SUNBIZ

Yacht Owners Thank PM Bainimarama And The Port Denarau Marina

Mr Stephens, 60, and his wife Margy Hewetson, 60, said the Fijian Government and Port Denarau Marina could not have come up with a better initiative which has now prompted other yachts to start making their way here.
05 Aug 2020 14:01
Yacht Owners Thank PM Bainimarama And The Port  Denarau Marina
From left: Margy Hewetson and Russel Stephens onboard their yacht Sunrise at Port Denarau Marina on August 4. Photo: Charles Chambers

I wish I could meet the Prime Minister (Voreqe Bainimarama) and shake his hands.

Those were the words from Russel Stephens, whose yacht was the first to comply with all the regulations and requirements set out In the Blue Lane initiative for yachts entering Fiji.

Mr Stephens, 60, and his wife Margy Hewetson, 60, said the Fijian Government and Port Denarau Marina could not have come up with a better initiative which has now prompted other yachts to start making their way here.

Mr Stephens is a retired builder while Mrs Hewetson is a retired hospital pharmacist.

Being in Fiji for the first time on their 50 footer yacht, Sunrise, the couple are surprised with how the Blue Lane initiative was safe and working and which has cleared doubts on the minds of many yacht owners.

“Fiji is the first country to have achieved this and this is truly amazing,” Mrs Hewetson said.

Couple’s experience

Port Denarau Marina chief executive officer Cynthia Rasch confirmed Sunrise as the first yacht to comply with the requirements put in place in order for yachts to be allowed to dock at Port Denarau Marina.

It is the only designated port of entry for yachts at present.

Mr Stephens said the marina was filling up and there were a lot more of their friends out at the quarantine area and those who had done their tests were heading for Fiji.

The couple revealed they have spent over AU$20,000 (FJ$30,000), so far since being in Fiji for the past two weeks.

They described the Nadi market as “great with all the fresh vegetables available.

“We were greeted with bula from all corners and wished we could have helped everyone by buying something.”

They spent last year’s sailing season in Vanuatu and New Caledonia and then travelled up to New Zealand and then venture down to Tonga and Fiji.

However, COVID-19 disrupted plans and they ended up spending more time in New Zealand.

The announcement

The couple, who were anchored in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand when Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made the announcement on June 22.

“I really want to shake his hands because that was a brave announcement.

“We were in our yacht on that Sunday the announcement was made and the next morning we were at the doctors to get out tests.”

Mrs Hewetson said it was difficult at first finding a clinic to get the tests done as you either had to be registered there or if you had symptoms of coronavirus.

She added that anchored out in the quarantine area of Port Denarau gave them an insight into Fijian hospitality.

“We had the Fiji Navy personnel there checking on us every day to see whether we were okay or if we had enough food supplies.Taking into account how the whole world is at the moment, it has been amazing what the Fijian Government and PDM, especially Cynthia has achieved.”

The couple were even allowed to use their paddle boat around their yacht and take a dip in the ocean.

“Everything has been smooth since arriving and I am just overwhelmed that I am in Fiji and doing things which cannot be done around the world now.

“We will be heading out to see other islands in the Fiji group beginning with Yasawa and ending up in the Lautoka group.

“We have brought some books and groceries which we want to share with the people on these outer islands,” Mr Stephens said.

Their social media postings on being in Fiji has attracted the attention of many yacht owners in New Zealand and Australia.

The couple plan to stay in Fiji till mid-October.

Feedbackcharles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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