Our last day in Fiji. The past several days have been gray and drizzly, encouraging us to view Fiji dry and cozy through the windows of AVATAR’s air conditioned great room. Mike and I have the boat to ourselves at the moment. Rod and Mayflor have taken a rental car and are off to the American Embassy in Suva, hopefully to obtain a visitor’s visa for Mayflor so they can come to Tucson for a visit this Christmas season!
A swell opportunity for last minute laundry, organizing drawers and cupboards, packing for home and stowing our onboard belongings for the passage to New Zealand next week. Mike and I fly home tonight and Rod and Mayflor head to the Philippines in a few days. Nick and Danny, our delivery crew, will clear out of Fiji and sail AVATAR 1000+ miles to New Zealand where the boat will spend the fall and winter (in New Zealand that would be spring and summer) at Circa Marine getting refitted with some extras that we missed out on as a result of being Hull #1. Some enticing additions, such as a second “get home” engine and a stern extension (which will make an awesome dive platform) are in the works, as well as a few warranty items and some other improvements to make a great boat even better.
When AVATAR is finished and better than new, Mike and I plan on cruising NZ’s North Island on our own next February. And for the adventure after that we’re sketching out plans to cruise Northern Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands with Rod and Mayflor back aboard.
But for now we’re in the most luxurious spot in all of Fiji. Denarau is a small island attached to the big island of Viti Levu near Nadi by a bridge that was damaged in the last hurricane and is currently undergoing repairs. Car traffic bottlenecks at the bridge as only a limited allotment of cars are allowed accross at one time, and busloads of tourists are ferried by taxis across the bridge before loading onto busses that are too heavy for the bridge to bear.
On the Nadi side of the bridge is typical big city Fiji. On the Denarau side it is a resort mecca. Gated communites of million dollar vacation homes crowd the waterfront. Five star resort properties stand shoulder to shoulder along the beach: Westin, Sheraton, Hilton, Radisson and more. A lush undulating golf course is landscaped with clusters of palms and tropical flowers and views of Viti Levu’s distant mountains. Tennis and racquetball courts are paved with manicured grass. At the marina has probably the best shopping mall in all of Fiji, with shops offering handicrafts, Fijian pearls, clothing, groceries, yachting supplies. An assortment of coffee shops, restaurants and bars line a deck overhanging the water.
Here at the marina we share dock space with a huge variety of boats, from cruisers like us to fishing boats, dinghies, work barges, and an assortment of tourist vessels such as high speed catamaran ferries or classic sailing ships. And then at the end of our pier are the Superyachts. The sailing yacht GEORGIA we have seen before over the years – a 48 metre (159’1″) sailboat with a mast over 200 feet tall, the largest sloop ever built at the time of her launch in 2000. Next to GEORGIA is the 50 metre (163’8″) motor yacht EXUMA launched in July 2010. She is an astonishing silvery gray motor vessel that looks more like a Boeing Dreamliner coming off the assembly line than a boat. The design was inspired by “the streamlined principles of sailboat hulls” and as a result actually shares a few features with AVATAR, including a narrow streamlined hull for efficiency, roll stabilizers for stability, and a plumb bow. After that the comparison pretty much comes to an end! Next to EXUMA is NOBLE HOUSE, a 54 metre (177′) motor yacht of more traditional design. All three yachts are available for charter – you too with some of your closest friends can sail Fiji. Prices for EXUMA are about US$250,000 per week! Most likely we will see these yachts again next trip as they also head to New Zealand to wait out cyclone season here in the South Pacific.