Hit by lightning!

By Mike Jastrzebski

Last week, Rough Draft was hit by lightning. This was our first hit in twelve years of living on the sailboat, but it was a big one.

Mary and I both happened to be watching the storm through the galley window when a flash of lightning lit up the sky. This was followed by a loud boom that shook the the boat, blew out our lights, and sent sparks cascading from the mast into the water.

I ran out into the heavy rain to make sure that nothing was on fire, then returned to the boat to check out the damage.

The strike had damaged the circuit breaker to our lights and after rerouting the wiring for the lights to another circuit we discovered that two of the light fixtures were damaged. It didn’t seem too bad at first, but over the next couple of days we discovered the true depth of the damage to our electronics.

The next day Mary found a piece of our VHF antenna on the deck. For those of you not familiar with sailboats the antenna was mounted on the top of the mast. The antenna’s gone now, and there’s no doubt in my mind that’s where the lightning struck.

At this point we checked the VHF radio and realized that it was shot. We also have a ham radio on board and this radio’s antenna is a section of the mast backstay. The ham radio is also shot. After further investigation we’ve discovered that our electric windlass, which raises the anchor, is not working. I’m hoping this is just a bad circuit breaker, but I won’t know for sure until I replace the breaker.

On top of that our refrigeration is not working and although our television is working, all of a sudden the volume will turn off and I have to bang on the corner of the TV to get it working again.

Obviously this is a big hit to our cruising kitty and we have decided to spend another year in St. Augustine. We are planning to get off the mooring ball and are currently looking for a slip at one of the local marinas.

We were looking forward to heading to the Exumas in the Bahamas this year, but sometimes when you live on a boat you’ve got to go with the flow. On the positive side of things this will give me a chance to write another book. I’m wavering between a follow-up to The Storm Killer or an urban fantasy.

For those of you who have not yet read Dog River Blues, now’s a great time to give it a try. It’s on sale for a limited time for .99 cents on the following sites: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, & Google.

Share on Facebook
Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

11,000 miles of dead bugs and road dirt…


C.E. Grundler

It’s quite impressive. The kids pulled in last night, tired and happy, in a car covered with the traces of our nation’s highways and parks from coast to coast, along with a virtual horror show of splattered insects. There’s desert dust in the door frames, rain forest pine needles in the carpet, and “Kid tested, mother approved” Kix cereal scattered throughout. All signs of an epic road trip, one where they spent much of their time a day or two ahead of the forest fires consuming the west coast. In fact, much of their trip was re-routed to less combustable regions. And there are pictures, but everyone’s still unpacking and settling in, so this is it for now.

As for me, it’s a day off from working at the marina, which these days is anything but a day off as I try to catch up on everything else in my life.  Much to do, so it’s time to run. Days off erode fast!

Share on Facebook
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

I’m not even supposed to be here today…

C.E. Grundler

…but I am. Here, that is, at the marina, herding boats.  We’re averaging around 40 boats a week, though sometimes they all arrive on Friday afternoon. This week, rather than a naval invasion involving dozens of small boats, we’re being descended upon by only a few – a 57′, 52′, 70′, 150′, another 52′, 47′,  60′, and yet another 70′, as well as any last-minute arrivals.

I knew going in that this job was going to be a lot of work, and it’s certainly lived up to those expectations and then some, and it certainly hasn’t been dull.  And eventually things will (hopefully) settle down to a manageable rhythm, but right now I’ve been too busy to notice.  And eventually, with any luck, I’ll get a day off now and then, and a chance to do some real writing again, rather than these few rushed sentences.

