| 9:00 PM local time Sunday, July 29th. (0900 July 29th UTC) 18 07 S 178
25 E. Temp. 78, Humidity 68%, cloud cover 30%. At anchor at the Royal
Suva Yacht Club, Suva, Fiji. (It really is officially royal, whatever
We arrived in Suva, Fiji's capital, Wednesday at about 4:00 after a 26
hour, 120-mile sail from Savusavu. Suva is a big city, the most modern
we've seen since leaving California.
We'll have more to say about Suva after we've been here awhile.
Meanwhile the Captain would like to take this opportunity to reply to a
couple of good questions from Hank Strauss. By the way, when there is
space the crew of Maverick would be happy to respond to questions on
issues that need clarification; readers are also directed to the
excellent resources available on our website, thanks to Tim and Jim, for
technical words, etc.
Hank asked us what fears have turned out to be unfounded. Well, some
things that we worried about haven't happened. Is that a reason not to
worry about them? I don't think so. What should we have feared that we
didn't? The Captain hopes that there are no things pertaining to sailing
he doesn't fear, and he's always on the lookout for new ones. (The
courageous Mr. Shrode does not share the Captain's dark view.)
Another question Hank asked concerns misconceptions we may have had
about the trip. There are surprisingly few of these, and weather and sea
state are the most obvious. Your correspondent really did expect to see
a lot more days with sunny skies and 10-20 knots of wind, which is what
the cruising guides and pilot charts would have him believe. But this
has comprised somewhat less than 10% of our sailing. Since Papeete, with
the exception of two or three weeks in Tahaa and Bora Bora when we were
at anchor, there has rarely been a time when we were not either near the
middle of a low pressure trough or waiting for one to hit. And when the
highs do fill in, they've often cranked the trades up to 25-35 knots,
and still not cleared the skies, which have remained almost perpetually
overcast and squally. Also it's fair to say that 50% or more of our
sailing has been done in sea conditions the weather services call rough
to very rough. It's the high percentage of days where the wind blows
hard and the sun don't shine and the cockpit is wet and the sea is
rough, not the actual severity of the weather, that is bothersome.
As for misconceptions about the people of the South Pacific: The
Captain read almost nothing about the people of the this area before
coming here, feeling he is quite up to the task of making slapdash
generalizations on his own. He knows these folks have been often
described as simple, friendly, and traditional. The Captain believes
that no person or culture can be accurately described as simple, and a
box of crackerjacks could be forgiven for feeling patronized by such a
characterization. Even simpletons who think others are simple are
themselves not simple, no matter how tempting it may be to think so.
Friendliness is a quality that is found in abundance hereabouts,
as indeed it is in Alabama, particularly in view of the Captain's
customary standards of grooming. Yet it is certainly not universal, even
if you count the hustlers.
As for the third characterization, the Captain is no friend of
tradition, which has, traditionally, been the enemy of both freedom of
expression and the truth, not to mention adequate medical care, and been
used to defend ideas and people we have no other justification for
enduring. I see no reason to alter this view simply because I have moved
my body a few thousand miles across the surface of the planet.
Certainly, there are traditions among these peoples that the Captain
makes no pretense of understanding (although they unfortunately do not
include the venerable and easily comprehended custom of wearing scanty
clothing), and about which he can render no opinion. And one can see
there is poignancy in village life being supplanted by shopping malls
and rap music, which process is nonetheless unlikely to be reversed to
any arbitrary state of cultural purity. But the fact is certainly that
even in these societies, each person has, traditionally, found his own
little method of flouting the hallowed customs, for this is the way of
the human being, may it ever be so.
The Captain has little doubt that Hank meant to ask about
something more, something deep in the soul of the Captain, which has
come to a crossroads, or experienced an epiphany. I'm sorry to say that
in this he will be disappointed. It is no use consulting I Ching, or a
psychiatrist, or the sea, without a question, and at this juncture the
Captain still doesn't have one, except, Can we do this? That's a big
enough question, and it still remains to be seen what the answer will
PS to McEntee: Thanks for the news about Howard Tate.
Next report from this location:
I Tell You No Lau