SavuSavu and Pictures of Minerva

Mike and Liz Downing
Sat 26 May 2012 11:23
It's been almost 2 weeks since we arrived and the time has just flown by. The Rally as such ended on Tuesday with a farewell dinner and boats have started leaving to go there own way. Unfortunately the weather is not playing ball. Fiji is in the SE tradewind belt, but it is also affected by the highs and lows that come off Australia and dominate the weather of New Zealand. For the last week one of these big high pressure systems has been sitting well to the south west of Fiji and reinforcing the SE tradewinds to be 20-25kts, gusting a lot more. Having been blowing for days, there's a big sea to go with it. Not so bad if you want to head south west to the main Fiji island and Islands to the west of it, but most yachts come here to visit the more remote anchorages and traditional villages of the eastern islands of Fiji, so we all want to go east, at least for a bit. Not so good when the wind and seas are from the SE! A couple of boats have made it round the corner and headed 40 miles or so up the coast. Quite a few have made it 4 miles to anchor off the John-Michel Cousteau Resort (a dive resort operated by the Son of Jacques Cousteau) which is still sheltered from the winds and most are still on the moorings at Savusavu, including ourselves. However, we had planned to leave on Friday for the Cousteau resort for the good snorkelling there - it would be good to just be able to jump off the back of the boat again, but a bizarre accident caused us to delay. Walking out of the marina (there's only 7 berths, but lots of moorings) a waist-high shop sign got blown over in the strong wind just as I was within range and it took several lumps out of my right shin. It's very easy to get infections in this climate and especially if going in the water, so there's no swimming for me until it's healed. We also thought we ought to give it a few days to check that it was healing before leaving here.
With all the wind, there's also been a lot of tropical downpours. It's warm rain, so not that much of a problem if you get wet, but it's difficult to get things dry. All the gear that we had on deck for the passage up, including storm sails, ropes etc has had to be washed to get rid of the salt, but it can't be stowed below until dry. Since arriving we've found out that the locals call Savusavu, Soggysoggy! Rain, it would appear, is not uncommon, even in the dry season, which it now is. The hills/mountains around are covered in lush tropical vegetation - it's all so green and now we know why! The islands to the west, the more traditional tourist areas, are suppose to be a lot drier. We hope they are right.
Some pictures of Savusavu will be in the next blog update, but first a few of North Minerva Reef.
Aurora B, the black boat  top right, anchored in North Minerva Reef, as seen on our chart plotter. The
red anchor is a waypoint we added as when you zoom out the chart shows no reef at all and it would
not be difficult to sail right into it. The red anchor that we added is always shown regardless of zoom
and reminds us that it's there. We're anchored in about 55ft of water (we use feet for depths, not metres). 
Another boat anchored near by, with the reef uncovered behind it. At this state of tide, the reef gives
very good protection from the ocean waves and swell. At high tide the reef covers. It still gives good
protection, but there's quite a bit more swell that comes in.
Looking to the east - there's no land mass beyond the reef until you get to South America - only about
6,000 miles away!
Leaving the reef, approaching the pass. The tide's up and the wind and seas are down, so the
water is a lot flatter. You can just see the white water to the left and right and of the pass with another
yacht going through ahead of us.
The pass close up as we go out - breaking seas to the right (and to the left, but not in view) with the pass
on the left.
Having left Minerva the sun shone, the wind was good and it was great sailing.
Having waited for 4 days in Minerva, we made good speed towards Fiji and Savusavu.
At the end of the day the puffy white fair-weather clouds start to turn pink and then black as the sun goes
down. At this time of day it's very easy to see all kinds of shapes in the clouds, but it's strange how many
times they seem to show a witch on a broomstick and there's nearly always a dragon or two there too.    
My black sailing shoes  - covered in salt from the trip to Minerva. Much of the boat was the same colour!
Since arriving back in the tropics it's back to bare feet again, so once cleaned off they will be stowed
below until we head for cooler climes once again.