Posted by: catamarantwooceans | October 19, 2010

On with the Fiji tour

12.10.10 – Tuesday – Out of Somosomo by 0900 in order to get to the Blue Lagoon around noon. Yes! The Blue Lagoon, made famous by the movie starring Brooke Shields and – was it Ryan O’Neill? I have a faint recollection of seeing a part of it on some late late T.V show.


                           Entering Blue Lagoon

Anyway, there are a few resorts here and the anchorage, which is a protected one, attracts quite a big number of yachts, we were 7 by the time evening came.

One of the yachts was a Swiss Outremer 43, Blue-Bie, skippered by Philip Duss, with whom Volkmar had contact regarding the possibility of him joining to go to NZ.


Philip came over for a drink and a chat and I invited him to come to dinner and share the fish that we caught on the way here (a King-fish? some kind of Tuna?).

blg2  Philip will be sailing to NZ by himself after all, deciding he needed to be alone for a while. He keeps watches with a radar and A.I.S alarms and wakes himself up every hour to look around.



13.10.10 – Wednesday – When did the rain start and more important – when will it stop? Volkmar went to a resort to connect to the internet at the exorbitant price of 40$ Fj, more than 20$ U.S. I found some mould damage on clothes in one of the shelves in my cabinet and took them to laundry in a local family home near by. One of the men in the very humble house motioned me over. He needed a wire leader for his trolling lure, could I make him one? Sure… I come back with the item and he says:”But I don’t have a swivel for it! Do you have one for me, and maybe you have an octopus lure or a Rapala you can give me?” When I come back for the laundry I bring the goodies, but the lure is bartered for a shell necklace. The laundry is not dry and I have to hang it around my cabin and washroom, where they make the air even more humid.

All this time the rain comes down in torrents. After lunch it seems as if there is a respite and we go out to sail to Yasawa southern bay where we want to spend the night. The rain comes again and we put on our foul weather jackets. When the rod bends and the trolling line is running out I urge Volkmar to take the fish out. It’s a big one and Volkmar is working hard reeling it in, when suddenly the fish breaks loose. A bit later another one is caught and this time Volkmar is victorious and with me using the gaff he brings aboard a 12 pounds Wahoo


By then it is time to lower sails and go into the bay. The point favored by the guide is on the eastern side, but with the northwest blowing I preferred the bay on the west, near Tamusua village. We anchor at 13 meters, quite a distance from shore since there is no way to read the bottom in the weather condition we are experiencing. It quickly became evident that our choice of the spot was good, because the other bay was invaded by a large cruise ship with all the lights and sound show associated with it. We were in our splendid, quiet solitude.

14.10.10 –Thursday – The plan was to wake  up at 0530 and go out for the 50 miles hop to Yandua island on the way to Savusavu. The first part, waking up, was performed successfully but there it stopped. It was raining hard and the visibility was really bad. That’s no weather to sail the reefs! We stayed in the bay and for the very first time, put into operation the rain catchment apparatus I had made for me by a sailmaker in Israel. It’s use is limited to winds of no more than 12 knots or so with the boat not moving, but it will give you free, fresh rain water.


The fender helps prevent flapping of the contraption and you can see the pipe going directly into the tank!

15.10.10 – Friday – We were determined to go out come what may, so come it did. Instead of the forecasted easterly of 10 knots, we had 20 – 24 and those short, steep waves that make your boat go agonizing slowly even with both engine at cruise power. In addition there was a wall of black, ominous clouds in the direction of Yadua. Got to find an alternate! I looked at the chart and the cruising guide I have and found a small bay on Viti Levu, to which we could sail most of the way. The north coast of Viti Levu is protected by a barrier reef  to which once you go inside, you can motor against the wind in flat water. Very comfortable!  All the area between Yasawa and Viti Levu is full of coral banks according to the electronic charts, but they were very difficult to see. The sun hid behind the overcast sky and although the wind and waves usually show up in those conditions, this time they did not. We slalomed blindly between them, four eyes straining in all directions and watching the depth meter carefully. In the following picture you sea the chart on the laptop; The round symbol is the boat, the green areas are underwater  reefs with no depth data.


            photographer reflected on the subject

Only at the end of this corridor did we see the change in the water color to light green, typical of shallows. When we reached the Mba passage into the channel behind the reef, we took down all sail. The time was close to 1400. If we stopped at that little bay near Vatia point, the distance to Yandua will be about 42 miles and the course too close to the wind. I searched yet again for a place to spend the night and found another bay, 13 miles to the west, near Nacillau point and a good pass out to open water. We motored there, stressed by the inaccuracy of the chart and the missing or damaged navigation marks. Once I had to break away from a shallow bank that did not appear on the chart and which Volkmar, standing on the bow, did not see. Minimum depth observed 1.6 meters. Finally we got to our bay, anchored in 16 meters to get far enough from a reef close to the surface, near a small private island. Time to relax.


