Tue 19 Sep 2023 08:22

17 06.75S 179 05.53E

After clearing in at Suvasuva we needed to wait a couple of days for our cruising permit.
Clearing in was an interesting and varied experience. First we were visited by customs, then by a health advisor and finally bio security. Our rubbish was sealed and we need to dispose of it in the South Island where they have an incinerator. They also taped up our jar of honey and banned us from consuming it until out of Fiji waters??? Next we had to walk to the hospital and find a random women in admin to pay our ‘health fee’. We got handed lots of hand written receipts and told to email copies of them to several people. Despite the slightly random and tedious check in routine, everyone was super lovely and helpful and it was all very much a joyful experience.
The town was very charming, dominated by corrugated iron shacks with hand painted signs advertising their services, it felt all very quaint and old fashioned. No big supermarkets, not commercialised at all with small local businesses selling things you actually need. There was a great fruit and veg market, butchers, bakers and a rather nice deli with actual cheese!
We stayed at Waitui marina which definitely isn’t a marina, more of a corrugated iron shack with a half derelict jetty with a few serviced mooring buoys. That said, it is probably the most charming ‘marina’ I’ve ever stayed. At £6/night, we were very happy. They also did an amazing fish and chips for £3…I ordered a cup of tea with milk and they brought me a mug of hot milk with a tea bag in…like a tea latte!
After a few nice and pretty cheap meals out we were ready for the off. On Sunday morning we cast off and headed for Namena Island 25nm to the SW which is a small island within a large coral reef. We were the only boat there and picked up the solo mooring buoy. There used to be a dive resort here but it was destroyed in a cyclone so they are currently rebuilding it. The diving is meant to be some of the best in the world! We took the tender out to ‘the chimneys’ which took some finding…we jumped in with snorkels on and was totally blown away. It was this huge pinnacle of coral that rose up from the sea bed from 50m down, littered with a colourful mix of hard and soft coral and millions of different coloured fish, more varieties than I’ve ever seen before. This was the best snorkelling we’ve had on the trip so far.
The forecast this week is for 20-25kts of wind from the east. The plan was to have a few days here wing foiling off the end of the island. We’ve had a couple of great sessions but the anchorage is quite rolly, Ben even got sea sick during dinner last night, so we’ve decided to move off tomorrow despite the windy forecast and make for the NW end of Viti Levu which is 60nm of reef dodging…Hopefully they’ll be another blog after this!