d 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490 Najad 490
1st Report for 2006:
New Zealand to Fiji
(March 23rd - July 9th)
As you probably read in the last report, "Taniwani" spent some time on the dry at Riverside Drive Marina in Whangarei, while we went home for Christmas and all of January. And then Beate and Harald toured New Zealand by car until early March. Here on "Taniwani's" website we just drop a few pictures of this nice time in a very beautiful country:
Back on Board
this nice tour it was time to look after "Taniwani" again and get the boat ready
and back into the water. Unfortunately many of the jobs we had done by local
outfits in Whangarei, that were meant to improve and maintain
"Taniwani", had been
done very poorly and in some cases like the deck, more damage than good had been
done. Had we known this before, we would have delayed most of these jobs for
some more years.
all this delays it was not before March 23rd that we could leave Whangarei. We
waited for high tide in the early afternoon and then slowly motored down the
winding river and to Urquharts Bay, right before coming out into the open sea,
where we anchored for the night.
next day was Harald's birthday and our first sailing day in this year. It was a
good day, nice wind and perfect sailing out to the Great Barrier Island, some 40
miles off shore. And for a change we were really happy with the fine job that
Pelle, the Swedish sail maker in Whangarei, had done maintaining our sails and the rig
tuning, Harald had done himself.
Great Barrier Island turned out to be another really pretty place and the area around Port Fitzroy has a number of land locked bays all well sheltered, with just two small entrances to the whole area. This was really good as we were expecting bad weather to move in, in a day or two.
Before the torrential rain and storm hit, we had a pleasant day exploring just a small part of the island. Then as the weather hit we couldn't leave the boat for two days as it was raining heavily and the wind went up to 60 knots. "Taniwani" seemed to lay happily to our trusted and heavy anchor gear while one of the big game fishing boats drifted by and ended up in the oyster farm at the end of the bay. It was the roughest night we ever had at anchor and in some of the gusts "Taniwani", a very stiff boat by comparison, leaned over enough that one had to worry about the wine glasses falling over.
storm has its end and so this one calmed down after three days so that we could
think about heading south to Auckland. It hasn't been our plan to go there by
boat again, but we were phoned that our life raft that we had delivered for
servicing three months earlier was finally ready.
The following day then brought us to Auckland which looks really fantastic when approaching from the sea. We were surprised to learn that no berths are available when we called on the radio. Both Westhaven and Viaduct Harbour claimed they are full and so we were lucky, that Bayswater, just two miles across from Auckland had space for us. It turned out the best choice anyway with a overwhelming view of the Auckland skyline and a convenient ferry service right into the heart of the city.
Next day we took the ferry into town and since we expected to carry our life raft all the way from Westhaven to the Ferry terminal, some two kilometers, we brought along our little foldable "beach trolley". Our plan was to pick up the life raft and then shop some fresh produce and head back to Bayswater. But when we arrived at the place that serviced our life raft, we were told it wasn't quite ready and we should come back around 4 pm to pick it up.
So we strolled through the city of Auckland, some of the parks and some of the shops for many hours and finally, late in the day were able to pick up the life raft. It was late Friday and people were getting ready for the weekend. Many small boats heading out of the harbor. We too wanted to leave next morning and sail to one of the little islands near Auckland to wait for better conditions to go north again.
Saturday morning together with many locals we headed out of Auckland, having a last look at the beautiful skyline. It was also then that we discovered that our life raft, which now rested in its bracket on deck, had sprung open. Not that it inflated, but it still cracked the container wide open as apparently the glue holding the sealing rubber tape hadn't quite cured. We thought on bringing it back on Monday but then gave up on the idea and decided to help ourselves. It was just the topping of the New Zealand series of jobs poorly done.
Instead we had a nice, if a bit rainy, weekend at the Putiki Bay on Waikeke Island, not far from Auckland.
We spent the weekend relaxing, doing some small jobs on the boat and yes, swimming in the cold water!
When on Monday the wind eased to some 5 knots, still from the northwest, we decided to use the opportunity and motorsail north as far as possible.
On that trip we were checked twice by New Zealand's customs. First an airplane circled us and then called us on the radio and interrogated us. Three hours later we see a motor boat coming up from behind and once it had caught up with us, had the same list of questions.
we already knew from last year, and like last year we anchored outside the
marina and went ashore for a simple dinner. And like last year we were soaked by
late evening rain on the way back. What was different than last year was, that
now a small New Zealand Navy patrol ship anchored very close to us and a second
one rafted up to it. As soon as they had anchored, the RIB was lowered and a
number of them went fishing, after that they had a social evening on their aft deck. They
didn't have their wake-up call until seven in the morning, when we could hear
the electronic imitation of a boat whistle and the call: Wakey, wakey ! By that
time we were already enjoying our breakfast.
Our next stop up the coast was not so far and also well known from last year: The Whangamumu Bay, with some remains of an old whaling station and no road connection. This time there are already two boats anchored in the large bay and shortly after we anchored, our Navy friends from last night came in and anchored as well. An hour later their rib was heading for us and we thought, the captain wanted to invite us for a beer. But it wasn't that, they just had the same list of questions for us as the customs plane and boat the other day. Seems like there are days or weeks where New Zealand is particularly well guarded!
