Passage from New Zealand to Fiji
We made it to Fiji!
17° 36' South
177° 26' East
Hi everyone!!! I am writing this on Monday, May 29th in Fiji, and we arrived last night around 5 pm. Today is a holiday so most places are closed. We had heard that there was a possibility that an internet cafe may be opened today but unfortunately they were all closed. Hopefully we'll get this sent off tomorrow, May 30th (Happy Birthday to Sam's brother Joe!!!).
By now you have hopefully received our other email which was an update about our return to New Zealand. With all the projects going on we never got around to updating our mailing list and thus, didn't get that email out until now. Sorry!
In the last email I mentioned that we had quite a few projects to be done. Well, that was no exaggeration and we literally worked everyday on the boat, starting the minute we arrived in Opua and continuing through the day we headed out for Fiji. Of course we did make time to meet up with friends for dinner or hanging out at the Opua Cruising Club. After all, it's hard to work after dark! :)
Our time in New Zealand didn't feel like we were back to cruising for a few reasons. 1) It was too cold to feel like we were cruising; that is, the kind of cruising we like! 2) We never got into the water to enjoy snorkeling, swimming or diving. 3) We didn't have people over to our boat or go to other people's boats because everyone was so busy preparing for the passage north. There was one amazing event that reminded us that we were cruising and pumped us full of the cruising bug. We were on Moana getting ready to launch the dinghy and head ashore when we saw another dinghy riding around apparently following something in the water. As we stood on deck and looked around, all of the sudden we saw killer whales swimming in the bay!!! We are talking Shamu and his family! Apparently they come into the bay every once in a while to eat the fish. We could not believe that we had killer whales swimming within a boat length of Moana!!! We really didn't ever expect to see that outside of Sea World!!! It was such an amazing experience. Of course with these whales we opted NOT to jump in the water and swim with them. Heck, we didn't even opt to get into the dinghy to follow them. We enjoyed them with a spectacular view from Moana.
We learned around May 13th that there was a good weather window for leaving New Zealand between May 16 and May 19th. The next window wouldn't be until at least May 29th. We kicked it into high gear and for the first time, we found ourselves leaving at the very beginning of the weather window instead of just making it in as the window was closing.
So, on Tuesday, May 16th,after doing a final top-off on our water tanks, we headed out of New Zealand around 14:45. As we left the sun peaked through the clouds and shined brilliantly. We also saw a beautiful rainbow in the distance and dolphins swam by as we were exiting Opua Bay. We thought, “This is a good sign.” Little did we know.
We had a VERY long trip to Fiji. Heading south TO New Zealand is supposed to be much more difficult than heading north to the islands FROM New Zealand. This definitely was NOT the case for us! Not only did it take 12 days (it only took 9 days to go from Tonga to New Zealand), we had the wind forward of the beam after two days out of New Zealand and the wind never corrected itself. Normally the winds are out of the southeast; we had them out of the northeast, which is exactly where we were headed. In addition, we withstood gale conditions for 36 hours! The wind was literally blowing 35 knots out of the northeast. And the seas? At least ten to fifteen footers! We were literally getting launched off the waves and then slammed down. It constantly felt like we were slamming into a cement wall for 36 hours. We sure are glad that Moana could withstand the conditions even if we didn't do quite as well. We had only been in gale-force winds a few times, the longest of which was four hours on the way from Niue to Tonga, and then, we were running with it downwind. If you recall, that passage to Tonga I had described as our worst passage. Well, that seemed pretty insignificant compared to this trip. After non-stop work in Opua, followed by a very difficult passage we were thinking, “What in the world are we doing?” That was of course until we arrived and were sitting on the hook here in Fiji.
