Day 16, Year 2: Eighth Day of Passage from New Zealand to Fiji
Date: Thursday, May 10, 2007
Weather Today: Clear Blue Skies, Winds Just E of N 12-15 Knots
Temperature: Air 81 degrees F; Water 78 degrees F
Latitude: 19 degrees 31 minutes S
Longitude: 177 degrees 25 minutes E
Miles to Go: 105
Location: Passage from New Zealand to Fiji

I entered the eighth day of passage wearing shorts and a tank top, and I’m still hot. But no complaints, mates. We are motor sailing even though we have 12 to 15 knots of wind. The problem is that it is coming directly at us, so we are using the motor to push us forward. White Swan and Scott Free II are the only boats we know that are still back in the squash zone, but they should be coming out of that soon. Scott Free II has an autopilot problem and I sure hope they don’t have to hand steer all the way to Fiji. Donna and Jerry, we are thinking about you. Ranger’s autopilot problems have settled down and they think they were caused by getting water in the autopilot computer. Ours is under our bed, so if it gets wet, we are in more trouble than not having an autopilot! The group headed to Tonga has had rough going, but Procyon will be there tomorrow. Fatty Goodlander on Wild Card is in his third day of sitting out there in 35 to 40 knot winds. As I said yesterday, he deployed a sea anchor day before yesterday and was happy that he could sit still and drink a glass of wine without spilling it. Conditions would have to a lot worse than they have had for me to sit still for three days in Windbird waiting for the weather to pass, but then I’m not familiar with his boat. Since it is smaller and an aft cockpit, and has 20 year old sails, I guess I can see the logic. Hope he has lots of wine onboard. Ohani Kai’s sails are back up after 4,000 pain staking hand stitches and their motor is running smoothly after switching to a new fuel tank and changing the fuel filter twice. Safina barely has enough fuel to make it to Suva, so Ranger is trying to close the gap between them and will follow them in–ready to transfer fuel if necessary. It looks like we are all going to make it just fine, but we have all had to battle some nasty weather on this passage. There will certainly be a celebration at the Royal Suva Yacht Club (RSYC) tomorrow night if we all make it in. Our ETA is around 1 PM in the afternoon, and after getting checked in, we’ll certainly head to the RSYC for Friday Happy Hour.

As we near Fiji, I figure it is time for a language, history, and geography lesson. We are going to the island of Viti Levu to the city of Suva as our first. Suva is the largest city in the South Pacific and some people don’t go there because of that. We enjoy visiting the cities as well as the villages, so we will start there. Half of the population of Fiji lives in Suva. The indigenous people of Fiji were the Lapita people from southeast China mixed with people who arrived from Melanesia. The people called their land Viti and were known as Vitians. That is, until Captain Cook asked the Tongans what the name of the islands to their west were called. The Tongan pronunciation of Viti sounded like “Feegee” to Cook, so Fiji was born out of a misunderstanding of pronunciation. Today Fiji is comprised of over 300 islands. Those islands are divided into nine or ten ifferent groups. We are hoping to visit all nine groups, but that will depend on getting permission while we are in Suva. Fiji’s goverment is a democratic parliament, but they have had four coups since 1987. The most recent coup was just this past November, so we will have to test the waters carefully upon arrival in the capital of Suva. As far as we can tell from our internet research, tourism has not been affected by the coup, so we should be fine. But going through the bureaucracy to get permission to take our boat into remote places might be challenging. About half of Fiji’s population is Fijian and the other half is Indo-Fijian. These are the people who originally were brought in by the British from India as indentured laborers, but these people worked hard and now almost outnumber indigenous Fijians. There is always tension between these two groups. The Indo-Fijians are mostly Hindu, some Muslims, and the Methodist Church is the most influential religious group representing the indigenous Fijians. One of the highlights of visiting Suva is attending Sunday morning church service at the Centenary Methodist Church. They say the singing is spectacular. Maybe this Sunday.

In Fiji, the greeting for hello is “Bula!” Pronouncing such a simple word becomes a trick however. Most of the English alphabet is used except for ‘x’. And ‘h’ and ‘z’ are only used for words that are borrowed from the English language. Of the remaining twenty-six letters, there are variations for eleven of them.

‘b’ is pronounced as ‘mb’
‘c’ is pronounced as ‘th’ in ‘this’
‘d’ is always proceeded with an ‘n’
‘g’ is preceeded with an ‘n’ and pronounced as in ‘sing’
‘j’ is pronounced as ‘ch’ as in ‘charm’ without the ending puff of air
‘k’ is pronounced as in ‘kick’ without the ending puff of air
‘p’ is pronounced as in ‘pip’ wihtout the ending puff of air
‘q’ is pronounced as ‘ng’ as in ‘angry’ not as in ‘sing’
‘r’ is trilled as in Scottish English
‘t’ is pronounced as in ‘tap’ without the ending puff of air, and is sometimes pronounced as ‘ch’ before an ‘i’
‘v’ is pronounced with the lower lip touching the upper lip, not the lower teeth

Wish us luck. I’m not sure we’re going to be able to pronounce much, but we can at least learn to say hello. We just have to put the ‘m’ before the ‘b’–‘mbula’. And if it is like Samoa, you also say hello when you say goodbye, so we can do that as well. Bula!

PS–Land Ho! Just as I started to close this log, I spotted land–the island of Kadavu. This island is south of Viti Levu, our destination. When we reach Kadavu, we turn east in a channel between Viti Levu and Kadavu. After our stay in Suvu, we plan to head back across the channel to visit Kadavu. The Great Astrolabe Reef is there and they say it is great snorkeling. So we are getting close.

070510 Day 16–Passage to Fiji 8th Day