Back in Savusavu 16 46.685S 179 19.937E

Mike and Liz Downing
Mon 9 Jul 2012 10:57
A quick snorkel on Split Rock and then it was back to a buoy in Nakama Creek at Savusavu. It's the first time we haven't been at anchor since we left exactly 6 weeks ago. We were able to go shopping just once in that time and were glad we had plenty of provisions on board. The breakfast cereal ran out a couple of weeks ago and so it's been bread and marmalade for breakfast. Making one loaf a day was enough for lunch the same day (nice warm bread) and breakfast the next day. Milk supply was fine as we had skimmed UHT, which isn't bad, and powdered milk, which you mix with water and it's very good. We have plenty on board so are never short. We've been drinking quite a lot of tea, which we never used to do in the tropics, but it can get quite cool in the evenings here and a nice hot cuppa goes down well. Our biggest concern food-wise was that we almost ran out of Chocolate! Our last bar, kept for emergencies, saved the day. So now it's time to restock, and refuel. We used just over half the tank and will add 200 litres of diesel. There's no fuel dock in Savusavu, so it will be 5 trips ashore to the local garage with our 2 (20 litre) cans. This should get us within 50 litres of being full and we'll top right up when we find a proper fuel dock on the western side of Fiji. We've used more than expected running the generator 4 or more hours a day to keep the freezer going. This was too much and it didn't take us long to decide to eat everything in the freezer and switch it off. This reduced generator time down to 2 hours a day to keep the batteries charged up and top up the water tanks. We always run the water heater (an immersion heater) when charging the batteries to load up the generator and make it work (even then it's only 30% loaded) so we always have lots of hot water for showers. Solar power has been a bit disappointing. Everyone's been complaining about it, so it's not just us. With quite a lot of cloud we've generally been getting 8-10 amps or less, instead of the 16 we hoped for (and did get on good days in New Zealand). It's supposed to be better on the western side of Fiji and we hope so.
Since leaving Savusavu the first time, Fiji changed the check-in rules for yachts. When we left we had to get coastal clearance at each of the main ports to travel to the next main port, checking in with Customs on arrival. So going from main port to main port was a bit like going from one country to another. However, while we were away, they've decided yachts no longer have to obtain coastal clearance and once they have a cruising permit (which we got when we arrived) they can go wherever they like, but have to contact Customs once a week to report their location. So we will now send an email once a week saying where we are and where we're intending to go. It's a much better system and makes it a lot easier. 
Our cruise to the east was only supposed to be for 4 weeks at most, so we're behind schedule. There's a BFH (Big Fat High) to the south west of Fiji dominating the weather for the whole area. It's up to 1039 which means strong reinforced trades of 20-30kts until early next week and big seas to go with it, so everyone's staying put until it the winds ease  up and the seas go down. So that's not going to help our schedule. it looks like we will now spend longer in Fiji and not leave until early September. 
The coral at Split Rock was disappointing after the reefs in the Somosomo Strait, but there were quite a lot of reef fish and they came very close. Being close to Savusavu, this spot gets lots of visitors and the fish are clearly used to people.