Musket Cove - 17 46.174S 177 11.405E

Mike and Liz Downing
Fri 3 Aug 2012 08:23
We had hoped to stay in Port Denarau a little longer, but the marina was fully booked and as it was now spring tides, we would be aground some of the time if on one of the buoys. Not a good prospect with a frontal system on the way for Friday bringing strong winds and lots of rain. So on Thursday, while winds were still light, we headed out and covered the 12 miles or so over to Musket Cove in the offshore Mamanuca Islands. Musket Cove is an upmarket resort on the island of Malolo Lailai overlooking an extensive and very picturesque reef system. It's also the mecca for yachting in Fiji. They have a big regatta here each September and the annual Fiji to Vanuatu (450 miles to the west) race starts from here. It is also the home of the supposedly biggest yacht club in the world. To become a life member of the Musket Cove Yacht Club you have to have sailed to Fiji from overseas. Membership costs the skipper just $1 and the crew $5, so pretty reasonable prices! Once a member you have the use of the resort facilities. There are plush villas (bures) ashore set along the foreshore and around small canal system, with a big swimming pool, restaurant, bar, beach bar, activity centre etc. Between the reefs in front of the resort, and protected by the reefs, they've laid 26 moorings for yachts. There's also a marina pontoon that boats can moor, stern to, with the normal marina facilities, including electricity and water, showers/toilets, a couple of washing machines and driers, and there's a small grocery store. So it's all very yacht friendly.
Beyond the mooring field, the reefs still give good protection and it's a well established anchorage. Boats often spend weeks here. The buoys are generally all taken, only costing $15 per night (about £5.50), and we were lucky to find a free one when we arrived (another boat had just left), but there must have been another 25 boats at anchor. We're still exploring and finding out what's here, but not today. The front is going through with low clouds, lots of rain and winds between 20-25kts, so it's a day on the boat. The forecast is for the winds to ease, but the front is going to linger over Fiji, so it's likely to stay overcast with rain on and off for the next few days. The Australian/New Zealand weather systems this year are continually creating fronts that are coming up to Fiji and disrupting the tradewinds. We had hoped it would have settled down by now, but at the moment there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. So there's a few good days and then the next front comes along and we get a bad week or more.      
This is a good view of the Musket Cove resort on Malolo Lailai , the reefs that surround it and the boats (white dots) at anchor or on moorings when the picture was taken (back in 2005). The red X is where we're moored (a link from our GPS enables our GPS position to be superimposed on the Google Earth picture), so we don't have far to go to get ashore. The tip of the next island, the bigger island of Malolo, is at the top of the picture.