The next day brought us back into the Bay of Islands and again to a place well known: Urupukapuka Bay. We quite like the place and it is also the first decent anchorage in the Bay of Islands when coming from the south. We spent a lazy afternoon and night there and called Opua Marina to reserve a place for the next day. The marina is quite busy and with plenty of local demand, they do not have very many visitor berths. For our size there was nothing so we had to upgrade to an 18m berth. But at some € 17.-, that is still quite affordable when compared to other countries.
We were also looking forward to eating ashore as somehow we found the food served in the Bay of Islands better than anywhere else in NZ. That is true for the relatively simple food at the yacht club, as well as for the restaurant in Opua and some places in Paihia.
With all the trouble we had in Whangarei with the replacement of our old and worn dodger, we there didn't dare to ask for the addition of removable sun-shades to cover the see-through parts of it. Here in Opua are Titan Canvas makers and they are members of the same Ocean Cruising Club as we, so we dared a try there. It worked out fine and was done in a day and we are very glad we got them.
For the weekend and for Monday we rented a car at ripp-off price, but then it is the only place in Opua and we wanted to see Eva's art exhibition and vernissage at the Whangarei Cruising Club on Saturday. Eva, Even and their three kids we had first met in the San Blas islands. They sailed their nice Nicholson 60 called "3t", along the same route as we and we had met very often. "3t" was sold to an Australian family just before Christmas and the family is currently grounded, with Even working at a ships joinery and Eva further refining her artistic talent.
So on Saturday, April 8th, you could see the many paintings she made during their journey and off course, if you liked some, buy some. Eva is a real talent and so we liked and bought four of her pictures. Three as gifts and one for "Taniwani". It was a nice get together of many of us who had come the same way last year. For some of them New Zealand is the current end of the trip, some will go on in various directions.
the afternoon, the marine industry of Whangarei, (some of whose members we were
not particularly pleased with), organized a farewell party for the cruisers who
had like us "wintered" there. It was the best Maori show we had seen
After a more lazy Sunday, we also needed the car on Monday to drive down to Gulf Harbour, where Wetnose had wintered. Like for many others, the journey of the Wetnose family also ended in New Zealand and since their arrival Wetnose had been on the market. Now a seriously interested buyer was flying in from the States and Wolfgang came back from Germany to finalize the deal. As always he was so nice to carry some of our mail and spares and so we met on Wetnose for a last time. "Taniwani" inherited a good deal of medicine and a few spares from Wetnose's vast supply.
Wolfgang had some days of trials and negotiations ahead, but promised to come up to Opua towards the end of the week, for a last nice dinner.
Back in Opua we found our sun covers done and the new LED-Navlights had also arrived, so that we could leave the marina for a few days out at anchor. So we first went to Motutua Island for the night and the next day visited the extremely popular Roberton Island, which is pictured on any tourist prospectus of the Bay of Islands.
We hit a less busy time and enjoyed the indeed very pretty island, with its hills from where you can overlook the bay and with its small lagoons that almost separate the island in many. Then for the night we went back out to our favorite Urupukapuka anchorage, where we met up with Kikki and Henry from ENDELIG, who were coming up north for a week of sailing with friends.
Their plan was to sail here for a week with their friends and then rush back down to Whangarei, leave Endelig there and return by bus to Opua to sail with us to Fiji. This idea had come up one evening, when Henry explained that they would leave Endelig in NZ till October and return to England for several months.
After that they would go straight to Australia, where we would most likely meet up again. Since they were going to miss Fiji and some other places, we offered them to visit us in Fiji for some time. The answer was: "Would you mind if we sailed there with you?" Off course not. So they booked a flight back to NZ from Fiji for May 13th, and they would be ready to join us in Opua by April 20th, the rest was open and up to the weather.
Well, while Endelig moved on to pick up their friends, we sailed to Russel and anchored there for a night before going back to the marina to await Wolfgang. A last nice dinner with Wolfgang in Paihia, and then a few days for last preparations and "Taniwani" was ready for the ocean again.
Now, deep into autumn, the weather in New Zealand was getting colder and wetter every day. Time had come to heating the boat in the morning and we were eager to leave for some warmer climate. But, up in the tropics, the cyclone season wasn't clearly over and cyclone Monica had just been born in the Coral Sea, now heading towards Australia. General wisdom says that beginning of May is safe and that is what also Bob McDavit, the local weather guru suggests in general.
But with the idea of keeping an alert eye on the cyclone situation and getting way out of its way if one developed, we felt that we could start if the weather otherwise looked favorable. And in fact it did look quite good and we would have started on April 18th, but off course were to wait a bit for Henry and Kikki. When they arrived on the 20th, the weather outlook was still good, maybe with not enough wind towards the end of our trip, and so we decided to go right away. Only two hours after Kikki and Henry arrived, we were at the fuel dock topping up duty free and then by 4 pm we were under way.
