Musket Cove, Malolo Lailai Island, Mamanucas, Fiji
After all the navigational challenges and a few sleepless nights in windy anchorages, it was a bit of a relief to make it to Musket Cove, on Malolo Island off the west coat of Viti Levu, and to pick up a mooring rather than anchor. MC is a bit of a yachtie Mecca – lots of boats come here each year and just stay the whole season. Hard to argue with the idea: there are world-renowned surf breaks (Cloudbreak, for example) a dinghy-ride away; great kite surfing, snorkelling and diving nearby and for F$10 you can get life membership of the Musket Cove Yacht Club – the only requirement being that you must have sailed here from another country.
As a member, you have access to the Musket Cove Resort facilities: swimming pool, lovely outdoor island bar, free use of the BBQs; banana lounges, hot showers; restaurants – all very laid back and casual.
The other major attraction is the annual Musket Cove Regatta, now in its 30th year. It runs for a week and the emphasis is definitely on fun rather than serious racing, largely because most entrants (cruising yachties) are racing their homes and aren’t that keen on denting them.
‘Official’ events included Pirates Day, where everyone dressed as pirates, sailed (‘raced’) to nearby Beachcomber Island and drank loads of rum before sailing back again; Crazy Olympics (think blindfolded kayaking); and of course the ubiquitous wet t-shirt competition. I actually thought those went out with the eighties, but apparently not. In supposed ‘fairness’ to the girls, there was a hairy chest competition, but most of the hair was supported by beer bellies and middle-aged moobs. Eeeeew.
Of course, where there’s a yacht race, there’s an egotist and a local boat (i.e. not a home) got a bit carried away in the Round the Island Race and t-boned another boat (i.e. someone’s home) and put a sizeable hole in it. Fortunately, the damage was above the water line. We weren’t racing our ‘home’, but Damian was invited to sail as part of a boys-only crew on Kiapa – another 52-foot cat that’s light and fast and owned by friends of ours, Lionel and Irene. The egotist had already forced Lionel to do a radical gybe to avoid hitting either the egotist’s boat or the reef and Kiapa recovered just in time to see the dude pull the same stunt on the next tack…but this time collect the other boat. Pretty scary stuff.
Meanwhile, all the girls had a much more fun day: we booked out the spa, had massages and facials and a girlie lunch by the resort pool!
In other Regatta events, Irene and I were the only all-female crew to complete the Hobie cat race course: our heat was the last of the day when the wind was peaking and we had a wild old ride. (We didn’t make it to the next round, though…).
We had better luck in the Dress the Dinghy competition, but by general consensus, we was robbed: we dressed our dinghy up as the Vaka Vinaka (Vaka being a traditional canoe, and Vinaka meaning ‘thank you’) and dressed ourselves in grass skirts (Michelle, Irene and I, as well as Lionel and Ray) and even had a hula dance routine (see photos). But the ‘Kid Factor’ won the day: as a last minute entry, a bunch of cruiser kids threw their teddies out of the cot and into their dinghy and rowed away with first prize.
The last night was ‘Dress as anything starting with M’. Fancy dress is always a challenge when cruising, since you don’t tend to carry a lot of batman suits or belly dancing outfits on board – you just have to make do with what you have. Our whole motley crew (ten of us) went as M&Ms: we made cut out Ms and eyes from contact paper and stuck them on bright t-shirts (thanks to our friend and fellow-cruiser Laura for making the trip to Nadi for the tapa print fabric for the ‘vaka’ and the contact paper). We made it to the finals, but the competition was fierce: in the end, Mrs Doubtfire won, followed by Mahatma Gandhi and Freddy Mercury.
I reckon this photo sums it up: it’s the winning photo from the Musket Cove Regatta Photo competition (taken by yours truly – I won a bottle of wine) and shows Jack, the regatta organiser, umpiring the Hobie Cat Races. Like I said, no-one was taking the racing tooooo seriously!
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