Posting by Barb:
After Mike left I had a week with just Allison. It was kind of nice to have her all to myself. So we rented a car and just did some road trips. Our first stop was a visit to the big city, Suva. It was quite the contrast from cruising the Yasawas. We walked for miles, meandering our way around heavily trafficked sidewalks and made a few stops. The museum was interesting and my favorite exhibit was the double hulled canoe which was used hundred plus years ago to cross oceans with nothing more than one sail, huge oars and a little enclosed deck for inclement weather. We stopped at Albert Park and it was sad to see how run down and dilapidated it had become with fountains devoid of water and overgrown with vegetation. Our highlight of our trip to Suva was the dining experiences. We had a meal at Daikoku, where the chef cooked a dinner in front of us using his acrobatic, culinary skills. We ate at Ashiyana where I experienced the best, authentic Indian cuisine that I have ever had. That is the best Butter Chicken I have ever had. Suva made Allison a little anxious as for the most part it was overcrowded and dirty so we headed back to our quiet little boat after one night.
We spent an afternoon visiting the Sabeto hot springs and mud pools. Once we arrived there we quickly put on our swim suits and covered ourselves with thick mud. We had to wait for the mud to dry before we could wash off. The cleansing process involved dunking ourselves in 3 different pools all heated by a hot spring. The mud is supposed to cleanse and rejuvenate the skin. I am not sure if it did that but we had a lot of fun. We finished the mud bath experience with a $7 traditional Fijian lunch. This included a whole fish, eyes and all, cooked in coconut milk. The vegetables were green Taro leaves and a few pieces of cassava ; all to be eaten with our fingers as cutlery was not provided. So it was eaten in true Fijian fashion. Probably not the best culinary experience but it was definitely a ‘must do’ when in Fiji.
Our last road trip was a visit to Sri Siva Subramaniya, the largest Hindu temple in the Southern hemisphere. We took the guided tour and got a small introduction to Hinduism, the worship of a number of personal gods. It was interesting even if the tour was a little rushed.
I loved and cherished every minute of my time with Allison and it was a tearful good bye. Next visit will hopefully be Christmas in New Zealand with Allison and Dylan!!
August 23 – 25, 2014
17 46.354 S 177 11.090 E
Posting by Barb:
We finally arrived at Musket Cove and we were looking forward to visiting the famous Marina. Most yachties end up going to Musket Cove at some point while cruising Fiji. So we were excited about being here. Anchoring turned out to be quite a feat as there wasn’t much room between the numerous yachts already there and the various, well marked coral reefs. Our first anchorage was fine until the wind changed and our boat swung within a few feet of choral. Nice to be able to look down from the side of the boat and see the reef fish but it was too close for comfort. Our second anchor attempt landed us too close to a large Catamaran that was not happy about having us so near. The third anchorage attempt was a success! We spent an evening at the renowned Musket Cove bar. I don’t know what happened to the cheap beer prices as written in the Fiji compendium because at $8.50 a beer, Musket Cove turned out to be the most expensive beer watering stop of our trip. We spent a day walking the beach and stopped at all the resorts on Malolo Lailai. I think, at this point, we were ‘resorted out’ which most people would say is probably not a bad complaint to have. We didn’t make it to the planned Musket Cove Sunday BBQ as we got an invite to have dinner at ‘Huck’. Heidi was an outstanding host and managed to feed 10 of us with an exceptional feast. Our donation was Denny’s famous Potato Salad which is always a hit. After many bottles of wine, Rum and beer we safely made our way back to our boat. Well truthfully we don’t drink and dinghy so Denny only consumed his favorite drink, diet coke. The next day we spent snorkeling on a nearby beautiful sand bar with some shallow coral. Some of us were feeling a little groggy from the night before so it was a leisurely day in the water. Musket Cove was a little disappointing and we were all ready to sail on. We made a day stop at Kadavu Island so that Allison and Mike could see turtles up close and personal before arriving at their final ‘Cruising Fiji’ destination, back to Vuda Point Marina.