We had many challenges during this passage, the biggest of which included the gale. The other biggest challenge was that, in the midst of the gale, a fire started in the engine room. I was off watch at that time and Sam noticed a strange sound coming from the engine room. He shut off the engine and opened up the room to discover a very small fire. He grabbed a fire extinguisher located right next to him and put it out immediately. He had never used a fire extinguisher before and I was very thankful he was able to think quickly 5 o'clock in the morning, and before more damage was done. Anyways, after the fire we had no use of our engine. And ironically, after the gale we had NO wind for a day and we just bobbed around in rough water praying that we'd get some wind. We were actually a bit reluctant to ask for wind because we were afraid of getting too much again. We were moving about 20-30 miles, if that, for a couple days. Yesterday, when the wind finally reached a whopping 6 knots, Sam learned how to finess the sails and move Moana to windward at 3 knots. Not bad for a heavy displacement tub of a boat. Then, later in the morning, Fruity Fruits, a 67 foot sailboat from London, towed us the last 7 miles to the pass into Lautoka and the other 22 miles to where we anchored for checking into the country. We wanted to ensure we made it in that day before dark and had no way of knowing what the winds were planning to do. (We had seen Fruity Fruits for the first time in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas last May but had never had the opportunity to meet them.) We were so thankful for them. It was our first time being towed and it was their first time towing another vessel. Their 67 footer motors at 8 knots!!! We were going a healthy 5-6 knots exactly in the right direction all day. It was sweet! As a side note, Fruity Fruits, which has been cruising since 2001 and left from London, said this was the worst passage they have ever had.
Anyhow, we are now sitting in Lautoka, waiting until tomorrow to look into the engine issue (we think a stuck button caused the starter to short, causing the fire) because today is a holiday. Oh, speaking of which, since we arrived on Sunday, instead of paying $40 Fijian to check in, we had to pay $340!!! That's about $200 USD instead of $25 USD. That's four times as much as we've paid anywhere to check in throughout the entire Pacific! We feel ripped off but what are you gonna do? It was a consistent ending to our passage where Murphy's Law prevailed...that anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. (I'll spare you the details of all the other challenges over the 12 day passage!) We never lost sight, however, of the fact that we both stayed healthy (other than Sally having sea sickness off and on throughout the passage).
So that is our latest passage experience. In 12 days we sailed almost 1300 miles. The distance was lengthen because we could never make the rhum line (shortest, most direct distance) because of where the wind was blowing from.
Sam is adjusting to the little bit of movement on the boat and feeling dizzy while I am relishing in the fact that we are floating on the hook!!! We are sitting outside of the second largest city in Fiji and the third largest city in tropical South Pacific, for that matter. We are looking forward to getting this engine issue taken care of as soon as possible so we can get away from the city and enjoy some of the outlying islands where we can swim off the boat, snorkel, shell and dive.
We think about you often and love hearing from you!!! So please write!
I do have to close by saying that those people who think cruising is all relaxation should really help us prepare for and then go on a passage with us, complete with all the projects that surface from doing the passage itself! Although a different kind than most are used to, it is WORK!!! With that said, the rewards that come out of it, far exceed the time and labor put into it!!!
We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Hugs and love,
Sally & Sam
Currently located in Lautoka, Fiji
Fiji Islands - Mamanucas & Yasawas
We're a little overdue on our latest update. We've gotten a few “friendly” reminders that it has been a while since everyone has heard from us. We've been in some remote areas of Fiji that either don't have e-mail or charge 10 to 20 times what the city internet rate is.
We last wrote at the end of May when we had just arrived in Fiji. We were without an engine and recovering from the gale conditions on the last part of our passage from New Zealand.
On our second day here we took a bus down to the marina area to see about finding a diesel mechanic. We saw several familiar boats in the marina. It's great to run into boats thousands of miles later. The sailing community is a small one.
We also met another boat, Millie Ways, that went through the gale about 100 miles away from us. It those types of conditions a sailboat becomes more like a submarine. We found out that their life-raft was washed off the deck. They lost most of their electronics (including autopilot and GPS) from the large amount of salt water on deck. They are a catamaran and their forward deck between the hulls had half of the teak wood inlays smashed to bits. Millie Ways is more than half way around the world from London and they said that those were the worst conditions that they've seen.
