West up to the Yasawa Islands

Back in September 2017 we had visited some of the Mamanuca Islands so for this adventure we chose a couple to revisit and then continued up into the Yasawa Islands.

The West side of Fiji is a lot more touristy than the East with regular ferries, helicopters and float planes dropping and picking up tourists at the many resorts. We’ve also seen a lot more sailing yachts out in the various anchorages and cruise ships along this chain of islands, than the East side of Fiji.

Yes it was that close but great way of arriving in style.

After family left we decided to stay at Malolo Island in Musket Cove enjoying the facilities, yoga with Leanne from “yoga for yachties” and the company of some cruisers we had met. July 1st, Canada day we went out to Cloud 9, a floating restaurant & bar at the edge of the outer reef, with SV Family Circus and SV Muse to celebrate Canada day, finishing up with a BBQ at the Musket Cove bar. Was a fun day.

At Cloud 9 where the water is so crystal clear
Canada Day celebrations at the cruiser bar/BBQ area at Musket Cove

The weather was settled and the ARC rally boats were starting to arrive at Musket Cove for their rendezvous so we decided to head up to The Sacred Islands; 2 deserted islands (except for a few goats) Nevadra and Vanua Levu Islands. Beautiful white sand beaches with lots of shells and reasonable snorkeling on the reefs surrounding the islands. Saw a huge wrass and plenty of reef fish.

Brett once again climbed the hill below for great views over the reefs. I stayed below and enjoyed the beach as it looked like scrambling to me.

We’d been to Waya Island in 2017 so continued on up the chain to Naviti Island and in particular Drawaqa Island near the Manta Ray Resort so named for the Manta Rays, which visit the Northern Pass from May to October. We had met Oni a local who spots the Manta Rays for the resort so headed out with him at high tide and were lucky to see them with no one else around. Oni directed us as he spotted them moving thru the water. We saw 4 mantas in total a small one who cruised the channel and 3 large ones that were feeding and just passing on through the channel. The water wasn’t that clear but we were happy as we’d spotted these graceful creatures.

This small manta ray cruised up and down the channel
Snorkeling off the Manta Ray Resort had soft and hard corals with plenty of small reef fish

It was then on to Nanuya Lailai Island to the Blue Lagoon anchorage, which was the area of filming for the famous 1980s movie. The white sand beach was perfect for morning exercise and the water lovely and clear. We enjoyed walking the beach at low tide around to the exclusive resort on Turtle Island with huge No Trespassing signs.

Blue Lagoon beach we walked for exercise

A local family in the blue house near the Nanuya Resort in the anchorage invited a group of cruisers over for a Lovo. Lai and Bill hosted 9 people placing 3 woven coconut frond baskets of chicken, wahoo fish & cassava on hot rocks in the ground and covered them with coconut fronds and sacks, which cooked away for 2-3 hours. Lai had also prepared lots of vegetable dishes and a fruit and coconut dessert. All very tasty and we’d recommend going if you are here.

Lovo; we were actually helping remove the fronds from the Lovo
Lots of food on the table

We’d been told if you go to the Blue Lagoon you have to walk up over the island to see the panoramic views and visit Lo at Lo’s tea house. Pat and John from SV After Math joined us on our hike over the island to find the lime green teahouse on the beach and met Lo, a bubbly lady who has had her business 10 years. The chocolate cake with hot chocolate sauce was the best.

With Lo and Pat (SV After Math) outside Lo’s brightly coloured tea house
view to Nacula Island that we stop at later, from the ridge line on our walk
View to Blue Lagoon anchorage, which is nicely protected

Yasawa Island is the last island in the chain and the anchorage we chose in the middle of the island past the Yasawa Island Resort was stunning! Crystal clear water with a sand bottom that we could see, no bommies (coral heads) and of course a lovely white sand beach with coconut trees galor. We walked the shore line and picked up a couple of coconuts, which we husked and cooked up to enjoy a tasty snack of smoked coconut pieces. Yummy!

Along with Pat & John from SV After Math we took the dinghy up to the top of the island to the village of Yasawa-i-Rara to do our sevusevu. We were met on the beach and directed to a platform where our yagona was accepted and we were welcomed to visit the school and wander about. Later we were to find that the man who accepted and welcomed us along with our Yagona (grog as they call it), which is their form of alcohol if you recall, was not the chief even though they made us think this. When we did meet the chief, as we walked thru the village, he wanted to know who had met us and that we should have come to see him. Hmmmm, there’s not exactly a huge sign saying Chief this way…. You trust the people you meet to take you to the chief. Obviously some politics going on here in this village. The chief did welcome us and told us to return again then he was on his cell phone to …….???

The men who welcomed us to Yasawa-i-Rara village along with John and Pat from SV After Math

While in the Yasawa-i-Rara village we did stop off at the newly built (3 month old) school for kindergarten and grade 1 & 2 children, which they are still awaiting official status by the Fijian authorities so it’s being funded by the village. Prior to this the children used to walk to another village on the other side of the island. Such a bright and colorful place and Sarah one of two teachers we met was very welcoming talking of the activities they do with the children.

the primary school was nicely painted and the kids apparently helped
last week the children worked with their parents to create a handicraft and a small canoe with sail was deemed the winner
three of the girls from the school in their school uniforms; yes pink for girls

We stayed for a couple of days at the beautiful anchorage in the middle of the island enjoying the peace and quiet whilst getting a few jobs done, swimming and walking along our own private beach. Nice! The white sand beaches up on Yasawa Island were so soft to walk on.

Great rock pools to cool off in
and lots of crabs that hid when they felt you coming….

There are some caves at Sawa-i-Lau but we’d heard they were really busy with 40-60 people at a time so decided the $50 fee to join lots of people in the caves wasn’t for us.

It was time to start heading south again so it was on to Nacula Island where we anchored off the village of Malakati and went in to do sevusevu with the chief, but he was off at a church fundraiser at the main village of Nacula. Oh well, maybe we’ll get to meet with a chief on the West side but so far no luck, they are all busy! Luki welcomed us to the village and invited us back the next day for a hike up the hill to see the views.