Three fantastic weeks of cruising with Mike and Allison and a lifetime of memories and to sum it all up:
- Sailed and motored over 250 miles including a day with 35 knots of wind
- Experienced 10 different anchorages on 9 different Islands
- Enjoyed the amenities of over 10 Fijian resorts
- Walked many white, untouched by footprint, beaches
- Snorkeled and saw many reef fish and colorful corals
- Swam with 2 meters large Manta rays
- Fished and caught a Dorado, skipjack Tuna and 3 Spanish Mackerels
- Ate in countless, fine restaurants
- Had a few, more than a few socials (Happy and Nappies) with other cruisers
- Hiked a fantastic , ‘lookout’ hike
- Enjoyed a Popcorn and movie night on a big screen outside in the cockpit thanks to our new palm size, energy efficient movie projector.
- Cooked gourmet meals in a little galley
- Visited the big town, Latoka on a local open air bus
- Toured the open air local fruit and vegetable market
- Participated in a Sevu Sevu ceremony
- Drank Kava
- Had a good time in 37 feet of living space called home on Landfall
August 22, 2014
17 43.891 S 177 07.485 E
Posting by Barb:
We left early and headed for the famous Musket Cove Marina. It was a beautiful, calm day. We decided to motor away from the reef and head to open water for a safer, easier motor sail without the constant worry of reefs and rocks. The wind slowly started to pick up and as it got windier and wetter in the cockpit, Allison and Mike decided to head down below. Well the winds continued to increase to 35 knots on the nose so we had to tack to our destination. Denny and I had to don our rain gear and triple reef the main. The reefing resulted in us tearing our main again! Allison was curled in the salon and Mike was doing air time in the v-berth, unable to get out of there. Neither of them could understand how we were still able to move around the in the boat (call it old age and experience). Denny shut off auto pilot, fired up our brand new engine and navigated us through the reef pass with a ship wreck looming next to the opening to remind us not to make any mistakes. We had a pod of dolphins swimming around the boat as we saw white water crashing on the reefs. The dolphins seemed to be there to offer comfort and distraction. I wasn’t worried as it was a large pass and we have a reliable brand new engine and Denny at the helm. Once we passed the reef the swell was smaller but the wind still howled. We knew we couldn’t make it to Musket Cove so we managed to anchor off Castaway Island, just in time as the sun was setting and the wind was settling down. It may not have been a pleasant sailing experience but it was an experience. I think Mike and Ally got a new appreciation for what sailing is about and it is not all fair winds!!
Castaway Resort turned out to be a great anchorage spot. We went for the lunch buffet and went back for seconds, thirds, fourths…. It had a great salad bar, BBQ meat, pastas and a variety of meat casseroles and desserts including cheesecakes. So we ate and ate and then relaxed by the beautiful pool. Even Denny had a little snooze by the pool!
August 21, 2014
17 27.500 S 177 02.545 E
Posting by Barb:
Onwards, on a southerly track to Navadra. It was the second time for Denny and me, but we love Navadra. Each time we snorkel there we see something different. Unfortunately most times I don’t have my underwater camera. In addition to the abundant reef fish, I have swum with little turtles; saw a shark taking a snooze on the sandy bottom, had a staring contest with 2 octopuses, was tempted to bring a crayfish home for supper, and floated along with a little Napoleon fish (little for Napoleon but a big fish). So it is a favorite snorkeling ground for us!! While we were there a couple of super yachts dropped in, Juliette and Ethereal (190 ft and considered one of the 7 world’s finest yachts. Sun microsystem cofounder, Bill Joy, paid 50 million for this yacht. Juliette is a sister ship. Check it out on google). They had a hard time anchoring in the small Navadra anchorage. In the middle of the night we woke up to shouts and when we looked out we saw that Ethereal had swung with the wind into a nearby Catamaran and large fenders were brought out to keep the Catamaran from damaging the super yacht. Luckily for the Catamaran, Ethereal anchored last and was therefore responsible for keeping a safe distance. Having to fix a ‘nick’ on a $50 million dollar yacht would not be a ‘cake walk’ insurance claim. We enjoyed our first BBQ on board. Such a treat to sit in the cockpit of our little boat and be able to smell the cooking of meat on the grill while we watch the sun setting beyond a couple of 30++ million dollar yachts. No matter what size yacht we arrive in the snorkeling, beach and sunset is the same. Fantastic!!!
