Monday 27 March 2006 posting

This is a lovely little post from one of our guests on Tui Tai:

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 7
Tacoma, WA (3145820)
Posted on: 2:57 am, Mar 24, 2006
We were on the Tui Tai in Oct 05 and had a fantastic time. I dive but my wife doesn't, so it was a great for both of us. Each day has a choices of dive or other adventure activities. The staff was great, the food was good and we got to see some of Fiji that isn't on the usual tourist routes. My only regret is that it's not likely I'll get back there any time soon to see the newly re-fitted boat. It should make a great trip even better.

Friday 24 March 2006

Tui Tai off to Suva for slipway

The 8 weeks refit is over and it's time for Tui Tai's "annual medical" visit to the Suva ship slipway (well she is a vintage ship at 25 years old you know, birthday party on 19th April 2006 when she's 26!). She gets pulled out annually for a full check over and repaint and now is the perfect time. Departed Savusavu at 11am this morning and will arrive in Suva about 3am tomorrow morning.

The new Expedition Cabins, Staterooms and Grand Staterooms are receiving their finishing touches and final coat of varnish en-route today. All the new mirrors from Pearls Fiji are mounted and look awesome.

I just flew in to Suva this afternoon, Tige flew in on Monday, and the rest of the crew are on board. It'll be a full on team effort for the next 7 days, so maybe not much posting will be done.

We'll do the Tui Tai glamour photos when we relaunch next Saturday!


Tuesday 21 March 2006

Diary of an adventure cruiser : WAIKATO TIMES, NZ

Diary of an adventure cruiser

20 March 2006 , Waikato Times, New Zealand

By JEFF HOWELLJeff Howell has five unforgettable days aboard the Tui Tai in Fiji.

Looking for something more exciting than a sun lounger and a trashy novel for your next holiday? How about a cruise?

No, not that kind of cruise. This is different. For pokie machines and deck quoits, think mountain bikes, kayaks and dive gear. For portside cities and souvenir shops, think isolated bays, dive spots and natural wonders. Dress-down, not dress code.

Everyone's on first names, including the crew.

Welcome aboard the Tui Tai, a 40m Fijian motor sailer, which plies the waters of Vanua Levu and Fiji's eastern islands. There's an all-Fijian crew of 16, and room for up to 24 guests in air-con cabins.

With a couple of runabouts, a Padi dive operation, and enough adventure gear for everyone, Tui Tai is a cruise ship set up for serious, active fun.

Day 1
We cast off mid-morning from Savusavu harbour to the start point for our first activity, a kayak trip up the Yanowai river.
Our pace is sedate. The river teems with life. Kids play in the water, trampling through taro plots, jumping from giant trees, floating downstream clinging to morsels of banana palm, paddling in impossibly overladen tin boats.
Kayaking back to the rendezvous point, Liga, our guide, entertains with stories of iguanas, how-to-cook-breadfruit, and a long abandoned goldmine.
Most of my fellow travellers are American. Half the guests Padi-certified. John and Suzy have come all the way from Tucsonwith mates Pat and Carl. They relish the prospect of two dives a day, the first scheduled for this afternoon.
The divers saddle up and head to deep water. I grab a snorkel and flippers and jump overboard for a low-tech coral experience.
Imagine being shrunk in size and plonked in an aquarium. Coral sprouts like giant mushrooms, human brains, and sawn-off coconut palms.
Some twinkle on the ends; others look like spilled blue paint.
Fish. Angel fish, south seas devils, bristletooth, black snapper. Little aquamarine ones swim in dense schools, brahmin blue fluorescent starfish with waving tentacles.

Day 2
Paradise is waking with sleepy eyes, walking to the deck and diving into the deep clear blue water. The world's biggest swimming pool.
After breakfast (omelette, cereal, coffee, fresh pineapple) we kayak around the mainland coast.
When everything gets too hot, we ditch the kayaks for a swim in the bay, and take turns surfing behind the support dinghy.
After lunch we head to Nagigi village in a classic old window-less school bus. The visit is remarkable: unrehearsed, candid and authentic.
The elders were expecting us. Sitting cross-legged under the meeting house verandah, men sing and pass around kava (a local infusion, mildly intoxicating, made from the root of the yaqona bush).
Over the road, the rest of the village slug it out at an all-you-can-eat volleyball match.
We stroll around the village. Back at the meeting house, women present garlands, sing songs and get us all dancing. Smiles, pride, exuberance, grace, warmth, fun.
Night falls as we head home. The aroma of wood smoke, kerosene and burning fern leaves. Dirt roads, bumps and potholes. Headlight beams through the dust.
After dinner everyone lounges around the big communal dining table on the back deck. Then to bed early. Clearly, this is no party cruise.