Malakati village very civilized with the Chiefs house at the end

We did wander around the village where we met 2 of the ladies, Melar and Lilly who chatted away while working on Coconut fronds, which they use to make mats, fans and brooms. Lily is 76 years old and has lived in the village all her life something she was very proud of. Everyone we have met in Fiji is so friendly and it’s been interesting hearing their stories.

Saturday we headed ashore and met Bill on the beach and he organized for two of his daughters to take us up the hill for a hike to see the views. Boy oh boy did we have an adventurous hike. Wanee and Salia started our trek with us and we were soon joined by Lucy to the top.

The blue roof is the church and the area in between the chiefs house and the church is used for rugby games and village meetings

Along the way we picked up another 4 kids who enjoyed the trek with us over the hills, along the top ridge and back to the beach. All they wanted to do was play on the kayaks in the water once we got to the beach and at one point there were 4 kids on one kayak. Brett returned to the boat and brought back a soccer ball for them and so the games on the beach began. Like all kids they wanted to play and have fun and it was Saturday so they just hung out. The kids here were all friendly and it was fun playing around with them all.

Which turned into kids from the main village Nacula arriving to jump off the boat with Brett

Bill came out to the boat and invited us to lunch with his family after church on Sunday. Yes we have been to more church in the last 3 months than we ever have! Together with Clare and Andrew from SV Eye Candy who had been invited to church and lunch by another family, we all went ashore. Again another Methodist church where we were all directed to the front of the church where the choir stood in front of us, the children beside smiling and waving and the minister performs his sermon in Fijian so again we didn’t understand. Bill is the village spokesman and got up with a book to read out what money had been donated that week by each person in the village with the bowl for collections then put down and people came forward. Hint hint!

Bill (Left), Brett and Bills father in church atire

For lunch I baked a huge banana cake as Bill has 4 kids and we have worked out that Fijians love sweet things. Turns out lunch was to be at the ministers house with his wife and the kids. We had octopus and root vegetables and yes the banana cake seemed to disappear very fast.

Octopus at the ministers house. Minister is front Right & his wife is in purple. I ate with the men while the women stayed in the kitchen with the children who could not be trusted by themselves apparently

We returned to the Blue Lagoon anchorage for some beach walking, a kayak trip around Turtle and Nanuya Islands (10kms) with a stop at Lo’s teahouse for an energy boost 😉 and a couple of trips ashore for happy hour drinks at the bar, while watching the sun set.

Then it was back to Brett’s favorite anchorage at Navadra before heading back to Port Denarau Marina to check out. 3 months has gone fast and it’s been a real cultural trip here this time meeting the locals. The navigation here wasn’t as bad as we thought from our 2017 trip. We downloaded the latest Navionics charts which were pretty accurate, Ovitel, Atlas of Fiji, Sail Fiji app and our faithful eyes or maybe it was something to do with going to church that helped…..

Who knows when we’ll have decent internet next as we’re off to Vanuatu.

Family in Fiji


My sister Louise, her better half Stu, and their kids Ruben and Daniel came to visit and we had a great catch up both on the boat and at their resort. Couldn’t believe how quickly time flew.

We met them in Denarau at one of the locals bars Cardo’s on the waterfront, for a few drinks before moving aboard Seismic Wave for their first night of holidays. Denarau has some nice restaurants but we’d bought steaks at the “Aussie” butcher in Nadi, so enjoyed dinner and more drinks aboard with the ambiance of music from Denarau’s bars. The next morning we all piled into our new dinghy for a quick run about before heading out of the Marina to their resort in the Mamanuca Islands.

with 6 people aboard our new dinghy we are much drier
Everyone is excited to be aboard and go sailing
it ended up being a very calm day cruising to Malolo Island

Ruben and Daniel were very excited to help Brett with all sorts of boat jobs like driving the boat and dinghy, raising the sails, anchoring and even picking up a mooring ball. Keeners, oh to be young again! Thanks boys…..

Our pirate crew
Everyone wanted to drive

Not far from Denarau (15nm or 3 hours), even though it felt like a lifetime for the boys we arrived at their resort. Can you see the excitement. With hobby cats, kayaks, snorkeling and kids camp you could understand why they just wanted to be there.

Arriving at their swanky resort on Malolo Island

Brett & I even got to enjoy some of the luxuries of resort life! Louise & Stus resort was cruiser friendly so we’d kayak ashore to see them and catch up. They were celebrating their anniversary while here and had a great day excursion out to a private island inviting us to join them for dinner that evening.

Of course we would love to come ashore for the celebrations. The resort sung a song to them, which was a treat as they made a fuss of Lou & Stu. It was also nice for all of us as the kids were in kids camp so we could have a good catch up. The meals were huge and delicious!

Before we knew it was time to say our goodbyes so we all motor sailed down the island to the Musket Cove Resort and Marina for the day and enjoyed some water activities and lunch before Brett dropped them back to their resort. The boogie board was a hit both being towed behind the dinghy and playing off the back.

Daniel loved surfing on the boogie board out back
Jumping from the chairs was a hit… good air Ruben over all those boats….
Exhausted after lunch…..but not for long….
Gals enjoying a catch up and cold one at the pool

It was nice to do something different and see the Pratts away from home all relaxing and enjoying the water activities together. Looked like a great holiday for them with plenty of family time and great cultural experiences.

Well we are going to enjoy Musket Cove Marina’s facilities then head up the Yasawa Island chain on the West side of Fiji.

The Great Astrolabe Reef

After leaving Fulaga we had a fast overnight sail to Naigoro Pass in the Kadavu Group, 50nm south of Suva and 180nm west of Fulaga. The North Astrolabe Lagoon has some of the best diving and snorkeling and as we had a few days we thought we’d take advantage of the good weather to snorkel. The Great Astrolabe Reef is off the traditional tourist route so again a nice change for us.

On entering the pass we spotted snorkelers in the water who all gave us a thumbs up on the snorkeling. We had chosen Vurolevu Island, north of Ono Island because it had a manta ray cleaning station so needed to continue North through some reefs in good light.

