Posted by: procamnz | April 8, 2007

16 September to 11 October 2004

Our trip to Nadi went very well. While waiting for the bus to go to the main road where we needed to catch the bus to Nadi we were offered a ride by one of the local Fijians. He owned a sand blasting business and we had a very interesting discussion with him about business, politics etc. He actually took us to the Lautoka bus terminal where we could get the bus to Nadi rather than waiting on the side of the road hoping that a bus would stop for us. It is so interesting speaking to the locals whether they be Fijians or Indians. The conversation always turns to politics and of course each culture has a different view. Many locals feel that the majority of Fijians are lazy but that a few have thrown off the hold of kava and done very well for themselves. However most Indians appear to be very hard working but say that they are hampered by the system which prevents them owning land and so they get stung by the high land rentals.

Anyway we had a very pleasant day touring the city of Nadi, which is very much a tourist town. The shops sell mostly souvenirs or Palangi (white people) food and clothing. Lots of touts trying to coax you in to their shop. There is also a small market. We also took an 40 cent bus to have a look at Denerau Island which is about 3 Km from Nadi. This is a totally artificial town of hotels and resorts. Not at all our cup of tea but interesting to look at. There is also and exclusive marina there.

On 20 September we left the boat at Vuda point Marina in safe keeping and flew back to NZ for six days. Our youngest daughter, Naomi was having her graduation from university and as proud parents we needed to be there. We had a great but extremely busy few days, just managing to cope with the cold. We had left Nadi when the temperature was 33’C but it was only 10’C when we arrived in Auckland. Although we often find the temperature in the Pacific overwhelming we think we may have become used to the warmth and will find it hard to keep warm when we return to NZ. We also used the time while in NZ to buy some of the things which we were finding impossible to buy in the islands. Therefore our luggage was very overweight on the way back to Fiji but we were lucky and not charged excess baggage.

We returned to the boat at Vuda Point on 25 September and spent the next couple of days stocking up with fresh fruit and vegs at Lautoka. We also spent a day washing and scrubbing the decks which had become filthy from a combination of leaves, bird droppings and soot (from the burnt sugar cane). Then on 1 October we set sail for Musket Cove on the South Western end of Vitu Levu. We had a pleasant sail in sheltered waters, just like the Hauraki Gulf, arriving at about 3.30 PM in time to see the reefs which we had to negotiate on the way in to the sheltered anchorage. At that stage we had decided that we would stay put for a while and relax.

It is a lovely place and you get the total run of the resort. We are enjoying swimming in the pool. Free use of BBQs and wood provided. A $3 bar runs from 11 am until late. Met up with a couple from Cambridge, NZ, and have had several good snorkelling expeditions with them. We also walked to the top of the island – pretty hard going but fantastic views once we made it. Also had sundowners on a 103 ft yacht – the people we had brought a large mat from Savusavu for. They had arranged for 3 containers of medical supplies to go to the hospital in the Lau group and the mat was the thank you card! What a boat. Two 5 cylinder 25 kw gensets and a 10 cylinder main engine – all Mercedes and immaculate. The boat is like nothing we had been on before. It was designed by Ron Holland.

Been pretty busy at Musket cove as the young Israeli couple next to us had their 9.9 Hp outboard motor fall off the back of the dingy while planing. The casting split across both screw holes for the securing bolts. It was quite a way away from the anchorage so I went to tow her back and ended up with me being boat boy while her husband used by dive gear and bottles to find the motor in 15 metres of water. Took 3 bottles of air over two days. he got it all going with a little help from me.

The bigger drama was a boat called Wayfarer (1936) from Dunedin that dragged her anchor in a blow (up to 41 knots from nowhere after several days of less than 10 knots, lasted about 8 hours) in the middle of the night. We were on anchor watch and saw it drifting past us so called on VHF and used the fog horn. They were in bed, got up but were too late to stop it going on the reef. A lot of the guys in the bay including me spent many hours the next day getting it off with expert help from the Fijian guys that work at the resort – turns out that they have done it many times!

We are trying to take things easy for the next week after which we will be waiting for a suitable weather pattern to sail to New Zealand.

Photos to September 2004

Whales at Nuitaputapu

Fire dancers at Apia

Vailimi – Robert Louis Stevenson’s home in Apia


Fish market, Upolo

Windspirit at Wallis Island

Police band at Apia

Rainforest on Upolu

Windspirit at Savusavu

Eastern side of Upolu

1 September to 16 September 2004

Samoa to Wallis Island
We arrived in the French territory of Wallis Island after a rather light and boring passage. We had to motor for the last 12 hours. Until then we were flying our multi purpose sail (poleless spinnaker), the first time on our trip and as you can see we finally got the wind behind the beam after 2000 miles of having ahead of the beam. Well after finally arriving at the entrance to Wallis Island the wind suddenly started blowing 20 knots and the seas built up within a very few minutes. The rain started over the island and the visibility dropped and we had trouble distinguishing the markers. After circling around several times and going in close to the reef we almost decided to head straight for Fiji but finally decided to give it a go and headed in to the pass. Apart from shaking in my (Mary)boots ( which I was not wearing ) and getting a huge wave break over the cockpit and dousing us we finally entered the calm waters of the lagoon. Even inside the lagoon the navigation is tricky, although true to French standards, very well marked, compared to all the other countries we have visited on this trip.