Ironically, Millie Ways had a mechanic coming to their boat soon and invited us aboard to talk to him when he arrived. Rama, a young Indian, showed up approximately an hour later. After he was done working on Millie Ways' alternator he offered us a ride back to Moana to look at her. An hour later he had the very burnt out starter removed and promised to return in a couple of days with a new one. Our engine issue was all because of a stuck starter button. It inhaled a little too much salt water in the gale. When I went to start the engine it stuck in the “on” position and burned up the starter. A $10 button caused a $300 starter to self destruct. We replaced the button with a fancy one that has an extra layer of waterproofing. We also replaced the other buttons on our engine panel to help avoid it from happening to the other functions. Two days later he returned with a new starter and installed it within an hour. It was good he was a fast worker because he charged a whopping $12 an hour for labor (it would be $75 an hour or more in the US)!!!
Now that we had a running engine we were ready to explore a little of Fiji. We decided to start with the Yasawas (Yah-saw-wahs). It is the island group that the “Blue Lagoon” movies were filmed at. The Yasawas are the islands pictured when someone says “Fiji”. We found wonderful beaches, turquoise water and gorgeous sea life. Our first five days in the Yasawas were spent in an anchorage all by ourselves. Snorkeling was excellent right off the boat. The water was very clear. Even at night we could see the shadow of the boat 30 feet below on the ocean floor. We could see all the underwater reefs very clearly by moonlight alone. This anchorage in Naviti reminded us of why we have “gone sailing”.
From there we went up to the lagoon where all the movies were filmed. It was a lovely anchorage and lived up to the hype generated by the movies. We ventured out in our dinghy and discovered our own secret snorkeling spot. There we saw our first blue spotted stingray. Sally also found a beautiful tiger cowrie. We also went snorkeling over what is referred to as cabbage coral. Though more yellow than green, it looked like a huge hunk of cabbage...hence its name! The coral was about 50 feet in diameter and was quite magnificent.
We heard about the giant manta rays further south in the Yasawas from a boat in the Blue Lagoon and headed off to find them. We decided to spend the night as near their location as possible. The anchorage offered good protection from the north winds we'd been having for the past two weeks. An anchorage is said to be protected from a direction if there is land between the boat and the wind. In this example we had the wind coming from the north and we were tucked into a south facing bay. Wind-waves are created by the wind blowing over the water. The farther distance the wind is blowing over the water the bigger the waves. Since we were only a few hundred yards from the shore where the wind was blowing from, there was no swell entering the anchorage. We looked for the mantas with no luck that afternoon. We did however see an abundance of sea life including a lion fish, a four-foot napoleon fish, and a variety of other tropical fish.
The next day we watched again for the manta rays with no luck. Around 2:30 that afternoon we realized that the wind had shifted to the south at 5 - 10 knots. Since there was 30 miles between us and the nearest land to the south we now had waves rolling into the anchorage. Our protected anchorage was now “unprotected”. Travel in the Yasawas can only be done during daylight hours because of the thousands of reefs (some uncharted or charted wrong). Since it was too late in the afternoon to travel to the nearest protected anchorage, we were stuck. By nightfall we had 20 knots blowing from the south. There is a BIG difference between 10 and 20 knots of wind. Our unpleasant anchorage now became awful. Sleep was no longer an option though I installed our lee cloth to hold Sally in the sea berth while she willed herself not to make use of the bucket rocking beside her. By midnight we had near 30 knots of wind and steep waves as large as five feet beating us up. The waves were so steep that our bow sprit went swimming many times. Thankfully we had a good oversize anchor out with plenty of chain. With the wind strength and waves we would not have been able to raise the anchor. We were standing watch, ready to release the rest of the chain on a buoy and sail away if our anchor stopped holding. It was easily our worst night at anchor in the 2 years we've been out and about in the Pacific. Pulling up the anchor the next morning in 20+ knots of wind with the bow sprit continuing to dive into the wind waves is another story, the details of which we will spare you. Fiji weather has been much more volatile than the rest of the Pacific. We hope to not repeat that night anytime soon and have been staying in anchorages with protection from all wind directions.
