Well, the time has come to finally cut the dock lines, both literal and figurative and leave the country I’ve become SO fond of; Fiji. On Friday (Aug 10), ELEVEN months and five days after I entered and with the help of some of the great friends I’ve made, I slipped the dock lines and motored out of Vuda Point marina. This was the fabulous spot where I was able to do a complete “20 year” repaint and refit of Learnativity and spent almost the entire past year enjoying a very different kind of land based life with Learnativity out of the water for nine of those months and then tied to a dock for the remainder.
As seems to be the norm for me the whole thing was a serendipitous and phenomenal experience. I originally thought I was going to be there for a few weeks and ended up being there almost a year, I met and got to know some wonderful people who are now dear friends, both fellow cruisers as well as the gift of getting to know many of the local people who I worked shoulder to shoulder with every day on Learnativity as well as several who worked at the marina. I was invited into their homes and truly shared life with them for the past year. What a rich and charmed life I lead!
As for Learnativity she is quite literally a whole new boat and I’ll simply let the before and after pictures tell the story for now. Thanks to my friends Volker & Michaela on La Gitana, who have been in Vuda Point even longer than me, I have these before and after shots of Learnativity on the day she sailed into Vuda Point and then the one where she went back in the water. Just a bit of difference as you can see!
And you are only seeing the outside! In addition to sandblasting the whole exterior, which required removing EVERY part that wasn’t welded on and even a few which were, she now has all new solar protected triple thickened glass, new prop shaft, new solar panels, new nav system, and a very long list of other improvements and rebuilds.
While an immense task, it has been a labour of love and I’m VERY happy with my “new’ boat and looking forward to making the transition back to sailing and life on the water. I have an equally long list of people to thank for making this all possible. The truly wonderful team from Baobab Marine who worked with me every step of the way to get this all done and who did the lion share of the work. My special thanks to Lorenzo for his constant supervision and assistance and to my “boys” especially Isikelly, Jim, Imran, Daven, Nadeem and the many others who worked with us at various stages. I also received lots of help from other cruisers especially Volker and Michaela on La Gitana and who were instrumental in me coming to Vuda Point in the first place, and then a few special others who became friends along the way such as Terry & Christine on Teka Nova, Steve & Selena on Windward II and Tony & Carolyn on Tuaki. I’m leaving out many, many others, so my apologies to all. Just know that my time in Vuda Point was so special because of the people I met and befriended more than anything else.
Through it all Ruby the Wonderdog truly lived up to her name and became the social butterfly of the entire marina. She was easily the best known entity in the marina and many people had no idea who I was other than “the guy” who was usually with Ruby. Ruby is a great teacher on how to live life well as she simply assumes that every living creature she meets is there to play with her and to be loved. And guess what? They do!
So Ruby had an even better time in Vuda Point and is leaving with at least as many memories as I am. She particularly wants to thank Christine & Terry for her time being spoiled aboard Teka Nova with custom made gourmet meals, lots of snuggles and most of all for walks on the beach at low tide where she worked on her crab digging techniques.
And for the past few months Ruby has spent more time aboard Summer Spirit that was docked beside us as she was adopted by Colleen and Ian. Most days I barely saw her as she spent all her time with them including many “sleep overs”. As you can see in just this one interior picture and the big black & white boat docked beside Learnativity in the other picture, Summer Spirit is a pretty fabulous boat to be on and Colleen and Ian became her favorite Aunt and Uncle. So much so that they are now busy making arrangements to find a Spoodle pup in Australia that they can bring over and have a “Ruby” of their own. I think Ruby should be a Spoodle ambassador as this is about the fifth time she has been the catalyst of others we’ve met getting their own Spoodle after falling under Ruby’s spell of pure unconditional love. It was no easy task getting her back on board Learnativity with just me but Colleen did make up some treats for Ruby’s withdrawal (and some for me too!) so I think we’ll manage.
And so it was that I slipped the dock lines at Vuda Point marina on Friday after over ELEVEN months there and am now anchored off the Customs wharf in Lautoka, the western most check out spot in Fiji. I’m finishing up the last bits of getting LTY all ship shape, shopping ashore for the last of my provisions for the next few months and using up all my internet time for uploads and downloads like these. It is now Monday morning here and I’ll row ashore in a few minutes to do my official check out of Fiji. Though I’m not supposed to, I may stop at one of my favorite little deserted islands west of here for one last night to say goodbye to Fiji. Winds are forecast to be VERY light for today and tomorrow so waiting a day or two may help out. In any case the islands of Vanuatu are calling my name the loudest so my first landfall will be Anelghowhat Bay on the SW corner of Aneityum island which is also sometimes called Anatom island. It is about 450nm from here and also the southernmost island in Vanuatu and just became a PoE so I can check into Vanuatu there. The bay there is supposed to be very nice and the check in is very easy as there is almost no one on the island and you get good personal service from the lonely customs guy! My kind of spot!
