Another non-eventful passage. Somewhere along the way we crossed the internationl date line and went from being 21 hours behind home (in Samoa) to 2 hours ahead of home (in Fiji), and lost a day altogether. We motored in to Suva Harbour, Fiji, at about 6:00am and anchored off the Royal Suva Yacht Club. Calling Part Control we discovered that the relevant government offices are not open on the weekend, therefore we had to stay on the boat until they could come out and clear us on Monday. The prospect of 2 days stuck on the boat was not a pleasant one, although it did give us an enforced rest period – we are always so tired after a passage but tend to run around madly trying to get things done. Stu’s parents arrived about 6 hours later and anchored nearby – close enough that Stu could swim across when he had a case of cabin fever on our boat and needed to get off. I wasn’t keen to swim in the harbor water, thinking too much about things in the water. Not so much the sharks and giant squid (although that is totally feasible of course), but the grot from years of yachts emptying their holding tanks and the rubbish and much thrown and pumped overboard from the Japanese long-liner fishing boats.
Ahhh, the fishing boats. There is a massive fleet here – about 10 fishing boats and one ‘mother ship’ which gets loaded up and then returns to Japan with another arriving to take its place. These boats used to come to Hobart but left once the costs started to rise and they began receiving some bad publicity. This was the best thing that could have happened, as we have heard that they fish in an area until their catch rate gets down to 2 fish per 1000 hooks. We’re not 100% convinced that this is number is fact, but it is reasonably common knowledge that they do over-fish and leave the ocean quite barren before moving on to the next area. We met a guy from Alaska who had seen their catch log in the Custom’s office (no such thing as secure filing here – the files are stacked up in the visitor waiting area!) and he said that they were regularly recording 70,000 tonne catches. And there were hundreds of these folders sitting there. On top of that we have seen the crew carelessly throwing their rubbish over the side, and the ships are forever pumping something in to the water. We just hope the Fijian Islands aren’t totally destroyed, and are thankful that the fleet no longer comes to Australia.
Stu decided to tempt fate, and the wrath of Customs and Immigration, by bringing his parents dinghy over to pick me up from our boat. There were definitely benefits to heading over to Ariel (their boat) for the afternoon - a more comfortable cockpit, an electric toilet (as opposed to ours which has to be manually pumped) and a much more exciting food selection due to having refrigeration topped the list. We enjoyed some company and some food with flavor before heading back to Pelon after tea.
Just to taunt us, Chuck (from Alaska) came past in his dinghy to inform us that he was heading to the yacht club for the free roast pork and beer they were providing to celebrate the opening of a new bar area. Of all the nights to be stuck on the boat… Thanks Chuck…!!