Saturday, October 14, 2017

Getting Ready to Leave Fiji...

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After 6 wonderful months in Fiji, it is time for us to move on.  We have many sweet memories and have met some incredible people.  
Shelley chatting with our youngest daughter, Kelly
Shelley has recovered really well from her surgery.  We hope now to recover some of the costs for this through our home healthcare plan at home...  The important thing is that she is way happier and healthier than she has been.



Over the last few weeks many of the cruising boats have been scattering in every direction.  Cyclone season officially begins on November 1st, so most people have left for safer waters.  That means we have had some bitter/sweet gatherings as we say farewell to some and see you later to others..

We departed from Saweni Bay a few days ago.  On our way we landed a small tuna and a good sized Mahi Mahi...  The Mahi Mahi DESTROYED our lure!



We have traveled about 120 miles to meet a family from California who own the same model sailboat that we own.  There were only 45 Dufour 12000ct sailboats ever made.  They own hull #4 and we own hull #43.  We have only met one other family with the same boat.  We met Lucy & John from SV Maraki (hull #44) in Panama two years ago in Panama.  


Bubbles & Terrapin - Together....

SV Terrapin is crewed by Phil and Aimee and their two daughters Jessica & Emma.  They crossed the pacific this year and just arrived from Tonga.


We are checking out tomorrow morning from Savusavu, located on the northern most Fijian island called Vanua Levu.  We plan to sail 500 nautical miles to Wallis Island (a French territory).  From there we are hoping to visit Tuvalu, The Gilbert Islands, then end up in the Marshall Islands to stay during cyclone season.  

These island have some of the most spectacular scuba diving in the Pacific Ocean. Many of the bays are littered with wrecked WW2 equipment.... Ships, Airplanes, and all sorts of military hardware from both allied and enemy army's...  It should be AWESOME!

More soon!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Medical Issues....

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Even in paradise life happens....

For the last month or so, both Shelley and I weren't feeling quite right.  We both seemed to have some stomach issues, and Shelley kept getting "attacks" where she would wind up in tremendous pain....

After getting back to Saweni Bay we decided it was time to see a doctor... after seeing the doctor, Shelley was sent for a bunch of tests including a CT scan to check her insides out....   
The results were back almost immediately.  We both had H.Pyhori, a bacterial infection likely from drinking unclean water.  Since we make our own water on the boat, the only other water we have consumed has been at the few Kava ceremonies we have attended since coming to Fiji....  With a 7 day course of pretty strong pills we both seem to be better....

Shelley, it turns out, also had been having gallbladder attacks, causing all kinds of pain.  Unfortunately, the only solution for that is to have her gallbladder removed.  

In Lautoka, where we are, the only option is to have traditional surgery, which takes quite a while to recover from.  The other option, was for us to have the procedure done laparoscopically in the capital city of Suva.

When the local doctor inquired about this last Wednesday, we learned that a surgeon could see us on Friday.  With only two days we could not get the boat around Fiji (against the wind) in time, so we decided to take a 5 hour bus ride from Lautoka to Suva.
Before surgery.....

After an uneventful ride, we arrived in Suva and got a hotel room on Thursday night.  At 9:30 Friday morning we saw the doctor and buy 2:30 that afternoon, Shelley was having her gallbladder removed. 
They took out 4 stones! Each one about 9mm....

After surgery.....

This is where I got to sleep for two nights....

Thanks to Lanny, Ginger and Lisa, they rigged a Bosun's chair to lift Shelley on to the boat....

She is recovering well and we hope to be leaving Fiji in the next few weeks to head north towards the Marshall Islands to wait out cyclone season...

Some of you may wonder what this little medical hiccup cost us...

At this time it goes like this: (in Fijian dollars)

2 doctor visits:  $80
Lab tests: $160
Cat Scan: $585
Surgery & 2 day hospital stay: $9900
Medicine: $200
Bus, taxi, hotel & food: $400

Total cost for our bad health day: $11,325 or $7000 Canadian or $5600US

CRAZY!

Unfortunately, because this wasn't an "accident", so most of our out of country insurance won't cover us.  That said, we will be applying to our healthcare system at home to cover a part of it...  

This is just one of those things we face when we choose this lifestyle....

Some cruising friends have wondered about the healthcare system here in Fiji.  Here are some of our observations and thoughts.

The doctors we have encountered are on caliber with any doctor in the USA or Canada.  Many are trained in New Zealand or Australia.  The cat scan clinic in Lautoka had an up to date piece of equipment and the technician and radiologist were both very competent.

Based on the information we had, the only hospital equipped to perform Shelley's gallbladder surgery laparoscopically was the "private" hospital in Suva.  Thus, we knew it would be more expensive going in.  

The people at the hospital were all ok. Some were better than others, and clearly nursing here is not as far along as at home.  For example, nurses here are not permitted to start an IV.  They must call a doctor to do that.  As caregivers, they were very good.  