Following the Yasawas, we picked up Sally's sister, Janet, and her friend, Traci, before heading to Musket Cove. This is a must stop for the yachties coming through Fiji and is located in the Mamanuca Island Group, south of the Yasawas. There is a yacht club that has only one pre-requisite to join - you have to have come to Fiji by sailing from a foreign port. The fee to join is $1 for the captain and $5 per crew. Membership is for your lifetime. There is a neat peninsula with a large BBQ area. Members of the club are welcome to come use the BBQ's. Needless to say, it becomes the yachties' nightly hangout. Yacht Club Members are also welcome to use the neighboring resort's pool and loungers. There is a small grocery store with quite a selection of goods to help keep the supplies on board full. And best of all - the anchorage is protected from all directions (don't have to worry about the weather changing on us). Sally has to add the other “best” part...showers on shore with hot water!!! Quite a luxury for us and much appreciated by our guests.
Musket Cove turned out to be a wonderful place to have Janet and Traci visit us. This was the first time we had two guests on board. It was a good test as it was for a ten day period. We both agree that it went very well. Unfortunately the weather continued to be on the not-so-fun side (meaning lots of wind, days without sun and overall, quite chilly!). Our guests got first-hand experience with how weather determines when and where we go. So far Fiji has been the coldest place we've visited in the tropics however we've heard from many locals that this is the coldest winter they can remember. We have revised our what-to-bring list for our visitors to include a long-sleeved shirt, pants and wetsuit! We never would have thought to tell anyone to bring such arctic conditions clothing; on the contrary, we specifically had said to leave it at home. We both hope that the weather is just going through a little phase and will become more favorable sooner than later. With that said, Fiji is absolutely beautiful with pristine, turquoise water, sandy white beaches, amazing sea life, and water temps in the high 70s. The Fijians have been very friendly and we've enjoyed getting to know a bit about their culture (more to come in later e-mails).
We hope this gives you a little glimpse into our cruising life in Fiji. We are currently anchored in Port Denarau awaiting the arrival of our friends, Mike and Janelle, who fly into Nadi tomorrow morning. From there, we will go...where else...where the wind blows us!!!
Sam & Sally
Currently anchored in Port Denarau, Viti Levu Island, Fiji
17° 46.23' South
177° 22.95' East
Update #31 - Fiji Islands
Greetings Friends! It's hard to believe we are coming up on two months since writing our last e-mail update. Last season we were on a more regular schedule of writing monthly since that seemed to be about how often we were sailing to a new island group. This season we have “parked ourselves” in Fiji, so to speak, and thus have lost track of time even more than we did last year. Can you imagine that?
Moana has had a few visitors this season. After Sally’s sister and a friend visited in June, our friends, Mike and Janelle, arrived on July 15th for eight days. During their entire stay we had perfect weather and were able to finally enjoy sailing in Fiji. We visited five different anchorages, three in the Mamanucas (pronounced ma-ma-nooth-as), and two on the main island of Viti Levu. Hands down, our favorite anchorage was off a small island at the northern tip of the Mamanucas called Vanua Levu (not to be confused with the second largest island in Fiji…for some reason they have a lot of islands with the same names here). After a nice sail north and Mike catching a tuna en route, we arrived to a secluded anchorage with sandy white beaches, calm, turquoise water and beautiful, lively coral. We stayed there for three days, spending our sunlight hours jumping off the boat to snorkel, dive, and swim ashore for shelling. Our evenings were spent playing Hand and Foot, a card game our buddies on Gunner II had taught us last season while hanging out in Tonga. That anchorage truly felt like our own little paradise!
As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end” and so the weather shifted and our friends’ time for departure grew near. We sailed back for the mainland, or should I say that Mike manned the helm the entire sail back to the mainland (an all-day affair). We were spoiled having fellow sailors on board who took the helm, brought up 250+ feet of chain on multiple occasions using our manual windlass (thanks again Mike and Janelle), and helped with sail changes. Sally was especially appreciative of Mike who inspired Sam to start fishing again!