Beate had worked out a watch schedule that is too complicated to describe here, but seemed to suit everybody quite well. One of its features was that every day you'd have different watches so that everybody could experience things like sun rise and it was designed to have shorter watches (2 hrs) at night time and longer watches (3 hrs) during the day. With four people life gets very relaxed anyway and everybody was quite happy. We also had rolling cooking assignments, which meant interesting cooking competitions.
started with a 20 knot wind from east or slightly north of east and made quite
good progress into the first night, with some more beating and some more wind
the next day. That day both Beate and Harald felt a bit seasick, but not too bad
and had to get used to the life at sea again. Kikki had taken some medicine and
Henry was doing just fine anyway.
By Saturday, our third day out everybody was fine and we had plenty of wind, switched to the stay sail and reefed main.
we eventually reverted to reefed Genoa,
the reefing line of the staysail went off the drum after furling it, and half
the sail unfurled again before we could stop it.
Harald, applying a temporary fix to the problem was well soaked on the foredeck. But this was a small problem compared to what the next day had in store for us:
While the wind picked up further on Sunday and went into the 30 knot+ range, a hose came off the holding tank, which then unloaded its flavored content all through the engine room, mostly into the separate not self draining bilge under engine and generator. Harald must have been well beyond his initial slight sea sickness, as he was able to clean out the mess without too much trouble.
By that Sunday night we had logged 575 miles, about half the distance to Savusavu our destination. That was three days and 8 hours, and pretty much the average going for "Taniwani" in the 170+ miles per day range. But it wasn't to last and Monday had very light wind from exactly behind for us. So it was sailing with Gennaker and slow sailing - we only managed 138 miles. An all time low for "Taniwani" that we would actually beat again on that trip.
no reason to complain too much. It was now quite smooth, with just some old
swell remaining and we just had a good time reading, talking or playing Canasta.
And while on this Monday we could still sail, the Tuesday was even worse and we
motored for 22 hours.
The Thursday started similar with the engine helping until 3 pm, at which point it was clear that we would reach Savusavu in the middle of the night and we reverted to very slow sailing and Canasta playing well into the night, while gently passing between reefs and islands.
At day break we were right at the cape that we needed to round to enter into Savusavu bay and by half past seven we were tied up on a mooring of Copra Shed Marina.
The folks from the marina automatically informed the various authorities of our
arrival and soon a young lady was brought out to our boat to perform the
After we had been declared safe to deal with, several other officials were brought out to "Taniwani" and a huge amount of paperwork was done relatively quickly.
The people couldn't have been more friendly and they even
apologized for the vast stack of paper form that needed to be filled out.
These forms are obviously not designed to clear in the average sailing yacht and one has to answer question like: "Did you observe any unusual death rate amongst the rats on board?"
we had been told, Savusavu is the best place to enter Fiji, red tape is kept at
a minimum, a cruising permit for all islands except for the Lau group is quickly
organized, (1 day), by the Marina.
The little friendly town has everything you need and a wonderful market with fresh produce, all in short walking distance from the marina. Only the climate is something to get used to: When we arrived it was still very hot, and too much of a contrast to New Zealand where it had been getting quite cold before we left.
Well, you have the choice to stay longer in New Zealand and experience even colder and uglier weather, but arrive in a Fiji that has cooled down a bit. We were very early, and the marina in Savusavu celebrated us as the first boat of this season offering us free beer at the yacht club bar.
we spent a relaxed weekend in Savusavu, before moving out late on Monday, just
to the cape three miles away for some snorkeling. And snorkeling in water that
is 31 centigrade warm was another new experience.
next day we sailed the 30 miles across to Koro Island where we anchored at the
northern shore and then went to check out the village and try our first Sevusevu.
In Fiji, you cannot simply go and anchor at places, swim and dive, or explore
the land without first getting permission from the chief of the nearest village.
Visiting the chief and bringing him a bundle of Kava roots is tradition and the
whole procedure is called Sevusevu.
is not as easy as one would expect, since it can be a challenge to get to the
village. Most of the shoreline is framed by what is called a fringing reef. Many
dry out at low tide, but even at high tide it can be difficult to get ashore. We
had to wade through half foot deep water for some 100 yards before reaching the
shore where a very friendly man was patiently waiting for us and then walked us
through the village to the hut of the chief.
the chief now sitting down across from you and the rule that you should not be
higher up then the chief, you need to kind of crawl towards the chief to present
your Sevusevu, which you lay down in front of him.
If he picks it up, which he
almost certainly does, he has accepted your gift and you are now welcome to his
land and village. He then goes on to give a talk in Fijian language saying
something like, you who brought this valuable gift, are most welcome and you
should feel at home in the village, he now feels responsible for your well being
first chief to meet, was a skinny and friendly looking old man. Aside of the
Kava we also gave him a "Maria Theresia Thaler" a classic old Austrian
silver coin and some "Taniwani" collectables. And so the chief felt that he wanted
to walk us through his village to the central meeting place where the men are
relaxing at the end of the day drinking their Kava. In this village the place
was beneath the quite large church.