The hospital itself is looking very tired. The furniture is old and much of it has something broken on it... Windows were dirty but the important places like the bathrooms were cleaned daily.  There was no hot water in Shelley's room during our whole stay, and they only changed her gown after I insisted.  Clearly the hospital is about profit, so anything not directly related to the medical care of the patient is overlooked.

They billed for EVERYTHING. Our invoice was  10 pages long and they charged separately for every single little thing including the 10ml of sterile water they used to flush Shelley's IV port... I can't help but wonder what it must cost for the nurses to be recording all those little costs?

In the end, we were pleased with the medical care in Fiji.  I suppose like in everything these days, you must be your own advocate (or advocate for someone you love).  I am glad that this is over, as I'm sure Shelley is too...

Before all this, we did have some fun in Lautoka at the Sugar Festival.  Every year Fijians celebrate the sugar harvest... It was loud, hot and fun...



I'm with Sean (SV Chevaldy)



It's all plugged into one big extension cord!

Lots of local food!



They have different safety standards than what we are used to seeing at home...


Shelley's "Last Supper" before surgery....


More soon,
Cheers


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Saweni Bay, Fiji

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It has been a remarkable change in weather over the last few weeks.  After an overnight sail we arrived at the Vuda Marina and refueled the boat.  We did not want to stay in the marina so motored about 3 miles to Saweni Bay.  

We were here in May and think this is a lovely place with a beautiful beach and access to good provisioning a short bus ride away in Lautoka.

We were able to re-provision in Lautoka while here.  This is the sugar harvest season in Fiji so we have seen tons of sugar cane being moved to the processing plant and almost every night we see fires as the burn the sugar cane fields before they harvest...  Quite a sight!



Burning cane fields almost every night....

We never get tired of the great fresh fruit & veggies here...

While here we have caught up with a number of friends including Sean & Sabina from SV Chevaldy, who you might remember are the great musicians we last saw in New Zealand.  We have gathered a few time on the beach now to play music and have great food....


Ginger (SV Swiftsure) & Sabina (SV Chevaldy)

Me & Sean (SV Chevaldy)

Shelley & Sarah (SV Yinka)



LAnny (SV Swiftsure)
Shelley has come down with some kind of stomach issue.  Fortunately, doctors here in Fiji are excellent and we found a  gynecologist who has figured out Shelley's problem.  Shelley is scheduled for a procedure on Monday morning to make sure there is nothing else wrong, but in a week or so everything should be back to normal.  It turns out that whatever Shelley has, I likely have as well, so they are treating both of us over the next few weeks with medication...


Because of this procedure on Monday, we will not be going to the big sailing rally at Musket Cove this weekend.  We will however spend some time at the national Sugar Festival on Saturday and will post some pictures next week.

Here are a few random extra pictures from this week....

This train pulls up to sixty cars full of harvested cane on a narrow gauge
track from the farms in the area to Lautoka for processing.
We have a new anchor alarm app for our phone... It is working GREAT!


Just another AMAZING sunset!
More soon, Cheers!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kadavu, Part 2

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
All The places we stopped as we circled Kadavu Island....

Kadavu Island has been quite an adventure.  After spending a day in Ono, we moved a few miles to Kavala Bay. It was here that our good DSLR camera failed.  It just refuses to work.  After some internet investigation, we learned that the motherboard has likely failed and that a new one is only $30...  We ordered one and had it shipped to Fiji for $60.....  I know... crazy that the shipping is twice the cost of the part!   It should be waiting for us in Vuda when we get there in a few days....

When things start falling apart on a boat, it seems to keep going.  It was also here that our alternator quit...  Luckily, it was just a loose wire and easily fixed.  We took some time to service all our BCD's for scuba diving and repaired all but three of them...  I guess after three years, that isn't too bad...  


We moved on to Vatulutu Bay and met Carl & Sarah from SV Yinka.  They are a cool couple from New Zealand who spent their winter season in Fiji.  It turned out that Sarah wanted to learn how to dive, so we accommodated her and she is now a newly certified scuba diver!

Trash burn on the beach!

We also found time for a great cookout on the beach!


Sarah & Carl (SV Yinka)

We have done a number of Sevusevu ceremonies along the way.  The Kava never seems to taste any better.  That said, it is always fun to meet many wonderful Fijian people along our way....




Who needs snow to slide down a hill!




We have spent a few weeks circling almost all of Kadavu Island.  Yesterday we arrived in Vunisea where the airport and a few grocery stores are located.  We bought a few supplies to hold us over until we can return to Vuda in a few days...  It turns out that fresh veggies have become a real treat!
You had to be there to see how funny this sign looked....



A really fancy church with PADDED pews!

The parking lot for the grocery store...

One of the local grocery stores...

The Kadavu Airport.... With hi-tech security....


Lanny, Shelley & Ginger


We will likely sail overnight to Vuda on Monday...   Since arriving here at the end of April we have traveled a little more than 700 nautical miles and will have completely circled Fiji when we return to Vuda.  More soon...