Upon their departure, we had eleven days before our next guest, Laurel, arrived. We were hoping to make it east to Suva to meet her there but once again, the weather didn't cooperate. There was a big, fat high sitting over New Zealand which brought a week of 25-30 knots of consistent wind across Fiji. Thus we hunkered down in Port Denarau waiting out the weather and Laurel’s arrival. While sitting in Port Denarau Sam discovered a wi-fi connection and Sally discovered a washing machine. Oh the little things in life which bring such joys!!! Needless to say, Sally made use of the machine to wash sheets, comforter and towels. Sam spent many, many, many hours surfing the net.
Laurel’s timing was impeccable with the winds dying out and allowing us to head east the day after her arrival. With sunny skies we spent two full days motor sailing (I tell ya, either too much wind, not enough, or not from the right direction!). The first night of our passage east was spent at Robinson Crusoe Island, though we never made it ashore. The second day of our passage Sam decided to throw the fishing line out and caught a tuna that we enjoyed for dinner. Our third day out we arrived at another idyllic anchorage off the island of Yanuca (pronounced Ya-nooth-a). The only boat there, we went ashore where Sally taught Laurel the art of shelling. Sam “watched over the dingy”, floating and reading a sailing magazine delivered from the States. We also went snorkeling on a beautiful reef where Laurel was introduced to Fiji’s underwater world. Later, Sally took Laurel up the island by dinghy in search of some more shelling beaches. We were successful and Sally even found some new shells she didn't have yet (and Sam thought Sally must surely have them all by now!).
We were very thankful for such an active day because the next morning, on Laurel’s birthday, the weather turned sour and Moana was no longer in her calm anchorage. In fact, she was pounding quite a bit into a good swell. Sam put out the flopper-stopper to help calm the motion and after breakfast, Sally took Laurel ashore. This was not an easy endeavor and Laurel had many bruises to prove it! Ashore was a rustic backpackers resort called Batiluva. For you surfers out there, we discovered it is a great surf resort!!! Laurel figured she’d get some tea and try to regain some equilibrium. Noticing a calmer area to the anchorage, Sally returned to Moana to re-anchor. Sally, donned in bib overalls and jacket, manually brought up 150+ feet of chain as rain pelted her and the bow bounced up and down. Sam manned the wheel and moved Moana in the directions indicated by Sally. Close to an hour later Moana was anchored in a calmer area. Sally went ashore to discover Laurel wrapped in a blanket, drinking tea, and talking about her plans to sleep ashore. Sharen, the owner who is originally from Hawaii, took pity on Laurel and offered for her to stay for free for the night. There was an area set up to watch movies and Sam eventually joined us to enjoy lunch ashore. The food was superb and Sharen was an absolute sweetheart. She reminded Sally of our friend, Dustin’s mother, Pamela. As Sam and Sally got ready to head back to Moana, Laurel decided to come along as it had calmed down a bit. What a trooper Laurel was!!! We decided we would celebrate her birthday the next day, when it would be her birthday in the U.S. (This international dateline thing can have its advantages.)
The following day we motored up to a more protected anchorage off of Beqa Island (pronounced Bang-a); from there we motor-sailed up to Suva. The rest of Laurel’s stay included overcast skies and lots of rain. We were thankful for the sun we had the first four days of her visit.
With the departure of Laurel on August 13th we awaited the arrival of our final guests, Sam’s parents, on August 24th. With another week of constant rain we opted to have his parents meet us in Suva. They stayed in a beautiful hotel outside of the city where they were able to look out and see Moana sitting in a protected anchorage. During their stay we took an inland trip and hiked to beautiful waterfalls, took a day trip to Beqa Island for snorkeling (would you believe only 30 minutes by dive boat as opposed to 3+ hours via Moana?), attended a local church, rode the local buses, shopped at the markets, visited the museum, cooked some meals aboard Moana, and enjoyed some wonderful meals out. Did we mention the wonderfully hot showers we had on a daily basis? They were truly the best showers we had had since leaving California four months prior. And…we got to use real towels as opposed to our small quick-dry pack towels. We even went to the Laundromat and did some laundry. Since it seems to rain 9 out of 10 days in Suva, you have to go to the Laundromat because there is no other way to dry clothing. We so enjoyed the company of our parents and were thankful for the time we had together.
