So I checked out of Fiji this morning.
I took the bus up to Lautoka instead of taking the boat up there like you are supposed to. Of course, the second I show up, the first officer sitting indoors behind a desk asks me where my boat is. Out front I lied. The main honcho who did all the paperwork also asked me during the course of things, where my boat was. Anchored out front I lied. He asked me if all my shopping was done. "How much time do I have after I clear to remain in Fiji? Half an hour was the reply which isn't enough time for shopping. "No problem, I can leave now" I said. So all the paperwork was done and at the final moment he stood up holding my passport and said that he would accompany me back to the boat for a final inspection and then I could leave. I guess I am not a very good liar... At that moment, I could have told him the truth, that the boat was an hour bus ride away but what would have happened next? Even when someone doesn't believe you, they can never be one hundred percent sure. Since I started this little game, why not play it to the end? I pressed on with this advantage knowing that a lie can still work until you are actually caught. I only felt like I was caught knowing the truth but he did not know that. Why give it away? So I stood up as well and said "no problem, come out to the boat" and I stuck my hand out for my passport which he handed over. Strike one for the officials... We both walked out the office together in the hot sun. I smiled and made small talk while my mind raced to figure out how to get out of this one. There wasn't anything at stake, I followed all the rules up to this point. I had paid all the check in fees, I even did the weekly boat reports. How many yachties do that? The offices we just left were located in the port which was a gated complex. One idea I had was to run for it. I am in a lot better shape than the paper pusher that was following me. I would still have to get past the security gate and the consequences of getting caught this way would not be worth it. We walked towards the dinghy dock and plan two quickly came to mind as I selected another cruiser's dinghy without the boat name written on it. I made sure it had oars and quickly lied to the official saying the outboard wasn't working and that we would have to row out. He said it wasn't an issue and that he wouldn't be coming out after all. I don't think he ever really intended to. Instead, he asked which boat was mine in the anchorage. They were all too far away to read the names so I pointed out one that was the same length as Pelican. He stood there watching me as I climbed into this dinghy, untied it and began rowing away. I didn't know it, how could I, but the dinghy was also anchored from the stern. I only rowed about twenty feet before I began rowing in place. I didn't get it right away, that I was no longer making progress, but a couple of workers lounging around caught it and began motioning at me. Luckily, they were too far to yell at me and the official didn't get it either. He was satisfied, waved and turned around to walk back to his office. I rowed back to the dock, retied the dinghy and quickly headed toward the security gate on foot.