Share on Facebook
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Drifting Circus comes to town

starting out

The Drifting Circus gets ready to perform at dusk

by Christine Kling

Cruising boats and cruisers certainly do come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen tiny little midget boats under 30-feet out here in the Pacific as well as humongous catamarans and retired maxi racers put to new use as cruising boats. However, last evening we got to watch something that was certainly new to me.

humanboatThe Drifting Circus put on a performance at the Boatshed Restaurant here in Vuda Point. This circus troupe is essentially a floating commune of artists, musicians and acrobats. If you click on their link you will see that they call themselves the Alternative Sailing Community. They perform at resorts and on the street and pass the hat for tips. In the outer islands, they also perform in the villages, at hospitals and for children at schools. They are now a group of five boats and over thirty people, mostly twenty and thirty-somethings, and I was impressed by their show last night. While it wasn’t a polished show, it was fun and sweetly earnest. Wayne used the word “authentic” and that works, too. They kept their energy very high and really knew how to play to the crowd. They work at what they do, from acrobatics to tight-rope walking to belly dancing to clowning. The stunts they did with fire added just the right amount of breathless suspense. The instruments varied from guitars to banjo, accordion, flute, tambourine and drums. It was a great fun show, and when they passed the hat afterwards, we were happy to contribute.


Most of us have a difficult time managing life in the small space of our cruising boats no matter what the size. Each one of these boats has 6-10 people on board and they grow lots of food on board, too. It’s not a cruising lifestyle that would suit me, but the smiles and warmth from these folks was truly genuine. Maybe it’s something that works better for the young.

I believe artists should support each other and given that we writers want to be able to float around out here, write our books on the water and get paid for it, I say “Good on you!” to the artists of the Drifting Circus. If they drift your way, I hope you too will pitch a nice donation into their “Magic Hat.”

Fair winds!


Share on Facebook
Posted in Boatyards, Sailing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A new perspective on iPad navigation apps

This shows how the charted islands were about half a mile off of their actual position.

This shows how the charted islands were about half a mile off of their actual position. We were actually where the purple pin is, but the app showed us to be located on the opposite side of the island.

by Christine Kling

These past few days I have been rereading my own novel Wreckers’ Key, the 4th in the Seychelle series as part of the research I’m doing for the writing of the 5th in that series. That book dealt with GPS and it was written in 2006. Times certainly have changed, but I can see how that book had lots to do with my fascination with this technology. I’ve often blogged about my favorite iPad apps for navigation that make use of the built-in GPS on the iPad. Sailing out here in the Pacific has given me a new perspective on what might be my favorite app.

When I took my own boat Talespinner up and down the ICW in 2011-2012, I certainly had fun taking iPad screen shots of the times the charts showed me driving my boat across land. But most of those times, it wasn’t a big deal because I had clear visuals of the area around me, and I didn’t need to follow the charts. In fact to do so would have been nuts. Some people erroneously call this a problem with GPS. The GPS is quite accurate — it’s the charts that aren’t.

Here in the South Pacific, it can be more dangerous to rely on GPS chart plotters or tablets when the islands are often very far out of their charted positions. Many cruisers out here use a laptop navigation program using OpenCPN and they create their own charts via Google Earth that are in a file format called KAP. Our friend Rory Garland, captain of the Grand Soleil 52 Streetcar, wrote an excellent article that explains this called Google Earth navigation: how to sail off the chart with confidence using satellite imagery for the magazine Yachting World. There is now a program called Chart Aid available that makes this process a bit easier, but it does cost $99.00 for the software, and it is for Windows only.

These charts are often passed from yacht to yacht on memory sticks, and there is a good collection of them on the S/V Soggy Paws blog available for download. I happily downloaded these for the Lau Group thinking I would be able to use these on my Mac laptop as I have OpenCPN for the Mac and MacENC. However, with recent updates to my operating system, now neither one of my usb GPS devices will talk to my laptop. It does me much less good to have the charts open on the screen if I don’t have a GPS signal showing me where I am on the chart. That’s what got me looking again at iPad apps for navigation.

For the most part, Fiji charts are fairly good, but we’d heard that out in the Lau Group, we would find some gross errors in the location of the islands and also in the general drawing of the shapes of the islands. I had already downloaded the KAP files for the islands, but I suddenly realized I had no way to use them on a GPS enabled device. And when we got to the Lau Islands, we found the charts were just as bad as had been predicted. Since I like to talk about the different navigation apps, I took some shots of the differences in the views of the different apps.