August 19 – August 20, 2014
17 16.693 S 177 06.235 E
Posting by Barb:
Our next anchorage was at Waya, Octopus Resort. It was the second time for Denny and me so Mike and Ally took the dinghy and headed into shore. Dinghy handling is something they had to learn along with knot tying. We emphasized that it was their responsibility to ensure that the dinghy was safe, basically our only mode of transportation off the boat. They enjoyed the pool at the Octopus resort, we joined them for lunch and Happy hour drinks. It was a great place to relax. Allison even went in for an early hour of Yoga. We hiked over the hill to the village on the northern bay and met Nathan, who agreed to take us on the 3 hour return hike to the point that overlooks the Northern Yasawas. We had heard that it was a tough hike so we wanted to do it early enough so that we avoided the hot, hot mid-day sun. So we agreed to meet him at 7 in the morning. So 6:30 the next day we were in the dinghy heading to shore.
At 7 we were by the village and met up with Nathan. It was a tough hike. It was very hard for Denny and I to keep up with the 20 something young ones and Nathan who ran up hill barefoot. We found it easier if they went ahead and we could just go at our own pace. We tracked through pig farms, plantations, climbed some rock outcroppings and continued up and up hill for an hour. It was tough!! We had to do a 50 foot climb up a steep rock incline to get to the very top and what a view we had. Let the pictures on our photo album speak for themselves. Allison did say that was also a highlight for her.
17 07.055 S 177 12.927 E
Posting by Barb:
From Blue Lagoon we made our way south and anchored at a little, tired resort. It offered a great deck for the sunset views. The resort may have been a little run down but the staff working there made up for it. They played with
the children of the resort patrons as if they were their own children. We loved the bartender ‘Missy’ who was full of life, love and laughter. He didn’t even flinch when we inadvertently left without paying and had dinghy back after we realized the tab had been
left unpaid. The highlight for Mike and Ally was the Kava ceremony. Sadly, they weren’t going to experience Kava through any Sevu Sevu ceremony so they were invited to participate along with resort patrons. There wasn’t even a glint of concern that we were not staying at the resort but they welcomed our presence. Mike and Allison hung around the kava bowl for second, thirds, fourths… It did numb the lips and tongue with the
initial drink. Other than that I felt no other side effect until we went to sleep. Yes, we all had a fantastic sleep full of dreams and Allison was lethargic all of the next day. Kava hangover!!
We did some snorkeling here as we have done at most all anchorages but here we saw the large clams. That was a treat as well!
Our large clam
August 16 – 17, 2014
16 56.797 S 177 22.028 E
Posting by Barb:
From the caves we went to the location where the rest of Blue Lagoon movie was filmed. It is a very, calm anchorage, which is hard to find in the Yasawas. The first night there we booked ourselves in for a Fijian dinner and Fire Dance show at a nearby resort. The reservation included a water taxi ride to and from the resort. We got all dressed up and waited for taxi. We waited and waited and then came to the realization that it was going to be a ‘no show’. As an alternate plan we decided to go for dinner at the Nanuya resort. We stopped to say hi to our new found friends, cruisers on the yacht from Mexico, Don Leon, super nice people. They invited us to come aboard. They offered Mike and Allison Mezcal, a cheaper form of tequila and that was the end of going anywhere. Pepe brought out a cigar for Mike and from that point Mike referred to Pepe as his buddy and gave him the warm Newfoundland buddy hug.
We did a quick visit of the resort on Nanuya and had a great burger lunch which was accompanied with cold greasy French fries. One of the recommended hikes was the cross island tour which took us through some of the plantations and the final destination was Lo’s tea House, famous for appearing in Lonely planet. We had cold, expensive drinks and banana bread (a little dry and probably day old leftovers from the batch made for the tourists on the Blue Lagoon cruise ship which had just left).
