Monday, May 31, 2010

Abdul's house

For those of you who have been following our blog faithfully these past few years, I apologize for boring you lately with the details of our refit(s)!  I know a couple of you might be interested in the details but the rest of you armchair travellers undoubtedly have been holding your peace and wondering when I would get on with the adventure!  So if you haven't completely given up on me and are still reading this….I will attempt to share a moment or two of cruising life between the cruises.

I have been back in Fiji for 5 weeks now and totally focused on getting Toketie back into sailing trim.  But I realized today on the short walk back to the house I've rented from Abdul the taxi driver, that the refit is just the background to being here.  I won't attempt to describe living on board in the yard.  For those of you who have done it, you will understand, for those of you who have never lived on a boat in a yard…well, I don't think you could imagine what it is like.  You board on a ladder, you can't use the head (that's the bathroom for you landlubbers), you can only run water to brush your teeth if you place a hose and bucket below to catch the water, then of course you have to empty the bucket! 

And it is hot!  Where Toketie sits she very rarely gets much breeze, if there is any in this marina.  A small fan moves air around inside but it is stifling all day and about 2AM it begins to cool off and fresh air falls down through the hatches and I put down my book and breathe it in with relief, hoping at last I might be able to get some sleep.

Twice in these past 5 weeks, I have had to book into the First Landing Resort next door.  It is not outrageously expensive.  In fact, they have a reduced rate for cruisers from the marina next door.  While we painted the bilges, I spent three nights in a bure, that's what the Fijians call a cabin, to avoid inhaling the toxic epoxy fumes.  I enjoyed the luxury of my own hot showers, my own head, and even the odd dip in the swimming pool!  And a week or so later, while sandblasting the topsides, I booked in again and this time they gave me a beachfront with a big soaker tub….I was in heaven!  But like all good things, that came to an end and once more I turned the six volt fan to face me and read my book while dripping sweat onto a towel on board.  I know, it sounds gross….you should try it sometime!

But tonight, after the workers left for the day, I had a bite in the yacht club bar and a couple of cold Fiji Bitters then decided to see how far a walk it was to Abdul's house down the road.  The sun was setting to my left and after ten minutes the hardtop road turned to potholed gravel but the birds were holding forth in great chorus, the smell of the grasses from the fields, the miniature locomotive that hauls the sugarcane stalks to the mill going by and people in their yards doing what people do at the end of the day when the heat of the sun relaxes enough to allow you out to water the garden or burn the rubble.  Several dog packs gave warning but kept their distance as I walked by.

Abdul's house is in a small Muslim village about 25 minutes walk from the marina.  I have taken Abdul's house for an indefinite time, as the work on Toketie's topsides involves sealing all the hatches, removing the portholes, more sanding, and eventually spray painting the decks and cabin top!  Impossible to live on board with that going on so in the interests of economy, I have taken Abdul's house.  Abdul is a fixture at Vuda Point Marina.  He is the source of all things and always there to help anyone find anything they need.  He and his brother, Abdul 2, live about two miles down the road from the marina.  The reason, I discovered, that they are both named Abdul is because their second names, which are really their given names, are difficult to pronounce, so for the 'yachties' convenience, they refer to themselves as Abdul 1 and Abdul 2!  They own the last three houses on the road past the marina.  Actually the road ends just before their houses and the bus makes its turnaround there.  It is a three bedroom bungalow with big fridge and two burner propane stove, living room, some furniture, a fan, lots of windows looking out into the hills, hot water from a solar tank and lots of peace and quiet…which is maybe why I'm writing this.  I surprised a gecko today, one of those little lizards that are everywhere, in the kitchen area.  But they are friendly creatures and have probably seen more of life than mankind.  They also eat insects so we welcome them.

In the five weeks, I have seen friends come and go, mostly go, from the marina.  This is not a place anyone chooses to stay.  It is a place one stays only to get work done or the 'waiting for a part to arrive' syndrome is in play.  No, life is much better out in Musket Cove or any of the hundreds of small islands that make up Fiji.  Barry and Ann on Cat's Paw IV arrived a week ago and are having some rigging replaced that failed on their passage up from New Zealand.  Looked like they got it today so I'll probably be waving farewell to them tomorrow!  John and Linda on Madhatter left a few days ago with three of their children and two partners to cruise the islands for a few weeks.  Then there are the 'characters' you find in every out of the way place!  There is Bob, who is resurrecting an original John Hannah Tahiti Ketch that was going to be burned.  He has it afloat and filled with Fijians.  His plan is to fix it up and charter it.  I hope he makes it!  And Steve just arrived from Samoa where he rode down Main Street taking out telephone poles in Tulak during the tsunami last year.  He has been sailing since the early 70s and is finishing the repairs here.  And the retired criminal lawyer from Hawaii who sits at the bar reading a novel while the beer flows.  And the list goes on….have to be careful or I could end up as one of these colourful characters!

I count down the days till my first mate joins me!  Hopefully I will have most of the dirty work done and we can put things back together and figure out where to go from here.  Our dear friends, Derek and Anthea, on Sukanuk left New Zealand for Australia a few weeks ago but sailed into the teeth of a very deep low and were hove to and blown North and East so ended up in New Caledonia!  Reports are they are enjoying it and with luck we may catch up to them there or in Australia by Oct/Nov when the cyclone season starts again.

So life goes on and I must remind myself that it is not the destination, but the journey that counts….just as well because the destination is a little fuzzy right now!


From the Toketie crew 'down under' the equator!

1 comment:

Yascha said...

tell us more about the retired criminal lawyer!