TN461 – 11/06/2016 After 24 hours sailing out of Suva, we hit our first destination “Matuku”.
It was by no means a smooth sail- many of us were left feeling a little
under the weather!
Our ship was of much curiosity to the locals- many sailed alongside us (once
we were anchored) to check us out! The chief of one of the seven villages on
the island “Yaroi” instructed several fishing boats to welcome us and lead
us to the island.
We launched the two DOTIs (speedboats) and loaded them up with voyage crew.
We were then guided to some of the nearby villages and beaches on the
island. The local Fijians were so welcoming and kind- without their
guidance, it would have been a tricky task navigating the reefs in shallow
When we arrived, the chief of the locals invited us into his house for a
ceremony and official welcoming to the island. We were then given permission
to explore and had guided tours of the hospital and school where the local
girl guides and scouts put on a spontaneous dancing and singing act.
We were instructed to be back at the drop off point for the last pick up on
the speedboats at 5.30pm. However, by 4pm the tide had taken a turn and was
well out to sea, and a lot of the boats were grounded! This was complicated
by the fact that we also had four wheelchairs on the beach! We were told by
the local chief that the tide wouldn’t be returning until at least 10pm- no
wonder they invited us in for a glass of lava (a very mild narcotic drink
native to Fiji, made from grinding the roots of the cava bush).
We made the decision to return earlier, or else we risked spending the night
on Matuku! The locals were very helpful and offered to transport us back to
the boat in their fishing boats.
The first challenge was getting the wheelies onto the boat whilst wading
through sinking sands. Thank goodness for those strapping Fijians! Once we
were all loaded, we made it back through the treacherous coral reefs to the
safety of Tenacious.
To return the hospitality, we invited the chief and three others on board
for a tour and to give them some gifts and supplies for the island which
they were most grateful for.
Dinner followed shortly after (roast lamb with all the trimmings and copious
amounts of red wine!) After Dinner, Jim serenaded us on the guitar with well
known folk songs. Credits to Mike who kept the bar running to a swift
operation throughout the evening.
We all eventually (later than usual and worse for wear) headed to our bunks
for a few hours kip before our next watch duties.
We awoke the next morning to a beautiful sunny day and turquoise smooth
waters- perfect weather for the assisted climbs. The wheelies went first,
and the others followed shortly after. After a much needed smoko, we
replenished our energy supplies to enable us to pull the riggings, set the
sails, and be on our way! We’ve been told we will be sailing for 48 hours
before reaching destination 2 (The Explorer Isles), approx.. 120 nautical
FS (Harriet, Marshall, Allan).