Garmin chartI’ve used different iPad apps in the US & Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Med (on vacation with friends), and in the Pacific. While I prefer the Garmin Blue Chart app in the Bahamas where they make use of the excellent cartography of the Explorer Charts, Garmin’s Pacific coverage in the v2013.5 that I bought in Jan. 2014 leaves much to be desired. As you can see in the image here their cartography in the Lau islands was horrible. Compare this to the chart at the head of the blog. There is now a v2015 that I can “upgrade” to for $69.99, but I am not going to take a chance that it is still so bad.

iNavX chartThere are features of iNavX that I adore, such as the ability to GOTO a waypoint and see your DTW and ETA, etc. on the ribbon at the top of the screen. But for here in the Pacific, there are issues. I bought the Navionics Charts from the Fugawi X-Traverse site and their charts divide the world down the 180º line and don’t allow users to cross it. Fiji is bisected by that line. This means that to get from 179ºE to 179ºW you have to scroll your way all the way around the world. On the site for the current versions of the chart there is this warning: “Usage and Coverage Note: Chart regions split by the 180 degree longitude line (ex. Fiji Islands) render with portions of the regions at opposites sides of the screen with no wrap-around. Also, depth soundings are hidden within about half of degree west of 180. This is a known rendering limitation you will need to work around; it is not a problem with the chart data itself (i.e. a re-download will not resolve the issue).” The current edition of Navionics charts 50XG Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and Hawaiian Islands cost $79.99 on the Fugawi site. At that price, this issue is unacceptable. And as we are a 3 iPad family, they only allow you to download the charts to two iPads, whereas apps that include the charts in-app allow us to buy one version of the app and share it across as many iPads as we would like.

The same issue with the 180 degree longitude line occurs with the Garmin charts.

The only navigation app I own that is able to allow users to sail across the International Dateline in their cartography is Navionics own app (pictured at the top of the page). It also allows users (through an in-app purchase) to do a satellite overlay onto the charts, and it can cache a small amount of satellite data to use offline. That Navionics app has been my favorite app for the last year or so, but I couldn’t download enough satellite data to cover all the islands we wanted to visit.

SeaIQAfter a little Internet searching, I found my new favorite iPad navigation app for the South Pacific —it’s SEAiq Open. As they say on their website, “SEAiq Open is the only vector marine chartplotter app that allows you to use your own charts on your iPhone or iPad. It supports S-57, S-63, Inland ENC, CM93, and BSB/KAP formats.” You see that last point? This app can read those KAP files that I downloaded. I bought this app for $39.99, and I was able to transfer my KAP files from my laptop to the iPad via iTunes file transfer, and presto, I had a terrific way to use these KAP files on a GPS-enabled device. The app has a very basic base map of the world, but once I got the charts loaded into the program, I simply had to zoom in on the area of the charts and I could see satellite images. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any screenshots while we were underway, but here you can see the GPS dot that shows us here at the western end of the big brown island of Viti Levu and the KAP files that knit together beautifully showing the island of Kandavu south of Viti Levu.

There is so much more that this app can do, and I look forward to using it again when we launch and get back to sailing. In the meantime, we are here in the yard slowly making progress at getting our old girl Learnativity back into shape.

Fair winds!


Share on Facebook
Posted in Boatyards, Sailing | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

A day off…

The view from Silver Dock to the fuel docks and North Yard

The view from Silver Dock to the fuel docks and North Yard

C.E. Grundler

I’m taking the day off from the marina, and I mean truly taking the day off. My co-workers have warned I’m not to come anywhere near the property until tomorrow morning…though that doesn’t mean I don’t have my pages of member and transient slips at close hand and I’m not still calling and on call to the office. But this is the first day I’ve fully and completely taken off since this whole whirlwind began. Things are running great, knock on wood, aside from the usual day-to-day marina/boatyard hiccups. Hydraulics went out on the travel lift, the entire computer system had to be updated (translation, no computers for two days,) and there are always small fires to put out…including a burning bush in the parking lot. I kid you not. I get this whole initiation-by-fire thing I’ve landed in, but a burning bush? By time I reached that fire with the extinguisher it was already under control – some quick-thinking boaters turned to their coolers, pouring beer and melted ice over the flames. I gave it a quick shot with the extinguisher, and by then the fire department was pulling up, though I assured them the fast acting Beer Brigade had things well under control.

