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NOBLE HOUSE: FIJI Having spent two years cruising from Panama via Europe to Thailand and Borneo, Noble House arrived in Fiji in July 2011. Apart from a month in Tonga and some winter maintenance work in Australia, she has remained here ever since. We caught up with Captain Steve McDonald as he prepared for another South Pacific season aboard this wonderful yacht. Q WHAT ARE THE ISLANDS OF FIJI LIKE? A The landscape varies from low-lying tropical islands with white sandy beaches and palm trees, to those created by volcanic activity with lush rainforests pierced by basalt plugs. Q WHAT ABOUT THE CLIMATE? WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO CHARTER? A Temperatures range between 26ºC (79°F) and 31ºC (88°F), with few extremes. The ‘wet season’ (November to April) is characterised by heavy localised showers, and there is a risk of cyclones from December to April. The best time to charter is between May and early December, when the south-easterly tradewinds prevail. Q WHICH AREAS OF THE FIJIAN ARCHIPELAGO OFFER THE BEST CRUISING? A It is very hard to place one area above another, all are spectacular and I don’t have a favourite. We generally plan according to the weather and how much time we have. Viti Levu is the main island and the gateway to the rest of the country. Most charter guests fly into Nadi and join the yacht in Port Denarau, a twenty minute ride from the airport. An hour’s cruising brings us to the reef-fringed tropical Mamanuca Islands. Further north lie the Yasawa Islands, where white sand beaches and blue lagoons have a rugged volcanic backdrop. Continuing further north and east brings you to the Vatu-i-Ra passage, great for spectacular diving and fishing. The second largest island, Vanua Levu, is known for geothermal activity and diving in the Somosomo Strait. On the other side of the Strait is Taveuni with its lush vegetation and waterfalls. Just to the East of Viti Levu is the Lomaiviti Group, where Europeans first settled - the beaches here are beautiful. Further east again lies the more isolated Lau Group of islands with their distinctive limestone formations and traditional culture. Heading back towards the main island you can visit the Moala Group, and anchor inside the long-dormant caldera of Totoya Island. Q Q HOW LONG DO YOU NEED? ARE THERE BIG DISTANCES TO COVER? A There are no really long haul trips when you cruise around Fiji, so one or two weeks is enough time to get a feel for the country. If you want to visit the Lau Islands, I’d recommend flying out by chartered plane to avoid a trip to windward. Q FIJI SEEMS A LONG WAY AWAY – WHAT MAKES IT WORTH THE TRIP? A This is the perfect place for those who enjoy clean water, unspoiled natural landscapes, diving, fishing and truly friendly, hospitable people. Most guests tend to spend a lot of time in the water! We have had groups where some go fishing and others lounge in the sun, but usually everybody is doing something, whether that’s kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, jetskiing, diving or being towed on the inflatable toys. Fiji is not really suited for those who like to eat ashore and go clubbing: once we start moving, we are very much a self-contained show. Q HOW DOES CRUISING FIJI COMPARE WITH OTHER TROPICAL DESTINATIONS, SUCH AS THE CARIBBEAN? A I have spent time cruising the less travelled areas of the Caribbean: Mexico, Belize, the Bay Islands of Honduras, Panama and the Netherlands Antilles - all fantastic places. But Fiji offers cleaner and clearer water, far superior diving and fishing, a much more beautiful landscape as well as a more secure environment. Q WHAT MAKES NOBLE HOUSE SUCH A GOOD PLATFORM FOR THIS KIND OF ISLAND HOPPING CHARTER? A Noble House was designed to be an expedition yacht with the appearance of a luxury motor yacht, so she is ideal for this location. We provide an Oceanmaster 27 custom fishing/diving tender, a rigid inflatable, two jetskis, dive equipment and we have our own dive instructor. There is also the option to replace the Oceanmaster with our 35ft (10.6m) Cabo Express sport fishing boat. You can be out in the middle of nowhere and come back on board to full internet access, fine dining, or a movie on the bridge deck’s outside projector screen. Q AND WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD, HOW DOES YOUR CHEF ADAPT TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC LOCATION? A Our chef, Robert Ginsberg, is a New Yorker with a home in Tuscany. He says that sourcing for local provisions here has never been easier. We prefer supporting the local farmers and fishermen of our adopted home base rather than importing everything. There is never a shortage of fresh fish (wahoo, walu, mahi mahi and several species of tuna to name just a few). Robert has been very excited recently about discovering Fijian chocolate, grown here on Vanua Levu near Savusavu, and roasted locally by Tomo, the chocolatier. A favourite with charter guests is Robert’s kokoda, a local Fijian starter similar to cerviche with the addition of coconut. Filleted walu (Spanish mackerel) is finely diced and tossed with green chillies, tomatoes, lime and coriander - all locally grown. A coconut is then grated and the ‘meat’ is pressed for beautiful coconut creme. Mixed together and allowed to marinate for several hours, it becomes something truly special. Refreshing and mouth watering served with local taro and plantain chips. CAPTAIN STEVE McDONALD Noble House LOA 53.9m (177ft) BUILDER Sensation Yachts, New Zealand, 2005 (refit 2011) EXTERIOR DESIGN Jon Overing INTERIOR DESIGN Francois Zuretti CRUISING SPEED 13 knots GUESTS 12 in 6 cabins CREW 12 WINTER 2012/13 Australia / Fiji SUMMER 2013 South Pacific – Fiji CHARTER RATE from US$199,000 per week SEE PAGE 160 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON NOBLE HOUSE. A BRIEF SAMPLE CRUISING ITINERARY FOR FIJI IS SHOWN ON PAGE 115 AND YOUR BURGESS CHARTER BROKER CAN SUPPLY FURTHER DETAILS. NOBLE HOUSE IS OFFERED FOR SALE AND CHARTER BY BURGESS AS CENTRAL AGENTS. { 89 } Superyacht Living & Style Magazine 2013


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