Vurolevu Island anchorage was stunning with not a sole about, clear water and bommies (coral heads) and reefs towards shore. Alas we didn’t see any manta rays but the snorkeling around the island was good with healthy coral and plenty of fish life.

After a couple of good days snorkeling we continued north to Draveuni Island with its long white sand beach. When we went ashore to do sevusevu with the chief he told us a cruise ship was arriving the next day so everyone was busy preparing stalls and getting the beach cleaned up. This islands main source of income is apparently from cruise ships. The homes here had lights on at night and were very colorful; very different to the Lau group.

No wonder the cruise ships bring people here with picture perfect white beaches

Loved this green house, so colorful

The P&O cruise ship turned out to be from NZ with 1500 people aboard. You just can’t get away from those Kiwi’s! Having them here meant there was plenty of action ashore. Believe it or not but the crew and participants from Survivor were here filming as well, so a portion of the beach was closed off and Draveuni was a busy place. 

Stalls galor selling sarongs, wood carvings, food, pop drinks and massages

We hiked up the hill to see the stunning views out to the reef and the islands in the North lagoon.

View back to village and North

View back to Ono Island and our previous anchorage

Great views out to the Reef East of the Island

After a BBQ lunch thanks to some of the ladies on the island we kayaked back to the boat to grab our snorkel gear and head to the green marker, which was meant to have great snorkeling. We were not disappointed.

Great place with much more to see but time to continue moving West. We were escorted out of the reef by 3 dolphins, which was pretty cool. An overnighter to Likuri Island on the south coast of the main island for dinner and a show at the Robinson Crusoe Island Resort was perfect, as we are out of fresh vegetables. The fire show was awesome!

The finale out on the water was the best. Glad we stopped here.

FULAGA, Southern Lau group

Approx 130nm south of Vanua Balavu is Fulaga (pronounced Fulanga) which is an island that welcomes yachties and in fact has a system where a family hosts a yacht. We had Easterly winds and calm seas so had a great sail down to Fulaga.

Once thru the pass, which is 50m wide and 250m long and where the current flows up to 4 knots if you don’t get the tide right, you enter a beautiful lagoon with lots of mushroom islets with palm trees on them, crystal clear water and small white beaches dotted around. The local people here get around the lagoon in kayaks or long boats to go fishing.

one of the many anchorages here on a dreary day
On entry to Fulaga you pass lots of islets
Love the palms on the mushroom islets

It was Saturday when we arrived so we anchored close to Moana-I-Cake, the village where the chief lives and dressed to meet the chief walking the 20 minute path to the village.

Brett in his makeshift sulu (skirt) ready to meet the chief

Soco met us on the path and took us to Bill, whose role in the community is to introduce visitors to the chief after checking Fiji paperwork and collecting your $50 anchoring fee to be here. The chief was actually out fishing so one of his sisters performed the ceremony and accepted our yagona/ kava root and us into the village. With it being the beginning of the season we were the 4th yacht and the people here were excited to see us as they knew more were to come. In 2018, 70 yachts came to Fulaga.

Soco and Bill at a Drua/(canoe) that the village built in 2018.

After the ceremony Bill walked us around Moana-I-Cake, which included a school for 80 children including boarders from the other 2 villages on Fulaga, a health clinic, church, community hall, volleyball net, post office and a store to buy staple items, which sounded as though it had recently been closed.

Soco taking us thru Moana-I-Cake village, ahead
Church on right and a few houses in the village
homes are circular to help the wind go around during cyclones

Bill then took us to meet our host family; Tara (Chiefs other sister) and Joe; coincidentally Bills parents. Tara had prepared tea and pancakes and had bunches of bananas for us. We were asked to return Sunday for church at 10am and lunch after with the family.

Tara, Johnny & Bose (grandchildren) & Joe after Sunday church

Sunday’s are church day with 3 sessions and family time, no work allowed, with everyone dressing up to go to the Methodist church here in their sulus, long shirts and ties for men and a long flowing dress for the women. The start of church is pronounced with the beating of huge hollowed out logs and the pastor then makes his way in. The service is in Fijian so we didn’t understand what was said even when they thanked us for coming. We wondered why everyone turned around and looked at us. Such beautiful harmonious singing which was worth the confusion.

drums being beat signaling church is starting in the perfect location
We are early. Everyone dresses up to go to church so we didn’t recognize people we’d met previously.

With no work being allowed on Sunday’s fish, shellfish, root vegetables and coconuts are all gathered on Saturdays. While in Fulaga we enjoyed 2 lovely seafood meals with Tara & Joe and any close family and friends that dropped by to talk. Each time we were sent away with leftovers as we hadn’t eaten enough. These people don’t have a lot but are very generous. We gave some gifts to our family as thanks in return and I baked them cakes when we went into the village.

Tara & Joes house which Joe built 10 years ago when they moved from Suva back to the island

Everyone is so friendly with a nice Bula Bula everywhere we walked or stopping by the boat to say hello while at the various anchorages we were at. We were brought bananas, coconuts, passion fruit, oranges, papayas and fresh caught fish. With only 2 boats here we were totally being spoilt.

Joe on his way to the other village with relatives dropped off a huge bunch of bananas
Alfreddy had been kayaking and speared lots of fish so gave us a parrotfish for dinner
Akuila a farmer kept us stocked with oranges & papayas.

The Sandspit anchorage has lots of deserted white sand beaches to investigate at low tide, a brilliant blue pool at low tide, lots of small passes to snorkel thru within the inner lagoon and crystal clear shallow water & beautiful mushroom islets to kayak and dinghy about. We saw kingfisher birds and lorikeets, turtles and small reef fish.

on the Sandspit at close to high tide with our anchorage behind it
perfect place for cocktail hour b4 the bugs come out
plenty of places to go kayaking in the lagoon
walking the deserted beaches & trying to find clams

It has definitely been an interesting experience being here and learning about the culture here in Fulaga and being able to experience a little of their life.

