the origin of the name. The only traumatic part for me was that the Bio Hazard lady literally confiscated all our fresh vegetables, including my precious green and ripening tomatoes, eggs, onions, garlic, basil and then asked if I had any honey on board. I wanted to cry as we turned over our last precious jar of home honey. Apparently if I had cooked everything or boiled the eggs before their arrival she would have left them for on-board eating as long as nothing went to shore (found out after we were in the coral). For John the alcohol sequestering was the traumatic part as the Customs Officer sealed off in one compartment all our remaining unopened spirits & wine except the couple liters allowed per person. Now its not like there is an awful lot left after nearly a year out; but I though John would cry as Customs first took pictures then sealed off the compartment until we leave Fiji. He explained they want us to buy locally. What's with that? I know, we get it.

So docks are not an option here. We were required to have six fenders, three per side and they shoe horn us in (stern-in during cyclone season) in a compact circle with a long line to the over large buoy in the center and two lines to cleats on land-looks much like conestoga wagons. John did an excellent job negotiating the placement despite his hearing aids going out and multiple staff giving directions from the water and land sides. Just think how much RYC would save in docks and added spots. It is a bit close like when we stayed in private apartments in China.

So we are settling in and getting shade canopies and mosquito nets installed until boat parts and new inverter arrive so repairs from the season's damage can begin. We slept soundly through the night not even noticing the many bites until morning. We still hope to get out for some local sailing before the cyclone season truly sets in here.

Leaving Tonga

01 October 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
02 Oct 2019

Leaving Tonga
From Hunga

What a terrific country and a well kept secret. We did our provisioning and had stowed everything when we heard a VHF hail from the
Hide-a-Way that their new kegs had to be emptied at the supplier�'s expense and the beer was flowing with a donation to the Jugs for Jugs
October fundraiser. What a great way to say goodbye to Neiafu. The business owners are very involved here with the yachts and share
running the net each morning for consistency. Entrepreneurship is alive and well especially at the Hide-a-Way customer service is over the
top. It was a lovely way to say goodbye to the expats here who we may see a year or two from now. One man celebrated his birthday and
his three teens were playing on the net jumper enjoying Pina colada fresh coconut and pineapple mix

One special family who came around in the evening all three boys after school at a remote anchorage, mom and dad with their woven
baskets and traditional wraps after she spent all day at the fresh market. When I saw her at the main market she remembered, maybe
because I bought so much, and introduced me to the vegetable fruit and egg ladies so the rest of the trip I was able to order whatever I

The whales are still here with their calves feeding up for the trip back South. Saw a tour boat with about six people swimming after the
poor whales as we headed out west. John felt better seeing all the Japanese and Chinese tourist doing the whale tours; maybe the tide is

Check-out went fast and getting on and off the customs pier with all the obstacles was easy as thanks to our visa extension we could
choose a day at high tide with a wind pushing us off the
concrete. Got the duty free fuel loaded and some chow mien for lunch and ready to rock. So tired and waiting on a weather window at
Hunga and maybe a night at the Blue Lagoon which we saved for last!

Definitely would love to come back here after New Zealand and America�'s Cup!

Visa Extended - Tonga

24 September 2019
Diane Brown
24 Sept 2019

Tonga Visa Extended

We came back to main port early to start check-out process and to get duty -free fuel to find the main dock back logged with yachts waiting for fuel as the pump on the truck had broke down the day before. It was still not working mid afternoon Tuesday and they only do yachts on Tuesday - Thursday. So we checked our options with customs who said we could walk to town to Immigrations to see if they would extend our visa. Success, we can now take another three weeks to wait for a better weather window and get loaded with fuel and propane. The crossing to Fiji is less than a week but just now there are thunderstorms and rough seas predicted for another five days so holding here sounds great.

Went to the other gas station in town by the fishing pier to fill some jerry cans temporarily; only to find they too are down for the day as block by block the power lines are being replaced prior to cyclone season. You have to laugh at Tongan Time. Back down to the dingy dock with empty jerry cans just in time to see the launch of a new fishing boat off the pier that went very wrong. These crane trucks are very popular and used to deliver the many containers that come by supply ship to business and construction sites on a regular basis. We had not seen one launch a boat from a narrow pier before, so John had to stop and watch. The lines were too far back to counter the bow weight so one man sat on the stern behind the back lift lines. The mid- lines slipped just as the boat was over the water and down came the bow with a huge splash with the man on the rear hanging on for dear life. Luckily nobody was hurt and the boat looked fine. John said the operator did a good job of letting it down quickly before the lines came back and decapitated the stern rider.
Another day in paradise!

Lazy Days in Remote Islands

18 September 2019
Diane Brown
Lazy Days
15 Sept 2019

Found an anchorage away from the crowds in about 30 ft of turquoise water surrounded on three sides from shifting winds. We have been here six days except for a morning dinghy ride back to Neiafu to get fresh vegetables and cash. The trip meant we had to thread a reef at the tip of this island at the rising tide and get back before the low tide. Would have been easy except the Enduro fuel line kept pulling off and stalling us out at bad moments which meant oars at one point while John made repairs.

