From Vanua Levu to Viti Levu
For the past couple of days we have been working our way westward between the Fijian islands of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu. Viti Levu is the main island with the capital Suva on the south side. We are taking the northern route around Viti Levu because it has good breezes, but calm seas and many anchorages so we can do the passage as a series of short hops each day. Curly's chartlets give us the waypoints we need to navigate safely through the reefs, which is fine provided you enter the waypoints correctly. And when you enter them incorrectly then there is always Serendipity to call up on the VHF and ask why you are deviating from the plotted route and heading directly towards a rock.
On our way down to Viti Levu we stopped at the islands of Makogai and Naigani.. Makogai is the site of a research station where they breed giant clams and turtles for reintroduction. In the past they developed a special breed of tropical sheep and shipped out breeding pairs to all the farmers on the islands. These sheep were worth tens of thousands of dollars, but allegedly the village chiefs have enough influence that few farmers actually got their breeding pairs and 95% of the sheep were eaten by the chiefs families.
Naigoni is a small island with a small holiday resort on it. The resort was on the other side of the island from the anchorage, but Bertie, Estella, Daniel and I were determined to find a Pina Colada so we walked around the rocky shore to the resort, only to find the bar was closed. We then cut across the island as a simpler way to get back to the anchorage, but got a bit held up in the jungle and then delayed by the increasingly rocky shoreline. The final headland was impassable by land and so I had to swim around it and hail the nearest boat (Serendipity again) to come and pick us up. We got back just before dark but Andrea was not impressed.
The night before last we did find the very nice Wananavu beach resort for dinner. They were very welcoming of yachts and on the day we arrived they had a traditional feast with Fijian dancing. The hotel is in a beautiful setting, with good value food. A good stopping place for any passing yachts. The only problem was that, despite the anchorage being well sheltered, there were still gusts up to 35 knots in the bay and Anastasia started dragging her anchor. Fortunately it was an offshore wind, and the downwind reef was half a mile away, so we had time to get back in the dinghy and re-anchor her before she hit anything. Another yacht, Working on a Dream, had their dinghy tied to the boat but it was flipped over by a gust, and they had to spend three hours stripping and flushing the outboard with fresh water before the salt water destroyed it.
The winds abated slightly overnight and we had an excellent sail yesterday along the northern coast of Viti Levu. The hills on this side of Viti Levu are covered with greeny brown grass and scattered trees rather than jungle, so it looks a bit more like Scotland than the tropics, until you look carefully at the shoreline and see the mangroves growing there.