The children are typically brought up by their grandparents and go to school in Fulaga till the age of 14. They then go to Suva for school with their parents or for some to boarding school and then on to look for work eventually returning to retire and take up responsibilities in the community. Land is handed down thru the family and includes an area for farming along with a cooking hut and a place to sleep and entertain.

There is no cell service (internet is available at the school), no electricity (each house has a solar panel), no airport but once a month a supply ship arrives delivering ordered supplies and moving family back n forth between Suva. The people here make money to buy fuel and staple items from wooden carvings, weaving mats, coconut oil and decorative string made from the coconut husk, mainly sold in Suva or resorts in West Fiji where family work.

Little Joe Carving some small Kava bowls ready for selling

Tara and Joe really helped make our experience with the people on the island here enjoyable. A simple life where there are very few worries. To live here you need to slow down and enjoy this part of paradise and be able to fish and farm. Back to subsistence living here.

Our great host family who made it special for us.

Well we have no fresh veges left and we have family coming so it’s off to Western Fiji to restock and meet them.


VANUA BALAVU, Northern Lau Group

The Lau group is on the Eastern side of Fiji and is rarely visited by tourists and very few yachts make it here as it’s typically a beat upwind after checking in. With light winds and 55nm from Matagi we followed the white markers in thru the NW channel at Vanua Balavu(VB) and turned south towards the village of Dalconi, which owns the Bay of Islands an area we had been told you can’t miss. The islands here are protected by a large ring of reef around them and an inner lagoon that is very scenic and calm.

View reef from Bavatu Lookout and a place we snorkeled below
Beautiful sunset at No Name Bay

Dressed ready to meet the chief we took the dinghy from our anchorage to the village and a representative from the village welcomed us and took us to meet the chief who was 84yrs old and looking very healthy. They performed a sevusevu ceremony and accepted our gifts telling us we were welcome here in the village and could walk freely. We were the 2nd boat this season to visit the community.

Some 130 people live in Dalconi in small homes and fish or work the lands around the village. The village and surrounding areas had been destroyed by Cyclone Winston and were still being rebuilt some 3yrs later.

church is the biggest building in the distance

It was nice to get off the boat and go for a walk along the main walkway and up over the hill to the school where we met one of the school teachers Lagi. She explained that the school had been destroyed by Cyclone Winston and that the NZ Govt had rebuilt it and they were all grateful. The produce fields had also been destroyed and so had to be replanted.

School built with funds from NZ
Brett, Tevita(David in English), Lagi and Faith (Lagis daughter)
This man stopped to talk to us after getting taro from the fields here

We anchored in a couple of different places around the Bay of Islands. No Name Bay was a small 1 boat anchorage with a surprising variety of coral around the outskirts of the bay for snorkeling. Our favorite was Ships Cove a beautiful area with mushroom islets and green colored calm water. A perfect place to enjoy some kayaking and snorkeling along with the views.

great kayaking amongst the mushroom islets in the anchorage great kayaking amongst the mushroom islets in the anchorage
at low tide you can really see how they have been carved out
our view in Ships Cove with a stunning green water color is very scenic

While on a dinghy trip we found some caves which at low tide you can go inside.

At some caves we found at low tide with SV Eluthera
the cave was quite deep a perfect place with good snorkeling in the passage close

While kayaking we spotted a white sand beach, which at the head of the bay had some excellent snorkeling with lots of different colored corals and plenty of fish life. The little cove had some other treats for us of the fruity type including a walk thru to another white sand beach. Nice place for our lunch.

The coral in the Bay of Islands area was healthy had a good combination with lots of beautiful colors; blues, reds, pinks, yellows, greens. Here we spotted turtles, sting rays, grouper, white & black tip sharks, an abundance of different reef fish including the odd lurking lobster hiding. During the day you hear a “woof woof” noise like a dog which turned out to be the barking imperial pigeon. At dusk the fruit bats fly over and then as darkness continues the skies light up with never ending stars that are mesmerizing.

orange coral in the passage near our anchorage at Ships Cove
a good combination of hard n soft corals

Around the Northern end of VB is Bavatu Bay where together with our letter of introduction from one of the owners we went to tour the plantation and walk out to the stunning views of the Bay of Islands. We climbed 270 odd stairs to the plantation grounds passing thru the caretakers village rebuilt after being flattened by Cyclone Winston where we met Greg another owner. The workers were clearing the land as nearly 1000 Coconut trees had been destroyed by Winston. The owners have 800 acres of land here around the bay and now they are raising sheep and cattle.

the rebuilt village for the caretakers of the land and animals

The walk through the Bavatu plantation fields and past the gravestone of a Scottish man from 1938 lead us to the lookout over the Bay of Islands.

Views over Bay of Islands from Bavatu lookout

VB has been such a relaxing place and for us the weather has been calm but we wanted to head further south so knew we should take advantage of our current weather to head South.

SavuSavu, Viani Bay & Matagi

SavuSavu

We spent just over a week in SavuSavu getting our fix of Fiji curries at Mummas Country Kitchen, catching up and sharing stories with some of the cruisers and picking up our yaqona / kava. What is yaqona or kava you ask, well this is a pepper root that is provided as a gift to the chief of the village for us as visitors to seek acceptance to be part of the village and use its facilities / waters. The yaqona is pounded down and mixed to produce a drink with mild sedative and anesthetic properties; similar to us drinking alcohol.

Each package is 0.5 kg & 1 is provided as a gift to the chief of the village

The price you pay for yaqona has gone up seriously since we were here in 2017 with exports to the US but alas it’s a necessity to have as you go to the islands, given you are “anchored in someone’s back yard”. We got our yaqona for FJ$90/kilo as we joined with other cruisers for a bulk buy. In the market here in SavuSavu it was going for FJ$130/kilo. Ouch!

Before leaving we had to make sure we had sorted out our navigation tools. The charts are not that good here in Fiji and many a yacht has run into reefs, something we don’t want to do. There’s various tools: Sail Fiji apps / SavuSavu cruising guide – Atlas of Fiji for Mariners/ Ovitel and local cruisers knowledge including Curly in SavuSavu, the net controller. Armed with our food, gifts & navigation aids it was time to head out of SavuSavu bay. Yeah!

