The 460 mile passage from Haapai Tonga to Savu Savu Fiji was an exercise in dodgems, my childhood computer gaming skills came in handy! First we had to dodge sixty or so uncharted hazards and then as we got closer to fiji we had to thread our way through unlit reefs in the Lau group at night. Just a month ago a boat was lost on these reefs.
It was pretty cool to see so many Fijians of Indian descent, but the real cool thing was all the Indian food… We had curries every night and loaded up on Indian savoury snacks!
We didn’t have a underwater camera that goes that deep, but here is the next best thing.. A video of diving the famous White Wall from youtube.. The wall of white soft coral looks almost man made.. It was pretty amazing.
Glenda wearing the latest fashion in necklaces (look good and never get lost). We are taking orders now.. only $199 each. We sailed to the dateline between Vanua Levu and Tavenui where we crossed from the western to the eastern hemisphere!
Next up we made our way to the Yasawa islands by sailing south of Vanua Levu to Coconut point in very little wind. From there we made we an overnight passage with 12-15knots across Bligh waters arriving at the barrier reefs at sunrise. It was pretty straightforward, and saved us several days not taking the traditional route down to Vitu Levu and then back up from Lautoka.
Stops anchored with the village in the background. We had a traditional Fijian dinner at the Chief’s Bure (traditional Fijian dwelling). One of the dishes was an Indian dhal..looks like indigenous Fijians have taken a liking to the Indian food as well.
Snorkelling the caves at Sawa-I-lau was pretty amazing.. The main cave was cool, but the guide helped us dive down to enter the Whispering cave which was totally dark.. He then used his arms to create a mini tidal wave which hit the sides of the rock causing a reverberation that turned the whole cave into a drum and we were inside it!
After Sawa-I-lau we dodged some more reefs to head down to Blue Lagoon.. yes, this is very Blue Lagoon where the movie with the same name was shot.. unfortunately it is not longer uninhabited.. We hung out with S/V Distant Shores who invited us over for dinner with Gary on S/V Dash.
Next up we sailed down to Naviti island to check out the snorkeling at Manta ray pass. We anchored next to a 40ft French flagged Leopard cat with Robert and Martine who invited us onboard for a drink. We later figured out that I had bought one of their watercolor paintings in 2005 in the Tobago Cays when I was on a bareboat charter. Robert came up to our boat to sell his wife’s paintings and at that time was on a 33ft steel hull yacht. It’s such a small world!
The Waya village Chief and his grand daughter. We performed the Sevu Sevu ceremony with the chief which involved clapping my hands and laying the dried kava wrapped in newspaper at his feet. Luckily he liked the look of us dodgy characters and picked it up (which is a good sign). Glenda then got us invited to a kava drinking session with the chief later that evening.. sweet!
Fiji was the only place in the south pacific where I couldn’t rely on my Navionics or CM93 electronic charts. There were too many uncharted reefs and unsurveyed areas. So we navigated using google satellite images converted to raster charts and displayed in OpenCPN on my PC. The satellite images very clearly show the reef boundaries. This was a lifesaver especially on the passage from Navandra to Musket Cove, which even the Yasawa Pickmere’s paper charts didn’t cover.
The famous Musket Cove Yacht Club where we promptly became lifelong members. We got there just in the nick of time to experience the last summer BBQ which we enjoyed with our friends on S/V Dash, S/V Sidewinder and S/V Karinya
Next up was a quick trip to Port Denerau Marina to top up on Diesel and water.. They put us on the same dock with a whole bunch of expensive yachts like the 160 ft Georgia sloop.. We must have been the smallest boat there..
Towing Hammer on S/V Maverick2 who was a singlehander from Japan. I remember reading about him in Latitude 38 and amazingly we bumped into him at the customs office. We helped him with cruising guides and charts for Vanuatu.
Fiji was pretty amazing.. it was a little more touristy than Tonga but its beautiful white sand beaches, pristine reefs and great indian food more than make up for it! We loved it.
Next stop Vanuatu some 450 miles west of Fiji..