My overall plan is to just start island hopping making my way north up through the various islands of Vanuatu. There are active volcano's on Tanna and Ambrym islands where you can hike up to the top of the cone, lay down on the edge and poke your head over to look down into the lava pools so of course I HAVE to go experience that! ;) Will stop at the two big cities of Port Villa and Luganville to avail myself of some good French influenced supplies with the likes of great cheese, breads, cafés and WiFi. Otherwise will just live and sail by whim and weather as usual and keep sailing north till about the first week of October when I will start my sail NNE to Majuro in the Marshall islands. I can get duty free diesel when I check out of Vanuatu and so I’m going to run my tanks as low as I can by then and do my annual fill up with considerable savings before I sail up to the Marshalls.
I’ve decided that I WILL fly back to Canada and the USA see friends and family at the end of October. On the one hand I can’t really afford it after blowing SO much of my overall “life” budget here in Fiji but on the other hand it is a no brainer as I need my annual “fix” of family and special friends. Plus Ruby already has her Bat Dog costume (really!) and how can I break my 12 year record of Halloween of being in the US for Halloween? Still making those arrangements but will most likely spend November and December in North America and fly back to Learnativity in Majuro about Xmas time. I’ve decided that the Marshalls are by far the best option for me, both to leave LTY safely as I did before, plus take one last advantage of a good US Post Office there for any last rounds of boat stuff as well as easy flights in and out.
When I was there in 2010 I didn’t get to see many of the outer islands of the Marshalls which are phenomenal and it puts me in a great spot geographically for the start of sailing season up north of the equator. Never plans of course, but my sailing intentions from there are to explore some of the Marshalls as I make my way west over through Micronesia (Kosrae, Pohnpei, Yap, Palau) towards the Philippines but I also have Solomon’s and PNG calling my name louder and louder so I think I may head south from wherever I am in Micronesia about April and go spend the sailing season (April-Nov) down there and then head back north of the equator to pick up where I left off in Micronesia. All WAY too far ahead for me, but fun to do this kind of what if scenario thinking.
I’ll put a full list of all the various ways of communicating with me at the bottom of this post and just remember that when I leave Fiji in a few hours I will mostly be relying on my satellite phone for my internet connection and therefore I’ll be back to just sending and receiving text based Emails. Therefore if you are sending me Emails please copy me on both my firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com with any Emails you send. I’ll likely find some WiFi or cellular connections from time to time in the larger ports in Vanuatu but I spend most of my time on small remote islands or at sea so I won’t be on FaceBook or Skype much for the next while. However I will get back to doing daily blog postings on the sail over to Aneityum like I’ve done in the past and frequent updates on my experiences sailing north. I have it set up so there are automated updates sent to FaceBook and Twitter each time I post to the Learnativity blog so you’ll see those as they happen and can follow us as much or as little as you like. Note that I put in the lat/long coordinates for each update report and you can cut and paste these into Google Earth or Microsoft Bing to see where we are in those satellite photos. It will be a lot of open blue water for the next week or so but once I’m in Vanuatu you can have some fun flying around the sat photos of the various islands and bays to get a feel for these spots I’m in.
And with that I’ll bid you and Fiji a fond farewell for now. Learnativity is in GREAT shape (better be!) so no known issues yet and everything is working well so far! Should only be about 4-5 days passage over to Aneityum so a nice easy sail to get started and let me remember how to sail (or at least my version of it) again after being away from it for almost a year now.
Hope you will join Ruby and I as we set sail for our next round of adventures in life and that you too are living, loving and learning every moment of this grand experience called life and enjoying the gift of the present.
Vinaka Fiji and friends!
Wayne & Ruby the Wonderdog,
aboard the good ship Learnativity
currently anchored near Lautoka, Fiji
17 36.061 S, 177 26.442 E
Regular Email: Wayne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Email when @ sea or remote via sat phone: email@example.com (Yes! This is the correct spelling OCENS)
I typically retrieve and answer Emails to this account via our satellite phone at least once every 24 hours. You can send as much text as you like but are asked not to send any attachments such as photos.
World Phone Voicemail: +1-501-492-9634 (has voice mail that is forwarded to me via Email)
Text Messages: (to my sat phone)
send short 140 character Text msgs via Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other contact info: