I’ve just spent nine fun-filled days and nights in Fiji with good friends. We were there for the 33rd Musket Cove Sailing Regatta on Malolo Island. There were over seventy yachts participating this year from so many countries – Canada, USA, Ireland, South Africa, Sweden, Germany and England, New Zealand, and of course Australia. Eleven of us lived and sailed on two boats. I was on Phantom Mist, a 40.7 Beneteau, which I’ve sailed on a couple of times now – in Mexico, French Polynesia and Fiji.
The Marina was the hub of the regatta and hummed with activity throughout the day and into the evening. Around 20 yachts were berthed along the marina boardwalk while another 40-50 sat out on mooring buoys or on anchor in the harbour. Dinghies zig-zagged across the harbour taking people to and from the Marina. The Fijian staff were a constant presence on the boardwalk taking supplies to the bar or setting up for the evening meal and other regatta activities, singing out bula! (hello) to everyone they passed.
Our non-sailing days were long and lazy, lying under a palm tree on a deck chair at the beach, reading, listening to music, swimming, talking. Our boat was berthed in the marina so each evening we’d sit in the cockpit, drink in hand, to watch another amazing Fiji sunset and chat to other yachties walking past on their way to the island bar. Eventually we’d follow for drinks, dinner and dancing.
There were three yacht races over the course of the regatta. The first was a no rules pirate-themed race to Beachcomber Island. Many of the yachties have been coming for years and really got into the spirit of the event, looking like extras from Pirates of the Caribbean. As it wasn’t a serious race we decided to sail together on the larger of the two boats – a Catamaran. It felt huge and luxurious compared to our smaller keel boat.
We sailed the second, serious race back on Phantom Mist and were rapt to finish second. The race ended at a sand bar, where we cooled down with a swim off the back of the boat before heading over for a cold Fiji Bitter and more post-race fun.
The final race was around the entire island and took us about two and a half hours. Perfect conditions, combined with an experienced skipper and crack crew saw us finish third, a fantastic result for such a small boat. Phantom Mist is now known as the ‘racing boat’ among some of the other yachties.
On Wednesday I said a reluctant goodbye to my sailing friends (and Phantom Mist) to catch the ferry back to mainland Fiji and onto Nadi airport to fly to Paris for the next leg of my travels.