On that note, I’m going out for a bit. Walking the acres of docks and wrangling boats into slips has shaved a good 12 unwanted pounds off me, and I need some new  clothes.

Share on Facebook
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Starting a new chapter


by Christine Kling

One week ago today we were still in the Lami anchorage in Suva Bay, and we were getting tired of the gray, rainy days. We’d seen mornings with temps in the low sixties and the water was in the low eighties. We wanted heat. The western end of Fiji is the leeward side of the big island of Viti Levu, and it is where the warmest weather is to be found. We talked about it and made the decision to skip Kandavu Island and the Great Astrolabe Reef this time and head west for a while. We could return to Kandavu’s famous snorkeling when the water warmed up a bit later in the Southern Hemisphere’s spring. With about 120 miles to cover in total but only around 90 miles to a pass through the reef, we decided to depart just after noon on Sunday.

Wayne had been keeping an eye on a problem with our engine cooling system for several weeks. When he would do the typical pretrial check of engine fluids, the cooling water was often low. Learnativity has a fresh-water-cooled engine and the system uses a keel cooler which is essentially a looping length of steel pipe welded to the bottom of the boat. Wayne was adding water every time we left, and he knew the system had a pinhole leak somewhere, but he wasn’t able to see where it was going. This big steel boat has inside ribs and stringers that separate the bilge into unconnected parts. The sections he kept checking didn’t have any water in them.

Somewhere about the time we cleared the entrance channel to Suva Harbor, the engine overheated, and Wayne discovered there was no water in the system at all. The mystery pinhole had grown to something much bigger, and it meant we could not run the engine at all. Because Wayne wasn’t finding the fresh water that leaked out of the system in the bilge, he thought the pipe must have rusted through on the outside and the water was leaking into the sea.

We had an uncomfortable night sailing downwind in 25-30 knots of wind and very confused seas—each of us wondering what this new development would mean to our cruising. Our plans had been to keep sailing until September and then to haul out at Vuda Point Marina to do a bottom job. But recently, we have started to talk about selling Learnativity and building a new boat. It’s just talk right now, but we had started thinking about doing a bigger boat renovation to pretty her up and list her with a broker just to see what happens. Maybe, once we refinish the interior teak and repaint the hull, we’ll just decide to keep her and sail off for more cruising. This new twist in our cruising plans could give us the time in the yard we would need.

IMG_0413But even more importantly, in the short term, to get to the western end of Viti Levu, we had to go through a pass through the reefs. That could be dicey without the engine. We wouldn’t know until we got there if the wind angle would allow us to sail through.

Around midmorning the next day when we finally got some quieter water in the lee of Viti Levu, Wayne went below and rigged a bypass system to run fresh water through a length of hose in the engine room. But while Wayne was below MacGyvering that system, I sailed past the main reef pass, the Navula Passage. I’d already watched two sailboats enter and they had dropped their headsails and motored through. I decided that with our ESE wind, we would probably be able to point our way through the Malolo Pass and not have to tack. By the time Wayne got the engine working, we were already well through Malolo pass.

However, once in the lee of Viti Levu our winds had been steadily decreasing. As we sailed through the “foul ground” sections inside Malolo Pass, the wind dropped down to 5-7 knots and our speed dropped to 1.5—barely enough to have steerage. Off to our left was Musket Cove, a resort and cruisers’ hangout. We had intended to go there, but now that we were engineless, we decided the prudent thing would be to head for the marina and boatyard. It was past noon already, and we still had about 17 miles to go to reach Vuda Point. No problem normally, but at 1.5 knots, not so good. We ran a trial and found we had about 9-10 minutes to run the engine until it overheated, and it was just enough to get us out into clear water beyond the pass.