Viani Bay
Our first stop was Viani Bay at the Eastern tip of Vanua Levu. Approximately 50nm from SavuSavu towards the garden island called Taveuni. Viani Bay is inside the Rainbow Reef aptly named with many a rainbow while we were there on the surrounding mnts or over the Reef towards Taveuni.

Now you can see why its called the Rainbow Reef with Taveuni in the background

We anchored off the small island on the East side, which was nicely protected from the SE trade winds but alas had a few bommies around so it took a while to find a decent place to anchor. Charlene a local here sought us out with a gift of oranges as we were anchored off her uncles place.

this island was so pretty to look at when the sun was going down. Charlene’s uncle Eddy lives here

We’d come to Viani Bay to enjoy the diving right at the reef and chose Dive Academy Fiji run by Marina & Jone who were very hospitable given we were on a yacht and not renting one of their cabins. We decided to do the Advanced Open Water PADI Dive course where we’d get 5 dives in and some instruction in an area that is known for some excellent diving & snorkeling.

Jan (left) doing his dive masters and Marina (Right) our instructor

The Academy is right on the door step to some excellent dive sites like The Zoo and the White Wall, our 2 favorites. Marina our instructor was excellent working on the skills we needed whilst making sure we experienced and saw all the sea life possible on our dives.

30m or 100ft down Brett beside the White Wall
Beautiful white soft corals which go down the White Wall approx. 150ft
Tunnels and ledges to dive thru
Bright colors on the Rainbow Reefs

Marina & Jone have the perfect location in Viani Bay; 5-10 minutes boat ride from the dive sites with 2 nice cabins for guests, delicious food at the restaurant & bar and stunning sunsets. They’ve also set up various programs with the local Fijians in the bay to help educate about the reef and marine life.

Relaxing on the beach at the Eco Resort between dives
A couple of great sunsets in Viani Bay

We happened to be in the bay on a Friday night so went ashore for a fabulous dinner and met some of the locals who were having an informal Kava gathering on the beach, of which we were invited to join in.

Kava gathering using the yaqona root, note the large kava bowl with the drink in it.

Matagi Island

Matagi is a private island in the shape of a horseshoe with lush green jungle like foliage and this amazing turquoise color water with plenty of coral bommies to snorkel. There’s an exclusive resort on the South side and guests are brought around to the horseshoe bay to their own private beach with a small cabin for the day. Oops we are there! Yes we did see some guests who were dropped off by boat and stayed for about 4 hours and other than that we could hear and see black goats on the beach and the lovely sounds of birds. It was basically our private bay and snorkeling area. Perfect!


Looking over to the nice beach & cabin hidden in the trees; very private and so lush

The snorkeling wasn’t too bad here with a good variety of fish and some healthy bright corals, in patches. We ended up having sunny weather for snorkeling which brings out the colors of the coral too.

lots of interesting soft and hard corals
The only giant clam we spotted here

Off to Venua Balavu in the Northern Lau group.


Bula! Bula! We’re in Fiji

After completing a few odd jobs, getting the hulls cleaned of barnacles from the nutrient rich waters of the Bay of Islands and enjoying a few of our favourite bays we decided it was time to do final food provisions and say farewell to NZ. We’ve had a great time catching up with old and new friends all around NZ.

Overlooking Otiao Bay at Urupukapuka

After checking out the weather models in Predict Wind we chose a window to go to Fiji and started the process of checking out with customs and getting John (my father) and our first ever crew member up to speed with SW. In NZ you have to give 4 days advance notice of departure and of course the weather models changed in that time so it was hurry hurry …. wait! Oh well the weather was good in the Bay of Islands still so we all hung out, had the odd jobs to do ready for passage, enjoyed some hiking trails to get some exercise and of course the nice weather.

John has joined the Seismic Wave crew

For our passage we took the N – NW winds prior to a front to make some Easting and then we turned North when the winds turned to the West and then around to the South. The first 3 days we saw constant winds of between 9 & 20knots with 1-1.5m seas so SW cruised along. We entered a small area of squalls and behind that very light to no winds so motor sailed for 2 days until the SE winds kicked in and we could sail on towards North Minerva Reef.

The colour of the water at Minerva is amazing

We chose North Minerva Reef as a stop for 4 days as it was a little more protected than South Minerva and thought anchoring in the middle of the ocean at a reef for a swim and some lobster hunting would be a treat on passage. Yes it was! No lobsters seen but some fish life and giant clams to see while snorkeling.

Enjoying a kayak to the reef

From North Minerva we had downwind sailing and as the SE trades gathered momentum we continued north with some very lively seas especially at the end of our passage into SavuSavu on the Northern Island of Vanua Levu. We were ready to clear in with Waitui Marina and were their first boat of the season but the 7th to check into SavuSavu.

View over to the 2 Marina’s here Copra Shed (left) & Waitui (Right)

Having 3 crew aboard for the passage meant we were able to get a lot more sleep at a time……ah bliss! What else do we do on passage….not much as John soon realized!

John contemplating life


Cooking a hardy meal. John even did bacon & egg pies from scratch. Yum
Preparing to fish. We caught 1 yellow fin tuna.
Snoozing & reading
Admiring our hitchhiker & his balance who stayed the full night leaving at dawn

All in all a very good passage given it can be renowned for being quite nasty. I think John will miss our evening sessions playing Sequence and strategizing against one another. Thanks Jeanette for the Sequence heads up.

Strategizing over a game of Sequence

Once we were checked in we were all ready to use those feet again and walk to the various agencies in SavuSavu to pay our fees, have a meal and drink off the boat and get a decent nights sleep.

Enjoying the views and a cold one at Waitui Marina

Before John left we organized an excursion with Sharon Wild of Naveria Heights Lodge into the jungle to go river tubing and for a swim in a hot volcanic natural pool. A lot of fun and very refreshing.

