Back into Fiji, Nov 1, 2015
So here we are, back again. Because we crossed the date line twice we lost track of what day it is, but we think it is Monday. We hope it is because the Customs/Immigration offices will not be open on Sunday 8am. There should be a cruisers net on the radio. Nothing. Oops. I get on the radio and call the marina office. No answer. Finally another cruiser answers my call. It is Sunday after all. Now what. We are not supposed to moor or dock or even anchor until we have permission. The other boat tracks down marina security to ask what to do and, lo and behold, we are instructed to take a mooring ball. But we are not to get off of the boat until Monday when Medical and Biosecurity will clear us. This is fine. All we want is a lazy day anyway. We have eggs left, and there is even a bottle of champagne waiting for a good occasion so we treat ourselves to a lovely breakfast. I go over for a quick swim and then we settle down for a long nap.
Sometime in the afternoon, there is a knock on the hull and a voice shouting “Rhapsody” The customs officer is there, very upset. He had commandeered the dingy of one of the other sailors and come to see what the heck we were doing moored with the yellow Q flag up on a Sunday. Luckily the other sailor had heard the whole thing on the radio and corroborated our excuse that we had been told to moor by the marina security guard. After a bit more yelling we were told to launch our dingy forthwith and show up on shore with all our paperwork where we would be met by a customs officer to check us in. No argument from us. Off we went and an hour later, after the usual filling out and stamping of papers, we were legal. Except not really. We were allowed to buy a cold beer but once we were back on the boat we needed to wait for medical and biosecurity. Once they cleared us we need to present ourselves at the customs office again for further paperwork.
Next morning, bright and early, we were told to move from the mooring to the dock but not leave the boat until medical and biosecurity came, Once again, lots of papers were filled out and stamped. Then back to Customs to finish the paperwork Finally legal. There was one other boat at the dock which had just returned and 2 other boats came in while we waited. All three had to be towed in because of various problems. The worst was a boat which had hit something which damaged the prop so badly that they had no steering.
But I think we left a mess in our wake. We should not have been told to come in and moor on Sunday. We were supposed to anchor someplace offshore. So this is an issue between the marina security and customs Once we were in, we should not have been told to come ashore to be cleared by customs. We were supposed to stay on the boat until cleared by medical and biosecurity So all the parties involved will have to sort it out. Meanwhile, we are cleared to be back in Fiji again.
As an interesting footnote, I ran into the customs officer on a walk around the town later and we spent a pleasant hour drinking kava and eating papaya and pineapple. He acknowledged that we had done nothing wrong, but he had strong words for the marina staff who never should have told us to come in and take a mooring.