We weigh Anchor at 0715 and begin our crossing. Miles of open water as far as the eye can see. But there is a deception at hand. All that water is not so deep as Spill The Wine. Most of it is 3 feet deep. Study the chart we did. Verified the chart with Google Earth yes we did.
We were anchored by my finger there at the bottom of this photo. You can see our planned path through the reefs. Plenty of them Mon! Following this route I get a vague view of the reefs only. The sun is rising on the bow. But we sneak out unscathed.
Nice south easterly coming up Vatu-I-Ra Channel on our beam at about 12 kts. We are motorsailing because we need to charge batteries and make fresh water. The sails stabilize our roll. Sea state is pretty smooth today.
About halfway across we meet a school of dolphins.
A dozen or so decide to play at our bow. Mind the anchor mates!
We enter the reef and anchor by Nabouwalu Jetty. The Ferry stops by here daily and freight carriers too. Which makes it maybe not the best place to anchor.
EASY big fella! It was interesting watching the docking process. Ship approaches the jetty. Drops an anchor while still making forward progress. Then the anchor grabs and the ship pivots on it ending up stern to the jetty. Then they tie up and load/unload. On shore there is a small grocery and a post office. Its enough, we don’t need much yet. But we did buy a couple lobsters on the jetty one morning when the fishing boats came in.
Nancy butter poaches them. And we had lobster rolls. Then we get moving. There is a nice cove up the coast a few miles. Looks good and our chart says “Anchorage”. We pull in and find the cove quite populated with buoys. Kinda weird. Oh well. We find room to anchor between the buoy pile and the reef. And it was a great reef. Lots of fish and tricky lobsters that we could not catch. There were some little squid off the swim step.
These things are bizarre to watch. Regular fish only go forward. These things have a reverse as well. So they will swim along and then reverse direction for whatever reason and go back the way they came without turning their bodies. You might have seen these on a plate. At which point they are called calamari. There was also a crab trying to stow away.
We are the only boat in this anchorage. Kinda nice! But then there are not a lot of boats like ours on this coast anyway. The next morning Kat and I go out to look at the reef some more and maybe catch one of those sneaky lobsters. A couple guys in a panga come along and explain to us that indeed, this is a pearl farm. Hence the many buoys. And the reef is closed to snorkeling. Not quite an “anchorage” after all. Darn that chart!
Ok. Lets go to Namena Island. It is also a marine preserve, no fishing. But snorkeling is allowed and so is anchoring.
Cute little island surrounded by a reef. Waves wont be too big for our visit. We cruised by the Dive Resort on the island. In ruins. Cyclone Winston crushed this area a few years ago. The wind is coming from the SE so we anchor on the NW shore out of the wind. No fishing here so the reef is fairly healthy and there are a lot of fish. We spent a couple very nice days here. And strangely enough we had cell coverage here in the middle of nowhere. Which we used to watch the weather. And that proved to be a good idea. A low is passing through and our 10-15 knot SE wind is predicted to clock around to the North about midnight and crank up to 20 knots. The midnight part of this is the problem. All we would need to do would be to weigh anchor and re-anchor on the south side of the island. In the dark. Bummer.
Or we could leave today for Savusavu. Kind of a late start, but off we went. And as soon as we got out of the reef the seas were kinda big. Gusting to 30 knots. Definitely not the 10-15 knots predicted. We are towing the dinghy because, late start, did not want to take the time to deflate/stow it on deck. Good day for Nancy to use seasickness meds…
We finally get behind the reef close to Savusavu about sundown. Seas get smooth and wind becomes much milder. I try to avoid night approaches to anchorages but today weather has forced our hand. As it turns out Savusavu is a pretty easy mooring field to get into in the dark. Narrow channel and mooring balls on both sides of the river. Streetlights make it not so dark.
Nice little town Savusavu. It is the largest town on Fiji’s second largest island and has a population of about 4500 people. We get some diesel, some groceries, and just relax for a few days. We met a guy from New York. He was formerly employed by Welch-Allyn. They make medical instruments. Many for the eyecare field. He introduced us to Linda, a local Rotarian. The two of them are working on getting some medical equipment together for the local hospital. Which could use an eye clinic among other things…
Soon it is time to move on. We visit the green grocer and head for Viani Bay further up the coast. Nice spot that has some good diving. There is a dive shop where Kat and I want to do a free diving class. Free diving is a three dollar word for snorkeling with more emphasis on spending time below the surface holding your breath.
Nice enough place that we spent a few days. Snorkeling and
drinking Kava on shore in the evenings with the Fijians. Our friends from La Cuz, Sky Blue Eyes, show up. Things got more musical.
The dive outfit had awesome dogs there that liked to fish in the shallows.
The last night there were a few bugs. Time to go. Taviuni, the garden island is calling us from across the channel.