The tropical forest down to the river was so lush
Just flowing with the current ; watch the rocks ahead John
You just never know what else you’ll spot out here. The cows were very curious as we passed by

Well lots of sunsets to come fo us. John enjoying his last before flying back to NZ. Thanks John!

Looking forward to more beautiful Fijian sunsets

What now? Provisioning at the local fresh fruit n vege market and heading out of SavuSavu to enjoy the diving, snorkeling and people of Fiji.

The produce is so fresh & a good variety at the market

But we couldn’t miss the local rugby game where a team from Suva came over.

Saturday is rugby day with great support from the community for the local team

Now it’s time to get out and enjoy Fiji 🤗

Cruising Aotearoa

Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand, translates to ‘land of the long white cloud’. Yes we did see some long white clouds along with plenty of sunshine too. Yeah!

We’ve spent 3 months cruising the waters around islands off the North Island and the tip of the South Island. Incredible scenery, heritage sites, lovely white and golden sand beaches, wildlife, beautiful coves and a raw natural coastline dotted with incredible foliage and small islands have given us plenty to see and do.

View across from Ake Ake Historic Reserve near Kerikeri, Bay of Islands

one of the many anchorages in the Marlborough Sounds (at French Pass)

This seal called out to us as we kayaked by and posed beautifully for us.

Auckland and North
From Christmas through to mid January NZ businesses shut down and everyone goes on holiday heading out to enjoy the water and natural scenery. Over this time period the weather was amazing so some of the outer islands in the North Island that we went to were busy with boaters. Great to see lots of boats out and about.

Pretty cool to be anchored off a vineyard estate at Waiheke Island where we enjoyed going ashore for tastings pre the New Years celebrations. Man of War bay was a busy place with people going ashore for a drink but boat traffic seemed to move daily. There’s lots of bays all around Waiheke to anchor, go ashore for walks or even to enjoy a meal at the main town; Oneroa on the island.

my parents joined us for a week sailing on their sail boat

The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintain a number of walks and hikes throughout NZ, which typically takes you on an adventure through natural forests with giant Kauri trees in the far North and ferns or along cliff tops to see amazing views. While out at Great Barrier Island we decided we had to hike up to a lookout to see the views and from Maungapiko Lookout we could see as far as the top of the Coromandel Peninsular where we had anchored previously.

views to little Barrier from Great Barrier at Maungapiko Lookout

While on Great Barrier we were able to enjoy the Port Fitzroy Mussel festival with local music and a variety of mussels to taste. Yummo!

Bay of Islands (BOI)
Summer of 2018 we had spent a lot of time in the BOI’s so returned to a few of our favorite islands. Friends, from SV No Rehearsal; Daryl & Annie, who we’d met in the Bahamas had arrived into NZ and contacted us for a catch up in Kerikeri. We all anchored off Kerikeri marina and watched the evening sailing races then went into the restaurant for fresh fish n chips and to enjoy the views over the bay.

Daryl & Annie were great hosts both on their boat and at their house

The Tall ships Regatta in Russell in the BOI’s saw lots of different boats out sailing during the day, a hangi (traditional meal cooked in the ground) for dinner and partying into the evening. A lot of fun.

Tall ships, classic boats, racing boats, you name it they came

While in Opua we cycled the old railway line to Kawakawa (11km) and back, which was an easy flat ride along a river estuary, over bridges and thru an underground tunnel. Why Kawakawa; well we were told you can’t miss the public washrooms made of colorful mosaic tiles by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser who lived in the town and gifted them to the town.

this is the entry and the restrooms inside are also decorated beautifully in tile

Anchored off the Kerikeri cruising club we took the dinghy up the river to The Stone Store, which has been trading since 1836 and still is. The town of Kerikeri was perfect for getting groceries as there were 2 supermarkets and a nice walk from the Stone Store.

Far North
Having been to the Cavallis and Whangaparaoa Harbour in 2018 we continued moving further north where we found a couple of deserted anchorages with nice beaches and sand dunes.

As a high ridge developed over the north island we saw this as a good weather window to go up around the Northern Capes. Rounding North Cape we were approx 1/2 mile off shore and found a reasonable anchorage at Tapotupotu Bay about 2 miles from Cape Reinga. It had a bit of swell rolling into the bay but a good nights sleep set us on our way for slack tide the next morning with the current changing and helping us out around Columbia and Pandora banks. Pretty uneventful thank goodness.

Down the West coast we had 1 to 1.5m seas with a East push and S to SW winds so were able to sail part of the trip and motor sail a portion with a rhumb line towards Farewell Spit at the top of the South Island. 3 days with great fishing where 5 Albacore Tuna joined the crew filling our freezer.

Abel Tasman
We sailed right to Abel Tasman in the end as the winds got up at the end of Farewell Spit and it would have been a hard motor into Golden Bay with 30 knots on the nose. We settled on the marine reserve of Tonga Island and were not disappointed. Onetahuti Bay was a perfect anchorage with plenty to do and see. A hike on a portion of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track to Awaroa Beach (11km return) gave us beautiful views and good exercise.

Views back to Onetahuti Bay on our walk on the Abel Tasman Trek

Lots of sea ferries dropped people off along the coast for hiking and kayaking so we decided we needed to get the kayaks out too. The kayak trip north to Shag Harbour was awesome as we spotted lots of different birds and 13 seals one way.

One of the many seals we saw above Brett sunning on the rocks

The huge boulders along the coast were impressive and Shag Harbour was fun to kayak through with a dropping tide. The landscape down here is dense bush great for shelter on the coastal walking tracks and the water is clear and a green colour.

Inside Shag Harbour

Lots of beautiful horse shoe shaped bays to choose from and because of the Abel Tasman Coastal hiking track there are campgrounds on most beaches. Bark Bay was very picturesque and a great anchorage to get ashore and walk the track. 

It was then down to Torrent Bay (The Anchorage) where we hiked the Abel Track again to the suspension bridge Falls River Bridge with great views down the coast towards Nelson. Both Torrent Bay (The Anchorage) and Adel Island our next anchorage were popular with the local yachts.

