Trip Reports

I Tell You No Lau (31-Jul-2001-22-00):
10:00 PM local time Tuesday, July 31st. (1000 July 31st UTC) 18 07 S 178 25 E. Temp. 78, Humidity 78%, cloud cover 10%. At anchor at the Royal Suva Yacht Club, Suva, Fiji.

Our obituary of Fearless, the boat we saw on the reef as we entered Fijian waters, was premature. Some cruisers who had a powerful pump came along, after the owner had salvaged sails and gear and abandoned it, and managed to pump it out, fix the leak, and refloat it at high tide springs. It was a stoutly built steel ketch or it never would have survived. The owner, who handled himself with great dignity through the whole ordeal, seemed near tears when he gave me this news the day he heard it. He and another cruiser headed out with sails, a handheld VHS, and a handheld GPS and managed to sail it back without engine or any electric power the 120 miles to Savusavu. His crew allowed that taking it through the reef into Savusavu Bay, which the skipper decided to attempt at night with no engine or radar, was one of the most stressful things he had ever done. We'll keep you posted on the repairs and refit.

On the topic of driving under the influence of Kava, apparently there has been another arrest in California, which we hear thanks to Peter Siegel. And it turns out that the law against driving under the influence, at least as interpreted by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp, not a liberal, does not in fact require that the substance in question be actually named in the statute. He ruled that "actual notice of each drug constituting a basis for prosecution under Section 23152(a) is not required if a person is reasonably made aware of the proscribed conduct, namely, impaired driving ability resulting from ingestion of some substance." Watch out, Sudafed users.

On to some general culture notes. By now it will come as no surprise to our readers that western arts have a fan base in the South Pacific. Three very popular TV shows in Fiji are Oprah, ER, and, right before the Fiji news, Get Smart. While we were waiting in the Australian consulate for our visas, we watched MTV and were entertained by Destiny's Child, O-Town, and N-Sync. Today in the hardware store we heard a Dolly Parton tune. A couple of days ago we went to a very modern Cineplex and saw a movie called Captain Kangaroo's Mandolin or some such starring Nicolas Cage, of whom Ship's Movie Critic and Historian Terry Shrode is a fan, and Penelope Cruz. In general we could have been in Ohio, so sophisticated was the theatre complex.

On the other hand, there is an island group in Fiji called the Lau Group where, to hear some tell it, people really do run around in grass skirts and live in thatched huts. We cruisers are currently prohibited from going there, the reason vaguely being something about modern people corrupting the natives, so of course the Captain's interest has been at a high pitch. We have heard that if you have enough money you can pay the right people who in turn pay the right people and as a result your going there will not be reported to those who like to have such things reported to them, or if it is they might be watching Get Smart just at that moment and not hear about it. This, of course, is not seen as corruption. In any case the Captain is quite beside himself with shame to have to admit to our readers that because no provision was made for this sort of expenditure in Maverick's budget, he is unable to provide a report on the Lau Group of Fiji.

But it just seems plain odd that we can't go there. Exactly what do they think? Do they think that if the Captain and Mr. Shrode do not visit these precious places, the people residing therein will never, ever hear of our Britney? And is that a good thing? Are they Christian? Is that a traditional Fijian religion? Are they an exhibit, the primitives, with no audience permitted but an odd assembly of missionaries, anthropologists and Greenpeace? Aren't they smart enough to decide for themselves if the crew of Maverick are a corrupting influence, like so many others have? Does the chief make these decisions for them? Aren't they just like real people? And don't they have relatives in the big city? Most folks do. Don't they tell them anything about, like, the latest stuff? So maybe they don't want to hear about it. Don't you think they have some brother-in-law who wears loud shirts and just won't stop about Jennifer Lopez or his new cell phone? Do they put their hands over their ears and yell so they don't find out who won the rugby match against Australia or about the fact that, with a computer and a telephone line you can now sit on your island, check out a fishhook catalogue, and get back to your brother-in-law by email if and when you feel like it? Do these people know that the earth revolves around the sun? Maybe I'm whacked, but let's go tell them, that's what I propose, and then see what they think. The Prime Directive is SCIENCE FICTION.

PS: It just occurred to me, after re-reading the above, that maybe they just keep us out because we're annoying.

Next report from this location: A Little White Lau

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