Held hostage in Fiji!

Fiji, Scuba Diving, South Pacific, South Pacific Sailing — By on July 14, 2011 8:52 AM

I would probably get slapped if I were to say I was annoyed that we got stuck in Fiji the past week, as there are much worse places to be forced to be against your will! Fiji is great, but I wanted to be in Vanuatu by now!

In my last post Help Me Save the Planet, I told about my plans to volunteer aboard Infinity, a huge sailing expedition vessel cruising the South Pacific with the mission to promote global awareness of environmental issues affecting the islands.

We had planned to set sail for Vanuatu on July 6th; however, Fiji immigration said NO WAY. The captain’s partner recently gave birth to their now one month year old baby girl (the baby was born in a dingy on the ship!) and her passport had yet to be received by the US Embassy in Fiji. Immigration refused to grant our ship clearance to leave until the baby’s passport arrived. We discussed how it is unfortunate when we have to question whether honesty is really the best policy in life.  We could have easily hidden the baby on board and left the country with immigration being none the wiser. But instead our ship would be help captive in Fiji waters.

Infinity Expedition Vessel

With more time to kill over the weekend while the embassy and immigration office would be closed, we took a vote and decided to make the best of the situation by set sail to the Yasawa island group in Fiji. We first anchored between the southern most islands of the group Wayasewa and Waya and then at Naviti.

There were so many different ways to spend our time on and off the boat. Scuba gear is available and free for use to those with diving certification. This was my first experience diving in a situation where I am completely responsible for my gear and safety. After my recent regulator malfunction in Savusavu, I had anxiety about diving with gear that was not professionally maintained. My diving challenges continued and the captain said I was the  “unlucky one” when he realized I had been diving with a tank that had previously held contaminated air. Given the bad taste left in my mouth and the massive headache I got later it was clear that some of the bad air was still in the tank despite the crew’s attempt to clean the tank. I am trying not to let these experiences deter me from my love of diving; however, I know I am going to be extra anxious when diving in the next few weeks.

A few people tried to windsurf but came back early complaining of light wind so we didn’t bother getting out our kites. Others amused themselves by jumping from the top of the mast and wakeboarding.

One can easily pass hours by admiring the beautiful scenery.

We have only been on the boat for a week, but so far this experience is so much better than our previous two crewing gigs. First of all the captain is very cool. Clemens is young, laid back, a kitesurfer and most importantly is patient and actually takes the time to teach his crew how to sail. He spent time teaching us three important knots, told us to practice  and be ready to tie all knots on order in a few days. Such a better way in my opinion.

Knots 101

There are 22 of us on board from all over the world. Countries represented are USA, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Sweden, UK, Brazil, Denmark, Portugal, and Belgium. Also on board is a fluffy white cat and the captain’s family (partner and 4 children.) You need a big boat to house that many peeps and at 120 feet long, Infinity is very big boat! The boat is awesome, very spacious with 9 shared cabins, a library, huge open galley, two showers, and even a washer and dryer!

Infinity Lounge

Infinity Saloon


"Paradise" female cabin

The boat is a fun place to be whether we are chillin with a good book or drinking the beer brewed we brew on board while making a fool of yourself doing the limbo when your country is called to represent. There are sunset yoga sessions and early morning meditation sits. It is common to have bonfires on the beach while discussing the happenings around the world.

But being on a yacht is not all fun and games on board, we also have boat chores. We are all assigned to a team of three and rotate watch times, and share in cooking and cleaning duties. In addition there are always boat chores like chiseling off rust, painting, refilling dive tanks, or power washing the deck.

And preparing such a big ship for sail is very hard work. Unlike the smaller yachts I have crewed on, raising the sail on a 120 ft ship is definitely a team effort!

Raising the main sail

Lowering the dingy

I am very eager to begin work on the documentary but I am not clear as to what my exact role in the environmental project will be. I have heard that we will be doing some work under the sea in Vanuatu to remove crown of thorns, a spiny starfish that is killing the local coral.

The baby’s passport arrived yesterday and we are officially setting sail for Vanuatu today! The wind forecast is perfect and we are hoping to hit land in less than a week.

To see more photos of the Yasawa Island Group CLICK HERE.

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  1. Katharine says:

    Kelly, this sounds amazing. I teach geography now and one of our topics in ‘Oceans’ so I teach the kids about crown of thorns starfih and their threats to coral! Katharine (from Costa Rica)

  2. Sylvia livingston says:

    I remember that trip. Yasawas were amazing and people lovely. Nice blog☺

  3. Andy says:

    looks like you had an amazing trip!

    What a terrible situation, being forced to stay in Fiji, that must rank as one of the all time worst hostage situations ever!

    I was forced to stay in borneo a few days extra when Infinity was slow on arriving because the wind was being all natural and not following a schedule.

    You can read my own Infinity Expedition Review on my blog if you are interested


  4. Caitlynn Stone says:

    There are certainly worse places to be ‘held hostage’! It really sounds like you had an amazing time with Infinity. From my experience, it is just as fun a place to be as it was by your description!

  5. ayack says:

    Hey there! quite a lovely account of a proper Infinity experience… not everything in life is planned and played according to the plan. Spontaneity is a great strength! Bravo!
    I spent a while with Infinity too and to me, it was a mind opening, another option of life style put on the offers’table.
    I owe it and clemens a decent part of my present life! I say Thank you infinity!

  6. Joshua Madison says:

    Looks like an amazing place to be Held up. That is the sailing life though isn’t it. I never made it as far as Fiji on Infinity, but loved every minute of my time on board her the 2 occasions I was fortunate to join her. In fact Infinity and Clemens are all I have to blame for my expat life style. Thank you for all the memories.

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