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Tianna Hacking

September 8 - November 5, 2005

Tianna aboard Ocelot
Tianna Hacking aboard Ocelot

The year 2005 was a year of changes aboard Ocelot: Chris leaving for university, and Amanda spending a month off the boat for a crew/babysitting job in the States.  When Amanda returned to Fiji in September she brought back her cousin, Tianna.  "Importing" a friend for Amanda has been critical to keeping Amanda interested in continuing to cruise throughout high school.  We were happy that Tianna's teachers were amenable to her studying on her own for the two months she was with us.  As we told them via email, Ocelot is a floating high school, not just a play platform on the ocean.

Tianna lives in the mountains of northern California, so two months aboard Ocelot in the tropics was quite a change for her.  This was her second visit to Ocelot.  Her first was to Venezuela in 2002 with the rest of her family.  It didn't take long for her to settle into the routine of crew/family member aboard Ocelot.

Tianna drinks her first bowl of kava at Bekana Resort.
Tianna's first kava at Bekana Resort

We spent the first few days moored off Bekana Island, near the city of Lautoka.  Here Tianna learned about wearing long skirts or pareus into town, saying "Bula!" to the Fijians, and how to shop for the best fruits, veggies and kava at the market.  In the afternoons we all often went to Bekana Resort for a refreshing swim and to partake of the evening kava ceremony and singing.  The resort was quite friendly to yachties, giving us free moorings and letting us use the facilities, so we patronized their bar.  But Amanda and Tianna were made especially welcome by the musicians because the girls sang and played the guitar so often.

Tianna and Amanda and their four cruising buddies from Seeka and Scud
Tianna, Amanda, and the boys: Alan & Adam
(from Seeka) and Warren & Adam (from Scud)

We finished our provisioning as fast as possible, then sailed 20 miles southwest to Musket Cove on Malolo Leilei Island for a week of regatta activities.  Tianna and Amanda had the fun of being part of a group of cruising teens: 2 boys off Scud, 2 boys off Seeka, and the 2 girls off Ocelot.  Although the girls wanted to suspend school for the week at Musket, the mean parental units said no.  So, after 3-4 hours of studying the girls were free to hang with the guys - except for knee-boarding, Hobie-cat racing, and other regatta happenings that could not be suspended for the sake of school.  Afternoon activities included windsurfing, swimming and beach volleyball.  All the kids spent many nights at Plantation Resort dancing, listening to music, and playing pool.

Glorious riding on Natadola Beach, Fiji
Glorious riding on Natadola Beach

From Musket Cove both Ocelot and Scud sailed to Robinson Crusoe (Likuri) Island on the south coast of Viti Levu where we spent two weeks waiting for a good weather window to sail to New Caledonia.  It was here that Tianna had her first real experience of Fijian dancing and hospitality.  She and Amanda spend many happy evenings at the small backpacker resort enjoying the fun and camaraderie of the friendly Fijian staff and the international crowd of backpackers.  We traveled up the river to visit local villages and to explore the waterways.  On nearby Natadola Beach, Tianna, Amanda and Jon went horseback riding along the shore.

Tiana and one loooong Wahoo. Yum.
Tianna & a looong Wahoo

After one false start we finally set out for New Caledonia, 700 miles to the southwest.  Tianna and Amanda stood watch together and took turns in the galley creating good meals for us.  School work virtually stopped on the crossing as Tianna got used to the motion of the boat and the lack of sleep.  After 6 days of good weather and some nice fish, we arrived in the French Territory of New Caledonia, entering the world's second largest barrier reef east of the capital of Noumea.

With just 2 months to experience life on Ocelot, Tianna got a taste of two very different worlds: the island culture of Fiji and the European colonial feeling of New Caledonia.  Suddenly our days were spent pounding concrete in search of earrings for newly-pierced ears, affordable clothing, affordable food (and some not-so-affordable food).  The girls had more company here, with the cruising boats Safari, Peregrinata, and Leprechaun (and their 7 teens) joining us in Noumea.  There were morning jogs, walks to the beach, and wanders through town as well as entirely too many desserts and 5-boat potlucks.  Halloween activities, mostly focused around the younger kids, culminated with the teens heading off to a French discotheque for a night of dancing.

The cousins in Nakamue Atoll near Isle of Pines
The cousins at Nakamue Atoll near Isle of Pines

In New Caledonia Tianna saw some of the best of the South Pacific reefs and islands as we explored the extensive reef and its small islands west of Noumea, and ventured south to the Isle of Pines and its nearby atolls.  Used to swimming in the cold rivers of N. California, Tianna found the chilly (to us) waters of New Caledonia delicious, and she was great at snorkeling in currents!  She was an enthusiastic naturalist, being the first to identify ospreys nesting on the cays.  She enjoyed the islands covered in sea snakes and spent hours shelling on the beaches.  By the time she left she was a good crew member, helping with the anchoring and sail trimming.  We all wished she could have stayed longer.  We can't wait for the next visit!

As a post script: Tianna returned to school to find that she was generally farther along in her studies than the other students, and still at the top of her class!  You go, girl!

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