So we had our cups of Kava and some nice small talk and an invitation by the headmaster to visit the school the next day. And this we did:
The next morning
the tide was much more favorable and we could drive the dinghy all the way to
the village where somebody took it from us and anchored it. The school is a
short walk outside the village as it is shared with the next village. We find several buildings hosting classes
from kindergarten up to the 15 to 16 year old students.
find the headmaster teaching that last grade and were immediately invited into
the classroom. We were impressed by nice and attentive kids, very interested to hear
where we came from and finally the singing they offered was simply fantastic. Now we had
to visit every class or they would have been disappointed, and everywhere the
same lovely kids, very well behaved but curious. Again each class gave a singing
or dancing performance.
We left some gifts for the school and after Harald had looked at the schools broken lawnmower, we all strolled back to the village said good bye to everybody and took off to sail to our next destination, the island of Makogai.
surrounded by an extensive reef and there are just two passes to enter. We went
for the safer one at the northwestern side of the reef, a 4 mile detour.
the 1960ies Makogai was a leper colony with some 5000 infected people, now a few
people live here to maintain the clam farm that the government had installed to
grow their beautiful and big clams and set them out in the islands. The folks
make use of some of the remaining buildings of the leper colony. As it was
already late, we postponed the visit to the next morning.
After breakfast only Kikki and Henry went ashore for a short visit, Beate and Harald thought they would come back here anyway and then have some more time available. We didn't want to spend too much time here, since we had quite a list of places that we hoped to visit while Kikki and Henry were on board and that day we wanted to move on to Levuka. Leaving the Makogai lagoon, just before going through the critical pass, we caught a big Wahoo.
on the island of Ovalau was the first capital of Fiji and it has retained some
of that old colonial charm.
We had a very nice stroll through the streets and in the old country club beckoned to a table with two local guys who apparently already had a few drinks. Well, that way we didn't have to do a lot of talking and learned a few interesting things about Fiji.
Our very nice dinner we
then had at the "Whale Tale" a restaurant highly recommended in the
The next day was different as for the first time we moved between outer reefs and the main island for a whole day. It was a day without wind and so we just motored, but were quite busy confirming chart and position all the time with bearings, transits and radar. And just as we thought the charts were quite spot on we entered a new chart area and found it off the GPS position by half a mile - means you can never drop your vigilance here unless you cruise in an area that you have been through before. We use all charts that we can get our hands on and if they disagree, one is certainly warned, but in this case three different charts all based on the same BA chart were agreeing. The other problem is that one cannot be sure all reefs are actually charted and so it is wise to stick to the routes recommended in the old charts, assuming many ships have done the same before.
After about 50 miles in this style we reached Nananu-I-Take where we anchored for the night. This is an island at the northernmost corner of Viti-Levu, the big island, and it was the first place we saw in Fiji that had several tourist developments. Especially the Island north of our anchorage called Nananu-I-Ra has several Resorts.
The next morning we carefully worked our way out through the reef passage into the Bligh Water, a relatively deep area about 50 by 25 miles wide, but framed by reefs all around. Bligh Water was named after Captain Bligh and his crew, who by then were in their open boat heading westwards. Bligh and his crew were chased by Fijian war canoes through the treacherous, coral-strewn waters to the north of Viti Levu and narrowly escaped death at the hand of local cannibal warriors. It is interesting to note that Bligh still managed to take soundings for their lordships of the Admiralty during this dramatic chase! Not being chased, we had some nice reef free sailing for some 25 miles northward to the island of Yadua. There again a careful entry into the reef chain and then into a reef protected bay, called Cukuvou Harbour.
This is a really lovely bay with gorgeous sand beaches and a beautiful coral reef. When we arrived a group of boats just left from the beach which looked like a little camp site. We landed with the dinghy to find out what was going on and were met by a big friendly guy.
He told us that the group had left to spend the Sunday at the village at the other side of the island and just he was left behind to guard their catch. That catch we found to be sea-cucumbers that they collect scuba diving on the off-laying reefs, in a depth of some 30m. They then get cooked in a big kettle, sliced open and dried in the sun. The resulting product they can sell for some F$ 90 (Euro 35.-) a Kilo at the market in Lautoka, from there the stuff goes to china where they pay a yet much higher price.
It is the young men from the village that have to do this hard job and during the week they camp out in this bay, as it is quite a long walk to the village. We gave the nice man a cold beer and a photo of himself and their catch and then enjoyed a wonderful evening in this idyllic anchorage. Despite our slightly accelerated pace through the islands in order to give Kikki and Henry an optimal impression of Fiji, we decided that this was a place where we wanted to spend a full day. We also felt that a long walk over to the village would use up the better part of a day and that we would rather do some scuba diving and snorkeling instead.
so we had a real fine day at anchor doing exactly those things. Late in the
afternoon, the boats with the divers came back in from the village and one came
out to see us. The son of the chief brought us fruits and vegetables and
conveyed the best regards from his father. They were quite happy to come on
board for a cold drink to take back the Kava that we normally would have brought
to the chief as Sevusevu.