Views from the Track towards Nelson

The tides were big, 5 metres when we were in the Abel Tasman. In the morning we kayaked through a river estuary at Torrent Bay and in the afternoon we hiked the track walking through the river estuary which was now dry (below right). Very strange.Nelson
In Nelson we caught up with my friend Jeanette who I knew when I lived in London, England. Perfect timing for Jeanette & Glen with helpers ,as they’d just bought a boat, so they had us gear up and help get Wairoa Nui ready for painting and anti-fouling.

Alas there were 2 forest fires while we were in Nelson 1 of which got out of control very quickly from the dry landscape bringing in 21 helicopters and fire crews from around the area. People and animals were evacuated and the fire spread to over 2000ha.

The second fire was started in the hills opposite the marina so not a lot got done on J’s boat. Given the close proximity to the first fire, helicopter crews were diverted to sort it before it reached Nelson town. 5 helicopters and 2 crop planes. Just incredible watching how they all worked together to put this fire out. The helicopters used monsoon buckets and given Brett had been involved in the development of fire buckets in Canada he was very interested. We definitely had front row seats for watching.

It wasn’t all fires in Nelson we did get the opportunity to climb to the “Center of New Zealand” to see the views over Nelson and ride our bikes around town and the waterfront. Lots of history here and the place had a great vibe about it.

Marlborough Sounds
After passing thru French Pass at slack tide we hiked up the road to see the tide turn. This pass has a reputation for being nasty what with all the eddies being created and the water being pushed thru the deep skinny channel.

French Pass after slack. this was dead calm when we went thru.

The Pelorus Sound is the longest sound of 4 within Marlborough Sounds with deep water coves and pretty secluded bays with huge mountains surrounding you wherever you go. Alas these mountains seem to have the wind funnel down them making sailing a little frustrating as the wind seemed to be on the nose a lot here. The mountains were stunning as a backdrop for our anchorages with mussel farms everywhere.

Havelock at the very end of Pelorus Sound is the mussel capital and what with seeing all the mussel farms in the bay’s we couldn’t miss a trip in for fresh mussels; yummo!

Just a stunning landscape

Lots of pretty anchorages, which we had to ourselves.

Would have been nice to go into the Queen Charlotte Sound and over to Wellington but with Cyclone Oma knocking on the door mid February and no access at the Wellington marinas due to a sailing regatta we scurried back thru French Pass to Nelson Marina, which was good as they could accommodate us.

Cyclone Oma had the forecasters baffled and it wasn’t looking good.

Back in Nelson
Hanging out in Nelson was great as Jeanette & Glen were perfect hosts feeding us, taking us to quite a few local craft breweries (no complaints here), a tour of the opening of the PIC peanut butter factory (yum), sending us on our way to cycle part of the Great Taste Trail, and just hanging out enjoying the town. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Cyclone Oma decided to continue on towards Australia and then back to the North so the only impact to NZ was winds and swell in Northland and on the East Coast of NZ. Oh well we had fun in Nelson.

Returning to the Bay of Islands
We had wanted to circumnavigate the North Island but were starting to run out of time as our 3 months were coming up and we had to fly out for a visa run. While in Nelson the East Coast of the North Island had been windy with a decent swell what with the impact of Cyclone Oma and we couldn’t see a weather window in the next week. We really needed another month to enjoy the East Coast and Bay of Plenty and as we were in Nelson it was over 200nm shorter to return up the West Coast.

Fishing was good again so no complaints from us. Had a pod of about 20 dolphins play with us, which is always fun to watch. Rounding Cape Reinga at slack again meant a good fast trip across the top with tide in our favour and down through the Cavalli Islands with its crystal clear water, which was a treat. The Bay of Islands is definitely a pretty area with a good variety in anchorages and it was nice to be back.

View from Urupukapuka Island over Bay of Islands

For us sailing in New Zealand has been about:
– enjoying beautiful scenery in some very busy anchorages especially in the North Island
– managing wind against tide so we don’t have a chop or eddies to deal with which slow your speed
– managing between 1.5 and a 5 meter tide change; in the Abel Tasman with the King Tides
– managing weather forecasts, which are typically pretty good unless there is a complex low then everyone’s baffled and predictions are not confident

We had an excellent 3 months cruising and were very happy with the changes we made to our boat over NZs winter. We really needed more time as its a big cruising ground. Oh well next time!

Time out

With coming to New Zealand foreign vessels are able to stay in NZ for a maximum period of 24 months so we decided to take the opportunity to enjoy some time off from sailing, get some boat projects done and visit family and friends in NZ, Australia and North America.

Before NZs winter set in and while the weather was nice we decided to tackle the 2 biggest time consuming projects; repainting the interior of the boat & extending the length of our hulls by 4ft with Maverick (our manufacturer) hull transoms, which we brought in from South Africa.

The hull transom extensions were a big project and thankfully Neville from Norsand Boatyard was keen to work on this project for us.

The last step of our hull transom was cut off

John (my dad) so kindly helping by sanding & painting the interior hull transoms

Neville from Norsand working on the new fit of the hull transom

The extra length extends our waterline so will be interesting to see the impact in the upcoming sailing season.

The final result

Even though the boat can stay 24 months Brett being a foreigner is only able to stay in NZ 9 months in an 18 month period, so we were also limited in the time we could be in NZ.

We used Australia as a base, which was warmer than NZ and great for catching up with my sister; Louise and family.
Ruben & Daniel my nephews are a lot of fun and definetly keep Louise & Stu busy.

These birds are as big as Ruben & Daniel

Trying to get fit we cycled and went hiking. Springbrook National Park in Queensland has lots of different hikes. Beautiful area. The beaches in Queensland are great for building sand castles with my crazy nephews and getting exercise on the what seems like endless white beaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gold Coast has lots of events on to bring tourists in which while we were here included 2 free concerts and the GC600 Supercars racing.

Ruben & Daniel trackside

Time off the boat also took us to North America to see family and friends and of course an excuse to pick up boat parts in the US as they are expensive downunder.