As Wayne continued to work in the engine room, I tried to get every bit of speed I could out of the light flukey winds. Finally, around 2:00, the wind picked up, and soon I was doing 4.5 to 5 knots. We sailed up close to the mooring ball off Vuda Point and furled the main. With just the jib, we tried to sail right onto the mooring ball, but once Wayne let the jib fly, we lost way faster than expected, and we fell a few feet short. He fired up the engine, took us up the last few feet, and I grabbed the mooring line with the boat hook. We’d made it.

As we toasted the sunset that evening, we talked about what to do next. Wayne had finally found the section of the bilge with the accumulation of fresh water and it’s located under the fiberglass bathtub. It looks like the hull rusted through inside the keel cooler. It is going to be a big and complicated repair job. We considered taking a slip in the marina to work on the boat, but decided in the end to just haul out so we can get started on lots of the big jobs we want to undertake—including figuring out what to do about the keel cooler and repainting the topsides. So, after two days on the mooring ball, we were towed into the harbor and then started the engine to make our own way into the waiting slings of the travel lift. We have decided to spend the cyclone season here in Vuda Point, so we will be on the hard for about the next six or seven months.

For us, this also marks a sort of closing of the circle. Vida Point Marina is where I first met Wayne, Ruby and Learnativity about twenty months ago. We are laughingly calling this the end of our “first date.” Now, for this new chapter, we have become full time Fiji residents in Vuda Point, located between Nadi and Lautoka. Not many people are excited about the prospect of living on their boat on the hard, and I know it sounds crazy, but we are both very happy to be here. Wayne will be making progress at getting the boat into top shape, and I will have long hours to write. We have air-cooled refrigeration on the boat so it still works in the yard, and we are a stone’s throw from the heads that are equipped with on-demand-all-you-can-use hot showers. The marina has a nice restaurant, a lovely little coffee shop, and small convenience/grocery store, as well as a whole flock of new people to get to know.

During our time out of the water, I intend to finish this new Seychelle novel I’ve started. I’d been finding it difficult to get into the writing while sailing in the Lau Islands, but now I won’t have those distractions. Just as our cruising life has started a new chapter, I am finishing up with the outlining stage and ready to start Chapter 1 of the new novel. Who wouldn’t be excited by that?

 Fair winds!


Share on Facebook
Posted in Boatyards, Living on a boat, Sailing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the boat…


Lots of docks. So many boats. And this is just one part of the south side.

C.E. Grundler

Sometimes life can take some surprising turns, presenting the strangest opportunities and most unexpected challenges at just the right time. Sometimes it takes years for those moments to arrive, and sometimes they can completely blindside you — but I’ve had lots a practice being blindsided over the last few years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at handling just about anything you can throw at me.

I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason, even if that reason may not be apparent at the time. And while I was driving down to the boat with my canine crew for a day of writing/boat work, contently enjoying my lack of employment, I was completely unaware that major changes were happening at the marina around the corner, where I’d worked a few years back. Unknown to me, my name was the one that kept coming up for the Dock Master position. People who’d worked with me said I was the right person for the job, and anyone who knows me knows this job is perfect for me. So, when I found myself meeting with the owner and the manager of Haverstraw Marina to discuss my becoming Dock Master of the thousand slip marina complex — well, let’s just say I had a lot to consider.

Ultimately, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and the last two weeks have been a blur. Last week it became official, and I’m only starting to catch my breath now.  The timing couldn’t be more ideal; a few months ago a job like that (any job, for that matter,) wouldn’t have been an option. But I feel fantastic, I’m healthier than I’ve been in years. And what a job! I’m working among many long-time friends, seeing boaters I hadn’t seen in years, and making new friends by the day. The picture at the start of the post was taken just outside the marina office — that’s the view from my desk, though much I’m spending much of my time on the docks and throughout the yard. Haverstraw is a convenient stop for Great Loopers, and we have a steady flow of visiting boats coming and going, so you never know what the next day will bring. And with roughly seven hundred customer boats spread over four dock complexes, it’s rarely dull.