Next Pita, the warden of the protected adjacent island of Yadua Tamba dropped by to tell us that it is forbidden to land on that little island, as it hosts a unique species of iguanas, that was once almost extinct. Now he tells us the population is back to some 3000 and they are thinking on setting some out on other islands. At the moment no visitors, other than government approved scientists are allowed on the island. As a government official he is also supposed to check the cruising permits of the visiting yachts, but he doesn't want to see ours. Nowhere in Fiji did we ever have to show it.
morning we weighed anchor at first light and followed our old track back out
through the reefs. Once out again in Bligh Water, we could sail undisturbed for
over 30 miles. We were going westward this time in order to enter into the
northern part of the Yasawa group of islands.
from the East, the reefs start more than ten miles before reaching the islands,
which renders bearings of island ends or the like not very accurate. And,
as usual in these areas, the charts may not correspond with the GPS positions at
all. It is also difficult to accurately determine the necessary GPS correction
if the radar targets are so far off. In the end we took the best possible mix of
position fixing and carefully approached a maybe 300 meters wide, 200
meters deep and 4 miles long pass through the reef chain. From there we aimed
for the opening between the northernmost and the next of the main Yasawa
ended up in one of the most beautiful anchorages we ever have been to. Anchoring
deep (22m) and as close as we could get to an island that looked like a smaller
version of Gibraltar rock. That island called Sawa-I-Lau also houses a
magnificent sand stone cave and the rugged shore line reminded us of Niue.
we went ashore to the village to present our Sevusevu to the chief. This went as
before with the small variation that the chief asked us to see the art and souvenirs
produced by the women of the village. Obviously a consequence of the regularly
visiting tour boats here, and you cannot but buy some little thing, like a shell
or necklace from each of them.
Never the less this was certainly a place to stay another day, if only to check out the sand stone cave. But also the scuba diving at the western end of the passage was rather nice.
south, we skipped the middle part of the Yasawas, called the Blue Lagoon which
we were told was just a bunch of resorts and lots of dead coral.
way south was a complicated path along the eastern side of the islands to a bay
in the south of Naviti Island. In the shallow path between the next island to
the south, one can often see big manta rays we were told. Well, we saw none of
those, but snorkeling there was very nice anyway.
Kikki's and Henry's time was running out and so we sailed through to the
all the way south to the famous Musket Cove. This is one of the few gathering
points of cruising yachts in the islands. If you come to Fiji on your own keel,
you can become a lifetime member for one dollar, and your name will be engraved
on a wooden beam in the pub.
Cove Yacht Club and Musket Cove Resort were founded many years by a fellow
cruiser and OCC member and so the resort is one of the few that welcomes
sailors. We were lucky to arrive on a Thursday, as it is that day of the week
that sailors can enjoy a big dinner buffet and a local dancing show at the
resort. And so we treated ourselves to a decadent evening, before heading to
Vuda Point Marina on the big island the next morning.
it must exist for some ten years now, the marina is on no chart and we had to
search along the coast to find the entrance channel that was cut through the
fringing reef. The marina is a convenient 20 minute cab ride from Nadi
International Airport, and that is why we had chosen it for dropping off our
friends. It is an unusual marina, with a small entrance basin and then a
circular main basin, maybe 100 meters in diameter.
Next day Kikki and Henry left by plane, back to New Zealand, to care about their own boat before returning to the UK until October. Beate and Harald now switched back into a slower mode continuing to explore Fiji.
_/) _/) _/)
we had no particular plan other than being back in Savusavu in about three weeks
to meet up with Mahi-Mahi. A nice cruising family from South Africa who we first
met in the Tuamotus. They were about to leave New Zealand and had offered to
bring a replacement water heater from New Zealand as ours, despite of being good
316 stainless steel, had corroded through and was leaking.
They are also keen divers and Harald was looking for some nice diving company. But there was plenty of time, as Mahi-Mahi wanted to spend at least a week in the Minerva reefs, before continuing on to Fiji.
thought we would use the time to sail south around Viti Levu, (the big island),
and visit the southernmost island of Kadavu and the Great Astrolabe Reef.
after some really hot and almost windless two weeks, we had stronger
southeasterly winds and decided to wait a few days. For that and some relaxing
we left Vuda Point and sailed to the northern side of Malolo. Other than a large
Perini Navi, we were alone up there, despite Malolo being full of resorts. Two
days like that and still strong SE winds, and so we went the five miles around
Malolo to visit Musket Cove again.
This time we became proper members of the yacht club and we met some folks that had just come up from New Zealand with very little wind motoring five days in a row. So maybe we were lucky.
waited another two days for the wind to change, but to no avail and so we decided
to move north around again.