The huge fruit bats and some herons have made this spot entertaining. The bats appear active except for mid day when they hang upside down in the trees. Morning and evening is more active when they leave and arrive back in groups. I have been swimming and snorkeling on the reefs in the clear water or taking the board over with my gear to use as a base. I saw a sea snake and eel and tons of deep blue starfish and black spiny sea urchins yesterday. Did not know they had the poisonous sea snake here. The coral varies but mostly leafy green/purple and some bright orange with lots of sea grasses. The fish under the boat are small but we can watch the larger fish and birds swarm just outside the lagoon. I may take the salmon fishing pole on the board and give it a try if calm this afternoon.

John is down with a cold but enjoys resting in the cockpit when it is not raining. We never seem to get sick until we start to socialize more but need the balance in our cruising lifestyle. He keeps checking for a new spot but then decides not ready to give up this serenity.

We did move to the East side but there was so much rain, chop and wind for two days it was pretty much swinging at anchor and reading and recoup from the dent I tried to make in my forehead with the anchor chain locker doors. Headed back to Neiafu to hang on anchor ball and replace the anchor chain snubber which has worn thin and almost didn't make it thru the last three days of chafe swinging back and forth in the wind. Neiafu was basically closed down for the funeral of the Tongan Prime Minister so did some staples shopping at the Chinese markets and will go back to town Friday morning for the market and perishables.
Then we can explore some more spots in Tonga before our visa expires end of September.

First Kava Ceremony & Church ??!

05 September 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
Kava Ceremony & Church ??! Lape 08 September 2019

It must have touched many of our hearts as four couples joined Maku and another two couples joined his mother to the larger island Catholic church. We thought we were at the wrong spot as it did not appear to have a church. We did get directed to a tin roofed building with tapa and tarp sides with mats on the floor where the minister sat on the kava stool stirring a bowl of brown liquid. Maku joined us from his sister�'s house in his ceremonial ta-ovala and two other church elders sat down with us (they included we yacht women for this day). Minister Hamma explained this was a time to speak of their spiritual journeys and repair any relationship issues prior to going into the church next door with their families and drink the kava. He began to pass around the filled kava bowls and we all tasted it until our lips became numb and said thank you but the elders just drank full bowl after bowl laughing and translating to us their conversations. Since the service would be in Tongan, the minister recapped the scripture in Luke 14 about putting Jesus first ahead of even family which is a difficult concept for this culture. He also let us know September is Women's Month and the 3 women in the community would likely stand and witness and sing a favorite song in Tongan. We jumped when the head elder started banging on a old propane tank hanging from a tree outside the kava house to announce church service. So the men drink kava until the head elder sees that they are in a good relationship and then he rings the bells for church to begin- can be 10 am or whenever he thinks they are ready. Tonga Time is very real here. The children were hanging around looking in the openings waiting in their Sunday best.

Once the third gong was sounded the church building filled and we yachties all ducked for the back seats. The elder that was delivering the Bible message never looked down to read and he spoke for quite some time. Poor Maku was sitting back with us trying to interpret some. The singing were hymns we recognized but with some variations so we could hum along to some degree. The offering required everyone to go forward to an elder at the front table which was awkward but it was for the poor in other lands because the minister insisted they had all their needs met here in Tonga. That was a first. Except later in the after-church kava drinking, plus their wives bought us a huge lunch plate with a watermelon coconut milk slushy, the minister asked for fish hooks to reach their missionary funding goal with fishing efforts by the three men of the island. The boat they take out to sea and spend several nights on is fairly rotten but if they take all that kava along, I'm pretty sure they have a good time.

Maku sat with us after and did his personal testimony which was powerful as he admitted to the contrast and doctrines he is attempting to balance between his Tongan culture which includes the kava and smoking, then the Methodist, Weslyan plus he attends high school as a Mormon and will do the required two year stint as missionary after this senior year. He thanked us very much for accepting his invitation to church and said it made the congregation very happy to have so many guests. We all wondered how many more folks in Norway and US would go to church if the service began and ended with wine drinking.

Tonga has been the best next to Marquesa, for having friendly interactions with the locals. I have to laugh when we started counting the ten languages we know how to say Please, thank you and hello in is about all. Malo for reading this blog.
Vessel Name: Tabu Soro
Vessel Make/Model: Hans Christian 38T
Hailing Port: San Francisco
Crew: John Dinwiddie &. Diane Brown Dinwiddie
About: John has been in the marine industry and before that construction for 30 years. Diane has been in hospital facility construction. We joined forces about 10 years ago and focused on the refit of Tabu Soro.
Extra: We both belonged to jeep clubs in the Bay Area and did many of the same runs. Diane was warned to stay away from the Santa Rosa 4x4's as they were a little crazy.
Tabu Soro's Photos - Main
End of our 2019 Cruising Season
10 Photos
Created 8 October 2019
33 Photos
Created 18 September 2019
2019 pics
16 Photos
Created 18 September 2019
19 Photos
Created 11 July 2019
24 Photos
Created 25 June 2019
2019 Cruising Upload from Nuku Hiva
41 Photos
Created 20 May 2019
January- March on the outside of Baha and Puerto Vallarta
No Photos
Created 23 February 2019
Pacific Coast Transit
15 Photos
Created 31 December 2018
Preparation. Leading up to actual transit
11 Photos
Created 17 September 2018