Wallis Island
It was nice to find a safe anchorage especially as it blew up more in the night and we would not have wanted to be out at sea. We went to the port and cleared in with the Gendarmery and Douane (customs)and got our passports stamped. They are very informal and don’t even visit the boat. Then we want to do some sightseeing and expect stay here until the end of the week. If we had arrived a day later we would not have been able to enter the pass as the wind has been 25 knots since we arrived.

On Wednesday we had a great day ashore at Wallis. We need to know more French but everyone was very friendly and helpful and recognising the odd word helps. We printed off a couple of pages of French-English phrases and could point to them as well. Shopping was a challenge as the labelling is all in French. Bought some Baguettes and croissants as well as some French cheeses, pate and French wine. No trouble hitch hiking around the island. It has been blowing 25 knots since we arrived so a bit tiring on the boat and we do not feel that comfortable leaving the boat.

Wallis to Fiji
The trip to Savusavu, Fiji was a pleasure. We arrived in the river on Monday morning after a three day sail from Wallis Island. We made a seven knot average all the way with no motoring. There was a steady 20 -25 knot breeze and the boat just loved it, although the crew got a bit knocked about and bruised because it is hard to move about on a lively boat. Unfortunately we arrived too late to head in to a safe anchorage and at dusk the wind blew up and the sea state really came up. So we had to spend the night sailing 8 miles in one direction and 8 miles in another direction several times until day break and we were able to head in to harbour. Not good for one’s nerves and temper! However it is really lovely here and despite all the information we had received, we had no problems with customs, immigration, etc. They were very pleasant and came out to the boat without us even calling. They even removed their shoes to come on board. Very respectful!

After a great night’s sleep last night and were then ready to start exploring the town, looking for bakeries etc. We also visited the local hospital to collect a mat that we will deliver to Whirlwind, a super yacht that donated two shipping containers of medical supplies to the hospital in the Lau group. The mat was made by the ladies of Lomaloma to express their appreciation of his generosity. We expect to catch up with Whirlwind in Musket Cove soon.

Savusavu to Vuda Point
After an early morning departure from Savusavu on Saturday, we spent three days and two nights getting to Vuda Point. It was another annoying trip with the wind on the nose which ever way we went and then we arrived too late to enter the pass (that gains entry to the west side of Vitu Levu) and had to muck about all night again. That can be quite frustrating but it is too dangerous to enter passes when there is not good light and the distances are such that you just don’t seem to be able to avoid it. It gave us a chance to play with heaving to, which worked quite well – lay about 70 degrees to the wind and slowly fore reached at 1 knot. Had the reefed staysail and heavily reefed main – wind was only 12-15 knots.

Vuda Point
We arrived at Vuda Point marina on Monday and are well settled in. Nice to have the power plugged in and unlimited water available, and being able to just step off the boat to land. It is not really a marina – each boat goes in bow first and has two bow lines to shore and two stern lines to mooring buoys behind with fenders between you and the boats on either side. It was scary coming in and so shallow and narrow.

We had a lovely time at Vuda Point on Tuesday after we were settled into the marina. It is not a true marina but you can get off your boat over the pullpit and water and power are supplied. There is a resort right next to the marina and for $25 everyone on your boat can use their very nice fresh water pool for a week and are free to use their bar, restaurant etc. We have paid for the pool and will have dinner there one evening – most nights they have special price deals. Last night we chatted to an American couple on their honeymoon staying at the resort and then had a shower and a drink (we have AFDs – Alcohol free days – when on passage)and then had lovely fish and chips with a bottle of Chardonnay (supermarket cheapie but cost $25 here). Then back to the boat and crashed – very deep sleep after two nights at sea doing 3 hours on and 3 hours off with the odd drama to get the other one out of bed.

On Wednesday we caught the local bus (90 cents Fijian for 15 km) to Lautoka where we explored the town and did a little grocery shopping. We had a nice Indian vegetarian snack for morning tea. The main market is very good – great selection of fruit, vegetables and fish. Everyone in Lautoka is very friendly. We only saw one or two other white faces all day – not exactly a tourist trap.

On Friday, we intend to get the bus to Nadi for the day – it is apparently very geared up for the tourists, having the international airport there, but should be interesting.

It is incredibly hot – 33C at 6pm and made worse by the lack of any wind – great for sheltering the boat but hell on the people.

We are looking forward to sailing around this western side of Vitu Levu as it is sheltered from the trade winds and has flat seas as it is largely enclosed by a barrier reef.

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