With the end of visits, we are readjusting to it being just the two of us. We are anxious to move on to other islands where we can do our favorite “S” words: sail, scuba, snorkel, shell and swim. (There’s one or two other ones but we won’t mention those!) Before then, we have to take advantage of being in the largest city in the tropical South Pacific. Sam has been working on projects (installing a new water pump and fixing a fan) and Sally has been going through provisions, taking an inventory and making a list of needed items. We also have some rigging work to be done by the local yacht shop. We will make one final run to the Laundromat and a final shop at Cost-U-Less (owned by Costco). While many things cannot be found at this store, we did discover Jif peanut butter, brown sugar, Rosarita non-fat refried beans, WD-40, Simple Green, Brawny paper towels, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, McCormick seasonings, and Heinz Ketchup AND Relish!!! Many of these items we have not seen since leaving California, and that includes Mexico and New Zealand! No, there is no canned chicken, beef jerky, albacore tuna, Bisquick, Wheat Thins or Cheez-Its!!!
Leaving Suva, we are hoping to head south to visit the island of Kadavu (pronounced Cun-da-vu) where there is supposed to be world-class diving. Redwood Coast, a boat we made the crossing with from Mexico, is currently down there and we look forward to meeting up with them. From there we will head north and see a few more islands before leaving Fiji sometime later this month or early October.
Our plan as of now is to work our way north to the Marshall Islands, located north of the equator. En route we hope to visit some islands such as Tuvalu, Wallis, Futuna and Kiribati (pronounced keer-i-boss). As these are all quite remote places Sally is busy stocking up on provisions while Sam is doing his best to stock up on hardware for the boat.
Sally & Sam
Currently anchored in Suva, Fiji
It's Wednesday, September 27, 2006 and Moana is tied to a mooring in Savu Savu Harbor. There’s been another weather system going through and with it has brought more rain. We were thankful for a couple days of sunshine upon arrival here five days ago We will be leaving Savu Savu tomorrow as this is when our four-month visa expires. We will slowly be making our way through the northern area of Fiji, waiting for a good weather window to officially hop off to another country. Right now the marine forecast is for strong winds and rough seas; not exactly enticing us to leave anytime soon!
We thought you might find it interesting to hear all that leaving Fiji entails for us as we get ready to make our way home. We were talking yesterday about how we have not had to do such a major job of provisioning the boat since leaving Mexico for the Marquesas some 18 months ago. Fiji is the last place for us to acquire a lot of boat and food supplies for quite a while. Islands such as Wallis, Futuna, Tuvalu and Kiribati are quite isolated with supply ships only visiting occasionally and with the most basic of supplies. So we really need to have most of what we need on board with us until we reach the Marshall Islands. That said, we don’t know exactly when we will be in the Marshall Islands. It could be six weeks or three months. It just depends on weather. If we have a good weather window and can make enough easting, we will visit Wallis and/or Futuna. Heck, we may even visit Western Samoa! However, if the wind is too close on the nose we will bypass those points and make our way to Tuvalu and/or the Kiribati. Then, depending on length of visa, weather, access to water, etc. we will spend some time exploring those islands. So, as always, our plans are set in Jell-O,
While in Suva we did many projects including multiple trips to Cost-U-Less and the Yacht Shop. We also acquired our visas to visit the Kiribati Islands. Sally made a couple final trips to the Laundromat, taking advantage of a machine to wash our sheets in lieu of hand-washing those mammoth pieces of material. Sam enjoyed some extended time at the internet; a real luxury in the South Pacific!
En route to our final Fiji port of entry, Savu Savu, we stopped off for a week at Makogai Island (pronounced mah-con-guy). It is the site of a former Leper Colony with a hospital. The Lepers and the operation moved to Suva in 1979. Today Makogai is an oceanography research station. They have huge concrete tanks ashore for raising giant clams and sea turtles. They transplant the clams into the bay when they get bigger and they do get quite large - four feet long or greater. The area had excellent snorkeling and diving with live reefs everywhere. We saw the biggest angel fish ever (like three times their “normal” size), along with amazing soft corals and nudibranches in all hues of the rainbow. We saw sea turtles, a black-tip reef shark, Napoleon fish, lobster, eel, tons of Nemos (ie. clown fish) etc, etc, etc. Sally found a perfect nautilus shell while combing the beaches (you can read a little about these guys at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nautilus).