There is one down side to this that I had to accept. It’s a simple equation of time. I only have so much. There’s no way be finishing up Evacuation Route as soon as I’d hoped, yet again. But finish I will, and I’ll move forward with future books knowing my best material  always came from working jobs like this — though not quite on THIS scale. 

Screenshot 2015-07-23 09.10.52

As for Annabel Lee, she’s on the fast track to launch, if only for a very short cruise to her new home and deep-water slip waiting at Haverstraw.





Share on Facebook
Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Summer Cottage

This week I take a break from Write On the Water to introduce a guest author – Susan Kietzman, a friend, colleague and author of three novels. Susan’s latest book, The Summer Cottage, was released this past May by Kensington.


by Susan Kietzman
The only thing almost as sweet as summer, are the few months leading up to it, when we, still bundled in wool sweaters and long pants, daydream about the upcoming lazy days at the beach and refreshing swims in Long Island Sound. My mother and her two sisters share a cottage on the Connecticut shoreline, which as many of us who can – taking time from work and other routine obligations – travel to every year. It’s a simple place, across the street from an expanse of lawn that stops at cement steps that lead to the sand and water. The cottage reminds me of my childhood, as I have been there every year since I was born. It reminds me of family.

Family can be one of those loaded words, depending on who you’re talking to. There are those of us who have good childhood and adult experiences with our siblings and our parents. And there are some whose experiences are not, well, anything to write home about. Bad or good, however, it’s hard to deny the power and influence of family.

As small children, we learn just about everything there is to know from our family members, from the very basic but necessary physical tasks of drinking from a cup, eating with a fork, tying shoes, putting on clothes to the more complicated, nuanced, psychological, and emotional tasks of learning what it means to be right or wrong, how to give and receive love, what comprises the essential elements of good character.

When we are young, we look to our family members for comfort when we skin our knees, for a hug during a nighttime thunder storm, for friendship when all our real friends are busy, for the sense of understanding we feel only when we lock eyes with a brother, a sister, a father, or a mother. When every member of a family is still living at home, a bond among them forms – even during times of disagreement or distrust. When everyone is eating at the same dinner table and sleeping in bedrooms several feet from one another, when everyone is breathing the same air, they are more apt to connect, in one way or another.

The Thompson family, of my latest novel, The Summer Cottage (May 2015), is like these families. The book’s chapters flip back and forth between 2003 and 1973. In 1973, everyone is still at home – although their time together is growing short. Thomas, the oldest child, is 18, and poised to leave in the fall for college. Charlotte, at 17, is as recalcitrant as many 17 year olds can be. Pammy is shy and insecure, like many 13 year olds. And Helen, at 10, embraces every day with the innocence and honesty of a fourth grader. Their parents, John and Claire, are attentive: John is thoughtful and wise, and Claire is outspoken and competitive. She insists her children play sports, including, when they are at the cottage, family kickball. Helen loves the game because she loves being outdoors in the summertime, and she adores her family. Her older siblings are not as keen, as they view the game as imposed on them by their overbearing mother.

Almost as quickly as a back yard kickball game is over, so is this fleeting time of family unity. Most of us can remember when we left home for the first time. Like Thomas, we are 18. We graduate from high school and move to the next stage in life, and we, often cheerfully, leave our family members behind. We proclaim ourselves independent, with all the arrogance it takes to make that statement. Our parents’ values now seem old-fashioned and staid. And we lose track of our siblings because they have often moved away, too. A sense of relief fills the space we have been craving.

Years pass. Eventually, though, we often return to our family members – not always physically but certainly emotionally, when we realize that we don’t, after all, know everything. We return for guidance when life’s myriad choices confuse us, for help in crisis, for the retelling of stories that no one else knows as well as a sister or a father. Every summer, when I am able to hear both my brothers tell these familiar stories, I am already laughing three words in.

Family members share a closeness that is impossible to duplicate – if only for the history you share. Siblings and parents have known you the longest. They know your secrets, your foibles, your proclivities. They know your middle name. It is this closeness that reunites families after periods of separation.

