Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Bula Bula Christmas from Fiji!

My last blog entry was 6 months ago on the 4th anniversary of buying Pelangi.

We always knew that cruising idyllic islands and following changing monsoons wasn’t something we could do forever and completing a circumnavigation is not on our bucket list.  We were always on the look out for somewhere we could use as a base.  A slice of paradise where the environment was still in tact, where we could live off the land, be part of a community; start a small business perhaps.  It needed to have somewhere to moor Pelangi so we could still enjoy cruising and escape for a while whenever we wanted.  Once we started to look seriously it became clear that we weren’t going find anything in S.E. Asia.  Visa restrictions, dodgy lease agreements and hearing of other misfortunes were enough to conclude we were looking in the wrong place. 

So, just before our visit to NZ earlier this year, we went to Fiji and visited 2 islands looking at properties and land for sale.  Fiji ticked all the boxes.  Due diligence and Commonwealth laws would ensure the safe buying of freehold land.  Building materials and standards are high, the locals are a friendly bunch and the cruising ground is stunning!

Those of you connected via facebook know that as a result of our visit we purchased a lovely 2 unit,
ocean view property in Savusavu on the Fiji’s 2nd largest island Vanau Levu.  The area is a mix of local villages and nice resorts (owned by the likes of Tony Robbins and Jean Michel Cousteau).  It’s famed for its lush green scenery, waterfalls, superb diving, big game fishing and adventure holidays including trekking, mountain biking and kayaking.

Drawing up the sales and purchase agreement was the easy bit, what followed was over 4 months of frustration as we dealt with bank managers and lawyers who would test the patience of a saint!  Some hold ups were a result of the famed “Fiji Time” (which can be charming when you’re future doesn’t depend on it!!), but mainly due to miscommunication or mismanagement.  By this time we were back living on Pelangi in Puteri Harbour Marina, Malaysia; just across the causeway from Singapore.  It was a great place to be as we had good internet access 24/7, access to printers, scanners, banks and good overseas phone connections which did help to push things along and smooth the way a little.  If we’d been cruising or in a less developed area we don’t think we could have done it.  Pelangi became our floating office.  The sails were put away and shore power was plugged in permanently as we set about overseeing the next chapter in our lives. 

The sale was completed mid October and early November I flew out to take ownership leaving Gareth on the boat to finish some work commitments before joining me for Christmas.  My first month alone here was not without its moments.  My luggage got delayed by 2 days, I arrived on a Friday afternoon so was without power or water for the week end and on my first night I thought I was being attacked by some crazy bush man waving a machete at me from my garden gate.  It turned out to be James, one of the elders from the village and caretaker of surrounding ex pat properties!  He went bare foot all the way back to is village in the pitch black and pouring rain to get me a battery lamp so I could have light in the house – bless him! 

Our belongings and treasures came out of a storage facility in Singapore after 4 ½ years and arrived 2 weeks ago.  This was not without it’s dramas either and worthy of a whole chapter just on it’s own, but when everything was unpacked it was remarkable what good condition everything is in.  Initially, it felt very strange to have TV’s, desk top computers, large oven, huge fridge/freezer, food processor, large shower with continuous hot water etc  after 4 years of minimalism and conservation on the boat.  Whilst it’s enjoyable, we don’t want to loose sight of the simplicity of life and appreciation of our surroundings.  In our garden we have papayas, avocado, aubergine, chillies and pumpkin along with sweet smelling trees and flowers such as frangipani, honeysuckle and night jasmine.  The arrival of our bikes means we can enjoy the winding roads at the base of the green hills, past tethered horses, small bays and even a lagoon that we can we can cool down in.

We feel very lucky and very blessed to be here.  We have lots of ideas for remodeling the house to our style and taste and plan to do some alterations to the 2nd house and turn it into a self contained holiday villa.  We hope to sail Pangers here eventually, but that will be a big and tricky passage and one that will take time and careful planning.  She’s safe where she is and will continue to be our base in Asia for now.  She is still loved very much!!

With everything that’s happened we’ve lost track of time and almost forgot that tomorrow is Christmas Day!  We hope that you all have a safe and happy holidays and get to spend time with your loved ones during the festive season.
Massive hugs and love to my loved ones Bev and Laura.  I couldn’t have got through all of this without you – you and skypee are the best!!

Bula vinaka and all the best for 2015

Cheers then

Captns G and J XXX