The anchorage is small and we shared it with only one other boat. It's one of those idyllic places where we were surrounded by turquoise waters, live coral and white beaches. Our second day there (we literally slept most of our first day there after doing an unexpected overnight passage to arrive there in the early morning) we went over to meet the crew on Vahalla. Aboard were Donald, Kathleen and 25 y/o son, Shay. This couple is originally from Northern California but while cruising in the 70s they ended up in New Zealand where they took permanent residence. Both of their children are 100% Kiwi! We had them over to our boat on several occasions. Aboard Moana they enjoyed real coffee (as opposed to the instant they sell here), Bisquick coffee cake, s’mores (with real Honeymaid graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey’s dark chocolate), and an introduction to the movie, “Captain Ron”. They had us over for dinner and delivered freshly caught fish to our boat. We so enjoyed our time with them snorkeling, shelling, fishing, and just hanging out together. True to cruising style, we were able to persuade them to stay another day to hang out with us. I think the promise of s’mores may have had something to do with it! J As an aside, we must add a “thank you” right now to our guests who brought wonderful provisions that have allowed us and other cruisers to enjoy some of the “culinary” comforts of home.
From Makogai we had a wild sail to Savu Savu. With winds hovering in the 25 knot range we were frequently showered, sometimes doused, with salt water. With a double-reefed main and jib, we were sailing at speeds in the 6 knot range, with occasional speeds reaching into the 9 knot range. It was quite a ride! During this passage we saw a lot of debris in the water. As it washed aboard we discovered that this debris was in fact lava rock from an underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga. It was pretty crazy! Some boats were actually having issues with these rocks getting sucked up into engine intakes and head intakes. One boat had paint scraped off from its hull. Thankfully we didn't have any issues; just a sprinkling of souvenirs across the deck.
Once arriving in Savu Savu we made our list of “to dos’ before leaving the country. The list included: checking-in with customs, filling all of our tanks (propane, water, air, gas, diesel), provisioning at the supermarket, yacht shop, hardware store, market, and meat shop, visiting the internet to do a gazillion things, doing laundry (a whole day affair by hand), washing all produce before stowing below, completing boat projects necessary for a longer passage, and finally, visiting customs and immigration to check out of the country. (Have we ever mentioned this cruising thing is not just all fun and games?) We have done a pretty good job with the list and are actually getting a bit eager and excited to continue on with our journey north. Now if only the weather would cooperate!!!
Sally & Sam
Currently moored in Savu Savu Bay, Fiji
For those of you with Google Earth here are the coordinates for our mooring in Savu Savu:
16° 46.68' South
179° 20.17' East
and here was our anchorage in Makogai:
17° 26.51' South
178° 57.14' east
Update #33 - Leaving Fiji
Greetings from…well, let’s just say we're out of Fiji. Our next e-mail will give you the outcome of where the winds and seas brought us. For now, in an effort to keep from sending you a book, we will update you on our last days in Fiji, after checking out of the country.
We checked out of Fiji on our Visa expiration date, September 28th. From there we started to make our way northeast in order to get to a good jump off point for either Wallis Island or Tuvalu. Of course we were battling either no wind or wind from exactly where we wanted to go so we slowly made our way, hopping from anchorage to anchorage. We had over 70 miles to cover (the distance from San Diego to Catalina) to make it to the tip of Fiji.
Our friends on Vahalla, whom we mentioned in our last email, had encouraged us to stop by Nasau Bay for the sole reason of meeting a man named Bob. “What about Bob,” you asked? (A great movie, by the way! My therapist friends would especially enjoy it!) Well, let me try to describe him.
