GIPSEA: CON­NECT­ING WORLDS

Go Travel The Pacific - - Contents - by Ginny El­li­son

Ihave al­ways har­boured ro­man­tic no­tions about sail­ing but un­til re­cently had not had the plea­sure of be­ing out on the wa­ter on board a sub­stan­tial yacht. Read­ing up on what ac­tiv­i­ties were avail­able on my re­cent get- away Fiji hol­i­day I dis­cov­ered Gipsea.

Gipsea is a 50 foot yacht built in Tahiti in the late 70’ s. She sailed ex­ten­sively in the South Pa­cific be­fore find­ing her new home in Fiji. Dur­ing 2013, she un­der­went an ex­ten­sive re­fit in or­der to ac­com­mo­date guests in com­fort. She sounded like the yacht for me.

The three crews were friendly and wel­com­ing; help­ing me to de­cide which of the many op­tions avail­able were the best fit for me. Gipsea caters for surfers, cou­ples, fam­i­lies and friends look­ing for pri­vate char­ters. You can also join a sched­uled day trip or a sun­set cruise. She can ac­com­mo­date up to 25 pas­sen­gers.

Af­ter con­sult­ing with my three trav­el­ling com­pan­ions, we de­cided that a pri­vate char­ter ( al­ways fully crewed) would suit our needs. We wanted to have a hands- on ex­pe­ri­ence but still have the op­tion to re­lax. I barely slept the night be­fore our de­par­ture in an­tic­i­pa­tion of spend­ing three days living and sail­ing on a yacht. From the sec­ond we first ar­rived on Gipsea we knew we had made the right de­ci­sion as the crew were fan­tas­tic; in­stantly put us at ease and en­cour­aged us to get in­volved with help­ing hoist and set the sails and even steer­ing the boat.

Once we were un­der­way, I checked out the fa­cil­i­ties on board and was pleased to find that Gipsea was com­fort­able in­side and out. There are wide shaded ar­eas, cush­ioned seat­ing, an in­door toi­let, out­door showers, a spa­cious gal­ley, nine beds and even a good sound sys­tem.

As we ap­proached the is­lands, I was blown away by their nat­u­ral beauty. The Mananu­cas are sur­rounded by stunning coral reefs, translu­cent wa­ters and pic­ture per­fect white sandy beaches.

It was the per­fect way to start our adventure. We had the use of the yacht’s fish­ing gear, float­ing li­los, ham­mock and snorkeling sets, and I was keen to get in the wa­ter and check out the abun­dant marine life. We were an­chored in a beau­ti­ful la­goon be­side “Cloud Break”, just a mile away from Tavarua Is­land. The wa­ter was invit­ing, ideal for snorkeling and min­utes away from the best waves in Fiji.

Af­ter set­ting us up with snorkeling and fish­ing gear, Doni, our cap­tain got the ten­der ready to take my friends for a surf. The con­di­tions were per­fect and the guys were go­ing to have the best ses­sion of their lives. This area of­fers a va­ri­ety of breaks suit­able for most lev­els. In a five mile ra­dius you can surf “Cloud Break”, “Namotu Left”, “Restau­rants” and “Wilkes Pass”, just to name a few. Fiji has al­ready se­duced some of the best surfers in the world.

Af­ter build­ing up our ap­petites snorkeling, fish­ing and tak­ing in the sur­round­ing beauty, it was time to re­lax and en­joy a healthy, and tasty lunch pre­pared and served on­board by the crew. Gipsea does not in­clude al­co­hol in the pack­age. How­ever, we were en­cour­aged to bring our, own and they pro­vided ice and cold stor­age. It was bliss to sit back and re­lax with a cold beer. We had opted for our meals to be catered so we could re­ally en­joy our time on the boat with­out a care in the world. The food was plen­ti­ful, healthy and var­ied and seemed to just mag­i­cally ap­pear ex­actly when needed. Later that af­ter­noon, Gipsea was repo­si­tioned be­side Namotu Is­land, just a few miles away. We all sat down on the deck and watched the sun go down in deep con­tem­pla­tion with the most

amaz­ing sun­set I had ever seen.

The fol­low­ing day dawned calm and clear. It was won­der­ful to have the next round of fun and adventure right at my fin­ger­tips. I went for a quick dip in the wa­ter be­fore sit­ting down to break­fast and a desul­tory chat with my friends about how to spend the day. Surf­ing and ex­plor­ing this is­land were at the top of the list. The surfers would en­joy what “Swim­ming Pools” ( a lo­cally well- known break) had to of­fer; mean­while, we would ex­plore the is­land. The Fi­jian staff wel­comed us, and we were lucky enough to have a nice walk around the beau­ti­ful is­land. Af­ter lunch, we de­cided to go sail­ing. Again, the crew en­cour­aged us to par­tic­i­pate in the man­u­ou­vres, and it was a great op­por­tu­nity for a be­gin­ner like me to get hands- on ex­pe­ri­ence. We cruised over the most amaz­ing la­goon and even caught a big Span­ish mack­erel. We sat an­chor in front of “Cloud 9”, a unique float­ing lounge fac­ing Malolo Is­land. The sur­round­ing was just un­real and while the oth­ers went spear- fish­ing with Doni, I jumped into the wa­ter and swam to “Cloud 9”, just a few me­tres away. I had the most re­fresh­ing mo­jito and went to the top deck; Gipsea looked even bet­ter from there. That evening, Luc cooked us a suc­cu­lent din­ner of mack­erel.

The Char­ter Cruise was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to en­joy the com­pany of my good friends. The three days flew by with win­ing, dining, and en­ter­tain­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The staff were dis­creet, and we had pri­vacy when needed. The ex­pe­ri­ence from a group per­spec­tive was fab­u­lous fun, and I imag­ine it would be a lovely ro­man­tic op­tion for cou­ples want­ing to get away from it all.

My plan was to spend the next two days back at the re­sort on De­na­rau be­fore wind­ing up my hol­i­day with a Sun­set Cruise on the Gipsea. Af­ter two days on land, I was ea­ger to get back out on the wa­ter. I headed to the ma­rina just be­fore 4: 00 pm on the day of my Sun­set Cruise. Gipsea set sail to­wards the Ma­manuca Is­lands. I rel­ished sit­ting back sip­ping on a cool drink while Gipsea cruised around the bay of Nadi. It was the per­fect way to re­lax and meet new peo­ple. As usual the crew were friendly and the ser­vice im­pec­ca­ble. They passed around a va­ri­ety of soft drinks, snacks, and fruit plat­ters. The sun be­gan to set, and the pic­turesque beauty of the is­lands came to life. I had been in­cred­i­bly lucky to have such great ex­pe­ri­ences on Gipsea. If you only have a few hours to spare, the Sun­set Cruise is for you!

Gipsea has a very spe­cial way to connect peo­ple with the el­e­ments. This pro­fes­sional team ac­com­mo­dated our ev­ery need and pro­vided some mag­i­cal times on the wa­ter. I will never for­get my fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence and would jump at the chance to do it all over again!

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