Bula! Bula! We’re in Fiji

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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 🤗

Fiji’s Western Islands

Lots of islands with stunning beaches, friendly people and cute kids who entertained us. No wonder a lot of cruisers return to these waters.

After a quick stop at Beqa Lagoon we continued onto the SW coast of Viti Levu where we stopped at Likuri Island for Robinson Crusoé Island night, which was a lot of fun with good entertainment and food.

Brett welcomed at the SavuSavu ceremony by drinking kava from the communal mug

fire dancers

The finale

The Mamanuca Islands on Fijis west coast of Viti Levu had some beautiful islands with beautiful white sand beaches.
On Malolo Liki we joined the Musket Cove Marina & Resort for FJ$15, with all its facilities available to us. Nice!

The pool at Musket Cove was so nice!

Mana Island had a nice protected lagoon and a hike up over the island had some amazing views down to our anchorage. The snorkeling was good with all sorts of colors and fish. This is where 2017 Survivor Fiji was recently filmed.

Friends Luc & Aileen with Mana Lagoon in background

local kids playing the drums down on the beach, adorable!

First giant clam we saw out snorkeling near the reef

the water was lovely and clear with plenty of fish & coral that’s coming back to life

Modriki (or Monuriki on some charts) was where Tom Hanks film, Castaway, was filmed. Spectacular views over the island from the top.

great views down over anchorage.

The bay at Navadra was a little rolly with a big swell coming into the bay. Brett managed to get ashore and hiked to the top of the rock below for some pretty nice views.

Brett is coming down the yellow grass path on the rocks side

On Waya Island at Nalauwaki Bay we went ashore to meet the head administrator for the SavuSavu ceremony where we presented kava as a gift and were permitted to anchor in their bay and welcome to walk in the village. Everyone was so friendly stopping to say bula and ask where we were from.

Kava Bought at the markets around Fiji for presentation to the chiefs of a village

Kava (nicely bundled) is presented to the chief or head administrator in this case for the SavuSavu ceremony

 

The Primary school teacher (ages 5-8 yrs) showing us her class room where 22 children attend from 8am – 1pm.

The children were adorable. They showed us around the village and helped us with our dinghy when it was time to leave.

Moses paddled out to the Boat to sell us pawpaw in exchange for coke and a little pocket money

The Musket cove regatta was on with loads of fun events, races and time to socialize.

Pirates Day race to Beachcomber’s with Ted & Jenny on SV Elixir

Hobby cat racing.

racing around Malalo Island race onboard Cactus Island with Gerald & Maree, competitors behind us!

Good times but we are off as we have the opportunity to check in at the Loyalty Islands in New Caledonia. Rafted up beside Oceana1 at Vuda Point Marina to check out, as customs wanted to inspect boats that day! Each day is different and it just depends on who you get.

Friendly Fiji, in Suva

Bula! (hello) from Suva, Fiji. Bula is heard everywhere here. It’s awesome. We found the people here in Fiji very friendly, smiling and saying bula as we passed each other.

We checked into Suva, the capital of Fiji and a busy port but made easy for yachties with the help of the Royal Suva Yacht Club (RSYC) who bring the officials out to your boat. Friends Luc & Aileen on S/V Oceana1 came in from the Tongan Ha’apai group at the same time and so once we were done with the officials the RYSC was a great place to relax, catch up, enjoy a beer and listen to live music.

Port on one side of us

Mountains on our other side

The following day was spent finishing the check in process wandering the streets, doing a little shopping and taking in the vibe of this metropolitan city.

1st order of business get a SIM made easy right on the street with digicel

Lots of busy one way streets but easy to get around

Brett, Luc & Aileen outside a mall!

lots of choice in Chinese & Indian restaurants our favorite being the Curry House

Yes Bretts shopping for clothes on his first day here! The shopping here was good.

At the Parliamentary buildings while getting our cruising permit we were shown the grounds and in particular where the Island Chiefs meet monthly.
We did do a few touristy things while in the big City:
The Grand Pacific Hotel originally built in 1908 by the Union Steamship Company of NZ to cater for passengers on their South Pacific route was totally rebuilt and reopened in 2014. Impressive!
Suva’s fresh vegetable market was huge and incredible with lots of fresh produce at reasonable prices. The Pacific islands up till now have been very expensive for fruit & vege.
The Governors Mansion sits high on a hill with beautiful gardens that would have been nice to enjoy other than the huge gate surrounding the property.
Fijis National Museum had lots of exhibits on the various communities and their arrival in Fiji and impact, arrival of the missionaries, first government of Fiji and fishing equipment & canoes of the past. Very interesting and for us was a good thing to do on a rainy day here.

The Drua sailing canoe still used was perfected in the 1700s can travel at speeds up to 25 knots!

 

Barkcloth or Masi produced from the outer bark of the paper mulberry tree is made into all sorts of textiles and worn / presented in ceremonies as a gift. It is sold in lots of shops in town for house textiles.

 

 

 

Time to head to the islands.