After meeting up with Anna, our yacht broker, we decided it was high time we went off exploring other parts of Fiji before the cyclone season came round again. Plus we had friends to catch up with over in Savusavu (the port we checked into when we first arrived in Fiji last December)
On our way around the north coast of Viti Levu (Fiji’s main island) we checked for potential cyclone holes in the Ba River, but even though the river was quite deep in places, the shallow sandbanks at the entrance stretched way out into the bay. The winds were light, so we decided to raise the spinnaker. Unfortunately the halyard managed to tangle itself around the spreader and although we attempted to wriggle it free, it wasn’t playing, so Lynne volunteered to climb the mast to release it!
Otherwise we had a very pleasant sail almost the whole way to Volivoli Point on the north east tip of the island. As most of the north coast sailing involves staying inside the reef and keeping a good lookout, we decided to anchor off the coast near Tavua at dusk, and continue on to Nananu-i-Ra the next day.
The north coast is far less populated than the south coast (between Suva and Lautoka) yet it is still possible to see communications towers dotted on the landscape. Consequently we were generally within internet range for most of the way, albeit often only 2G and very slow.
Once we arrived at Volivoli we were hoping to do some diving, however the trade winds were blowing 20+ knots for much of the time, so we did some land-based hiking around Volivoli Point and took the boys on a dinghy trip through the mangroves in search of the town of Rakiraki. Our plan was to head deep into the mangroves and walk to the town, but the entrance to the mangroves was very shallow so we had to watch the time. We only managed to walk as far as the tombstone of Udre Udre. The interesting fact about this character is that he was a Fijian chief and a cannibal, who managed to find himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most voracious appetite in the world! Here is Eric looking slightly apprehensive as he stands beside the tomb of Udre Udre!
We waited a day or so at Volivoli, then crossed the channel to Nananu-i-Thake where we found a sheltered anchorage, but the winds continued to blow, so after a couple of days exploring Nananu-i-Ra island we decided to sail across Bligh Water, carefully making our way through all the reefs, to Savusavu.
When we left Nananu-i-Thake the winds (and forecast) were light, so we raised our newly repaired main sail and were having a lovely sail when we noticed lots of activity over to our starboard side. The film crew we had met the day before were out filming at the top of the island. We were busy watching them and at the same time heading towards the pass, which was inaccurately marked on our electronic charts.
A short distance before the pass the wind decided to gust over 20 knots and shift direction making it dangerous for us to attempt the pass with the main sail up, so we quickly altered course towards the film crew and dropped the main sail, then carefully made our way out through the pass. Ah, the joys of sailing!
Of course, once we cleared the pass the winds died again and we had a slow sail across to southern Vanua Levu. We anchored in Wainunu bay and tucked in behind Caniqu reef. We were up early in the morning as we wanted to dive the Nasonisoni pass before the current picked up. Conditions were good, the wind was light and we had a reasonable dive before continuing on to Savusavu that evening. We spent the next few days catching up with friends, provisioning for the Lau group and waiting for a weather window…..