Friendly Island Take-Over

This was a big event, for which I will try to keep the story short. It happened at the tail end of our relatives’ visits to us, in August.

Not just a nice coincidence, it was the result of an initiative from a fellow cruiser. Roughly 6 weeks earlier – I believe it was during a pizza dinner in Neiafu, Tonga – surfaced an idea of gathering a bunch of kid-boats somewhere in Fiji. Luckily Greer, sv Tika, was there and being the entrepreneurial kind that she is the idea didn’t end with dinner. A few days later it was turned into a real plan by means of a Facebook post: an invitation for boat kids to gather at Navadra Island, Fiji, at a certain date in August, give or take a couple of days.

Since cruiser’s plans change often, it took effort from most to make it. One of them came overnight from the northern island of Fiji, sailing through reef-infested waters on a fine act of seamanship. Another had a power-passage up from the south, surfing down the big Pacific Swell at speeds of over 18 knots. Two of us – Pesto included – joined the party while still carrying visitors onboard. And there was even the one who had to rush through a major mechanical refit in order to be there on time.

And beautifully, over the course of two or three days, give or take, six boats converged to Navadra. For me it was a most precious moment for it was the first – and likely ONLY time – when we had dear friends whom we had met and spent time with in different moments of our journey all gathered in one place, at the same time.

  • sv Tika, the organizers of the event, we had met last year in Makemo, and spent maybe just two or three days together at the anchorage. As short as it was, a strong bond was formed. Russ and Greer are two energy powerplants and a constant source of inspiration and ideas, and Kai and Jaiya became good, dear friends to Paulo and Raquel. As short as our meeting was in Makemo, we remained in touch, meeting again briefly in Tonga one year later before the rendezvous in Navadra.
Here’s Tika, with her distinctive orange canvas, powering on a close reach at a good 9-10kts. We shot this image last year in the Marquesas without knowing them. It would take another 2-3 months for us to finally meet properly, by chance, at the anchorage in Makemo, some 500 miles away.

 

  • sv Outer Rim is a recent friendship. Being previously familiar with Familygonesailing, Thomas came and introduced himself to us in Neiafu, Tonga. That same afternoon we got our kids together to play, and they have being playing all the time since, whenever Pesto and Outer Rim are within a dinghy ride of one another. Adriana and I also utterly enjoy Thomas and Natalya’s tales of their awesome journey, which included places as exotic as Africa, Brazil and Patagonia.
The beautiful Outer Rim spreading her wings. Photo taken from their sailing blog at www.outer-rim.co

 

  • sv Skylark introduced themselves to us by radio, under an incredibly starry night as we reluctantly approached the anchorage off Alofi, Niue back in May. I will never forget talking to Stewart on the radio while Adriana and the kids wiggled the torchlight between the mooring field and the many sea snakes that all seemed to be converging to Pesto that night ! Anyway, the next evening Stewart and Louise kindly invited us for sundowners, and a group minigolf ensued the following day. Being on similar short-term schedules we knew we would meet again – as we did in Tonga and then Fiji – and Raquel always looked forward to playing with Hanna and Eleonor.
A beautiful picture of sv Skylark at sunset, which I got from their cruising blog at www.skylarkingaround.com

 

  • sv Lil’Explorers we met right there, at Navadra. Their kids stood out for their cheerfulness and energy, but frankly it was only a month later that we would meet Courage and Shannon properly, during their daughter’s birthday party on a deserted beach south of Naviti Island. There, seeing them interact in such a loving and nurturing way with their kids while listening to the really interesting tales of their refit of sv Lil’Explorers, we felt blessed with the opportunity of meeting with such interesting and inspiring folks in the cruising life.
sv Lil-Eplorers at rest at another beautiful bay along their voyage. Photo taken from their website at www.lil-explorers.blogspot.com

 

  • Also at Navadra were sv Sangvind, of whom much has been written on this blog. Having first met with them in La Paz, MX more than two years ago, Frans, Sylvia, Dylan and Jayden have been with us at many and important cornerstones of our Journey. From roasting in the desert heat of San Carlos to the frantic preparations in La Cruz then – 3,000 miles later – an unexpected rendezvous in the Marquesas, followed by many weeks of lounging in Makemo, then Tahiti, Huahine, Tonga, and finally Navadra. It is even said that they played an important role in Adriana and mine’s “minor” change of plans to come to the Pacific instead of sailing East to the Caribbean. But this, as is often said, is already history.
sv Sangvind in Huahine, with the island of Raiatea in the background – photo taken in French Polynesia last year

 

  • Last, and not least, there was sv Enough. What can I say … we love these guys. With many aspects of shared interests and backgrounds, a strong sense of appreciation of their cruising style and skills, and an immense joy from just being together, we look forward to every chance of spending time with them. Sailing Vessels Enough and Pesto departed La Cruz last year at the same time, sailed most of the way – all three thousand miles of it – within 100 miles of one another, and made landfall to Nuku Hiva also on the same day. From there, we cruised the Marquesas together and then a good part of the Tuamotus, fighting a frightening storm along the way. There eventually our paths diverged significantly, and a sense of concrete loss was only abated by an ethereal feeling of hope that one day the paths would cross again. It took over 2,000 miles and 12 months for this hope to come true. As they sailed back from New Zealand to Tonga earlier this year, Enough experienced a severe mechanical problem and had to proceed to Fiji instead, thus missing our planned rendezvous in Vava’u. Later, with Pesto now suffering problems of her own, Miriam and Geoff gave logistical support and information for us to safely reach Vuda Marina in Fiji under sail alone and have her fixed promptly. It was a glorious, much anticipated rendezvous, in true cruising style !
sv Enough doing her thing, sailing fast from Nuku Hiva to Ua Pou last year, in the Marquesas.

 

Anyway, back to the main story – so much for a short one, huh?!? – there we were, all six kid-boats anchored in front of the picture-perfect background of Navadra, swaying to the constant swell that makes it into that anchorage. Tents were erected at the beach, some hammocks tied to the trees, a bonfire was prepared, and no less than 17 kids occupied the campsite for the night, and all of the following day. A very special experience that I am sure each one of them will carry forever in their memories and hearts. What happened in there, will stay in there – a treasure for the kids to keep. Suffice it to say, when the time came for them to come back home, some 24 hours after they had taken over the campsite for themselves – they were tired, dirty, hungry, but fully accomplished, and with a bunch of stories shared amongst themselves.

The kids at the campsite. Photo credit: Greer, sv Tika.

Also, I am including here th link to Greer’s blog post about this … it’s worth checking it (click HERE to access the post).

Friendships are a gift, and have continuously made our Journey ever so more special. This event in Navadra was a very unique and special way of appreciating and celebrating it. Thank You Greer for organizing ! And all the Skippers and Crews for managing to get your wonderful vessels there !!!

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