On Sunday we went to the church service at nearby village of Sese on Matacawa Levu. They had the usual harmonious singing and then there were a couple of testimonials by 2 Fiji ex-pats (chief’s son working for the UN in NY and a close relative to the chief, enlisted in the army and stationed in Afghanistan). They were there to be with the chief who had a stroke and was not doing well. They did the testimonials in English (for us) and in Fijian which resulted in a much longer church service. I am not sure the locals, especially the kids who were home for a school holiday appreciated the extension of the normally 1 hour service to 2 ½ hours so that we could understand the testimonials. I am not sure Mike and Allison quite appreciated it either due to the slight hangover they had. The theme of the service was that although the village was very poor, anybody can do great things with ‘hard work’. I am not sure the well-known“it’s Fiji time” culture quite fit the vision of these extraordinary people. But it was great that our crew, the ‘young ones’, could experience the musicality of the Fijian people who sing in harmony without any instruments, although some much louder than others!
August 14 – 15, 2014
16 50.825 S 177 28.059 E
Posting by Barb:
Sawa-I-Lau was the most northerly anchorage for this trip. The main attraction was the caves which had been a film location for the 1980’s movie the ‘Blue Lagoon’, with Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. I confess, Denny and I did watch the simply awful movie to appreciate the Blue Lagoon scenery and the caves that we would visit in Fiji. Not something I would recommend anybody do as it is a painful 2 hours of movie time. We did our first and only Sevu Sevu. We went to the town closest to the caves but it turned that it was not the town that administers the caves. It was Mike’s and Allison’s first and only Sevu Sevu and it was a disappointment. The chief, who was lying down on his mat, barely sat up to greet us, clapped once and then told us we were welcome and that we could go. He wasn’t even interested or bothered with some cordial small talk. It is definitely a tradition that is dying. We walked around a little and took pictures of the interesting limestone formations.
Early in the morning we got ready to visit the caves. We waited for the hoardes of tourist boats to leave and then headed in when it was a little quieter. It cost $100 Fijian for the four of us to enter the caves and get a guided tour. The first cave had lots of light and we took pictures of ourselves of the rock ledge where the ‘sexually explicit’ Blue Lagoon scene was filmed! The second cave required a 10 – 20 second snorkel under water to the next cave that had no natural light. So that represents two things that give me anxiety, dark tight spaces and an underwater snorkel without being able to pop up for air at a whim. Thanks to Ally, Mike and Denny’s encouragement I faced my apprehension and did the short underwater journey to the adjacent cave. A guide was there at both ends and all I had to do was follow the light at the other end. It was worth it to swim in the dark, eerie cave that has never seen sunlight. Another snorkeling experience for all of us!!
August 9, 2014 – August 11, 2014
Vuda Point Marina
17 40.842 S 177 23.204 E
Posting by Barb:
As Denny will attest to, I have been working myself up to a frenzy of excitement as the BIG day approached. And it finally arrived!! We picked up ‘my little girl’ and her boyfriend at Nadi airport and we had them all to ourselves for 3-4 weeks. We gave them a couple of days at Vuda Point Marina to get some rest and climatize to the beautiful Fiji weather. They spent a couple of hours lounging at the ‘First Landing’ Resort next to the marina. They came with us on the open air local bus to the big city ‘Latoka’ to help us provision for the couple of weeks. They enjoyed the wining and dining with , Heidi, Joe and Joe’s son Mark, the crew of Huck (another Shannon yacht). On Sunday ,August 10th we pulled out of the marina and headed for a couple of weeks cruising in the Yasawas. It was a delight to see the wonder and pure joy on Allison’s and Mike’s face as the boat left the safe harbor and out to the island strewn sea of Fiji. Blue, turquoise water peppered with the small white, sandy islands of the Mamanukas. It would be a 6 hour sail to the first anchorage and it would just be a quick overnight to our next destination. Unfortunately Ally did get a little seasick but she conquered it and got her sea legs after 3 to 4 days of sailing.