We were greeted by waves from a man and a boy upon entering Nasau Bay and were directed to where we should anchor. After quite a challenging passage and anchoring session (anyone who has ever been on Moana when we're anchoring knows what I'm talking about), which required navigating MANY reefs and then throwing out a bow and stern anchor to hold us in a very narrow area, we hunkered down for the evening. The next morning it was our intention to go ashore to meet this infamous Fijian named Bob. Very unusual for Fiji, when we awoke in the morning, it was pouring! (Can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?) Every time Sam tried to go outside to blow up the dinghy and launch it, he’d be greeted by yet another round of rain. Thus, he planted himself in front of the Play Station to occupy his mind and try to forget that a tropical place really can be not only rainy but cold. After six days of being boat-bound, I was eager to go ashore. I went up top to survey the conditions and determine if there was any relief in sight. What I discovered when I went up top was the beauty of the majestic mountains surrounding us. In addition, I saw a man paddling towards Moana in his kayak, one that appeared to be carrying more weight than just this lone Fijian.
I called to Sam and he came up top. Bob appeared with a big smile and welcomed us. I slyly asked, “Are you Bob?” His head tilted curiously to the side and I explained that we had met Valhalla en route to Nasau Bay. At the mention of Valhalla his face lit up. With him, Bob had brought a HUGE stalk of bananas, a bunch of papayas, limes, a couple of sour sops (a tropical fruit), and a pumpkin. Unbeknownst to him, he also brought along a couple of geckos. One we decided to keep as a pet, figuring he’d be good for eating any live things that shouldn't be on Moana. The other I rejected as he was much bigger and thicker than the other guy. Bob followed him around the hull of our boat with his paddle until the big gecko finally conceded and returned to the kayak from where he had first been delivered. We invited Bob aboard but he asked that we visit him ashore instead. We, of course, accepted.
Sam launched the dinghy and we made our way ashore. Landing the dinghy was a challenge as there was pumice (volcanic rock) gathered along the shoreline and extending out a few feet. Sam revved the outboard and then cut it, hoping we would coast into shore. A young boy waded through the murky water, grabbed our painter, and pulled us ashore. We later learned that this boy’s name is Mesa, that he was very recently “adopted” by Bob, and is now living with him and his wife. Mesa is around 10 years old (he doesn't know his age) and has never been to school. He speaks no English but we shared many smiles to communicate with one another.
Our time with Bob and Mesa (Bob’s wife was in Suva visiting their daughter) was brief but very special. We had them over to Moana for dinner and celebrated Sam’s 32nd birthday. Bob insisted on cooking the dinner and made a chicken curry. I made pumpkin bread from the pumpkin he gave me and a strawberry cheesecake for dessert as Sam LOVES strawberries and LOVES cheesecake! (Thank you, Gunner Too, for introducing us to Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake last year in Tonga when we celebrated Sam’s birthday together!) The pumpkin bread was quite a novelty as the ingredients included fresh pumpkin, fresh free-range eggs (courtesy of Bob’s hens), and freshly grated ginger. Bob nor Mesa had ever heard of pumpkin being used for bread. The evening was filled with laughter and stories. Mesa fell asleep at the table, apparently feeling quite contented as indicated by his loud snoring. It was a memorable birthday for Sam.
With resistance, the next morning we went ashore to say good-bye to Bob and Mesa. But Bob wouldn't let us go before loading us up with fresh rain water, tomatoes, eggs, pumpkins, papayas, limes, sweet potato and cassava. He also brought me a bouquet plumeria and two hibiscus flowers to put behind my ears. They waved “good-bye” to us, Mesa donning a San Diego T-shirt that we had given him that morning.
We sailed up to Rabi Island (pronounced Rambi), our last anchorage in Fiji. This island is populated by descendents from the Kiribati Islands. It was absolutely beautiful and we were the only boat present. We sailed into the anchorage, enjoyed a calm evening at anchor and prepared the boat for a multiple day passage. The next morning was like a gift to us. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing at a mild 10-15 knots. Pulling up the anchor, we gently sailed out of the cove. As we made our way, sailing around the various reefs, we could see the distinct hues of blue and green in the water. It was a wonderful sending off gift from Fiji and the perfect way to remember our last hours there.
More to come, about the passage and landfall, in our next email.
Sally & Sam
8° 31.19' South
179° 11.50' East