                           I wish I had one like that!

16.10.10 – Saturday – We had a really quiet night in the anchorage. Started out at 0800 to go to Yandua and first we had to find the Nukurauvula pass. I steered by the electronic chart a bit perplexed by some poles that were not in agreement with it. The fact that the sun was not high and that the water were flat and mirror like did not help my confidence. Going into the “electronic” channel the depth was 50 meters to begin with. Volkmar stood on the bow. I thought I saw a slight shift in the color of the water and slowed down and at the same moment Volkmar shouted:”Coral! Coral! We turned back and went to investigate the poles. Surely enough they delineated the channel! We procceeded slowly, plowing through coral according to the chart, until we were in open waters. Next we had to leave Charybdis reef to our port before heading straight to Yandua.

When lunch-time came we were sailing happily on the flat sea, a 10 knots easterly pulling us along nicely. I was taking the toasts out of the oven when I heard Volkmar call out:”Dolphins!” A full squadron of those aquatic marvels joined us, keeping a tight formation off our bows for more than half an hour.


Cukuvou bay surprised me by being larger than I imagined. We came in and anchored in 14 meters opposite a sandy beach adorned with coconut palms. The only village on the island is one the east side, a long walk away. I think we’ll give it up.

17.10.10 – Sunday – We are cutting the way to Savusavu in Vanua Levu into easy chunks, trying not to do more than 30 miles a day. Today the “slice” was about 20 miles. Going out of Cukuvou bay, Yandua, sailing north of the island, tacking between large shoals and finally motoring into Mbua bay. We were going to anchor behind a mangrove covered low spit of land, but as we got closer to the intended spot the depth meter stopped us. At 3 meters I put the engines in reverse and saw 1.9 on the gauge before the boat started moving back to a reasonable 3.5 meters. I remember how I once anchored in the Bahamas in 1.3 meters but here there are tides.


                                  Can’t get closer!

18.10.10 – Monday – From the sailing point of view this was a repetition of the day before. The main item was fishing, or rather –  lack of success in the above. Since we had only two fish meals left in the freezer we started trolling. First hit brought a barracuda, which may have ciguaterra in these parts and consequently released. Now it was Volkmar’s turn. A big fish was on, but as he tried reeling it in, the line broke. New rapala (trolling lure) put into the water, a strike, and again a big one, pulling the line out trying to escape. The moment I tightened the friction nut to slow it down, it leapt  up, somersaulted, hit the water in a big splash and broke the line… Second rapala lost! The third lure was ignored by the local fish community.

We reached our destination, a bay near Nasonisoni passage, one not mentioned in any of the guide books I have. On the chart it looked good, but the bottom turned out to be rock in most places and it took us a long time to have the anchor dig and hold. Tomorrow – Savusavu.

19.10.10 – Tuesday – We got out of our anchorage and went into the narrow and deep Nasonisoni pass, 75 meters in places. As we approached the exit, we saw a yacht come out of a bay to our north and position herself  in front of us.  Clearly they were going in the same direction, so without admitting it we were in a race… In the beginning, when the wind was about 12 knots and the angle to the apparent wind was 40-43 degrees, they kept ahead and even opened distance. But then the wind went up to 15 and freed to 45-50 degrees and we started closing the distance. The moment I was sure of overtaking, I call the yacht, whose name was “Summer Sky” and asked them to take a picture of “Two Oceans”. In all the three and a half years I’m sailing on our boat we never had the opportunity of photographing her with full sails! I don’t even know how she looks with her skirts on! “But you’ll have to catch up with me” was his answer. I was not worried, and not long afterwards I passed him to leeward, taken his pictures and had mine taken. “Summer Sky” will only come to Copra Shed marina tomorrow, we’ll meet them and I will be able, for the first time, to publish those pictures.

summer sky

                                “Summer Sky”

Entering Savusavu bay was spectacular. The water was lake-like flat, the wind was going from 10 to 20 knots and we were rushing along the green shore and the hills behind it at nice speeds.

Copra Shed marina hides behind Nawi island, in itself a pearl of a place, richly green with tropical vegetation. The marina has a few stern or bow to berths and most of the boats stay tethered to a mooring.


                                      Copra Shed marina


                              Nawi island in the background

Sometime you arrive at a place where good vibrations fill the air. Everything falls neatly into place. Savusavu is like that, a jewel of a town! The main road runs along the shore, there are supermarkets, fruit and veg market and other businesses, including a barber shop, where I invested 3 Fj$ and got a haircut. Savusavu has many cheap restaurants where you can get a decent meal for about 9 Fj$, about 5 U.S$. Very appealing to the frugal yachtie!

We’ll stay here at least two full days; I want to do some diving , start looking at the weather between Fiji and New Zealand and plan the continuation of our voyage.


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