Well here we are again for our 2nd Christmas in Fiji. This time last year we awoke to see the lovely charter yacht, the Fiji Siren, anchored just by Rainbow Reef. We were especially excited because our friend, Elizabeth from St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands happened to be onboard with some of her family for Christmas 2016.
We had a lovely get together with them, then we enjoyed some fabulous diving and exploring in the Somosomo Strait and Taveuni region for about 3 weeks, before we sailed around to Suva to do some maintenance work on Amarula before meeting up with family on the west coast of Viti Levu in April.
We were very excited to finally have family onboard (especially the grandkids) after so many years far, far away from Australia! And we all had a wonderful time together, as you can see in the blog posts here:
Family Fun in Fiji Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Just as the cruising season started in May Eric took off for a 2 week visit back to Australia. He hadn’t even landed in Australia when Lynne got an email to say the first potential cyclone of the season (which was theoretically over!) was heading towards Fiji! Thankfully it passed north of here and we breathed a huge sigh of relief, but it reminds us that we can never entirely relax.
Between trips back to Australia this year, continuing to do boat jobs and meeting up with our broker here in Fiji, we did manage to do more exploring further afield. We took off to the Yasawas in July after Lynne returned from Australia. Then later in August we sailed along the north coast of Viti Levu to catch up with friends in Savusavu, who had sailed to Fiji after spending the cyclone season in New Zealand. After a few days of partying and singalongs with former Caribbean cruising buddies, Sean & Sabine (Chevaldy), David & Susan (Enchantress), Gaylyn & Thomas (Qi) we all went off again in search of new cruising grounds.
We discovered that although diving around Fiji is spectacular, the conditions at this time of year compared to those we had experienced during cyclone season soon after we arrived in Fiji last December/ January were less than ideal. Similarly, the winds were more challenging during August/ September and it took us a number of attempts to finally make it across to the Lau group of islands. These are the easternmost islands in Fiji and it is not permitted to visit these islands en route from Tonga, prior to checking in at one of the official Fijian ports of entry. Consequently, getting there involves either motoring/ sailing against the prevailing winds or taking the tiny northerly weather windows and making a run for it. In our bid to head to Lau, we decided to go where the wind took us and we thoroughly enjoyed visits to Makogai & Naigani, Levuka (Fiji’s former colonial capital, now a World Heritage site) and even back up to the northern tip of Taveuni, before we had winds that were conducive to sailing to Vanua Balavu in the Lau group!! As we still haven’t got around to doing a post on the Lau group, here some photos for now, for a taster
In fact the past few months have been somewhat hectic. Eric returned to Australia for a 4 week trip in September, after which Lynne was due to fly to UK and Australia for an extended trip. Unfortunately, instead of returning to Fiji on 18th October, Eric found himself in hospital on the Gold Coast that day being fitted with a pacemaker having collapsed a few days earlier (thankfully there, not in Fiji)!! One good thing about being a Vietnam Veteran, he now has a Gold Health card, which not only covers all medical treatment in Australia, but also seems to fast track services for Vets. Here he is the evening after his morning surgery consuming wine with dinner!!!
When Eric did finally return to Fiji and Lynne was satisfied that he was going to be okay on his own, she took off to UK for a long awaited visit to catch up with family and friends there. During the 3 week trip there were maybe 2 days when she wasn’t visiting or being visited, so it was full on, but lots of fun. On the way back to Fiji, Lynne stopped over in Australia and was fortunate enough to catch up with all 8 of the grandkids this time! It was the first time she had seen Daniel’s 3 boys in over 6 years! And, best of all she had her first cuddles with Evie, our latest granddaughter
So as 2017 draws to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish our friends and family all around the world a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2018. We send special hugs and thoughts to our friends over in the Caribbean and the US who are still going through major challenges after losing homes, boats, businesses and jobs this year and we hope that you soon manage to rebuild your lives and those special communities that we came to love when we were over there. Thinking of you xx
On a final note, please also help us to find new owners for our lovely home SV Amarula by sharing our For Sale page. Thanks so much. And if you’d like to read our Interview With A Cruiser article that was published in September, you’ll find that here