 

The Screw in Panama City is always an impressive building.

 

We then hired a car in LA taking a road trip up to Canada.

 

 

Of course a stop at a fun park for the day could not be missed and given we’d both been to Disneyland and Universal Studios we chose Knott’s Berry Farm in Los Angeles. No crowds as we were there on a week day, what a blast!

Hang Time one of our favorite rides

Las Vegas with all its glitz is along the way. Guess who planned this part of the trip to get his poker fix.

Even caught up with Razina & Taz friends from Calgary at the Venetian

We took a walk through the Craters of The Moon Park in Idaho, which was really impressive and a good stop on the way to Canada. The lava fields are between 15000 & 2000 years old from repeated volcanic eruptions across the river plain in south central Idaho. After the molten rock cooled huge lava fields with lava tubes, caves and volcanic cones remained and you are able to walk amongst a select few as the area here is huge.

It was great to catch up and reconnect with family and friends in Canada given we’ve been off sailing for 5 years. Plenty of time for hiking, golfing and mountain biking, getting some exercise and hence feeling muscles we haven’t used for a while. Lots of good Alberta Beef too thanks to dinner with family and friends.

On arrival Doug took Brett out for his favorite; wings & beer

Golfing in Fernie, Canada with friends Dave & Jen

On return from North America we had help installing some electronics and completed some more necessary projects.

resealing front windows

 

 

Our 10yr old main sail couldn’t be patched due to sun damage so we had a new one made by Calibre Sails in Whangarei. Nice & shiny white.

 

 

 

Whangarei, NZ has definitely been a good place to do our boat projects with lots of marine services available and no tax on marine purchases / services 😉. Seismic Wave is looking great and after the winter season off we’re looking forward to summer sailing in NZ.

 

 

Merry Christmas and all the best to everyone in 2019. 🤗🎉

Cruising North to the Bay of Islands, NZ

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The Bay of Islands, recognized as one of New Zealand’s most popular summer destinations and you can see why with its natural beauty. We had travelled NZ by car previously so it was time to see it on Seismic Wave.

Vista from Russell

Rare Bay, Whangaroa Harbour

 

Dukes Nose in Whangaroa

There’s lots of islands with lots of beautiful anchorages, incredible scenery, dolphins in some of the bay’s and nothing is ever far away, so for us it was a great cruising ground. Even managed to find some nice anchorages with no one around.

Whangamumu Harbour an old whaling station with good hiking

A stunning vista from Robertson Island

Cavalli Islands bay anchorage

The weather while here in Feb/ March was cooler than we expected, a little drizzly at times so got some good boat washes and with the odd cyclone remnants pushing through they added to the excitement. YES Cyclones and here we thought we were getting away from all of that! The La Niña weather pattern apparently is a hint that Cyclones are common here in NZ and while we were here had 3 blow through. Who would have known.

kayaking near Deep Cove

 

 

All up we were able to get outdoors and enjoy some good weather; kayaking and hiking but alas the colder water here kept us from swimming.

Kayaking a river in Whangaroa Harbour

The Department of Conservation has put in lots of walking tracks, which is a fantastic way of getting out for some exercise and seeing the countryside. Most days we would get out and find a track which was typically sheltered from the sun meandering through the bush so you got to see lots of native plants or stunning coastal views. A couple of our favorites were:
Cape Brett Track from Deep Water Cove (2hours 10min one way to the Cape).
This track traverses through the bush (so shade) with stunning vistas all along the way with steep cliffs and rocky bays below.

Looking back at where we had come from

Brett at the Cape Brett lighthouse

Urupukapuka Island Walks
An island out near Cape Brett which has various tracks to different bays all of which joins up so you can do a loop to see beautiful vistas of neighboring islands and the stunning coastline.

Paihia to Haruru Falls (1 hour 15 min one way)
An easy track from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to the waterfall follows the Waitangi River so is nice and flat and in the bush with plenty of shade. Haruru means “big noise” and you understand why when you get to the horseshoe shaped falls at the end which are rumbling. Wish we’d kayaked up the river, which some people were doing.

Haruru Falls the only falls in NZ with a horseshoe shape

There’s plenty of tourists abound enjoying the area as well. Cruise ships anchor off Russell and provide a spectacular view and help the economy here. An incredible
view one morning of the top of a cruise ship.

After the fog cleared it was the Queen Mary II in town

The R Tucker Thompson looked like a great way for tourists to see the bay’s

Getting food provisions was very easy. Russell and Paihia had decent grocery stores so we could stock up with fresh produce and both towns are easy to wander around and enjoy the views. Eating out is always a treat and we had a few celebrations so did venture out.

– Duke of Marlborough in Russell was a treat and very popular as its on the waterfront and so a really nice location

– Russell Boating Club has an excellent roast on Sunday’s and great entertainment care of the locals. We could have seen Belinda our sailing friend here for sure singing away.

– The Gum Store Bar & Grill in Totara North after a hike along the Wairakau Stream from Lane Cove was a surprise with lots of memrobelia of the earlier era here. The fast water taxi ride back to Lane Cove was a treat.

 

 

 

 

– Parua Bay Tavern out near Whangarei Heads with its spectacular views over the bay and good food – can’t forget fresh NZ scallops from a friend Max who we’d met in Aitutaki, yummo!

 

We had heard about the Twin Coast Cycle Trail from Opua along the old railway and tripped upon it one day when out hiking the trail between Paihia and Opua. Will have to do his next time as its right up our alley.

 

 

 

 

Before we knew it it was time to head back around Cape Brett and the Famous “Hole in the Rock”, which the tourist boats drive thru, and back down towards Whangarei for our haul out.


 

 

 

 

Heidi & Bevan our windsurfing friends from Tonga arrived at Whangarei Heads on their sea kayaks to catch up for the long weekend, so was great to see them again.
Has been fun enjoying the northern bays but for us we’ve come a long way and we want to see more of NZ next season so it’s time for a rest from sailing as winter is arriving here. We’ve got a few boat projects planned so time to be hauled.