Merry Christmas and our very best wishes for 2017!
Although our original plan for this year was to make our way back to Australia (or New Zealand, as an interim quarantine stop for the boys) we are now in Fiji after a fantastic year of exploring the south Pacific! To see photos and read about our travels, please scroll back through the posts on our website.
After transiting the Panama Canal in January we joined the 2016 Pacific Puddle Jump and met up with a number of other cruisers in Panama and again in Tahiti & Moorea for get together celebrations and parties. This is a great way to connect with other cruisers who are doing the crossing and also to enjoy aspects of the Polynesian culture, as we were treated to various cultural events during the Tahiti-Moorea rendezvous. In Moorea we met Adam from Vuda Point Marina in Fiji who told us he believed we could import our dogs into Fiji after a 7 day quarantine period! Until this point Fiji was off our radar as pets are normally kept onboard for the duration of their stay and the authorities ask for a FJ$1,500 (AUD$1,000) bond per animal, which is returned on your departure from Fiji provided the pets remain onboard the whole time. However on further investigation we discovered that we could, in fact, quarantine the dogs onboard for a 7 day period, after which we could import them provided they satisfied all the import requirements, so this is what we did! We have now been issued with an import permit and are free to reclaim our bond fee and more importantly, our boys are free to go ashore! Yay!!
After Eric returned from Australia late November we waited patiently for a weather window to cross from Tonga to Fiji.
The conditions weren’t great, but after a week of waiting we decided to go anyway. We sailed a long way south west from Vava’u to find the trade winds, which we hoped would blow us back north west to Savusavu. After the first 2 nights of thunder and lightening squalls, we turned to the north west just south of the Lau group and enjoyed a slow, but comfortable spinnaker run almost the whole way. During the first week in Savusavu the weather forecasts were predicting a potential cyclone heading towards Fiji! Thankfully, this system of low pressure dissipated and moved away before any major harm and, apart from torrential rain and severe flooding in parts of Fiji, we were saved from any serious winds.
Once the dogs’ import permit had been processed we took advantage of the northerly winds and headed east towards the famous Rainbow Reef near Taveuni to do some diving over Christmas. We had an added incentive to make our way to this area, as our friend Elizabeth from St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands just happened to be on a 10 day dive charter for Christmas. We knew the liveaboard vessel was due to head to Taveuni at some point to do some diving, so we were delighted to wake up on our 2nd morning out from Savusavu to see the Fiji Siren anchored just outside the bay where we had spent the night. What a surprise they got when we sailed round the vessel at 8 in the morning to say hello! It was wonderful to catch up with Elizabeth and meet some of her family, who were travelling with her for the holidays. We did some diving at the same sites, where we enjoyed the tremendous array of colourful soft corals for which Fiji is famous and found the dive sites teeming with many varieties of fish and the occasional turtle. We joined Elizabeth and family onboard for lunch and to view some of their amazing photos, then we said our farewells as they sailed off on Christmas Eve to get to Wakaya island for Christmas Day.
As the weather was so calm we decided to stay at our anchorage just near Rainbow reef and on Christmas morning we decided to go and dive at the Purple Wall. On our way there we met a dive boat from Paradise Taveuni and they very kindly invited us to tie off our dinghy to their boat, so we could tag along on their dive on the Great White Wall. Normally we do drift dives with our dinghy, but this dive is impossible for us to do as a dinghy drift dive as it involves 2 swim throughs! It is considered one of the world’s top dives, so what an opportunity for us and what a great Christmas present! Thanks guys At around 15 metres there is a swim through which takes you down to 25 metres and a wall which drops way down. After exiting the swim through you turn left and are greeted with a stunning wall of white soft corals, hence the name. It is a spectacular sight and well worth doing. Unfortunately we no longer have a good underwater camera, but google Great White Wall, Fiji and you’ll find photos and videos. Further along we went through another swim through and slowly drifted along the wall gradually climbing up to 5 metres before surfacing after a great dive.
Luckily for the boys we are anchored a short distance from some beautiful deserted beaches so they didn’t miss out on Christmas day activities, and of course, it is also Scrumpy’s birthday, so he got extra treats today of sausages and the crackling off our Christmas pork roast (no worries, Chui didn’t miss out either!)
Well certainly 2016 has been a fantastic travel year for us. We expect to remain closer to home (Australia) now and are looking forward to visits from the family to us in Fiji. On that note we will once again wish you all the very best for this holiday season and we hope 2017 is a great year.