Sailing Vacations: "Endangered Species" in Fiji

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July 12, 2007

Dear Family & Friends,

We have made the big leap to the new country of the season. We are currently in Savusavu, Fiji, GPS coordinates 16:46:626S and 179:20:233E. We had a very uneventful motor sail the whole way here from Tonga. We traveled 470 miles in 55 hours. We where so thankful for our new whisker pole which allowed us to motor sail died down wind, wing & wing maximizing our speed. The "auto prop" style of props we have on both engines pay for themselves again. For those of you who are not familiar with them. They are self pitching props which are wonderful on catamarans, especially while motor sailing.

Before we left Tonga we had the extra ordinary experience of being able to swim with the humpback whales. We where anchored in the outer islands in the VaVa'u Group on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We heard another cruising boat calling friends of ours on the VHF. As good cruisers, we switched channels on the VHF "to monitor their conversation for safety purposes". Lucky for us that we did. The first boat had spotted two humpback whales at the main pass. Several boats who where also monitoring for "safety purposes" jumped in their dinghies and headed for the pass. We where all able to observe the two whales for over an hour. They would come to the surface for 4-5 minutes then dive for 10 minutes. At first we tied the other three dinghies to the big boat and watched from the deck. After about an hour of watching the whales we decided to get in the dinghies and get a closer look. After about thirty minutes at this distance we where getting very comfortable around the two whales. And they seemed to be comfortable with us. They where over 40 feet long and seems to be in a courting behavior. One of the whales came up within less than one foot of the dinghy. We had been 20-40 feet away observing them. Then when they broke the surface this time. They where right there. Rick had his mask and fins on and jumped in the water. The whale was right there! It's was quite the experiences. They seems not to be bother with us at all. The next time they breached I was also able to get in the water and snorkel along side. I approached from the rear looking at their huge tail. I made sure to stay to the side of the tail and swim along side the whale all the way to his head. I was able to look right into his eye. It was such an exhilarating experience, to be within six feet away from these incredible creature. It's moments like this that make all the bad passages and equipment failures all worth while. You just don't get these types of experience on the normal cruise. It's so hard describing the feeling you get when you are right next to a 40 foot whale and looking into their eye, truly magical.

I must say that our time in Tonga was truly special. I would highly recommend chartering a boat there if you are looking for the special experience. The Mooring have a small fleet of mono hulls and catamaran's. The whole VaVa'u Group is so special, pristine, and untouched. It is truly the South Pacific with a few modern restaurants and sailor bars to wet your whistle. The people of Tonga are also very special. They hard working, kind people who enjoy a simple way of life. We felt very comfortable and welcomed while living in their country.

We had mixed emotions on the outcome of the America's Cup. We where very happy for Ed Baird, the helmens from SPYC. But, sad for Team New Zealand. We had hope to stay around in this part of world to see the next Cup in New Zealand. Oh well, it just wasn't meant to be.

Now we are getting settled into life in Fiji for the next four months. We are blessed to have three sets of friends coming to share this wonderful country with us. There are over 300 islands in Fiji, so many opportunities for exploration.

We will keep you all posted of our adventures!! We miss you all and are thankful for all your correspondences you send us. It's always nice to get an email to hear what is happening back home. Especially since we are half way around the world. Keep them coming.

All the best,
Robin & Rick