The down side of this is that you end up in the lee
of Viti Levu soon and then there is hardly any wind. But it sounded still better
than beating into 25 knots of wind for a whole day and a whole night to make it
to Kadavu. So we had some very nice and fast sailing for about 20 miles,
but after passing Lautoka it was over and we had to motor through the canals
between island and surrounding reefs for another 30 miles until we anchored for
the night in Vatia Bay on the northwestern shore of Viti Levu. From Lautoka on we were quite alone, to the right the island with very few villages, to the
left extensive reefs... The same was true the next day until we again reached
the area of Nananu-I-Take with its resorts. This time we anchored closer to the
southern island as the wind was blowing very strong from the southeast and was
throwing up quite a chop.
decided for another day here at anchor, so that we could relax a bit and
maintain our anchor windlass which had been acting up lately. Sometimes the
motor didn't want to start unless you slightly turned it by hand before and
since we were carrying a spare motor and numerous parts we thought we'd give it
a major overhaul.
For us cruisers the windlass is a very important piece of equipment that has to work hard almost every day. Here in Fiji one has to anchor in some 20m of water most of the time which means to drop and wind in some 70 m of chain every time - a lot of hard work.
what we thought would take a few hours, took up the whole day. Due to corrosion
like stainless steel screws in aluminum and a bent shaft, it required drills and
angle grinder to virtually cut out some of the old pieces. But it was worth the
effort and all is working fine now.
we moved on, out of the pass that we already knew and across Bligh Water, to the
western end of Vanua Levu, where we anchored in the lee of a beautiful looking
cape, called Lekubi Point. Here we wanted to just hang out and relax for some
days. If you are not in one of the major gathering places like Musket Cove, Vuda
Marina or Savusavu, Fiji feels really remote. We had not seen another yacht
since leaving Musket Cove, and so we were quite surprised to hear
"Erin-Brie" loud and clear on the VHF talking to another boat. It
turned out they were in Savusavu, some 50 miles as the crow flies and across hills.
Normally impossible for a VHF connection.
Then, some time later we hear "Necesse" our Finish friends that we first met in Tenerife and called them. They were not so far away and moving west fast as they had now signed up for the Darwin to Indonesia rally, which meant for them to be in Darwin by mid July. We chatted for a while and wished them a good trip, we will not likely see them again in the near future.
on the radio was "Filia Venti" who heard us talking to
"Necesse" and they were anchored just some 10 miles south of us at the
road village of Nambouwalu. They promised to sail up to our place the next day
and bring some fresh produce from the market. "Filia Venti" is also on
a fester schedule, wanting to go to Thailand this winter, but not as hard pressed
as "Necesse". But we would also see them for the last time and so we
decided that we would sail together for a few days and visit the lovely island
of Yandua again.
day "Filia Venti" turned up bringing fresh vegetables and fruits as
promised and we had a nice fish dinner on board of "Taniwani". Our
sail to Yadua next day was very nice, first with a gentle Genoa only down wind
passage through the reefs of Vanua Levu, and then closer to the wind a real fast
shot along Yadua's north coast and around into the now well known bay of Cukuvou
Harbor. Strangely, three yachts were now entering the bay at almost the same
time: "Taniwani", "Filia Venti", and the Swiss "Canigo"
- all a sudden it was "crowded" and we all met for sundowners on "Taniwani".
we had time to explore the nice island and the next day Heike and Klaus of
joined us for the long march across the island to the village. "Canigo"
chose to move on, after many years in the Pacific they are now ready to get home
quickly. Long before we got started on our hike, the women of the village
already appeared in the bay.
They had come the long way very early to spend the
day fishing with nets in shallow water. We
kept meeting folks from the village along the way, some went fishing, some had
to look after their plantations. Whenever we asked whether we were on the right
path to the village, the answer was: "Sure, just follow the road".
What road?? It was a small footpath and in some areas it was hard to figure out
where it continued.
Anyway, it was a hot day and we had to go uphill, pretty much as high as the island, before we could slowly decent to the village. It took us two and a half hours.
it the village, the first person we met and asked for the way to the chief, was
a nice young lady named Salome. She took care of us and bought us to the chief
where we offered our Sevusevu.
Even by our standards, kava roots are not cheap
at approximately €15 per kg, on the other hand a recommended half kilo gift
would make enough to keep a group of 20 drinkers happy for an evening. So
the chief happily accepted a bundle from each yacht and welcomed us to his
village and island.
We spent some time chatting with the chief and then were asked to see the new baby twins.
As always the locals hope that we can take photos and make some prints for them. And certainly we did.
some time at the beach and strolling through the village we finally started
again walking the long way back to our boats.
Salome left the village later, but quickly caught up with us again and accompanied us almost to the other side before she got side tracked by some good looking young men returning from fishing.
And just before reaching the bay again, we met the convoy of women, including Salome's mother. Their catch they had wrapped up nicely in palm leaves to protect it from sun and insects. But what a small catch for a whole days work by some ten women!
the time we arrived at our boats we were really tired and very impressed by the
villagers who seem to walk that path every day seemingly effortless. It
was another nice evening in a beautiful anchorage, and our two boats were alone
as the villagers had returned to their homes and the sea-cucumber divers were
still in Lautoka selling their catch.