Day 3
During the night the Tui Tai cruises to a channel between the islands of Taveuni and Qamea.
What a beautiful place to anchor: deep blue water hemmed in by luxuriant, mountainous and mysterious islands.
From a distance it could be Milford Sound. Except it is 30< bay. the in bob coconuts fallen and>
Morning exercise is a 10km mountain bike ride, and a hill walk to see Taveuni's famous Bouma falls. Along the way the skies open, turning the dirt road into a puddled, muddy, hideous mess. Exhilarating. We arrive at the Bouma information centre in muddy glory.
Ten minutes later, sweat is still oozing from every pore.
The first waterfall at Bouma is a torrent of water falling 30m into a deep shaded pool. The second is another 20 minutes up the track. Talk about steep. Talk about slippery. Talk about sweaty.
The swim at the top is heaven. After a picnic lunch of yummy vege rotis, water melon and more swims, we opt not to pedal back, preferring the comfort of the minibus.
Tonight's dinner features seafood: tasty white-fleshed walu and masala prawns bought from Savusavu market.

Day 4
Patrick, the divemaster, promised today's snorkel would be the best of the trip. Too right. Called The Farm, it is a coral wall on the edge of a deep channel.
Hectares of coral blooming up from seemingly endless depths, schools of fish, even a lurking reef shark.
On nearby Rabi (pronounced Rambi) the locals are commemorating 60 years of habitation –- and we are invited. Latter-day Pacific migrants, they arrived in Rabi from Banaba island in far-off Kiribati in 1945.
They'd been forced to leave Banaba after Britain, New Zealand and Australia mined it to oblivion, extracting rich deposits of phosphate-rich guano.
As Banaba became unviable, the British Government simply found them another island to live on in distant Fiji. Remember, these were colonial times.
Rabi is normally closed to visitors, but Patrick is Rabian.
He wrangled the visit and ushers us into the VIP pavilion before disappearing to catch up with family and friends.
Across from me sits a woman who looks remarkably like our governor-general. Maybe, maybe not. Anything's possible in the Pacific!
Dignitaries make speeches. A police band plays. Girls and boys perform, dancing the age-old vivacious and sensual Pacific moves that have captivated foreigners for centuries.

Day 5
A scorching day. Mountain biking seems like a good idea until the first giant, swoon-inducing hill. Stopping at the first beach, we end up staying all day.
The crew ferries over some deck chairs. Around noon they bring lunch (beef curry, rice and rotis) and a well-stocked chilly bin.
Later, more crew arrive in the inflatable for a volleyball challenge. They are 10 times better than us, but we seem to win an equal share of games. Fijians are natural diplomats.
Our final night aboard Tui Tai. A Fijian sing-a-long and kava on the back deck. Plenty of Fiji Bitters are downed as we dissect the last five days. Everyone agrees: the trip's been active, yet no one had felt pressure to over-exert themselves. The divers rave. The Americans are in love with Fijian warmth and informality. We toast the crew, the food, the spontaneity.
Later, as Tui Tai cruises the moonlight back to Savusavu, the wind rustles the sails and a thousand stars dance above the silhouettes of distant islands.

· The five-night cruise costs about F$1790 share twin, including meals and activities (except Padi dives). There are three and four-night packages. See for details.
· Jeff Howell is a Hamilton writer.,2106,3610282a6578,00.html

Vinaka and kind regards,
Miriam Whippy
Reservations Officer
Active Fiji / Tui Tai Adventure Cruises

Saturday 18 March 2006

Yaka beds and shelves

Quick sneak preview of the yaka hardwood leeboards on the bunks and used for the shelving in the cabins and staterooms. This is after only 1 coat of varnish, and they will eventually get 5 coats to really bring out that wonderful grain.


First mirror into Expedition Cabin 5

These mirrors were hand made by J Hunter Pearls and Pearls Fiji, our next door neighbour in Savusavu.

The surrounds are made from the pearl oyster shells polished to highlight the mother-of-pearl.

If you look really carefully you can see 2 golden coloured shells in the shape of our Tui Tai logo (the 2 sails) in the bottom right hand corner.