However, sometimes adult family members need more incentive then good memories to put their pleasant lives on hold in order to attend a weekend reunion. It’s easy to get comfortable with how we do things. It’s easy to stay away from a parent who has been tough on us. In The Summer Cottage, Claire knows this about her children. Thomas and Charlotte live far away from her now. And Pammy, living closer, hardly visits. So Claire, who is ill and knows her death is imminent, decides that the only way to see her children again is to force it.

So they acquiesce to their mother’s wishes and return to the shore, along with the others who have entered their lives since 1973, knowing that July 4th weekend in 2003 has the potential to be wonderful, awful, and everything in between. And while Claire would like to think she can control their time together, it is really up to Thomas, Charlotte, Pammy, and, most of all, Helen, whose love for her older brother and sisters is the real reason they come.

the summer cottage

For more information on Susan Kietzman:

Share on Facebook
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Hello big city!

Learnativity at anchor in Fulanga

Learnativity at anchor in Fulanga

by Christine Kling

We are on a free mooring tucked away in a corner of the big bay in Viti Levu where the city of Suva can be found. Our little bay is on the opposite side from the big city, but we are only a short bus ride away and even better, we now have access to the true fast Internet! Wayne and I have both been sitting on the boat this lazy Sunday gorging on the joy of Internet that can actually play videos!!

Since this Internet is such a luxury, I am going to blog with more pictures than words this week — just because I can!


We sailed overnight from Fulanga to the island of Matuku one week ago, and we had more adventures there and got to know the wonderful villagers. The island was very different from the low bay islands at Fulanga. Not too many boats go to Matuku, and seriously, it is their loss. There were two other boats in the incredibly protected anchorage when we were there and both of them were from Germany.


The village at Matuku was very prosperous and well kept. The chief wasn’t in residence, so we did our sevusevu with the chief’s spokesperson. He told us he had a fiberglass boat with in need of repair and asked if we had any resin. Wayne told him to stop by the boat later. That afternoon, he stopped by with two of his five daughters in the boat and while dad got his resin and hardener, the girls got a bag of candy and everyone went away happy. The next day when we were passing through the village returning from a hike, a couple waved us over and invited us into their home for coffee and cookies. They were the owners of the one shop in the village (a shack about 6 by 10 feet) and he was the lay leader of the church. In the Lau group of islands, most of the people are Methodists, and the villages and islands often have to share ministers. If the ordained minister isn’t in attendance, a villager is in charge of the service. I asked our new friend what these things were that looked like little canoes, and he told me that they were the church bells. They beat on them with a stick to call people to the church.


It was another overnight sail from Matuku to Viti Levu and I must admit, as much as I love visiting the remote islands, I was really happy at the prospect of going shopping and getting more food. It had been more than three weeks since we had seen much in the way of fresh produce and I knew Suva’s market was one of the first places on my go to list. The market did not disappoint.


When you’ve got to the point where you are hoarding your last quarter of an onion, a place like this can send you into overload. At the market here they sell everything by the “heap.” So each of those heaps of eggplants are $2 Fijian (which is $1 US) or those heaps of fresh ginger are $1 Fijian.


Wayne came armed with our shopping bags and we filled them up! Papayas, green beans, tomatoes, oranges, lettuce, corn, cucumbers. Then we arrived at the seafood section and there were mussels and clams and fish.


Okay, but I drew the line at the octopus. Not that I don’t like it, but I wasn’t really sure how to cook it. And there were so many vendors selling these huge octopi (?) that I am now worried for the species here in Fiji – and please don’t ask me what the green stuff is on the other side of the octopus. I think it was some sort of seaweed. There was lots in the market that I couldn’t identify.

So, the boat is full of veggies, the wine locker has been replenished, and the crew is gorging on Internet, so you’d think we’d be ready to leave in a day or two. But I have received the copy edits for Knight’s Cross, and I’ve been so busy dealing with the 1000+ emails and catching up with news and friends, I’ve barely started to look at the manuscript.

We just might be here in Suva for a while.

Fair winds!



Share on Facebook
Posted in Living on a boat, Sailing, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off