The next day, Fiji-Indian fishermen from the big island came into the bay to ask for cigarettes and got some from us. Interestingly the indigenous Fijians do not seem to smoke. Later when Pita, the ranger, showed up again we heard that the fishing waters around Yadua belong to the village and they do not like these fishermen coming over from other islands. Pita came for some small talk and he was keen to see if we could spare a DVD with a movie. Again we could.
three lovely days in this anchorage we said good-bye to "Filia Venti".
They needed to move on to Vuda Point where they wanted to get the boat hauled
out, since the folks in New Zealand messed up the installation of a new
propeller. They had filled the sea-water cooled bearing and stuffing box
with loads of grease, so that it now got extremely hot when motoring. There is
no easy way to get the grease out other than lifting the boat out of the water.
But by the time we would be back in Vuda Point, they would be gone to Vanuatu,
where they would leave before we got there. So another nice cruising couple to
say good bye to for a while.
also went on, but in the other direction. We sailed to the northern shore of
Vanua Levu, into a small fjord like inlet, to a village called Koroinasolo. The
village is up a little hill overlooking the bay and the brand new big church is
visible from far. After anchoring well out in the slowly shoaling bay, we went
As it was Sunday, we had to wait until the chief would come from the
church. In the mean time, Carlos, one of the teachers showed us around the
village. The chief finally received us and we had the usual Sevusevu ceremony.
In the end we asked the chief if they had anything mechanical or electrical that
Harald showed up next morning, the chief asked him to sit down next to himself
in front of his house and have some small talk while he continued to
prepare the remains of a turtle for cooking.
Seems a very rare catch and if they
get one it usually ends up with the chief. It is amazing how long and hard they
work to catch a small number of fish and in light of that it seems that they
will not put a big dent into the turtle population. In the course of the
conversation, the chief asked whether we had reading glasses and we promised to
bring our spare one.
Then Baia showed up, just with a towel wrapped around, as when the chief called for him, he was just having his morning shower. His broken outboard was the one that seemed to concern the chief most and so Harald went along with Baia to his house. Baia turned out to be a really smart and mechanically very skilled guy, though in essence he was a farmer and fisherman. In his mid thirties he was unmarried as he, as the oldest kid had to support his sick parents and a number of siblings that were studying on other islands.
outboard engine had overheated and the impeller of the cooling water pump was
gone. We didn't have the proper spare, but still had impellers for an electric
toilet that we had thrown away recently. These had the same diameter, but were
taller so that we could cut them to a fitting size. Also the fitting to the
drive shaft needed some modification, but worked out fine.
After that, there was an old manual, Chinese sewing machine, that didn't pick up the thread and three more outboard engines with smaller problems.
the middle of all this work, Harald was invited for lunch and siesta into Baia's
house. Food was basic, but very nice and tasty, especially the spinach like taro
Baia offered his bed, but Harald declined and all laid down on the floor after lunch for some relaxing and a conversation about our very different worlds.
in the afternoon, we were waiting for the tide to rise enough to look at some of
the other engines and while doing so, just before sunset, the fishing boat that
went out early in the morning, filled with a large number of people, just came
back from a day of fishing, all happy and laughing. From our perspective the
catch was not big for the effort, but they seemed very happy.
Next morning, just before Harald was ready to go ashore with freshly printed photos and to to look after the last outboard, Baia came out proudly trying his newly repaired engine. He had his sister and her little daughter with him and it was clear they were curious and want to see our boat. We think it must be to them much like an alien spaceship landing in our backyard and the folks inviting you on a tour.
What we have is so different to what they know, it must just be exotic. This was confirmed, when Baia watched pictures of our journey on the screensaver of the laptop on the chart table. He got really interested when pictures of the villages in the San Blas islands popped up, and he wanted to see them again.
he was looking carefully at the differences: Like here in Fiji, the huts are
built from palm leaves and wood, but in the San Blas the walls are bamboo sticks
tied together and here it is woven palm leaves, also the houses are much closer
together in the San Blas. Baia was looking at all these details, and maybe some
of these ideas will now appear in Fiji.
at some point we had to leave the nice folks, said good-bye and sailed out of
the bay and down to Nambouwalu, the place where "Fila Venti" was when
we first heard them on the radio. Nambouwalu is a road town, and not a real
village, so no Sevusevu ceremony, but a small market and two small shops.
a big road intersection and the ferry from the Viti Levu lands here. When we
approached Nambouwalu, we saw two other yachts coming in from the south and we
almost arrived at the same time. They were "Erin Brie" and
"Velocity" and it didn't take long and we all had a sundowner
invitation to "Erin Brie". A nice evening with exchange of all the
thrill this time was coming out of the reef chain that extends from Vanua Levu,
but the entrance into Makogai was now well known.
