L O G B O O K - by John Philp




COMING HOME


MON 14th AUG - Tau is in Fiji waters this morning, just over a hundred miles from Savusavu, heeled over on a white capped sea, sailing towards home with a purpose, as surely as a horse finding home. It’s a great day to be sailing - sunny and breezy and blue. Threading our way through the shoals and reefs and dotted islands of north-eastern Lau as night descends on us we pick our way down the cloudy Somosomo Strait by radar, the moon dead ahead.

TUE 15th - We arrive into Savusavu before sunrise, anchoring off the Copra Shed Marina. Wow. We’re home!

We spend a couple of delightful days in Savusavu catching up on all the news, eating the local food we’d been missing during the trip, and trying to come to terms mentally with the fact that we were finally home.

We didn’t quite feel like locals for the first few days. I remember one night looking at the silhouette of Tau while walking down the hill from the Hot Springs Hotel in a kind of ‘a fish out of water’ daze, feeling a nostalgic attachment to the graceful ship that had carried us around the world safely. She looked so familiar and in the moment. The surroundings looked more like a dream.

On Sunday 20th we sailed for Lau, a quick trip to visit Nabavatu Plantation on Vanuabalavu before returning finally to Suva. We were each able to look at the beauty of the Lau group with a fresh pair of eyes and a keen, well traveled focus.

FRI 25th - Each of the crew dealt with our home coming in different ways - Kristy, is not a morning person, nor the worlds greatest fan of blue water sailing, skipped up on deck this morning before sunrise visibly excited, barely able to suppress a Christmas tree smile. I was afraid she was going to climb the mizzen mast or sing a song or something!

Just after lunch today we finally sail the remaining miles (over 27,000 now) into Suva Harbour with a fine tradewind carrying us along briskly. We drink a toast just outside the entrance, spilling some alcohol over the side in remembrance of the now departed gentleman that built Tau, by a wonderful coincidence buried at sea in this very spot from this very ship. Colin Philp senior was Tony and the writers father and this, coupled with the fact that we were now home brought on waves of sentiment - I walked up to the foredeck, busying myself with the lines to escape the up-wellings of emotion.

We were surprised then when a motor boat raced by with television and still cameras on board to take pictures off our arrival. Still more surprised when we motored into the Bay of Islands and found a crowd of family and friends on shore, the trees lined with balloons and banners. Someone was shooting firecrackers, and there were cheers and embraces and handshakes, and champagne all around.

As I write this a couple of days later we are still unpacking and coming to terms with life on shore. It will take a few more weeks before we feel like locals again.

Though writing this log was a chore at times for this amateur (at times ghastly) writer, sometimes lodged in a stuffy cabin while under sail, banging away at the laptop while Tau bounced through the sea, then racing to find an internet connection in weird and exotic towns (a story in itself) to e.mail off the story before a deadline (sometimes missing it) I hope it inspires someone reading it to venture off on an adventure off their own - a voyage around the world, climbing a mountain, learning a new skill like scuba diving, or even discovering a new trail or waterfall next time you go hiking, because as Helen Adams Keller once said, “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing”.

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