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Location: Port Denerau, Viti Levu, Fiji

We haven’t quite gotten back into the swing of the normal wake-up time, so getting everyone moving at 7:00 this morning was quite a task. Fortunately, news (and smells) of Steph’s pineapple spice cake got everyone up, and by 7:30, we were eating breakfast. After that, we had a few hours of waiting until we got our two makeup exams (Ezra and Lewis’ COVID tests) back from the Fijian Healthy Ministry. Once that happened around 11:00 AM, our day really started.

For the next hour, we worked on getting the boat ready and moving into Port Denarau, eventually making our way into slip C51, where we would spend the night. Once we docked, we ate lunch (corn chowder), then Lolo and Elle went off provisioning, and the rest of us were given access to the dock to walk around. This might not sound very exciting, and, honestly, I’m not sure I’m properly conveying how it felt, but walking in a straight line for more than 112 feet is something that has been impossible for forty days. Standing on a Fijian dock and finally getting a good look again at this beautiful (and quite dirty) boat that just carried us across an ocean is a feeling I will always remember. Several of us stayed on the dock for a couple of hours while the rest worked on their oceanography presentations and notecards to each other in the salon.

Around 4:45, the Argo Rumor Mill began churning because Head Chef Steph was not yet cooking dinner in the galley. “What’s going on?” “Are we ordering pizza?” “Are we not eating dinner?” “Is Steph just waiting for provisions to get back, so we have fresh food?” Around 5:00, Elle and Lolo answered these questions by bringing back our provisions – including five tubs of ice cream and a bunch of sodas for us to share. Let me tell you something – the speed at which news of the ice cream turned into 27 humans on deck with spoons in their hands would stun a pod of humpbacks. The provisions weren’t even on board before we had bowls on deck waiting, and we tore into the ice cream as soon as it was found. So there we were, ice cream and sodas in hand, wondering what dinner was going to be when Lolo gathered us together and said, “Hey guys, so this is dinner! We’re going to bed now.” Of course, this was a lie because the real announcement was that we had just stumbled into a gold mine – the marina facilities, including showers, washers, dryers, and huge event space, had just been given to us and only us for the night.

Who are we to thank for this mysterious treasure chest of an experience we had just stumbled upon? Geoff. A man who started a two-year circumnavigation trip twelve years ago made it to Fiji and hasn’t left yet. This host of ours, as interesting as he is generous, gave us private access to all of the marina facilities so that we could have the largest legal gathering in the country tonight. All of it, it turned out, exceeded our wildest expectations. The showers were huge, had rainfall showerheads, and were warm (!!!!!); the washing machines were plentiful enough for all of us to get through our massive pileups of passage laundry; and the event space, equipped with a pool, darts, ping pong, and foosball, also had a fridge stocked with a few local beers for us to enjoy with dinner. Somehow, with basically no time at all, the staff + Geoff had managed to throw together a magical evening with great food, a few drinks, and a group of intensely happy (and freshly clean) humans. Hot dogs and veggie burgers were consumed en masse, with cheesy bread, pasta salad, baked beans, and some chocolate candies for dessert. Best of all, once we had all eaten, the staff gave us one more surprise of a champagne toast (in glasses that were formerly our Nutella and pesto jars) to Argo’s longest passage and the massive accomplishment we had all achieved together. Many of us said it was the best champagne we had ever had. For the rest of the night, we danced, sang, ate, ping-ponged, pooled, toasted, took pictures and smiled for hours. It was a perfect conclusion to the passage and a beautiful welcome to Fiji and the hospitality of the Pacific islands.

Fiji’s 11:00 PM curfew bookended our first night back on land, so we all returned to Argo exhausted but filled with appreciation for what a privilege this whole experience has been. My squeeze question (which we finally did for breakfast two days later) was, “What was your Sea|mester moment?” Meaning, “what was the first time you stepped back and realized how cool this trip is?”

I am sad to say this is my final day as Skipper. To everyone back home – friends, family, strangers, former and future Argonauts – it has been a pleasure writing these blogs and giving my personal flair to this long line of Skippers. To the lifetime friends, I’ve made on this vessel, know how deeply I love you all. Until next time,

Riley

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened” -Dr. Seuss

Daily tallies:
Stoke level – top of the mast (once again)
Sugar highs (and subsequent crashes) – 27
friends enjoying a night together – 28

Pictured:
Niko, Renee, Steph, and Elie in the galley
Frankie, Amanda, and Natalie in the dinghy
Argo on the dock in Port Denarau
Mac helping unload all the trash from our passage
Laundry crew
The staff and the champagne toast
Watch Team 1
Watch Team 2
Watch Team 3

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