This time we anchored between the two islands, just south of the smaller one, since we were expecting northwesterly winds. While a bit deep, it was a really nice place and we had some of the finest snorkeling just off the boat.
just had a good time here exploring the little island and the reefs and on our
third day moved over to the old leper station, to offer some Sevusevu and get a
Kava was much appreciated by both the few folks in the station (4 families) and
the visiting chief from the village across. He gave us a nice tour of the place
and had great stories regarding its history. One of several interesting
things was the first cinema in Fiji, open air with a big concrete screen and a
nice projector house all taken over by the jungle now.
The old generator from the fifties was still running, providing them with power, but it was spoiling oil all over the place so that we could not get close.
much is left over from those days, and only the impressive stairs of the old
hospital remained and they look odd as a solitaire structure on the beach. Now
they grow giant mussels there, well the young ones are small and at still a
small size they get set out in the islands where some of them grow to meter wide
diver eating monsters ;-)
Off course they also had things to repair, but this time no outboards, it was TV-Sets for a change! In most of them the power supplies had failed because of the big voltage fluctuations caused by the old generator.
We anchored at the northwestern end where you cannot see the resort, but a green jungle full of lovely exotic birds. We did some snorkeling there but it wasn't great when compared to Makogai.
Coming in on the western side, the reef had a marker at its narrow pass, but going out to the east we found none of the charted markers and had to go on a reverse transit of the island and Makogai. Very slowly we found our way out and as soon as we were to relax, the reel of our fishing line went crazy. After some exciting minutes we had a 14 kg Wahoo on board.
Savusavu we raised "Mahi-Mahi" on the radio, they had already arrived
in the morning and were just done with the clearing procedures. We spent three
days in Savusavu, doing some shopping and replacing the water heater with the
new one that "Mahi-Mahi" brought along. Then, one afternoon we left to
just go out to Reef Point, where we tied up near Michael Costeau's resort.
Now Harald could go out diving on the long reef again with Joao, Ligia and Marco of "Mahi-Mahi".
Costeau's resort is one where yachties are welcome and we had sundowners there
in a very nice setting. Our plan for the next day was to get up before first
light, round the reef and head for Fawn Harbour some 50 miles to the east.
We spent a day there which was used on "Taniwani" to wash and dry all the cushions that got wet the other day, while motoring into the seaway with one hatch not properly closed by Harald. But there was still time to visit the village and offer our Sevusevu and time for a nice dive on the outer reef.
A day later, when the wind direction looked more favorable we did our second and this time successful attempt to sail east. It was great sailing now and both boats covered the 50 miles to Viana Bay very quickly. Viana Bay is a large bay on the eastern end of Vanua Levu, right across from the island of Taveuni, separated by the Somosomo Strait. 2.5 miles out, the bay is closed off by a long reef which is reputedly the best diving area in Fiji.
of the shoreline of the bay is owned by descendents of German settler Fischer.
Now several families live along that bay. Jack Fisher is one of them and he has
made a little business out of helping yachties dive on the reef. Himself he has
retired from scuba diving, but he takes you out on your yacht to the reef, shows
you where you can anchor for the day and than brings you to the best spots with
your own dinghy, tending it while you are diving. He picks you up wherever the
current takes you - and there is quite some current at times.
is a very likeable man, with good manners and he knows the reef better than
anybody. There are several nice dives, but some of the most amazing are the so
called 'white wall' and the 'purple wall'. Both are vertical walls where the
reef drops off into Somosomo strait. The names they have from the soft coral
that grow on them and give them a unique appearance.
We had two diving days, leaving "Taniwani" in the bay and all going out to the reef on "Mahi-Mahi" guided by Jack. It was all excellent diving with two long dives a day.
of the days was overcast with slight drizzle once in a while and we used that to
visit the island of Taveuni.
Again we left "Taniwani" in Viani Bay and moved all onto "Mahi-Mahi" to cross Somosomo strait and anchor in front of the village of Wairiki. It is only an open day anchorage, but good enough for us to explore the area.
first thing is a stroll to the anti-meridian, the meridian opposite of
Greenwich, it constitutes the theoretic date line and one can stand with
one foot in yesterday the other in today. For practical reasons the line was
moved east, to include not only all of Fiji, but also Tonga into 'today'.
few kilometers walk out of the village brought us to the big catholic mission,
with a nice church where many students were sitting on the ground rehearsing
Then back to the village for a drink in the garden island resort hotel and later, courtesy of "Mahi-Mahi", back to Viana bay and "Taniwani".
days went by quick and it was soon time to part again from "Mahi-Mahi"
and family. They had to go to Savusavu to meet visiting friends, and we needed
to move west to Vuda Point Marina, where we would leave "Taniwani" for
two weeks, while visiting at home for our son Markus' wedding.
The first day of our journey back west, we went back to our previous anchorage at Koro island.
there on to Naigani Island, a place new to us and really lovely: While
there is a resort on the southern end, it is entirely remote on the northwestern
end, with a fantastic sand beach and absolutely great snorkeling. We really
liked it there.
We flew home to Germany from there on June 21st and are returning to "Taniwani" on July 9th. We plan a few more weeks in Fiji and then to sail on to Vanuatu.
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