Every cabin will have one of the Pearls Fiji mirrors, and the Staterooms and Grand Staterooms will have one in the bathroom, and 2 in the main cabins.


Thursday 9 March 2006

Shane and Wayne at night

I was just on board and watching the guys cut and weld up to 8pm (long 12 hour days are now in full swing) and the light caught my eye. I think black and white really give dramatic results at night.

Eco forestry

Bula all,

Here is the Yaka hardwood drying for the leeboards and shelving in all the cabins. All of this exquisite hardwood was harvested from a single tree grown in the highlands behind Savusavu. Mr Bill Driver and his crew walked half a day into his forestry and to find the one tree that would give the amount of wood we required in the correct size. We needed about 800 linear feet of 12' x 1" planks, between 5 and 8ft long. The final product of the tree that he chose came to 874 linear feet (trees not really growing THAT much to order...).

The tree was then felled by chainsaw and then a portable sawmill using the same chainsaws were used to cut the logs into rough "green" planks. The wood was then loaded onto the crew's backs and walked out of the forest. No logging roads were carved into the hillside, and secondary forest damage was minimal. This kind of forestry is known as Eco-Forestry and is currently being supported in the Fiji Islands by German Forestry Agency to try and reduce the damage and soil erosion caused by mass forestry and the logging roads normally used during harvesting.

The planks were then dressed and finished to our final required thickness and size by the local Savusavu Sawmill over by the airport. in the photo we see the resulting timber drying out beneath a tarpaulin on our day beds on the sun deck. An alternative use for a very comfortable piece of deck furniture. This is now dry and ready for sanding and polishing for use as the leeboards on all our beds. It will also be used for the splash guard around the vanities and the shelves in the Grand Staterooms.


Sunday 5 March 2006

New KONA Mountain Bikes arrive in country

Just received the phone call that our new 26 mountain bikes have arrived at Nadi Airport, 2 weeks ahead of scheduled delivery date!

These are new, state-of-the-art 2006 model KONA mountain bikes, not any old bike out there. The Fire Mountain ius specifi`cally made for cross-country riding like the road to Bouma and Buca Bay during our Adventure Cruise.

"Cross Country riding and Cross Country racing are cornerstones of Kona Bicycles. For the last 17 years we’ve collaborated with and sponsored some of the fastest racers in the world, who ride the most demanding courses out there. Each one of them contributes to design and innovation in order for our bikes to withstand World Cup racing and the brutal punishment it puts on equipment. This year, the Kona Les Gets Factory Team will be putting our bikes through another rigorous season of racing, research and development."

I'm seriously looking forward to putting these bikes through our own Fiji testing grounds in the coming months!

Go visit the website and find out for yourself:


National Geographic Adventure Article

Just out in the March 2006 issue of one of our favourite magazines, National Geographic Adventure:


Saturday 4 March 2006

Cabinets into Expedition Cabins

This a much nicer view of what's happening, the clean new wood and the carpenters. Here is Gopal fitting the wardrobes and vanity cabinets into Expedition Cabin 4.

These are now finished and are recieving their second coat of varnish (but I left my camera on the ship tonight so can't upload the photos).

We're down to only 17 days left in Savusavu before we head to Suva to go up on the slip for our annual survey and repaint (oh exciting news on the paint front, but that can wait for another blog!)


My current office and why this blog isn't updated often at the mo...

For those of you who have been on Tui Tai these photos show the current look of the saloon and bar area on board. In the first photo my "office" is the first table and chair on the right with my yellow water bottle (hydrate, hydrate!) and Starbucks coffee (made by the Tacoma Girls in the Active Fiji real office for me daily!)

; always appreciated if you want to bring a gift for us coffe lovers out here in the sticks, any type or variety of good coffee beans works of us!

The rest of the mess is the materials and stock needed for the refit. Toilets, sinks, engine parts, desal plant, glue, nails, welding rods, cutting disks, sound proofing insulation mat, electrical cabling, distribution boxes, light switches, lights themselves, goodness I could do this all evening. Enough said that there is literally tonnes of equipment and supplies.

In the second photo you can just see one of the heads off of our starboard main engine, a Gardner. Chief Engineer Timoci has taken the 12 weeks refit time to grab a chance to do a full top end rebuild of all our critical systems. Oil and diesel everywhere!

All for now, 'll try and do a nicer photo in my next blog.